THE APP

By Margi Desmond

 

 

When little nine-year-old Mikey Harris entered a room, a cloud of doom blanketed the atmosphere, dogs cowered, cats hissed, both Catholics and Protestants alike did a quick sign of the cross, Muslims dropped on prayer mats and prayed to Allah, Jews yelled, “Oy!” and ran, Atheists wished there was a god, and illegal aliens hightailed it back to the homeland. Such was the case when Mikey came to the library with his mother and infant brother one snowy morning in December. The librarian stationed at the front desk braced herself for the inevitable mayhem sure to ensue and held her breath as Mikey shoved his mother’s books and his Heroes of Tomorrow DVD into the return slot.

“Thank you,” the librarian said. Mikey started to walk to the DVD section.

“Mikey,” his mother said.

He spun around and scowled at her. “What!”

“Shh!” came from behind a row of books.

“What do you say to the nice librarian?” his mother asked. Mikey blew raspberries at her and ran to the DVD section.

 A little girl dressed in pink from head to toe searched through the kids’ movie section. “I’m looking for princess movies. Do you like Cinderella?” she asked Mikey.

“Look.” Mikey pointed to a spot close to the little girl’s hand. “There’s a big hairy spider.” The little girl screamed for her mommy and ran to the adult fiction section as fast as her little legs could carry her. Mikey smiled to himself and looked for more Heroes of Tomorrow movies. They didn’t have any. “Stupid library,” he mumbled.

His mother pushed his brother’s stroller up to the movie collection. “See anything you’d like to borrow, Mikey?”

“No. It’s all stupid stuff.” He slapped the movie he’d been holding down on the shelf.

“Careful,” his mother said, placing the movie back in the appropriate space. “Try to see if you can find a book for yourself. Reading is so much better than watching the television.

“Mom!” Mikey yelled, “I don’t want a stupid book!”

“Shh!” came from another out-of-sight patron.

While his mother browsed in the kids’ movie selection, Mikey pinched his little brother on the arm, causing the infant to wail. “Ha! That will teach them to shush me,” he thought. He walked to the kids’ graphic novel section, pulled out a Wonder Pals book, and flipped through it. He placed the book open on the shelf and dug in his nose for a big booger and stuck it right in the open mouth of a drawing of one of the characters who was exclaiming, “Oh no!” This made Mikey laugh hysterically. “‘Oh no’ is right. You have a mouthful of my snot.” If that didn’t gross out the next person who read the book, then Mikey made sure to guarantee their disappointment by ripping out the last page of the story. Now the big dummies would never know how the story ended.

Unable to quiet Mikey’s brother down, his mother said, “I’m going to take your little brother outside for a moment. You stay in here and be a good boy.” Mikey shrugged his shoulders to show his indifference to his mother. He moseyed to the adult video section and picked out some interesting selections, each with plenty of gore or something being blown up on the cover. The sign indicated patrons could only check out five movies at a time, but he had seven and couldn’t decide which two to put back on the shelf. He crept between a couple aisles of books, away from other library patrons, and snuck two of the movies into his backpack.

After a few moments, his mother and little brother returned from outside, behind a line of preschool tots walking hand-in-hand, headed to the picture book section. Their teacher whispered, “If everyone is well-behaved and quiet, Miss Laurie the Librarian will read a story to you.” The kiddos smiled and squirmed but managed to keep quiet. Mikey glared at them.

“Did you find a book to check out?” his mother asked.

“No.” He shook his head. “I want these.” He thrust the movies at her.

She examined the movies and frowned. “Mikey, these are rated R.”

He grit his teeth, tensed his body, and curled his hands into fists. “I want these!” The children in the picture book section looked at him, and their teacher gave his mother a disapproving glance.

“Shush! Come on, then.” His mother took the movies to the circulation counter and gave the librarian her library card.

“He has two more movies in his backpack,” the librarian said, nodding her head in Mikey’s direction. He wondered how she knew since he’d hidden behind a bookshelf when he took the movies. That librarian was a mean old spy.

His mother turned to Mikey. “Do you have two other movies?”

“No.” He crossed his arms in front of him.

“You sure?”

 “Yes!” he yelled and stomped his foot. The preschoolers stared at him.

The librarian said to Mikey’s mother, “Look in his backpack and you’ll find them.”

Mikey clutched his backpack in a death grip.

“My son is a very sensitive boy, a trait quite common in creative and extremely intelligent people. We try to give him autonomy and respect. Distrust and scolding will inhibit his growth,” Mikey’s mother explained to the librarian while he stood behind her and smirked like a smartass.

“I guess you’ll see in a moment.” The librarian handed the movies and library card to Mikey’s mother.

The security alarm beeped as soon as Mikey stepped between the sensors on the way out the door. “Mikey!” his mother gasped. “You do have something in your backpack.”

He clutched the backpack and snarled. “Leave me alone!”

“You’d better give back those movies. Remember, Santa is watching and doesn’t like it when you’re naughty.”

THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS SANTA CLAUSE!” Mikey bellowed.

Chagrined tots started to wail, and the preschool teacher tried unsuccessfully to console them. Adult patrons stared daggers at Mikey. His mother grabbed the movies from his backpack and tossed them to the librarian as she dragged him through the exit.

 

* * *

 

“If you’re good, I’ll buy a prize for you,” Mikey’s mother promised. “I’ll shop as fast as I can because we need to drive home so I can put your little brother down for his afternoon nap.”

Mikey followed his mother through the department store to the electronics section. “I’m hungry.”

“We’ll eat when we get home.” She waved to an attendant behind the counter. “I’d like to buy my husband a set of noise cancellation headphones for Christmas. Do you have any suggestions on which ones are the best?”

Bored with the conversation, Mikey scoped out a video console display and trotted over to it.

“That game sucks.” A boy came out of nowhere. “It’s already outdated. That’s why it’s on sale.”

Mikey looked at the boy with black hair, black nails, and dressed all in black, reminding Mikey of one of the characters in those naughty graphic novels his mother didn’t like him reading. “What do you know, stupid?”

“More than you, dummy.” He gave Mikey a shove. “My name’s Samael. What’s yours?”

Mikey opened his mouth to scream but the boy pushed a button on his smartphone and no noise came out of Mikey’s mouth. Confused, he asked, “How’d you do that?”

“It’s the latest smartphone app: MyWay.” Samael sneered. “I can make anyone do what I want with it.”

“Lemme see.” Mikey held out his hand.

Samael held the object high in the air, out of Mikey’s reach. “Not so fast.”

Mikey opened his mouth prepared to yell, “Give it to me,” but once again, nothing came out.

“You’re used to getting your own way, aren’t you, little fella?” Samael chuckled as he watched Mikey’s eyes fill with tears of frustration. “I tell you what, how’d you like to have this gadget?”

Mikey nodded. “Yeah.” He grabbed for the smartphone once again.

“Wait a minute. You have to trade me something for it.”

“What?”

Samael thought a moment. “You must grant me one wish.”

“You think I’m some dumb genie? Gimme —”

“Careful, buddy, I’ll use it on you.”

“Mikey,” his mother called. “Come on, let’s go home.”

He took a step closer to Samael and held out his hand. “Hurry up. Give it to me.”

Samael leaned close to Mikey’s face. “For your soul?”

“Sure, whatever, dumb-dumb.” Mikey snatched the gadget and ran to catch up with his mother.

“Wait, there’s something you need to know —”

“Take a hike, Sam,” Mikey called over his shoulder. “You stupid sucker.”

“Touché.” A wide smile spread across Samael’s face.

 

* * *

 

Mrs. Harris strapped her infant son into his car seat while her oldest son, Mikey, buckled his own seatbelt. “Mom, I’m hungry.”

“I know, son. We just have one more errand to run and then we’ll go home to eat.” She folded the stroller up and placed it in the back of the minivan.

“I don’t want to go on a stupid errand. I want to eat.” Mikey kicked the back of her seat directly in front of him.

“It’ll only take a minute.” She started the car and backed out of the parking space. “The nice saleslady at the last store said Technology World has the best prices on the headphones I want to buy for your father. We’ll run in real quick, buy them, and be home in a jiffy.” She pulled the vehicle onto the busy thoroughfare covered in salt and snow slush. “Please allow me to concentrate on driving in this crummy weather, son.”

“I want a Hotdog World Fun Meal now!” He pointed the smartphone at the back of her head and hit the MyWay app icon.

They ate Fun Meals at Hotdog World for lunch.

 

* * *

 

Crowds bustled throughout Technology World and shoppers whipped out credit cards to purchase the newest games, phones, tablets, and entertainment systems. Late for his afternoon nap, Mikey’s brother cried so hard his face was red. The grape slushy Mikey insisted upon guzzling after lunch gave him a headache, and his brother’s crying was making it worse. He pointed his smartphone gadget at the infant and hit the MyWay app icon. The baby quit crying.

“I’m going to look at movies while you shop,” Mikey said to his mother.

“I’d feel better if you’d remain by my side, honey. This place is so crowded. I don’t want to lose you.”

“I want to look at the movie DVDs!” Mikey tapped on the MyWay app icon, and his mother proceeded with her shopping without protest. True to her word, Mikey’s mother only took a few minutes to pick out the item she wanted, and they proceeded to the checkout lines. Mikey was furious when he saw how long they were. “Mom, it’s going to take forever to check out. My head hurts. I don’t want to be here. Let’s go.”

His mother rubbed Mikey’s head. “I’m sorry sweetheart, but I must buy this now. It was the last one and I’m lucky they didn’t sell out before I grabbed it.”

“Mom,” Mikey whined. He pointed the smartphone at the line and hit the MyWay app icon hoping to make the people in line allow them to cut to the front, but it didn’t work. He hit the icon again, but once again, to no avail. His mother was fussing over his drooling baby brother and Mikey’s rage was growing. He kept pushing the icon, but the stupid thing was broken.

Mikey felt a tap on his shoulder and wheeled around to see a girl with black hair, nails, lipstick, and clothes looking down on him. “Hey kid,” she said. “Samael sell you the MyWay app?”

“Yeah.” Mikey scowled at her. “It’s a piece of crap.”

“It only works three times. Then you have to buy the upgrade.” She sauntered closer to Mikey. “I’m Lilitu. Want the upgrade?”

“No duh…” Mikey rolled his eyes.

“What do you have to trade?”

“Nothing.”

 “Don’t tell me you sold your soul to Samael for this lousy app.” Lilitu laughed.

Mikey frowned. “I got an idea. Take my little brother’s.”

Lilitu shook her head. “Sorry buddy. It’s not yours to give.” Mikey threw the stupid smartphone with the used-up app at her as she walked away.

 

* * *

 

Mrs. Harris maneuvered the minivan through traffic and caught every red light on the way home. The baby’s diaper needed changing and the eye-watering, gag-inducing aroma permeated the vehicle. The weather was too cold to roll down a window for fresh air, so she covered her nose and mouth with a scarf. Mikey blasted an old Heroes of the Tomorrow DVD at top volume, getting on her last nerve. She gazed at her reflection in the visor mirror while waiting for the light to turn green and noticed gray hairs on her head and fine wrinkles around her eyes. When did that happen? She was only thirty-five years old. When did the haggard old bat in the mirror replace the beautiful college graduate with a career on the fast track at a Fortune 50 company? Now her life consisted of changing diapers and enduring temper tantrums while her husband wine and dined clients on his numerous business trips. It was high time she took care of herself. She looked at the shopping bag on the passenger’s seat beside her and smiled. She’d obtained little something for herself. That nice saleslady, Lilitu, had talked her into the deal, but now Mrs. Harris was glad she’d made the purchase.

 

* * *

 

Dinner time at the Harris household consisted of the baby slinging food all over the place from his spot in the highchair, Mikey raising hell over having to eat vegetables and drink his milk, and Mr. Harris chugging highballs and griping about sales quotas. Once Mrs. Harris sat down to her cold meal of crockpot-cooked roast, carrots, and potatoes, everyone else was already finished and bitching about dessert. Nobody asked her about her day. Nobody said “thank you” for cleaning up, shopping, and cooking. She’d had enough. She planned to save her treat she’d bought herself for after Christmas, but could wait no more. “I’ll be right back,” she said as she stood from her seat at the dinner table and walked to her bedroom.

 “Waaahhh!” the baby screamed.

 “I want chocolate ice cream!” bellowed Mickey.

“Babe, the game’s on. Bring me dessert in the den,” Mr. Harris demanded.

Mrs. Harris rummaged to the depths her lingerie drawer and pulled out the nifty gadget from Lilitu and stomped into the dining room. The baby still screamed, covered in potato, milk, and drool. Mrs. Harris pointed the gadget at her youngest son and hit the Erase application icon. Blip! The baby disappeared. Mrs. Harris glanced in the ornate mirror hanging from the dining room wall and noticed a wrinkle or two had vanished, her waistline a bit smaller.

Mikey’s mouth formed a shocked “O” as Mrs. Harris turned to him and hit the icon a second time. Blip! Mikey vanished. She looked in the mirror. A few less wrinkles and her waistline returned to pre-pregnancy proportions. She concentrated on the remaining wrinkles and saggy breasts and with a touch of the icon — Blip! — they dissolved.

“Babe! Where’s dessert?” her husband called from the den. Mrs. Harris strode to the room and stood before her husband. “You forget something?” he asked.

“Nope.”

“Where’s dessert?”

She aimed the gadget at him and hit the icon.

Mr. Harris chuckled and turned his attention from the game on television to his wife. “You only receive three with the factory preset, my dear.”

Mrs. Harris hit the icon again. “But…”

“I bought the upgrade.” Mr. Harris aimed his smartphone at his wife and hit the Transformation application icon. Blip!

A horny, mute, twenty-two-year-old swimsuit model with a penchant for cooking stood before him holding a single-malt scotch.


Margi Desmond graduated from East Carolina University with a B.S. in Communications and an English minor. She worked in banking, healthcare, education, automotive, and various other industries prior to full time freelance writing. More than 100 nonfiction articles and seventeen of her short stories have been published. She volunteers for the Colorado Humanities and the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence. She’s a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society. Check out Margi’s website, Facebook Author Page and follow her on Twitter

This is Ms. Desmond’s ninth story to be published on omdb! online. Home Sweet Gnome” (March, 2012), “Till Death Do They Part” (November, 2012), Big Brother” (January, 2013), “Oblivious” (July, 2013), “Going PostAll” (July, 2014),  “Goodbye, Cruel World” (October, 2014) and “Holiday Homicide” (December, 2015).

She also contributed “iMurder” to our “Solve-it-Yourself” Mini-Mysteries.


Copyright © 2015 Margi Desmond. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!


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