It started with a small cut on his arm.
He’d been in the yard, cutting back some of the vines and shrubs in his garden and a thorn had, unbeknownst to him at the time, lodged in his arm. It wasn’t until his wife saw the little bloodstain that he was even aware of it.
She made it seem like he’d been wounded in hand-to-hand combat. She washed it, applied some antibacterial and a Band-Aid. He had to admit he enjoyed the attention.
The next time he was gardening, he didn’t purposely injure himself, but let’s just say that he wasn’t as careful when he went by the rose bushes as he usually was. When he was done with his little journey through the Celine Forrestiers, Harison’s Yellows, and Fakir’s Delights (roses by any other names), he sported two scratches that put his previous wound to shame. Blood trickled from each.
He couldn’t wait for his wife to see them.
It took a couple of nonchalant walks past her before she eyed them, but once she did, she once again leapt into action with a gusto that would have left Florence Nightingale impressed. While the antiseptic stung a little, he basked in the concern his wife displayed.
This little scene began to play out on a regular basis until his wife started to suspect something was amiss. Nobody could get scraped or punctured every time they stepped outdoors. It dawned her one day after she tripped and sprained her ankle. As her husband jumped up to help her to a chair, she suddenly understood and smiled to herself.
It was nice.
Realizing he might have overplayed his hand a bit, he took a few weeks off from his injury palooza. But he was not done.
Far from it.
It was a quiet Saturday morning and attempts to run over his foot with the mower ended poorly. Only the tops of his sneakers were affected. Scratch one pair of ASICS Gel-Venture 7 shoes.
Not one to give up easily, he turned the mower on its side and removed what was left of his right sneaker. He lifted up his foot and placed it in the still-running mower.
He let out a scream. Inside the house, at precisely the same time, his wife let loose a terrible shriek and his dog unleashed an anguished howl and his parrot an unholy squawk. If his hearing had been good enough, he might have also picked up on a ruckus in the vicinity of the fish tank.
With blood fountaining out of what remained of his right foot, he began to hop and hobble towards his front door. The driveway and front steps were bright red and getting redder. As he opened the door, his wife met him, tears streaming down her face. Through the center of her left hand, which she held up for inspection, was a long knitting needle. Blood poured out of both sides of her hand.
Behind her, the family dog had somehow gotten his food bowl wedged in his own ass and behind the dog was the parrot, completely impaled on his metal swing.
Feathers floated down peacefully underneath the cage.
Even though the man considered himself a good pet owner, he didn’t have the heart to look in the fish tank.
The edges of his vision began to get black. He was losing a lot of blood and on the verge of passing out. His wife looked a bit pale herself and lost her footing on the slippery entryway. The ankle returning to a state of sprainedness as a result.
His dog was walking around like a cowboy.
The parrot twitched on the newspaper, uneaten seeds adding a tiny rustling accompaniment.
A good foot away from the tank, the fish flopped around on the carpeting, unnoticed.
LANCE MANION is the author of ten short story collections, his latest Dizzying Depths being released Jan. 1, 2012. His work has appeared in 50+ publications and over a dozen anthologies. It has been called demented, hilarious, quirky and well outside the mainstream.
He spends too much time thinking about all the ways life would be different if you eyes were on top of our feet as opposed to perched over our noses. Shoes for instance… or karate.