The Adventures of Ma N Pa Frigidaire
Honorable Mention, The Asimov Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Short Science Fiction, 1992
|This remains one of my favorite stories of all time. It's another one that I wrote while I was living in Mexico (see "Hell: A Cautionary Tale". Despite its pedigree, I haven't been able to sell it to save my life. I love the setting and characters, though, and they appear in my forthcoming "Overture, Curtain Lights".|
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1. Meet the Frigidaires
Ma n Pa Frigidaire live two doors over, in a ratty ole dome that stopped workin ages ago an now has dozens of midnight stovepipes an chimbleys pokin out of it.
They is a funny couple, all yep an nope an shore thing son, an care for some possum pie? I can remember likkerin up with a gang of buddies and walkin down the street, like all teamagers do when they drink nighttimes. We howled an yowled and sung and sung and sung, sung about Molly the barmaid and Polly the bowlegged woman and Lolly the hooer. We was laffin outside of the Frigidaire Dome when Slap Horseflesh picked up a slab of brick an makes to chuck it clean through the vestibule into Ma n Pa's living room. Well, he was yellin and boastin and aimin for a hell of a long time, primin hisself up for it, makin sure we knew he wad gonna do it, and Pa Frigidaire totters out the doorway, most likely to find out what all the damn noise is about.
Pa Frigidaire catches Slap sizin up the toss and his eyes turn narrow and his lips turn white and his jaws grind around.
"Slap Concrete Horseflesh, what in hell you doin with that brick, goddamnit?" he says, kinda low but kinda loud, too.
Slap gets his Slap-grin on his face, oily as Brylcreem, and squirts yellow spit tween his teeth.
"I'm aimin to smash up you rat-nest shithouse no-fuckin-good excuse for a Class II Residential Heat-Sav-R Dome."
"Horseflesh," says Pa, "when you wad a lickle fucker, six or seven years ole, you come runnin up to our Dome, bawlin like a girl. 'What's wrong,' I says. You goes, in between your blubblubblubs, 'A nasty ole man, he hit me an showed me his pecker.' I hauled out my ole baseball bat and my scooter an drove around an around wif you, lookin for the mucker, and when you pointed out the smelly ole fuck I beat the shit outta him for ya. An now you aim to smash this Dome in with that brick because you don't know what to do wif all them hormones skwooshin around your brain. Well, if that's what you plan on doin, you're nothin but a low-down skunk."
Slap Horseflsh, he looked damn shamed, like a puppy what pissed itself, an he puts the brick down.
That's the thing about Pa Frigidaire. He can allus shame a feller, even a ma'am, into doin what's good for Pa. He coulda been a head-shrink, or an ad-man, or even a teech, but he just sits around chewin plug an tinkerin with old softs an hards. Pa's a tall feller, an thick too, an his wiry muscles squirm around when he walks. Pa was raised Upside, near the quator, where it's nice an warm, and he don't seem to notice the cold now that he's here. He still dresses like an Upside man, crappy ole sneakers, big baggy overalls all tore up, so you can see he don't got no underwears, just Osh Kosh, B'Gosh. He wears a big straw hat that's about as ratty as his damn overalls, and he has jug ears and greasy hair. He smokes a pipe-blend that smells like mothballs and pine trees.
But I like Pa. He allus has somethin good to do. On slow Sunday afternoons, I'd walk over to the Frigidaire Dome an hang out with Pa in the greenhouse, where the air was fresh an clean, and make noise or make rain or strip wires or hold a string, just-so, so Pa could finish a beautiful kinda knot. Then we'd go back into the Dome proper, where Pa would shame Ma Frigidaire into ladlin up some mash an a bowl a lentils, and we'd take turns peddlin the bike that drove the vid, so we could watch reruns an sport matches.