Kirk Novak: Marvin and Mrs. Frey

IMPORTANT CONTEXTUAL INFORMATION! READ THIS FIRST! I wrote this for a silly writing exercise that I did with my fellow Drinkers with Writing Problems when we were fresh as a newborn baby, wailing tearfully, soaked in amniotic fluid. We were given an opening sentence, “The house on the hill had been empty as long as anyone could remember,” and a closing sentence, “So sorry about your missed car appointment,” and then it was up to us to flesh out a story between them.

This is what I wrote.

Pretty much free-written and completely unedited. If you read it you’re getting the hairy warts and all the other gross benign bodily growths. I was trying to write in the voice of a gruff drunk type like Bukowski, for what that’s worth. Anyway, I look fondly upon this piece of shit and I’ve been too busy playing games on a tablet computer all week to actually create new content.


Marvin and Mrs. Frey

The house on the hill had been empty as long as anyone could remember. It stood stark against a rare clear blue day, a shutter flapping gently from the light breeze. Marvin was back in Buffalo to try and sell digital magazine subscriptions to the same blue collar rust belt hard cases that used to be his neighbors. Marvin could almost picture someone standing in the second story window looking out and down the hill, absorbing the beauty of the afternoon.

“The asshole in the Enterprise office sure is taking his sweet fucking time bringing the rental around,” Marvin thought to himself. The house had gracefully decayed over the years, which lent it a noble quality. Noble, but still spooky. Marvin wondered who owned the property. It was fairly well-maintained for a vacant home. He started to walk up the hill to take a closer look when he heard the rental agent bringing around the car.

“Fucking finally,” Marvin shouted knowing the driver had the windows rolled up and the sound of the engine would cover up his voice. Marvin and the rental agent walked around the sedan doing the inspection before Marvin signed the paperwork. Everything looked fine. They shook hands and he got in the car and started driving toward the old neighborhood.

Marvin pulled up in front of his childhood home and parked. This would be as good of a place to start as any, since it was utterly futile to expect any sales. He was going to tear the regional manager a new asshole for sending him here if lack of sales are a problem during his next performance review. He stood and looked at his old house for a minute. He didn’t feel much. He hated Buffalo.

Marvin walked over to the house next door and prepared to knock. He had no idea who lived here now, the Ramseys were long gone. The house had been empty when he moved to Madison for college. He knocked and almost immediately a short, stout lady answered the door. Before she could speak Marvin introduced himself.

“Hello ma’am, my name is Marvin Wainwright, and if I could just have a few minutes of your time.”

“What do you want?”

“Do you read magazines? Do you own a tablet computer? Would you like to reduce clutter and save money?”

“Do I own a what? Let me save you time. My answer is get lost,” she said as she shut the door in his face.

That was expected. He trudged down the front porch steps and moved on to the next house. Oh, christ. Mrs. Frey. Marvin wondered if he should even bother. He knew she still lived here, but she had to be 120 years old and even dumber than she was when he was a kid. He thought it might be an easy sale if he was really that desperate. Marvin knocked on her door.

There was no answer. Marvin knocked again and listened. Faintly he heard someone say they were coming. Finally, after what felt like minutes, Mrs. Frey cracked open the door and recognized Marvin before he could get a word in edgewise.

“Marvin Washington, is that you? My it has been a long time, please come in. What brings you here,” she asked as she pulled on his arm, dragging him inside.

Marvin immediately regretted coming and had second thoughts about trying to take advantage of her for a sale.

“Here, give me your jacket and sit down. Would like something to drink? Coffee? Tea? Something stronger,” she said slyly and possibly a little too flirtatiously.

Marvin was transfixed. “Do you have any scotch,” he asked as he took off his coat and on the couch in her living room. Plastic covered the back cushions of this forest green monstrosity.

“I sure do, let me get you a glass. I’m going to have wine myself,” she said as wandered over to a small wood bar in the corner of the room.

Marvin noticed she wasn’t wearing pants, but had on a shirt that was as long as a dress. She was surprisingly attractive for a lady as ancient as she had to be. “Hell, I’m 56 myself,” Marvin thought. He couldn’t help but wonder what she looked like naked and how well everything still worked for her.

They talked for what felt like hours on the couch. They kept getting drunker and Mrs. Frey kept inching closer, brushing against him at certain moments. They had awkward elderly sex on the couch and then Martin embarrassedly got up and started to get dressed while she lay there looking self-satisfied and smoking a cigarette.

As Martin started to leave he realized how late it was and any attempt he was going to try to make a graceful exit went right out the window. “Oh shit, I was supposed to have the rental car back by 6:00 PM tonight,” he said, almost forgetting his circumstances and the really old cougar smiling about her conquest on the couch.

Mrs. Frey laughed and took a drag on her cigarette. As she exhaled she said, “So sorry about your missed car appointment.”

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