Goodbye Burt

Fiction By Erin // 7/3/2013

*NOTE* This is weird, slightly creepy, and not for everybody. I would say it's PG or PG-13 (it contains some social drinking of alcohol and a very bizarre plot that I won't tell you because it would spoil it) Anyway, please critique!

A man walks into a bar. He glances around him, his eyes probing the dim lighting. He recognizes someone; a middle-aged, large framed woman with dark, limp hair pulled back into a pony tail. He sits down next to her.
“Hey, Carole, how are you?” he asks.
“I’m great. Hey, get me two beers,” she calls to the bartender. Two beers slide down to them. Carole catches one and the man catches the other.
“So, Joey, how’ve you been? Meeting anybody?” Carole inquires.
“Fine, I guess. Actually, I’m meeting Carl and Dina here. I was hoping to find you,” Joey replies, then takes a swig of his drink.
Carole smiles. Her smile is lopsided and her eyes bug out like a fly’s.
“There he is!” a man’s voice cries jovially, clapping Joey on the shoulders.
Joey laughs and turns to shake the man’s hand. A thin woman with curly blond hair comes up behind him fawningly and puts her hands on his shoulders.
“Have a seat, now, have a seat,” Joey tells them cheerfully. They do, and order their beverages of choice. After several moments of no speech, Joey speaks.
“Carole, Carl, Dina, I have an idea that I want to run across you all,” he says in a low voice, leaning in towards his group of friends conspiratorially.
“Yeah? Go ahead, shoot,” Carl says, leaning an elbow against the counter, his eyebrows raised in question.
“I think Burt needs to go,” he says. Carole lopsidedly smiles again, Carl’s eyelid twitches oddly, and Dina has a hand over her gaping mouth.
“I mean honestly, he doesn’t do anything useful for this community. We had that delightful activity—you know, the one where we painted the playground for the children! And he didn’t even bother to participate. His garage has that dent he inflicted and never got fixed,” Joey snorts, “Heck, ever since his wife passed away his yard has been a disaster zone. And there is no excuse for a yard to become a disaster zone.”
“You know, I have noticed that his yard has become a disaster zone,” Carole says after a pause.
“Precisely, Carole, thank you for seeing my point,” Joey says, patting Carole on the back appreciatively.
Dina raises her eyes anxiously to the ceiling and twiddles her thumbs. “Well, I suppose nobody would really notice his absence, would they? I mean, no participation in community activities……that is very offensive.” She tugs at the sleeves of her purple sweater.
Carl nods thoughtfully. “I guess you’re right, Dina, he doesn’t have anybody to notice that he’s gone.”
Dina groans. “But we just finished the Holmes’…..do we have to jump into another one so hastily? Besides, I’ve always liked Burt. Shouldn’t he get another chance?”
Carole shrugs and takes a sip of her beer. “He isn’t properly active in the community, Dina. We have to do what is necessary.”
Dina rubs her arms as though she’s cold and says, “I suppose you’re right, Carole.”
“So, is everybody in on this?” Joey asks. There is a collective nod, although Dina’s could be mistaken for a nervous twitch. “Great. Anybody have any ideas on how this plan should be executed?”
Dina tugs at her bleach-blond curls. “You all know that knives have always made me uncomfortable. Perhaps a rifle? Carl has one hanging up in our house.”
“It would be far easier to conceal a knife,” Carole argues, her eyes bugging out further.
“I agree with my wife. Rifle, it’s the more humane way to go about things,” Carl says good-naturedly.
Joey nods slowly. “Carole, we don’t want him to feel too much pain. Just like one wouldn’t stab an injured deer, we will not stab Burt.”
Carole sighs, her eyes retreating into a more normal place in their sockets. “When are we going to do it, anyway? Where? Who?”
“The who and the when are the first to be figured out. Who wants to do it?” Joey asks. “Could I see a show of hands?”
“Not me!” Dina cries, then claps her fragile hands over her mouth and squeaks a “sorry”.
“I’d do it, but I couldn’t guarantee that I’d get the right shot,” Carole says. “Now, if we used a knife…….”
“I’d rather not. You’ve seen me around this sort of task, Joey. You know I get,” Carl pauses, his eyes squinting as if he were thinking deeply. “Queasy,” he says slowly.
“I understand, Carl,” Joey says kindly. “I will perform the actual task. I will need some assistance in the background, as usual. But we can sort that out at a later date—for now, we need to decide when this task will be performed.”
“Are we certain about doing this at all?” Dina asks, pressing her palms together.
“Quite certain, my dear,” Carl supplies, throwing a strong arm around her thin shoulders.
“Excellent,” says Joey. “Now, this event will need some planning. At what date do you believe would be appropriate?”
Carl strokes his chin thoughtfully. “Perhaps in about two weeks’ time? Would that be enough time, do you think?”
Joey nods. “That should be a perfectly appropriate amount of time, Carl, I appreciate your input.” Joey turns to focus his gaze on Dina.
“Now, Dina,” he begins, “I understand your hesitation with this sort of task. But you must consider that Burt is simply a hindrance to this smoothly functioning community. If we let him slow us down, then others will believe that it is acceptable to be a ‘non-participant.’ Do you want that?” he asks, his eyes intensely keeping her gaze.
Dina takes a shaky breath and fiddles with her polka-dotted hair band. “I do understand,” she says. “I’m just not built for this sort of thing.”
Carl wraps his arms protectively around her and kisses the top of her head. “I know, dear, I know. Joey understands.”
“I am very understanding, Dina, I assure you,” Joey agrees. “But if you begin to slow down on your duty within this community, I’m afraid that there will be no place for you here anymore.”
Dina yanked her head up from Carl’s chest, her eyes full of tears. “Oh, Joey, I would never….Oh, my, I would never hinder our—oh, I’m sorry if you misunderstood me, Joey.”
Joey nods and smiles, patting her on the back. “I wouldn’t doubt your dedication for a second, Dina. I just wanted to remind you of your responsibilities.
So, is everyone ready? In two weeks time, we will be saying goodbye to Burt.”

Comments

That was kind of..

That was kind of.. Interesting. I like how you made the dialogue more realistic.

j. Glen pollard | Thu, 07/04/2013

"The trip is a difficult one. I will not be myself when I reach you."-When I Reach Me.

Thanks :) and welcome to AP!

Thanks :) and welcome to AP! I haven't seen you comment before!

Erin | Fri, 07/05/2013

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

Ummmm........

That was kind of weird. I'd like to see what happens next. :p

Susannah | Sun, 07/07/2013

"Even if the sun crashes into earth, I won't let go, I won't let go. I can be your light, stay with me tonight, I won't let go, I won't let go."

Thanks! I don't have a

Thanks! I don't have a sequel, this was just a weird little short story :P

Erin | Sun, 07/07/2013

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

??????????

Wait, so that was the whole story? It's not just the first chapter?

Susannah | Mon, 07/08/2013

"Even if the sun crashes into earth, I won't let go, I won't let go. I can be your light, stay with me tonight, I won't let go, I won't let go."

Yes ma'am, that was it!

Yes ma'am, that was it!

Erin | Mon, 07/08/2013

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeird.
Creepy.

The conversation was stiff, which is unusual for you! LOL! Except at the end, when Dina was stuttering. :) But, ah, that may have been intended.

Well. This was just. So weird.

I haven't read The Giver, so....

That may have made it even weirder! Haha!

Keep posting. :)

Madeline | Mon, 07/08/2013

everything was better when/you would call and I'd be like/yeah babe, no way

Lol, yeah, the conversation

Lol, yeah, the conversation was purposefully stiff to attempt at giving it a somewhat muddled viewpoint (that's not a good explanation, I'm trying to figure out how to describe what I was trying to portray lol). YOU MUST READ THE GIVER. It's sensational. It's nothing like what I wrote, just to clarify lol. Thanks for commenting :)

Erin | Mon, 07/08/2013

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

:)

I don't know if you meant it this way, but this sort of came across as a social commentary. Very interesting. Especially "Burt is simply a hindrance to this smoothly functioning community."

Anywho, critiques. Hmmm. Towards the end it says, "Dina yanked her head up..." Since the rest of your story is in the present tense, this should be too.

Other than that, I think this was pretty good, especially the dialouge. As in, it was stiff, but it really seemed to fit the story. The whole thing was sort of not-your-hometown-but-maybe-someplace-messed-up-you-could-visit-accidentally, and I thought the dialouge fit the mood.

I'm glad you're writing more fiction!

little woman | Mon, 07/08/2013

The most astonishing thing about miracles is that they happen.
-G. K. Chesterton

A SOCIAL COMMENTARY! Those

A SOCIAL COMMENTARY! Those are exactly the words I was looking for! Thank you:)

Erin | Mon, 07/08/2013

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

Ohhhkaaaay?

This was really... um... different. I liked it, actually... but just so dark... Honestly it made me think of a conversation I had with my mom, about how the media might be trying to get people to think that seniors are a (using your words) hindrance to society, and it would be more thoughtful to them and to everyone else just to kill them off (I know, really weird and awful conversation :P)
It was well written and great wording! I do wish there was more though :)

Kassady | Thu, 07/11/2013

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
---
Write On!

Thanks!

Thanks!

Erin | Thu, 07/11/2013

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

:)

This was rather strange, but I guess I could say well-written. I like the mystery. I don't know, maybe the whole time they were talking they were drunk? Maybe it was just taken place in our ordinary world. Just something I thought of while I read this.

It does remind me of an Utopian society, but only because you mentioned The Giver by Lois Lowry in your notes. I had rather mixed feelings for that book, though. It was so well-written, so suspenseful, and did you see how she made a full circle from starting from the beginning of the book to the end? It's one of those books I can never really forget. But the whole time I read it, it gave me a depressing feeling, and I couldn't believe how much people, the people you kind of trust, lie. Everything was just so sad...and also, I was rather uncomfortable with the society that maybe if certain people would do this, the world would be perfect. As a Christian, I know that no one but God can make things perfect. I know it was a fiction and a what-if? story, but seriously, it still caught my attention that I read the entire book! Not that it was long. :)

Lucy Anne | Fri, 07/12/2013

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

:)

This was rather strange, but I guess I could say well-written. I like the mystery. I don't know, maybe the whole time they were talking they drank too much alcohol and lost their senses? Maybe it was just taken place in our ordinary world. Just something I thought of while I read this.

It does remind me of an Utopian society, but only because you mentioned The Giver by Lois Lowry in your notes. I had rather mixed feelings for that book, though. It was so well-written, so suspenseful, and did you see how she made a full circle from starting from the beginning of the book to the end? It's one of those books I can never really forget. But the whole time I read it, it gave me a depressing feeling, and I couldn't believe how much people, the people you kind of trust, lie. Everything was just so sad...and also, I was rather uncomfortable with the society that maybe if certain people would do this, the world would be perfect. As a Christian, I know that no one but God can make things perfect. I know it was a fiction and a what-if? story, but seriously, it still caught my attention that I read the entire book! Not that it was long. :)

Lucy Anne | Fri, 07/12/2013

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

:)

This was rather strange, but I guess I could say well-written. I like the mystery. I don't know, maybe the whole time they were talking they drank too much and lost their senses? Maybe it was just taken place in our ordinary world. Just something I thought of while I read this.

It does remind me of an Utopian society, but only because you mentioned The Giver by Lois Lowry in your notes. I had rather mixed feelings for that book, though. It was so well-written, so suspenseful, and did you see how she made a full circle from starting from the beginning of the book to the end? It's one of those books I can never really forget. But the whole time I read it, it gave me a depressing feeling, and I couldn't believe how much people, the people you kind of trust, lie. Everything was just so sad...and also, I was rather uncomfortable with the society that maybe if certain people would do this, the world would be perfect. As a Christian, I know that no one but God can make things perfect. I know it was a fiction and a what-if? story, but seriously, it still caught my attention that I read the entire book! Not that it was long. :)

Lucy Anne | Fri, 07/12/2013

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

:)

This was rather strange, but I guess I could say well-written. I like the mystery. I don't know, maybe the whole time they were talking they had too much and lost their senses? Maybe it was just taken place in our ordinary world. Just something I thought of while I read this.

It does remind me of an Utopian society, but only because you mentioned The Giver by Lois Lowry in your notes. I had rather mixed feelings for that book, though. It was so well-written, so suspenseful, and did you see how she made a full circle from starting from the beginning of the book to the end? It's one of those books I can never really forget. But the whole time I read it, it gave me a depressing feeling, and I couldn't believe how much people, the people you kind of trust, lie. Everything was just so sad...and also, I was rather uncomfortable with the society that maybe if certain people would do this, the world would be perfect. As a Christian, I know that no one but God can make things perfect. I know it was a fiction and a what-if? story, but seriously, it still caught my attention that I read the entire book! Not that it was long. :)

Lucy Anne | Fri, 07/12/2013

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

:)

This was rather strange, but I guess I could say well-written. I like the mystery. I don't know, maybe the whole time they were talking they lost their senses? Maybe it was just taken place in our ordinary world. Just something I thought of while I read this.

It does remind me of an Utopian society, but only because you mentioned The Giver by Lois Lowry in your notes. I had rather mixed feelings for that book, though. It was so well-written, so suspenseful, and did you see how she made a full circle from starting from the beginning of the book to the end? It's one of those books I can never really forget. But the whole time I read it, it gave me a depressing feeling, and I couldn't believe how much people, the people you kind of trust, lie. Everything was just so sad...and also, I was rather uncomfortable with the society that maybe if certain people would do this, the world would be perfect. As a Christian, I know that no one but God can make things perfect. I know it was a fiction and a what-if? story, but seriously, it still caught my attention that I read the entire book! Not that it was long. :)

Lucy Anne | Fri, 07/12/2013

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

:)

This was rather strange, but I guess I could say well-written. I like the mystery.

It does remind me of an Utopian society, but only because you mentioned The Giver by Lois Lowry in your notes. I had rather mixed feelings for that book, though. It was so well-written, so suspenseful, and did you see how she made a full circle from starting from the beginning of the book to the end? It's one of those books I can never really forget. But the whole time I read it, it gave me a depressing feeling, and I couldn't believe how much people, the people you kind of trust, lie. Everything was just so sad...and also, I was rather uncomfortable with the society that maybe if certain people would do this, the world would be perfect. As a Christian, I know that no one but God can make things perfect. I know it was a fiction and a what-if? story, but seriously, it still caught my attention that I read the entire book! Not that it was long. :)

Lucy Anne | Fri, 07/12/2013

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

That was amazing...

After reading the comments it appears that I'm the only one who wasn't creeped out by reading this... 0.o I guess I'm morbid or somethin'.
Anyway, I think this is one of my favorite fictions I've read here! It was just the right amount of dark and left you thinking about what happens next...even though there isn't a sequel! I loved it :D

Flying Past Clouds | Mon, 08/12/2013

Aw, thank you!

Aw, thank you!

Erin | Mon, 08/12/2013

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

THIS IS AMAZING!

Legitimately, after you polished it to whatever finished product you wanted it, this could be submitted to some literary contest or journal. Really! The idea is incredible. The concept of this community is hyperbolic, of course, but the amazing thing is that you wrote it without exaggeration - except for Joey's way of talking, which you seemed to do on purpose (and perfectly!). He made me laugh aloud a couple times (hard to get me to do): “Precisely, Carole, thank you for seeing my point.” “That should be a perfectly appropriate amount of time, Carl, I appreciate your input.” There could be sooo much moral commentary on this piece. A couple themes relevant to our world (that come to my mind) are centralized government, cults in general, and organized religion. Wowowow.
You also packed in complete relationships, and that's so difficult to do in a mini-short story. I was feeling all of Dina's emotions at the end - so realistic.
It's just very cool that you took your understanding about cult-like communities (who have a vision for how each member should act and who often enforce those expectations with disciplinary measures) ...and made up an imaginary world that was bone-chillingly convincing. Ugh (in a good way) and awesome! Thanks for posting.
Please keep this and *do* something with it. :)

Sarah Bethany | Tue, 10/22/2013

THANK YOU SO MUCH YOU HAVE NO

THANK YOU SO MUCH YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW ENCOURAGING THAT COMMENT WAS.

Erin | Tue, 10/22/2013

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

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