Lo! Bea Wulf, a junior manager at Pet Carousel, brought joy to all who entered her menagerie. Goldfish gurgled for the winsome Bea, and canaries chirped the tunes of Burt Bacharach in her honor. For did she not conquer the puppy party of triplets Brayden, Flayden, and Scrooden with nary a tantrum? Didst she slay the schemes of Manager Toby, who pilfered aquarium motors and groped most heinously? Yes, duh!
Anon, the day shadowed with clouds, for an abomination invaded Pet Carousel - The Darren! Profligate of the Pic-N-Save, Demogorgon of the Delancey Street HOA, Banned Bane of the Burger Bonanza Drive-Thru. Just a real asshole, tbh. That fateful Tuesday, his most skull-bedecked tee was marred with bar-b-que drippings, so The Darren’s mood turned as dark and crusty as the sauce ’pon his parietal bone.
The Darren barreled to the checkout, stupefying clerk Fred. Naturally, for Fred had succumbed to the grease-crocodile before, when he worked at the Cine-Rama 8. But recitation of THE BUTTERY BATTLE OF THE EXCESSIVE POPCORN REFILLS must wait.
“This kitten is defective!” hissed The Darren, pulling an animal from his cargo short pocket. The Darren’s jaw unhinged, and a ghastly roar emerged from his abdomen. “Return it, noooooooooow!”
Fred’s long hair, like that of a majestic Tiger King, blew back from the Darren-rage; he was sore afraid. Upon this scene did indomitable Bea Wulf enter, her orange Assistant Manager vest starched, her clipboard ready for combat. To Bea’s shoulder flew a bluebird, offering its feathery breast in solidarity. In dulcet tones, Bea asked, “May I help you, Sir?”
The maw of The Darren spilled venom. “This kitten was for my little princess Nevaeh, but it bites me! It pees everywhere and screeches!” His buzzed haircut, with its many streaks of “blonde,” moved not. “I want my money back and THREE new cats - freeeeeeeeee!”
These nonsensical rantings intimidated goddess-champion Bea Wulf not a whit. With eyes narrowed, she replied, “Sir, you didn’t purchase that animal here. We don’t sell cats. And that is a chinchilla.”
The Darren’s spray-tanned visage cracked. “I got this stupid cat here, little girl!” His fangs rattled as he invoked the demonic hex: “I want to speak to your manager!”
At last! The fated hour was come! Bea Wulf rose to her five-foot height and prepared for war. “I. Am. The manager!” declared she, her glorious Afro an angel’s halo ’round her patrician head. “You’ll receive no succor, grim foe! I deny your refund, for we have ne’er taken your money, neither in cash, nor in credit.”
The whites of The Darren’s eyes swelled like blobfish as his claw tightened around his cat-chilla prisoner. “Liar! I want the real manager! I want money! I want a BETTER cat, BECAUSE THIS THING PEED ON MY BASS PRO ‘FISH OF ARKANSAS’ BATHROBE!”
Bea Wulf lifted her clipboard high above her head, like a fabled shield-maiden of the North. She slammed it ‘pon The Darren’s hand, which dropped the chinchilla. Bea caught the furball and clasped it to her bosom, which Fred had always considered magnificent, like a fabled cover-maiden of the Victoria’s Secret catalog.
The chinchilla, Titan-Slayer was its name, leaped to Bea’s head and wielded razor-talons at the nonsensical Darren. “You are banished from this place!” squeaked Titan-Slayer. “You stole me from your neighbor’s rec room. And Nevaeh is a shithead who pulls my tail!”
Bea Wulf pointed her four-color clicker pen. “Begone, thou discount Elmer Fudd!”
“Nooooooo!” shrieked The Darren. “I am OWED!” He stomped his foot, his sock-and-sandal crashing through the floor to open a portal to hell! Flames shot through the gap, singeing the jaunty squirrel-themed carpet of Pet Carousel.
“I banish thee from this strip mall!” Bea Wulf issued an order to her bluebird ally, still perched upon her shoulder. The bird attacked The Darren’s face, launching him into perdition’s misery-inferno.
The Darren’s howls reverberated as he fell, fell, fell—never again would he haunt retail workers, schoolteachers, or pizza delivery gallants.
All who witnessed the defeat of the gargoyle, and his backwards sunglasses, fell to their knees in thanks to Bea Wulf. Unless they were an animal without knees, in which case, they did their best.
In the after-time, Fred, He of the Magnificent Mullet, recounted the tale o’er the Facebook, and Tik’d many Tocs about Bea’s derring-do.
And what became of brave Bea Wulf? After her epic vanquishment of The Darren, she quaffed many a mug of mead to ready herself against the next ridiculous goblin…for hordes of Darrens lurk about, especially on two-for-one Cheetos day.
Martti Nelson is a humor author with a new book: LYSSA STRATA. It’s been called “the novel of female rage we need”—funny with a happy ending for the witches! Er, ladies. That’s a first, huh? She’s on Medium & Twitter