My monthly newsletters include a fresh piece of flash fiction, which is sometimes a bonus scene for one of my published stories, sometimes featuring recurring flash fiction characters, sometimes completely unrelated to anything I’ve written before. One thing they’ll all have in common is that I’ll write each one to be able to be understood/appreciated whether or not you’ve read the book/characters featured within the scene.
Anyway, that bit of monthly newsletter flash is promised to be exclusive to subscribers for at least a month before being posted on my site. I’ve got a little catching up to do…
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I wrote this piece for my February, 2020 newsletter after the Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV. My humorous meet-cute short story, Of Rats and Cats, is set in Kansas City, so I figured that would be a good story to add onto with a tie-in to the game.
If you haven’t read the short story yet, no worries. This scene might mean a little more to those who have, but it’ll stand alone just fine.
This bonus scene is told from Raymond’s 3rd-person POV and incorporates these 10 prompt words from a random word generator (screenshot, below):
eat – develop – argument – man – seal – buffet – punch – chew – pleasant – skeleton
Pandy gave Raymond a wary sidelong glance and dashed to safety under the bed. Just as well…it wasn’t as if Raymond expected any comfort from his feline roomie. And Raymond could hardly blame the cat, since his giggle-groan had sounded like a punch-drunk seal with an intestinal blockage.
Raymond closed his eyes, counted to five, then opened them again for another peek at the text message taunting him from his phone.
A seemingly innocuous message, except Raymond knew what it meant. Which was that Kevin’s parents would arrive in ten minutes, and Raymond had ten minutes to get his shit together to impress them. Or at least not horrify them.
Raymond kept his reply simpler than the hop, skip, and jump his heart had given before he’d unleashed that unnatural sound which had sent Pandy scurrying to keep Raymond’s porn collection company underneath the bed. He managed short and simple well enough in text form. Not so much if Kevin had been standing right in front of him.
Raymond didn’t have any trouble carrying a conversation, but the idea of sitting around chatting and casually chewing the fat with his boyfriend’s parental units made his stomach churn as if he were building up to hurl like one of his pea-green-hued patients at the detox center.
“Stop it,” Raymond muttered and pushed himself off the couch to pace around the room. Sure, he wanted Kevin’s parents to like him, but would it really be the end of the world if they didn’t?
Yes. Yes it would. So screamed the self-doubting corner of his brain. Maybe Raymond should tone himself down a few notches. Give them Raymond-lite instead of the full effect.
Except he’d already had that argument with himself last night. Giving first dates a faded version of himself had been his M.O. prior to meeting Kevin, and ultimately the relationships had failed. Because of course, they had. If the relationships had moved onto a second date, it had been because they’d liked that version of Raymond rather than the real deal.
Raymond’s guard had been down when he’d met Kevin, and the poor man had gotten a full dose. Hell, he’d gotten Raymond on steroids. And he’d liked it! Didn’t everyone deserve the same chance to either like or dislike the real him rather than a false front? Besides, assuming he and Kevin lasted, he didn’t want to spend years pretending to be someone he wasn’t every time he encountered Kevin’s parents.
It was probably a good thing Raymond had had next to no notice of this meet up, otherwise he likely would’ve developed an ulcer from overthinking and stressing out about it.
Raymond stopped himself from running his fingers through his hair just in time before he screwed up the do he’d spent at least twenty minutes perfecting. For fuck’s sake, it was high time he met them anyway. He and Kevin had been dating more than a year now.
Not that they’d been avoiding having Raymond meet Kevin’s parents, per se. Raymond was not going to go down that particular self-doubting rabbit hole. He knew Kevin well enough to know that Kevin wasn’t hiding their relationship. Raymond had met a number of Kevin’s coworkers and even some of his old buddies from St. Joseph when they’d been down to KC for concerts or to see the Chiefs or the Royals.
So no, Kevin hadn’t pointedly kept Raymond away from meeting his parents. It just hadn’t worked out yet. The ’rents hadn’t been back to visit Kevin in KC since helping him move, and Kevin’s trips to St. Joe had been tied to holiday visits and random Sundays when Raymond had happened to be working.
So, they would’ve had to plan a special trip just for that purpose, and who the hell was motivated to do that? Raymond snorted. Not him, that was for sure.
But then the Kansas City Chiefs had gone and pulled off a Super Bowl win, and the whole city and metro area had gone crazy. Kevin’s parents wanted to come down for the big parade, and they were spending the night at Kevin’s place tonight before attending the festivities tomorrow.
So not meeting Kevin’s parents in this situation would’ve been pointed avoidance, and neither he nor Keven had even attempted to go there. Raymond’s whole body had tingled—before the eventual panic had set in—when Kevin had jumped on it and had been the one to suggest they all go out to dinner together tonight.
Raymond’s phone buzzed again as he opened his bedroom closet.
“Crap.” Raymond stared at his closet floor and a muscle in his cheek twitched. He may not have any skeletons in his closet, but he had a pile of dirty filigree briefs mixed with socks on the floor of it. He scooped them up and dumped them into the laundry bag.
Doubtful Kevin’s parents would open his closet, but just in case—he affected a dramatic shiver—they didn’t need an extended tour of Raymond’s kinks alongside his campy persona. Raymond pulled out his winter coat and draped it over the back of a kitchen chair.
Kevin’s parents had agreed to the dinner plans. Not a bad idea since if there ended up being bad blood between them, at least voices would remain restrained in a public place. That’s what Raymond was counting on, anyway.
“Stop it,” Raymond muttered. Again. They’d raised a wonderful son, so they would be perfectly pleasant people. Probably.
Raymond almost dropped the phone when it buzzed again.
They want to eat at a buffet. Suggested the Ameristar.
“Crap.” Raymond grimaced. Not that he objected to the food, but the casino charged a muscular arm and a well-turned leg for it, and Raymond’s arms weren’t particularly muscular. Another buzz…
They said they’ll pay.
Well, okay then. Raymond grinned. In that case, he would cheerfully eat his way through the tour of the world spread. Then diet for a whole damned week to make up for it. He shot off his usual reply.
Pandy peeked out from under the bed then trotted over to sit and stare at her empty food bowl.
“Don’t even try it.” Raymond did pick up the water bowl and freshened it, though. “You already ate.” His phone buzzed again.
Heading your way.
Raymond filled his lungs, blew the air out again, and pulled back his shoulders. Ten minutes was down to ten seconds, because Kevin lived just a couple apartment doors down the hall. Raymond ran his hands down his chest to smooth the material of his pink button-down and walked to the door. He took one final deep breath, pasted on a smile, and opened the door.
2 thoughts on “BONUS SCENE – Of Rats and Cats (From February, 2020 Newsletter)”
Awww, I think I need to re-read Of Rats and Cats. I need something short that’ll make me smile!! 🙂
❤️ Well, if there’s one thing about this short story, it’s guaranteed to make all but the most stoic crack a smile (or a dozen). 😁