‘Earl, get the door,’ Fran said. She was standing at the sink peeling potatoes, and thinking how unusually dark and hazy it was outside for a Sunday morning in the middle of spring. ‘I thought I heard someone knock.

‘There’s no-one out there,’ Earl replied, looking up from his game of solitaire. Since his retirement from the postal service last July, he seemed to enjoy spending his free time arguing with her about everything, from the right way to fold a tablecloth to the wrong way to fold a hand in a game of cards. ‘I bet it’s just that stupid cat scratching at the flap again. Thing’s blinder than you are. When is that roast going to be ready? I’m starving.’

You just had breakfast.’

‘I’ve spent the last forty-five years of my life—’

‘—serving your country, and now that you’re retired you’re going to damn well enjoy your last few years on this Earth anyway you damn well please. I know, Earl. I know.’

There was a loud thud, and the front door shook.

They looked at each other. Earl’s eyes narrowed.

Abruptly, he pushed his chair away from the kitchen table and stood up. ‘It’s that damned paper boy. You know how many times I’ve hollered at him about throwing the paper at the house? One day it’s in the water fountain, the next on the roof. Mark my words: he’s going to break a window one of these days.’

Earl walked to the front door in long strides, looking a little like Hue Hefner, still dressed as he was in his pajamas and robe. ‘I’ll fix the little vandal.’

‘Leave him alone, Earl. He’s just a kid.’ Fran watched as her husband reached for the door, saddened by the realisation that the gentle, though sometimes excitable, twenty-two-year-old she had married all those years ago had finally made the transformation into a grumpy old man. She turned the leg-of-lamb over and gave it a generous sprinkling of rosemary and thyme. How many of these had she cooked for the old grouch, she wondered. At least he got to retire. What did she get? She got to make the Sunday roast until the end of days.

‘You ever tried reading the sports page when it’s soaking wet or smeared in dog turd?’ he asked. ‘If I want to spend the last few years of my life reading …’

Earl swung the door open and was shocked into silence when it fell off its hinges. Long, charred claw marks ran along the outside of its stained wood paneling. There was no cat, no paper delivery boy, and no neighbourhood. The landscape beyond his porch steps was a writhing chaos of smoke and flame. He saw something skitter from the corner of one eye; something else chirruped menacingly from deep within the inferno.

‘Oh, stop your whining, Earl,’ Fran said over her shoulder. ‘It’s not like it’s the end of the world.’

"The Last Roast"
Copyright: © 2009 Eugene Gramelis
Eugene Gramelis is a barrister and dark fiction writer from Sydney, Australia where he lives with his beautiful wife and two gorgeous daughters. His fiction has appeared, or is scheduled to appear, in publications such as MicroHorror, Crime and Suspense Magazine, Flashes in the Dark, The Daily Tourniquet, Midnight Echo, Afterburn SF and The New Flesh. Please feel free to visit Eugene's official webpage: http://gramelis.blogspot.com

1 comment:

  1. Oh that was a fun read! "She got to make the Sunday roast until the end of days." that part had me laughing silly. And the end was quite fun. Subtle, and entertaining. Good show!