Stuck at Six | Alicia Bruzzone

 


Stuck at Six

Alicia Bruzzone

For The Waiting For Starman Award


Thomas growled as he ventured outside to empty his rubbish. He hated unexpected visitors. Like regular tourist vendors, they camped out on his front lawn and waited for even a glimpse of the retired celebrity.

“Duckie! Duckie!” two men called enthusiastically, raising from camp chairs to rush over and assault the middle-aged man during his morning routine.

“It’s Thomas, actually,” Thomas replied through gritted teeth. Throughout the decades that had followed his early acting days no one seemed to remember him beyond an angelic looking six-year-old with a dastardly mouth on screen. Thirty years since he’d been ‘Duckie’ on Foul Manners, and nothing he’d done since seemed to matter. Not the marathons for charity, not the houses he’d built for the homeless, not even his vigilant petitioning to the local councilor that had ensured the community centre kept its funding. Nope, his life had peaked before second grade, stuck on a catch phrase of “you old quack!”

His two eager ‘fans’ didn’t appear perturbed by his less than gracious attitude. “Duckie! I remember watching you as a kid. My mother used to say if she caught me talking like you I’d have my mouth washed out,” one joked, grinning to himself with a slight chuckle that made the stomach overhanging his jeans wobble.

“Remember that one episode…” the other began with a cackle, before Thomas simply walked off. He’d rather that than witness the devolving conversation.

Hefting the lid to the dumpster, Thomas found the smell less offensive than the people who constantly dogged him. Three decades of this was enough. Turning to find his pair of stalkers had increased to almost half a dozen, Thomas huffed and stomped his way over to the rear stairs, followed by eager quacking and those blasted duck whistles again. He needed a plan.

 

Thomas was a simple man by design. He held no desire to cling onto his childhood fame like so many that had fallen from the public eye before him, but even he found himself unable to fall far enough. There were still those out there, nostalgic for their youth, who tracked Thomas down with religious zeal. Somehow everyone missed the memo that Duckie had grown into a man with entirely different interests. His previous efforts just hadn’t been enough: too private, shielded from the public eye. Thomas was more than that blasted ‘Duckie’ he’d been forced to portray as a child, and they needed to see it.

Thomas grabbed his gun and called out to the lingering hopefuls on the lawn. This time when he did something decent for humanity, he wanted witnesses.

It was, Thomas reflected, rather too easy to get people to follow him around, even when he openly carried a weapon. The local reserve had increasing troubles with a pack of wild dogs. So far only pets had been taken. If his plan worked, it would never eventuate to anything more. He’d be the big grown hero with a gun. No more Duckie.

Thomas quite miscalculated, when after firing the first round the mutts charged, instead of being startled off. Apparently this lot didn’t take well to threats against their leader.

“Basted gun,” Thomas swore as the chamber jammed, and he was quickly overwhelmed by a seething mass of fur, teeth, and claws.

His witnesses ran.

The next morning, Thomas didn’t quite get the front page story he was after.

Former Child Star Ravaged to Death by Feral Dogs

Since there wasn’t much of a body left to photograph, they’d pulled a picture from the archives. Six-year-old ‘Duckie’ smiled angelically next to the announcement of his death.