Ordinary and Quiet by Steve Calamars

There just aren't enough good stories out there with leeches in them. I mean leeches are kinda like stories. They settle in and suck bits and pieces of you into them. You become part of the story, one of the integral parts of the stories, the life blood, so to speak, of the story. The story grows stronger with you inside it. And sometimes. Just every once in a blue moon, it kills you. Send me your leeches, people. Looking for leeches here. You know what it is: [email protected].

Lyle Rosdahl

Ordinary and Quiet by Steve Calamars

The single room apartment was a pencil-lead grey. It was wood floors and a smoky ceiling. It was a small desk and a cot in the corner. Maxwell Ridge sat at the desk. He eyed a jar in front of him. It was a large used jelly jar. It was filled to half-capacity with pearls. The pearls were all the size of ball-bearings and the twinkling slick color of stars. Maxwell unscrewed the top of the jar and looked down into it. He jiggled the pearls and peered in close for flaws. Maxwell could not find any and set the jar back down on the desk. He stood up and walked over to a briefcase by the front door. He brought it to the desk and opened it. Maxwell moved his notebooks and work forms to the side. At the bottom of the briefcase was a red Swiss Army Knife. He removed it, closed the case and set it back by the front door. Upon returning to the desk, Maxwell dropped his slacks around his ankles and sat down. In a perfectly arranged row on his inner left thigh, were three black leeches, evenly spaced and set. Maxwell poked on the middle one and felt its ripeness. He opened the spoon on the Swiss Army Knife. Maxwell cupped it beneath the mouth of the leech and broke the feeding seal. He quickly removed the tweezers from the side compartment in the knife and gripped the leech at the head. He removed it from his thigh and placed it on the desk. Maxwell closed the spoon and opened the miniature saw. He split the leech from head to tail. He used the tweezers to open the body and grip the orb. Maxwell brought a wet white pearl up into the light. He analyzed it from the ends of his tweezers. It was the same size and color as the others. He wiped it clean on the inside pocket-lining of his slacks. He looked at it one last time before dropping it into the jar. He jiggled it around and lost it in a mix of muted melted whites. He closed the miniature saw and reopened the spoon. Maxwell repeated his method two more times. In the end, three leeches laid split open on the desk and three new pearls blended seamlessly into the jar. When this was complete, Maxwell opened a small blade on the Swiss Army Knife. He ran the blade smoothly along his inner right thigh. With a few passes of the blade, Maxwell had shaved a clean white patch across his leg. He pulled his slacks back up and walked over to a closet beside the cot. He opened it and removed a large used mayonnaise jar. It was filled to half-capacity with leeches. The leeches were all the size of thumbs and the thick cold color of oil-spills. Maxwell dropped his slacks around his ankles again and sat at the edge of the cot. He opened the jar. He closed the small blade of the knife and removed the tweezers from the side compartment. He selected a leech, gripped it with the tweezers and carefully placed it on his inner right thigh. It attached itself and Maxwell released it. In a perfectly arranged row on his inner right thigh, he evenly spaced and set, another three black leeches. Maxwell put the tweezers away. He looked over the leeches one last time, before pulling up his slacks and picking up the jar. He screwed the lid back on securely and set the jar in the closet. Maxwell walked over to the desk. He set the Swiss Army Knife down and disposed of the leech carcasses in a trashcan. He jiggled the pearls, before securing the lid and setting them safely in the chair where he had sat. His stomach growled. Maxwell suddenly felt heavy with hunger. He wanted steak, lamb, veal, red potatoes, kidney beans, garlic bread, red beets, spinach. He needed sustenance, he needed to get his strength up and his blood pure. He walked to the front door of the apartment. He removed a coat from a hook and slipped it on. Maxwell buttoned it and pulled the collar up high. He walked out the front door. He descended the two flights of stairs to the street. He stepped outside. The street was ordinary and quiet. Maxwell slid his hands into his pockets. He lowered his head and simply walked away— --- Steve Calamars lives in San Antonio, TX. He has a BA in Philosophy and works in a grocery store. His first collection of short stories, Six Years of Relative Happiness (Calliope Nerve Media) is available online at LuLu and Barnes & Nobles. He blogs @ dirtywordsoncleanliving.blogspot.com. --- Lyle Rosdahl, a writer living in San Antonio, edits the flash fiction blog & best of in print for the Current. He created, facilitates and participates in Postcard Fiction Collaborative, a monthly flash fiction response to a photo. You can see more of his work, including photos, paintings and writing, at lylerosdahl.com. Send your flash to [email protected].
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