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Funny Short Story Fiction: The Attack

Updated on September 3, 2012

Emma was in a rush. Blasted husband of hers, Richard who was always behind and had made her late. At 66, Emma was definitely enjoying being retired but when all was said and done, she still enjoyed little things like for crying out loud, being on time.

Glad to be retired finally after being an emergency room nurse for 30 years, Emma was blossoming in her retirement, though at the term retired she generally scoffed. How was someone "retired" when they found as much to do as Emma did, she often wondered to herself.

Even now, here she was, Richard in tow who was supposed to drop her off on his way to run his errands but had instead made her late in the first place. Here she was rushing into the grocery store to grab something for the morning meeting of volunteers at the hospital.

"Damn man," she muttered to herself jumping from the car and striding purposefully into the supermarket, barely clearing the automatic doors before they smacked her in between. Why couldn't he pay attention to time once in a while was beyond Emma's "by the clock" kind of life. Since he'd been retired for 5 years now, Emma had yet to synch her "schedule with Richard's who seemed on "Richard time" rather than real time.

Emma still had things to do, places to go, people to see, whereas Richard spent a lot of his retired time puttering about on no particular schedule. His attitude had become "when I get to it, I get to it."

Case in point, that's why Emma was running late. She had asked Richard to be ready to go at 9:30 but he had been outside training the dog and doing God knew what else when she'd called out to him. It had taken him a full 15 minutes to come in, clean up and be ready to go and now she was behind schedule.

"Shake it off," she told herself as she paced down the aisles towards the bakery.

"You'll get there in plenty of time and if you're late, it's not like someone is going to fire you," she chuckled to herself.

Emma began focusing on what she could snatch up and get the heck out of there and still be reasonably on time for the volunteer meeting. As she quickly took in the offerings, she was beginning to think she should have thought ahead and made something from scratch the night before herself.

Being the "health nut" that she was, this was not going well. Angrily as Emma searched and searched for something reasonably resembling something not totally made of sugar, her eyes finally landed on some muffins. Deciding they would have to do, a mixture of oatmeal and cranberry mini muffins, she grabbed up several containers and dashed back towards the cash register.

Only to be stopped dead in her tracks by the man hunched over the grocery cart grabbing at his chest. He seemed to be having spasms of some kind as he was repeatedly banging on his chest, then leaning forward to rest his chest on the cart.

"Oh holy crap," she muttered to herself. "The guy's having a heart attack."

She quickly assessed the situation and quickly set aside her muffins on the nearest shelf and began sprinting towards the man at the end of the aisle.

Reaching instinctively into her pocket for her cell to dial 911, her hand came up empty. Muttering a curse under her breath, Emma kept going at Mach 1, realizing in her haste to get out of the house, she'd left her cell on the kitchen counter. Richard had one but too bad for Emma since he was out in the car with the dog waiting for her.

She debated about calling out to the checker to dial 911 but as she saw the man lean completely over the cart as if he was in severe pain, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She might need to perform CPR and better that she got him down on the floor and started compressions. She could always yell out for another bystander to call 911 as if they wouldn't notice a heart attack with CPR in progress!



Ben stood at the end of the bread aisle and wondered, not for the first time what Andie could possibly be thinking to spend so much time debating over a simple thing like a loaf of bread.

"Are you freaking kidding me," he muttered out loud much as he did every single time they went to the store.

"Who takes this much time to shop for a loaf of bread?"

He knew it was falling on deaf ears. His Andie (short for Andrea) was a one-of-a-kind shopper. Especially when she had an "event' going on which they did at the current time. It was their daughter's graduation party from culinary school and true to form, everything had to be perfect or Andie couldn't live with it.

Not that she was type A personality, he chucked to himself. She made it abundantly clear that she was just a "thorough" person. She was certainly was not OCD or a type A personality or anything close to those neurotic labels!

"Of course not, dear," he found himself saying more times than he'd like to remember. But he had to hand it to her. She was one of a kind. She spent more time than anyone he knew trying to just "get it right."

Everything she did turned out to be top quality and if not for her being so devoted to her family and her own business, she probably could be running any top level firm in the country. She was that organized and that damn clever.

Why he always went shopping with her was beyond him. She didn't need him really to do it. It was just one of the many things that they did together simply because they enjoyed each other's company.

She took great care in preparing meals just because but if there was a special occasion, God help them all. She would throw herself into organizing it like it was the Last Supper. It had to be perfect in every way and above all, made totally from scratch from the appetizers to the desserts to the edible decorations for the table. All Ben could do was to stand back and let her have her head.

So it was no surprise that on a Friday morning, he stood slouched over the shopping cart, waiting for Andie to pick out a loaf of bread? Good lord, how hard could it be?

She routinely accused him of having nothing to do on these shopping jaunts other than "guarding the cart as if someone was going to come along and steal it away" but really, what else was he supposed to do? Except for the occasional "go get this on such and such aisle, Ben," he basically did guard the bloody cart!

But the view wasn't half bad he thought to himself as Andie bent over to look at the bread on the very bottom shelf.

"What the heck," he laughed to himself. "They don't have bread at eye level she can buy?" He set about to wait it out and figured it was worth another 10 minutes in the bakery aisle watching his wife's glorious behind as she peered down at the bottom shelf for a loaf of bread that was just the right one.


Andie looked at her list and looked at it again, then looked back at the shelves of bread.

"What is wrong with this store?" she huffed to herself.

"Where the heck are the little mini toasts that they always have?"

She was no novice to grocery stores, having been a smart shopper all her life. She got the drill. They never put the stuff you really wanted on the eye level shelves because they wanted you to impulse buy. She didn't just fall off the Kroger truck after all. Scanning up and down the bread aisle though on the fringe of the bakery department, she just couldn't seem to find the mini toasts.

This was her daughter's graduation from culinary school for crying out loud. If she didn't have the little toasts, she couldn't make the appetizer bruschetta that she had planned out. No matter that she could substitute something else or she could go somewhere else to get the mini toasts.

"Oh Ben would just love that," she thought ruefully to herself. Another trip to another store was like torture for the man.

He wasn't kidding her with his bored attitude. She knew that he only went along with her because that's what they did. But really...did he think he was fooling her? He hated shopping. In fact, he had PTSD, "post traumatic shopping disorder". He couldn't stand to be in a shopping mall or a grocery store for more than 30 minutes without breaking out in a sweat.

So while she looked up and down the blasted shelves for her mini toasts, there he stood, guarding the cart. For all his help, he should be sitting in the kiddie seat with his legs dangling out, becoming one with the shopping cart.

"Maybe he should start riding around in a handicapped cart while he waits for me," she laughed to herself.

Just as that thought occurred to her, right there, on the very bottom shelf at the end of the aisle she spied her prized mini toasts. And as luck would have it, they were on sale. "Probably stale," she thought miserably to herself for an instant. But in her usual bubbly fashion, she quickly reminded herself since they were supposed to be toasted, they'd be just fine.

And then it happened. Just as she reached for her illusive toasts, she felt it. A mere breath, a brush of something on her cheek. As Andie felt the "something" on her cheek, lost in thought, she brushed it away quickly.

"Probably a fly," she thought absently as she concentrated on the stupid mini toasts and how many packages she should get.

As the sensation brushing against her left cheek intensified, and spread to involve the side of her neck, Andie began to wonder what the heck was going on. Could there be an entire herd of flies in the store all of a sudden. Again, this time more annoyed than before, she swatted at her cheek.

Finally breaking through her concentration on the toasts, she mumbled to herself, "What in the Sam hell?" and dropped her precious toasts onto the grocery store floor.

It felt like an entire assault on her left cheek. Creepy crawly things didn't bother Andie all that much but this was really starting to tick her off. Afraid for an instant that she had stepped into a web of some deadly spiders or something else more foreboding, as the brushing and tingling continued unrelentingly, Andie began swatting about her face as if she had been attacked by a nest of gnats.

Panicking further, she began flailing her arms as if she was caught in some huge invisible spider web.

"Just in case," she was bound and determined to get rid of them before they all bit her and she would be on her way to the ER and miss her daughter's graduation party.


Ben glanced down at his watch and made a mental note to let Andie know that she had been looking for a loaf of some sort of bread for about 7 minutes by now. Wasn't there a time limit on how long one could search and then they should move on? Or God forbid, ask a clerk?

Looking up and preparing to get Andie's attention so they could at least move on to the next shopping moment, Ben couldn't believe his eyes. Here was his prim and proper wife, dancing and stomping about, waving her arms like a crazy person.

As he watched her comical routine, a smile spread across his face as it dawned on him what was happening. Amused, he spied the potted palms behind where Andie had been standing looking down at the bottom shelf and unbeknownst to her (yet), one of them had tipped ever so slightly towards her.

One of the huge, long spindly fronds was draped over her left shoulder. The plant wasn't even officially "touching" her but the frond certainly was, brushing up over her left shoulder to caress her cheek and neck apparently.

Whatever she thought it was that was "attacking" her, Andie was frantic. Andie didn't get frantic that often either so this was a great spectacle. She was batting at it like she thought it was alive.

"Well, I guess technically it is alive," he laughed to himself. And then when she added more gyrations to her crazed arm waving and batting at her face, Ben just couldn't contain himself any longer and began to laugh hysterically to himself.

This was the most fun he'd had in a while at his wife's expense. He really should go and help her and get the palm off her back so to speak. She still wasn't realizing that it was a plant behind her causing her this grief, not apparently buzzing insects as her hands would suggest she suspected.

He leaned over the cart and was holding his chest he was trying desperately not to laugh out loud at her predicament. Any minute now, he was going to rescue her and throw the assaulting plant to the floor. He might even step on it for good measure! Of course, in the meantime, he needed to stop laughing first.


Something was not adding up right. Andie knew she was freaking out and she was being a total moron. Insects and spiders aside, really, how could this be happening in the market?

Quickly taking stock of the situation and deciding she was no helpless female, she whirled around and stopped her frantic flapping movements. Only to find a potted palm balancing precariously behind her.

In the instant that she turned, the potted palm fell all the way over and draped its huge fronds unceremoniously all over Andie's head. She was SO not having a good day.

As she peered out from between the fronds of the offending palm, she saw good old Ben, standing hunched over the shopping cart at the end of the bread aisle now shaking with laughter. The bloody jerk had watched the entire thing obviously!

Andie was definitely going to give him a piece of her mind in a second. Of course, after she slithered out from under the damned palm tree! Giving it a good kick to set it upright again, she thought she'd also include in her little tirade a curt report to the cashier when she checked out. She'd heard of falling prices before, but falling palms?

Stooping to pick up her tossed bread packages, Andie stomped towards the end of the aisle and Ben arriving just in time to see an elderly woman sprinting towards Ben and grabbing him by the arm.


A little out of breath from sprinting over, Emma grabbed Ben by the arm and immediately inquired, "Sir, are you having trouble breathing?"

"Let's get you down on the floor so I can examine you. Are you experiencing any chest pain?"

Ben looked at the kind-faced woman in utter shock. What was she talking about? He was just standing here at the end of the bread aisle minding his own business, enjoying a great laugh at his wife's expense. How could he be having chest pain?

By this time, Emma had clamped her fingers onto his wrist and was busily taking his pulse. She shouted out to the checker at the nearest counter to please call 911 and then turning back to Ben, slipped her arm under his armpits and started to attempt to lower him to the ground.

"Wait a doggone minute here, ma'am," he managed to blurt out while fighting her to remain standing.

"I'm not having any chest pain and I'm not having any difficulty breathing."

"See?" he said twirling in a circle in front of her, just to prove his point.

"Well then why in the name of all that's holy were you leaning over your shopping cart and grabbing at your chest like you had an elephant sitting on it then?" Emma demanded, getting a little hot under the collar.

About this time, Andie reached the cart and she burst into laughter. Talk about an exciting trip to the grocery store! This one took the cake so to speak.

"I think I can explain," Andie spoke up.

"My husband, Ben here was standing at the end of the aisle guarding our groceries while I was down the bread aisle. Apparently when I bent over, the ground must have shifted or something and one of those giant potted palms over there decided to lean over and visit me. I got a little freaked out and was putting on quite a little dancing show here in the bread aisle, which my husband must have been reacting to."

Emma looked from Andie to Ben to Andie and back again slowly.

"I'm having one hell of a morning is all I can say. So you're not having a heart attack. Perfect!"

Waving at the checker who had been on the phone since Emma had commanded her to dial 911, she yelled out "Hold the ambulance; no heart attack today."

Turning back, she waved her finger in Ben's face. "You should be ashamed of yourself, young man," she said with fervor.

"You almost gave ME a heart attack! I was trying to think how best to call 911 and get you down on the floor if necessary and all the while you were just having a laughing fit over your wife's misfortune. Next time, do the right thing and instead of laughing at her, go and take care of her!"

And with that, she strode back to the bakery shaking her head as she went to retrieve her muffins and get to her meeting, now much later than before.

Andie and Ben stood watching after her, aware of all the people who'd gathered and were giggling away at them. With a mutual shrug of their shoulders, they continued on down the next aisle to see what other adventures they could create.

Who ever said shopping was boring?


Podcast by this Author


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