A Hardware Encounter

Story openings such as “It was a dark and stormy night” are typically considered clichéd, something creative writers should avoid. For the fun of it, however, my writing instructor once challenged our class to scribe a one to two-page short that began with that line. With that in mind, plus an actual thunderstorm to further my inspiration, I concocted the piece below. Enjoy!

It was a dark and stormy night. If I hurried, I could just manage to sneak through Park Supply’s front door before closing time. As I stepped in, a bolt of lightning flashed in the sky, followed by tremendous, rumbling thunder that vibrated the storefront windows. The heavenly eruption caused me to pause in my tracks. Rain cascaded down the panes. Large drops tap-danced on the roof. I faced the counter and climbed the steps inside. Knowing my mission, a fantasy tickled my brain.

A middle-aged, attractive, yet well-proportioned woman smiled beside the cash register. A hint of gray teased dark, wavy hair that framed her lightly perfumed, artfully decorated Revlon face––Cindy Crawford in her late-fifties.

She politely asked. “May I help you, sir?”

“Uh, yeah,” I said. “I need a screw.”

As if I’d insulted her moral stature, her head jerked back. Her eyes widened, then eased to taunting slits. “Excuse me?”

I grinned. “I need a screw,” then held up an abused fastener. “You know…”

She winked. “Oh, I see. Well then, follow me. Walk this way.”

The hardware Madame swayed from behind the counter. Unsure that I could duplicate her movements, I gave it a shot anyway––it didn’t feel bad. “Where we headed?”

“Around back, to our stable of screws. Now what size, and brand did you prefer––Redmond, Bond or Brunner?”

Certain she asked, “Which did you prefer, redhead, blond or brunette?” my imagination pin-balled with arousal.

Another mighty blast of thunder and lightning shook the building, and zapped the electricity. The entire shop went black as a coalmine without lanterns. I probed like a blind man for something to steady myself. To my surprise, my hands settled upon two, round, soft, resilient objects. I hesitated, then gently squeezed the pleasant mounds. Firm, yet pliable, and they felt good. Could it be?

I wondered whether the luscious pair belonged to a blond, brunette, or a redhead. My mind reasoned that if the hooters adorned a redhead, my fondling would inspire vocal rejection, followed by and a resounding slap. A blond would likely offer too much acceptance, accompanied with lots of oohs and aahs. It had to be a brunette, quietly enjoying the moment––like me. I closed my eyes, continued the hand exercise, and anticipated our next move. I had definitely come to the right place for a screw.

Suddenly the fluorescents blinked on and illuminated the store. I stared into the face of the woman who’d escorted me to the magic room. Her eyes bugged behind Coke-bottle lenses. Mouth agape, her hairy uni-brow arched in disbelief.

Finally she stuttered, “S-s-sir, what are you doing?”

Embarrassed, I lowered my paws from the sponge display and the sizeable pair I’d been groping. “Good quality––very supple, and probably highly absorbent. Now, what about that machine screw I needed?”


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