Sunday, August 11, 2013

"A Twinkie Too Far": A short story by Joe Blevins

So delicious, so deadly. The Twinkie that changed everything.

I

His body somehow knew it before his brain did. His extremities went numb. His jaw went slack. His stomach felt like an elevator whose cables had snapped.

The blue and white box. The cheerful red logo. The cowboy-hatted mascot. It couldn't be true. But it was true! The Twinkie had returned!

Ray had just turned a corner with his cart at the Shopway when a display in the middle of the aisle stopped him cold. Twinkies. Boxes and boxes of Twinkies arranged into a pyramid. Panicked, Ray grabbed the fluorescent vest of the first employee he could locate, a wispy lad of about 15 with a vague expression on his face.

"Is this... I mean... are these permanent?"

A pregnant pause, then finally a response from the kid:

"...What?"

"The Twinkies, man! The Twinkies!" Ray gesticulated wildly in the direction of the pyramid. "Golden sponge cake! Creme filling! TWINKIE THE KID!"

Total incomprehension on the kid's face.

"Useless! Absolutely useless!"

Ray staggered out of the store, a man possessed. He practically had to remind himself  how to walk. One leg in front of the other. Repeat. He felt weirdly disconnected from his surroundings. The volume had been turned down on the outside world, but there was an audible throbbing inside his head. Oblivious to the world around him, he stepped in front of the path of a shiny black RAV4 in the parking lot. The driver, a suburban mother, was able to slam on the brakes in time to avoid hitting the seemingly-intoxicated man, who walked as if he were in a trance.

Once he'd reached a vacant section of the parking lot, Ray stopped and breathed deeply. He held his arms out at his sides. His rational mind was beginning to reassert control over his body. Unselfconsciously, he started to verbalize his thoughts:

"This is happening. This is happening. This is happening. Your name is Ray Dauber. You are 40 years old. You work as a computer programmer. You live at 2307 Creighton Avenue, Apartment B. You have a sister named Dale who lives in Utica. You're in the parking lot of the Shopway on Frontage Road, near the highway."

He slapped himself across the face.

"C'mon, man! Get your head in the game!"

He slapped himself again. Harder.

"Okay... okay... okay...." The word became a mantra.

More deep breaths, then a pronouncement: "Home. That's where you need to be right now. Go home. Go home, Ray. Go home."

A beat.

"Where did I park?"



II

Autocomplete told him all he needed to know. He had barely finished typing t-w-i-n-k-i-e-s into Google when phrases like "return" and "are coming back" popped right up like obedient dogs.

Ray took a deep breath, put his hands on his knees, then lifted his frame from the chair at his computer desk. Silently, he went to the hall closet and removed a folded vinyl tarp from the top shelf. Walking then to the living room, he spread the tarp across the floor. In the center, just as he'd remembered it, there was a large pentagram drawn carefully in black Sharpie. He stood in its center and began to speak in a rather solemn tone:

"Oh, Satan, Fallen Angel, Prince of Darkness, Father of All Lies..."

He then trailed off, temporarily out of synonyms. He then continued, a little less formally:

"Could you, uh... I mean, I know you're busy and everything, but would you mind...?"

"Talking to you a moment? Sure." 

The voice, buttery smooth as always, came from behind him. Ray turned around to see Satan, clad tastefully in a black suit with black shirt, red tie, and red handkerchief, standing in a doorway.

"Oh, uh, hey, Satan."

"Hey, Ray. What's up?"

"Uh, well... it's about this whole Twinkie thing."

"Mm-hmm."

"Um... you know how, like, I said I would, uh... sell my soul for another Twinkie when they were taken off the market, and then you showed up and said you'd take me up on the deal?"

"I remember everything, Ray, so yeah."

"Well, uh... this is kind of awkward,  but, uh... when I said I would sell my soul for a Twinkie, I had no idea that Twinkies were ever coming back. I thought they were gone forever, so..."

"Ray," said the Devil, interrupting, "I'm gonna stop you right there."

"Uh..."

"Did you or did you not agree to sell your immortal soul for a Twinkie?"

"Well, uh, yeah, but..."

"And did I or did I not supply you with a Twinkie?"

"Well,  uh, I mean, yeah... you did, but...."

"And how was that Twinkie, Ray?"

"It was the best I'd ever tasted, but..."

"The best you'd ever tasted. I rest my case, Ray."

"Yeah, but I made that deal under false pretenses." Ray was regaining his composure and speaking more forcefully. "See, I thought Twinkies were gone forever."

"Ray, the free market's gonna do what the free market's gonna do. I don't control the economy." A pause. "Well, actually, I do, but that's beside the point. We made a deal. I delivered on my end, Ray. What kind of Devil would I be if I let you back out now?"

Ray thought about how to answer for a moment. Then:

"A nice Devil?"

"Goodbye, Ray."

"Wait! Please! Let's talk this over! I can..."

But he was gone. Ray stood there on the tarp for a moment, staring at the empty space where the Author of All Sin had been just a moment ago. The faint smell of Axe still hung lightly in the air.

Ray let out a deep, exasperated sigh. He plodded over to the couch and collapsed upon it. He lay there in dejected silence for a good five minutes. Then, suddenly, his eyes lit up. He repositioned himself so he was sitting upright on the couch, then used his fingers to straighten his hair a little. He cleared his throat, craned his neck back so that he was looking at the white drywall ceiling, and spoke in a clear, crisp voice.

"God? Hi! It's Ray Dauber. Listen, I've got a little proposition for you, and..."

A deep, echo-y voice from above immediately cut him off: "It's not happening, Ray."

"Okay," Ray replied, rather meekly.

He went back to his computer, logged on to Google, and started searching for buddhism + conversion.

THE END

2 comments:

  1. A compact, delicious treat, and not too filling.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Glad you liked it, Craig. This was originally planned as a single tweet, but then I reconsidered and turned it into a short story.

    ReplyDelete