What follows here is the piece I wrote for 'Silence'. It's a lighter piece - and in writing it, I found out how hard it is to write slapstick. Just a little slapstick, mind you, but it's in there, nonetheless. I hope you enjoy it.
A Short, Short Story
Louis Charles Lohman
C. J. Flynn was a little mouse of a man who was, much to his chagrin, married to a woman who never seemed to stop talking. She never, ever, stopped. From the time they rose in the morning until he finally went to sleep at night, his life was filled with incessant, inane chatter.
She would natter her way through breakfast.
She would sit and read a book, and still she would chatter away.
If he went to the bathroom, she would stand outside the bathroom door, regaling away with some story or other.
She never stopped talking and she never let him get far enough away from her so that he escaped the sound of her voice.
On this particular evening, C.J. and the vocal Mrs. Flynn were at their favorite Chinese restaurant, getting ready to order. The owner of the place walked over to greet them at their table. Mrs. Flynn, invisible to C.J. behind her menu, barely missed a beat as the owner bent over and spoke softly into her ear. Words of greeting, C.J. assumed, but lost on the Mrs., for sure. Then the owner came over to him and bent close to his ear.
"Snap your fingers, Mr. Flynn. Just once."
C.J. did as he was told. It was suddenly silent. Well, not quite silent. He could hear all the normal sounds in the restaurant, but he could not hear Mrs. Flynn. He looked at the owner, puzzlement writ large on his face.
"Snap your fingers again, Mr. Flynn."
Again, C.J. did as bidden. The cacophony of sound that was has wife once again assaulted his ears. He looked at the owner, an eyebrow raised inquisitively. The owner nodded his head. C.J. snapped his fingers, again, and his wife's voice just disappeared, yet everything else remained. He looked at the owner in amazement. The owner bent close to his ear.
"I have hypnotized her, Mr. Flynn. Whenever you snap your fingers, she will stop speaking so that you may hear. She will think she is speaking. She will even continue to hear her own voice. But you will not hear her. Enjoy, Mr. Flynn."
The owner walked away to another table, leaving C.J. Flynn to wonder at this marvelous gift he had just been given. He snapped his fingers. On. He snapped his fingers. Off. Snap. On. Snap. Off. Snap. On. She lowered the menu in order to look at him.
"Why do you keep snapping your fingers? You know that's very rude, don't you? My father always used to tell us when we were kids that snapping your fingers at people was the rudest thing you could do, almost as bad as popping bubble gum or keeping your elbows on the table. So please stop doing that it's very impolite."
Her face disappeared behind the menu again.
"Are you ready to order yet? I am. I'm going to have the House Fried Rice with Pork and Shrimp and a bottle of that good Chinese beer you like. Hurry up and figure out what you want - I don't want to be here all night you know. My program is on at 9 o'clock and I don't want to miss it. You know, last weeks episode was so ..."
C.J. had snapped his fingers again. Apparently, she didn't notice, because the menu stayed up and she was gesticulating with her hand so she must still be talking but that was just fine with him, because at this moment, he was enjoying the silence. He knew what she wanted and he wouldn't have to listen to that noise for at least a little while, anyway.
The waiter came to the table, he ordered for the both of them, then sat back and relaxed in the comparative silence of the room. He wasn't even bothered, at all, by the noisy group of young people at the table right behind him. They, it seemed, were here celebrating a birthday, and they were having a grand time. The young man seated directly behind him was taping everything with his video camera and everyone was suddenly quiet as they gathered around him to see his playback of what he had just recorded.
Suddenly, what he heard hit him like a ton of bricks. Her voice. Coming from the camera. Loud and clear over the noises that the group had made. But that was impossible. She couldn't talk. The owner had said so. And then the realization hit him. The owner hadn't hypnotized HER. He had hypnotized HIM. He jumped to his feet, but had risen too quickly and he fell over in a faint, and as he fell, he pulled the chair of the young man behind him over backwards and the chair, occupied by the young man, as it was, fell across the knuckles of both hands.
When he came to, the medics had just loaded him on the gurney and they were going to take him to the ambulance waiting outside the restaurant. He noticed his hands were tightly bandaged and he looked at the EMT adjusting the strap that held him to the gurney.
"You fell mister. Broke knuckles in both your hands, but don't worry. We're taking you to the hospital. They'll do x-rays and then they'll put casts on your hands."
"Yeah, mister. Really."
A big grin came across C.J. Flynn's face. A big grin that broke into the biggest smile he had smiled in a long, long, time.
"Are you okay, mister? What the hell are you so happy about?"
"Casts. CASTS!!! I won't be able to snap my fingers for weeks!!"