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22 July 2013 @ 12:14 pm
LJ Idol Exhibit B: "Thinking Outside The Box"  
Thinking Outside The Box
LJ Idol Exhibit B | week nine | 1107 words
Ordinary Wear and Tear


Yeah, I'm a tool, I don't deny it. So sue me. But hey, I'm sure as hell not the only one.

Life can get stressful. My place is small, and it's dark and crowded in here. Can't pretend it doesn't get to me from time to time. There's a bunch of us in this jam, each trying to find a little room to breathe. The damn hammer takes up half the box and weighs more than any four of us put together. Heavy guys belong at the bottom, Bub—show a little consideration! But no, he just falls in wherever he wants, poking and shoving us with his giant mutant head. Guy's got an attitude, that's for sure. He's not the strangest thing in here, though—a compass joined us a couple of years back. Man, I have no idea what anybody would want with one of those, but it's not for me to decide.

Me? I'm a slotted screwdriver, medium width, your basic all-purpose guy. Some people call me a flat-head screwdriver, but some people are idiots. Don't do it. Old Stubby's our widest slotted screwdriver, but he doesn't get out much. Same for Elise, the narrowest of us all. She's not what she used to be—the Hand mostly does random electrical work with her, and he's not very good at it. Hey, those plastic handles don't protect us, you know, and a jolt of current can be murder. Elise's brain is kind of fried by now, and let's face it, she's a dingbat. Still, good kid, though.

For years, I thought this was all life could be—hanging out in the dark inside a box under the laundry room sink, and catching a glimpse of daylight once in a while for some passing home repair. Months or years would go by, and then suddenly the Hand would open up the box and snatch you up. You'd help remove a light-switch plate or something, and a couple of other guys would get their turn before the plate went back on again, screw-screw-screw, and then Bam—right back into the box again for another stretch of dull, black forever.

But then one day we went on a trip—all the way out of the house. There was the Whoosh of the box being picked up, then a Thunk, and then a lot of rattling around for a while. (The compass told us later that we'd been in a car, which was news to me). Things finally quieted down, and then another Whoosh and Thunk later, the top of the box cracked open and light poured in. We were someplace wonderful and new.

It was like nothing I'd ever seen.

Even wedged between the monkey wrench and Stumpy, I could still make out what was above us. There on the wall, each in its own bracket and arranged by size from smallest to largest, was a gleaming display of other tools. Tools that were living the high life, like none of us ever had.

Damn, but I wanted to be one of them. To have my own spot, to be kept clean and shown off like I was important

I would gladly have fought one of those tools for his position, if only I could've pulled it off. But I was nothing like them, with my dull blade and cheap green handle. I'd never fit in with their custom red-and-black bases and clean, shiny metal. Hell, I'd probably wind up getting tossed in the trash. I decided to focus on our current job, instead.

We worked long and hard that day, both my buddies and that other set of tools. We mounted things on walls and assembled furniture, feeling needed and useful like never before. Best day I ever spent.

Then we were dumped back in the box with the lid snapped shut over our heads. After some rough movement and more rattling around, the adventure was over. Back to our forgotten lives under that damned laundry room sink.

Things have been a lot harder since then. Now that I know how good some tools have it, I can't help noticing how badly our own situation measures up. A few days after we get back, the Hand uses me to pry up some deep-set nails, scraping up the edges of my blade. Then I get jammed up under the edge of a bicycle tire—feels like I'm gonna suffocate in there! What the hell is he thinking? The medium-sized Phillips-head doesn't it have it much better. The Hand is prone to stripping screwheads, and a lot of times old Phil winds up with a mouth full of metal. Boy, I couldn't do it.

I keep thinking about the tools at that other place. I'll bet they never get smashed and trashed the way we do.

Long, dull periods of crowded blackness pass by. Every now and then I feel something pricking me, which could be the awl or a loose nail or—aw hell, am I actually starting to rust? A guy can only put up with so much.

The lid cracks open who-knows-how-long since last time, and this horrible stench fills the air. What in the—

Glagh! The Hand is using me to poke at some sludge inside a pipe. Talk about disgusting. Man, the nerve of that guy, I oughta—augh, he's doing it again! Why not just toss me back in the forge while he's at it and let me die in peace?

He yanks me out of the gunk and swipes something across my head, then turns me upside down and Wham-wham-wham!

Unbelievable. The Hand is using my butt like a mallet. What does he think that damn hammer's for, anyway?

Well, that's it, I've had enough. I don’t care if I have to roll under a car seat and work my way out later. I'll spend the rest of my life in a clump of weeds at the edge of a parking lot if I have to, but I am not settling for more of this.

It might take a while to find my chance, I know that, but if there's one thing I know how to do, it's wait. Ninety-nine percent of my life is waiting, might as well make it worthwhile. The next trip we take will be my last.

So long Stubby, Elise, and Phil. Take good care of each other. I'd say don't forget your old pal Mel, but Nah, what the hell's the point? You can just call me Gone now instead, 'cause that is the shape of the future, my friends.

I am outta here.

If you enjoyed this story, you can vote for it along with many other fine entries here.

Current Location: NOT in the garage...
Desireex_disturbed_x on July 22nd, 2013 10:17 pm (UTC)
When I read the first line I thought you were calling yourself or the character a tool but then I realized it's an actual tool!

I love how you wrote this from the perspective from a tool. It was unexpected but awesome. :P
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on July 22nd, 2013 11:30 pm (UTC)
Yes, I'd hoped to mislead people at the beginning. By the time the hammer shows up, the ambiguity is gone, but it's still fun to play with.

I am still on the fence as to whether this constitutes crack, or is simply humor via the legitimate viewpoint of a tool. It's a fine line, sometimes!
(no subject) - roina_arwen on July 24th, 2013 04:14 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on July 24th, 2013 06:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
Kellykajel on July 23rd, 2013 01:10 am (UTC)
This was fabulous. Poor Mel, with his tool envy.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on July 23rd, 2013 01:30 am (UTC)
Thank you!

I can't blame the guy, considering how he and his buddies live. The garage of an ultra-anal toolmaster must look like Heaven to a battered and misused screwdriver!
Jemima Paulerjem0000000 on July 23rd, 2013 02:52 am (UTC)
I love this. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on July 23rd, 2013 04:44 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. :)
cindytsuki_no_bara on July 23rd, 2013 03:14 am (UTC)
i honestly never thought i'd feel bad for a screwdriver, but i totally do! i love how you can anthropomorphize a box of tools.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on July 23rd, 2013 06:43 am (UTC)
If I had this screwdriver's life, I'd be as miserable as he is. Especially once he discovers that it doesn't just come with the territory!

Glad you enjoyed it. :D
theun4givablestheun4givables on July 23rd, 2013 04:56 pm (UTC)
I'm positive this is like, how 90% of our tools feel in this house. Or at least, the ones that Evelyn doesn't use for work, that is...
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on July 23rd, 2013 08:16 pm (UTC)
I have to admit, I have used a screwdriver on a bicycle tire-- way, way back in college when I didn't have any tire tools. And I do call them flat-headed screwdrivers, because otherwise, it could be Phillips or hex or any number of choices.

Now my brother's house, where you could eat off his garage floor? I don't think he has his tools on display, but it would be a tool's version of Heaven if he did. :)
tatdatcmtatdatcm on July 23rd, 2013 05:25 pm (UTC)
This goes a long way to explaining why I can never find a screw driver when I need one. :) I'm sure they've all run off.

There are too many lines in here for me to quote all my favorites. I loved it.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on July 23rd, 2013 09:11 pm (UTC)
I'm sure they've all run off.
It's just self-defense. If I were used to poke pipe sludge, I think I'd run off too. :O

Maybe that's why our two more useful screwdrivers keep wandering out to the garage, where they get worked with less often. Or it's just my husband, who doesn't understand why the basic Phillips and basic flathead need to live in the house. In the junk drawer. Which is probably a different hell from the toolbox in this story. ;)
(no subject) - tatdatcm on July 24th, 2013 01:55 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on July 24th, 2013 04:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
oxymoron67oxymoron67 on July 24th, 2013 01:04 am (UTC)
This was a really imaginative story. I enjoyed it.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on July 24th, 2013 01:09 am (UTC)
Thank you! It was a lot of fun to write, though I may have to be kinder to my tools going foward, now that I've thought about things from their side of the equation. :D
lriG rorriM: whimsylrig_rorrim on July 24th, 2013 07:50 pm (UTC)
I loved this - I'm literal (and wacky) enough that I figured out pretty much right away who and what the narrator was, but I love stories told from a unique POV, and this screwdriver really had it rough!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on July 24th, 2013 10:28 pm (UTC)
I think that screwdriver's experiences are shared by many tools, occasionally even at our house. The uber-tools he saw had the ideal life, but the reality is that sometimes you will be used as a convenient stick... or worse. :O

So glad you enjoyed it!
Pika the Brazen Ninjaporn_this_way on July 25th, 2013 09:41 am (UTC)

Read this earlier, but my tablet was being a...well...tool so I couldn't comment. This was quite amusing and definitely a clever take on the prompt.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on July 27th, 2013 04:49 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. :D
MamaCheshirecheshire23 on July 25th, 2013 10:42 am (UTC)
Me? I'm a slotted screwdriver, medium width, your basic all-purpose guy. Some people call me a flat-head screwdriver, but some people are idiots. Don't do it.

This is GREAT! And I love the current location you added to this, too. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on July 27th, 2013 04:53 am (UTC)
Ha-- I'm glad someone noted the location. I've never used that LJ feature before, but it seemed really fitting for this story. :D
Pr0n Swansonacalculatedname on July 25th, 2013 08:07 pm (UTC)
Maybe I'm not fully getting this, but I'm still wondering why the guy with the slatwall loaded with Snap-On stuff or whatever needed to borrow his know-nothing neighbor's toolbox for a day of usage at all.

Still a fun read (after the initial headdesk, puns always do that to me). I was already feeling badly for using my Japanese flushcut saw as a makeshift box and packing-tape cutter this week when I couldn't find my tape gun or even a damn pair of usable scissors, but now I'm sure to have some real nightmares about what I've done.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on July 27th, 2013 05:00 am (UTC)
It's not the tools the guy with the nice garage wants-- it's a helper in getting work done around his place. Like a big work party. If similar work is being done in parallel, more than one person is going to want to use the most standard tools at the same time. So, a friend comes over and brings his own tools to help out. To the actual tools, it's all a little bewildering.

I wish I could say that I've never personally used any of my tools as the tool I need right now rather than the tool they're actually supposed to be, but... that would be lying. :O
favoritebean: Robotfavoritebean on July 26th, 2013 12:19 am (UTC)
This was brilliant! Having grown up with all manner of sized screw drivers and wood working tools, I couldn't help but laugh at some of the scenarios 'Mel' has been put in. I'd probably be fed up if I were being hammered with my butt too. Poor guy.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on July 27th, 2013 05:08 am (UTC)
Upon visiting my parents right now, I see that my Dad (in this garage at least) has gone all-out on the mounted-tool organization method. I generally don't need that many different sizes/types of the same tool (except Phillips' heads, apparently-- WHY are there so many different gauges of those?), and if I do, I usually need to take them TO the "problem," not bring the problem to them!

But still, it must look so much more beautiful to Mel than his lifestyle...
Human Collaborator Flunkie Pool!fic Muse: Writingjoyfulfeather on July 26th, 2013 02:25 am (UTC)
Hee! I liked that -- really made me smile. Fun story!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on July 27th, 2013 05:13 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! This is yet another of those things I never thought I'd be writing, but once the idea started to form, there was no chance I'd walk away from this one. :D

Edited at 2013-07-27 05:18 am (UTC)
☾witches on July 26th, 2013 04:25 am (UTC)
I loved this :DD
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on July 27th, 2013 05:19 am (UTC)
Yay-- I'm so glad you enjoyed it!
Awesomely creepyagirlnamedluna on July 26th, 2013 09:18 am (UTC)
This could be a Disney story!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on July 27th, 2013 05:21 am (UTC)
I hadn't thought of it that way, but you're right-- Disney and Dreamworks specialize in inanimate POV stories. I can see the animated gleam coming off of the Uber Toolset in that dream garage now!

Poor Mel, It wasn't a great life before, but it's much harder once you know how things actually could be.