Tag Archives: quirky

The Old Man and the Seafood

FF46 Janet Webb

copyright Janet Webb

The Old Man and the Seafood

Shoppers meandered around the store in hip waders, shopping carts half submerged.

“How did you come up with this idea?” the reporter asked.

Jeff grinned. “I thought it was about time someone applied the self-pick produce model to seafood. With seafood, freshness is everything. Here, everything is alive up until you buy it. No expiration dates needed.”

An old man shuffled up in oversized boots. “Excuse me, I just need a can of tuna.”

“No cans here, I’m afraid,” Jeff said, throwing the reporter another grin. “Everything’s fresh.” He handed the man a spear gun. “Bluefins are in aisle 30.”


Grandpa and the Piano of Secrets

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

copyright John Nixon

I was sure the piano had eaten Grandpa. I only stepped away for a moment and he vanished.

As I approached, I could smell roasting flesh. Dear God, it had sucked him in and was cooking him!

“You monster!” I shouted, grappling frantically at the keys. A door in the knee panel fell open, revealing a ladder.

I found Grandpa in a cellar, hunched over a grill like a barbecuing troll. He spun around, then relaxed.

“I thought Grandma made you guys go vegan?” I said.

“Six years ago,” he said. “Right about the time I took up ‘piano lessons’.”

 


One Stop to Hwajang Station

 

Come on, come on. That frantic thought is sculpted into the crowd’s poses and expressions. Some are sitting, but most pace awkwardly.

Far off, they hear the train rumbling. Visible relief flashes from face to face.

It’s an awkward two-minute ride. No eye contact, rocking back and forth, biting fingernails. Come on!

The doors open and people lurch forth, loping crab-like with thighs clenched, men out the right side, women out the left. A moment later, a hundred stall doors slam. A long, protracted sigh.

“They should put these in houses,” someone says.

“Gross! What is this, the Dark Ages?”

 

 

*hwajangshil (화장실) is the Korean word for bathroom. This story does not take place in Korea. You can only imagine the sort of world where it does take place.

 


A Farm Upstate

The van arrived an hour after the call. It was clinical white with the words A Farm Upstate in large black lettering. Next to them, as if to add legitimacy, was a picture of a red barn and an oak tree.

Bruce got out and ran the doorbell. A harried man answered the door. “Thanks for coming so fast,” he said. “He’s not doing well.”

“No problem,” Bruce said. “What kind is it?”

“Black lab,” the man said. “Come on in.”

The dog was lying in its bed in the laundry room, breathing shallowly.

“Marcus Aurelius,” Bruce read off the side of the bed.

The man shrugged and nodded towards the girls sitting cross legged in vigil with her back against the dryer. “Her mother’s a history prof.”

Bruce knelt by the dog, checking its vitals.

“Are you a vet?” the girl asked. Her cheeks were wet.

“No, but I know a lot about animals. I’m from a farm upstate.”

The girl’s face clouded with skepticism. “Oh, yeah? What’s the name?”

“Sunny Porch Farms. It’s a great place. There’s a huge porch where dogs can lie out in the sun, lots of window sills for cats. We even import butterflies for them to chase if they want.”

“So, you’re taking Marcus Aurelius?” She sniffed and ran a hand across her eyes.

Bruce nodded. “I’m afraid so. There comes a time in every pet’s life when they need specialized care. He’ll be happy up there though. I guarantee it.”

“Can I come visit him sometime?”

“It’s best if you don’t,” Bruce said. There was no point explaining why.

The girl said good bye, hugging the poor dog so tightly Bruce was afraid she was going to kill it right there. Then he picked it up and carried it out to the back of the van.

“Thanks again for doing this,” the man said, handing Bruce a check. “That’s a great marketing idea, by the way. Just to make sure, there won’t be any pain, right?”

“None at all,” Bruce said, pocketing the check. “I’ll give him a quick shot and he’ll be good to go.” They shook hands and Bruce got in and drove off.

“Hang on back there, Marcus, okay?” he said as they got on the highway. “We’ll be there in a few hours.”

Two hours later, Bruce arrived back home. The dog was motionless and Bruce was afraid he’d died until he opened his eyes and licked Bruce’s hand. Bruce carried him in to the treatment room and put him on the table.

“A retriever, I see,” his wife Jane said, walking in. She got a syringe from a drawer and filled it with amber liquid. Marcus Aurelius was quivering with fear and Bruce held him still while Jane stuck the needle into the dog’s leg, pushing the plunger down slowly.

“How was the traffic?” she asked.

“Not that bad for a Saturday,” Bruce said. They watched the dog. He shook his head several times and then took a deep breath. A minute later, he jumped off the table and barked.

“There, he’s doing fine now,” Jane said. “Go show him around and I’ll go get supper ready.”

Bruce opened a door in the far wall and Marcus Aurelius bounded after him. He seemed to have all the energy of a puppy now.

The door led to the wide yard that echoed with the barks of dozens of dogs. There was a porch a hundred feet long, facing south with rows of comfortable pillows.

“This is a popular spot, Marcus,” Bruce said, leading the dog around. “Find yourself a pillow and soak up some sun, if you want. The cardboard box room is over there, although you’ll have to share it with the cats if you want to go play. The toys and bones are wherever you can find them, so feel free to bury them. The elementary kids come on Tuesdays for playtime and belly rubs, so I’d pencil that into your schedule, if I were you.”

A bell rang and feeding stations all over the farm deposited food. The air exploding into barking as the dogs ran here and there.

An hour later, Jane and Bruce sat down for their own supper on the second floor balcony, overlooking the farm. A parrot perched nearby.

“You realize that Marcus Aurelius was the one hundredth animal we’ve taken in,” Jane said. “How many more can we afford?”

“You think we should sell the serum,” Bruce said. “It still only works on animals, though.”

“But it could still do a lot of good. Plus we could make a ton of money.”

“Yeah, I guess,” Bruce said. He watched Marcus Aurelius cross the yard, nose to the ground as he intently followed some invisible scent trail. “I got an idea: let’s expand to goldfish.”

“Everyone has toilets. No one’s going to pay you to take their goldfish away.”

“They might. We could call it A Pond Upstate.”

“You just want the animals, don’t you?”

“Do you mind?”

She shook her head and with a smile, squeezed his hand.


How to Make a Suffocake

Well, I’m finally back, I think. I took a few unplanned weeks off for various reasons, including travel, sickness and general busyness. Luckily, the semester is mostly over, so I should have a bit more time in the future.

#1:     Explain to captain that cake would boost morale for space station crew.

#2:     Listen to lecture how flour would clog life support.

#3:     Offer to temporarily turn off life support in galley.

#4:     Wait for him to stop laughing.

#5:     Pretend to drop idea.

#6:     Wait for everyone to sleep.

#7:     Take smuggled ingredients from personal locker.

#8:     Preheat oven stolen from lab.

#9:     Turn off life support in galley.

#10:   Mute alarms.

#11:   Take deep breath and start mixing ingredients.

#12:   Try in vain to clean up flour floating everywhere.

#13:   Start feeling woozy.

#14:   Put cake in oven.

#15:   Faint.

#16:   Get rescued.

#17:   Endure reprimand.

#18:   Enjoy perfectly spherical suffocake with crew.


Landlocked

Luxembourg

The good ol’ red white and blue for half a million Europeans

Landlocked

“I think you’re being aggressive.”

“I am not being aggressive! All I said was that I really want a vacation by the sea. I’m feeling stifled.” Luxembourg sighed. “All I asked for was a tiny corridor to the ocean. Even for a month?”

Belgium looked doubtful. “Yeah, but what if you don’t give it back? I know, let’s just hook up. Then you’d get lots of beach, through me.”

“Me and you?”

Belgium shrugged. “Yeah, and Netherlands too, if you want. Whatever.”

“That’s sick.”

“Just picture is: Benelux. It could be a thing.”

“Hey, what are we talking about?” a bleary voice from the northeast asked.

“Oh go back to sleep, Netherlands. It was just a joke,” Belgium said.

“You know, there’s more than one way to get to the sea,” France said, sidling over.

“Look, I really didn’t mean to imply that—oh geez, here comes Germany.”

Several hours later, after untold glasses of wine and beer and several annexation proposals, Germany wandered off and Belgium fell asleep. Luxembourg sat and pondered. There had to be a better way to get some beachfront property: something less wussy than being absorbed into another country, and less super-villainy than blowing up all the land between it and the ocean.

France was still there, drunkenly explaining how big it was.

“Dude, I’ve got this place called Clipperton Island. It’s off the coast of Mexico in the Pacific, of all places. I haven’t even been there in like a hundred years. I just like to tell people I own it. I even tell people I own part of Antarctica, though not everyone believes me.”

“How much land do you have?” Luxembourg asked.

“Beau—coup.” France smiled, then got up and went home.

Luxembourg called up a friend in the United Nations. “It’s not that I’m feeling small or anything, Kimoon. I’m just wondering if there is any land no one has taken yet. I just need some lebensraum, you know? I mean—forget I said that.”

“Two words for you,” Kimoon said. “Bir Tawil.”

“No thanks. I’ve already had a lot of beer this evening—”

“No, it’s a place in Africa. Maybe you could have it.”

“Actually, I’m a little leery about colonizing Africa,” Luxembourg said. “Belgium’s told me a thing or two about what it went through there. I don’t want to become that. It’s just not me.”

“No, it’s perfect. It’s a tiny little place between Sudan and Egypt—actually, it’s about your size. Sudan says it belongs to Egypt and Egypt says it’s Sudan’s, so neither one claims it. Honestly, if you want it, you can just have it. It’s a real headache for map makers. Rand McNally has been breathing down my neck about it for years.”

“You sure it’d be okay?”

Kimoon laughed. “You’re Luxembourg! Who’s going to say no to you?”

This was sounding pretty good. “Okay then! I’ll send some guys down this week with a flag and get things set up. How are the beaches there?”

“Beaches? It’s totally landlocked. That’s shouldn’t bother you though, right?” He laughed and hung up the phone.

Luxembourg sat alone in the bar. It had just doubled the size of its territory, so why wasn’t it happier? It didn’t need to be like Canada, with its 200,000 plus kilometer coastline. All it wanted was a place by the water, where it could sit and listen to the seagulls.

And maybe a navy.


Marketing 101

“What’s this car run on?”

“It runs on love,” I said.

The investor stared at me. “Really?”

“Yeah.” I was sweating. “You think about someone you love; it powers the car.”

“I’m out,” he said. “I don’t want to break down because of an attack of road rage.”

Actually, the car ran on belief. If you believed it worked, it did. But belief was too nebulous. You had to concentrate on something. I picked love.

The next year, I saw an ad for the Chevy ‘Murica. It ran on American greatness. They sold millions.

I should have gone with that.


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