Saturday, September 26, 2009

Frankenstein's Monsters on Every Day Fiction

"Frankenstein's Monsters" is the story of the day over on Every Day Fiction. My little yarn is about a torch-wielding mob storming Castle Frankenstein to recruit the stitched-up giant for their basketball team. You can read it here:

Thanks be to Every Day Fiction for accepting such a weird story.

Bathroom Monologue: Mummy Interviewed

The agent adjusted his cufflinks and looked the mummy over again.

“You won’t do anything about the bandages? Not even around the face? People connect more when they see faces.”

The mummy loosened his head wrappings. They unraveled and revealed strands of dry flesh, which constricted into a frown.

“I don’t have much of a face as it is. Without these wrappings I’m… just a zombie.”

The agent tilted his head.

“Aren’t you?”

“I’m royalty,” replied the mummy, wrapping his head back up.

“That is a problem.”

“You’re not kidding. I didn’t stuff a pyramid with jewels and scented oils to go shambling with a gas jockey who got bit on the neck.”

“No, I mean democracy is in fashion today. Royalty is going out of style where it isn’t photogenic. Have you considered running for office instead of holding onto your kinghood?”

“Nobody’s would vote for me. My religious values are thousand years out of touch and I’m not even a naturalized citizen of any of the easily scared countries.”

The agent looked out the window. If he squinted, the casino across the street could be a pyramid.

“And you don’t want to go back home?”

“I think being a monster in a country where blood pressure and playing too many videogames are serious problems will be easier on me, at least as I start back up again.”

“There are terrible things to be scared of in this country, you know.”

“Every country has things to be scared of, but I’m a luxury fear. I need a luxury market.”

The agent sighed.

“I just don’t think we can re-launch you this year as an undead product. Vampires are sexy. Pretty faces, no bandages, and they move faster. And you don’t want to get into the shambling market. Zombies have overflowed so badly that some of them are running now. It is not the same world it used to be.”

The mummy tugged at his bandages.

“Democracy changes things. That’s why I hoped it would die in Athens.”

“It’s a tough business.”

The mummy looked out the window for a while, staring at the casino. Then he perked.

“All those zombies? Do they have a president yet?”

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Guerrilla Smile, OR, Possible Origins for Him. 2.

Handy eyes-free audio edition:

Nobody likes a happy man when it’s somber, and to somebody it’s always a bad time. Seems there are so many bad times and things are so seldom improving that if you’ve had a good year in your life, it’s long past. That’s a stupid thought driven deep into the head of too many a man, and it spawned the Happy Man.

Every free hour he had he’d find unhappy places. If it was gloomy in a hotel lobby, he would come on in, loiter and laugh. He’d tell bad jokes at a funeral until you told him to shut up. He honored requests like that. Yet if he shut himself up, he’d grin deep enough to scare off Daniel Boone. And because there’re so many people who think times are eternally awful in their own way, he was a hated man. They sniffed at his clothes, his wife and his church. Some would even get to slapping him.

He spent too many days near a particular deli and found the worst of it when an individual took to him with a crowbar. Broke five ribs and dared him in front of all the patrons to laugh. The Happy Man couldn’t even simper and was carted to the hospital. Suggesting the mood and morals of the establishment, despite three teens working the counter, two locals gabbing and two more playing chess, no one could identify the assailant. There wasn’t even a crowbar by the time the law arrived.

The Happy Man arrived again some five days later. No one answered his knock-knocks. His diaphragm was so contused he could not take even half a breath, and so could neither tell the whole of a joke, nor laugh at it. Yet he could smile. He bought a sub and sat right in the window, in full view of any passersby, and grinned. He grinned at every patron and tipped his hat to every lady. He applauded the chess games as best as he could, but was never invited to join. The crowd did not appreciate his jests about horses galloping in L-directions.

Every day from opening to closing he sat in that window, grinning with intent. He knew who’d hit him, yet set that grin on everybody in the establishment equally. No, he didn’t want trouble or to file a suit. Weeks passed and no lawyer papers came. Only the Happy Man with a smile and an appetite for an excuse to sit in the window.

He didn’t shy from eye contact a wink until that one morning. He came in with a crowbar, and all the usuals stiffened. They knew it was a different morning because his vest was buttoned, something he couldn’t muster until then on account of his ribs. He let them all see all those done-up buttons, and when their eyes rose to his again, he tapped his lips with the crowbar. Then he coughed. Then he chuckled. Then he laughed in all their scowling faces.

Maybe they would have done something about it, but the law drove by the window. Then they could do nothing save wince and watch him slap his knees. He laughed until a girl he knew walked by. He waved to her down, got up and left his sub behind, using the crowbar like a cane.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Crash Timeline

At 9:48 A.M., GMail crashed from overuse.

At 10:27 A.M, Twitter crashed from people complaining about GMail.

At 11:00 A.M., Facebook crashed from people making fun of the Twitter crashed.

At 11:31 A.M., so many people had turned on their TV's in such a short period around the world to find out what happened that every electric grid on the planet crashed.

At noon, for reasons still unknown, the sky fell. Just before everyone was crushed two things could be heard: one tween screaming that the sky was falling, and her teacher telling her to stop exaggerating.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Fingernails Keep Growing

There were many theories for why fingernails kept growing after death. He believed it was of busy fingers. They did so much on reflex; you never thought to make the last digit on your pinky curl around the glass and yet they did. In his case, thirty years and never a day of writers block. In his case, thirty years of having a few ideas and thinking none of them through before sitting down to the typewriter. His hands knew how to do things his head was too dumb to accomplish, as exhibited on umpteen embarrassing book tours. He had his agent bury him with a typewriter and a stack of paper to test the theory. A month later his coffin was dug up and the agent found a few pages of crumpled up notes, three pages that were apparently false starts, and a few fading lines complaining about an old ribbon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Sixty-Second Writing Challenge, writing about the word “Wanted.”

Wanted: a woman who won't cheat on me. Laundry skills a plus. Mac and cheese skills a plus. And I don't mean just boiling the stuff and dumping in the powder. I'm looking for an al dente kind of woman. Knowing however you spell “al dente” is a plus. No fat chicks.

Monday, September 21, 2009

She Danced in Burst Magazine

My flash story, "She Danced," is in the Fall edition of Burst Magazine. This is a revised edition of a previous Bathroom Monologue about a man who falls in love with a dancer and regrets it for the rest of the night. You can read the story here. Make sure to click "NEXT" at the bottom for the second half. I'd hate for you to miss how it turns out.

Burst is a special flash fiction publication targeting phones and smaller reading devices (hence the format of so few words per page and NEXT-click features), but anyone can read it at They're featuring ten stories this season. I'm tickled to have one amongst them.

Bathroom Monologue: “Over the competition I am Tao Ren” –Mishearing L.L. Cool J.’s “Mama Said Knock You Out”

A wayfarer walked across the checkerboard floor to the security table. He tapped a knuckle on the oak desk and nodded to the on-duty guard.

“I’m here to see Tao Ren.”

The guard scoffed, continuing to watch talk shows on his portable TV.

“A lot of people come to see Tao Ren. Doesn’t mean they’re getting in.”

“I’ve got Tao Ren’s thing.”

“Tao Ren’s thing?”

The wayfarer pulled something from his pocketed. It glittered in the dark.

“Tao Ren’s thing.”

The guard’s eyes went to the wayfarer. They went wide, then narrow. Then his hand went for his radio.

“Sammy, there’s a guy here.”

“That’s nice,” the radio crackled back.

“He’s got Tao Ren’s thing.”

“Tao Ren’s thing?”

The guard grabbed the wayfarer by the wrist (the one not holding the thing) and dragged him into the stairwell. He only let go when they reached Tao Ren’s floor, and only then when he’d dragged him to this floor’s guard, so that the thing could dangle in his face. Sammy was taller, with a bad part in his thinning hair.

Up here the floor was white marble.

“Tao Ren’s thing,” repeated the guard from the first floor.

“Tao Ren’s thing,” repeated Sammy. He licked his lips. “How’d he get Tao Ren’s thing?”

“From Tao Ren,” said the wayfarer.

“You didn’t get it from Tao Ren.”

“Tao Ren doesn’t give many presents, and certainly not his things.”

“You robbed Tao Ren, punk?”

“Nobody robs Tao Ren,” corrected Sammy.

“I did not rob Tao Ren,” corrected the wayfarer.

“Then that means Tao Ren gave it to you, except Tao Ren does not give many gifts.”

“And never gives his things.”

“This is Tao Ren’s thing,” said the wayfarer, letting it jingle at the end of the chain. It did not glitter as this floor was well lit. “And Tao Ren cannot be robbed. Therefore, he must have given it to me.”

“That strains believability,” said the guard from the first floor.

“Then you can take it and figure it out yourself,” said the wayfarer, extending the thing to the guards. Both shrank from it.


“Nobody touches it but Tao Ren,” said Sammy.

“And me. I’m touching it and I’m not Tao Ren.”

“You’re not Tao Ren.”

“But he is touching it,” said the nameless guard. “Does that make him Tao Ren?”

“There can’t be a new Tao Ren. He towers over the competition.”

“Tao Ren is not a mere title,” agreed the wayfarer.

“You’re no Tao Ren,” said Sammy, eyebrows knitting.

“But I have his thing,” said the wayfarer, extending it to the guards again. They shrank again. “I’d like to give it back to him.”

“You do not just walk in on Tao Ren.”

“Audiences with Tao Ren are rare and special.”

“You need appointments.”

“You need appointments to make requests for audiences.”

“Audiences with Tao Ren?”

“Indeed.” Sammy nodded gravely.

“But I have Tao Ren’s thing and it ought to be returned.”

“Tao Ren should possess all of Tao Ren’s things,” agreed the guard.

“But you will not touch it, and I cannot meet him to return it.”

“Not yet,” Sammy clarified.

“So how do we rectify the situation? I assume Tao Ren is missing a thing and would like it back.”

“Tao Ren wants it back.”

“Tao Ren never loses anything. All things that are his never leave him.”

Sammy and the other guard paused and eyed each other. When unified again, they turned on the wayfarer.

“You cannot go into Tao Ren’s office.”

“Appointments are necessary.”

“Appointments are necessary just to make requests.”

“But you could throw it in.”

“Throw it to Tao Ren.”

The wayfarer tilted his head. The thing glittered a little.

“You want me to throw it to Tao Ren?”

“Into Tao Ren’s quarters.”

“You yourself may not enter Tao Ren’s quarters.”

“No one may enter Tao Ren’s quarters without appointments.”

“But anyone can touch his door.”

“Tao Ren’s door.”

“Tao Ren’s secretary often opens it up to yell requests at him and take dictation. She lacks the foresight to schedule appointments.”

“Appointments for requests to get audiences.”

“Anyone can open Tao Ren’s door.”

“I can,” said the guard.

“And then you can throw it in,” said Sammy.

“And I can shut the door behind it,” said the guard, straightening up and rolling his shoulders with pride.

The wayfarer paused a moment. He looked at Sammy’s desk. The nameplate read “Clarice Orange.” Beside the typewriter sat several photos of a family of a different skin color from Sammy’s.

“Where is Tao Ren’s secretary today?”

“Out today,” said Sammy.

“Sickness. Maybe a death in the family.”

“Mislaid something of Tao Ren’s.”

“And then got very sick.”

“A tragedy.”

“My condolences,” said the wayfarer.

“She’s not dead.”

“She called in sick this morning.”

“Mislaying Tao Ren’s things can do that.”

“Psychosomatic disorders,” said the first-floor guard. Sammy looked at him admiringly.

The wayfarer walked over to Tao Ren’s door. It had to be Tao Ren’s door, as it was unusually large, ebony, and had the characters for “Tao” and “Ren” on either panel.

“Well then, could you get the door for me?” requested the wayfarer. The first-floor guard hustled over, elbowing Sammy out of the way. He paused a moment, took a breath, closed his eyes, turned the knob, and pushed open the door.

A little grey mist wafted out from the bottom.

“Go,” said the guard, not opening his eyes.

“Who disturbs Tao Ren?” came an immense voice from behind the door. “He has no appointments this afternoon.”

The wayfarer tossed the thing inside the room. As soon as it met the misty floor it shone bright orange.

“My thing!” called the voice, and the guard shut the door.

Then the wayfarer and the guard walked back to the desk.

“I meant to inquire before,” inquired the wayfarer, “but will there be any compensation?”


The wayfarer scratched one of his temples. “For returning Tao Ren’s thing.”

“Tao Ren does not lose things.”

“He cannot be robbed, therefore you did not steal the thing.”

“And if you stole it, you would have to call in sick to work tomorrow.”

Sammy and the other guard stared at the wayfarer until he turned around. As soon as he made it to the stairs, his face cracked into a grin. It lasted until he was half a mile from the apartment. He couldn’t wait to tell Clarice how right she was about her co-workers.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Slow Theology, OR, That’s literal, even for me

Sloth is the sin of being a dumb mammal that is naturally slow. The sin is punishable by being eaten by quicker predators and getting hit by motorists when crossing the roads they built in your habitat. One imagines God made this a sin on a bad day, or because “Six Deadly Sins” didn’t have the proper ring to it. It is a wonder that there aren’t more, like an Eighth Deadly Sin of being a parrot – that being an ostentatious annoying bird that repeats whatever people say around it to fit in and earn snacks. Really, wouldn’t we all rather that slow people were just allowed to walk at their own pace in favor of repetitive idiots getting hit at road crossings?
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