A story about not being equipped to help someone. #flashfiction #shortstory #mentalhealth https://t.co/q9KdEdGWVF https://t.co/H14jfmpg2Z (8 hours ago)

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Apr
22

odyssey in the supermarket

Where to start? How about a location? A large grocery store in an urban setting.

Now we just need a good opening line to grab your attention. Something along the lines of the following; Some heroes are born and some heroes are made… and then there are some heroes that neither want to claim ownership of. Nature throws up its hands and Nurture looks away uncomfortably.

Such was the case with Karl.

Karl stocked shelves at the grocery store. On his best day, if he’d gotten enough sleep and a healthy breakfast, he was your average grocery store employee. Since a rather contentious split with his girlfriend, his toddler son now came to work with him on a daily basis. Karl’s boss wasn’t thrilled with the scenario but realized that Karl didn’t have many options and he’d always been a very conscientious worker.

Karl’s boss sometimes looks back on how it took both contentious and conscientious to put him in the rather odd predicament. Quite a headful.

In order to make it up to his boss, Karl devised a rather ingenious scheme to help fight crime.

A rather unexpected sentence, I’ll give you a moment to switch gears.

I’ll also forewarn you that perhaps ingenious isn’t the best word to describe it. I’ll let you be the judge.

The grocery store where he worked was continually getting robbed, so Karl decided to get involved. This involvement involved creating a shield. Any time involvement involved is involved it’s easy to forget all about what follows, but I implore you not to.

The shield is really crux of the story.

Karl called it BOB (Baby On Board). On one side of the shield he put some leather straps where he could put his arm through. On the other side he put some leather straps where he could mount his son. The shield felt good on his arm and the weight of the baby boy was a constant reminder to him how fast they grow.

The theory behind BOB being that no armed gunman would dare shoot at someone if there was a baby in the way. Thus protected, he could approach the would-be robber and drive him out of the store.

It worked. Every time someone would try and stick the place up, Karl would grab his son and his BOB and thwart the crime.

A rather unexpected visual, I’ll give you a minute to fully picture it. And to brace yourself for what follows. It only gets harder to imagine from here on out.

It helps if you’re familiar with the Captain America comic books and movies. He’s also a hero that employs a shield. In his case, he throws it at the bad guys. Once Karl had seen him do this on the big screen he knew that he must develop a way to do this with BOB.

But how to hurl it without harming his son?

(I did warn you that it was going to get harder to imagine)

Experiments with dolls didn’t really give him the feeling of a live baby when he hurled the shield. Luckily his sister Robin cleaned cages at a pharmaceutical firm that did animal testing and had access to monkeys.

(At this point I can’t blame you for thinking “What the fuck am I reading?”)

Karl talked her into borrowing a few of the monkeys, stuffing them in her purse as she left every night and then returning them only slightly worse for wear the next morning, by using the old ‘Every Batman needs his Robin’ approach, despite the fact that mixing Marvel and DC characters in the same story is downright inexcusable.

Finally, after all the bugs were worked out with throwing the new and improved son-laden shield, he was forced to wait for the next robber to visit the store. The weeks dragged by and just as it seemed to Karl that nobody was ever going to try and clean out the registers again, someone did. A hard-boiled ex-con with a rap sheet a mile long.

A hard-boiled ex-con who shot Karl right in the face before he could even launch his new and improved son-laden shield.

His son’s nose was broken in the fall. A cashier fell to her knees crying. The hard-boiled-yet-flustered ex-con left without taking any money. Nature covered its eyes and Nurture backed away slowly, trying not to attract any undue attention. Karl quietly spoke his last words on the cold tile floor; “What peaches and what penumbras. Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?”

(A very sad ending so don’t feel you have to imagine it. If you do though, please do so in slow motion while listening to this.)

(Damn I wish I could see how you’re imagining it.)

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