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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 17: 29 Jan. 2023
Microfiction: 284 words
By Todd Mercer

The Tenth Visit Is Free


Marshall stretched high from the top rung of a ladder which was questionably balanced atop a second extension ladder. He nailed a sill of a small window by the ceiling.

Later he said a sudden noise from outside triggered the accident. He slipped and sank a nail through his hand in to the wood. That was bad enough, but then the ladder shifted and friends, it was the worst. Holy shit. You know, I’m going to keep the details vague, but there was screaming. Marshall prefers to say he was calling out rescue plan ideas.

Thank God I was home. I got that second ladder back to its not-recommended perch atop the other one. I climbed up there where Marshall was clinging with his good right arm and pried the nail out.

We were both in gradations of shock when we arrived at the Emergency Room. You know how people perk up when they see their friends? Yeah, that’s how the hospital trip went. Marshall asked the doctor how her kid’s college term was going and if she was still in a bowling league. They went way back, having weathered numerous other freak injuries as physician and E.R. patient. It was Old Home Days when the charge nurse and the radiology tech caught us up on their personal news.

Marshall was white as a sheet, much whiter than his usual white. He believed them when they told him he wouldn’t want to look under the bandage any time soon. They offered to have him admitted overnight, but I took him home.

Zero days since the last home improvement injury. Glad we never had one of those signs.

—From the author’s manuscript, In the Location Business, a collection primarily of microfictions.

Todd Mercer’s
Issue 17 (29 January 2023)

short collection Ingenue was a winner of the Celery City contest. His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, is available free at Right Hand Pointing. Recent work appears in Literally Stories, Friday Flash Fiction, and Spartan.

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