Latest Flash

Elevator Pitch

Making deals and hustling are difficult enough in respectable society,

but down here in the Gutter? You got to use extra finesse.

Elevator Pitch by Matthew J. Hockey

“My pitch? Sure. Why not? I’ve got a few minutes. Imagine the scene. Guy walks into a specialist pet store on third. He browses for a few minutes, just kinda walking around out of the rain. Owner said he could tell he wasn’t gonna buy anything but it’s good for business having somebody inside, brings other customers in. Suddenly this guy stops, drops his target shopping bag and stands stiff. He reaches into a cage. Scoops up a bird.  Careful to keep its wings tucked against its body so it doesn’t hurt itself.  Owner tells him ‘Hey, put that back. Bird is very sensitive.’ The guy’s not even listening. He’s all hunched over, cooing in the bird’s ear. Real low. Whispering. Nobody knows what he’s saying. Whatever it was it was between him and the bird. Then… chomp! Bites its head off. Cleaner than a carnival geek. Reaches into another cage. Chomp. Another head—”

“Did he swallow them?”

“I musta told this story a hundred times. Nobody ever asked me that before. Now shut up
I’ve got a special order I tell this all in and you’re messing up my flow—”

“Well, did he?”

“He did. Weirdest fucking stomach contents section on a coroner’s report I ever read; three severed bird heads, vanilla ice-cream two scoops, four whole cherries including the pits and the green part comes outta the top. You believe that? Crazy bastard got three of them down before the owner shot him. See, now look, I’m getting all ahead of myself. He gets to the fourth bird. Except by now the bird’s seen what happened to its buddies. It is not, under any circumstances, going down that hatch without a fight. Born in captivity, all of sudden damn thing’s back in the jungle. All its little instincts firing. It latches onto the guy’s neck with its claws and—”


“Yeah, the foot claws. The things. They’re sunk in there pretty deep. Guy’s flapping and squawking. The owner, tiny Vietnamese granddaddy, finally snaps out of his daze and puts a three-fifty seven magnum round through the crazy guy’s ribs.”

“He die?”

“Oh yeah. He dead. These Viet Congs, theyre not playing touch football. “

“So what was wrong with him?”

“The guy? Nothing. Not so far as anybody could tell. No history of mental illness. No suspicious behaviour in the run-up. Wife said he kissed her goodbye that morning as usual and left for work. Just up and took him a notion to eat him some tasty bird brains.”

“So… is that it?”

“Is that what?”

“The pitch.”

“That’s the teaser. The pre-credit sequence. Now picture this. Woman wakes up in her suburban home, middle of the night. Glass breaks downstairs. She’s got this kid. Semi-retarded. Ass burgers. He sleepwalks, she thinks it’s him. She turns on the lamp, jams her feet in her bunny slippers and sets off downstairs. ‘Mom?’ the kid asks from his room. Oh fuck, says she, who the fuck is in my house? She goes back into her bedroom and gets the ex-husband’s Remington. She makes sure it’s loaded and takes up position on the landing. ‘I can hear you down there. I’ve got a gun.’ Now, mister home-intruder musta thought she was bullshitting because he comes bounding through the living room and she slugs him with a round. Calls the police like a good citizen. They roll up. Question her. Take pictures. Comes court time little Vietnamese man and good suburban lady with the retarded kid both plead self-defence your honor. Which one of them goes to jail?”

“The Vietnamese guy surely? He wasn’t defending himself or even a person. Right?”

“Wrong and wronger. My little VC walks that very day. Lady shoots a bonafide burglar, does five to nine. The difference?”


“Me. That’s when I spring my card on them. Eggshell. Gilt lettering. You ever get in trouble, I say, that’s my personal number at the top. Tap tap tap, goes the finger. Then I kinda swish my hair and grin at them.”

“Does it work?”

“It does more than it doesn’t. But then by the time they need me the douchebags are already in jail.  Two o’ clock in the morning, it’s me or the public defender.”    

Matthew J. Hockey recently left a nice, stable, boring job in Northern England to teach Elementary English in Seoul South Korea with his fiancée. Though his days now contain more screaming and snotty noses, he finds it a hell of a lot easier to concentrate on writing. Alongside Out of the Gutter he has been published by Thuglit, All Due Respect Magazine, Ghostwoods Books, Shotgun Honey and Akashic Books. He can be found most days at: