Five Short Stories About Oven Chips

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August 3, 2010 by markstani


Johnny saw how his girlfriend got so engrossed in an episode of Homicide that she missed her mouth twice with an oven chip. He reckoned their relationship might improve if he got himself back in trouble with the law.
So he headed out and smashed a Dorothy Perkins shop window. He said he’d picked it because a mannequin was giving him the eye. He said it was something to do with her affordable, feminine clothing. He said, ‘I just had to get to her.’
Johnny’s girlfriend read the court report and dumped Johnny for being unfaithful. Johnny shouted through the letterbox: ‘What the hell? She was only plastic.’
Next day, he shouted through again: ‘What the hell? She was only fibreglass.’
Inside, Johnny’s ex-girlfriend watched Homicide. She missed her mouth with another oven chip.


The kid clasped a towel. He screamed – ‘my finger! My finger!’ He pointed with his good hand. The deep-end marbled red. His finger bobbled. The girls screamed, pushed past. A herd of shiny skin-tight costumes. ‘His finger! His finger!’ They shivered, pointed, cried. The pool calmed. They fished out his finger. They said, ‘this ain’t no finger.’ They dabbed at his towel. They tasted Ketchup.


Monday mornings, Keith Towse stopped off at Tesco’s. Bought a ten-pack of Marlboro Lights and a bag of breath-mints. He smoked the Marlboro Lights, one per day, through the working week. Threw the last half-pack from the window on the way home Fridays. One Monday, he re-clicked his car, found a half-defrosted oven chip on the dashboard. He frowned, tossed it. Next week, the same. He checked the windows, the air vents, the sun roof. Third week, he peered closer for answers. Fourth week, he doubled back, crouched behind shrubs. Security tapped his shoulder: ‘Sir?’
‘Chips,’ said Keith Towse. Then: ‘I need a cigarette.’ He bought cigarettes, forgot breath-mints. He sparked up. Found another oven chip. Sparked up again.


Today, while my friends are at the beach, I am a chip. They call me. I struggle, with the foam padding, to lever my elbow. My friend says, ‘are you coming to join us?’ I say, ‘I am a chip.’
I stand in the precinct, trying to look chip-like. I pass out leaflets, direct passers-by to samples. Kids kick at my ankles. Teenagers hoot me. I am sweating bad. I am slow-cooked in sun spilled through the glass roof. I am a chip.
The girl I hope to be my girlfriend calls me. She says, ‘I hoped you’d be here.’ I say, ‘I am a chip.’
I hear giggling, seagulls, waves. I imagine the girl I hope to be my girlfriend in her bathing costume, sand glittering her thighs.
The sun goes in. My friend arrives: the girl I hope to be my girlfriend. They wear flip-flops, swim-bottoms. My friend pats my foam head. Says, ‘it’s Mr Chips!’ The girl I hope to be my girlfriend laughs. She loops my friend’s arm. I am a chip.


She sprawled naked. He padded downstairs, suckered open the fridge.
He returned, said, ‘no cream.’
She said, ‘shucks. Strawberries?’
He shook his head.
‘Nuh-huh. We’re all out of everything. Cept these.’
He brought oven chips. She hooted. He shrugged. He climbed on the bed. She play-wriggled. He took an oven chip, teased her nipple. She hooted some more. Said, ‘mmm, that’s good.’
He teased both. He leaned in, French-kissed her. He turned away. Turned back: an oven chip dangled from each nostril. She guffawed. He snorted them out. She reached for him.


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