Flash Fiction Fridays: The Last Laugh


Flash Fiction Fridays wraps up Comedy Month with a great piece by Barbara Silkstone. If you are interested in submitting for April's Spring Fever, send it to karen@karenberner.com and put "Flash Fiction Fridays" in the subject line. Five hundred words due on April 4. Thanks.


Temporary Insanity
By Barbara Silkstone

Dr. Abigail had become a legend at Tempo Temps. She’d burned through eight receptionists in two weeks. A geriatric specialist, her office was a bacteria mélange, the result of her passion for animals over people. Dogs roamed the halls, cats lurked in the exam rooms, turtles wandered under foot and hamsters in plastic balls bounced off rubber tipped canes.

I took the job.The day before my start, Dr. Abigail handed me my marching orders making sure I understood they were listed by priority.

1. Feed and walk the dogs, twice daily. Do not return to the office until the dogs have pooped. Bring proof of poop in plastic bags as supplied. 
2. Greet the patients and photocopy their Medicare cards.
3. Help patients undress and get into little paper gowns. Open in the front.
4. Change cat litter.
5. Feed the birds making sure they don’t get loose.

Next day:

8:30 a.m. Pouring rain. Dogs refuse to poop. Wet to the bone and desperate, I grab a handful of mud and seal it in the baggie. Return to office.

8:45 a.m. Turtle disrupts sign-in line causing Mrs. Salk to lock walkers with Mr. Howitz.

9:00 a.m. Help Mrs. Hammershalt get naked and don a paper gown. Leave her in exam room B and return to the receptionist desk.

9:15 a.m. Feed Birds. (I fear the birds, and they know it.) A blood curdling scream, not mine. Run to exam room B, forgetting to close cage door. Cat is stuck to Mrs. Hammershalt’s naked chest.

“Get it off!” she screams.

“I’m afraid of cats.”

Cat will not relinquish its grip.

“Lay still and the cat will leave in a few minutes,” I lie.

Shrieks from the waiting room. I run back.

Two parakeets are dive bombing the patients.The birds appear to be enjoying their reign of terror. I will not grab them barehanded. I run to the sink, grabbing two paper cups full of water. I splash the water on the flying birds. I believe wet birds can’t fly. Soaked, they hit the floor like two feathered rocks. Eww…I can’t bring myself to pick them up with my bare hands. Using the two cups as scoops, I push one bird into a cup and dump him into the cage. I repeat the process with bird two.

The patients are mesmerized. They ask if I am a hallucination. I do as much as possible to reinforce that belief.

Don rubber gloves. Prop birds on floor of cage. Birds flop over. Decide birds would do better on perch. Search reveals Gorilla Glue. Perfect. Hold birds in place for ten minutes until dry.

Dr. Abigail approaches. “You did very well today. I’d like to have you come back tomorrow.”

Barbara Silkstone is the author of The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three Quarters and the non-fiction chronicle of my adventures into the hearts and minds of over 500 men, The Adventures of a Love Investigator, 527 Naked Men & One Woman. She lives on the edge in South Florida.


cassie mannes said…
The mental images this little diddy of flash fiction leaves in your head are amazing. I love the spontaneity of the animals and the craftiness of the new hire! Such a good story. Thank you for sharing on SheWrites!
L.C. Evans said…
This is so funny! Barbara, you are a master of funny imagery and zany situations. I learned this when I read your novel.
D.D. Scott said…
Darn it, if I didn't forget "the" rule when reading all-things-Barbara Silkstone...

Do NOT attempt to drink or eat while reading!!!

Fabulous flash of LMAO fiction, Barb!

What a hoot!!!
Karen Cantwell said…
I needed that laugh today! :-) What great fun.
Nell Gavin said…
OMG, Barbara!!! This was hilarious! When did this happen? How long did you stay?
I stayed one day. I don't take orders very well to begin with.

The worst job ever, ever... I use in The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland story but it was real ....

I accepted a position with one of those companies that buy gold. OMG! The second day at a "show" in a local restaurant, they ordered me to extract the gold from dead Aunt Tillie's teeth that were still in her jaw bone. Her nephew brought her lower jaw in. I ran down the road so fast... so gross!

All I could think of was... this will be great material for a book. Yuck!

If you have gold fillings... get them out... now!
Haylee said…
OMG, this is too, too funny. Great stuff, just like your books. Hilarious.
Haylee said…
This is just too, too funny. What craziness, as only the wonderful Barbara Silkstone can make so visual, so vivid and so, so funny.
Buck Buchanan said…
Absolutely hilarious. Unfortunately, even though it’s flash fiction, I had to read it in segments. I idiotically took a sip of water just before Mrs. Salk and Mr. Horowitz locked walkers which caused me to spew it all over my laptop. I slammed my recliner forward to rush for a towel, startling the dog sleeping next to my chair. She barked and ran through the open doors to the patio, awakening the cat sleeping on the glider. The cat yowled and scared the two wild ducks drifting in my pool. One flew the wrong direction, slammed into the sliding glass doors, and fell to the ground. I ran to the duck to keep the cat off it. The cat scratched me trying to get to the duck. The duck pecked me then woozily flew off. I dried off my laptop, stemmed the bleeding, and traded my water for rum. Then I laughed my way through the rest of Temporary Insanity – taking care to have no rum in my mouth – and reflected on how $&%!#% life had just imitated art. Great humor, incredibly visual in so few words.
Now it's my turn to spray on my computer screen. I guess turnabout is fair play. Sorry I threw your pets into a tizzy. I should try to control the humor... no... I'm out of control and will probably remain so.
Thea Atkinson said…
awesome work Barb! love the images and the casual way you slip in the subtle humor.

well done flash
Haylee and Thea, Thank you. Makes you want to stay healthy... huh?
Thanks to Barbara Silkstone for a great story and to all of you for stopping by Bibliophilic Blather.

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