It’s been a long while since I did a blog post. I have been writing, completing work that I started decades ago. I take breaks, make a video, work on my audio books. A while back I was regularly publishing very short fiction I called Noises in the House. Did a few videos on some, and I have made another.
Titled, A few doors down, you can view it at any one of these three sites where I loaded it up:
The original story can be read by clicking right here.
It’s about someone who died in his house and nobody missed him until the smell….
Have a look or read, as time or interest dictate. – Vincent
Posts Tagged ‘short story’
Late one night, driving out of the center of Brussels toward home, I arrived at a notoriously chaotic crossroads where impatient automobile traffic piled in from ten different aggressive directions. Truly, ten streets dumping cars onto one large oblong area where everyone wanted to get to the other side first. A place where all concerned needed to keep their wits about them, especially late, late at night, with too much liquid merriment in the veins.
Coming from my own direction, one of the thinner streets to disgorge traffic, I waited like a good cautious boy, watching the traffic light, anticipating when it would switch from red to green telling me I could now go go go. For the moment it was telling me to stay (…stay…stay…). I sat and stayed seeing no change of colors, no switch from red to green, not even yellow was making a surprise appearance. I just kept staring, waiting for something to happen, when I finally entertained the thought — horror of horrors — that I was staring at a dead-eyed red light. It was not going away, not changing to anything but remaining dedicated to staying true to its red self for the foreseeable future. Somebody honked behind me. Then somebody else honked behind him. Restlessness was building behind me.
I examined at the crossroads once more, weighing my chances of making it without wreckage and death. Numerous cars were busting through their own dead red lights from other streets roaring toward the cluttered center of the crossing, most zooming round, switching gears, feinting left, swerving right, being fearsome and belligerent, absolutely indifferent to possible dents, whether to body or brain. It was every car for itself way past midnight with my home sweet home somewhere on the other side this killer span of blacktop. I daringly moved my car two inches forward, then halted to check how my progress was going, sweeping my eyeballs left and right, checking incoming threats. More insistent honks piled up behind me.
Continuous blurry headlights swung by from different directions with different speeds. Prodded by honks, I continued inching cautiously toward the main mass and mess of the intersection. Growling Alpha cars missed my front fender by micro inches. My eyes weaved in and out of the cars before me, measuring the “what was to come” when and if I did actually get out there where the world raged on, and during this look I thought I spotted some wobbly gesturing scarecrow improbably in the middle of all this.
I moved a full couple of bold yards forward and saw that this vaguely human form was as a shirtless male staggering about, pointing at zigzagging cars with one hand, waving his shirt in the air with the other. I stared at this death-defying sight while the cars behind me honked more insistently until my brain clicked that this man’s gestures were a crude imitation of someone in authority trying to direct a traffic jam.
Startled people behind the wheels of hostile vehicles slowed, also baffled by the man in the middle of this, stumbling to the left, then to the right, like a man on the deck of a ship caught in a massive storm, all the whole pointing here, pointing there, doing an impression of handling traffic with a slick, efficient diligence. Other cars, less impressed, buzzed past, nearly clipping his hip. A few, like mine, waited for something deadly to happen, such as a sloppy car in a fierce hurry smacking him and sending him twirling limp and lithe high through the air, a pinwheel human in an fantastical airy dance.
This man, full of drunken confidence, weaved toward my car, pointing at polite, timid me, indicating that I should now come on through, drive, drive. He held his flat just-you-wait other hand toward an angry driver racing from the right. This driver screeched his wheels briefly, insisted he wanted through with his front bumper, as though threatening that he was more than willing to run over the drunk if he did not give ground immediately. The drunk guy gave nary an inch, the hand continuing its authoritative no!
Once convinced his authority had been stamped and that the angry driver had been tamed, and ignoring all other dozens of cars coming and speeding by and honking horns, the guy returned his full attention to me. He waved me on with the surety and arrogance of one drink too many. At this the angry driver on his right took his chance, revving and swerving behind the drunk, who caught this disobedience, twirled round, waving his shirt at the driver to stop, stop! right where he was and allow calm passage of my car. But the guy was good and gone.
Once more waved on, I dutifully drove steadily and gently across the intersection, keeping a lookout in every direction while the drunk assured me with his gestures that my way was paved with gold and to prove it he was going to accompany me, so to speak, all the way across, perhaps since I was one of the few cars actually obeying him. Cars kept honking, continuing to zip past, and those pent-up cars once behind me flew in another blur right past me and my guide. Finally seemingly safe on the other side, I drove on, started inhaling again while the traffic continued its aggression and honking behind me.
I glimpsed in my rear view mirror the drunk returning right to the middle of the crossroads, energetically waving his shirt anew, pointing at naughty drivers, determined to keep everything orderly and tidy according to a plan not fully evident to those embroiled in his project, as he weaved, and automobiles weaved, and I turned my eyes away and my car left into a side street and drove on, drove home.
Sam: I don’t really want to kill myself.
David: What changing your mind?
Sam: Lack of commitment.
David: Not a lack of desire?
Sam: Oh no, not really. I have lots of that, of desire for ending it. I know Death is just waiting for me, and I’m starting to get used to wanting to go there. Like making it a goal.
David: But not making the effort?
Sam: I make efforts.
David: Such as?
Sam: I fell in love again last month, bought some non-organic supermarket food, and decided to vote in the next election. I make efforts to go on living, man.
David: Your efforts qualify more as self-destructive, not so much suicidal.
Sam: Ya think?
David: My opinion merely.
Sam: So what would be suicidal?
David: Getting married, eating the crap food you bought and actually voting.
Sam: Right. So I have to make more of a serious effort?
David: More than you’re making, yeah.
David: You said you fell in love. Last month.
Sam: Yeah, I fell in love but with life.
David: And life’s not in love with you?
Sam: Not a lot of cuddles, nope.
Sam: Life’s got no sense of long-term commitment.
David: Feel like you’re just one more thing its programmed to do?
Sam: Man you can be depressing.
David: How’s am I worse than your suicidal tendencies?
Sam: Maybe I want to end my life but I don’t necessarily want to be morbid about it.
David: An upbeat self-killing?
Sam: Now you’re mocking me.
David: Okay. Right. So, when’s this happening?
Sam: Sooner rather than latter.
David: Time is variable when it comes to killing yourself, that it?
Sam: Making fun of me again?
David: Well, just, like, commit and have a schedule. Then it gets serious.
Sam: How can I plan when you’re trying to depress me!
David: I thought I was just helping you clarify.
Sam: You mean, like a friend?
David: Exactly. Like a friend.
Sam: Then why are you being so negative? Why don’t you try to talk me out of it?
David: That’s what you want?
David: So then what do you want from me?
David: You got it. That’s what friends are for. To respond to needs.
Sam: Just shut up. Be quiet.
Sam: That’ s better. (Silence) Much better. (Silence) Peaceful. (Silence. And then more silence)
Today I decided to move it forward some and stuck my arm up to my shoulder into another dimension hovering just off to the right of my easy chair. I felt around, and came upon a crumbling bone of my mother. I let go and pulled my arm out. Maybe I’ll try this again tomorrow and hope for better results.
The next day.
I put my arm back into another dimension and found the grinning, sarcastic skull of my father, who had had numerous strokes and died some time ago so I took my arm back out and decided to give this another week.
A week later.
I went in and felt something that can only be described as the end of civilization as we know it. Took my arm out. This is not going as I had hoped it would.
A month later.
I stuck my hand into the next dimension again, with much less hope than on previous occasions. Someone over there shook my hand in a firm but gentle grasp. It went on for a while, and it felt good. When I removed my hand from the other dimension, my hand was gone and I yelled for my wife to take me to the hospital.
Three years later.
Got in another argument with my wife over some space-time continuum theories. She actually pushed me. I actually for the first time in years pushed her back. Too forcefully, probably compensating for my missing hand. She knocked backward into my favorite easy chair then tipped right over into the other dimension we’d been avoiding for some time. She disappeared and I reached in and felt around but she was was gone.
The next day
I reached in with my one good arm holding a note, asking someone in the other dimension for the return of my wife. I held it out for a while but nothing happened. When I brought the note back out I saw someone had spat on it.
Three months later
Moving out of the house tomorrow. The Johnsons are moving in. I’ve warned them about the extra dimension in the house but they just smiled and patted me on the back and continued thinking they were getting a great deal. They have four small children, a pregnant cat and a dog, so good luck with that. I’m taking the money, my good arm and heading off someplace uni-dimensional where there’s plenty of warm sunshine.
Recently had this story, from my forthcoming short story collection, Intimate Dialogues accepted for online publication by Fiction365.
It is called “Not Mama,” and you can read it by clicking on THIS LINK HERE.
Thanks for dropping by.
The man shuffled into my office to tell his troubles. He sat down where I had to look at him.
Taxes were ruining him, his wife didn’t understand things, his bills were piling up, he didn’t like the weather, his car was on the bum, his children avoided him, a pet hamster had died.
“Even my cat committed suicide,” he said. “He went in the road during the night to fight a truck. The truck won. Found him next morning, his head all flat, his brains shooting out his ear holes like grey toothpaste. It nearly broke my heart. We buried it and the hamster together in a spot in the backyard. My kids prayed, and then looked at me as if it were my fault. I didn’t know what to tell them. God, why …why my cat?”
He sat there, waiting for an answer.
“Did I ever tell you about the dog I had when I was a kid?”
I didn’t want to hear this.
“He was a big cuddly mutt named Elmer.”
Now I really didn’t want to hear this.
“Fred,” I interrupted. “You’re in no state to talk about a dog from your childhood. Especially if his name was Elmer. It’ll only depress you further.”
“Old Elmer,” my friend mumbled, as though he hadn’t heard my warning. But something must have gotten through, because he changed the subject. “They say it’s going to rain.”
“They’re often as wrong as they’re right,” I said.
“I know,” he replied. “Can’t trust anyone these days.”
I tried to change the subject. “How’s—?”
“Don’t ask,” he interrupted. “Don’t make me think about it. Let’s just sit here in silence in some animal warmth.”
We were sitting together like that for about five minutes, me getting impatient to get back to my work, Fred comforted by the warmth, when the boss walked in and said,
“Say, have you seen the report on … oh, Fred, hello. How are you?”
“My cat’s dead,” Fred said. He got up and walked to the door. “Elmer’s long-gone, too.” And he left.
My boss said, “Who’s Elmer?”
“You really want to know about it?”
He did. He was the boss. It was his job to know about such things. So I told him.
After hearing everything, he was silent for a long while.
“I had a dog named Buster who died when I was a kid.”
Sharing some more animal warmth was about to happen in my office again, and it wasn’t even nine thirty-five in the morning on a Monday.
During her noon lunch break, she went to the local park, nibbling a sandwich while glancing at the actions of others. People sat harmlessly on benches, in ones and twos. Some guided dogs along paths, and off paths. Some listened to music with things stuck in their ears, staring into mini-screens before their faces, absorbed in their self-created world sitting there running away from any possible stray thoughts.
She came upon a young man who had staked a solitary place on a modest circular area of grass. He held four balls, and was moving them meditatively around with his fingers. A sack lay limp behind him. He stood for a moment looking pensively down at the four balls, weighing them in his hands, two balls clutched in each hand, now moving them slightly up and down. Without warning or obvious preparation, he tossed them up, one at a time, in an arc, ready to move them about through the air.
She observed the excitement, enjoying the circular whirl of balls for five, maybe six seconds. One moment they were in the air, trading places, then suddenly the next, with soft thuds, the three balls had landed at the juggler’s feet. He bent down from the waist, no leg bending, to pick them up, then straightening and without any obvious preparation tossed them up, began juggling, five, six seconds later, three balls, a simultaneous single thud, all at his feet. Again he bent, retrieved, made them dance in the air for their hopeful six seconds, before the three balls, always three balls, equally and at the same time, hit the ground as one at his feet.
The juggler did not curse, did not look around in shame, did not recognize any form of public humiliation. He calmly repeated. Picking up, tossing, the inevitable falling.
She continued looking from a distance, waiting, sandwich nibbling, half-hoping for a sudden miracle of artistic coordination, some internal click that would allow all the balls to remain in the air, like rapid satellites circling this young man’s head, a triumph, a break-through, foretelling a real true future as a juggler.
Three balls again thudded to the ground, and she could no longer take the pain and turned away and walked away and resisted looking back at the eternal hope of mastering a creative act fighting a clear lack of talent.
Thud, she heard in the distance back there. Thud.
This Friday, instead of my usual short-short Noises from the House story, I have a longer story that has just been published online at The Cortland Review issue 46.
The story is called “Interruptions” and is taken from my collection of short stories that will be published near Christmas this year under the title, “Intimate Dialogues”.
Hope you like. The link: INTERRUPITONS at The Cortland Review. Thanks for any commentary you have…