flash fiction, short story

i’ll take it

The doorbell stuck. She pushed it deeper until it popped back out. A ding dong resonated from inside, followed by steps thumping towards her. A top lock was jiggered. Good, she thought. Extra safety. The smell of cigarette smoke and old bacon wafted out as the door was pulled open. A chubby man stood squinting in the sun. His yellowed muscle-shirt folding over with drooping pecs, his bulging abdomen and protruding navel well outlined by the thinning fabric, his stained jeans and bare, hairy feet with overgrown toe nails were all she needed to see to know he meant business. He mumbled through a cough, the cigarette he held between his lips bouncing up and down, and led her in.

Each room was presented to her with a fresh mumble and wave of the hand. The first on the left was dark and empty. A faint light seeped through the brown polyester curtains, illuminating the front part of the room with a dull glow. She noticed the burgundy rug peppered in cigarette burns, the flowered wallpaper peeling. The room had its own smell. She sniffed a few times. Must.

The second room, this one on the right, was stuffed full of boxes, piled so high they almost touched the ceiling. The man stuck his head in the small space between the door frame and the wall of boxes and mumbled, pointing upwards. She poked her head in too, and sniffed. Kitty litter.

She followed him down a narrow, brown-carpeted corridor. The walls were painted in tones of beige which seemed orange thanks to the lightbulb that hung from the hall ceiling, flooding the tight space with its diluted mustard colour. She sniffed. It smelled of mustard too.

The last room was both a kitchen and a living room. A toaster sat on the end table beside the green velvet couch, and a small television was propped on a stool in the sink. Very practical, she thought. She sniffed again. The old bacon was definitely present, but there was a hint of something else, something out of place.

She found out what it was when the man opened the door to the back yard. Lilac trees, laden with purple, spat their fragrance at her. She sniffed. A variety of flowers lined the fence in orange, red and white, all of their smells mixing in a most unpleasant stink. She shook her head and pinched her nose. The man saw her disgust, and pointed to a chainsaw leaning against the back wall of the house. He mumbled, the long ash that had accumulated at the end of his cigarette falling, leaving him with only a stub.

She paused her eyes on the chainsaw, then nodded and shook his hand. I’ll take it, she said.

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