The Man in the Basement Joshua Rupp
When I bring food to the man in the basement, he asks me what day it is. I don’t remember. The young cockroaches are coming out of the walls. He has killed one. The young ones are yellow, like the ends of the cigarettes I don’t bring him. And we never talk anymore. I cut up magazines and make ransom notes and leave them outside. Sometimes I put them in the mailbox with my return address on them, but no one ever writes back. Sometimes I don’t cut up the magazines properly and I send too much of the article so it says WE HAVE YOUR SON SEVEN WAYS TO PLEASE YOUR MAN.
Once he asked if there was a war, and I think there must have been but I don’t see any point in talking about it. The mailbox is filled with ransom notes. Sometimes I smell smoke from the woods. I bring food to the man in the basement. He is not chained. He could come up the stairs. I worry that he has come up, quietly, that he is standing behind me. The garage is filled with magazines and glue sticks. The oldest magazine is older than I am. It has swollen in the rain.
I have a nightmare that the basement is full of rotten food. I wake up in front of a ransom note that says WE HAVE YOUR SON COME GET HIM. I bring food to the man in the basement. He has either eaten the cockroach, or it is no longer there. The basement is filling with plates. Sometimes I smell smoke in the woods.
I ask him if he’s standing behind me. He doesn’t say anything. He’s probably not there. Yesterday I took the notes out of the mailbox to make room for the new ones. I take a Playboy out of the garage. I cut it up. I glued CUM ALONE to a piece of paper. I ask him if he is standing behind me. He doesn’t say anything. Sometimes I smell smoke in the woods. It is morning. I bring food to the man in the basement. I have a nightmare. The basement is full of rotten food. He asks me what day it is. I have been finding notes in the woods. The letters on some of them are older than I am.
I take food to the man in the basement. The young cockroaches have grown old. They are eating from the plates. The man is crying, asking them something. He wants to know what day it is. Upstairs, I think that I remember it is his birthday. I go to the stairs. He deserves to know. I can’t go down the stairs, there’s no reason to, I have already brought the food, I tell the stairs that it is his birthday. Sometimes I smell smoke in the woods.
I have the kind of scissors a child would use. They are almost too small for my fingers. I cut up one magazine, one yellow newspaper. More letters than I or anyone else needs. How many words do you need to say that I am waiting? I ask him if he is standing behind me. He doesn’t say anything. I cut out We. we. WE. I cut the “re” off a “were.” We. have.
Come COME cum comb com Come
I bring in another stack of magazines. This will take awhile.
It takes time to find alone in the magazines.
Support Flash Fiction Online
Flash Fiction Online is a free online magazine that pays professional rates. So how do we make that happen? It’s due to the generosity of readers like you.
Here are some ways you can help:
Sign up to become a monthly donor. Read more…
Subscribe to FFO.
Never miss an issue! E-reader formats delivered to your inbox. Available from WeightlessBooks.com
Buy our issues & anthologies.
Consider a one-time gift that fits your budget.
Advertise with us.
Have a product, service, or website our readers might enjoy? Ad space available on the website and in our e-reader issues. Sponsored posts opportunities are also available. Learn more…
Spread the word.
Love one of our stories or articles? Share it with a friend!