Flash Fiction Friday: The Cautionary Tale of Larry the Leech

Tracy Stengel

Photo byCody McLain/Unsplash

Larry was no stranger to freeloading. He bragged to his friends that he had invented it.

The middle-aged man had the same goals as when he was a teenager. Plenty of sun, sex, and surfing — not in that order. Larry liked living large without breaking a sweat. He knew how to charm his way into a woman’s heart … and her house.

His current flame was Julie. Jiggling Julie! The blonde beauty twenty-two years his junior that made men forget they were married. Of course, Larry wasn’t married. Marriage was for suckers.

But Julie wanted to be a wife. To stop her from harping on him about it, Larry bought her a ring. It was advertised as a Diamonique, but Larry called it a diamond for short and Julie couldn’t tell the difference.

Julie’s constant nagging was becoming a buzz-kill. 

Take out the garbage. 

Pick up your clothes. 

Did you brush your teeth today?

And she scoffed at his attempts to be helpful. Recently, Larry suggested Julie have her lawn guy pick up the fallen acorns. “I stepped on one barefooted! Talk about pain!”

She gave him a withering look.

He didn’t appreciate being treated like a child. The only reason he tolerated her was she was good in sheets and owned a bar on the beach.

Her business was doing great, but Julie hoarded the money all to herself. How was he supposed to afford his weed?

The past year, he’d been lifting money out of her cash register. Just a five or a twenty, here and there. It wasn’t like stealing, exactly. More like taking what he deserved.

Didn’t he watch over the bar every time she flew back to Baltimore to care for her mother dying of cancer?

Or how ‘bout all those times he stocked the bar for her on busy nights?

When Larry wasn’t surfing, he was dutifully at the bar in case Julie needed him. And what did he get out of it? Nothing. Zip. Zero. Sure, his drinks were free, but that’s the perk for dating the owner. Besides, he always brought his surf crew in. They were all lushes, which was good for business, right?

Julie called his buddies a bunch of losers that never paid their bar tabs. That was a load of bull. They’d pay eventually.

“It’s ironic you drive a work van, but don’t work,” she observed.

Larry rolled his eyes. “When you loaned me money for the van, I never said it was for work. I needed it to transport my surfboard. Duh!” He twirled his index finger around his ear. “You’re losing it!”

Larry needed to move on. When Julie was at work, he grabbed a hand shovel from the garage and headed to the patio. Two large flowerpots full of dirt had been sitting there without flowers since Julie’s mom got sick. She could be lazy like that.

He used the shovel to dig out the Pringles can. Once inside the house, he popped the top off and spilled the contents on the countertop. It was mostly wadded up one-hundred-dollar bills he’d collected by cashing in smaller bills. They took up less space.

He began counting and raised one eyebrow. Who knew a can made for chips could hold so much dough?

Tomorrow would be the day. After hanging ten, he’d pack his bag. By the time Julie returned home from work, he would be hasta la vista, baby!

The next morning, the waves were gnarly, and Larry felt pumped. By evening, he’d be out on the prowl. It was Ladies Night at the new club in town. Prime hunting grounds.

As he rolled into the driveway, he saw Julie’s car. He walked in and found Julie making a salad.

“Hey, babe,” she said. “Surprise! I took the afternoon off!”

Larry’s lip curled. “For what?”

“I think we need some quality time together, ya know? How about lunch on the patio … and then maybe later …” she waggled her eyebrows at him.

Larry shrugged. It’d be alright to lay her down one last time for old time’s sake. “Did you remember the rum?”

Once on the patio, Julie clinked her glass on his. “To us!”

Larry felt something furry brush against his ankle. Startled, he spilled his drink and got a lap full of ice.

A squirrel darted across the patio and hopped onto the big pot full of dirt and money. It held an acorn in its mouth and its front paws dug furiously. A cloud of soil flew past its tail.

Larry stood up. “Hey, ya little rodent! Scram!”

“Aw! It’s so cute!” Julie gushed.

The Pringles can flew through the air and crashed into the deck. The cap fell off and the bills spewed out like vomit.

Julie stared. Then, she slowly turned and pinned her venomous eyes on Larry. The glare was lethal.

Larry braced himself.

As Benjamins somersaulted in all directions, Larry knew there was one more head about to roll.

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Tracy explores the world with a positive eye, an open heart, and a sprinkling of humor. Without laughter, she would be lost.

Onsted, MI

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