Marc Ruvolo

Wyld FLASH – April 30th 2021

It’s ‘k doc, don’t hurt none. All healed up. Naw, really. Yer the first one ever seen it. Don’t go to docs much where I come from. All that’s left is that bone n’ scar n’ stump now, and yeah, yer right– I mean ‘bout what it was before. Good riddance, I says.

What happened? Well…I was born with it. I reckon more than a few of us Smothermans got one, or so’s I was told. It was pure ugly, pink like a rat’s, and three feet long. My Ma always buyed me extra, extra baggy pants, but even then it was hard to sit with the dang tail bunched up unnerneath. My back ached somethin’ fierce all the time. Near crippled. Figgered I’d never get a girl, how would I go about showin’ her that? Prob’ly have to just marry a cousin, but that’s maybe how this started in the first place, huh? Joke, doc.

The tail was nothin’ more than a shame and inconvenience ‘til I got me a job mannin’ the big water crib out on the lake. You know the one. It was good pay, but you had to be out there all alone for eight weeks at a go. I got no friends, so that was all right by me. Once I got settled, I got me the notion to cut a hole in my drawers and let the thing fly free. Never done that before really, not for long periods o’ time at least. I always lived with other folks around and kep’ it hid. Actually felt good to finally let the thing hang and breathe. After a few hours, my back pain was nearly gone. I felt spry as a new-laid egg.

At first it was downright spooky out there in that great echoin’ concrete tomb on the water, but after a bit I heard all it had to offer and weren’t scared no more. I had work to do. Seems my tail did too, though. One morning I was workin’ on a stuck intake valve and realized I left my ball peen on the pipes behind me. God’s truth doc, I turned to go git it, but my tail had already done the job. There it was, and my tail handed the hammer off to me like nothin’. Now, who do I thank in that sitchiation?

As the days went on, my tail seemed to get braver n’ more independent. I was gettin’ thirsty? My tail already had the water bottle. ‘Bout to pull a switch? It pulled it for me. And worst of all, I couldn’t get no decent sleep with its jigglin’ about at night. It would drag whatever’s closest to the bed and play with it. I weren’t sure what to do. Next day I put my reg’lar drawers on, no hole, but it wriggled past the waistband, wouldn’t stay hid. I put it back in a dozen times, curled it up tight, cinched my belt, but still it got out. By noon, I was exhausted with fightin’. I put the hole drawers back on and proceeded to ignore the dang thing.

Three weeks in, a wild nor’easter brought lightning and giant waves. I hunkered down in bed to wait it out, and for the first time my tail didn’t spend the night ‘splorin. ‘Stead it curled up round me, gripped close, and all quiet-like. When the storm finally passed, I see’d there was damage to the crib I couldn’t fix alone. Needed parts. I radioed to shore, and boss said a boat’d be out as soon as possible.

Next mornin’ the boat was on its way, but my tail wouldn’t get back inside my drawers. I tried pushin’, tried talkin’, then I tried screamin’, but nothing worked. It had grown a mind of its own. My boss and the others would be there soon, so I had to think up a plan, and fast. There was coils of rope in the big storeroom, so I cut me off a length. I grabbed my tail and tied it tight. Then I wrapped it up around my leg, usin’ the rope to keep it stuck. Was awkward, and it fought a bit, but finally calmed down.

Met my boss at the dock and got the parts. He insisted on a look-see, though. I could feel my tail pullin’ on my leg, strugglin’. We went up the gangway, and the rope was comin’ loose. Panicked, told my boss I had to hit the head. I ran to the bunk room and dropped my drawers. The rope fell away. My tail reared up and wrapped around my neck like a constrictor. I couldn’t breathe. Saw stars n’ fell down. Thinkin’ I was gonna die, I grabbed the sharp knife at my belt and sawed at the damned thing. Hurt like hell, bled a fair bit, and then squirmed on the floor like a griddled worm. Showed the boss off at the dock, he didn’t notice my bloody drawers, thank Jesus.

That’s it, doc. God’s truth. Sat on a baking pan o’ whiskey and had a friend row out to sew it up. Only problem now is–it, it talks to me. Yep, won’t shut up, that’s the thing. Why I’m here. Can ya help? Damned thing is calling you a quack, doc; says you can’t do nothin’. Did you feel the stump move, doc?  Ain’t me doin’ that. It’s thwackin’ angry.

I mean, what do you say to the ghost of a tail still all bent that you went and done kilt it? 

Author bio: Marc Ruvolo is a queer writer/musician that resides in Portland OR. His poems and stories have appeared in Abyss & Apex, Bewildering Stories, and on the Night’s End podcast. He’s a student of pop culture, and still outraged at the blatant hypocrisy of the Harper Valley PTA.

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