In the Suburbs of Good and Evil
1225 words long
You might as well use a reputation like that to your advantage.
Notes from the author:
It’s just basic math. Add Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge “Good vs. Evil” to the random word prompt “exurb” and you get Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Only that already exists, so you get yet another story about oppressive homeowners’ associations instead.
As the local deviant, Gita performs a necessary function. She’s the scapegoat against whom everyone else measures their own fitness to live in Everest Prosper. It is not a comfortable role, but it can be fun. Gita hangs peace flags over her patio and pays a small fine each month rather than take them down. She doesn’t have kids. She doesn’t have a dog. She has a cat whom she walks on a leash twice a day, rain or shine. She practices yoga in her front yard every morning at dawn. She lights candles in her back yard under the full moon. She is Wiccan instead of Protestant, single instead of married, brown instead of white. She’s widely held to be a nuisance and a bad influence on the neighborhood children.
Since you can’t beat a reputation like that, you might as well enjoy having it. But right now it’s not doing Gita any favors. No one listens to the neighborhood scapegoat if she says Bart’s up to something.
Bart is new to the neighborhood. No one knows him well, but everyone wants to get to know him. He makes the rounds most afternoons as a timid smile attached to an elderly beagle. He goes shopping for the oddest things, probably components for some do-it-yourself home project, he seems the type. Neighbors ask him what he plans to do with that cordless drill, whether the white rabbit from the pet store will be his first or a companion for another. He gives that shy, self-deprecating smile and says it’s for “his girl.”
Gita’s neighbors think this is just adorable. Gita thinks it’s suspicious. Who is this girl he’s trying to impress? Does she have a name, an existence outside of Bart’s imagination? Why has no one in Everest Prosper laid eyes on her? And what did Bart’s purchase of a cordless drill, a white rabbit, and a dozen black candles really add up to? (No one asks Bart about the candles. No one seems to notice. A dozen black candles just don’t fit the picture they’re building of a sweet, shy, hard-working DIY nerd wooing a new girlfriend.)
(And where did he get a dozen black candles? Gita herself has to trek into town just to find candles in colors other than white.)
Gita follows Bart home that night and clambers down next to his basement window....
This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for October 20, 2017. Subscribers can download the full-length fictionette (1225 words) from Patreon as an ebook or audiobook depending on their pledge tier.
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