Okay, okay I’m not an entrepreneur from Sweden who’s printing short stories on the insides of t-shirts. I’m not a kid with a demented ouija board that’s telling him what to write and I’m not Barack Obama. While I’ve claimed to be these people in previous posts, I guess I’m just hiding the truth of my own ordinary identity. My name is Phillip Guston and I’m from London, Ontario. There’ s nothing very exciting to write about myself except that I’m a writer and I’m doing all these stories to prepare for the postcard competition that the Writer’s Union of Canada is holding next month.  If you write fiction I would recommend that you submit something. 

  I hope you enjoy today’s short-short story.




Bank Machine Hold Up



   The young man with a wooden nose stands several feet behind the two men cowering over the bank machine. He looks out the window and sees his country’s flag atop the gray building across the street. There’s a strip of the flag that streams behind and it reminds him of how long trails of shit follow fish in his tank at home. But he wants to love his country so he looks back to the two men in front of the bank machine.

   The one man, who is taller and might be older, mumbles something into the ear of the other man who nods acknowledgement. There are sounds of buttons being pressed and then the taller man mumbles something in anger. They are buried beneath several layers of jackets and hats and it’s hard to make out their features.

   The young man touches his wooden nose. His index finger runs around one of its wooden rims. Several months back, his younger sister joked that his nose-picking days were over because of the dangers of slivers. Their mother had forced her to apologize and at the end of her rambling apology she talked about losing other body parts. “Touch wood,” she said reaching her arm out to his nose and then she made a horrible face and then ran to her room. The young man didn’t care about any of it. He was thinking about how much money he needed to save to buy a car.

    The bank machine starts beeping and the older man smacks the younger one several times. The young man with the wooden nose takes his paycheck out of his wallet and looks at the numbers in reverse. If this bank had a dyslexic teller he’d deposit this with her, he thinks to himself.  If she were cute, he’d get her number and then take her for a drive in his brand new car. No, if she were dyslexic she’d give him her number all scrambled, like a code and he’d be up all night calling number after number.  He imagines an ordinary telephone number and then all its variations. His day-dream ends in frustrated boredom.

    The two men seem to be finishing their transaction but really they’re just starting again on a clean slate. The older one is teaching the younger one, the young man thinks. The taller one takes a step away from the bank machine and stands right behind his back. “Hurry up. Come on. Hurry yourself up,” he seems to mumble as the other one presses buttons that seem to make too many beeps. The older one briefly turns to make an apologetic smile to the young man but when he sees his wooden nose he quickly turns back and yells louder at his son, friend, whatever. The student throws up his hands in confusion and makes a strange gurgling sound as he tilts back his head.

   “Okay that’s enough practice for today, Mike,” the older man says in a sudden bout of clarity.

   “Yes, tomorrow it’s your turn,” the younger one says but when he takes off his hat he seems to be the same age.


    The young man with the wooden nose approaches the machine and thinks about the car he’ll soon buy.