The Pink Teddy Bear – Clark Zlotchew
WARNING – Contains strong language
3500 words General Fiction
A man with a tortured psyche keeps a pink teddy bear on his food tray as he watches the Olympics on TV. He is physically out of shape but fantasizes that he is the athlete on the screen. The reasons for his mental turmoil, and for the pink teddy bear, become clear as the story unfolds. First appeared in the short-story collection, Once Upon a Decade: Tales of the Fifties which was one of three finalists in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, short-story category, 2011. In that collection, it appeared under the title, “Going for the Gold.” Re-published under the original name, “Going for the Gold,” in Open Pen, July 2016
Joe Sims sat sprawled on his stained and tattered easy chair, a six pack of Budweiser at his feet, one of the bottles in his left hand, the remote in his right. He took a long swig of beer, laid the remote down next to the pink teddy bear on the metal tray table before him, and reached for the Big Mac. He closed his eyes and savored the succulent beef patties, the cheese, the lettuce, onion, pickles, sesame bun, and the secret recipe “special sauce” that Sims was sure contained mayo, ketchup and relish. Sims let his taste buds bathe in the savory juices as his teeth and tongue caressed the food before he gulped the mass down. He felt its bulk pass satisfyingly all the way to his stomach where it came to rest, producing a feeling of contentment. This contentment faded when he looked at the pink teddy bear. He sighed deeply, then tore his eyes from the stuffed animal.