Tuck Your Tell and Run (chapter 2) by Christopher Reel

The next day begun like any other: Tabitha woke me up at 7am, I showered, dressed, ate, and then left for work. However Instead of going to work at the Hallman Paper Company warehouse where I lost my job because of downsizing, as my manager Harold; all donuts and beers, put in his usual polite mockery, I ended up at my cousin Phil’s  house.

It was about 8:30am when I rung cousin Phil’s doorbell. He answered the door wearing  briefs and nothing else. Eating a bowl of cereal, he smiled and said ‘Cousin, what’s up?’ His eyes squinted quizzically. ‘You didn’t have to work this morning?’

I didn’t say anything. A brief silence invaded until he turned and walked back into the house. I followed behind.

‘You like my Batman underoos?’ he asked, pointing a finger at the cartoon’s logo printed on the seat of his briefs.

Phil had moved into this house over a year ago and for some reason he have never brought any furniture other than flat screen TVs’, computers and beds for every room in the house; except for the beds in the kitchen and bathroom and that’s only because I had to convince him not to. He sat onto the edge of the living room bed.

‘I got laid off.’ I said, pacing.

‘How did you get fired from a paper company?’ He asked.

‘I got laid off.’

‘Well, how did you get laid off from a paper company?’ He said, full with sarcasm.

‘This coming from a guy who never worked a day in his life.’

‘That coming from a person who just lost his first job ever.’ He replied with a smile. ‘And selling weed all your life doesn’t count.’

‘Point made.’ I said with a smile.

Our attentions were pulled by a creak at the top off the staircase.

‘Oh,’ he said. ‘I forgot to tell you that I had company.’ He lowered his voice. ‘Check her out, I think I’m in love. Serious, cousin, I think she’s the one.’

‘Really? How long have you been fucking with her.’

‘I met her yesterday.’ He said and then stood missing both my chuckle and disapproving head shake. He introduced the tall, slim, and chocolate woman coming down the steps as ‘Monica.’

‘What’s up.’ I said.

‘Hi.’ She replied in a soft voice as she got onto the bed. She slid under the Smurfs printed sheets, lying on her side facing the opposite direction from us. I gave Phil a thumps up. He smiled the smile of a man who just said I know.

Phil always seems to amaze me. His the only person I know that’s average in everything in life from looks to intellect, but always manage to date the most beautiful women and is, as a few critics had proclaimed, one of the last great American short story writers. He has one an N.A.A.C.P award and a National Book Club award for one of his story collections. The funny thing about that is I had convinced him not to sell drugs for a living as I did at the time but to find something he was good at. I went to prison for 3 years and I come out he’s my generations Ralph Ellison. Now he tells me that drug dealing is not for me and I need to find something that I’m good at. I wasn’t blessed or learned any skills so I found me a job.

‘She’s going to leave me.’ I said.

‘Why?’ He asked.

‘Because I’m a fuck up.’

‘You’re just worried about what her mom is going to say when she finds out. Or does she know already?’

I shook my head.

‘Does Tabby know?’

I shook my head again.

‘Why haven’t you told her yet?’

I shrugged.

‘Tell her.’ Said Monica as she rolled. ‘Hand me a cigarette.’ She asked Phil. He gave her one and took one for himself. Monica sat upright and said ‘You look like you need one.’

‘He doesn’t smoke.’ Said Phil.

‘Really?’ She asked. ‘ Why not?’

‘Because I got bad feet.’

‘Huh?’ Monica said.

‘Cousin, you know that you’ll have to tell Tabby.’ Phil said.

‘No what I have to do is find a job or something before she finds out. I don’t want her to start thinking I’m going to sell weed again, because automatically she’ll start thinking that I’ll go back to jail.’

‘I understand all what you have said but if you don’t want to hustle again, then what’s the, or something meaning?’ Phil asked with a coy smile knowing what I was about to say.

‘Well,’ I hesitated and then finished with, ‘The state Lottery is up to 120 million dollars.’ That pulled a huge laugh out of the two of them, leaving me with the impression that they had missed my sincerity.

For the next few hours we smoked joints, listen to an eclectic playlist of music for the computer and ate cereal. Around 3 o’clock I decided it was time for me to go, I had to peep first. It was while I was in the bathroom I noticed the tale. It was brown and furry and real. I think it was connected to my tailbone. Although I remained calm I couldn’t believe it and wonder if I was dreaming, so I banged my head against the door a few times but when I became dizzy I came to the conclusion that I was awoke. I wanted to get a good view of the tail so I climbed onto the sink, after I removed my sneakers, socks, pants, and boxers so that I could get the full view of it in the medicine cabinet mirror. I had to stand side ways to get a good look. The tail wouldn’t stop moving like looking at your tongue in the mirror. I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t notice it until then. Maybe I was turning into a werewolf and was going to go on a rampage and mane and eat Phil and Monica and then wake up naked underneath a bus in Winnipeg. Suddenly, the bathroom door opened causing me to turn and flinch. Losing my footing I jerked my body so that I would land onto my side and not my penis or tail. I succeeded painfully. On the floor I awkwardly sat upright avoiding my tail. I noticed Phil in the door way staring. I followed his eyes to my tail. I stood suddenly.

‘What’s that?’ He asked.

I shrugged.

The amazed look in his eyes changed as they rose to my face. ‘Where’s my cousin?’ he asked as he stepped into the bathroom.

‘What?’

‘Where’s my cousin?’

‘I am your cousin dumb ass.’

‘No you’re . . . you’re the devil.’ He said and then leaped onto me. We fell. Although Phil and I are equally frail and deficient of muscles I couldn’t get him off of me. He punched, kicked, and wildly screaming ‘Help!’ Monica had came into the bathroom screaming and trying to pull us apart to no avail until, I guess out of fatigue, Phil stopped. He took deep breaths leaning against the sink. Monica eyes were wide in awe staring at my tail bouncing behind me. With one hand I wiped at the blood on the side of my swelling face, with my other hand I raised the tail so that she could get a better look. She smiled.

The bathroom sat thick with silence until I said ‘Phil, its me. I’m no devil.’

‘That’s what this is about?’ asked Monica ‘He thinks you’re the devil?’

‘Who else has a tail?’ Phil said.

‘Phil you’re a writer, you should be more understanding.’ I said.

He leaned up from the sink. ‘I just read a short story about a girl who gets involved with a guy with a tail and he ended up being the Devil.’ He was standing up right and seemed calm but his eyes still had that manic uncertainty of  a crazy drunk with an empty beer bottle lose between hitting you with it or trying to eat it. Not sure what he would do next I put my hands up. Since I have zero knowledge of the art of boxing and was bare from the waist down with a tail swaying back and forth I felt weird, so I dropped my arms. Monica laughed. Phil laughed. Eventually I laughed.

After I dressed we gathered in the living room. Phil lit up a joint and said ‘My bad cousin but what would you have thought if I had a tail?’

I shrugged.

‘You would have thought that I was the Devil.’ He said.

Monica laughed. ‘You really thought he was the Devil because you recently wrote a story about a person with a tail actually ended up the Devil?’

He shrugged. ‘I don’t know, I’m an artist and I’m always high off of  OG Kush. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.’

‘’Just up Phil, you were scared and panicked. I saw it in your eyes.’ I said.

‘I never said I wasn’t scared.’ He replied. ‘I’m always scared.’

‘You weren’t born with that tail?’ Monica asked me.

‘Yeah but I don’t wear it much because it’s hard to find a pair of sneakers to match it.’ I said.

Monica made a half smile and a half smirk before saying ‘What I meant to ask was, did it just pop up today or you had it for a while?’ The smirk completely surrendered to the smile.

‘It just popped up in the bathroom, I believe.’ I replied.

‘What do you think it is?’ Phil asked.

‘An extra more flexible dick.’ I answered.

‘It’s a tail, Phil.’ Monica helped out.

‘A human can’t grow a tail!’ He demanded. ‘Only in fiction is such shit possible.’

But this wasn’t fiction. This was my life. ‘I have to get home.’ I stood.

‘What are you going to tail your wife?’ Monica said and then laughed. When she noticed she was the only one laughed she explained ‘Tail and tell.’

Phil laughed. I walked to the door.

‘Cousin,’  He said catching up with me. I stopped in the doorway but he motioned for me to continue. Still in his briefs, we walked to the corner. ‘So what you think about Monica?’

I stopped and looked at him. ‘I have a tail hanging out my ass and you want to know what I think about some girl. I don’t care about her.’

‘Calm down, cousin.’

‘Calm down? You attacked me because you thought I was the devil. Now you’re telling me to calm down?’

‘You’re right, I guess. But what are you going to do?’

I shrugged.

‘You have to tell Tabby about your tail.’ He paused. ‘You really have a tail.’ He shook his head.

‘A doctor should be able to move it, right?’

‘Sure, I guess. But don’t you want to know the when, where, why, and how you got it? What if you do get it removed and it grows back?’

Just then, I thought about the old man from the night before. The Warlock!

‘You alright?’ Phil asked.

‘Do you believe in warlocks or witches and magic.’

‘I don’t know.’ He said. ‘I never thought a human could grow a tail. But then again I am a writer. And well . . .’ He shrugged. ‘You should go onto the tonight show. You know, get some publicity, and write a book. I can hook you up with my agent and . . .’

‘I’ll call you later.’ I said as I begun to cross the street. ‘I’m going to need you to drive me some where, alright?’

‘Alright.’ He replied.

On the ride home I wondered if any other person on the train had a tail or wings or anything else strange beneath their clothes.

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About christopherreel

Christopher Reel is a writer and cartoonist from Philadelphia.

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