Ed Note: Each month we will be posting an exclusive piece of short fiction by an emerging author on our website. These submissions are paid and and will be always illustrated by artist Ben O’Neil. Submissions are currently suspended due to Deathmatch starting in February, but after that we encourage you to send us a story here in March.
A trailer park has been torn to shreds by a tornado, homes reduced to confetti, and the nearest still-smoldering singlewide resembles a burnt match. A scene of utter devastation. A child’s doll, charred and burnt. Mournful violin music plays.
Hunched and shivering on the curb is Britney, a blonde, heavily pregnant teenage mum with a ragged scar weeping the length of her once cherubic face. Everything she owns has been destroyed, but she’s defiant. Even now, in her darkness moment, there’s someone she can call on for help.
“When my home was totaled while I was sleeping as usual in a drunk stupor on the floor, I surely didn’t know what to do. My six children were screaming, getting all burned up in the flames and shit, and there’s this huge chunk of flaming airplane engine lodged in the washroom, which is where I pen-in my other six ingrates from a previous shotgun marriage…
“So anyways, my spawns is yellin and pissin and cussin, I’m all cut to shit, the house is totaled, like totally totaled, and I’ve been paying ever-increasing insurance premiums to GFY for years, so I call my friendly customer representative at GFY home insurance, the award-winning home insurance company.”
A banner appears on screen: GFY Insurance – trust us to do the right thing. For our investors.
“And that nice guy at GFY insurance says to me, Ma’am, go fuck yourself.”
Behind, the roof of her trailer collapses in a column of soot. Too numb, she doesn’t notice.
“Y’know, when someone speaks to you like that – truthfully – it surely does put your life in perspective. I mean, not as if I cain’t have more kids, right?”
A middle-aged man wearing glasses with a doughy face and caring eyes approaches Britney. He’s the kind of gentle soul that won’t turn a blind eye to those in need. He’s supposed to help Britney, placate her, pretend that as a representative of GFY insurance he’ll do everything in his power to help. But he’s nervously scanning around, looking for a way out of this mess.
Britney clutches her stomach and grimaces. “Mister, my waters done broke.”
Ignoring her, the man cozies up to the camera with a fake smile plastered on. He says, “If you love your home as much as we love your money, then you’ll love GFY – the award-winning home insurance company. Voted first in a recent Top 10 poll.”*
(*Top 10 Most Dubious Internet Companies – factual statement inserted at behest of the Truth Commission.)
“We at GFY have had millions of unsatisfied customers begging us daily to pay out on their home content insurance, some even alluding to the fact that an Act of God is our concern, but we can assure you that not one single person has ever seen a single penny back for any claim against our prestigious home insurance policies—”
“Little help here, Mister,” Britney yells. “I’m crowning.”
“We guarantee you won’t get any help,” he continues. “It’s all there in the small print. Nice and legal.”
The words barely escape his gritted teeth, a constipated grimace to his face, the truth stinging like he’s passing a bowling ball-sized gall stone.
There’s a commotion now. An angry mob has assembled, the others who have lost their livelihoods to an Act of God, and they’ve paid out large premiums to the GFY insurance company too. All this information is new to them. Someone has a pitchfork. Others are yelling about what’s a small print?
The man in front of the camera is surrounded, there’s no way out, and he has his hands clamped over his mouth in a pathetic attempt to conceal the truth.
“If you want home insurance that never pays out,” he continues, albeit slightly muffled behind his clammy hands, “and a refreshingly simple attitude to catastrophic life events, then call Go Fuck Yourself home insurance today.
“We guarantee our customers will be consistently disappointed at our ever-increasing premiums because we’re a business, right? We’re here to turn a profit. If you don’t like that – Go Fuck yourself.”
Fade to black as the mob, some of who now have flaming torches (nobody seems to know from where), decide to get there money’s worth from their insurance company.
* This commercial advertisement ran on all major television networks during spring this year, and débuted during the Super Bowl halftime show.
** The Truth Commission is a new federal regulatory body empowered to force companies to make factual statements about their products.
Michael McGlade has been published in Shimmer, Downstate Story, Spinetingler, and Grain. He holds a master’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University, Ireland. He is represented by Isobel Dixon of the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency.