Just A Bite of Coffee and Ice Cream

Photo © 2006 HD41117 CC 2.0 BY NC SA

Her great claim to fame was that she failed Freshman English Lit. Twice.

How is it even possible to fail English Lit? Think about it. This is a course that has no real requirements, save that you show up and say something. Yes, you’re supposed to read the novel that everyone else is also reading. But lesser students had squeaked by on the Cliff Notes, or even outright faking it.

Even so, she managed to fail English Lit. Twice. And so ended her college career.
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Too Much Information

Photo © 2008 Paul Falardeau CC 2.0 BY ND

This story is a test.

Seriously, it’s a test to see whether I can magically change the future. Really.

I know you don’t believe me, but let me explain. For the past three weeks, I’ve been dreaming the future. Actually, it’s been 20 days. Today will be day 21.

It may have been going on for longer, but I first noticed it on May 21. Actually, at first, I thought it was just a coincidence. It wasn’t until a few days later that I began to suspect something… paranormal. (Yeah, that’s the word I want, paranormal. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s the only word that fits.)
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The Confidant of Jericho

Photo © 2008 Jenjke Bykov CC 2.0 BY NC ND

From the moment they appeared at my door, I knew the two men weren’t from around here. The first of them introduced himself as Salmon, told me they were seeking my services, said that Avi had sent them. I looked him in the eye for a few seconds. Good-looking, not too eager. I try to be careful about making mistakes, because there are some services I don’t provide, and I’ve been burnt before. But they looked okay, and they knew Avi. Business travelers, I thought, slumming it up in the red-light district. I let them in.

They gave the room a once-over, my humble abode. I told them where to sit, in the dark corner near where I had been weaving flax into rope. I poured them each a drink, gyrating and throwing them each a wink. I described to them the services I offer—and told them which ones I don’t offer—and how much it would cost. Nods all around.

One of them started a conversation. Nothing about that seemed out of whack. Men often enjoyed a little casual talk before satisfying their baser urges. Salmon said he had heard that I sometimes met high-ranking officials. Even that didn’t make me suspicious. I just told him I couldn’t discuss who I know or don’t know. I may be just a whore, but privacy is still pretty important in my line of work, and I don’t want to get on the wrong side of some of my clients.

“What have you heard about the nomads camped on the other side of the Jordan?” the other man asked.

I think that’s when I first started to suspect something wasn’t quite right about these two.
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Only the Lonely

Photo © 2009 Janine CC 2.0 BY ND

All those days sitting through Mrs. Owens’s seventh-grade algebra class, then years staring through Reverend Hardy’s sermons, and now centuries yawning through business meetings, she would have thought she’d have gotten used to the experience.

She shifted in her seat, as the company CEO flipped to another PowerPoint slide, animatedly spewing the latest rendition of corporate spin to the assembled audience. Sales figures and production are up! (Except in the divisions that the company did not purchase this year.) We’re launching several exciting new projects! (Because we weren’t able to finish the last ones.) We now control more gigabytes of shitty software than all of Microsoft and IBM combined! (And that’s something to brag about? Even if it were true?)

She glanced around. Hundreds more faces, just like hers. She was suddenly overtaken with isolation, that she could feel so alone amongst so many others just like herself.
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Baby Boy

Ted Jackson reclined on a park bench at lunch thinking about what it was like to turn 30.

The overcast sky had provided him a brief respite from the drizzling rain, and so he decided to stroll through a nearby park during his lunch hour. He wasn’t much hungry, because his mind was full of thoughts, about Clydene, about love, about progress, about failure, about meaning.

When he had sat on the bench, he felt its moist coating leech through his pant legs. Normally the feeling would make him jump up in disgust, but today, he just didn’t care one way or the other. He didn’t suffer the chill breeze that gusted in his face. Neither did he enjoy the moist, fresh aroma of a late summer day cleansed by the rain. His mind was too full of other thoughts.
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A Bad Job Two-fer: Living Inside a Top/A Tribute to Lorelai

The following two poems reflect the angst of working in a bad job, a dysfunctional employer-employee relationship. It can stress you out, depress you, and make you cry. Sometimes, the only act that can save you is sending your resume to another potential employer, because that’s what gives you hope and makes you feel a sense of control over your own destiny.

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The Widow’s Granddaughter

The revised version of “The Widow’s Granddaughter” is now available as a free downloadable eBook:


A Comedian’s Motive

Why do I put myself through it? That’s a good question. I mean, why venture out on that stage? Just to tell jokes? I don’t think so. Yeah, there are all the standard reasons–and I’ve even told myself a few–about how laughter is healing, and people need me, and I help them, and a chuckle is worth a thousand tears, and on and on. But that’s just posturing. Let me tell you the real reason why I go out on that stage, and under those stage lights, and make an idiot of myself, just to get a few laughs.
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Two Dirty Little Words

The following story contains gratuitous profanity.

Little Cam Smith and River Jones huddled around the former’s desk during third-period Social Studies. The teacher thought they were preparing their report on the history of woman U.S. Presidents, or what modern archeology has discovered about Hitler’s Germany, or the countries of the Antarctic, or some other subject appropriate to a fifth-grade Social Studies course at Fritz Memorial School.
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She sneaks out of the house while no one is looking and heads to the bad side of the city. Her husband is upstairs reading to the kids, and she is supposedly catching up on her email. As far as she knows, no one realizes she is gone.

She strolls down the sidewalk under the dimming sky and watches the street lamps flicker as they come alive. She inhales dingy, urine-soaked air, feels cool wind on her face, catches a whiff of used cigarette smoke, and grins. She knows she could be mugged at any time, or worse. Her fear makes the experience more real. With every step her breath comes faster, her heart thumps harder. This is life, she thinks, pure, unadulterated aliveness.
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