Trust

September 2, 2011

by Mr. W

It was when he was a boy, padding alone through the wind-whipped strawgrass by the shore, that he saw the heron snared in wire. The heron would beat its wings, rest, beat its wings; but make no progress to freeing its legs and body.

His sneakers sucked mud as he entered the shallow break water. The heron grew frantic, blurred wings and slashing beak; then, as the boy’s shadow draped the bird, it stopped moving. Resigned, perhaps, or hoping it was unseen.

The boy gave the bird’s back a pat. Glossy slick feathers; the heron flinched at his touch. The boy flinched back, afraid of the razor beak, the trapped claws. He could see how the wire was wound around the bird, could figure out the puzzle if the bird stayed still.

A few more pats, and the boy settled. He stroked the bird’s neck and back. He crouched in the mud to unsnare the heron and soon experienced something that would stay with him for the many decades of his life.

Deep-fried heron doesn’t taste as good as one hopes it might.

THE END


Close

June 30, 2011

by Mr. W

“I dreamt I cut off a woman’s toes last night,” he recounted. “One by one. Snip by snip.”

He continued, “Was I forced to do this, or was it for pleasure, in my dream? I couldn’t tell.”

Mild applause spattered the banquet hall. He would go on to take fourth place in the All-County Regional Worst Pickup Line Invitational.

THE END


The Critic

November 12, 2009

by E. Scripsi

Herbert North, the most feared and reviled critic in the world, stopped by a newsstand to leaf through the new issue of Criticism Today magazine, in which he was featured. His well-cared-for face glowed from the cover, critical acumen glistening behind his glasses. Late for a conference where he planned to delivery a devastating critique, he leafed quickly. There, before the newsstand, the world-renowned, feared and reviled critic collapsed, weeping. Passers by looked away in embarrassment as they stepped over his prostrate and sobbing figure. Phrases like “Human fire hydrant spewing watery pabulum,” and “In short, a bloviating hack,” bounced around the tinny echo chamber of his mind until a voice broke in.

“You cry on it, buddy, you buy it.”

THE END


The Man Who Moved Around Using His Legs

September 21, 2009

by Norm De Plume

An immediate hush fell when Brance Jansen walked into the restaurant.  The only sound was the whisper of 50 motor chairs, as the diners all rotated a few degrees toward the door to get a better look.

Everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of The Man Who Moved Around Using His Legs.

Ducking through the door, Brance flashed a cockeyed grin and acknowledged the attention with a slight wave.  The maitre d’, his motor chair purring, escorted him to a table in the back.

“Jesus,” said Ralf, once conversation resumed.  “Take a look at that… freak.”

“Yeah,” said TonE. “I never knew people looked like such freaks when they’re not in a motor chair.”

“I hear,” said En1d, leaning in and whispering conspiratorially, “that his dad was an eccentric industrialist trillionaire, who raised him to move around using his legs instead of a motor chair.”

“Ugh, that’s just sick,” said Ralf.  “It’s child abuse.  God, it must be so painful to support your weight on your legs all day.  Anyway, I could probably move around like that too, if my legs were thick like his.”  He glanced down at his own withered, useless, lower limbs.

“Yeah, but those thick legs look so freaking weird.  Must be a birth defect,” said Ton E.

“I think his legs are big because he uses them all the time,” said En1d.

“Ooh, I wonder if he has any other body parts like that!” giggled J8ne.

“J8ne! You can’t be serious!” said Ralf.

“What?  He’s rich, he’s handsome… so what if doesn’t use a motor chair?”

“God, you are so disgusting.  I can’t believe you’d even consider… with that… freak,”  Ralf threw his napkin on the table and angrily revved away from the table and out the door.

“Oh, Ralf… I was only joking,” J8ne, aware she’d gone too far, followed quickly behind.

Ton E and En1d finished their meal in awkward silence, paid the bill, and left.

Six months later, only a year after coming to town, Brance Jansen was dead.  The official cause of death was listed as trauma to the heart caused by overuse of the legs.  A rumor on the street claimed that he’d actually been murdered by a jealous husband.  The true cause of death, however, was an acute infection of the big toe, caused by its repeatedly having been run over by motor chairs over the past twelve months.

Soon, The Man Who Moved Around Using His Legs, was largely forgotten.  However, his name still lives on in lingo used by paramedics: a “Jansen Call” is one where an ambulance is dispatched to aid a man who has fallen after taking leave of his senses and attempting to impress a woman by getting out of his motor chair and walking.

THE END


Now Dawns a Glorious New Era

August 24, 2009

by Norm De Plume

The assembled world dignitaries and members of the press fell into a breathless silence as the tall, robed alien cleared his throat and prepared to speak telepathically.

“PEOPLE OF EARTH, IN ORDER TO DEMONSTRATE OUR PEACEFUL INTENTIONS, WE HAVE DECIDED TO SHARE WITH YOU SOME OF OUR ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES.  BEHOLD, A PUMP WHICH DRAWS THE AIR OUT OF FOOD STORAGE BAGS, ALLOWING LEFTOVERS TO REMAIN EDIBLE FOR WEEKS ON END!”

Noticing a pronounced lack of enthusiasm  amongst the audience members, the alien being did a quick telepathic scan.

“HUH.  OKAY, I SEE YOU’VE GOT THAT ONE ALREADY.  NO BIG DEAL.  UH… HERE.  THESE CLOTHS CAN ABSORB UP TO 10 TIMES THE LIQUID YOUR STANDARD EARTH PAPER TOWELS CAN. NOW DAWNS A GLORIOUS NEW ERA OF PEACE AND…”

He paused and scanned again.

“DAMN.  OKAY, UH… HOW ABOUT A DEVICE FOR SHOOTING SALAD COMPONENTS INTO A BOWL? NO? A SOUND ACTIVATED ON/OFF SWITCH FOR LIGHT SOURCES?”

“A WATCH WITH A BUILT IN CALCULATOR?”

REALLY?”

“SHIT.  OKAY, FINE.  YOU WIN.  YOU CAN HAVE THE INTERPLANETARY DEATH RAY…”

THE END


A Subtle Distinction

August 17, 2009

by Norm De Plume

“Moron?” she said sweetly, smiling, making the word into a question. “Moron?”

Patrick remained seated, saying nothing, as the plastic object laying beside him on the padded bench buzzed to life.

“Moron?”

He fumed silently.

“Moron, anyone?  Moron?  Going once…”

He rose quickly, furious, and slammed the blinking, vibrating pager onto the Applebee’s hostess station.

“It’s Moran, you idiot.  MorAN.  It’s a very common name.”  He grabbed his protesting wife by the arm and dragged her out the front door.

Such rudeness!  The hostess took a few seconds to compose herself, made a brisk tick on her clipboard, and moved on to the next name the list.

“Asswipe?”

“Right here.”  Roger Asswipe couldn’t wait to get to his table, as he’d been dreaming about Applebee’s Chicken Parmesan Tanglers all day long.

THE END


The Invisible Hand

August 9, 2009

by Norm De Plume

Deep in a secret cave, many miles below the surface, The Invisible Hand’s young ward burst through the laboratory doors.

“Sir!”

“What is it, Kid Gipper?”

“I’ve just spoken to Commissioner O’Leary.  It’s Cyborg Cardinal Richelieu.  He’s taken a busload of orphans hostage and is demanding an enormous ransom for their return!”

“We must act quickly.  Mobilize the Sons of Liberty.  I want a massive anti-tax rally outside City Hall within the hour.”

“A rally?  Shouldn’t we do something to help the orphans?”

“Giving those orphans a handout won’t help them at all.  How will they ever learn free market principals if we just swoop in and save them?  No, Kid Gipper, better to let the market handle this one.”

“But Cyborg Richelieu has suspended the bus over Sharks River Gorge!  He’s promised to drop them in exactly one hour if his demands aren’t met!”

“All the more reason to act quickly.  You see, by lowering the corporate tax rate, we free capital to fund new, more lucrative ways to deal with the mutant cyborg situation.”

“But how can we be sure corporations won’t take the extra money as profit?”

“Kid Gipper, if I’d known you were a freedom hating Socialist Fascist, I never would have given you access to the Laffer Cave.  Why, there’s nothing more American than a corporation taking a profit!  Besides, those orphans must want to be hostages.  If they didn’t, why wouldn’t they just disable Cyborg Richelieu with an Electro Magnetic Pulse from their utility belts?”

“Sir, I don’t think those orphans have the resources to purchase utility belts…”

“Oh, and suddenly that’s my problem?  Kid Gipper, I worked hard to inherit the resources that paid for this cave, all of the high-tech equipment, my creationist sculpture garden…”

Suddenly, the Hotline chirped three times.  Invisible Hand picked up the receiver.

“Yes?  Great Goldwater’s Ghost!  Where?  I’m on my way.”

He sprang to his feet.

“Quickly, Kid Gipper!  Fuel the Rush Mobile.  Two men are trying to get married in another state.”

“But…”

“Quickly, before they cheapen every marriage in Real America with their unholy vows!  I only pray we’re not too late…”

THE END