As you might know, I've been trying to find The Funny. I have a chance to get in an anthology of humorous 750-word stories. I submitted my short story "Chuckles." The editor likes it and thinks it can work. But he wants a new ending. Two things have to happen, he says. 1.) the mean girls have to get their comeuppance, and 2.) the puppy can't die (preferably, he lives with three legs). I posted this story a couple months back, but if you don't remember it, I'll do so again. If you can think of a new ending (and you have about 150 words with which to work, so it can't be too convoluted), this is what you get. Nothing, really. Basically, I'll take your idea, call it my own, and use it to promote my career. You will, however, be able to buy this anthology (hell, I'll buy it for you), and point to friends and loved ones, and say, "Hey, that was my
idea!" Pretty cool, eh? Get to work!
On my twelfth birthday, I received as a gift from my parents a puppy, whom I named Chuckles. Already at this young age, I was grotesquely overweight, though my overbearing mother, so fond of smothering her precious baby boy, assured me, I was merely “big boned.” I had no friends to speak of, and was oft times the subject of sadistic taunting and ridicule at the hands of the older kids in the neighborhood who loitered and smoked cigarettes behind the laundromat.
Chuckles and I became inseparable, he a loveable rascal, and I a fat kid. Knapsack packed with Twinkies, we’d steal away those blustery New England afternoons, hiding from the world in an abandoned tree fort I’d stumbled upon that had been gutted by a fire. I taught Chuckles tons of neat tricks, and, for the first time in my chubby life, I didn’t feel so alone.
One Saturday morning, a few weeks after my surprise birthday party (at which only my cousin Timmy, a surly lad stricken with male pattern baldness at the tender age of fifteen, showed up), I took my new puppy, Chuckles, out for a walk. As Chuckles frolicked playfully at my side, lapping my thick sausage fingers with his hot puppy tongue, I saw her.
I had been in love with Katie Ross since the 1st grade. (She never knew, of course, how many times I had scribbled her initials interwoven with mine, inside pink swirly hearts, on the inside cover of my notebook, lest my secret be detected.)
Katie jumped double-dutch, on the basketball court pavement, with some of her girlfriends in the park across the street. She looked radiant, a curly-cued Kewpie doll to whom I would have pledged the remainder of my fragmented adolescent life, in blind obedience. There I stood, face pressed into the mesh of the wire fencing that kept me out, lovelorn and spellbound.
I don’t know how long I’d been standing there before the unbelievable happened. Katie Ross, a girl who I thought never even knew I existed, beckoned to me to come over. With lumbering strides, my heavy, sweaty body heaved its massive girth through the swinging iron gate and over to the playground where she stood, giggling enchantment, with her friends on the tarmac. Gingerly outstretching her alabaster, nubile arm, Katie handed me a note.
What happened next is still a blur, a rapid fire of images and sounds, but this is the moment indelibly imprinted on my mind: the crinkled unraveling of a perfume-scented piece of Hello Kitty paper, and its one word message: Fatso—the sound of screeching tires, the stench of burning rubber, the shriek of a little puppy who had been left unattended and unloved and forgotten for just a few minutes, the yelping and whimpering of the maimed little guy, and then, the roaring sound of a pervasive and deafening silence.
I tore asunder from that chorus of giggling girls and ran as fast as my flabby, wobbly thighs would permit. I thought my brain would explode; my head pounded hard, throbbed, my spongy boy-breasts jiggled, and my stringy hair clung in caked on perspiration, as I made my way to the flattened tiny canine carcass.
Behind me, in the park, I could still hear those girls laughing.
I lifted Chuckles’s crushed and now lifeless body out from underneath the wheels of that sedan, and carried him home, fighting in vain to hold back the tears that would stain my pudgy, big boned cheeks.