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Free Flash Fiction:

A Patient Man

By: Jae El Foster

November 18, 2018

He heard water dripping. This made sense, as it was raining heavily outside. In fact, the dripping came from three different locations – the living room ceiling, the kitchen ceiling, the hall ceiling… Bradley imagined it was just as bad in the bedroom and the bathroom.

He hated the sound of dripping, whether it came from his roof or a leaky faucet. It got on his nerves in a way that made his skin crawl. Now, at a quarter before midnight, he would just have to deal with it. It would be impossible to patch it during the storm or without proper lighting.

Drip, drip, drip…

So obnoxious. So irritating. So…

He shouted an obscenity before another thought could be reached. Bradley stood from his chair, leaving the western that he’d been trying to enjoy. With hurried steps, he went to the kitchen and rummaged the cabinet for some pots. Then, as angst riddled his body with an elevated blood pressure, he placed the pans beneath the drips and returned to his chair.

The second he sat down, he heard it.

Plunk, plunk, plunk…

The plunking was louder and more obnoxious than the dripping had been. It was the sound of water drops hitting his metal pots. If he gave it a minute or two longer, it would be okay, he thought. The bottoms of the pots would line with water, and that would eliminate the plunking noise.

He returned his focus to the western, trying hard to block out the sound of plunks.

Time strolled by at such a dawdling pace. Plunk, plunk, plunk… He gripped the arm rests of the chair… dug his nails into the cushy leather covering. Plunk, plunk, plunk… He stood again, pushing the chair back a little from the strength of his action.

Marching over to his black and white television set atop a small black table, he turned the volume knob to the right and adjusted the set’s rabbit ears in an attempt to make the picture clear. The television was always a little fuzzy, but the set worked, and to Bradley, that was what really mattered.

With the volume all the way up, he sat again and tried to get comfortable. For a few glorious moments, all he could hear were horses, saloon girls and gunshots of his western flick. Then, as if interruptions had intentionally delayed themselves just to irritate him further, he heard splash, splash, splash as the drops of water landed in the water that had gathered in the pots.

“You’ve got to be kidding me…” he whispered in a tone that was filled with as much detest as it was with bewilderment.

Once more, he rose from his chair and walked over to where the drip was coming from in the living room ceiling. He looked up and saw a fresh drop of rain water swell up and then fall. His eyes followed it as it fell down to the water in the pot below, signaling that it had reached its destination with another splash as it landed.

Behind him, despite the roar of the television, he heard the splashing sound come from the kitchen and the hallway as well. The three leaky areas were constantly dripping and – what he considered to be even worse – they were not dripping in unison. When one drop splashed, a moment later another would splash from a different area, followed by the third. This went on repeatedly, and as the rain continued to beat down on his house, the drops fell faster and harder.

Constant… it was so constant!

He screamed with fury, letting his voice roar above the sounds of the television and the splashing of the rain water. He was a balloon filled with anger, ready to burst.

It had to stop. It had to cease and it had to do so now. Bradley was not a patient man, and this fact flourished as his temper erupted.

He had to find a way to seal the infernal holes where the water was coming in. He tried to think of an easy solution, but as the raindrops continued to splash into the pans around him, he found it impossible to think and easier to act. From the hall closet, he took out a hammer, some nails and the stepladder. Then, using the hammer, he walked to the two straight-back chairs at the small kitchen table and pried the wood from their backs.

As this bout of frustration raged through him, Bradley set up the stepladder beneath the drip in the living room, and with his materials in hand, he climbed up it, feeling the drops of water splash against his head as he did.

“I’ll show you…” he muttered with detest, positioning the wood against the area of the drip. Then, taking a nail, he held it against the wood. With the nail positioned, he rested the palm of his hand against the wood and took the hammer from his pocket with his other hand. Then, with one impatient whack of the hammer, he drove the nail into the wood and split it – also splitting the weakened ceiling in the process.

All at once, a flood of water burst through the ceiling, dousing Bradley hard enough to make him fall from the stepladder. He landed near the television – his back slamming against the leg of the table that the set was positioned on. From the jarring motion of the impact, the table’s leg gave out, causing the set to slide from its pedestal. It landed on Bradley’s head. The thickness of his skull broke through the set's glass screen, filling the television’s electrical guts with the wetness from Bradley’s hair.

For around half a minute or so, Bradley twitched, shook and fried as he suffered death by electrocution. Crisp and steaming, his body went limp as the power died out in the house. Ten minutes later, the storm ended and the sky cleared.


Copyright Jae El Foster, 2018