Black Petals Issue #95 Spring, 2021

Occupational Hazard
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95_bp_occupationalhazard_hlyon.jpg
Art by Hillary Lyon 2021

Occupational Hazard

 

Doug Hawley

 

Duke liked the lights and sounds of carnivals.  When one was setting up for a startup the next day on the local fairgrounds, he decided to peek into a shack on the grounds to see the carnies preparing.

 

There was a small hole in the building which he could see through.  He was shocked to see human sized things that looked like corncobs coming from a hole in the middle of the interior and slowly morphing into human shapes.  What would have been corn silk waved around the bodies, before being absorbed.  The corncobs diversified into set-up people, booth workers and dancing girls.  He lingered too long watching the dancing girls.

 

Someone or something saw Duke’s eyeball through the hole and yelled, “Stranger!  Get him.  He can’t be allowed to tell our secret.”

 

Duke ran as fast as he could, which quickly lost the cob-carnies.  He stopped going to carnivals, but he felt safe because they had never had a good look at him in the dark.

 

Despite the scare Duke got from the cob-carnies, his luck changed for the better immediately after the experience.  Before, he had been a dateless wonder.  After, the short, unattractive and social skill-free Duke became a chick magnet.  Women single and otherwise were inviting him to dive bars with immoral motives.  His twenty-year older, but still a knock-out, boss at Federal Insurance, wanted to leave her husband for him.  His sex life got to be so active, he asked his brother to fill in for him at times.

 

His luck got even better when he met Sally.  She was so superior to the women who were chasing him, that they got married a week after they met.  She was a talented painter and author whose investing skills had made her a multi-millionaire by the time she was twenty-five.  Talent agents had begged her to model, but she had no time for such frivolity.

 

Duke’s career at Federal Life was accelerated from being a clerk to being chief actuary within a year of his cob-carnie encounter.  He now believed that the incident with the cob-carnies was good luck and thought about going to a carnival again.  Sally would probably consider it very low-brow, but she was a good sport about Duke’s interests.

 

A year after becoming chief actuary, he became president of the company.  With his new position, he decided to buy a new car.  For his test drive, the salesman drove out while explaining the latest Cadillac’s high-tech and six-hundred mile electric range.  It sounded so good, Duke decided to buy it.  Duke could drive back through the beautiful countryside they passed through.  As they were changing seats, the salesman told him “Carnies are seasonal jobs.  We need employment for the off season.  I didn’t need to see you to recognize you; I could recognize you by smell.”

 

Duke screamed as the cob silk grew, preceding the whole metamorphosis, but the location had been chosen to avoid detection, so no one observed his demise.

 

 

Doug Hawley is a little old man who lives with editor Sharon and cat Kitzhaber in Lake Oswego Oregon USA.  He does some writing, hiking, snow shoeing and volunteering after a short, boring career as an actuary.

 

https://sites.google.com/site/aberrantword/

https://doug.car.blog/

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