Define Insanity: Flash Fiction
Someone wrote that insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result each time. By that definition, Harold was undoubtedly insane. Once again, he was underneath the deck, tinkering around with the septic tank.
“Harold!” I called. “Harold! Answer me.”
I heard a soft banging noise but couldn’t make out the words. I stomped on the deck until a slight, much louder knocking from underneath indicated I had found the right spot.
“What the hell are you doing now, Harold?” That was my first mistake. It never fared well for me when I asked that question. I heard another faint mumble coming from somewhere below my feet. I bent down to take a better gander.
“Harold, for God’s sake, would you get out of there before you break something.” I should have saved my energy for at that moment, Harold emerged, covered head to toe in waste.
I tried not to laugh.
“Oh, Harold!” I said, squeezing my nose.
“Stop laughing, Martha,” he said through dirty obscured lips. “It’s not that funny.”
I tried not to retch. “You’re right, it’s not funny,” I fought back a heave. “You smell like–”
“Shite,” he said, his Scottish brogue seeping out.
I grabbed for the hose and bent over to turn it on.
“What do you think you’re doing with that?” he had the nerve to ask me.
“What do you think I’m going to do?” I replied, feeling rather empowered.
“I don’t think so, Hen. That water’s colder than a witch’s tit.”
“It’s not like I’m trying to give you an enema. Just a quick wash-off. Now stand still.”
“I’d rather not,” he said, walking towards me.
“Stop right there, Harold. Don’t take another step closer or else.”
“Harold! You’re covered in poop. It’s no time to be picky about water temperature,” I informed him, although had the tables been turned, I would have certainly never abided by an ice shower.
“I’m going in to wash up,” he started walking towards me again.
“You’re toxic and not stepping one smarmy foot in my house, do you understand?” And at that, I turned the water on full blast.
“Uck” he yelled, doing a jig, but I kept the water aimed straight at him.
“I swear it, Martha. If you don’t turn that damn thing off!”
“Stay still. I'll make this quick.”
“Turn it off or I’ll bear hug you.”
“Threats are futile.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
“Harold, I’ll divorce you.”
“Turn it off, Martha–last warning.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Would a grown man covered in shite, lie?” he asked, hands on hips.
Hmmm. I turned the spray away from him to give myself time to think about that one. Three-seconds later. “Times up.” I started to respray him.
For a minute, I thought he’d make good on his threat but instead, Harold surprised me by holding his hands high in the air.
“Hurry up!” he complained. “It’s freezing,” he shouted, teeth chattering and head bent over to not let the liquid brown muck run into his eyes and mouth.
But I couldn’t stop now. I was on a mission.
“Hail, sleet, snow or in your case, shit, you will be clean once again my husband,” I cheered and kept up the pressure.
Beaten and probably numb from the ice-cold water, Harold gave up the fight. He spread his arms wide and spun around.
As I busied myself saving his life, I heard a strange voice come up from behind me.
“What the hell?” exclaimed our mystery visitor.
Startled, I jumped and mistakenly sprayed Harold straight in the face.
“Oh! Pastor Frank. I, um, I err,” I stumbled atrociously, trying to find the right words as brown waste dripped down Harold’s neck and pilled all over the deck.
“Harold? Martha? Are you both okay?” asked Father Frank, clearly alarmed.
I grimaced, deathly embarrassed. Every time Harold pulled one of his stupid stunts, I wound up stinking like, well, shit too.
“Why, hello there, father,” said Harold, drenched but not the least bit embarrassed. He reached out a filthy hand but quickly pulled it away. “Oh, sorry about that,” Harold said, much to my utter mortification. However, to Father Frank’s credit, the old man of God merely cringed and took two rather large steps backwards. “I know this looks strange, Father,” said Harold contritely.
“I do apologize for this,” I explained at the same time. “It’s really quite simple. You see–” but before I could finish, Father Frank raised his hand for the both of us to stop talking.
“Now, now,” he said, as if speaking to a pair of idiots. “No need to explain. Trust me, nothing you two do shocks me anymore. Besides, I’ve seen and smelt worse.”
By the stench wafting through my nostrils, I could hardly imagine that to be true.
Father Frank noticed my mortification and shrugged. “It comes with the collar.”
Harold and I shared a nervous laugh.
“Well, you see, Father,” said Harold, not leaving miserable enough alone, “I was just doing a bit of fix’in. Then the God damn septic tank decided to …”
“Harold!” I admonished.
“Oops, oh, pardon me, Father.”
I didn’t think it possible, but under all that crap, I think Harold was blushing.
“Think nothing of it,” said Father Frank. “You were saying, Harold?”
“Aye. Well, the septic tank has been acting up something fierce lately. I thought I’d go down under and see what-was-what– If you're getting my drift.”
Father Frank sniffed and winced. "I get your drift," he mumbled. Then, as if correcting himself added, “And did you figure it out?”
Harold shook his head. “Well, not exactly.”
At that moment, a loud gurgling sound caused the deck beneath our feet to rumble.
“Harold?” I shrilled.
“Now what could that be?” asked Harold, his attention adrift.
Father Frank inched further back.
“Harold, I suggest you move away from there,” I said, but Harold wasn’t listening. Instead, the big dope bent over to examine his handiwork.
Just then, the damn thing burst sending shite rocketing into the sky and landing on all three of us like an erupting volcano.I tried to run but bumped smack into Father Frank who was on all fours gagging and trying not to breathe through his mouth.
“Oh, my lord, I’m so sorry father,” I said, close to tears. “Harold!” I screamed. “Now see what you’ve done!”
“I’m so sorry, father. I had no idea that could happen,” apologized Harold but his words were lost on a fleeing father who tripped and stumbled his way off our property at lightning speed.
I’m pretty certain the neighbors were quite shocked to see the poor man strip down to his briefs in our driveway and throw his shit-stained clothes in our garbage. I prayed he wouldn’t get stopped on the way home.
Funny thing though … we never did find out why Father Frank came to see us that day, but from what I’ve heard from fellow parishioners, he decided to retire earlier than expected.
Flash fiction-story starter.