The disembodied notion of choice thrusts itself on the character in this short by Serah Brandenn. And while the title is absurd (and sometimes the content too), it’s also a decent question in the grand scheme of questions. So take a gander. Which one would you choose? Really?
. There is a poverty of prose.
“To Surf Volcanoes or Give Enemas – That is the Question” by Serah Brandenn
“When you are told to give an enema, you will give an enema – the resident will have an enema.”
These words emanate from a narrow, aphotic office with walls coated with urine hued paint. The innards of the room are suitable for mushroom growth, not human habitation. The cave’s current habitant is Ronald.
My feet slither along the brown carpet as my ear drums continue to vibrate to his tirade. Ronald turns. I halt.
The right side of Ronald’s face materializes to reveal an epidermis multilayered with shades, nuances, caverns, of red. My latest vacation fantasy – volcano surfing – floods my mental landscape. My body, on a board, barrels through slides of lava. Lava which sears intricate patterns of third degree burns into my flesh. This appeals to my twisted, masochistic mind. It also saves money on tattoo bills. The Lava Adventure holds a stronger, more magnetic pull than my career of dodging punches, checking diapers, wiping bottoms.
Volcano surfing sounds fantastical, but isn’t. Its logistics are detailed by a reputable source – the internet.
Ronald’s rage, directed at an unknown nurse, ceases as he clanks the phone on its cradle. He slumps in his chair. He appears exhausted from the emotional resources his tirade required. My feet shuffle forward, as slowly as mice on sleeping pills. Ronald is unaware of my awareness of his virulent words.
My body becomes visible to Ronald as my feet creep on the carpet closer to his office.
“Hello Mark,” Ronald says. His lava-red skin dissipates, replaced by a countenance as white as ski resort snow. Last night’s dream – a tumble down sharp mountains, on miniature skis, followed by satanic, ill-intentioned midgets – enters my mind.
“How are you doing?” Ronald asks. A grin pulls the sides of his face up as if grasped by fish hooks.
Not fine, I think. These two words – two truthful words – are left unspoken. No friend of confrontation am I.
“Great. Just splendiferous.” A grin, as fake as Ronald’s, covers my countenance, as I speak.
The next day, same time, my feet are drawn towards Ronald’s office.
I overhear angry words, different in specifics, but similar in tone.
“You were supposed to give the resident an enema. Dietary’s ordered three dozen prunes – how difficult is it to shove a tube up a man’s ass? Do you want me to do it for you?!”
Ronald’s irate expression dissipates once I’m spotted. Same fake hello. Same fake how are you. Same fake response: Yes, I’m great. (My subconscious self screams: No, I’m not.)
Questions swirl my mind. Which nurse receives this violent verbiage? Which resident’s colon is compacted, to such a degree, as to arouse this alarm? Does Ronald project his intestinal discomfort onto the unlucky nurse? Perhaps he needs the enema?
After work, I follow him. Ronald’s small, red pickup, gurgles to The Blue Haven.
He sits alone, at the bar, on a small, blue stool. His ass overhangs the side like snow covered peaks of a high altitude mountain.
He orders one drink: Rum with rye.
He guzzles the drink. Another follows.
Three more gallop down his oesophagus, to quench his abundant, voracious thirst.
When I get home, I call my travel agent. Can I book a one way trip, to a volcano? I want to go surfing.
Serah Brandenn attended Kwantlen University/College, where she obtained a degree in criminology/psychology, as well as completed electives in creative writing. Formerly, she has worked in the landscape industry, with Alzheimer’s and mental health residents, as well as volunteered at a crisis/suicide line. Currently, she is writing a satirical memoir. She has been published in Scarlett Rosebud, Indigo Rising Magazine, and Canadian Stories.
Lyle Rosdahl, a writer living in San Antonio, edits the flash fiction blog & best of in print for the Current. He created, facilitates and participates in Postcard Fiction Collaborative, a monthly flash fiction response to a photo. You can see more of his work, including photos, paintings and writing, at lylerosdahl.com.
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