SOCKS AND BANSHEES • by Jens Rushing

“I wish you wouldn’t leave out your oatmeal bowls,” the young husband said to his young wife. “They attract ants. It’s really disgusting.”

“At least I don’t leave a dozen such oatmeal bowls hidden all over the room, under blankets and dangling over the backs of chairs — as you do with your dirty socks!” she retorted, quite scornfully.

“Socks don’t attract ants,” he said.

“They attract banshees.”

“You just made that up,” he said.

“No, it’s an old folk tale from my people. See if it isn’t so.”

Sure enough, when they returned from the opera that night, three of the damned spirits were flying about the room, wailing. Their infernal shrieks cacophonated horribly, excoriating the young couple’s brains. “Piss,” the husband volunteered.

“What?” his wife screamed. “I can’t hear you. Too many banshees!”

“Consarn it,” the husband groaned, picking up a broom. “Shoo, you banshees, shoo! Git! Git!” He jabbed at them with the broom, but banshees are nothing if not incorporeal, and the broom passed harmlessly through. The wailing waxed in volume. “What do we know about banshees?” he cried.

“I don’t know!” she shouted. “Check Wikipedia!”

Hands over his ears, he fought his way to their computer. “Page’s been edited,” he sighed. “It just links to the X-Man of the same name.”

“They’d go away if you picked up your socks!” she screamed.

“What?” he shouted.

That night was a terrible one. They lit citronella candles; the banshees were undeterred. They stuffed earplugs in their ears; but, as we all know, the banshee’s scream directly stimulates the terror center of the brain, completely bypassing the inner ear. Their protection was useless. The banshees flitted about the room, wailing: “Oh, my love, lost in the moor these seven years!” or “Good Mary McDougal, soon to die, and so young!” and tearing their flowing spectral hair in their lamentations. It became quite tiresome.

By morning, the young husband decided that he had better hang himself to escape the diabolical nuisances, but his good wife cut him down before he slipped his mortal tether. “Honey,” she screamed into his ear, “Will you just pick up your socks now?”

“Never,” he said.

“Then we’d better get a priest.”

“That’s a much better idea. I should’ve asked if you had any more ideas before I attempted suicide.”

So they went to their local exorcist, who lived above the 7-11, and he gave the place the works. He sprinkled holy water on the nice hardwood floor, chanted, all that, and drove the banshees howling back to hell.

They enjoyed a restful night.

The next morning, as the husband sipped his coffee, his wife came fuming from the bathroom, shaking a toothpaste tube in her fist.

“Would it kill you to put the lid back on the toothpaste when you’re done? I swear to God we’re going to get manticores in here!”

The husband set down his mug, preparing a retort. He heard a loud, trumpet-like roar just outside the window, and, glancing in that direction, saw the distinctive iron horns and spiked tail of that creature.

“Christ,” he said. “It’s just one thing after another with you, isn’t it?”

Jens Rushing writes fiction. Visit his webpage! You won’t be disappointed!

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