The Fireplace A Short Story By Mike Mullholand
The eyes are there again, thought Stevie as he stared at the fireplace, his nose barely clearing the edge of the spread. “Mom! Mom!” he yelled. The cute little blond haired blue eyed 5 year old had been seeing the yellow eyes in the fireplace, since he had graduated from nursery crib to his own bed.
“Stevie honey! What’s wrong now?” said Stevie’s mom as she entered the bedroom. “The eyes mom, they’re looking at me again.” “Stevie darling, I’ve told you there is no such thing as the boogie man, and he sure isn’t in your fireplace honey.” “But I see them mom, I see them in the fireplace, the yellow eyes.” “Do you see them now honey?” said his mom.” “No said Stevie,” but I did before, they looked at me, and blinked.” Stevie’s mom ruffled his blond hair, and said “honey, now go to sleep, you’re alright, Daddy and I are in the next room, you’re perfectly safe.” As Stevie’s mom left the room, the eyes blinked, and Stevie covered his head, “night mommy,” “goodnight Stevie honey.”
When the family arose the next morning. Stevie’s mom found him sleeping on the sofa in the living room once again. “Stevie! What are you doing sleeping down here again?” “I don’t like to sleep in that room, the fireplace has boogers in it.” Stevie’s mom looked at him, smiled and said,” Honey that’s non-sense, I’ve told you that, now this has to stop, look at you, dark circles under your eyes.” “You’ll be a mess in school today.” Stevie’s mom looked up at his dad as he came in, and just looked at him with a fearful smile. His dad just returned the smile; He had had his chance at trying to convince Stevie that there were no spooks in his room.
Stevie told his best friend Earl all about the yellow eyes. And Earl listened with wide-eyed attention. “Don’t say that Stevie, you’re scaring me, now I’ll be seeing boogers in my room.” “Well it’s true,” said Stevie, I can’t help it if it’s true bologna head.” “It’s not true you duffus! Shut up you’re weird.” “Come spend the night with me, and you can see for yourself.” “Okay, tonight’s Friday night, I’ll ask my mom is I can stay over, but there better be some eyes, or I’m telling everybody that you’re a cootie.”
Stevie and Earl finished supper and asked if they could be excused. “Sure said Stevie’s dad.” “Dad Earl came to spend the night so he could see the eyes too,” said Stevie. “Oh, for God’s sake! Stevie, we’ve told you there are no! Eyes in that fireplace.” “Yeah right dad, if you say so,” Stevie said as he smiled at Earl. “Earl just shook his head and twirled his finger at his head while looking at Stevie and his dad.
Stevie and Earl watched some cartoons and played a little Unreal tournament on the computer, and decided it was time to go to bed. Stevie’s mom tucked them both in kissed them and said, “no more silliness about eyes in the fireplace now, you both need your rest, tomorrow you’ll both want to play all day, I don’t want to see two worn out dudes at noon.”
Although Earl claimed to be braver than Stevie, and that Stevie was full of it. His cover was pulled up just as high as Stevie’s. “There they are Earl,” said Stevie. “Shut up bonehead, you’re scaring the crap out of me!” “Well aren’t you going to look?” said Stevie. Earl slid one eyeball out from under his blanket. “God!” said Earl. There were two eyes looking out of the fireplace.
“That’s a trick,” said Earl, “you’re not fooling me, you’re playing a joke on me.” “Uh, uh,” said Stevie, “no I’m not.” Earl threw off his cover, and climbed down from the top bunk bed. He walked toward the fireplace…
“Mom, mom!” called Stevie, “mom, mom!” Stevie’s mom and dad rushed into his room, a look of wrath on their faces. “Where is Earl?” said his dad. “I don’t know said Stevie.” Both his parents went into the hall and checked the bathroom. Stevie lay in bed and just watched the two pairs of eyes stare at him.
Copyright (2001) by Mike Mullholand
(A very short story) By Mike Mullholand
The sun warmed him on this June morning as if he were held in a giant warm powder puff. The sky was blue to forever. The waves licked at his feet. His heart was filled with an expansive joy. It was the day of the race, and he was ready. He looked to the horizon, and saw the markers at the half-mile turning point, and knew that he would begin to turn on his power at that point and use his all between that marker and shore. He would win the race.
His swimmers lean build, blond hair, and peeling nose, made it obvious that he was at home on the beach. Swimming, surfing, sailing, that was his life for most of the year. He would usually bow to a month or two of winter, but reluctantly so, and sometimes never. If his wet suit could fend off the colder temperatures, he would be there.
He loved the breathy feeling and warmth of the beach when he walked out of the water after a long swim, but especially after a long race.
Twice a year the lifeguards got together, and sponsored a charity race and picnic. The race was one mile of ocean swimming. And although it was a local event, there was a thousand dollar prize and 6 months of beach prestige to go along with it. He had won the race for 5 years, no one else was even close. He loved winning the race, the money didn’t matter, nor the prestige, but he loved to rub it in his buddy’s faces. It drove them nuts. They were all into water sports, and it really galled them that they couldn’t catch him, and it really tickled him. No real hostility though, they all liked each other, and loved to tease, “The Man.”
“Jimmy, I swear you’d stay out here until your turned lobster red”, he turned and saw his mother coming toward him across the beach. “You’re going to kill me pushing this thing across the beach on a hot day like this.” He smiled, and looked up tearfully at his mom, as she grabbed the handles of his wheel chair and began the big push back home.
Copyright (2001) by Michael Mullholand
A short story By Mike Mullholand I
I noticed the man looking in the shop window. Tall, handsome, intense green eyes, dressed in expensive, well tailored clothes. Apparently he was admiring a sport jacket and shirt in the window. I though he might be a well to do professional man, or perhaps a local television personality. I overheard two people strolling fast behind me say something about, “what a dork,” seemingly referring to the man staring in the window. I was momentarily stunned. I thought, dork? “What the hell did that mean?” Here I am thinking the fellow is some local celeb, and they think he’s a dork. What’s wrong with this picture? I think to myself. “Oh well,” I thought, and ambled on down the street. Still I wondered what the nicely dressed couple saw, that I did not. The women had been beautiful and the man quit handsome, but no more so than the man I had noticed.
I just attributed their strange statement to their bad taste, or perhaps to mine. I had felt a little strange ever since I’d eaten that hotdog and coke off the strange little man’s cart a few minutes ago. Maybe it was the heat.
I recalled the short conversation I had had with the strange little vendor when I placed my order at his cart. I just stepped up, ordered my dog and a coke. While I watched the little man prepare my order. A guy jogged by soaked in sweat, blowing like a horse. “Not exactly Robert Redford,” I said as the man passed us. The little vendor got a very curious look on his face, anger, or amusement, I couldn’t tell. He finished my order, and I paid him. I walked over to the little park half a block over from my office and, picked a shady bench, and sat down to feast on my gourmet lunch. The hotdog was excellent, and the coke icy. It hit the spot. I leaned back on the bench and watched a squirrel turning cartwheels near a Camellia bush across the walk. I theorize that the buds make the squirrels nutty, pardon the pun. I got up to walk off the dog before I returned to the office, and as I turned in that direction a skateboarder passed me. Not an unusual occurrence on a summer day, but this was an unusual boarder. He was dressed right out of a skateboarding magazine. I mean from head to toe clean and looked the cover of a glossy magazine. He nodded his head, and said, “Dude.” I laughed inwardly, and continued on my way, strange event number two for the day. I dismissed it and turned my thoughts to a meeting I had with an important, but irritating client.
Joe Howard was a turd, a dog turd to be specific. He was very important to our company, but an intolerable human being, brash, slovenly, annoying, and rich as hell. I read over my notes in preparation for the meeting. It was our usual monthly update get-together. We met to discuss any issues that came up, and to maintain a good relationship with Mr. Howard. Although, I would have had a better relationship with him, if we never got together.
Ray Connelly my assistance manager and close friend walked in the door of the conference room with Joe Howard in hand. No wait, this wasn’t Joe, ah, yes it was. This man was dressed like a Nordstrom’s mannequin, smelled of high-end cologne, manicured, hair combed and clipped to a tee. I truly had to take my seat as I shook Joe Howard’s hand. It was warn, not sweaty as usual, firm, but not aggressive. The perfect handshake. “What’s wrong Brent,” I heard Ray say to me. I looked at him blurry eyed, mouth open, and shook my head, “nothing, nothing Ray, I’m fine.”
“Good to see you Brent, always a pleasure.” That was it; I think I’m having a seizure. The guy usually greets me with a growl and a look that would peel varnish off an antique clock. “Huh?” I said. Joe Howard patted me on the back and said, “Well, let’s get busy.”
The meeting lasted about 25 minutes. It went smoothly and was a very pleasant experience. Joe told a couple short clean jokes that were hilarious. When the meeting was over Joe hugged me and said, “Brent you and the wife have to go to my with me and Betty, when you get a chance this summer, it would be great having you. Give me a call.” “I will Joe,” I said in stunned disbelief. And the meeting was over.
I sat in my office in a daze, and tried to put together the events since lunch. The past 3 hours had been like a dream. The man window-shopping, the skate boarder, and the Joe Howard. This was not the heat or indigestion. Something was happening to me. Some strange thought process, or change in perception. It was as if I were seeing people as their ideal, or as they would have others see them at their best, or as they thought of themselves. Whatever it was, it was disconcerting. Like some strange spell in a spooky novel.
I finished up my work, waved to Ray as I hit the door, and used the boss’s prerogative of baling out an hour early on a summer day. As I hit the street, I knew that something was truly wrong. Almost everybody was strolling down the street without a sweat stain, or bead of perspiration on his or her faces. Most all beautifully dressed, with bright smiles, and mostly offering a cherry greeting as this caught my eye. Even stranger was the fact that the few people that weren’t dressed nicely, and that did sweat were really sweaty, and really slovenly in their appearance.
I walked in the door, and my wife Sarah greeted me with a peck on the cheek. At least Sarah looked normal. She looked like Sarah. And then she smiled. I was dumb struck. Sarah is a beautiful woman, great body, hair, face, the whole package, including some spectacular hooters. But Sarah had one flaw that is according to her. She had one front tooth that was slightly crooked, and a small chip missing from the tooth to the side. Not today she didn’t. “Your teeth look great Honey,” I said. “What the devil are you talking about?” she said. “I brush my teeth everyday you know Brent,” she responded. “No honey I mean the dental work, it looks great!” “What dental work, don’t be silly, I’ve been here all day washing clothes?” Is something wrong with you Brent?” “What are you talking about, honey?” “No, No, I’m fine honey, I think the heat’s got me.
I was extremely embarrassed, and didn’t attempt to give a reasonable response to Sarah’s query. Maybe something was wrong. I turned, slung my coat over my shoulder, and walked up the steps to my bedroom. Leaving Sarah with a baffled expression on her face. I went to my bedroom to change into some summer shorts and a pull over.
Had I come under some spell that had made me able to see people’s true self? That couldn’t be it. People certainly had the ability to dress well, or have their teeth fixed, without any magic, but what about Sarah’s teeth? And what about the people that I saw that didn’t look good. Oh this is utter non-sense. I must have a screw lose. Spells, and sudden onset mental abilities.
Then suddenly I realized. I could see people as they saw themselves. I looked in the mirror, and then began screaming.
Copyright (2001) by Mike Mullholand