Saturday, June 26, 2010

"Rorschark Attack" in Branded Words Anthology

Today's story is in an anthology. It's my first appearance on, which is a thrill in itself. The anthology is Branded Words, featuring the best stories of 2009 from the Short Story Library.

The editors have flattered me by including "Rorschark Attack" as one of the best. "Rorschark Attack" is about a shark that people can't see as a shark - instead seeing playing cards, an ice cream truck or a Math teacher.

You can get the Branded Words anthology at this link: Best of 2009.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Eat My Gun, OR, “…or I will eat my gun.” –Popular wager in the mythical Wild West

The right side of his face burned pink from riding against the east since dawn. Bad James had to hit town today or be called a welch, and that was one of the names he could not abide. He tied off his horse, grabbed a bag and pushed through the bar’s swinging door.

Red waited for him at the nearest table, a quarter-full bottle of whiskey keeping him company. He leaned up to see inside Bad James’s holster.

“I don’t see your gun, James. Are you welching?”

James scowled.

“I keep honest.”

“Looks like you’re trying to keep your six-shooter.”

James dropped his bag with a clank and sat on the chair opposite Red. His palms rested on the edge of the table like he might flip it over.

“You cheated on that wager, pretending you were drunk so you could win.”

Red’s lips twitched into the closest thing to smiling these sorts of men did.

“Sure sounds like a welch.”

“I’m not trying to welch.” James scratched his scruff. “Just riled. I never lost a bottle shooting match before.”

“Wonder how many of your past opponents were drinking cider instead of beer.”

“Well I got some questions about the terms.”

Red tipped his hat and poured another whiskey. “Ain’t many terms about it.”

“So if I was to set down and eat the gun, could I take it apart first?”

“Sure. Want me to get you a knife and fork? Some catsup?”

James did not rise to the bait.

“Could I eat it slow? Say, a piece a day?”

“You want to eat the trigger today, swallow the barrel tomorrow? That’s fine. You’ve just got to eat that whole gun eventually or you welsh. It’d be downright disrespectful of you to live through so many gunfights and then die shitting one out.”

“Well then.”

Bad James leaned down. Red stiffened, looking around the side of the table for a threat.

James’s collected his bag. He set it on the table, tugged the strings and let it yawn open.

Red looked inside. It was half full with little metal pellets, smaller than rabbit crap.

“That don’t look like a gun,” said Red.

James reached in and picked up a single pellet. He held it for Red’s scrutiny.

“It’s the shooter, melted down to once daily vitamins. Should only take a hundred days to finish her off. Now as I recall, your terms gave you buying me a beer to wash it down. Would you like to pay for a hundred now, or should the keep set up a tab?”

John is away this weekend. If you're a #fridayflasher, please a leave a link to your story so he can read it later. All comments are welcome on this piece, except Wales-bashing.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Make Her Reaper

Tragedy tonight at a downtown theatre when a magician made his assistant disappear. The Russian stage man was making his first English-language performance. After a few minutes of having the audience look for her, he gave an incantation “to make her reappear.” Because of his heavy accent, the assistant instead returned in a robe and scythe. There were no survivors. Commuters who absolutely must drive through downtown should be on the lookout for a buxom vision of death in a sequined cloak.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Vampire Heart Attack

“One of the boss's few weaknesses is his heart, right? A stake through it and all that. I was thinking the heart is pretty easy to target so long as it's in his chest. So I figured, for his birthday, we'd extract it while he was sleeping and hide it in one of those safety deposit boxes in airports. A random airport. I sent it to a guy who sent it to a guy who hid it in some country, and there's no way anybody could find out which since even the guy I hired doesn't know where the guy he hired went. I thought I was bound for a promotion, because now all the boss had to be afraid of was sunlight and crosses. But it turns out these vampire rules are kind of general. Maybe a stake through the heart was an example of stuff that would kill a heart, and unfortunately... well, being stuck in a safe deposit box several thousand miles from its body will also kill a heart. So I was wondering if you had any ideas of how to find it, or if I can file for Unemployment when he kicks?”

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fleming-Mayer Aid Drive At The Bijou

Today I have a guest post over At The Bijou for the Fleming-Mayer Aid Drive. Please stop over and give it a look. Jemma and Shelly are in a rough patch and could really use a hand. You can read my guest post by clicking here.

At The Bijou is a blog for the thirty-three authors involved in the upcoming Harbinger*33 anthology. I'll have one or two stories in there and will keep you up to date on its release.

Click on this text to see "John Wiswell Stages Serious" on At The Bijou.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: The Monomyth

There is a theory that all the great stories of human literature are the same, sharing a humble origin, a journey, a heroic relationship to the world and/or the divine, conflict and resolution of cultural resonance. This is called the "monomyth" because, since the first physicians and philosophers, it has been believed that the muses suffer from intransient cases of mononucleosis. This causes acute fatigue and pain, the sorts of things that make it difficult to inspire truly novel art. The muses try their best, giving twists like Quetzalcoatl banging a nun and hobbits carrying the one ring to rule them all, but they're sick people and can only be asked so much. It is believed that the muses so often inspire immortality or long life into stories out of psychological fears that they'll never live long enough to recuperate and do totally fresh work. There was a time when they hoped humans would pick up the slack for them, but if you chain a million authors to a million typewriters all you get is social satire and poetry that doesn't rhyme. That's why they invented the million monkeys/typewriter scenario, though the monkeys have yet to reach the end of their monomyth.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: She’ll Come Around

She fell in the puddle in front of his house, and he fell in love. He got his Pa and they helped her dry off. While her folks came, they played with his anthill.

The next day, she said ‘Hello’ passing by him in the hall. She’d never done it before. He beamed all the way through Algebra.

A week later, she’d forgotten he existed. His brothers elbowed him to do something about it. Go ask her out. Go ask if she’s started that ant collection. Go pretend to bump into her.

He did none of it. “She’ll come around,” he said.

She did great in Math, so he tried hard and made it into Advanced Placement with her. He’d watch her from the other side of the room and struggle to figure out the number of degrees in a pentagon. She never offered to collaborate when they assigned group work.

“She’ll come around,” he said.

She liked puppies, it seemed. She got a summer job at the Hearth Animal Shelter, the one with the uncomfortable location across from a cemetery. He lit right up and got a job as the assistant groundskeeper. She never came over to chat.

“She’ll come around,” he said.

She left town for college. He went to the bar when he knew her sisters were there, to overhear things about her. She switched from Mathematics to Education. She was a teacher. She got her own house. She got tenure. She got cancer. She beat cancer. She still got letters from that first year of kids she’d taught. She was thinking of writing a book.

In time, she passed. Her remains were shipped back to the town where she’d grown up. There was a big service with her sisters and cousins. A lot of crying and nice stories. He stayed out of the way, listening and offering the occasional box of tissues.

After the service, he came up and filled in the grave. When he finished, he patted the dirt with his shovel and said, “I knew you’d come around.”
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