Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Short story – “Mighty Pen”


“Mighty Pen”

Alex shuffled into the kitchen and groaned. “This is intolerable.”

His mother looked up from her crossword puzzle and asked, “Problem dear?”

“I have so many ideas jostling around in my head for stories, but the battery in my laptop went bad and it won’t be fixed until tomorrow. I want ... I need to write now.”

His mother raised an eyebrow, then held her pen out to him.

A look of disgust came to Alex’s face. “What is this?” he asked, “The dark ages?”

***

A few years ago, I had an issue with my laptop and I didn’t have it for about a week.  I still had a desktop, but the reason I had gotten the laptop was because the desktop was circling the drain and it had problems opening Word files.  All of this wouldn’t have been a big deal, except at the time I was writing weekly stories on a website that no longer exists.  So I basically had to write a story in an email and send it to myself.  Being a First World Writer is so hard.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Short Christmas story – “Little Multicolored Lies”


“Little Multicolored Lies”

I started dating Susan in August, so we had been together a few months when the Christmas Season fully took off.  She often told me that Christmas was her favorite time of year, partly because of all the light displays people put on in their yards.  She loved seeing all that creativity and made her wish she had a yard to be able to put up a huge display.

Personally, I can enjoy the rare, truly creative display.  At least for the first few nights.  But wireframe reindeer laughing at a Santa stuck in a chimney quickly goes from humorous to eyesore in my book.  I never shared my feelings with Susan because it was something she really enjoyed and I didn’t want to spoil it.  Also, I had the feeling I would be spending many evenings driving her around to look at the displays, and if she knew how I really felt she would probably think I just needed to see more to fully appreciate them.

As it was, after Thanksgiving most of our evenings together we’d have dinner, maybe see a movie, and then she would suggest going for a drive to look at the lights.  We’d pick a road at random and see if there were any good displays.  And I will admit, some made me smile, but usually I just thought to myself, I’m glad that A, I don’t have their electric bill, and B, I’m not their neighbor.

One night, we were on this winding country lane where about every other house had a massive display.  As I’m driving along, I’m getting a headache because every other schmuck is out looking at these lights so there’s oncoming headlights, impatient headlights behind me, sharp turns, and every ten seconds Susan going, “Oh, look at that.”

At one point, she said, “Isn’t that amazing?”

I glance over to see her pressed up against her window and pointing upward.  I instinctively raise my eyes and see the drab ceiling in my car. 

Part of me wanted to say, “I can’t see whatever you’re pointing at, but it doesn’t matter because I really don’t care.” But I knew that would have upset her so I just said, “Yeah, that’s cool,” and kept on driving.

***

This story is based on something that actually happened to me with one of my girlfriends.  I think what she was looking at was one of these twenty foot tall tree frames with lights.  Apparently they had something really cool on top, but I couldn’t see it.  I think we had already had a fight that day, and I had a headache, so I just said something along the lines of, “Yeah, that’s cool,” and kept on driving.  It was probably a day or so before the phrase “little multicolored lie” came to me, but I knew that had to be a title. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

A Thanksgiving story, “Coming With Forks”


“Coming With Forks”

“The in-laws are coming.  The in-laws are coming.”

“Okay everyone, calm down.” General Turkey looked over his troops.  “We knew this hour would come.  It will do us no good if we panic.”

Once everyone had settled down, Colonel Ham asked, “What’s your battle plan, Sir?”

“We’ll hit them in waves.  The first in will be the Cookie Unit.”

Lieutenant Chocolate Chip stepped forward and saluted.  “Sir, on behalf of my unit, I wish to thank you for giving us the honor of being first into battle.”

The General returned the salute.  Looking to the rest of his troops, he continued, “Once the Cookies have broken through, the rest of us will follow.  The spearhead of our attack will consist of myself, Colonel Ham, and Major Mashed, with Majors Gravy and Stuffing in support.”

“Hear, hear,” Colonel Ham piped in, while Majors Mashed and Stuffing said only, “Very well.”

After a moment Colonel Ham asked, “Major Gravy, your thoughts?”

For a few seconds there was silence, then Major Gravy blurbled a reply.

“Um, yes.  Well said.  While we make our advance,” General Turkey hurried on, “Lieutenants Casserole, Sweet Potato, and Peas and Carrots will protect our flanks.”

“What about my unit?” Lieutenant Roll asked.

“Deploy your men to fill any gaps.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Taking a look around at the assembled troops, General Turkey asked, “Do you all know your missions?”

He was treated to a chorus of “Yes, Sir.”

“Good.  Now, I won’t lie to you.  All of us will take heavy casualties today, but some will be lucky enough to live on as leftovers for a few days.  But know this, every bite they take of us will be one less bite they’ll be able to take of our precious pies.  Earlier, I spoke with Apple and Cherry and His Eminence the Pumpkin, and they wanted you to know that they thank you – from the bottom of their crusts – for your courage today.”

The General let that soak in, then cried, “Lieutenant Chocolate Chip.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Take your men in.”

“Yes, Sir.  Cookies, front.”

Once the Cookies were lined up in ranks of Oatmeal Raisin, Chocolate Chip with Walnuts, Chocolate Chip without Walnuts, Peanut Butter, and Sugar, Lieutenant Chocolate Chip cried out, “For the Pies!”

Watching the Cookies charge, General Turkey put a wing to his breast and whispered, “Such giblets.”

***

Some years ago before Halloween, some friends and I went to a Poe event where these actors acted out some of his stories.  Before one of these, an actresses was talking with the audience and somehow the subject of pumpkin pies came up.  Specifically how they “sweat.” Her explanation as to the reason they sweat is that they know “the in-laws are coming … coming with forks.” I thought that was a great line, so I jotted it down and wrote a story to go with it.
Some people who critiqued this story took issue with the cookies going in first.  In their families, the cookies stayed back with the pies.  But in my family, my mom bakes cookies a day or two before and they immediately begin taking casualties.  I guess I just grew up with cookies being the skirmishers.

Anyway, this story was published in my collection A Man of Few Words.