Betty Mae Figg

Betty Mae Figg

A Story by jdwriter65

Dark Humor


Betty Mae Figg


Betty Mae bent over the gas stove, turning the knob slightly to the right to ignite a blue flame. Keeping one eye on the cast-iron skillet, she reached to the left for an egg and to the right to grip the grime-covered canola oil. Cracking the eggs and humming, she thought to herself that Egg No. 3 looked quite pretty. 

“Just like sunset,” she thought. “Lookie there! All runny and broken-yoke yellow with a splotch of chicken blood dead in the center. Perfect,” she thought. “Perfect.”

Scooping the brown-and-white floppy discs from the pan to her spatula, she walked the egg-race to the front door, trailing grease in the avocado green-and-gold shag carpet. Barefoot and clad in her dead grandma’s cooking apron, she knocked open the door with her hip and shuffled outside. Parked in the driveway was her 1973 Chevy. She fished the keys out of her pocket and popped the trunk. Waiting for the exact moment, that click-in-time when the sun hit the hills, she paused, eggs-in-hand, shoulder high. The whistle blew and, “FIRE!” She tossed the over-easy breakfast food into the depths of the trunk and beyond.

“That oughta keep ‘em,” she thought. “At least until daybreak.”

She slammed the heavy rusted trunk lid shut, stuck the spatula in her pocket and headed indoors.

“I’m 57 years old,” Betty Mae lied to no one in particular, “And I’ve never had a friend who wasn’t a troll.”

She thought she had friends when she was nine-years-old, too, and in the Cadet Girl Scouts, but she later learned that girl scouting was really just a meekly disguised feminist militant group that practiced the art of cooking campfire stew in desolate forest dumps after the first freeze so that its girl-members could earn the coveted Penguin Patch with which to adorn their sashes. Her past seemed to run together, a stream of a cool rushing waters broken up by a few rapids, curves and falls. Looking back, she only saw the water and it only reminded her of accidental death by drowning.

Her beige 1973 Chevy Caprice chug-a-lugged into the parking lot of the neighborhood Piggly Wiggly. It was Tuesday.

“This one went to the market to buy a fat pig,” she sniggered to herself while shifting into park and awaiting that old familiar shutter and bang of her sedan ending its exhausting two-mile run.

“A is for apple, B is for banana, C is for kryptonite, D is for Diana…” she sang gleefully as she grasped the silver door latch, pushed her way free and then slammed it behind her. She spun around twice, steadied herself and then marched with purpose towards the grocery’s murky front doors.

            “E … E…. What is E for? Oh, yes! E is my favorite! E is for ‘electrocution’. Typed and filed at home, locked and ready to go.


E - File No. 27


Betty Mae Figg died today of an accidental electrocution. She was 39 years old. She was standing in a puddle of water on the bathroom tile floor at her residence, drying her hair when she realized that this could potentially be fatal. But having never been told explicitly that using small electrical appliances while standing in water could kill a person, she ignored that little man who whispered to her to STOP immediately, to TURN IT OFF, to MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND. She smelled something burning and felt the hairs rise on her neck a split second before the shocks came that seized her heart and stilled it. It only hurt for a second, and  then she died peacefully.



“There she goes again, that loony old bat!” Jack said to Old Man Mahoney, the grocery clerk who was about 400 pounds overweight. He sat with one butt-cheek on a stool, squeezed behind the rounder, the rest of his oversized flab cascading down the side of his perch.

“She’s an odd one, alright,” Mahoney said, sighing and grunting as usual when he spoke. Having just finished his breakfast burritos, he lined up the tiny plastic cups of salsa in front of him on the conveyor belt, then pushed the button and downed them one at a time like shots.

Peggy scooted over, her always half-dried, stuck-together hair sticking up in back, her polyester floral dress hitched up and tucked into her pantyhose on one side.

As she moved toward the men, one eye wide open, the other all squinty-like, children and their parents stepped aside, leaving a six-foot-wide path. As always, they looked at her as if she was about to pull a stapler from her bra and start attaching things to their foreheads.

“She’s harmless,” Mahoney said with a chuckle. “She ain’t got anybody, no family anyways. What gets me is the way she comes in, sticking out like a sore tooth, everybody noticin’ her, and then next thing I know, she’s breathin’ down my neck! Out of nowhere, ya know? Once in a while, though, I’ll see her pecking over those eggs she buys. All those damn eggs! What do ya think she does with ‘em all, Jack?”

“Hell if I know!” Jack spat. “I’m thinking she bathes in them or something. Always can smell her coming before I even see her.”

Betty Mae sidled up to the checkout aisle, ten cartons of eggs stacked to cover her face. That one always-arched, unkempt eyebrow was showing just above the top carton. Below, she wobbled her knobby knees to balance the eggs. Why she never used a basket was anyone’s guess.

“Hey sack-Jack, did ya get my eggs? Are they in a bag? Uh-huh. I know you put them in a bag, always do, you do, but I need them in a bag, yeah, the blue bag, that’s okay. It’s fine really, I really don’t like those blue bags but it’s okay really. If you don’t have a brown paper bag then a blue bag is just fine um – okay, that’s good that’ll do. But you know don’t ya Jack that those blue bags will kill you. They get on your head and if you use it in the rain to keep the water off then the wind might knock it around your ears and then you can’t breathe and you could die, you know, and maybe you just can’t see very good with all that blue plastic on your head and then you trip in the rain and a car runs over you squishes you just like a bug, in the parking lot over there behind the broken light where no one can – ? Oh! Thank you Sack, you’re such a nice, nice boy. Be nice dear and help me with my bag – Oooh look, he gave me a paper bag! My favorite! – brown, nice, safe… but you know, there is always the matches…”


F - File No. 371

Betty Mae Figg died today after accidentally catching herself on fire. She was standing in her garage at her residence holding a brown paper bag and lighting a match when the gas leaked from the hot water heater and leapt up and surrounded her causing the match and paper to combust and devour her in flames. She was 39 years old. It was a very painful way to die, but in no way was it suicide. It was quite obviously a complete accident. Truelly never would kill herself anyway. She’s not that crazy. She is survived by many loving friends and neighbors who were too grieved to come forward. An autopsy proved unequivocally that her death was an ACCIDENT and not to be misconstrued as suicide. It also showed that although the burning was at first painful, it only hurt for a moment and then she died peacefully.



“You know how they say ‘never play with matches’? Now who in their right mind would seriously play with matches?” Betty Mae often talked to herself, or actually to no one in particular. “Not me, no sir! I know first-hand what those little powder-sticks can do, and they are something fierce I say. My mamma was told not to play with matches and you know what happened to her. Nothing could be done is what they said, not after she went out to get the steaks out of the freezer. And mama wasn’t prepared, not in the least. Now obviously it was an accident, and everyone knew it, too. But it made me think, sure did. How old was I? It must have been the same year I made Cadet Girl Scout, fifth grade? Yes, that’s it. I wrote her eulogy. And then I wrote mine. My Pop put me to bed that night and the next morning under my pillow was that old locket that she always wore. For a long time afterward I was confused. I thought that the tooth-fairy had taken my mom and given me a necklace instead. It was a good gift, though. It was big enough to hide things in, so when I was a little thing, that’s exactly what I did. I hid secret codes, messages to God, watermelon seeds.  When I touch my locket, I can still hear my Pop’s voice streaming in the background, that soothing way he had about him, that calm ‘all’s well that ends well’ hum. Or maybe that was that dad on ‘Little House on the Prairie’. Yes, I’m sure of it. It was half-pint’s dad, but you know what I mean.”

Betty Mae pulls into the driveway and drags her paper-bagged eggs inside still trying to sort out her thoughts about the potential bag-death and how she should file it, under “trip-and-fall” or “suffocation death” or simply “bag-death?” Oops, can’t forget “strangulation,” that might work, too. Of course she already had several in the “strangulation” file, having had her younger brother almost snuff the breath right out of her when she was nine and in the Cadet Girl Scouts and coming home from a camping trip. She stepped off the bus and was met by her snarling, frothing, overgrown, idgit-minded, half-blooded relative with a garden hose. He was mad! He had tied one end of the hose to a boulder and the other end to Betty Mae’s neck. He threw the rock over the tree and Peggy figured that it was a new game or maybe a Houdini trick that he needed to try out. She was purple before Pops found her, and then she got to eat ice cream in the hospital for two days so it wasn’t for naught anyhow.

Gingerly, she unloaded the eggs, one at a time, into the little cups in the fridge along with the other five dozen or so already cooling there.

“Never can have enough eggs,” she postulated to no one in particular. “Protein is what it’s all about. Of course there is the whole salmonella thing to consider, too.” She briefly thought about working on one of her death-by-disease obits after dinner but realized that dying that way would be an obvious and simple misfortune. How would one kill oneself with a disease? It would be tragic and nasty to die that way, but at least no one would think she was crazy if she died by E-coli, salmonella or the like.

She headed toward her bedroom at the back of the house, shuffling to avoid touching the walls, turning a bit cockeyed to watch out for spiders dropping from above or those rusty nails popping up from below. She made it safely to her narrow doorway and took a perfect helix leap to the king-sized mattress covered completely with an allergen-free bedspread (home shopping network special last November). Safe! She pulled her locket by the chain and it emerged from inside her dress, her favorite-most-comfortable-ever dress, and turned it gently over (the locket not the dress). There on the back she can barely see the tiny engraved letters, her father’s, then her mother’s. It says “D. loves B. Truelly”

Betty Mae pops it open and sees that, sure enough, it’s still there: the key. She grabbed the locket, key and all, up from the bedclothes and rolled sideways off the left side of the bed to the floor. Hesitating a minute to make sure there was no burglar laying in wait, she quickly pulled her body to her stocking knees and pushed the key in the cabinet lock. When the file shot out, she immediately felt filled-up with humility. She was in the presence of greatness! There before Betty Mae were all 432 of her own accidental death obits. A lifetime of genius. Flipping through, she realized that she did not, in fact, have anything under “bag-death.” With a sense of urgency that she hadn’t felt since she turned nine and was nominated for Cadet Girl Scouts, she fired her crooked but spry body into action, rolling back over the top of the bed, across to the other side, where, on her antique French desk, sat her dearest inanimate friend, her black-metal-keyed typewriter.

She slipped the plastic cover off and pressed down the keys in the order that she learned them when she was nine, checking the paper as she typed, noting the comforting thick, black strokes that the machine ticked out as she punched in that rhythmic tune: asdf jkl; asdf jkl;  asdf jkl; asdf jkl; asdf jkl; asdf …


It’s Tuesday afternoon again, and Betty Mae is again at the store. She knows that Jack tries to keep one eye trained on her – the right eye – while he pretends to study a magazine with the left. She figures this is some sort of learning disorder and wonders briefly if it could kill a person.

 “Oh, Jack, my sack-boy sacker Sack, I’m fine and dandy couldn’t be finer than candy! So glad to see you working here today. You work on Tuesdays often? Can’t seem to remember the last time I saw you. Ooohh… he’s got me one of them brown bags again! Look! Look everyone! A brown-bag, that’s what I like. He knows what I like, don’t ya sackie jack!?”

“Man! She’s a nut,” Jack thinks completely to himself.

To Jack, Miss Figg always looked like someone who had been sucker-punched at some point in her life and then never again had it in her to upright herself.

Outside, the trunk catches and pops open. Biggest damn trunk I’ve ever seen.  She sets those eggs down as gently as if she were burying a child, and then pops up a bit and catches a wild strand of her Final Net hair on her upper lip, causing her to hold her nose and lean w---a---y back. She gives a little hop, and, like she’s spiking a volleyball, down comes the trunk lid, WHAMP! She brushes invisible dirt off of her leather-dry hands and then straightens The Dress, arranging what one only guess are her (ugh) undergarments beneath. Smoothing out pleats that aren’t there, either.  Still talking to the pavement, Miss Figg angles toward her car, shuffle-hopping to an unheard beat. The big door creaks as she laboriously pulls it open, plops down on the plastic-covered seats and then wallops it closed.

 “I wish I had had me a kid like little Jack there at the store. But of course childbirth was never an option for me. Can’t have kids if you can’t have sex and you can’t have sex if you worry at all about germs, you know. Never really cared much for it anyway, germs I mean. Never had it, sex I mean, and ignorance is bliss as they say. But I do like that Jack in a boy-child sort of way.

She turns the corner and heads for her circular drive when she sees the boys. Not the nice Jackie Jack Sprat boys, but the Lewdies, the low-men, the ones who wear those dark glasses in the dark sky, hiding their glow-in-the-dark eyes.

“Lewdie Lewdie here comes yours truly,” she hollers out the passenger window that is really just an empty frame fringed with broken glass.

She knows this means she’s got a deadline. Got to hurry. Put the eggs on ice. Write my nightly obit. Get my beauty rest. Hurry lest they turn into bats and descend upon her. Betty gracefully dismounts the car, snagging her pantyhose in the same spot, that little metal siding that’s bent the wrong way; noting that now she will have to get a new pair out of the attic, hates going in the attic! She opens the trunk and carefully reaches deep inside to collect her eggs, which always seem to move to the back during the ride home. “Here little eggies, here you go, come on to me, that’s right!”  She could tell something was Not Right when she noticed a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders. No, actually she noticed that it was her shoulders that had been lifted from her great weight. Maybe. Anyway, she grasped her egg-bag and stood a little bit more upright, breathing deep draws as she noticed something missing from between her breasts. Sure enough, the locket was gone. The chain was just hanging there all empty looking. She figured quite rightly that the big old trunk just up and snatched that locket from her. After all, it had always been jealous of the tooth-fairy gift. Everyone was jealous of it. She guessed that if everyone’s mother turned to gold they would want it, too.

So of course she went back in after it. As she reached in the back the sun fell and shadows crept over her legs and then up her back, over her head.  She froze in place, thinking if she couldn’t see the Lewdies, then perhaps the Lewdies couldn’t see her. But as unlucky as Betty Mae tended to be, the Lewdies saw her and they came. On bikes, by air, snarling and snickering, talking about old bats and such.

 “Look at the crazy b***h with her dress all hitched up around her stinkin’ a*s! Whatcha looking for Betty? Need a helping hand? “

She felt her feet being lifted off the ground, roughly, scraping her knees on the rim of the trunk as she was hoisted up and over and then pushed to the back headfirst. Like trying on a new shoe – first you aim your toes toward the back and try and get your foot up and over the arch. Then the heel closes over the back and you can’t slip your foot out, at least if it fits right.

The trunk rattled shut, and she heard the boys’ laughter echoing down the block as they whirled off.

She became aware of the fact that she couldn’t breathe and that she was going to die, accidentally of course. It wasn’t anything like leaving your body. She didn’t leave her body at all… she went inside her body, like a big opened slide that gets smaller and darker as you go down, but in reverse where the light is the part that gets smaller and the darkness just envelopes you until you are not here and not there but all the same still here and there. This was the instant that Betty Mae realized she was screwed. Out of the 432 obits she had written in her lifetime, NOT A ONE had anything to do with an accidental death-by-trunk! With her arms starting to lose feeling, and her hands growing stiffer, she envisioned rigor mortis chasing her, her bones shrinking in horror. She prayed for her Pops, and she prayed that the trolls would not grow hungry too soon. They always came around at feeding time, approximately half-way in between dusk and dark, that strange but thrilling twilight hour. They always came out of the depths of the trunk, sniffing and snorkeling and looking for eggs. There were always five of them and they haunted Betty Mae for years, specifically since she was nine years old and was inducted into the Cadet Girl Scouts. Betty Mae took quick little breaths of trunk-fumes. And soon, she stopped breathing all together.

It was an unfortunate way to die, but at least it only hurt for a minute and then she died peacefully.



© 2008 jdwriter65

Author's Note

Trying a new experimental style -- is it too weird, far-fetched, etc. Is it funny? I'm new to fiction; usually write literary fiction and creative nonfiction.

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Added on April 4, 2008



Wenham, MA

I have a master's degree in creative writing from Texas Tech University and a bachelor's in journalism from Texas A&M University. (I spent more than 15 years as a newspaper features writer and editor .. more..

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