Flash Fiction - "A Day in the Life of Simon Parrish"
This is another older story—it also isn't a particularly original one. If I'm being completely honest, I suppose I would have to admit that the basic premise, that a career criminal would also have a mundane family life, has been done many times before. It has also been done much better.
Despite that, though, I'm still reasonably happy with what I ended up with. At the very least, I personally enjoy the moments of black comedy that I attempted to work into the story.
A Day in the Life of Simon Parrish
As the dark sky lightened with the coming dawn, Simon Parrish dug himself a hole. Grunting as he thrusts the tip of the shovel's blade into the hard earth. Grunting, again, as he presses down with one foot, trying to force the shovel deeper.
He should have been done by now. He knew that. He was starting to think that, just maybe, he wasn't cut out for manual labour. Exertion brought a sheen of sweat to his face. He felt it running down his back, sticking his shirt to his back. Each breath came with increasing difficulty.
Pushing all other thoughts to one side, Simon focused solely on the task at hand—ignoring the ache of his muscles, as well as the somewhat worrisome lightening of the sky above. Digging up one final clump of dirt, Simon finally let himself stop. Looking down at his work, Simon came to the quick conclusion that it would be good enough. The hole he stood in came up to just above his knees.
"What are you doing out here so early?"
Simon froze at the sound of the voice. He turned, looking up from his shallow ditch and meeting the eyes of an older man, grey haired and clean shaven. An early riser, out on an early morning walk.
"And... what's that?", the older man pointed. Nearby, a blanket covered a lumpy form—set aside, for the moment, but not forgotten.
"What are you doing out here.", the old man asked, again. There was a note of suspicion in his voice as he bent over the blanket, reaching out for it.
Simon climbed from the shallow hole as the old man pulled the blanket back—bringing the shovel down just as the old man gave a startled gasp. A sharp crack to the back of the head brought the old man down easily - then, Simon gave a couple more for good measure, until the man no longer moved.
"Well, I hope you don't mind sharing, chief", Simon said, "I'm sure as hell not digging another hole."
Simon turned back to his work.
In a wide and empty field, and under Simon Parrish's watchful eye, another man dug another hole.
The hot midday sun beat down on them both as the man worked. In the distance, Simon could just make out the line of the road—and, movement suggesting a single car going on its way.
The man worked at a slow, but steady, pace—and, with a lack of emotion that Simon found fascinating. Simon had noticed the anger in his eyes, when he had shown up at his door a couple of hours earlier—and, he had noticed the fear when Simon had shown him the gun he held. But, the journey from there to here had been a long one - and, the trunk of Simon's car was certain to have been hot and cramped.
By the time they reached their destination, it seemed as though he had already worked his way through all the emotions that a man could, or should, be expected to feel when he knew that he was going to die. When Simon had dragged him out of the trunk, and shoved a shovel into his hands, the man had begun to dig without a word—with nothing more than a sense of dull resignation. He no longer even seemed away of the gun that Simon still kept pointed in his general direction. All that seemed left to the man, as far as Simon could tell, was a simple desire to get it over with. That was something that Simon could respect. Standing out beneath the heat of the midday sun, Simon felt the same way.
Some time later, though, the man's resigned apathy gave way to simple exhaustion—he paused, letting the tip of the shovel rest in loose dirt as he leaned on it.
"I don't have all day, chief", Simon said, "what's the hold-up?"
"Honestly", the man sighed, "I'm still hoping for a last minute rescue."
Simon glanced about, looking one way then the other - then back to the man with a shrug. "I don't know what to tell you", he said. Then, "that should do. Let's get this over with. Any last words?"
The man looked up at Simon - on the verge of speaking, but finding himself with nothing much to say. Eventually, he just gave a helpless sort of shrug.
"That's a shame", Simon said, raising his gun and taking aim. But, then, he paused, "oh, damn", he said.
"What's the problem?"
"I just realized that someone still needs to bury you."
"Yeah, I feel for you, buddy", he said.
Simon gave a rueful sort of smile. "Thanks", he said, then he squeezed the trigger.
A young girl of six lay still in her bed—pretending to be asleep. She sat up as Simon appeared in the doorway, offering a broad, happy, smile. "Daddy", she said, "you're home!"
"Hello, Princess", Simon said. He leaned down to kiss her on the forehead, and to let her wrap her arms around his neck. "You're supposed to be asleep", he said.
"Uh-huh", she said. Then, "read me a story?"
Simon groaned. "Not tonight", he said, "it's been a long day."
"Please!", her attempt at a pout was ruined by her persistent smile—though, the combined effect was still enough to wear Simon down.
"Fine", he said, "go pick something out. Just one, though."
Simon settled himself into the chair set next to her bed with a relieved groan—watching her rush across the room to pick out a book. A moment later, she returned, thrusting a book into his hands, then climbing back up into her bed. It had been a long day—but, Simon knew he had to remember to make time for family. It was good to keep things in balance.
© 2019 Dallas Matier