‘Brimstone’ by Dave Henson

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“Ye shall burn for eternity in the depths of Hell,” Brimstone screams as Russell Davis gulps the last of his coffee. Russell and Brimstone have been nearly inseparable during the summer. But now with school back in session, Brimstone, in apparent fits of separation anxiety, has been heaping even more hellfire and damnation than usual.

Russell got the African Grey a couple months ago, shortly after his wife left him. The 29-year-old parrot’s previous owner had been a preacher who rehearsed his fiery sermons for hours daily.

“Thy skin shall melt and thine eyes turn to cinders,” Brimstone squawks and swoops at Russell, who ducks and hurries out the door.

***

Russell enters the school and walks down the hallway.

“Hi, Mr. Davis. I’m looking forward to arithmetic class later this morning.”

“What? Oh, hello there…uh…” Third period. Nose ring. “Uh…”

“Suzie. Suzie Spangler. Mr. Davis, I’m hurt you don’t remember my name.” The girl turns her face into an exaggerated pout and stamps her foot. When she does, her breasts jiggle slightly under her loose-fitting top.

My God, Russell thinks, the bodies on some high school girls nowadays. “Ms., uh, Miss Spangler, of course. Sorry. Yes, I’m looking forward to our class.” He quickly turns and heads toward the teachers’ lounge.

When third period math class rolls around, Suzie is first to arrive and comes immediately to Russell’s desk. “Hi again, Mr. Davis,” she says with a big smile. “Now — what’s my name?” It seems to Russell she’s pushing out her chest.

“Yes, Miss Spangler. Did you get your assignment completed OK?”

“I thought problem three was crazy, Mr. Davis. I was thinking —” Suzie leans forward and lowers her voice— “you might give me your number, and I could call or send you a text if I get hung up again.” She holds up her phone, which is stickered with pink stars on the back.

As Suzie speaks, Russell can see out of his lower periphery that her top is hanging down. Is she even wearing a bra?

“Well?” she says.

“Yes?”

“Can’t I have your number? Please please please.”

Russell imagines Brimstone screeching “The flames await ye.”

“Stupid bird,” Russell mutters under his breath then gives Suzie his phone number. “Only if you get stumped.”

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