Short Stories: Ambuscade by Tony McMillen

I have to make my enemy. To do this, I pull teeth. Specifically my own. Very specifically my eyeteeth. I only have two bottles of wine left in the cellar and I don’t want to use them both for this but after trying to pull out my left tooth with only one Shiraz under my belt I reconsider. The second bottle doesn’t fatten up the numb much, and I start whimpering and praying in the empty cellar at the first good hard tug that moves the fang from its cozy home in my gum. It’s remarkable how quick the warm churFn in your guts from good spirits can turn in on itself and become liquid batwings crashing against your stomach lining and ribs. Teeth always surprise me by how big they are once you get them out of your head. I gulp blood that tastes older than it should and as I finish the second tooth and place it down to lie next to the first I panic and don’t find the first. Then I realize it’s still in my hand, covered tight with coiled fingers. I never let it drop.

The ocean is in the air, and it curls my hair to a coral reef skullcap. I hold the teeth and wonder what my enemy will be like. Has he been waiting for me all this time like I have for him? Upstairs you smell salt and lamplight seems groggy and uneven. My back’s twitching, possibly from the dentistry, but my feet are still quite steady. Someone’s left firecrackers crackling in the bathtub and some in the sink. They’re pretty, they look like flowers ought to but they aren’t for me to see. I get out of there, walk down the hall. I stop. There’s something at the end of the hall by the door. I take the hand that holds the teeth and put it behind my back

From the floor there are two shiny, shiny shoes. Followed by a pair of dark grey slacks, loose a bit but professional. These deposit up into a button up vest, partially walled by a dark, crisp jacket. Mildly striped in a corrupted gold brown. Perched on top of all this is a sun fire red bowtie. White dots that could almost be strawberry seeds pimple the thing. Oh, and on top of that is a small black bird’s head. Well, not exactly small. Just a regular sized bird head. Which resting on top of such a large man’s body gives it the impression of being quite small. The bird head moves left mechanically and caws. The man body below it places its arms to its hips. It gives the impression of an underpaid babysitter finding a child getting into something dirty and troublesome. Is this my enemy? No, I haven’t even finished the ritual. The tiny black bird head caws once more. If he’s not my enemy then who? A firework bursts, sending purple and pink splashes of light through the hall. Well, at least those are explained. The little bird stares at me some more. I ask him if he wants something, if he was the one who put all those fireworks in my bathroom? He doesn’t answer. I notice that his fingers aren’t a person’s. They’re little-gnarled branches that resemble skeleton hands. I trust him now.

I go down the rest of the hall, and the tiny black bird head caws once more then turns around and leads me outside. Outside with the tiny birdhead man I see kites climbing. They don’t travel far, but across the beach you can see them twisting up like leaves with umbilical cords. My friend’s small head darts around frantically trying, I think, to catalogue the kites and their movements. The sky is an iceberg sherbet. I notice then the blood from my mouth has completely soaked my clothes. There is a black red trail from my shoes all the way up to my gums. The holes where the teeth used to hang feel throbbing and still wet. I ask if my friend knows where the kites came from? Because they’ve always been there, before him and for as well as I know, before me. I don’t see anybody else out here. This place is overlooked. This place is an afterthought… My friend caws a response that I take to mean he doesn’t know anymore than me. At least about the kites. We’re still walking down the beach and I keep trying to start conversation. I ask him about my enemy, if he’ll be just the way I’ve always thought he would. The birdhead man stops. This must be the place.

Continue Reading

Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site. We cover gaming news, movie reviews, wrestling and much more.