Small Print

Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 19

“Alright, Ms. Gibson. Just a few more questions—purely a formality, I assure you—before we approve your loan.” Mr. Smith of Smith, Smith, and Smith Associates brought up the relevant form on his computer screen.

“Okay,” said Ms. Gibson. “Ask away.”

“Very good. Question one: have you ever kicked a puppy off a cliff, collected Nazi paraphernalia, or done that thing where you accidentally bite the inside of your cheek while eating?”

“Wait, what?”

“It’s a simple yes or no question, Ms. Gibson.” Mr. Smith folded his hands. “Have you ever kicked a puppy off a cliff, collected Nazi paraphernalia, or accidentally bitten the inside of your cheek while eating?”

“I don’t understand.”

“For our purposes, a puppy is defined as any dog under one year old,” explained Mr. Smith. “If that helps.”

“No, I mean…I have done that thing where you bite the inside of your mouth, but I hardly see how…”

“Excellent!” Mr. Smith made a note on his computer. “Question two: have you at any time been addicted to crystal meth, burned down an orphanage, or left a light switched on after exiting a room?”

“Okay,” said Ms. Gibson. “Some of these things definitely don’t sound as though they don’t belong with the others.”

“Well, yes,” agreed Mr. Smith. “The orphanage question really is more relevant to customers who are taking out a mortgage, but here at Smith, Smith and Smith Associates we pride ourselves on being thorough: it’s how we can offer you such a low rate of interest.”

“No,” said Ms. Gibson. “What I mean is, I have occasionally left a light on by accident, but…”

“Great! So that’s a ‘yes’ to that one too.” Mr. Smith smiled. “See? It’s simple enough once you get the hang of the format. Now, question three: have you at any time operated a combine harvester while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, detonated a thermonuclear device in a panda enclosure, or neglected to compliment a friend or acquaintance on a new haircut?”

“No,” answered Ms. Gibson, with confidence.

“Now, think carefully before you answer.” Mr. Smith brushed a hand over his hair a few times, pointedly.

“Well, I wouldn’t really consider you an…”

“For our purposes, as described during last week’s preliminary review, an acquaintance is defined as a person who one has met on at least one prior occasion.”

“Alright, fine,” huffed Ms. Gibson. “Next question, then.”

“That’s it, actually!” Mr. Smith beamed. Then he checked his computer. “Oh, but I’m afraid it seems we won’t be able to approve your loan after all.” Making a very professional sad face, he gestured to the door.

“Alright,” said Ms. Gibson, standing. “I understand. Thank you very much all the same.”

They shook hands, and she turned and made her way towards the door.

“Oh,” she said, pausing as she reached it. “Just one thing I’d like to check: abankerwho’llgivemethecashanywaysayswhat?”

“What?” asked Mr. Smith. A fraction of a second later, he realised what she’d just said. “Ah, fudgenuggets!”

Ms. Gibson smiled. “I’ll expect the cheque Monday,” she said, stepping out of the office.

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook CoverOsiris Likes This Cover

Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.

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