chortle (v): to laugh in a breathy, gleeful way; chuckle.
Worda wouldn’t normally think that bank robberies were funny, but this guy was doing it all wrong.
Sitting in the corner with her hands on her head, she couldn’t help but find amusement in the way this guy operated. He had come in — with no mask mind you — lifting his gun in the air with one hand and a knife in the other. Honestly he looked a little ridiculous as Worda waited for him to shout “I’m king of the world!”
Everyone naturally ducked down and started panicking as the single bullet rang out. An old woman had pushed Worda into the corner, giving her an excellent view as the robber made his way to the till. He would have been intimidating, had it not been for the emphasized limp causing his actions to look like he was strutting with fierce sass. Worda tried to stifle her chortling when his demands reached her ears, his voice sounding like he’d sucked a tank of helium before coming in.
“Quickly, get the money in the bag, wench lady!”
A small laugh slipped through Worda’s lips causing the robber to spin in her direction. She looked around and behind herself as if to find the culprit.
The robber looked over his group of hostages, trying to sort out who his mocker was, when an old man next to Worda shifted slightly.
Startled by the movement the robber twitched towards the man, shooting him in the foot.
Everyone screamed and panicked, including the robber. His yelp resembled that of a girl as he dropped the gun before running out of the bank, leaving the bundles of money behind.
Worda looked around at the chaos and especially the old gentleman holding his foot and felt kind of guilty now.
She would never chortle again.
© Kaitlyn Mackenzie
agathokakological (adj): composed of both good and evil
Worda remembered the summer of 2007 well: endless days of dancing and laughter, the sun glinting off the water, sunsets spread across the sky like water paintings. She remembered days in the backyard, dressing up and taking silly pictures. She remembered watermelon and lemonade and hot dogs.
But as she read the mornings newspaper, one memory pushed it’s way to the forefront of her mind. A memory she had tried to forget…
“Another Victim Falls Prey to Flying Beast in Pentrow Wood”
Worda’s horrified guilt grew the further she read, sure this was her fault. She remembered that night not long ago on Toddy’s houseboat. They laid on the roof, staring up at the stars. When the bats began to come out for dinner they moved to go inside, but not before Worda felt it: the bite.
Toddy told her she was being ridiculous, that bats didn’t bite people, she must have nicked her finger on the door latch. Worda thought how foolish he sounded. She knew what happened and awaited the consequences as she allowed Toddy’s mother to bandage it up.
And now, two years later, she learned the fate of that long ago healed bite.
Obviously Worda turned into a bat person in her sleep. Now she needed to make a choice: would she let this fact continue to hurt others or would she be able to overcome this handicap.
That night, as she lay her head down on her down pillow, she repeated in her mind, “I will not kill people in the woods. If I must transform into a winged beast, I will use this curse for good.”
She softly fell into her dreams, painting sunsets across the sky and flying through the stars; and the next morning’s paper revealed a peaceful night was had by all in the town of Pentrow.
© Kaitlyn Mackenzie
ailurophile (n): A cat lover
“A man don’t know himself till he knows his cat. Knows how to read’im. Knows how to love’im. Knows when to rub’is belly and when to leave’im alone.”
Beauregard was one of the stranger gentlemen to grace Rollie’s Diner, but not the meanest. They liked him. Liked to invite him over for a fry or cream soda. And he just loved to talk about his family — family meaning his small farm full of cats.
“And I swear to you and your aunt Judith, Trollaby jumped right on up my body and sat himself right on my head. Course, I had to stand real still. But he loved it, he did. A purr you could hear all the way to Mexico.”
“That’s so cool, Mr. Beauregard.” Toddy didn’t think it was cool. He couldn’t imagine letting a cat sit on his head.
Worda agreed with a silent nod. Her attention was split between listening to how Trollaby the tabby thought he was actually a hat and the garbage man, Dewey, dancing around the sidewalk with a full garbage can.
It was when he began to dip the still full can that Trudy, their usual waitress, stopped by to refill their glasses. She noticed Dewey’s dance partner too and chuckled, popping her gum.
“Odd guy, doesn’t realize it’d be faster to just dump it and move on. But you know what they say. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”
She moved on to her next customers, taking no notice of the silent and still booth behind her.
© Kaitlyn Mackenzie
word (n): a sound or combination of sounds that has a meaning
“Free Rabbit with Purchase of Two Bushels of Oranges”
Worda Day glared at the cardboard sign, cursing the magic markered words. She was so busy plotting that she failed to notice the body taking up the bench across from her in the worn booth of Rollie’s Diner.
“What’s the word?”
Worda turned her glare on her company. Toddy Seen was covered in freckles and a little pudgy and the closest thing Worda had to a friend in the small beach town of Pentrow. He was used to his friend’s weird moods, choosing to take a fry from her plate and join her in glaring out the window.
“Who’s our enemy today?”
“Dictator Orange over there,” she nodded out the window.
Toddy quickly noticed the mustached man across the street standing next to a table overflowing with oranges and the three worn boxes at his feet bursting with white and brown fur.
“You want a rabbit? Or an orange?” Toddy thought that was ridiculous. There wasn’t anything Worda hated more than oranges.
“I want to be rid of the shame of having an insane crook in our town. Who in their right mind would buy two bushels of oranges?”
“My mom probably would. She just got a new juicer and–”
“You’re not listening, Toddy. When you claim to be giving something away for “free”, you should have even a glimpse of an understanding of the word. Those poor bunnies aren’t “free.” They’re trapped in that horrible box until some lunatic decides to buy an inordinately large amount of oranges. Do you think that’s right?”
Toddy sighed. He knew where this was going.
“Can I finish the fries first?”
He’s met with a glare he’d rather be kept aimed out the window and across the street, and quickly got up.
Worda dropped a few bucks on the table before looking around. Coast was clear. She stood up and followed a good ten paces behind her friend. She crossed the street, pretending as if she were going to pass right by the injustices happening in the middle of town, when she doubled back and ducked behind a tree.
Toddy distracted the mustached man, directing his full attention away from the boxes.
“So you say these oranges are good for juicing? What’s the pulp ratio?”
Worda huffed when she caught Toddy’s inquiries, sure that he was actually buying his mom some of the evil citrus.
She slowly crawled to the boxes and, when she was sure it was the opportune moment, she acted.
With a flick of her wrists, she tipped two of the boxes over onto their sides before doing the same to the third box. White rabbits. Brown rabbits. Freckled rabbits. They all flipped and freaked and snorted at the sudden disturbance, falling to the grass.
“Go! Run free, little furry bunnies!” Worda’s hushed encouragements accompanied her pushing a few towards the wooded area feet away.
But they didn’t move far, choosing to graze on the grass instead.
“What are you doing?!” The mustached man was mad. He stormed towards Worda.
But she stood her ground. Metaphorically, of course, because she was still sprawled out on the grass from crawling over to the rabbits.
“You’ll not be spreading your bunny slavery and orange propaganda here, you–”
She stopped short, beginning to point out what the mustached man had failed to notice: the overturned ex-bunny prison. Kicking his foot into it, he moved to stomp closer but instead tripped, grabbing onto anything he could.
Which happened to be the corner of the basket holding the oranges on the tables.
Orange masses of fury spilled everywhere, bouncing on the pavement, rolling into the street, and falling on top of the bunny’s grazing area like extremely large fireballs sent from heaven, startling the creatures. Their back legs moved faster than their bodies could, causing them to fall all over each other as they quickly made their fearful way into the woods.
Worda lay sprawled out on the ground. Oranges everywhere. Though she was surrounded by that which she hated most, they were instrumental in the Rabbit Emancipation of 1999.
Toddy strolled up, collecting the oranges off the ground and into his backpack.
That was the last Pentrow saw of the Orange Dictator. The town’s rabbits were free from overcrowding and free to make more little rabbits in the woods.
All because a girl named Worda questioned the meaning of the word “free”.
© Kaitlyn Mackenzie