“Bartleby’s Preference” at Crack the Spine

Yuri led an ordered life. He woke up at 7 am, and his breakfast always included half a grapefruit eaten with a serrated spoon. It took him 12½ minutes to bike to his job as a network security consultant and 13½ minutes to bike back (he lived uphill). The hour before bedtime was spent reading on the couch in his living room. At 11 pm he went to bed, and, because he slept soundly and didn’t dream, the time until 7 am the following morning didn’t exist for him.

Then Yuri got a cat…

Read the rest at Crack the Spine

“The Meditations of Fra Colleoni” at Gravel

“But does it work?”

Dr. Seaver leaned back in his chair and blew on his mug of instant soup. The steam fogged his glasses. “Of course not. It’s just a thought experiment.”

“Oh,” I said, picking up a doohickey on the professor’s desk. “Of course.” The doohickey, or maybe gizmo is a better word, had protruding wires and springs and blinking lights that changed pattern as I turned the thing over in my hands. Dr. Seaver watched me indulgently.

“It’s based,” he continued, “on a faulty premise: the idea of the circular spectrum.”

“The what now?” I returned the gizmo to its spot.

Read the rest at Gravel

“Proof” at Revolution John

“A boy adjusts the position of a box of tissues on his desk and sits cross-legged on his bed. It is a Sunday afternoon and he has nothing else to do. The door to his room is closed, and nobody will bother him before dinnertime. He has all afternoon to make the box of tissues move with his mind…”

Read the rest at Revolution John

The Briefcase

Every day Jerry started writing a new novel in the hope that the next day he would find his efforts worthy enough to continue. This never happened. Yesterday’s writing was always Yesterday’s Writing, old and dull and foreign from the new day’s line of thinking. He had been a salesman for thirty-five years, and he knew from experience that when one prospect appeared the least bit flat it was better to look in a new direction than try to import a mountain. So every day Jerry turned and indeed didn’t have to look far before he found something new to get his typing fingers moving. Writing was easy.

After a few months, however, it struck him that he had so many beginnings of novels collected in a stack by the side of his typewriter that he may as well explore the market for beginnings. Why not? Perhaps someone had assembled a similar collection of endings, or a whole lot of middles, and were actually in need of beginnings. Granted, his beginnings were not first-rate, but they were in sufficient quantity to give a prospective client an appetizing variety to choose from. So attractive was this marketing idea, and so tired was he of writing beginnings, and so in the mood was he for frivolous travel, that he straight-away packed up his beginnings in a black leather briefcase and went out to put them before the public eye. Continue reading The Briefcase

‘The Rich Man’s Troupe’ at Icebox Joural

“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…”

Read more: http://www.iceboxjournal.com/fiction-3-hammond/

The Tavern Guitar

“Stand where I am standing,” he said,
“across from the wine colored window.”
The man was full of spirits, I could tell.
I was tired from the road and in a funk,
sick of wine and, well, I thought
that I might drink his words
and by his breath get drunk.
“See?” he said, “a frosty mirth of dust
lights up the strings of this guitar.
Don’t touch! No. But linger
to observe, instead, the gentle curve,
the well-wrought head
and neck of richest virgin wood.
See the seasoned grain,
the fine nut color it retains.
Breath deep its musky air–
put your nose up close, just so,
the stench of wine is thick in here.”
I obeyed. The man seemed pleased.
Until I breathed the dusty air too much
and sneezed.

“Careful, man! Take care! for I have had it tuned.
And it is said that when the moon
is of a certain disposition,
there will approach a wandering soul
–a musician!
who will shake the strings of dust
and release the well-kept timber,
release the whole of what we know and feel
is locked inside this case of cork.
Oh, he will know his work. He must.
And what he will release, we
will capture in our ears, we
will hold inside our heads
until our very deaths rob us of its sense.
We must be careful of our breaths
around this delicate instrument.”

“I beg your pardon, sir,” I said,
wiping my nose on my sleeve.
“Take no offense, but do not say we.
For before another moon has risen,
whether it be disposed to good or ill,
I must leave.”

“That is of no consequence, I think.
Now, have a swig–drink, man, drink!–but see there–
there!–the opal glimmer of the bridge
which in this stained glass tavern light
is God’s hopeful, drunken touch!”

“I do not see it,” I said, rude, sober.
“Not as such.”

X-Ray Vision

David was nearsighted.  At the age of twelve he received his first pair of glasses. He carried them in a case in his backpack, and when the teacher wrote something on the chalkboard, he retrieved them discreetly and placed them on the bridge of his nose.  If possible, while taking notes, he kept his left hand on his glasses in order to take them off as soon as the teacher stopped writing on the board.  He hated his glasses. Continue reading X-Ray Vision