Flash Fiction Challenge – The Forgotten Jeweler

Coming in at just under 1500 words, this is in response to a flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds, seen here, called “The Random Title Jamboree.”

* * *

“There it is — there’s the door–”

“Come on — ”

I had my hand on it, fingers curling around the knob that was a sapphire full of inclusions, polished into a death’s head grin, and I was staring out at a street rendered unfamiliar by the dustgrimed glass, but I knew it would resolve once I got it open.

“Wait! Er–please, wait!” The voice was thready, and more than a little desperate.

I looked at Alan, somewhat pleading, and he looked confused for only a moment, and then rolled his eyes and shrugged, a good-natured smile slipping over his features as he paused with his hand on the doorknob as well, looking back toward the man who’d called out.

“It’s only that I haven’t had… well you see I haven’t had a customer in a such a terribly long time, I imagine I was far too enthusiastic,” the little old man called. “I do promise I shall stop thrusting boxes in your face if only you’ll come back. There are just… so many things you could see. I could, perhaps, ready tea for us all while you shopped about?” he offered.

I caught my breath, no longer in a hurry, feeling somewhat sheepish.

“I am hungry,” Alan said to me. “What if we humored the old gent, hmm? We haven’t to be at Nancy’s for supper until after eight, and it’s–” he checked his watch, nodding, “–only half four, now. If we find her something here, we won’t need to stop again.”

I nodded with him, smiling easily enough, and we slipped back inside the main part of the store, carefully maneuvering around the tall stacks of boxes and display cases overflowing with mountainous piles of chains and settings, gems and backs, links and ropes and rings and prongs.

“Mind the strands, of course,” the man called, and both Alan and I carefully navigated past a mannequin fairly dripping with rubies strung in a fashion I couldn’t comprehend. Whatever held it, netting-wise, was perfectly invisble, but the drops all shimmered together as Alan and I passed.

When we returned to the man’s side, he set aside the teapot he’d been carrying, and reached out and seized Alan’s hands clasping them both, looking apologetic and joyous all at once. The loupes at his eyes made him look a bit insectile, and more than a bit mad, and he flicked them out of the way, and said in a breath that smelled of solder, “You simply must come look at the rings.”

Alan glanced over his shoulder back at me, as the man lead us further into his shop, and we shared an eye roll, shaking our heads and shrugged as we followed. At the very least, it would make for a fascinating story to tell at Nancy’s party, which was good, as her parties had always wound up being rather dull.

I swear we walked for a solid five minutes, going ever deeper into the store; I felt Alan’s hand tighten on mine after a bit, and I walked a little closer to him, grinning crookedly.

He leaned in and whispered, “We should sneak off after he’s shown us about a bit — have a good rogering in one of the side aisles.”

My snort of laughter was quickly muffled, but I clapped him on the back and chuckled as I said, “That’s my Alan. Never one to make an honest man of me, but it’ll be fun all the while.”

When we caught back up to the man, he was standing amidst a veritable pile of small black boxes, opening them up, pulling out the ring, tossing it aside, dropping the box, fishing another box out, and on and on and on. Alan and I joined him and picked up boxes and rings, curious at the bands, the stones, the whorled designs and facets and spirals and cutouts — no two alike. I tried some on my pinkies, tiny beautiful ones with pearls and hematite, and showed them off to Alan, saying, “Do you think Nancy–”

“–Oh, she’d love them!” he crowed. “Let’s find the perfect one.”

We pecked over the pile for a little while longer, and when we emerged with one stunning ring with delicate pearls and hematite, flecks of diamond all wrapped up in solid gold, we felt more than satisfied; we felt triumphant.

The proprietor called for us, then, saying, “I’ve set us up a tea! The washroom’s all the way in the back, remember? Freshen up and join me at my office!”

“Perfect timing,” Alan said, and grasped my hand. We headed toward the back, and as we were just about there, his grip tightened, briefly. “About that rogering–”

I stopped, and turned around to look at him, not quite shocked, but laughing. “Now?”

He moved to get down on his knees, then, slow, but determined, fishing a small box out of his pocket, and offering it up. “Actually, I was thinking I’d make an honest man of you. Tom? Will you m–”

I didn’t even let him finish the words. I don’t remember ever kissing him quite so fiercely as I did in those moments. He slid the ring on my finger, and I drew him back off his knees, wrapping my arms around him, feeling delight high in my throat and in the corners of my eyes. Kissing, then, took the place of remembering whatever else we were doing — he put me against the door to the washroom and covered my mouth with his. It was long moments of hunger, and then he whispered against my lips, “Tom — open the washroom door. We can lock it–”

“We’ll only have a few minutes,” I said, breathless.

“…I’ll only need a few,” Alan laughed, leaning against me. “I need you in me.”

We tumbled into the washroom, pulled at belts and buttons, clutching at one another. He reached to curl his fingers around me, and guide me in, and as we began to thrust against one another, I reached for the lightswitch, gasping, “I want to see you–”

The lights came on.

I froze.

In the mirror, I saw us, bestial and rutting — silver-haired and pale-skinned, at least thirty-years older than could be possible. Alan was clutching the edge of the sink, his eyes shut, panting. “Fuck me, Tom,” he begged. “Don’t stop.” I couldn’t continue — spellbound by confusion bordering on terror, I withdrew. When his eyes opened, and he saw what I saw, we pulled away. From one another, and the mirror, and zipped up, panting, reaching for one another, my fingers threading through his hair, no longer dark. This morning, we’d been a hale couple of twenty-five and twenty-three.

Now I looked like my father.

“Tom?” he breathed. “What happened? How long have we been here?”

“I don’t know, Alan, but we’d best be getting the fuck out of here right now,” I said, feeling my voice shake. My chest was growing tight, fear rising against my ribs, tensing everything inside of me.

I grabbed his hand, and we ran, rings left behind, making our way toward the front of the store as quickly as possible. We had to dodge around towering piles of necklaces, trays of bangle bracelets, leap over bags of stones — by the time we neared the middle of the store, Alan was out of breath and frantic, looking back over his shoulder for the owner of this queer little place, while I felt nearly as though someone were thrusting a spear through my chest. Alan kept me going, urging me along, promising to stay at my side.

The next corner we rounded, we saw him, beaming, carrying a teapot.

“Gentlemen!” he crowed. “Did I forget to mention the sapphire of Lethe?” he wondered. “I’ll bet you’d just love to see it. I carved it into a d–”

“I don’t have time for your trinkets, old man,” Alan hissed. “What have you done?”

“Alan, leave him be,” I said, tugging on his hand, my heart thundering painfully in my chest. “Let’s just run!”

We ran past the old man, dodging in and out of aisles of settings and solder. I wheezed as I kept hold of Alan’s hand.

Up ahead, as we rounded one more corner, we saw it. Alan’s eyes lit up.

“There it is — there’s the door–”

“Come on — ”

I had my hand on it, fingers curling around the knob that was a sapphire full of inclusions, polished into a death’s head grin, and I was staring out at a street rendered unfamiliar by the dustgrimed glass, but I knew it would resolve once I got it open.

About Catastrophe Jones

Wretched word-goblin with enough interests that they're not particularly awesome at any of them. Terrible self-esteem and yet prone to hilarious bouts of hubris. Full of the worst flavors of self-awareness. Owns far too many craft supplies. Will sing to you at the slightest provocation.
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3 Responses to Flash Fiction Challenge – The Forgotten Jeweler

  1. Wow this was great! It did not go where I thought it would at all 🙂

  2. StarNinja says:

    Holy Crap! A never ending loop of hot steamy man on man action! Didn’t think I’d see that old cliche 😉 This was great. The emotion, the passion, the horror, like a one-two punch. Bam bam! Awesome stuff. Keep it up!

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