Tuesday, 17 May 2011


Discarded Treasures

Violet dug through the dumpster sitting behind a gutted apartment building. After removing several newly found discarded treasures, she set them into a shopping cart between bulging plastic bags of recyclables.

She pushed the cart through the murky depths of the downtown alley and stepped onto the street. The putrid stench of grime and urine from her soiled clothing preceded her.

Passersby scurried past making a wide arc around her. They suddenly craned their necks and cast concerned stares upon hearing a muffled cry coming from a bassinet strapped to the cart’s child seat.

Violet ignored them and continued on, mumbling into the bassinet. After she shuffled down the street for several blocks a police squad car pulled up to the curb. The officer approached and nodded toward the basket.

“Good afternoon Ma’am. We received a call awhile ago about a baby crying. May I take a look?”

Violet flashed the officer a toothless grin. “Officer, do I look like I should have me a damned baby in here?”

“Well, I’m just responding to a citizen’s inquiry.”

She gave a rasping, hacking cough, and then spit on the street.

“Well here, take a look.”

Violet grumbled under her breath and pulled back the gritty baby blanket covering the bassinet. The officer leaned forward and then jumped back suddenly, gasping. He glared at Violet as she cackled and slapped her knee.

A relieved look flooded the officer’s face when he peeked back into the dilapidated bassinet. An antique, oxidized porcelain doll the size of a baby lay beneath the blanket, mechanically raising and lowering its arms.

He reached out with a trembling hand. Its lifelike face felt cold to the touch and its dull marbled eyes fluttered open and shut. A few bugs crawled in and out of a small hammer head-sized hole that marred the side of the brittle, cracking face.

“Now, does this look like some damn baby to you?” Violet asked.

“To be honest, ma’am, if I had only seen it from a distance, I would have thought it was.”

The officer questioned her for several more minutes and then drove off. She muttered several obscenities and turned to the doll.

“Oooh, my little prince, did that mean man scare you?”

Violet shook the baby doll’s chest, and chuckled when it echoed a scratchy, “Ma-ma, ma-ma.”

She leaned into the bassinet, and whispered, “Well, I know you are getting hungry. But have patience, and old Violet will get us some dinner.”

Violet kissed its forehead, and covered it with the blanket. Then she continued down the sidewalk, talking and laughing to herself as she dug through trash receptacles.

That evening, she waited in the shadows behind a delicatessen. Shortly after closing, the deli clerks carried several boxes of leftovers and outdated food to the dumpster. As soon as all the employees left, she stepped from the shadows and pushed the cart next to the dumpster.

As Violet dug through the garbage, a horde of rats suddenly scampered out of the darkness. They climbed over the grocery cart and bassinet into the dumpster. Their tails flicked with excitement as they squirmed about and burrowed into the rancid garbage pile. Violet kept swatting them away while they fearlessly competed with her for the food.

 “Go find your own food, you damned hairballs!”

After grabbing a few items, she set them into the shopping cart and started down the maze of dank-smelling alleys.

“Well, my little prince,” She said, patting the blanket, “I would say we have had a good night.”

Upon reaching the coal room of an old abandoned building, she pushed the cart inside. Violet closed the heavy door, and slid a thick wooden beam across it to keep out any unwanted visitors.  She lit several candles, and then sat munching on a molding clump of roast beef.

Violet heard a noise and caught a glimpse of a rat digging through the items in the cart. She grabbed a piece of broom handle, and threw it. As it clanged against the cart’s metal webbing, the rat scampered over the bassinet into the dark.

She walked over and peered into the bassinet. The doll clutched the rat between its hands and busily tore away fur and flesh. Violet chuckled and patted the doll’s belly.

“Now, didn’t I tell you we would be eating soon? You can always trust old Violet, my little prince.”

The doll’s bloodied lips curled into a smile and it cooed, “Ma-ma!”


Harold ‘Hal’ Kempka’s short stories have appeared in numerous Horror magazines, including Thrillers Killers and Chillers, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, Black Petals, Dark Valentine, Golden Visions, Night to Dawn, Sex and Murder, and Twisted Dreams. His stories have appeared in Anthologies from Pill Hill Press, Blood Bound Books, and Post Mortem Press. He is a FlashXer flash fiction workshop member, and lives in Southern California.

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