When Fame Sucks

FF191 Janet Webb

Copyright Janet Webb

 

Susie said Grandma’s crystal bowl was a chamber pot.

I used it.

Grandma screamed.

Then fainted.

Dad jumped to catch her.

He dropped his cigar on the rug.

A neighbor heard the scream.

He called the police.

The rug caught fire.

Mom grabbed the crystal bowl to extinguish it.

Then had second thoughts.

The police came.

They smelled smoke and called the fire department.

A news helicopter saw the commotion.

People mobbed the house.

Someone stole the bowl.

I tackled him.

The bowl survived.

I cleaned it.

Grandma forgave me.

Eventually.

That night, headlines screamed:

WHIZ KID SAVES THE DAY!


A Date with Death

FF190 Dale Rogerson

copyright Dale Rogerson

A Date with Death

The moon was a milky corpse eye shining over the Lopinot Estate, Trinidad’s most haunted site. Inside, flashlights beams swept back and forth.

One disappeared.

“Honey?” There was no answer. She listened. A scream came from out in the jungle. Just an animal. Probably.

Creak. She hid her light. Come on, she thought.

Nothing.

A light appeared in the next room. “Hey, I found the basement!” he said, poking his head out. “It looks like there’s a grave. Let’s go down and sit in the dark.”

“Awesome!” She kissed him hard. “I love you. This is the best anniversary ever.”

I wrote this story for my wife Leah. As of tomorrow we will have been married for sixteen years, and I’m sure one of our anniversaries in the future will be spent exploring a haunted house in the dead of night looking for ghosts.


Teddy Bear Brawl

FF189 Karuna

copyright Karuna

Teddy Bear Brawl

Teddy bears’ picnic, my ass.

Those pretentious little Paddingtons thought they could leave us out, just because they sit on the bed and we live in the closet.

Baby-doll saw them sneaking out the window. We found them under a tree in the backyard.

“Let us join,” Baby-doll whined.

Somebody, probably I-Couldn’t-Give-A-Care Bear, sneers, “Back off vinyls. Plushies only.”

That’s when the Pooh hit the fan.

I beat the stuffing out of a few, and soon we were all muddy and ripped.

At least we cleaned up with some Windex. Those bloody bears got a trip to the washing machine.

 


When the Cat’s Away, the World Might End

It’s final exam week here at my university and as I sit here and proctor a reading exam, it seemed like a good chance to write some flash fiction. This is dedicated to my sister, whose birthday it is this Friday.

FF188 Sandra Crook

copyright Sandra Crook

“Maybe I should call them.”

“Don’t call. They’ll have a great time home alone. We’re in France. Relax.”

“We should have brought them.”

“It took five years to save enough for us to come. We’d never save enough for all of us. Just go take a shower, get dressed up, and we’ll hit the town.”

She’d scarcely shut the bathroom door when he called internationally.

“Hey Dad,” his eldest said. “The plumber stopped the leak, but it’ll take a week to dry the basement out.”

“Okay. Call the insurance company. And do not tell your mother until we get back.”

 


When it’s Hard to Get out of Bed

I wrote this story for my wife Leah. She is the inspiration for a lot of the story ideas I come up with.

astrophysicist ghost

 

“Ugh, I just can’t get up today,” my wife said, snuggling a little more under the covers.

“Come on,” I said. “You’re going to be late for work if you don’t get up now.”

She rolled over and pulled the covers up to her chin. “No, seriously. I think I’m stuck.”

I pulled the covers off her, which elicited cries of protest, and dragged her out of bed.

“Thanks,” she said, after she stopped glaring at me. “I really think it’s getting harder to get up lately.”

I didn’t tell her, but I was having the same problem, except for me it was in my recliner in the living room. When I was there late at night and had to go to bed, it was like my butt was literally glued to the seat.

“I think it’s ghosts,” my friend Herbert said. I wasn’t surprised at this, since Herbert had just binge watched a reality show about ghosts. If it had been history documentaries, he probably would have blamed it on the Mongols.

“How could it be ghosts?” I asked.

“Maybe they’re holding you in place for fun?” he suggested. “Look, why don’t I bring my Ouija board over and see if I can talk to them.”

“I don’t like Ouija boards,” I said. “I think they’re stupid.”

Herbert’s answer to this was to bring it over anyway the next time he visited and set it up without telling me.

“Just try it once,” he said when I noticed. “What harm can it do?”

I watched him do it. He put his hands on the pointer and said, “Ghosts—if you’re there—are you the ones responsible for the . . . the trouble getting out of bed and chairs and stuff?”

There was a pause. Then the pointer went to YES. “Why?” Herbert asked.

There was another pause and then the pointer began to spell out words. T.H.I.S  M.I.G.H.T  R.E.Q.U.I.R.E  S.O.M.E  E.X.P.L.A.I.N.I.NG.   I  W.O.U.L.D  R.E.C.O.M.M.E.N.D  G.E.T.T.I.N.G  A  S.C.I.E.N.T.I.F.I.C  O.U.I.J.A  B.O.A.R.D

“They make scientific Ouija boards?” I asked.

O.H  Y.E.S,  the board responded. T.E.X.A.S  I.N.S.T.R.U.M.E.N.T.S  M.A.K.E.S  A  G.O.O.D  O.N.E.   I  T.H.I.N.K  I.T  I.S.  T.H.E  T.I.6.6.6.

I thought Herbert was just messing around with me, but he came back a week later with a genuine scientific Ouija board. It was about three times bigger than a normal one and had lots of symbols and mathematical notations on it.

“I got the TI-668 since it has statistical symbols too,” Herbert said.

“Do you really think spirits from beyond are going to be talking a lot about standard deviation?” I asked, but he just shrugged.

If there were really ghosts in our house, they really wanted to talk. Herbert guided that pointer around the board for over three hours while I took down pages and pages of notes.

I took all the notes down to the local university. I came home that evening, exhausted and confused.

“You’re not going to believe what I found,” I told my wife. I told her. She didn’t.

According the university’s history department, our house was built on the site of an ancient astrophysicist burial ground. Even now, the dead astrophysicists would create microscopic black holes form from time to time, especially in the bedroom and living room. That’s what was making it hard to move.

“Is there anything we can do?” my wife asked at last.

“I suppose we could move,” I said. “Let’s not move to the house next door though. Apparently that was an ancient taxi driver burial ground. The owners of that house often wake up in nearby fields owing $14.50.”

We decided to stay where we were. Now whenever we are late or sleep in, we just blame it on astrophysicist ghosts.


We Swiped Right on Monstr

I’m extremely late in posting this story, but better late than never. I actually wrote it last week, but I was in Seattle for a conference and didn’t get a chance to post it.

FF187 J Hardy Carroll

copyright J Hardy Carroll

“You’re a werewolf?” she asks.

“A wereman, actually.”

“So every month you turn into a . . . man?”

“A different kind of man. An accountant actually.” I blush. “Just a frenzy of budgets and data sheets.”

She looks pensive. “That’s cool. You could do contract work, do a month’s work in three days and rent an office on a per-day basis to save money.”

“Okay.” This is getting serious for a first date. “What about you? Your profile said you’re a succubus, right?”

Now she blushes. “Not exactly. I just exploit men’s useful abilities.”

“Oh. So you’re . . .”

She nods. “I’m a practibus.”


A Gift for Dad

It’s my dad’s birthday today and I don’t have a present for him. It doesn’t help that I’m currently three time zones away, although even that is better than the fourteen or so when I was in Korea.

It’s not totally my fault though. He’s very hard to buy things for. For one thing, he’s just so darned contented. He doesn’t need anything except his family and peace on earth and he’s already got one of those, and the other one is a little out of my price range.

I remember the first thing I ever bought him. I think it was for his birthday, but it might have been for Father’s Day. I don’t know how old I was, but probably around five. When you’re five, you don’t pick out a present and you definitely don’t buy it. It’s more a situation of your mom saying, “Here, this will be your present to Dad.” But when you’re a kid, from that moment on, it’s YOUR present to give, just as much as if you’d carved it out of the earth yourself.

I gave him a staple remover because Mom said he didn’t have one. It probably cost a dollar, especially considering this was in the 80s sometime. I remember him opening it, and I will always remember what he said, even though it was over 30 years ago. He said, “Do you know, for years I have been taking staples out with my thumbnail?” My little heart swelled with pride at that because I was helping Dad. I had given him something he needed.

staple remover

Pictured: a five-year-old’s idea of a good present

I’m not going to say that was the last good present I ever got him. I made him a glass chessboard once when I was a teenager that I think was pretty spiffy and once I made him a leather sheath for his scout knife. It’s always a bit of a challenge though to find that perfect gift, what the French probably don’t call le cadeau juste.

Don’t think I’m blaming him, however. The fact is, I’ve taken after him quite a bit in this regard. I’m pretty darned contented myself, as exasperated female members of my family might readily attest. But growing up, here’s what the list was, in terms of possible gifts:

  • Ties. At least I think so. I don’t actually remember getting Dad a tie, but I think it was always on the table as an option. At least he wore ties, which is more than I can say about myself, if I can at all avoid it.
  • Mugs. This was a great one because a person can always use mugs, especially if you drink coffee like my dad. Of course, after a while, there’s only so many cups of coffee you can drink simultaneously, and only so many people you can invite over for coffee, so this gift is not a sure thing. (Note: if you find you have too many mugs in your house, pick the ten you use least and put them in the back of a pickup truck and drive around on dirt roads for an hour. Throw away any that are chipped and your family will then have something to give you as a present again.)
  • T-shirts. We tried this, we really did. All through our teenage years we tried to make Dad cool. And he was cool, right up to the point when he invariably gave the T-shirts to one of my sisters, since he said the shirts looked better on them anyway.
  • Books. Not a bad idea, but if he’s anything like me, he could build a house with the books on his To-Read list. One with a breakfast nook that’s all non-fiction.
  • Tools. All guys need tools. This simple adage means that there are always gifts to buy someone. The problem is, beyond the basic tools, tools quickly get very complicated and very specialized. I prefer to get him knives and machetes and things like that, since that’s what I like. I like to give knives as presents to people right up to just before the point where a casual observer takes that person to be a serial killer, and Dad’s nowhere near that point yet.

Every now and then, I get some grand ideas for gifts for people that involve way more time and resources that I have. I would probably start with a drawing and end up five hours later with a plan to make a personalized movie featuring interpretative dance that symbolizes the passing of the seasons in Newfoundland. My planning process is often just a sine wave oscillating between flights of fancy and blunt realism.

interpretive dance - not really

This is unrelated, but it was the first result when I did a Google search for “interpretative dance Newfoundland seasons”

A lot of the problem is money too, because I’d love to buy him a canoe and a trip for two to France or Peru, or both, and maybe a self-shoveling driveway.

But, in lieu of all the things that I either can’t get you or you don’t need, I’ll give you this blog post, Dad, if only because I know no one else got you one and you don’t have one already (this does not include Facebook posts, I will note, since my sister writes devastatingly beautiful and poetic tributes to people on Facebook that always leave me feeling choked up and envious).

I love you Dad and I hope you have a wonderful birthday. Someday, perhaps, we will be in the same time zone and maybe even the same zip code and I can say it in person.

happy-birthday-dad-300x300


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