Fragments from books that don’t exist: Graham Had a BMW

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Carmela believed in fate, a destiny that arrived on golden wings at the very moment you least expect it. This brilliant goddess wore out-dated garments that were never in style, but she somehow managed to pull it off every time. She was not much of a talker, preferring to announce her presence with flashes of insight and remarkably good posture. She would pose as if for the cameras and make some sort of disruptive statement such as “I thought he would never die” or “you look terrible in black, did you know that?” She was never very popular. In Carmela’s explicit imagination, fate wore low-cut blouses and had modeled for numerous tawdry book covers. She sang romantic melodies, had a fetish for turquoise lip gloss and smoked Virginia Slims. Carmela’s husband was sick to death of this stupid creature. He believed in a fate that swept things under the rug and kept its filthy mouth shut.

Fragments from books that don’t exist: The Sink at Night

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“But then I’ll have to be who I am,” Deletria said.

“I’d feel sorry for you,” Crimea replied, “if I really did, but I don’t. And I never will,” she added.

“You haven’t been nice to me since Ajax,” Deleteria said, and Crimea nodded.

“It’s true,” she smiled. “It’s been fun. Being nice to you was a thing, but now not so much.”

“I didn’t really like him,” Deletria said, as much to herself as to the former friend with whom she was waiting in line at the donut shop. It had been at least four months since they’d seen each other. The last time had been ugly. Crimea had torn up some papers she’d been working on and blamed it on Deletria, who had only remarked that the drawings looked like the work of a six-year old.

“I didn’t really like you,” Crimea told her. “Remember when you thought we were friends? We weren’t. We never were. I only put up with you because you knew him. Then you had to go and fuck him.”

“I wish,” Deletria said. “Dude couldn’t even get it up. I guess he was thinking about you the whole time.”

“I can help whoever’s next,” the cashier’s voice rang out. Deletria was whoever was next. She was glad to get the last word. She didn’t even hear Crimea’s bitter reply.

Flash Fiction: Summary Style

Once upon a time there was a writer who had an idea for a story, but it was too similar to other stories he had already written, and he tied to avoid repeating himself. Anyway, the germ of the idea was this: imagine a religion where the high priests randomly change the beliefs and rituals and don’t bother telling anyone. People come in to church and, for example, line up for wafers, and the priests look a them, astonished, and ask, “why aren’t you kickboxing? That’s what the Lord requires!” The former queuers now spread out and make feeble attempts at the exercise until the priest finally instructs his minions to show them all the proper form of worship. But don’t get too comfortable, people! This is the Church of Permanent Revolution. You’ll never know when or how it will all go changing again. This Lord not only works in mysterious ways, he’s one random crazy-ass mother.

The Next in Line: a flash fiction

(For the Etherbooks Flash Fiction competition day seven: topic: ENDINGS)

He didn’t even knock. The intruder burst in through the cellar door of the old Gothic mansion of the world famous author, Ridley Springs, and searched for some time with flashlight in one hand and shotgun in the other until he found the writer way up on the third floor nursing a scotch and soda and watching the late night news. Springs didn’t even blink when the gunman leveled the rifle at his temple and declared it was time to talk.

“Talk away,” the author yawned, and gave his scotch a little swirl.

‘You know why I’m here,” said the gaunt young man.

“I’m sure you disapprove of something or other,” said Springs, still keeping an eye on the television screen, where fire trucks were racing to a scene and announcers sounded highly impressed.

“Shattered Dreams,” the young man said, cocking the gun.

“Aren’t they all?” mused the writer.

“I hated the ending,” the intruder shouted. “So now you’re going to change it.”

“Seriously?” Ridley Springs glanced up at his guest and properly observed him for the first time. Trenchcoat? Check. Attempted facial hair? Check. Young, white, male, check check check. Hadn’t he signed a million books for just such ones? Probably even this one, possibly even more than once.

“Well then,” Springs said, rising to his feet and ambling to his desk, where his world famous old fashioned typewriter resided, the one from which endless tidbits of authorly advice were offered to the masses, advice such as “keep your hair short and your sentences shorter”, and“don’t fall in love with your characters. They aren’t actually real”.

“How would you like it to end?” he asked, taking a seat on the throne, and cracking his knuckles in preparation. At this the young man lowered his rifle and realized the full awe of the moment. He was there, in that hallowed room, at the moment he’d dreamed a million dreams about.

“Kimberley has to live,” he said.

“But then Jason would suffer,” Springs countered.

“I don’t care about Jason,” the young man said. “He deserves to suffer.”

“Okay, Kimberley lives then,” said Ridley Springs, popping a sheet of paper into the machine and beginning to pound away on the keys.

“And another thing,” the youth advised. “I hated how you ended it in the middle of a sentence. You ought to finish that sentence. It was rude.”

“Yes, you’re right,” Springs confessed. “It was very inconsiderate. I do apologize. I will fix that too while I’m at it.” Springs had of course by this time used his foot to press the button concealed on the floor beneath his desk, the button which sounded an alarm at the local police department. He couldn’t be sure precisely how stupid this latest intruder might be, but he had a hunch.

“Is there anything else?” he asked. The visitor shook his head.

“Just fix it,” he said. “And then I’ll – “

Adopt-a-Nut: a flash fiction

(For the Etherbooks Flash Fiction competition day six: topic: SPACE)

Joan was a decent sort, the kind of nutjob you don’t regret buying at the government’s Auction. Other villages had their hands full with the wackos they’d picked out, but we at North West Fang Two were satisfied with ours. Every block had to have one since they turned the public health into what they called a “distributed system”. She kept mostly to herself, wasn’t the financial burden like some. She wasn’t a saint, and there were the baseline maintenance costs. It helped that Joan’s parents had been rich enough that some money came down from Central to the Local Council. Of course we didn’t know that when we picked her out. Mostly we got her because the other choices were clearly worse; a large young male schizophrenic, an insufferably incompetent Elvis impersonator, and a perpetually pregnant paranoiac. Joan seemed glorious by contrast.

She was a short, thin anorexic with bright red hair, a constant jogger and accomplished collector. There was nothing she wouldn’t hoard. You’d see her all the time dragging rubbish of all sorts down the streets and into her tiny cottage. Sally and I took to peeking in the windows to see if we could figure out where all that junk finally got to. It seemed there couldn’t be nearly enough room in there. Our own little bungalow was about the same size and we could barely squeeze ourselves into it, let alone the piles of phone books, broken chairs, random metal bars, discarded dolls, bags of used clothing and assorted other whatnots we’d see little old Joanie carrying about. Always cheerful, with a smile and a happy greeting such as “Capitalism is Evil!” and “Mind your pants!”, Joan became quite a fixture around here. She was among the loudest singers at Church on Sundays and would never refuse to pet a friendly dog.

One day Joan caught Sal and me trying to peep through her side yard window. Sally was on my shoulders with her face pressed up against the glass.

“What do you see?” I whispered.

“There’s nothing in there,” she whispered back.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I said. “We just saw her pushing a broken motorbike in the front door yesterday!”

“Hullo Jimmy!” It was Joan, come around the back yard and standing there staring at us. Sally crawled down and tried to hide behind my back.

“Oh, hullo Joan,” I answered politely.

“Bet you’re wondering,” she smiled. “Where did it all go?”

“It did occur to me,” I mumbled.

“I’ll let you in on a secret,” she took a few steps toward me, and stretched out her arm with her hand open, palm up. Sitting there on it was a little yellow ball, like a golf ball from mini-golf.

“It’s all in here,” she said. “In my compactor. Do you want to see?”

“Um, no, that’s okay,” I said, backing away. I believed her. Why not? This whole thing was my own delusion anyway. I’m the guy they bought at North West Fang Fourteen.

Dinner and a Movie: a flash fiction

Dinner and a Movie (Etherbooks Flash Fiction competition day four: topic: MOVIES)

Richmond Shelbourne and his wife Patricia were getting ready for a night out. He was carefully pulling on his paisley sweater vest while she examined her eyeliner in the bathroom mirror.

“I don’t know why we have to go to dinner and a movie,” Richmond said.

“It’s the Hamblins’ idea, dear” his wife replied. “It’s just their way.”

“I know, honey, I know,” he grumbled. “And it’s always the same. We’ll suggest Chinese and Sharon will say okay but then remember some place she saw in the Sunday paper, and pull out her clippings folder.”

“I know It’s right here somewhere,” Patricia imitated their friend, and they both chuckled.

“In the end, after sorting through the whole mess, it’ll be Chinese after all.”

“Chen Le,” Patricia nodded. “As always.”

“And then Harvey has already picked out a movie whether anybody else wants to see it or not.”

“One of those god-awful spectacles he likes so much,” Patricia added, starting to apply some more blush.

“Later, Sharon will have to talk about their little one’s latest attempts at humor.”

“Doesn’t he come up with the worst jokes?” Patricia asked.

“If you could even call them jokes,” Richmond said “Here’s one from last time. What do you call a dinosaur with no eyes?”

“What?”

“Shut up.”

“What?”

“No, that’s the punch line. Shut up. I kid you not. Then there was this one. What do you call a red zebra?”

“What?”

“There’s no such thing as a red zebra.”

“Real funny, that one,” she said. “And Harvey, he’ll go on and on with his theories about the movie we just endured. Last time it was that Planet of the Apes movie and he was relentless in his theme that the Apes were just like Indians in a cheesy Western.”

“How?” Richmond asked.

“He meant in the way that …”

“No,” Richmond interrupted. “I meant ‘How’ like the way the Indians in those movies are always saying ‘How’. Why do they say that? What does it mean?”

“Hell if I know,” Patricia shrugged.

“Why we put ourselves through it,” Richmond began, and this time it was his wife who butted in.

“For the wife-swapping, of course, you silly man,” she said. “You still like screwing Sharon, don’t you?”

“Sure,” he smiled, “and I know you like getting it on with Harvey.”

“Yes I do,” she replied, puckering her lips to apply the last of the lipstick touch ups. “Well then, shall we?”

“I suppose so,” Richmond said.

“Don’t be glum, dear,” she told him. “It’s only dinner and a movie.”

The Last Laugh: a flash fiction

The Last Laugh (Etherbooks Flash Fiction competition day two: topic: REVENGE)

Sometimes he who laughs last has laughed his last laugh

by Tom Lichtenberg

“This is going to be so good,” Geremy said to the group gathered around the crummy table in the crude work kitchen area. “You’re not going to believe what I did.”

“What did you do?” asked Shirley.

“Yeah, what did you do?” repeated Vance.

“Well, you know how he’s always coming in when he’s sick, sneezing on everything, leaving his crap lying around, never cleaning up after himself?”

“He’s disgusting,” Shirley nodded.

“Totally gross,” Vance agreed.

“And you know that spoon he always uses for all that sugar he dumps in his coffee?”

“Like ten spoons a cup,” Shirley snorted.

“Like sugar,” Vance added.

“So I took that spoon and you know what I did? I let the ants walk all over it, and then I left it out again, right there with all his other nasty stuff.”

“And he’s allergic to ants!” Shirley chortled. “Totally allergic!”

“Ooh, that’s good,” Vance chimed in.

“And not only that, but I licked it too. I licked it good,” Geremy laughed his loudest laugh yet. “We’ll see who gets sick from whose germs now,” he snickered. “”Because I’m totally feeling a cold coming on.”

“He’s the one’s got it coming,” Shirley sputtered.

“You’ll show him,” Vance contributed. “Totally.”

“Show who?” asked Martin, who was just passing through.

“Jimmy Blose,” said Geremy. “He’s gonna get his.”

“For sure,” Shirley smiled.

“For realz,” Vance put in.

“Oh, you didn’t hear?” Martin asked.

“Hear what?”

“Jimmy died. Ebola, they say.”

“No shit!” Vance exclaimed.

“Oh, shit,” said Shirley, glancing at Geremy. “You didn’t really lick it, did you?”