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Mittens

Ignatius brought the chain down on Robert's ribs again, this time with all his strength. A dark patch of blood expanded across the back of Robert's shirt but he barely made a whimper. Iggy gave him a little kick to see if he was crying. He was, but it was all silent and sort of boring. The playground was empty. All the other kids had run away once they saw Iggy going for the chain. They knew if they hung around they'd be next.

He cleared out and headed for his fort down by the big stone in the gully. When he got there, it was almost dark so he had to hurry up with the M-80s. He'd saved his sandwich all day for this. Finally he'd be able to test his theory. He took a piece of bologna out and laid it on the big stone. He pulled an M-80 out of his pocket and wrapped it up in the bologna. In a second, Mittens smelled the food and jumped out from where she was hiding, purring and rubbing up against his leg and then began sniffing at the bologna. He lit the fuse and stepped back. KA-BANG!. Yup, his theory was right; Mittens' head blew clear off. He pulled apart another sandwich, giddy with excitement, but then he realized there weren't no more cats.

"Iggy you little fuck! Is that what you do with the fuckin' food I put on the table?" Iggy's mom's boyfriend, Bruce, appeared out of nowhere. He musta seen him waste the sandwich.

"No, Bruce, please!" Iggy started to run, but Bruce snagged him by the hair, swung him around and caught him in the mouth with a fist.

"You think bologna grows on fucking trees?" Bruce smashed Iggy's face into the big stone and ground his mouth into the cat guts. He stomped on the back of Iggy's head with his cowboy boots and broke his front teeth off, then threw him in the trunk of his car and headed off for a little tool shed he kept in the woods out behind the county dump. What did it take to beat some sense into this little shit? Well Bruce'd had about enough by now. This time he wasn't playing games.

Date Written: December 06, 2003
Author: Ewan Snow
Average Vote: 4

Comments:
12/10/2003 qualcomm: i know i'm supposed to feel bad for iggy at the end, but due to his behavior in the first half of the story, i don't.
12/10/2003 Will Disney: yeah, it's about time that little shit got what was coming to him. i'm talking about mittens, of course.
12/10/2003 Ewan Snow: Well, all's I gotta say is this is the first short to really explore man's inhumanity to man. It's all well and good to just go for a laugh, but I guess I'm after something a little more important. That's just me.
12/10/2003 qualcomm: maybe you'd be happier over at mcsweeney's.
12/10/2003 Mr. Pony (4): I think they are both maybe jerks. On a personal note, I am personally trying not to be a jerk now myself. Thinking of this story constantly will keep me on the correct path. Thank you!!
12/10/2003 Will Disney: It's good, Mr. Pony, to try not to be a jerk.
12/10/2003 Jon Matza: I disliked this a lot and was going to write a fairly involved critique but was relieved to find out from Feldspar that itís the result (at least partly) of an experiment: testing the theory that you can make a hateful character sympathetic by showing him suffering, too (to which Iíd respond, based on this short, false.) Iím still going to post some of my musings for discussionís sake, though...

So before I knew about the experiment thing, I was puzzled by the uncharacteristic lack of humor here. I have nothing against cruelty and/or the urge to make the reader squirm if there's some comedy or interesting point/point of view to offset it, but neither seems to be in evidence here (not that it isnít well-written); it's just an unpleasantly graphic depiction of various evils. So then I thought maybe the idea was to show how "abuse leads to more abuse", but rejected this--as a Snow admirer I had trouble believing heíd find this idea new or interesting enough to base a short on--(also it seemed too socially responsible). So--until I learned of the experiment angle--I was forced to assume it was some sort of perverse piece of provocation. In fact I was all ready to accuse Snow of the Finklestonian view that successfully evoking any emotion, even revulsion, is itself enough aesthetic justification to publish a shortÖa dangerous idea for the site, in my opinion. As I see it thereís already way too much disgusting-for-disgustingís-sake content (take heed, guest authors.)

Two questions remain: Why did you sickos like it? And why did Snow publish it?

I found the newer one hysterical, though.
12/11/2003 Phony Millions: Interesting points Matza raises. I also thought like Matza, 'Where's the humor?' I still think that Ewan's effort squarely occupies the short medium in its irony: It is ironic and out of context for gratuitious violence, etc...not to be accompanied by humor in a short. There's plenty of violence, misogyny, cruelt, etc... in many shorts here, but they're always attemtping to be funny. For me, it was arresting as I kept on reading this short that there was nothing funny about it, which actually, on second reading, made it kind of funny, in a distinctly Ewanesque smart-assed way.
12/11/2003 Ewan Snow: Yeah, you guys are right, and I knew this while writing it. I wasn't trying to be funny at all, which is not to say that I was trying to be serious or important. I was just trying to show a scene and see (like Feldspar explained) if a little shit of a character would suddenly become more sympathetic if you found out he was as much of a victim as his victims. (Incidentally I think the reason it doesnít work is that the little shit is shown being too evil; he should just be obnoxious or unlikable, rather than a sadist.) As Brad points out, the mere fact that it is not at all funny, makes it a little funny just because of its context. Yes, this short is definitely out of the tradition, but to tell you the truth, I just didnít feel like writing another short about Alistair Stenchbottom dropping a turd in the Lord Chancellorís soup tureen. Iím afraid that the conventions and requirements of the short short are suffocating it. See this for a discussion of the problem. Iíll admit that this short in no way solves the problem, but what the F? Itís better to try and fail than never try at allÖ By the way, this morningís short is another attempt at something different, also probably not successful, though (just a little) more humorous.
05/19/2004 Mr. Joshua (4): I don't know about all this highfalutin' literary criticism stuff, but "You think bologna grows on fucking trees?" is good enough for me. Also, I like it that Iggy had a "theory" about what would happen to Mittens' head.
12/13/2004 Mr. Joshua: You guys are all wrong about this one...it's a classic. The attention to detail is excellent, the characters are vivid and well-portrayed, and the socio-economic milieu in which the short occurs is perfectly captured. I'm just waiting for the sequel, wherein Iggy, despite his vicious upbringing, turns lemons into lemonade with a Dickensian flourish. That would be keepin' it real.
12/13/2004 Ewan Snow: You hear that, QC, the socio-economic milieu in which the short occurs is perfectly captured!
03/21/2005 Shomer Shabbas (4): Dunno about the milieu, but otherwise I pretty much agree with Mr. Joshua. I'm just an occasional reader of this site, and not sure if yer stuff is always supposed to be funny or just entertaining. Anyway, I was entertained - well written.