July 22, 2014

Headlining Today


This is the second of a series. Totally unrelated first story here.

The Little Nail

     Once upon a time, there was a little nail - a quiet nail, a bent, unobtrusive nail sticking out of a wall, minding no one but nailself. It had a purpose, it knew it did, and an important one too, but it had been nailed there for such a long time that it couldn't remember quite what it was. It doesn't matter, it told itself quietly, I'm content, embedded here. I will observe the happenings and goings-on of this place, and live a long, undisturbed existence.

     The occupants of the house - for it was a house nail - were simple, happy folk. They had lived there almost as long as the nail, and the living area was cozy and slightly chaotic. Memories of an extended residency tend to pile up in the form of several photos and knick-knacks, and these cluttered the entire house in a warm, friendly manner.

     One day everything changed.

     There was so much hustle and bustle and movings of this and liftings of that and "Watch yer foot mate!"s, and such activity that the little nail's head spun with it all.

     And then it was quiet.

     The little nail had nothing left to observe except the four plain walls of a very empty room.

"Excuse me Wall," it said, a little meekly - for it had never addressed any of the walls before, never had reason to do so.

"To which one of us are you referring?" all four walls replied in unison.

     This nonplussed the poor nail. Although having apparently mastered speech, it had no concept of left, right, forward, or indeed any direction. It couldn't even point at a wall.

"All of you," it said. "Why is it so empty in here?"

     There was a long silence.

     Finally, one of the walls spoke. "Beats me."

"Oh," said the nail, "that's too bad."

"Why is it bad?" another wall asked.

     The nail stammered, trying to think of something. "That is, not bad, just..."

"Just what?" a third wall asked.

"Nothing," said the nail. "I'll just stay here."

"As if you could go anywhere," said the fourth wall, which also happened to be where the nail lived. "You're stuck here."

     The nail was a little annoyed by this. "I do wish you wouldn't remind me of my status as a partially inanimate object," it told its wall. "And would you please not talk? Your vibrations tickle."

     The wall scoffed. "You started it."

     But it never spoke again.

     Potential homeowners came and went, loudly discussing houses and mortgages and the practicality of living in such an old place, and one day, permanent new residents began to settle in.

     They walked into the room.

     The little nail hated them instantly.

"Oh honey, this would be perfect for the kids," the woman said.

     'Honey' agreed enthusiastically. "A bit of dusting and some new paint and this room'll be good as new."

     He walked around the room, looking the walls up and down, occasionally touching them. His hand felt the little nail before he saw it.

"What's this?" he exclaimed. "A nail! Could be dangerous, I'll remove it before I paint."

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," the nail said.

"Honey," the woman said, "I think that nail just talked to you."

     'Honey' had removed his hand from the nail and was stroking his soul patch with the pad of his thumb.

"Indeed, I think it just did," he said.

"Nails aren't supposed to talk."

"No, they aren't."

     He frowned at the nail. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't remove you right now."

"Because I serve a purpose," it said. "I don't remember what it is, but it's important."

"Let me think about it," the man said. "Oh look, I've thought about it and here's my answer: Not Good Enough. I'm getting my hammer."

"You'll regret it," the nail called as he stepped out of the room.

     The woman stuck her head out the door. "Alex! Harper! Come see your new room!"

     The man returned with a hammer and his offspring in tow.

"Dangit mum," one of them said, "we have to share a room again?"

     The man hooked the nail in the hammer's claw.

"Get ready to meet your maker," he said, and he began to lever it out of the wall.

     As the little nail felt itself getting pulled out of its home, it began to remember its purpose. It laughed, a little too loudly - a little maniacally.

"No, no," it said. "Get ready to meet yours."

     Woe be to he who disturbs the nail.

The End