by Sheree Shatsky

CUSTOMERS SEEM AN endangered species at the hardware store. The owner pins the problem on a tree out front. ‘That tree blocks the store from view, no one can see it from the main highway,’ he complains to his empty store of full shelves. ‘It’s bad for business!’ He wants the tree cut down, but the city council refuses. Instead, they declare the two-hundred-year-old tree a champion tree, its massive limbs forever protected. The tree is christened “The Mastodon” a nod to its sheer size. That night, the store owner reorganizes his aisle of herbicides.

The next morning, he figures out a way to increase customer flow. He rents an egg suit for cheap and dances out on the main highway like he doesn’t give a fluffy cluck. He spins an arrow sign “FREE EGGS THIS WAY.” A carful of teens make a slow pass and pelt him with eggs one, two, three.

The newspaper runs an article on the champion tree. The Mastodon gets famous. People visit the tree. They park in the hardware store parking lot, but no one goes into the store. They measure the tree with their tape measures brought from home and take photos making wide-eyed faces, can you believe how big this tree is faces.They leave mementos at the trunk: pachyderm poems, trinkets of tiny mastodons, an urn of pet pig ashes. A porcelain mockingbird. A prayer of protection against lightning. Against fire.

The egg man begins egg-dancing around The Mastodon. The Twist, the Swim, the Jerk. The Hitch-Hike becomes his signature dance as a way to thumb potential customers toward his store. He offers people free eggs. Stale chocolate candy eggs, unsold holiday inventory from last spring. Mastodon eggs, he calls them now.

People take selfies with the egg man. Some measure his girth and he laughs and makes a yolk joke and drums his big dumpy belly. People throw their heads back in a big hee-haw and ask if they can use the store restroom without making a purchase. When the summer thunderheads darken the afternoon, The Mastodon fans get in their cars and clear the parking lot. Lightning strikes and the egg man cracks under the trunk of the big tree.


Sheree Shatsky writes wild words. Her work has appeared in a variety of journals and her novella-in-flash “Summer 1969” is forthcoming from Ad Hoc Fiction. Sheree calls Florida home and is a Tom Petty fan. Read more of her writing at and find her on Twitter @talktomememe.