Category Archives: fiction

Sneaky cat

cat

*pin drop*

It’s been quiet around here. Since editing school began, I’ve had less time and less oomph for blogging. I’m still cooking and writing, as always, but I’ve been saving a lot of my writing for my writer’s critique group and my cooking for meals that I can throw together relatively quickly. It bothers me a bit–this neglect of my little Internet turf here–but I calm myself with the knowing that I’ll be back here in good time.

Last week, during a bus ride to Seattle, I received a notice that a very small story of mine was accepted for publication at Dogzplot, a literary journal. I am a big admirer of Dogzplot and the smart, offbeat writing that I often read there. I hope you check out my piece, “Nightly Habits,” and the other great stories, on Dogzplot’s website.

A micro for monday

library

The Cure

There was once a man who went to the book store for self-guided therapy. He made a deal with the store owner to buy a book during every session in exchange for privacy. The man was in his forties, and the store owner assumed that he was having a mid-life crisis.

The man read horror books to scream. He read comedy to laugh. He read the romances to cry. He read the children’s books to connect with the boy inside him. He read the classics to find truth and meaning. He read the mysteries to solve the cases of his heart. He read science fiction to travel to his past and imagine his future. He read and read and bought book after book.

After weeks of these sessions, the man decided to end them, believing himself to be cured. “Cured of what?” the store owner asked. “An empty bookshelf,” the man said.

A bite of fiction

truck

The Food Truck

On a sunny fall day in a small town, a new food truck was about to open. The truck was run by a couple, a man and a woman, who had just moved from the city. “Delicious sandwiches with a twist” was the tag line of their tiny restaurant on wheels.

At the noon hour, the truck window slid open, and two faces emerged out of the shadowy interior. A few people approached. A woman with a little girl hanging off her arm were the first in line. The mother squinted at the chalkboard menu.

“I’ll have a turkey and provolone sandwich for myself, and for the little one, a peanut butter sandwich, no jelly, no crust.”

“That’s how our son likes them, too,” said the woman in the truck, winking at the child.

A man with a pale face and wearing denim was next.

“Good day. I would like a veggie sandwich with extra avocado and brown mustard, please,” he said, exuding politeness.

“Coming right up!” said the woman.

Two teenage girls with matching haircuts stepped up to the counter.

“We’ll both have ham and cheddar with bean sprouts on the same ticket,” they said, almost in unison.

Next in line was a man with a bald head, who was scratching his puffy chin. He leaned into the open window.

“I’ll have a surprise. I’m pretty easy to please,” he said to the couple.

When the orders came out, everyone sat on the nearby park benches to eat. At first, they chewed their food in silence, disregarding one another as strangers do. But after a few bites, their eyes lit up and they began gobbling their sandwiches, shoving them into their mouths like cartoon characters. The bald man was still working on his last bite when he walked up to the food truck, sliding crumbs off his belly.

“That was delicious! So what’s the “twist”?”

The couple glanced at each other with coy smiles.

“Dog saliva.”

The man chuckled. “No, really.”

The woman in the truck crouched down, out of sight. When she stood back up she was holding a pug, all wrinkles and pudge. A slender pink tongue hung out the side of its mouth; a thick string of saliva dripped from it like an icicle. With her free hand, the woman filled a dixie cup with the drool.

“Here, try it.”

The man took the cup, grimacing a little, and tipped it back in his mouth. His eyes popped open.

“Well I’ll be damned!”

Having overheard the conversation, the others gathered around the truck, curious. When the mother saw the dog in the truck she clapped her hand over her mouth; her child squealed. The man wearing denim reached his hand through the window to pet the pooch on the head. He loved pugs.

“This is Orville,” the truck woman said proudly, as if the dog was a golden egg.

“Now wait just a second,” said one of the teenagers. “What happens if he stops drooling?”

“That would be impossible. Orville drools 24/7.”

The dog stared into blank space, eyes bulging. His mouth was frothy. It didn’t look like he was going to let up anytime soon. The truck man moved quickly, filling dixie cups and passing them around the group. Everyone sipped the contents, savoring it as if it was hot chocolate.

Teen number two wrinkled her nose.

“Well, I don’t like how he smells.”

“He’s no worse than you are,” said teen number one. They turned to each other and began to bicker back and forth.

The mother was allowing her child to touch Orville now, who was quickly winning her over with his cute snorting and wheezy breathing. She licked her lips, still tasting the magic saliva.

“What else can Orville do?” she asked.

“Yeah, does his shit taste good too?!” said the bald man, slapping his thigh.

The food truck woman promptly turned Orville over on his back. On his belly was an obscure round symbol, about three inches wide.

“He’s had it since he was born. Anyone who rubs his belly gets one wish granted.”

“You’re kidding!”

“Oh no. I didn’t think it was real at first, and I wasted my wish on a pizza delivered to my door, free of charge.” She rolled her eyes, and the truck man laughed.

“I was the delivery man,” he said, pulling her toward him and kissing her cheek.

The teenagers sighed, having ended their bickering, and put their hands over their hearts. The denim man bounced from foot to foot.

“What was your wish?” he asked the truck man.

The truck man sighed. “A brand new Corvette. It broke down within a year. I got to trade it for this truck though,” he said, patting the counter top.

“It seems like both your wishes, while they didn’t go as intended, turned out to lead you to something even greater,” the denim man said, clasping his hands. Orville flicked his tongue, and for a second, it looked like he was smiling.

“That’s very astute, my man,” said the bald man. “I want to see this for myself. May I?” He held out his arms to Orville.

The truck woman passed Orville through the window. The bald man rubbed the symbol, and then stood still, waiting. The others were quiet, waiting too. Suddenly, little hairs began to sprout upon the man’s head, forming a widow’s peak, and then spreading across his entire scalp until he had a thick forest of dark hair. Everyone clapped for him.

“This is nuts!” said the formerly bald man, running his fingers through his fresh hair.

“What about reading the future? Time travel? Can Orville do those things?”asked the mother.

“No, we’ve tested that already.”

“Can he shape-shift?” asked teen number one. Teen number two scoffed.

“As a matter of fact…” The truck woman squeezed a roll of chub on Orville’s neck, and there was a flash and a bang. Orville had disappeared, and there was a little boy in her arms instead. He yawned and stuck a finger in his nose, seemingly unaffected by the presence of the group.

“Everyone, meet our son, Otis!”

Everyone oohed and awed. The little girl broke out in tears. She had never seen anything shape shift before and was confused. Her mother began to rock and shush her.

“Oops, didn’t mean to scare you!” said the truck man. He gave the boy a hug and then gently squeezed the back of his neck. There was another flash and bang; the boy was gone and Orville was back. The girl stopped crying.

“Wow. I don’t know what to say,” said the formerly bald man. He grinned at Orville, whose tongue still flopped out his slobbery mouth.

“I believe we’ve been witness to a real miracle today,” said the denim man, holding his palms face up to the sky.

“I’ll say!” said the mother.

“No one’s gonna believe us,” said the teenagers.

“Just tell them to come get a sandwich,” said the couple, petting Orville on his back.

Just then, a bus came rolling down the road. It stopped about 50 feet away, and twenty or so people stepped off it. About half of them headed toward the food truck at a hungry pace.

The truck woman saw the people coming and quickly set Orville down. She looked at the group and put a finger to her lips. Everyone smiled and nodded. One by one, each person said goodbye to the couple, making their promises to come back again. They left together, talking among themselves like old friends, until eventually, they had to go their separate ways.

The formerly bald man was down the block when he turned around to check the scene at the truck. He could see customers lined up, and the couple taking their orders, as normally as if it was any other food truck. He shook his head, felt the breeze blow through his hair, and laughed to himself. He kept walking, and some time later, he thought he heard a dog bark.

Halloween House

pumpkin

Happy Hallows’ Eve! I have about 24 hours to decide on a costume. I love making costumes with materials that I already have on hand, something relatively easy and ideally, clever. I happen to have a lot of cardboard and paper, so my idea yesterday was, “I could be Hillary Clinton’s emails!” I would just wear a piece of cardboard and write mock emails all over it. I think I’d have way too much fun making up those emails. I’m still pondering it.

Now, I have a story for you! This piece of mine is a parody of an Amelia Gray story, “Christmas House,” which is from her newest story collection, Gutshot. The collection is so weird, and bold, and imaginative, I can’t get enough of it. Just to be clear, the concept of this story is based on Gray’s story, all the content is my own.

Halloween House

Halloween House is a spooky and festive holiday residence. It is a home to ghouls and goblins, DIY costumes, a giant orchestrated Thriller dance, and standard goblets full of spiked glow in the dark punch and a bubbly concoction that will have some unlucky guests farting all night. A man wearing a Jack-O’-Lantern on his head always answers the door at Halloween House, charming trick or treaters alike.

Halloween House invites their guests to celebrate in whatever fashion feels appropriate to them. If a guest asks to have the balcony kept off limits for two minutes while she howls at the moon, then so be it. If someone wants to beat on a drum with a pair of leg bones that he doesn’t feel up to explaining, then that is his prerogative.

Halloween House is home to forty-six pumpkins. It is one staff member’s duty to decorate the House with these pumpkins in a manner that exudes the Halloween spirit. The staff member must not carve any two pumpkins alike, if he decides to involve carving in the decorating process. If the staff member makes a mistake and carves the same triangle eyes on one or more pumpkins, then he must gather these pumpkins, grind them to a pulp, lather his body with it, and roll in a pile of Laffy Taffy.

Halloween House stays awake 24/7. A shift runs until a staff member reports a ghost sighting in the House and can provide evidence of that sighting, usually by a bite mark or photograph, then a new shift begins. When a staff member is not on shift, then he or she is permitted to partake in one of the numerous Halloween-y activities in the House, or catch up on sleep. Coffins and beds can be found in the attic. Only Rosemary’s baby may sleep during his shift.

Halloween House sits at the far edge of a mega church that draws approximately 3,000 members. At times, a word of Scripture may come flying through an open window, striking a Halloween House guest in the face or chest. When this occurs, one of two things usually happen: the guest makes a run for the church, or the guest clutches their body and sinks to the ground screaming, “I’M MELTING!” at the applause of the House staff.

Halloween House is not responsible for lost souls. If a guest believes that the House has damned them for all of eternity, then that guest must be removed from the premises so they can cry about it to someone else. Staff members can offer tinctures and potions to treat the guest’s condition, for example by boiling zombie blood and monster snot together and spoon feeding it to the guest, but this rarely happens.

In the true spirit of Halloween, guests and staff members of Halloween House must balance treats and tricks. The caramel covered apples are tooth cavities, and the pumpkin fields are monocroppic scars on the earth. It’s fun to play Ghostbuster, but Proton Packs are not real. All who enter the Halloween House uphold this equilibrium. Whoever seeks to undermine the magic of the season will most surely be buried alive.