Flash Fiction: Annoyance

So Charlie’s in the trunk, and we’re driving off a cliff.

It’s one of those watch-a-sunset cliffs you see in movies when the protagonist has defeated the villain and is finally given five minutes to take a breather before being forced into the “unwanted” limelight. About seventy-five feet or so high. Rocky, as cliffs tend to be. At the bottom is a smattering of skinny pine trees I’m sure are sharp enough to play the part of booby-trap pit spikes. They’ll skewer us good on the way down–tomorrow morning, some wayward hunter will find us and whistle, high-pitched, impressed at how many organs got stuck in the loosely needled limbs.

There’ll be fantastically gory pictures taken by the press, unless the cops try to mop up their mess with media suppression. But they never can catch ’em all. Those sneaky little fucks with cameras will hide in camo in the dirt to get a five-buck shot. Regardless of how this plays out though, Charlie and I will go down in the history books as having fought and tied the world’s most epic battle…of annoyance.

Because really, a murder-suicide is the only way to win when it comes to annoying people.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t always like this between Charlie and me. Two months back, when we first met at Waldo’s Regional Supply Center for our shared shift at stacking boxes full of blocks–you know, like the ones toddlers play with, the ones with the fat capital letters carved into the sides–we got on spectacularly. I had a bachelor’s, him an associate’s. We’d both been unemployed for different reasons recently–him an injury, me a layoff. We’d both taken the first available position to make ends meet, at least for several weeks, until we got back on our feet and marched off to conquer another cubicle in some multi-business downtown office building.

We are alike in many ways, Charlie and I. And therein lies the problem.

It started with the simple stuff: he put laxatives in my lunch, I dropped a fifty-pound crate on his foot; I rigged the printer to explode, he set my car on fire; he stole my identity, I stole every piece of furniture in his house and sold it on Ebay. You know, that friendly, reciprocal back and forth common within the League of Extraordinarily Annoying People. Two sides of the same double-sided coin that both of us use to scam the company soda machine.

But then, as often happens in these friendly prank wars, one of us went too far. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me. My most amazing trick was rigging Charlie’s sprinklers to spray his prize-winning daffodils with weed killer (which incidentally ended up killing his prize-winning gardener as well…oops). No, I’m pretty damn positive it was Charlie that took the cake–literally, he took my brother’s wedding cake, put a bomb in it, and blew up sixteen people at the reception (my brother included).

That kind of ticked me off. I liked my brother. After he lost his leg in that tractor accident, anyway. Before that, he was a dick.

Point is, Charlie took it too fucking far. The fifty-seventh rule of being annoying is that you only annoy the person who you’ve set out to annoy–no bystanders, damn it! Charlie instead annoyed sixty-eight people dressed in decade-old suits and ugly bridesmaid dresses. And that’s just plain fucking wrong. You were supposed to blow the damn cake up in my face, Charlie. I wasn’t even there! I was running a marathon to promote awareness for mental disorders that day. Because we all know how annoying crazy people are.

Charlie took it overboard. That’s all there is to it. So according to rule fifty-eight, the response to a violation of rule fifty-seven, it is my, the designated annoyee’s, responsibility to take care of the crime of the annoyer in any way I see fit. But since the first rule of all annoying things is that a war of annoyance cannot end without both annoying parties dead, I feel the most natural solution to Charlie’s issue is to off us both. I mean, who the hell wants to fight war with an annoying dead guy? There’s no fun in that.

So this morning, in order to put us both out of our misery, I drove into the parking lot of Waldo’s, grabbed my crowbar from the passenger seat, and whacked Charlie over the head with it while he was standing at the urinal closest to the grimy window in the first floor bathroom. I think he likes to look at the clouds while pissing–something about keeping his chakras in balance while he expels the morning’s waste or some fifth-century-buddhist-zen-whatever-the-hell-religion-it-is nonsense.

Anyway, I knocked him out, dragged him to my car, and tossed him in the trunk.

Now we’re driving off a cliff.

Charlie’s just woken up–at the perfect moment–judging by his desperate screams of “FRANK! HOLY SHIT! LET ME OUT! I WAS JUST KIDDING! DON’T DO THIS! JESUS CHRIST!” And as we plummet toward the distant earth, I vaguely recall a plump birdie (also known as Charlie’s ex-wife) telling me “That worthless shit is terrified of small places…and heights.”

Huh. Imagine that.

What better annoyance can there be than including a person’s greatest fears in his moment of glorious death? What greater success can an annoyer have than gleefully picturing the scared-stiff fetal position his rival has no doubt curled into as they both soar toward those skinny little pine trees while the sky surrounding their descent is that one shade of blue that always signals destruction in apocalyptic movies? What holier music is there than the sobbing of a defeated prankster, probably shitting himself, as the car begins to flip upside-down and his stomach does that roller-coaster tumble on a scale never before witnessed by the universe? What more…

…disheartening image can a predator witness than his prey somehow unlocking the trunk and tumbling wildely out of the car just as it reaches the tree line? What more pathetic victory is there than seeing one’s loathed antagonist getting his head ripped off by a stray branch instead of being crushed and impaled alongside his life partner of pranks?

By the time I hit the ground, branches through my neck and chest and eye, shattered windshield pieces in my skin, what tastes like gasoline about to catch fire soaking through my tongue, the two pieces of Charlie have landed somewhere out of sight. His head is bouncing around, perhaps, rolling into a stream where a black bear will bat it around and reinvent soccer for the sixty-eighth time. His body is a bloody lump stuck in a tree or a bush, probably, just sitting there, staring upward in the way only one without a head can stare.

In the spectacular finale of my genius, I drove us off a cliff. Live together. Annoy together. Die together. 

Then stupid fucking Charlie had to go and ruin the whole damn thing.

Ugh, how annoying.

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