“I have good news and bad news, dear,” grandma says with a sly smile. “Bad news first: we’ve run out of jam for your muffin.”
I must look comically bereft. I’ve been visiting for a week and every morning I’ve had a pile of blueberry jam on an English muffin for breakfast. Grandma has offered pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon; but I have stuck with the muffins and the jam.
“The good news is there’s more in the cellar. Just go down the stairs and on the left there’s some shelves. There’s pickled tomatoes and pickled cucumbers and peaches and blueberry jam. You can’t miss the jam because it’s dark blue.” The pours herself some coffee and sits down with a soft “oy” at the kitchen table. “Go on now.” Continue reading Spinners
I awaken in the dark on my back, a crushing pain in my head. I try to move my arm, but there is resistence, something holding it in place. But I overcome the resistance and the arm rises, accompanied by the soft dripping of some sticky, viscous liquid. Continue reading Stuck
I woke up about the time the steady thrum of the highway changed to the crackle of gravel. I pressed my forehead to the car window, hoping the nausea would pass away quickly. I started to roll down my window but mom cried out in alarm.
“Close that! It’s too dusty!” Continue reading Tea
Hi, guys. It’s me, God. I created your universe. That is, Julie and I created it. I’m wondering: with all of the religions you guys have created, have you ever come up with a version with exactly two creators, tandem deities working side by side, painstakingly crafting the parameters of the universe to allow for your existence? When you get down on your knees tonight, I demand that you offer up a prayer to Jon and Julie, your almighty creators! Continue reading Revelations
They were back in the generously air-conditioned boardroom. It was a warm, sunny day outside, but all of the curtains were shut tight. She thought about the layer of air between the curtains and the windows. When there was a break she would go to the crack in the curtains, open it up and bask in the accumulated warmth. Continue reading The Interpreter
I had to close the door today to keep a rat from coming in. It looked very ragged and tired and cold. I threw a pair of shoes out the window too, because they were covered with slime. My neighbor next door collects body parts, mostly internal organs. He sometimes tosses them on the floor of my room when he gets the chance. They are often covered with slime. He threw a brain on my shoes in a slimy paper bag. I did my best to stop him, but he threw it anyway, laughing, obviously in disbelief that it bothered me so much. Continue reading Dream Sequence
Sadness had been like a wind, blowing the rain sideways in his face and breaking his umbrella. There had been no help for it, and it had kept him indoors. On sunny days, however, he had ridden his bike along the brick-covered path by his house. The jolts had been happy jolts, soft kicks in the buttocks from the seat of his bike. The day had been a smiling old man, nodding wisely at him. “Nice weather for it,” it said, and when it paused to project a small bit of spittle on the pavement the sound had a happy smack.
Were his moods just like the weather? And could the flapping wings of a Chinese butterfly cause tornadoes in Kansas? He did not like asking this question, because he knew the answer was, “more or less, yes.” One might think that a question and its answer could not live in close proximity to each other for long. Questions and answers should be mortal enemies, and one should kill the other. But when the wind and rain drove him inside, he found the two of them bickering about nothing, like an old married couple. He found several other pairs of old married voices, bickering and retiring abruptly to their corners and spitefully cooking each other dinner. “How do married people keep from killing each other?” The question saddened him because he knew the answer. “The day which had been an old man had an old dark wife named night.”
I found him in the gutter, a bottle of booze hanging from his lip. He asked me for spare change, so I killed him. It was all the spare change I could muster. I left him in pieces in the gutter.
She asked me if I wanted to dance. I didn’t. So I told her a joke. “What do you call a man with no arms and no legs in water?” She shrugged. “Bob,” I said. “Ho, ho,” she said, “Is that all? I thought you were a killer.” So I killed her. I slaughtered her. I left her, robbed of breath, on the floor.
The man that came to the door wanted my time. I couldn’t give it to him. He insisted, so I killed him. His convulsing body stood a long time. I said goodbye. But he wouldn’t leave. He asked if he could come in. I gave him a shot that would have leveled most men, but he pushed by me and entered my home. He sat in one of my chairs, breathed my air, and shot it back out in foul smelling stories about the fall of the modern man and the need for his faith and his book. He smiled. He said he was so tired of people who wouldn’t listen. He said I was a man with a truly open mind.
I plotted his death. I sledged his brain with a baseball bat, but he merely chuckled. I aimed knives at his chest, but his skin was thick. I ranted about him, tearing out my hair. I knocked myself out. His mouth continued and he would not die.
So I sat, weak, as he smiled and talked, victorious in his humorlessness. And I waited for him to leave.
There was a stick in a stream steeped in mud, immobile and old. There was an ordinary flea sitting on it.
The stream went under the flea on the stick slowly, and a light breeze made the leaves ruffle on a tree nearby.
There was a fish in the stream wagging its tail. The fish was by the stick in the mud and it wagged its tail slightly to counter-act the flow of the stream. The fine mud swirled at its tail.
There was a hovering bird in the sky. It moved its wings against the gentle breeze. It hovered above the stick and the flea and the fish.
This took a moment, and in a moment the bird had flown away, the fish had swum beyond the stick, and the flea was gone as if snatched away by an invisible hand.
So you wonder how it’s possible to spend the amount of money I manage to spend. You may well wonder. I didn’t learn how to spend like this right away. It took time. One must look beyond the more mundane luxuries, first of all. Unless cars are the joy of your life, you can only buy so many of them. The same with houses. A lot of people saddled with my immense wealth would resort to spending it on things they would never use, like third world countries, presidential bids, things like that. I for one choose to get with my money things people never imagined were available, but which they would want if they heard about them. I will describe one such thing about which I am very proud. Continue reading The Rich Man’s Troupe