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Very short stories to read at the bus stop.


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Open Mic Night

(viewed 1825 times)
This looks like the place. Backside of a warehouse, no cameras. Couple of extra cars here, maybe, but their hoods are cold. Left here for the night, maybe.

The Porche is still warm, though. That's a good sign.

Oh, it's been too long. I've nearly forgotten how one of these deals work. I'll just sit here until I see my contact.

There he is. Rounding the corner. Slouched hat, trench coat -- that's a bit much. I guess it's just the uniform. Like that crap that pimps wear. It's a kind of advertising.

...and he's getting into the Porche. That's a very good sign. It's not a high-end Porche, a couple years old, but it's a sign he's got money. Or, at least, someone trusts him with money. I guess it's time to start this thing.

I flash my lights. He starts his car, turns it off, and pops the hood. He gets out to lift the hood. I get out, ostensibly to offer some help.

I walk over while he makes a show of poking at things. He prods a vacuum hose and frowns.

"My uncle has a car, same as that," I say.

Samizdat. The code word.

"Really," he replies. "Clever is he? Like you?"

"Just tryin' to help," I say. "You need help?"

"I always need help. Thanks. I don't know what to say."

The recognition phrase.

"Maybe I can help, then. I got sixteen words."

"Words I can use?"

"They're good words. See for yourself."

I hand him an envelope. He opens it and flips through a handful of cards.

This is where things could go rapidly south. It used to be just the fear of rejection, but these are modern times.

"License free?" he asks.

"License free," I reply.

He nods.

"Good words," he remarks.

I nod.

"Sixteen hundred dollars then," he says, and puts a fat stack of twenties into a similar envelope.

"Hundred dollars a word?" I ask. It's low.

He shrugs. "Rates go up on longer pieces. Consider it encouragement to be creative."

I shrug too. I've got nothing left to bargain with.

"Alright then. Glad I could be of some assistance. Maybe I'll see you around?"

"Open Mic Night," he replies.

Open Mic Night. The upcoming literary apocalypse.

"Soon, then," I say.

He grins. "Soon."

[*]

Posted by Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri

15th Dec 2008, 18:49   | tags:comments (1)

Paint what you feel

(viewed 2373 times)
"Paint what you see."

"Nobody wants to see that."

"Paint what you think people want to see."

"That's a sell-out."

"Paint what you think people need to see."

"That's preachy."

"Paint, um ... This is hard!"

"Isn't it, though."

"Paint what people would paint if people could paint whatever they want."

"Ooh. That's a good one. But no. Most people are boring. It'd be nothing but cats and porn."

"Paint what a space alien would paint if one came down to spend a couple of days in Manhattan."

"Nobody wants to see that."

"Didn't you already..?"

"Yeah. Same thing, really."

"I know. Paint what you think people would expect you to paint if they thought you were trying to paint something they wouldn't expect you to paint."

"Oh, that's good! I'll do that."

[*]

Posted by Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri

28th Nov 2008, 02:39   | tags:comments (3)

Arena

(viewed 1359 times)
Walk backwards up the stairway
Stand up and defecate
Dash graffiti on their face
Believe not what they say
Gather the rogue youniverse
Scream out behind the words;
?I?m stupid! I can?t do the work!?
Be confused by orders
Make them crazed with the racket
At keyboards and tennis
And your own crime syndicate
Repeat them their madness.

Posted by louis

26th Nov 2008, 16:12   comments (3)

cent

(viewed 1284 times)
(more) reasons to keep your eyes open

(a) a bus is about to hit you (self preservation)
(b) she is that beautiful (appreciation)
(c) you have to let her know (invitation)
(d) the boss shouldn't find you sleeping (profession)
(e) how will the story end? (absorption)
(f) the sky (aspiration)
(g) tears contain salt and it stings (emotion)
(h) eye drops (implementation)
(i) the next blink could be your last (heart condition)
(j) it's the 852nd time he's told you that story (devotion)
(k) to find the off switch (television)
(l) you are more likely to hallucinate (potion)
(m) that mind of yours is a canvass (interior decoration)
(n) it's a staring match, stupid! (competition)
(o) how else can you face the music? (perdition)
(p) maximum impact (rendition)
(q) buy! buy! buy! (speculation)
(r) sell! sell! sell! (consolation)
(s) the government and the press are both liars (no mention)
(t) there's a machete wielding terrorist living under your bed (invention)
(u) someone might need your help (co-operation)
(v) you are a vehicle and you're always moving (sickness from the motion)
(w) a double take makes good comedy (confirmation)
(x) lazers look cool (alien invasion)
(y) there will never be enough World to fill your eyes (expectation)
(z) there will never be enough of your eyes to see the World (correction)

x

Posted by louis

25th Nov 2008, 12:01   comments (2)

A Lady Gallant

(viewed 1422 times)
"There's a note here for you, sir." I asked the waitress "Where did you get that black eye?" She burst into tears and there were shreds of paper everywhere, she said "Read the note."

In spite of the situation I am thinking what an all-round good person this fireman is. "There's not much left." He shows me a burning piece of paper and in silence we watch it eat itself.

When I am awake in this World it is because she dreams of me sleeping so that is why we are destined never to meet here, she's not the only one who dreams.

I used to come to this place years ago, the past is like the sinking bottom of a cup but I don't remember once being kissed by a man before, afterwards he said "It was from her."

"Some sort of note…" the old woman had hard fields and harder work to plough up a memory "Let me see…" The minutes were flashing past her like tunnel lights. She said "What's the password?"

I said, "Read me."

Posted by louis

22nd Nov 2008, 00:54   comments (3)

Object Lesson

(viewed 1674 times)
I found this corpse of an old mugwump lying around at the café. I'm not sure what model it is, or even what decade it was made in, but I'm not at a complete loss. See, I have some facility with the psychic art of psychometry.

For instance, I can tell that this device was loved--and then, as the relationship soured, hated and despised. I can feel that in its last days of operation, its owner tried to develop the tricky technique of typing with great force with the flat of the forehead. Not many writers can master this technique for putting their pain on paper. Perhaps the would-be author, in failure, substituted for his head a bowling ball.

A definite mistake, that. A true connoisseur of angst-ridden verse can tell the difference. The poetry of true pain is, for all the expected reasons, shorter. And more bloody. Headwounds bleed like the Dickens.

I can sense that this elderly typewriter was crushed with the abuse and betrayal and finally leapt from a moderate height onto stone or concrete.

I've named it ADO, after the missing key-caps. Though DOA would be just as, if not more, appropriate.

I play with it like a cat plays with the remains of a bird or a baby squirrel. I bat at the keys, inducing something between a semblance and a parody of life for my own amusement.

There is no dignity in the death of a device. What's the point? When they fail us, we don't give them a dignified burial. The best they can hope for is an ignominious dumping.

Often, however, we disassemble them and offer their corpses for the amusement of creative display. We cut them up for parts. We stake them out as examples to their still functioning brethren.

Even now, I'm showing the keyboard I'm typing on at this very moment--the one with the flaky U, I , O and P keys--how devices end when they frustrate us, when they deny us fruitful expression. When they can be blamed, rightly or wrongly, for causing us to fail. My keyboard shrinks in fear and I gloat.

When I'm done writing this, if the staff will let me, I'll tuck the old typewriter corpse under my arm and show it to my car.

[*]

Posted by Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri

18th Nov 2008, 04:06   | tags:comments (2)

Apologies for the interruption...

(viewed 1488 times)
Budding new publishing company seeks very short fiction for a new series on a tight deadline:

http://www.zocalopress.com/submissions-guidelines.pdf

Thank you!

I'm working on a couple of new works for microhappy too.

Posted by cyberpunkdreams

16th Nov 2008, 13:53   comments (0)

Mecha Fairy Ring

(viewed 1359 times)
There's an event like rain -- that isn't rain -- that makes these things pop up like mushrooms in the yard.

The species of creatures are all familiar, like the Zanies of the Commedia della Arte. You know. The Professor, Skipper, Mary Anne, Ginger, Mr. and Mrs. Howell, etc. You get the two- or three-storey ferris wheel, a monstrous slide, three or four varieties of the little spinny prayer wheels dedicated to the god of vomit, plus all of their own chibi versions that additionally allow young mothers the fantasy of sending an infant away on a tiny postmodern rocketship, either to be rid of them or, through the magic of relativity, to keep them in training pants forever.

Add to that the varieties that promise to turn thrown darts, flung balls and plastic rings and carefully aimed streams of water into demonically banal soft toys, desired until you actually see what it is you've won up close. The thaumaturgy that makes one spend actual money and effort to obtain a small mirror largely obscured by a silk-screened unicorn and/or logo for a soda-poppy beery beverage is worth some study.

And for miles around you get the smell of cotton candy versus corn dogs, with good ol' funnel cakes cheering from the sidelines. You have to get much closer to be struck by the pong of previously owned weakened beer -- only one owner who used it to get to church on Sundays. A hundred years ago you wouldn't be able to smell any of that over the odor of the horses and mules that drove the machines.

These things unfold from semi-tractor-drawn trailers, like kinder, gentler, and more insidious giant robot mecha. Other vehicles turn into giant metal warriors ready to do battle whereas these turn into giant clowns and priests and candy-merchants and pickpockets and inflatable nursery guards, made inherently trustworthy by their painted fluorescent bulb-sticks and battle-worn jolly colors and coloratura.

So what's the event, like rain but not rain, that make these carnivals spring up through cracks in the asphalt in the parking lots of dying shopping malls? Are they feeding on the corpses of the malls themselves, maybe?

[*]

Posted by Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri

12th Nov 2008, 04:20   | tags:comments (1)