The Death of Man (Flash Fiction)

Bob hurried through the kitchen and the sea of pregnant women that swarmed there. Small children scurried passed his knees, and he raised his arms as if trying to keep them from getting wet. Slowly, he weaved his way to the sliding glass door and found escape to the backyard.

The backyard was small, but large enough to hold a small swing set. Bob saw Brian and gave him a quit head tilt. Brian responded to acknowledgement. The older children were outside with the men, pushing razor scooters around a small circle of sidewalk that made an island of the grass and tossing a Nerf football. Bob opened the blue ice chest sitting in the lone patch of shade and felt for a can of beer. His hand brought up a Diet Cherry Cola. He blinked at it and turned to face Brian. Brian shrugged.

Bob walked over to him. “The hell is this?” he asked.

Brian made a smooth one-handed catch and shrugged. “Catherine says it isn’t fair that the pregnant women can’t drink, so we don’t get to either.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Bob asked. A four-year-old froze and looked up at him. “Sorry, little dude. Don’t tell your mom, k?” The child scooted away quickly.

“Yeah, she’s kinda gone off the deep end on this one,” said Brian. He tossed the ball back to his son. The blue foam bounced cleanly off his hands and landed in the bushes. “Damn kid can’t catch for shit,” he mumbled.

“So wait,” Bob said. “We’re outside with the kids on a Sunday while the women devour the kitchen?” Bob looked around at the others lost to the back yard. “No beer? No football? Do we at least get to bar-b-que?

Brian shook his head with sadness. “No. Susanne is a vegan now. She started last week.”

Bob’s mouth drifted open slightly. It snapped shut when the Nerf football thumped against his cheek. He didn’t even look to see who threw the ball. “So this is how it ends?” Bob asked. “Exiled to a thin patch of grass in the afternoon sun. No beer. No meat. Tasked with watching our own children.” He shook his head. “Is this what our ancestors fought for? Did mankind survive the fierceness of mammoths and tigers to become this?”

Brian gave Bob a crossed look. “Why you gotta talk bad about my grass, man?”

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