SHORT STORY – GROTESQUE

 

 

The eighth story from my short story collection Middle of Nowhere is up on my site.  In “Grotesque,” an alcoholic businessman begins to wonder what is real anymore when he spends a wasted night with a girl who mysteriously has the same deformity as his former wife.

 

 

GROTESQUE

 

 

I MISSED THE CONNECTION TO SOME NOWHERE CITY ON MY ROUTE AND WOUND UP STRANDED IN ONE EVEN LESS APPEALING.  Christmas season brought booked flights and little sympathy.  So I decided to get sloppy at the airport bar and try to see how I’d do without a wedding ring on my finger, (we’re separating soon due to her wishes, so there’s no need to judge).  Turns out, I was pretty invisible anyway.

At the next table over, a gaggle of stewardesses traded war stories over wine spritzers and curly fries.  My hands clung to a glass of scotch as I took in their white stockings and over-zealous smiles.  The least attractive one of the bunch had a gap in her teeth, and I kept glancing her way.  It had been years since I had kissed another woman’s lips; hers would do just fine.  She even had a similar teardrop-like mole under her eye like my wife did.

Soon they finished their spritzers and curly fries and wobbled to their feet laughing.  My gap-toothed one was the drunkest of the three and her laughter was the loudest.  I sucked at the ice in my drink to get at those last few drops.  What led me to this airport bar?  What led me to all the airport bars of the world with their peppery curly fries and watered-down drinks?  In the window to my right was the same reflection I’d seen throughout the last decade –  my slouched self on a bar stool with a tie flipped over my shoulder, scribbling notes for another conference and grinding my teeth.  There was a time when the thought of my wife was all I needed to keep on scribbling.

I had made a ton of money, and the company I worked for made even more.  We sought out troubled corporations, swooping in and buying them out once they had no other option.  Then we restructured them from the ground up.  The vampire I’d become fired all former employees and new blood was brought in.  The boss man encouraged this vampire, actually demanded this creature, so how could I be blamed when I started to bring him home?

Through the window, I had a clean view of the runway and watched the planes sail into thick winter clouds.  Right then I knew I didn’t have it in me to catch one.  So when the alarm on my watch beeped, I ignored it and waited until I could see my flight disappear into the white sky.

I needed a nap.

I needed to take a break, and I’d always been able to daydream well.

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SHORT STORY – COOKIES

 

The seventh story from my collection Middle of Nowhere is up.  In “Cookies,” a Girl Scout troop leader becomes involved in a bitter cookie selling scandal that rocks her suburban community and makes her an outcast.

 

COOKIES


            THE CHOSEN MOVIE TO BEGIN JANINE ACORN’S ANNUAL SLUMBER PARTY FOR HER SENIOR FLOWER PATCH SCOUT TROOP WAS GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, A PICK FROM JANINE HERSELF, THOUGHT TO BE MOTIVATIONAL REQUIRED VIEWING FOR ANY YOUNG FLOWER PATCHIAN.  The girl who sold the most cookies this year was being rewarded (through a major pulling of strings) to be an extra on the tweentastic show JHS McKinley, a huge jump from last year’s Space Camp fiasco, a prize met with yawns, and worse than that, the lowest Flower Patch earnings since the foundation of the troop in 1972.  Janine was determined not to let another cookie-selling train-wreck resurface this year.

Mackenzie Phelps, the little snot, was the first to make a face at Janine’s film choice.  She had recently lost all her baby fat and gained a holier-than-thou-attitude.  Evidently, she had gone to sloppy second with an older boy under the bleachers and astounded the other girls with repeated stories of the way his pierced tongue felt against her nipple.  It angered Janine to hear it told in whispers during supposed arts and craft sessions, but if Janine was honest, at twelve years old Mackenzie Phelps already had bigger breasts than she did.  Janine couldn’t remember any man in her life who’d been all too excited to go to sloppy second with her, especially her ex-husband Ron, who treated her breasts like doorbells, because in all honesty, there wasn’t much else he could do with them.

The other girls, high on root beer floats, whined along with Mackenzie who stood there with a told you so kind of look.  She had pretty, blond hair, styled at some high-priced salon that her mother frequented and wore a tank top, which allowed her bra straps to peek through.  Janine didn’t even bother wearing a bra that night.

“Is anyone cute in Glenn Larry?” Jamie Lynn asked, a dim girl who looked all of eight.

“It’s Glengarry.  Alec Baldwin is in it.”

“Who?”

That remark made one of Janine’s eyes twitch.  She longed for a smooth cigarette, or any oral fixation, but satiated herself for the time being by nibbling on her bottom lip.  The girls began complaining as a chorus, but Janine raised one slender finger and prayed it would silence them.

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SHORT STORY – WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM WHAT I’VE LEARNED

 

Here’s the sixth story from my collection Middle of Nowhere.   In “What I’ve Learned from What I’ve Learned,” Tex is a misanthrope who falls in love with a wacky girl named Ginny who is his complete opposite.

 

 

WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM WHAT I’VE LEARNED

 

 

I’LL TELL YOU FROM THE START THAT I DIDN’T WANT TO GET MARRIED.  Didn’t want none of it.  At least not the way it happened.  Never pictured myself in a cowboy hat and fringes getting married by the oldest lesbian ministers in the West.  Meet a girl, fall in love, and spend the rest of our lives together, except somehow it all happened backwards.  Well, sort of.  I mean, I met her, and she was nice, and pretty, too.  I wouldn’t have done her at my cousin’s wedding in the coat closet if she didn’t have a good face.  But to be honest, I had also sucked down about a half dozen Cape Codders that night.

Her name was Virginia, which bothered me already.  I once dated this girl Alabama, who was a loon, and had sworn off other girls named after states.  Alabama stole utensils.  All the time.  I caught her slipping forks into her pocketbook when I came back from the bathroom at the fancy restaurant I took her to for our two-month anniversary.  She wasn’t even embarrassed.

I convinced myself, though, that I could live with a name like Virginia because it was a state I’d been to and had a very good time.  Alabama was a state that I had never been, nor planned on going.  When I told Virginia that, she said I was funny, and after mentioning that her hair smelled like peaches and summer, I was on top on her with a fur coat on top of me.  

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SHORT STORY – LAZY INSANITY

 

The fifth story for my collection Middle of Nowhere is up! In “Lazy Insanity,” a young man with lifelong dreams of becoming an Air Force pilot accidentally cuts off his pinky finger and learns that now he can never fly. With no other aspirations, he begins to go crazy as he searches for meaning in his life.

 

LAZY INSANITY

  

            ZEKE HAD ALWAYS BEEN AN ODD GUY.  He was an odd boy who grew into an odd teenager and was destined to become an even odder adult.  He used to blame it on his pinky finger, or really, his missing one.  When he was ten, his mother Diana asked him to cut up the celery for his father’s salad.  She gave him a knife big enough to see his reflection.  As he studied himself and the abundance of freckles on his nose, his pinky rolled off the counter while the celery stalk remained intact.

Since that unfortunate day, he blamed any problems on that missing member.  “It put me off balance,” he’d say, pointing to his squash-shaped head.  It only proved worthwhile for grossing out younger kids in the recess yard, but that got old soon.  It did, however, destroy his lifelong dream of becoming an Air Force pilot.

“Air Force pilots have all their digits,” his father said, shooting him in the heart one day over a dinner of beef stew.

“They don’t have to,” Zeke said, quiet enough so his parents had to read his lips to understand.

“Nine won’t cut it.  Never will.  The training is rigorous and you have to be able to grasp things with both hands.  Not just left, not just right. Both!”

This immediately turned Zeke’s life upside down.  He stared at the stub that remained from his one glorious pinky and realized that if he never made that salad for his father, a different and more pleasant story would be told.

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GREAT BOOKS, GREAT COVERS

“Everything up there had smelled of ice and snow and heartless spine rock. Here there was the smell of sun-heated wood, sunny dust resting in the moonlight, lake mud, flowers, straw, all those good things of the earth.”

“On the Road” may be Jack Kerouac’s better known work, but “The Dharma Bums” is his true classic.  Revisit Ray Smith and Japhy Ryder (standing in for Kerouac and the poet Gary Snyder), as they wander through the 1950s searching for Truth along with other “rucksack” Americans unhappy with their country’s prevailing zeitgeist.

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