“Teeth, Hair & Eyes, LLC,” by Myna Chang

Apr 20th, 2019 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

Two Miles East of the Ogee River Bridge

Pearl Gleeson squinted into the sunset and mashed the gas pedal to the floor. The glare should have been blinding, but with her cataracts, it was only a mild discomfort. In fact, this was the best she’d seen in years—almost as if the setting sun had enhanced her eyesight.

“I’ve got Superman vision,” she cackled as her engine roared. “And no one steals Superman’s cream whipper, bitch.”

One Mile West of the Ogee River Bridge

Tod had been driving for hours, but his attention was focused on adhesion. He needed a way to attach the new antennae to Jenny’s head. Would bubble gum work? Rubber cement had better staying power, but was hell to remove without taking clumps of hair with it. Superglue was right out. Jenny had yelled at him for a solid hour last time.

A ding signaled a new voicemail. Tod reached into the center console to retrieve the phone, but a lawless mound of travel junk blocked him. He shoved aside the top layer of discarded food wrappers, tossed a roll of purple duct tape, and knocked a couple of rubber noses into the passenger seat. The ding ding continued its taunt from the bottom of the heap. He groped deeper. Finally, his fingers curled around the mobile and he yanked it out.

“Ha! No, that’s a dinosaur tooth.” He tossed the plastic incisor onto the seat with the noses and slowed the van, using a knee to manage the steering wheel, so he could shove both hands into the mass of costume paraphernalia.

“Hey! My superhero hat.” The bright red baseball cap was twisted inside-out. Tod snapped it into shape and pulled it on, not noticing that a quilted shark fin had accidentally velcroed itself to the top.

Another ding pulled him back to the search. A few tater tots tried to interfere, so he threw them out the window, except for one persistent tot that stuck to his hand. He ate it, then the van bounced over a pothole and the phone slid into view. Rogue googly eyes clung to a blob of putty on the back, but the front screen was mostly clean. Tod grabbed it and hit the message retrieval key.

His assistant’s recorded voice shrilled from the tiny speaker. Googly pupils vibrated as she delivered the devastating news: Jenny had superglued her resignation letter to the office door. Worse, it was too late to find someone to replace her.

Tod’s heart plummeted. With no one to model his make-up prosthetics, he’d never be able to impress the industry big-shots. His dying career flashed before his eyes.

“This can’t be happening.” He jabbed at the phone pad until he found Jenny’s number. He’d tell her about his bubble gum idea, and how it would leave all her remaining hair intact. Surely she’d see reason.

The ear-piercing “no signal” screech jolted him out of his internal monologue. Then he noticed his surroundings: a deserted country road with nothing but scrub brush in sight. No wonder his phone had screamed at him.

“Where the hell am I?”

He pulled the van off the blacktop next to a little bridge. A highway sign, rusted on one side and crumpled on the other, announced the “Og Riv.” A dry streambed snaked through rocky, desolate terrain toward the vast horizon. Tod wondered if the missing letters might spell Ogre; he had a spare set of silicon ogre lips in the back of the van. He sighed and slumped in his seat.

Under the Ogee River Bridge

Merle’s police cruiser came equipped with a crappy stereo. He couldn’t even tune in a decent radio signal. Sifting through static, he finally landed on an oldies station. Not his favorite, but on such a tediously quiet day, any music was a welcome gift from the gods; almost as welcome as the shoebox full of marijuana he’d confiscated the previous week.

He sucked hard, drawing the smoke in deep. A hippie song about Hollywood movies crackled through the speakers. Perfect. He eased his seat back and savored the scene playing on the back of his eyelids. Of course, he was the star of this imaginary movie, and in it, he had a full head of wavy hair.

He preened on the red carpet with a beautiful starlet. Flash bulbs glinted off the shiny gold statuette clutched in his hand. Fans cheered as his magnificent locks fluttered in the cinematic breeze. Then the radio hippie broke in with a bizarre line about a leaping gnome. That really fucked with Merle’s narrative. Lawn ornaments in pointy hats bounced through the fantasy, scattering his paparazzi like bowling pins.

Merle scowled and flicked away the last nub of the joint, then panicked when he remembered he was in his county sheriff’s car. “Damn, damn, damn.”

The glowing orange ember had landed between his feet. He lunged for it, but misjudged the distance and bashed his forehead on the steering wheel. A loud blare from the car horn ripped through the monotonous landscape, followed by a startled chitter as a fat marmot bolted out of its den. Merle cursed again, groping for the cinder. He extinguished it with his index finger, but the plastic floormat had already gone sticky, preserving his fingerprint perfectly.

Merle sighed. A last wisp of smoke curled around his bald head.

On the Ogee River Bridge

Tod walked to the middle of the bridge, holding his phone up to the darkening sky. No signal. He’d been so distracted by his bubblegum vs. superglue conundrum, he’d taken a wrong turn somewhere. Now he was lost, alone in the boondocks with no cell service. There wasn’t any other traffic. No buildings, no people, nothing.

A discordant brass peal shattered the silence. Tod jerked, pulse hammering as he spun, wide-eyed, but the source of the noise remained hidden. He saw only tumbleweeds. Wait. Was something peering at him, orange orbs glimmering in the shadows? He’d heard stories about country road devils. Cold fear chased up his spine. He sprinted back to the van.

One step shy of safety, a small, furry beast darted across the blacktop. It ran right over his foot, needle-claws gouging his sneakers. Tod screamed and yanked the door handle, but the adrenalin-fueled outburst made him clumsy and his sweaty hand slipped. Off balance, he tumbled backward and sprawled into the roadside gravel, sending up a puff of dust. Aggressive skittering sounds spewed from under the van, scant inches from Tod’s face. He screeched again, scrambling to escape.

A roar erupted beneath the bridge, throwing surreal echoes through the guardrail. A storybook troll rose in his memory, the childhood nightmare igniting full-on panic mode. The Og Riv sign towered above him, but now he recognized it for the lie it was. Of course this wasn’t an ogre’s river; that would be ridiculous. Everyone knew it was trolls that lived under bridges.

Caught between a bellowing troll and the angry road devil, Tod squeaked and pawed at the treacherous van door.


Merle drove out of the dry riverbed. His back tires slipped on the incline, but he gunned the engine and lurched onto the pavement. Something was kicking up a cloud of dirt on the other side of the road.

Merle blinked and shook his head. It looked like a creature in a pointy hat was trying to climb into a big ugly van. “Is that a gnome?”

He watched to see if the scene would fade away, but the asphalt antics continued. Convinced this wasn’t a music-induced hallucination, he threw the car into park and got out. A surprise head rush washed over him, but it passed, so he proceeded toward what he hoped was not a gnome-mobile.

Nearing the creature, he realized it was a normal-looking human male, wallowing in the ditch beside a beat-up brown cargo van. Merle scratched his head, studying the guy. Mid-twenties, wearing a t-shirt that said MovieCon! His red baseball cap had an odd triangular doohickey stuck on top, but he seemed harmless.

“Son, what are you doing down there?”

The young man stared at him, mouth agape. “Were you under the bridge?”

Merle glanced at his still-smoky car. “Uh, yeah.”

“Why? Who are you?”

“I’m Merle. Um, Sheriff Ortree.” Merle brushed a few ashes off his uniform, noticing a small hole burned into his trousers.

“Oh, thank god, you’re not a troll. And you’re a cop! Look, I’m lost, and a wild animal attacked me.”

“What kind of animal? Did you run over it?”

“No. It just charged at me and . . . it’s under my van.”

“Probably a marmot.”

“I think it’s a road devil.”

“Uh huh.” Merle rubbed at his temple again, then realized he was smearing pot ashes and melted floormat plastic on his naked scalp. “Where’re you headed?”

“Vegas. Movie convention.”

Merle laughed. “Las Vegas? Son, you really are lost. This is Idaho.”

Two Miles East of the Ogee River Bridge

Pearl didn’t think she’d ever driven this fast. Her toes were going numb from pressing the accelerator with such force. By her reckoning, she should have already made it to town. Where was the donut shop? The gas station? She was afraid to take her eyes off the road, but she needed to figure out where the town had gone. Gripping the steering wheel hard, she prepared herself, then glanced out the side window.

“What the hell?” The scrub was standing still and the patch of bindweed in the ditch by her farmhouse hadn’t moved an inch. Something was wrong. “Frazzlin’ car.”

She leaned sideways to get a look at her feet. The floor was cast in shadow. Without the blazing sunset to blast through her milky corneas, she couldn’t tell what was going on down there. She thrust her hand into the dark depths and discovered her foot was not where she thought it was.

“Damn it. That’s the brake.”

She shifted her alignment, then romped on the gas and took off like a bolt of riled-up lightning.

“Yeah, that’s right!” she cackled again. “I can see and I can drive. And I’m coming for you, Claudine!”

Back at the Bridge

“So, what do you have in the van?”



“No! Hair, not hares.”


“Wigs and beards, for costumes.”

“You’ve got a van full of fake hair?”

Tod nodded. “I create special effects, makeup and stuff. You know, for movies. I have a booth at the convention, but my model quit and . . .” The kid looked at the fading sun. “I’ll never make it in time.”

“Movies. And fake hair.” Merle read the logo on the side of the van: Teeth, Hair & Eyes, LLC. “How ‘bout that.”

An approaching car interrupted the conversation. It rolled at a snail’s pace.

Merle groaned and strode toward the crawling vehicle. “Pearl Gleeson, I know for a fact you’re not supposed to drive until you get your cataracts fixed.”

Pearl cranked down her window and glared out at Merle. The car maintained its momentum. “I can see just fine, Merle. I got Superman vision.”

“Uh huh.” The sticky spot on Merle’s head itched, but he resisted the urge to scratch it. He took a half-step to match her pace. “Why are you going so slow?”

“My gas-foot’s tired.”

“Did she say she has x-ray vision?” Tod interrupted. Pearl’s car was inching past the hair van.

“You know I can hear you, right?” Pearl yelled. “And how come you’re wearing a gnome hat?”

The scritch scritch of tiny claws on asphalt stole Tod’s attention. The marmot belted out a threatening warble and scampered from under the van. Tod screamed and leapt away from the little road devil—landing on the hood of Pearl’s idling Cadillac.

Pearl jerked at the thump of impact, then her super-vision sputtered out. Tod’s flailing body blocked her light. “Get the hell off my car, you stupid gnome!”

“Better stop now, Pearl,” Merle said. He took a jog-step to keep up.

“Can’t. I’m in a hurry. That damned Claudine stole my new cream whipper, and I want it back.”

“That newfangled thing with the nitrous cartridge?” His feet shuffled forward. “I’m pretty sure you left that at the church supper last week, Pearl.”

“I did not! Oh, wait. Maybe I did. Well, hell, now I don’t have anything to do this evening.”

“Me either,” Merle said.

Tod’s fingers gripped a windshield wiper and he wheezed. “You know your names rhyme?”

Pearl huffed and stomped on the brake, but the Cadillac continued its inexorable journey. “Damn.” She hunched over to check the position of her feet again. “Brake pedal keeps moving around. Hold still, you little bastard!”

The car rocked to a stop. Tod toppled sideways, banging his head and knocking his cap askew. He sucked in a shaky breath, staring at Pearl and Merle. “I gotta get back to reality. It’s too weird out here in the sticks.”

“Uh huh,” Merle agreed, eyeing Pearl.

“Don’t you look at me like that, Merle Ortree. I know you’ve been hiding under the bridge smoking pot again.”

“Now see here, Pearl—” Merle began.

At the same moment Tod said, “Is that what’s smeared on your head?”

Merle scrubbed at the floormat-infused ashes that still clung to his shiny pate. “No!”

“He sneaks out here to get stoned all the time,” Pearl said to Tod.

Tod studied Merle. “Your skull is almost perfectly round, with no hair at all.”

Pearl nodded.

“There’s no need to be rude,” Merle growled.

“Your head would be great for modeling one of my new hair prosthetics.”

Merle’s eyes lit up. He turned to Pearl. “This guy’s in the movie business.”

“I’ve always wanted to be in a movie,” Pearl said.

“A Hollywood starlet?” Merle guessed.

“A superhero, with x-ray vision?” Tod asked.

“No! A giant monster, with bat wings. And maybe an axe for a head.”

“Uh huh,” Merle nodded.

Tod slid off the Cadillac. “You’re hired.”


“Both of you. Come to Vegas with me and be my models this weekend.”

“Can you give me movie star hair?” Merle asked.

“Sexy hair, marmot fangs, whatever you want. Just get me to that convention hall in time to set up.”

Pearl shut off her car. “I call shotgun.” She marched to the van and climbed in. “Merle, you got any weed for the road?”

“Uh huh.”


Myna Chang spent far too many years writing about turbine lubricants, energy derivatives, and shareholder value. She escaped that nightmare, and now focuses on dinosaurs, spaceships, and kung fu. Her flash and short stories have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Dead Housekeeping, The Copperfield Review, and others. Read more at mynachang.com.

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