“Knick Knack Wars,” by Brooke Reynolds

Dec 20th, 2017 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

Fred opened his apartment door at Shady Maples Retirement Home to a crime scene; someone had fiddled with his knick knacks. All residents at Shady Maples were given one small end table and a smidgen of wall space to display their memories. The halls were filled with old ceramic Christmas villages, poodles made from plaster, and all the precious moments of life carved out of stone. The scent of moth balls and musty yellowed newspaper articles filled the stale morning air. Fred stared dumbfounded at the little red caboose of his Lionel train set, given to him by his late wife Gloria the day his father died, back when Fred had a full head of hair. It was now in front of the engine. Fred knew the only nimrod who would dare mess with his mementos was Albert from across the hall.

Albert was a former WWII fighter pilot and a dick, but not in that order. His doorway was decorated with framed newspaper clippings and a single metal, The Distinguishing Flying Cross. Albert started annoying Fred with simple gestures, like flipping the sun magnet by the door to signal that Fred was awake when really, he was asleep. This led to knocks on Fred’s door at three am from concerned staff members. Albert the jokester. Fred hadn’t dealt with annoying pranksters like this since boarding school more than sixty years ago.

With his crunched and arthritic-ridden fingers, Fred replaced the caboose to its rightful position. He looked at the pot of faux Black-eyed Susans on the table with the watercolor of the same flowers on the wall above and adjusted the painting to match the two perfectly. He kissed his shaking hand and pressed it to the painting before going about his day.

The next morning, the battle raged on when his precious painting was replaced by a painting of daffodils instead. Now the whole display was ruined. Black-eyed Susans were Gloria’s favorite flowers. One of her last hobbies when she was wheel-chair ridden, was to paint wildflowers. While this was Gloria’s painting, the daffodils were given to Albert. The Susans, her last painting before she passed one year ago, she saved for Fred. Fred loved the details she captured, the fuzzy black gumdrop center with yellow petals that spun off like a pinwheel.  Fred hmphed. Hiding underneath Albert’s end table was the missing painting. Fred didn’t need his lifelong detective skills to solve this mystery. He switched the paintings and went about his day.

The following morning, Fred was greeted by a full-on war zone. His Lionel train set was tipped over on its side. Small paper drawings of flames were taped onto each car. His figurines, all the passengers and even the engineer, were painted crimson. Suspended above all the chaos was a small model WII fighter plane, making it look like as if an airstrike were responsible for the derailment. Fred had enough.

He went back inside his apartment and retrieved a red sharpie marker. With hunched shoulders and slippered feet, Fred tiptoed across the hall to Albert’s door memorial. He lifted the framed newspaper article from the wall and carefully removed it. A few circles here and a few lines there. He replaced the article, making sure it centered over the medal. Fred smiled. Now, the Nazis won the war.


Brooke Reynolds is a veterinarian from Charlotte, North Carolina. When she isn’t saving animals, she enjoys writing fiction. Her stories have appeared at such online and print markets as The Scarlet Leaf Review, Massacre Magazine, Fantasia Divinity, The Airgonaut, The Literary Hatchet, Ghost Parachute, Riggwelter Press, and Every Day Fiction. Her story “Dr. Google” won 2nd place in the 2016 Short Story Contest for Channillo. For more information, check out her website reynoldswrites.org. You can follow her on twitter @psubamit

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