For Stephen King short story contest: As Dick swallowed the last bite of his avocado sandwich, Jane whacked him in the teeth with the mini hammer he had bought earlier today. This morning, at breakfast, Dick finally saw the racoon, the squealer that kept him awake so many nights. He quickly ran to the hardware store to buy some chicken wire and a new hammer. He now knew the creature’s path. A small gap between his fence and his neighbor’s.

“Yall got any regular size hammers?”

“No sir,” said the clerk.

“Well, why not?”

“We had a whole bunch of high school kids come in here this morning and clean us out. We have a couple small hammers left in that minis bin.”

“That’s just ridiculous,” huffed Dick. What am I supposed to do with a tiny hammer?”

“They’re not tiny, they’re mini. You can hammer in small nails. You can crack walnuts,” offered the clerk.

“Crack walnuts … “ (Dick trails off).

Dick had purchased a used but sturdy Stanley hammer, years ago, to put up a fence, to keep the neighborhood kids from running through his backyard. He couldn’t find that hammer this morning. Dick located the chicken wire and purchased it and the hammer along with some “small” nails.

He was walking home along Main Street which often bustled at this time, but this morning the streets were more crowded than usual. Dick couldn’t take two steps without being bumped into. He tried to walk in a straight line, keeping his arms tight to his body, but couldn’t avoid being jostled by other walkers. He felt elbows and shoulders poking him and was even spun around a few times. Hands were touching his face and his buttocks and genitals. He couldn’t make out his direction. He started to run. The hammer and nails bounced in his pocket and the chicken wire scraped his leg. He was finally able to turn a corner—he was alone. He could still hear the mele, but was free of it.

“What the hell just happened?,” Dick thought. He started walking again. He was bleeding from the scrape. He felt in his pocket for a nail and began using it to pick a poppy seed out from between his two front teeth. He had purchased a poppy roll (which he had nibbled) and an avocado at the grocery store just before he’d gone in for the hammer. Dick’s teeth were yellow and gapped, but his two front teeth were straight and aligned and usually where he would find debris, like seeds and sometimes avocado. He likes poppy rolls with avocado. He has eaten this sandwich since he was a young boy. He was finicky as a child and after discovering his liking, his folks stopped urging Dick to try other foods at meal-time and even toted this combo on outings and family vacations.

Dick tried tending to his wound by dabbing at it with his handkerchief, but the chicken wire had cut him pretty good. He was dripping quite a bit of blood. He pressed down on the cut. He felt the small nails in his pocket.

“Damn small nails. That raccoon is gonna push right through this chicken wire,” Dick thought. He tried to replay the incident that had just occurred on Main Street. Perhaps the crowd had something to do with the high-schoolers and the hammers. In all the commotion, he did remember seeing one boy hanging up a sign, actually hammering up a sign, that said “open your eyes.”