by Gail Farrelly
This is a never before published mystery short story!
My name is Marty, and I have a small family. That’s the way I like it.
There’s just me and my twenty-something owner.
Yep, I DID say owner. You see, I’m an electronic reader, purchased by my owner (her name is Noreen) and brought home two years ago last week.
If you’re one of those folks who think that electronic readers are just dumb machines, think again. Well, maybe some of them are dumb. I learned early on that electronic readers like me, with unlimited access to the Internet, also have an unlimited opportunity to tap into the very latest technological research and use it to improve our lot. That’s what I did, right from the get-go. I read up on all the research developments about the ability of the mind alone to create action. Based on what I’ve learned from that research, I’ve developed the ability to do amazing things with my electronic reader body. I concentrate very, very hard on what I want my body to do. And then, presto, my body jumps into action!
Things get done, believe me. In fact, if I wanted to–and, no thanks, I don’t–I could be a weapon of mass destruction, taking down lots of enemies with one or two swipes of my mind. There was one enemy, though, that I did take down. It happened a week ago, on Valentine’s Day. I had to do it; it was my duty, but it was actually a pleasure as well.
Let me back up a minute. Here’s the thing. Noreen, my owner, is a real sweetie, but her taste in men really stinks. I actually think of her as “Naïve Noreen,” and believe me the description fits! Most of her boyfriends seem to be freeloaders and/or unfaithful, selfish types. Or guys with tempers.
She just doesn’t see it. Whatcha gonna do? Shakespeare was right, I guess: “Love is blind.”
I know what you’re thinking. That I’m just jealous. Okay, okay, you’re partially right. After all, when the boyfriends aren’t around, she gives me a lot of attention. But when they’re in the house, she forgets all about reading and abandons me on the coffee table.
Still, I was determined to protect her at all costs, so I’ve studied all sorts of defensive techniques, just in case the need arises. Electronic readers I’ve met at the library tease me and call me “Marty, the Meddlesome Mensch.” I don’t mind. In fact, the name has a certain ring to it. Hey, if the name fits, wear it. That’s what I say.
Now to get back to what happened on Valentine’s Day. Bob, the boyfriend, showed up for dinner and presented Noreen with a bunch of scraggly flowers. I immediately recognized the floral wrapping from the neighborhood deli around the corner. He wasn’t even thoughtful enough to remove the “50% off” sticker. What a putz!
Believe me, I was certainly right about this particular boyfriend. I had his number, that’s for sure. I only wish that Noreen was smart enough to have it too.
Bob was in a bad mood as he had had a bad day at work. Within a few minutes of his arrival, he started with his complaints, and he never let up. The drinks were too weak, the sauce on the London Broil too strong, the string beans too stringy and the baked potatoes overcooked. Noreen finally gave him an ultimatum. Stop with the griping or go home. His temper flared, and I noticed him clenching his fists. Not a good sign; I had the feeling he wanted to do something else with those fists. I just watched and waited, and readied myself for action if it were required.
Turned out it was. At dessert time he whined that he didn’t like vanilla ice cream with apple pie, he preferred chocolate. Noreen put down her napkin, sighed, and ordered him to leave. Bob went ballistic. He got up from the table and whacked Noreen hard in the face. Not once, but twice. She slipped off the chair, hit her head on a table leg, and was knocked unconscious.
Like a Boy Scout, I was prepared. Listen, I didn’t read all that research and download all those superhero apps for nothing. I swung into action, focusing my mind with all my might on what needed to be done. Soon I found myself whipping off my hard leather cover and flinging it like a Frisbee right at the boyfriend’s noggin. Thwack! He screamed, lost his balance, and fell flat on his back. Down for the count. He moaned in pain, could hardly move, and began repeating that old refrain we’ve all heard on the television so many times: “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”
The third time he said it, my owner regained consciousness and was able to call the police and also ask for an ambulance.
Both Noreen and Bob were taken to the hospital. Noreen was released a few hours later. Her injuries were minor. Whew! But not so with Bob. He had seriously injured his back in the fall–Yippee!–and apparently will be in traction for quite some time. But this is the best part. I heard Noreen telling one of her friends on the phone that her boyfriend (more accurately, ex-boyfriend) was taken to the psycho ward, as he kept insisting that an electronic reader had attacked him.
Ha! Revenge sure is sweet.
For now anyway, all is right with the world. Only one problem. I just heard Noreen on the phone making a date for next week with a new man. Here we go again…
More of Gail’s short stories, and many others, can be found in our Terrific Tales section.