He always knew his beard would someday save his life.
When you’re a kid, quicksand seems to be a much bigger problem than it ever actually is. In fact, Jonesy had never been in quicksand. It might as well not have existed outside of cartoons and Indiana Jones flicks.
But there he was, knee-deep in a sand pit in a public playground, sinking deeper and deeper. He tried to tug his legs up, but some unseen force below tightened its hold. He thought about reaching down to pull on his knees, but he knew that meant certain death. His arms would catch, and his face would soon follow. So instead he tried to relax, and waved and shouted at anyone nearby to help.
Unfortunately, everyone else was panicking about the snails that were falling from the sky.
Snails aren’t quite like frogs, are they? Sure they have a squishy side, but they also have a hard side. And depending on which side they land (not at all predecided, like buttered toast), there’s either a wet splat or a sharp crack. Jonesy, for his part, was taking a few raps on the head, but he was more worried about the quicksand. He picked the snails out of the sand near him when they dropped and tossed them away. He didn’t want to be buried with a bunch of snails. Unfortunately, by doing so, he got his hands caught in the sand. Shit!
Even worse, the squishy side of the snails were landing in his beard, which was braided and slung over his shoulder to keep out of the sand. He loved that beard, and he hated that it was being oiled by snail slime. But, he thought, maybe snail slime is good for beards. Who knows? Maybe if he got out of this, he could start a beard oil business.
Now wasn’t the time to think about that.
He caught the passing eye of a big guy sprinting toward the playground. The guy had his massive arms over his head to shield him from the snails.
“Hey, buddy!” Jonesy called. “You don’t wanna come in here. The floor is quicksand.”
The big guy stopped before reaching the edge of the sand pit. A few snails pummeled his arms, but he didn’t seem to notice.
“You okay, dude?” said the big guy.
“No, man, I’m sinking,” said Jonesy.
“In a playground?”
“I don’t know what to tell you, bud. I like building sand castles.”
“Can you help me?”
The big guy looked warily at the sand. “If I try, I might sink in.”
“Can you grab a rope?”
“Your hands are sunk. You wouldn’t be able to catch it.”
“Hey,” the big guy said, “toss me your beard.”
Jonesy had been waiting years for someone to say that. He flapped his head back and forth a couple times like a wet dog to loose the slimy beard from his shoulder. When it was free, he flicked it at the big guy, who just barely caught it by reaching far over the edge of the sand pit.
“I got it! Man, it’s slippery…”
“Just hang on.”
“I’m hangin’, Gimli, just…”
And the big guy pulled and pulled, dragging Jonesy slowly out of the sand till he got his arms free. Jonesy’s face was on fire and he knew many of his beard hairs were being yanked right out of their roots, but he didn’t care.
At last, he made it to the edge of the playground and pulled himself onto the slimy, shell-littered grass. He flopped over onto his back and breathed the thick, moist air.
“Man,” he gasped. “Kind of a weird day.”
“You said it,” said the big guy.
A snail landed on Jonesy’s belly. It was still alive, watching him with its eye stalks, its shell an endless sandy swirl.
Today’s random prompt categories were, “An amazing beard,” “Quicksand!,” and, “Unconventional rain.”
I just finished Kafka on the Shore, which might explain this piece.
Again, I’m open for prompt suggestions! Running very low, now.