Saturday, April 23, 2011

Letters to Nevertorial: Chicken Big

Your paper commits a cardinal offence all too common in our society with the claim, “Homeowners scurry like chickens fearing that the sky is about to give way.” (“A Third Mortgage Crisis,” April 18th). Your article made passing reference to the popular story of “Chicken Little” as though it were as erroneous as natural selection or Siddhartha sitting beneath a tree. Isn’t it suspicious that the story of the sky falling is so widespread? Positively everyone knows of it. My family does in particular, for in 1963 two of my great aunts were slain by falling bits of sky. The family lost most of the farm and is still awaiting the promised government funds to rebuild. The wait is its own indignity. Your paper’s pretending we were never struck, or that only chickens bore the weight of this tragedy, is egregious.

Friday, April 22, 2011

"The Sun Belt" at Flash Fiction Online

Today's story is at Flash Fiction Online. It's "The Sun Belt," about our sun's intentions in making our little spherical home.

This is my second pro-rate sale. I'm very excited and am grateful to any readers or commenters over on FFO. You can read the story by clicking here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Pitching In Without Fingers

One guy, Gilee, was very interested in their little prison reformation movement. He was enthusiastic about their tolerance of tolerable religions and philosophies, and quite happy to take nightwatches. Beside the positivity, he had one quirk: he never took his hands out of his overalls. This raised suspicion since Gilee claimed to have been a masseur before being imprisoned. He’d offer anyone a massage after a hard day, but no one took him up on it. Not until Berren, who having been jailed for politics, was all about comfort.

At least a dozen people watched it through the crack in the door, like a curious totem pole, trying to see what was up with Gilee’s hands. That’s when they found out that he didn’t have hands. The wardens had cut off his fingers, you see, leaving him only with palms. He was eager to do his part, though, and Berren was glowing when he emerged from the makeshift parlor.

“Could have used his thumbs more,” he commented, “but it was great. Felt like tiny feet running laps on my back.”

He just about threw up when he turned and the masseur waved to him, but afterwards Gilee got a lot more business. Word-of-mouth travels farther than vomit-of-mouth. It's a wonder.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Men in Reflective Houses

 This story was written from the above photo prompt,
provided and taken by Icy Sedgwick.
Tidwell and Aloysius liked to people-watch in-between meetings. By streamlining charts and skimming facts in their 10:10 meeting, they were granted a brief reprieve for this hobby before their customary 10:25 consultations. They would share one third of a packet of whole wheat saltines and ogle the aging joggers and purposefully striding suits on Main.

It was 10:17 as the man crossed before the Brightsides Building, dragging rolling luggage behind him. The Brightsides was unique for its many reflective windows, casting a near-perfect image of the brick establishment across the road. Tidwell and Aloysius’s brick establishment. The only thing that prevented it from looking real was the crisscrosses of molding between the Brightsides’s panes.

The man stopped before one pane. A breeze took his blue tie in a direction, and he declined with one hand. He walked toward the pane, shading his eyes as though focused on something behind the glass.

"Probably had a bender last night,” proffered Tidwell. “You think he's looking at himself for the first time this morning?"

"Must be. Those trousers haven't been ironed in weeks."

Tidwell couldn’t make out whether or not they’d be ironed lately.

The man walked a few panes down, to where the Brightsides reflected the image of a window from the other side of the street. He craned his neck, seeming to peer inside the window-within-a- window.

“You see that?”

"Probably just trying to see if his wife's working inside."

"Maybe she's sleeping with somebody in there and he's spying."

"Disheveled for a spy."

The man pulled a wallet from the luggage and shuffled through it for something.

"Is he counting cash?"

"Maybe he's going to buy the Brightsides."

"Hope he stocks up on glass cleanser."

The man nodded at his cash. He walked down past the doors of the Brightsides, to where their brick establishment's doors were reflected. There he stopped, turned and reached. Tidwell lurched, thinking he was about to see a nutter punch through the glass. Glare flew up from the Brightsides and both men shielded their eyes.

Just as he brought his hands down, Tidwell thought he saw a door swinging shut. He blinked his vision back to 20/20 and saw that no, it was only the image of a door. That door was still trembling as though having just shut, though.

Tidwell turned to face their brick establishment, to see if a man had entered there. But no – the secretaries were standing in that door, sharing a smoke.

Aloysius followed his eyes. He asked, "Did he just walk through that window over there?"

Tidwell scratched his balding head. He scratched harder when he saw that man with his luggage passing behind the windows - the windows of the reflected brick building. The two businessmen rose from their bench and waddled down the sidewalk, eying both the man within the reflection of the Brightsides, and their own establishment’s windows. There was no frumpy-trousered man in the latter. Only some secretaries, who shot them derisive looks.

Tidwell asked, "What was all that about?"

"I don't know. But I hope he doesn't intend throw stones."

Tidwell punched his friend in the shoulder, then crossed the street.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: “Your scene is not a scene if….” –The Intern

-Your scene is not a scene if it has wheels and flies.

-Your scene is not a scene if it's tough enough for a man but designed for a woman.

-Your scene is not a scene if it’s redeemable for ten cents in Michigan.

-Your scene is not a scene if it’s the participle form of "to see."

-Your scene is not a scene if it's a condescending blog post.

-Your scene is not a scene if it’s supportive, reclines into the reader behind you, and can be used in a flotation device in the occurrence of a plot device.

-Your scene is not a scene if both P is true and ~P is true.

-Your scene is not a scene if Microsoft Word doesn’t underline anything in green.

-Your scene is not a scene if it's only a vehicle for conflicts designed to attract cheap readers.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: On Polyamory and Gluttony

I would probably respect polyamory if it did more than merely triple the times people cry at me about their love-lives. Being single but obese, I liken it to food. The polyamorist is like a man who lost his meal.

If Tadd loses his dinner, I'll go, "That's terrible. You'll starve. Let’s got hunt you down a nice girlsteak with eyes only for your A-1 sauce."

But if Werner loses his dinner, I go, "Shut up. You have two other dinners living in your studio apartment."

"But they're not the one I lost!" Werner sobs with all the heartbreak of Tadd McOnedinner. And being unfortunately not heartless, I console the poor Werner all the other polyamorous schmucks.

Unfortunately five weeks later, I console Werner again when he breaks up with his second dinner. Let's call her a Pot Roast. You see ever since he broke up with the Taco Kit Bitch, Pot Roast has been less emotionally available. And when he started hanging out more with the Cinnamon Bun Twins, Pot Roast almost seemed to be jealous, and then they had less sex, and now he's crying again while I'm trying to calculate just how many women he's still eating.

Fucking. I mean “how many women he's still fucking."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Three Bindle Stiffs Audio Recording

This was originally posted a few weeks ago. It followed a challenge to use one hundred unusual words in one story. After several requests, I've stayed up past midnight trying to record a coherent audio version of it. You better damned well enjoy it.

There were three bindle stiffs at the docks - let us call them Jackanapes, Factotum and Callipygian, for that is what they were. A homeless threesome, gathered by the loquacious Jackanapes, a louche scofflaw, supercilious about himself and curmudgeon to all other matters.  Factotum was his manservant, as a factotum must be to someone, an aimless ragamuffin with nothing beyond size to his credit. More interesting than this oaf (and more interesting to the oaf) was the bodacious Callipygian, one lady concupiscent and rivaling Factotum as a flibbertigibbet.

Now Jackanapes proposed some minor skullduggery as pertained to the Captain’s Quarters, a local tavern. Within was an ill-gotten goblet, periwinkle festooned with opals and inscriptions of ancient Australian gobbledygook. It simply begged liberation. Liberation into Jackanapes’s possession, of course.

The Beerkeep, once a bold and raffish scalawag, was now pusillanimous and lackadaisical, scarcely lifting his head from the countertop. His wife, let us call her Harridan, was less easily hoodwinked. A cantankerous termagant, heart tainted by broken promises, face tainted by carbuncles of particular effluvium, and given her abstemious nature, not too pleased about living in a bar. The Beerkeep was broken, for if he complained she was no longer a nubile sylph? Well he didn’t have the washboard belly of the swashbuckler she’d married, either.

So our mendacious tatterdemalions infiltrated on Discount Ale Night. Callipygian strutted across the bar and whispered obsequious debauchery into Beerkeep’s good ear. Into the left, she osculated. Broken men are so easily finagled.

Meanwhile Factotum elbowed through the crowd like a willy-nilly whirligig, knocking the pint and the hat from a haberdasher. The haberdasher caterwauled, and Factotum responded with brazen fisticuffs. Our ignoramus spun him widdershins, spilling the gallimaufry from his cup. Gawkers flocked with hullabaloo. The ribaldry instigated such a kerfuffle that even Harridan peered its way. So was the plan: to obfuscate by infidelity or ruckus.

Harridan shrieked for her poltroon husband and barged in to squelch the catawampus, only to be struck by a flailing hat-seller. She was knocked to the floor while the Beerkeep was drooping to the bar top.

Amidst the folderol, Jackanapes slithered behind the bar. He paused an instant to bask in the resplendent chalice – then skedaddled. For you see, his hornswaggle was on four people, not two.

The conspirators didn’t remark Jackanapes’s absquatulating immediately. The Beerkeep was looking for tongue before Callipygian came wise. Poor Callipygian and Factotum looked at each other flabbergasted; neither had prognosticated his exit, nor their own exit strategies. Beerkeep roused and squawked that his spiffy cup was gone, and the crowd doubled in size with accusations of subterfuge. Imbroglio flummoxed our lummox, while Callipygian babbled defensive rigmarole.

Perspicacious Harridan recognized that while they might be in cahoots, it was cockamamie balderdash that they’d carried off the cup. They looked as lugubrious as Harridan on her wedding night, and neither had any goblets bulging underneath his or her corset. Pushing through the ballyhoo she took each by an ear, twisting and demanding explanation. She’d forgive their peccadillo in return for their mastermind. They responded with mumbling and borborygmus.

Malarkey, she accused. Hadn’t they served hortatory to these shenanigans? To play Jackanapes’s factotum for so long and left clueless?

Factotum let out a paroxysm of obloquy. Their original hideout. The docks! With boats to abscond, or as Callipygian hypothesized, merchants to entice. Sooner than Harridan could summon a steed, rambunctious Factotum tossed both ladies over his shoulders and bolted for the seaboard.

Now Jackanapes possessed a foible of confidence. At safe distance, he gallivanted and lollygagged, whistling orotund tunes and regarding the foofraw of his ill-gotten doohickey. What fortunes flagitious life afforded.

So taken was he by his own hijinks that he was tackled higgledy-piggledy from behind. Two ladies and one ex-factotum began beating him about the head and shoulders. They were at loggerheads immediately, and at the fusty hoosegow ten minutes later, one man incarcerated on two counts of “jiggery-pokery and maleficence,” and a farrago of lesser charges. He was left with no cups or opals, only a two-bit pettifogger to hear his hokum. So was his comeuppance.

Harridan’s comeuppance came up at auction for the stupid cup. Proceeds went to her own copacetic hodgepodge of a juice bar and a dance parlor. Her star dancer took in a wealth of tips, and they were both generous to the hulking (if dull) bouncer. She hired her own husband two months later as Juicekeep, after her competition put him out of business. There may be a word for that sort of thing, but I don’t know it.
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