Excerpt from The Twisted Tower


Below please enjoy an excerpt from 'Brad's' latest novel, The Twisted Tower

         ...Shabi fumbled through the crumbling loaf and took a slice from the middle,  the only one that hadn’t actually begun to turn green. From the cabinet beneath, he deftly snagged the Oaster with his holey sock, and pulled it out enough that he could grab it without bending. He’d had this toaster for 47 years. They’d been through a lot together; two divorces, the death of his partner, and all the other flotsam that floated in his wake since receiving the wedding gift all those years ago. Like Shabi, the toaster wasn’t in prime shape. The lever had broken off years ago, so he had to use a pliers to push it down. Still in all, once you got it started, the toaster finished the job just fine. ‘Why buy new, when slightly used will do” he chanted – a commercial remnant that tickled the back of his consciousness. He placed the toaster on the counter, plugged it in, and flattened the bread between his palms before inserting it. He carefully slid the slice in an inch at a time so as not to curl the edges.
         Many technologies had reverted to earlier times, as the nuclear fallout in the atmosphere made things like cell phones and television broadcasts obsolete. Air travel was especially difficult except under the rarest of conditions. Fortunately, electricity was still supplied the same way, which bode well for Shabi’s aged toaster. Just as Shabi was pushing the lever down with his pliers, the phone rang. Shabi reached over to grab it from the wall. As he did so, his tie slipped unnoticed into the slot and tangled inextricably with the bread.    
        “Shabi here. Yeah, Jake. What do you want? I’m a little busy right now – trying to make dinner, you know?”
Seeing his constricted, smoldering tie in the clutches of the toaster, he reached into the drawer with his left hand and grabbed a fork. He continued to dig at his tie while simultaneously trying to extricate himself from the conversation. Just then, a slight plume of acrid smoke tickled his nostrils. Shabi looked down to discover his tie on fire.
“Jake – I gotta go,” dragging the toaster along the counter by his tie on the way to hanging up the phone.
       Searching frantically now for a scissors, Shabi’s holey sock caught on the sharp corner of an empty donut box, and he fell sideways into the mounded carpet of garbage littering the kitchen floor. The toaster unplugging, lurched into the air on it’s way to creating a permanent dent in Shabi’s forehead. Dizzy from the attack of the rogue appliance, Shabi frantically tried to extricate his tie from the menacing toaster, finally rolling onto his front to remove his shirt. The shining albatross still dangled from his tie, which was continually tightening with the weight of the toaster, choking the poor detective and causing Shabi to gasp for air. He flailed across the refuse-strewn floor to the corner drawer where he kept the Target Special post-divorce flatware and bruised his hand on the pull knob as he desperately flailed about searching for a scissors. As the ceiling began to spin, a slow trickle of blood from his forehead formed a small pool on the burger wrapping at his feet, and Shabi fell, asphyxiated, to the floor.

        Sometime later Shabi awoke with a pounding headache to the stench of burnt polyester and nylon. After gingerly testing his strength, still in the blue haze of oxygen starved blood, he grabbed the edge of the counter and hauled himself to his feet; the toaster, which had now popped up, still clutching his tie. With new resolve, Shabi crawled on his hands and knees over the litter of boxes and bags on a third quest for the ever elusive scissors that would finally liberate the possessive toaster. By the time he shambled into the bathroom to check the collateral damage, the blood on his forehead had already dried. Now, on top of his grizzled features that made him look homeless, he had a goose egg the size of a glazed Krispy Kream above his left eye. How was he going to explain this? The great detective Shabi, overpowered by a menacing, rampaging toaster. He’d never live that down. He decided to use a few of his sick days until the swelling went down. Maybe by then it wouldn’t be so noticeable. If not, at least he had a few days to make up a good story to explain away the defect.
        Shabi groped in the medicine chest for the bottle of Ibuprofen, dragged his beaten carcass down the hallway to the rumpled sheets floating in Burger King bags and donut boxes, and dropped, unconscious, into the stony abyss of the defeated...