being donald barthelme


    xprmnt alwyz n nevr stop th attmpt to kreate sumthng new this has bn th point of my 70 books of poetry n now th site yer eyes r winding throu alwyz turning identities into taktile sumthings, a groop of people to party with perhps, meening twistd arownd nw spellings to new momnt of you

    ive xperimneted stroumboulouboulopoulis styl wth peepole im knot 

    njoy

 


 

Would You Rather I Write You a Love Poem or Clean the Bathroom?

 

    Gabriel and Gretta hug their last goodbyes to the bride and groom and walk ten minutes under the crescent moon to the Howard Johnston Hotel. “Aren’t these wedding favors cute?” Gabriel says, holding up a miniature wedding contraption. Gretta is looking up at the moon and says, “Are they ever,” but to be honest neither of them know what these little devices are. The bride is an engineer and the groom is an avant-guard sculptor and so there may or may not be some use to the little mechanical doodad in Gabriel’s warm hand. “I’ll never forget the time I made a volcano for a science fare,” Gabriel explains and tries to turn three or four memories into an interesting story. Gretta remains distracted by the moon.

   Once inside their hotel room, Gabriel lands with a bounce on the king sized bed. Gretta goes into the bathroom. “What’s on your mind, Gretta?” Gabriel says loudly, finding intimacy easier at a distance. He gets up and opens the curtains to reveal the half-moon. If he carried a half-disc in his pocket he could always create a full moon he thinks and wonders why he isn’t an avant-guard artist. He’s a little drunk. He goes back to the bed but then thinks better and closes the curtain. They’ve never once made love by an uncurtained window.

   “I’m thinking about somebody who made something for me a long time ago.” She comes out from the bathroom with a glass of water and sets it by the night-stand.

    “And who was this somebody?” Gabriel asks, smiling.

    “It was somebody I knew in Ireland.” She stretches out on the bed.

    The smile drops from his lips. A vague anger sloshes back and forth somewhere in his body. His lust is in tangles.

     “You were in love with him?” he asks ironically.

     “It was a boy named Michael Jordan. A short, little Irish boy. He built this contraption for me. Something made out of computer parts and monitors and it was definitely strange but he said that it would do everything I needed. It was a joke of course and he was such a nerd – really awkward – and there was no way I was interested in him but then the contraption fell on him the day before the science fair. It kept asking one question while it was laying on his little crushed body.”

    She weeps into her open hands and the previous accumulation of feelings flee Gabriel’s body. He struggles to find the right words to say.

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    Time to come clear. I’m not George Stroumboulopoulos, or a precocious 9-year-old or even the grandson of James Joyce. In fact none of the people I’ve claimed to be over the past five months on this blog are really me.  Truth is I’m just a guy trying to get some good old-fashioned laughs. I do stuff here and there  (yes that’s quoted from an actual resume I wrote once) and when I’m not busy with all that I like to pretend I’m somebody else and write a story under their name. It’s an internet hobby that a lot of people are taking part in these days. 

  So here’s today’s story…

 

The World Throws a Surprise Party for the Secretary General of the United Nations

 

   Mrs. Ban: It was so nice of the world to throw my husband that party. And the organization really impressed us. All those people. All the people of the world! The entire world yelling “surprise” at once. It was remarkable. Very loud. I’m sorry I reached for my mace but I was startled. After I was over the shock, I was delighted. I giggled. It’s been a long time since I made that sound. The cake incident was unfortunate but Ban and I don’t like to dwell on mistakes. Or the other things that happened. But in the end it was very nice of the world to make Ban’s birthday so memorable. That’s what’s important.

 

Crane Operator: Well when I got the call, I thought it was a prank but when those suits from the UN showed up at my doorstep with all that money I knew they meant business. And then there was that invitation to the surprise party for Ban Ki-Moon in the mail the next day so I was like Yeah this is for real and sure it was kind of thrilling to think that I’d been chosen to lower the giant cake on top of the Bans. I mean from being a snot-nosed kid in the Bronx to being in the middle of a crowd of billions, kind of gives you a rush. A cake made up of giant children holding hands. It was touching. And delicious. I swear I had no idea the chains couldn’t hold it. I thought everything was sound. And yeah it fell on Mr. Ban. But he ate his way out. The photo taken of him eating his way out was unfortunate. That shouldn’t have been taken but everyone was pretty good about it. Yeah, and then that other incident.

 

Photographer: Well how could I not take that picture? I mean it was slightly salacious but come on everyone’s got a sense of humor. I mean you have to nowadays. The UN’s top banana with his head popping out from the crotch of that cake-kid and I went berserk. I must have taken about a hundred photos of that moment. Memorable is right. I mean it was nicely organized but you don’t want a day like that to go too perfectly. Then it’s boring. Now we really have an image that’ll help us remember the time the world set aside their differences for a while and did something together for a change. But oh man with his head sticking out from the crotch of that cake-boy. Funny stuff. And then when he pulled Oprah and Obama and Putin – I think it was Putin –  into the cake and there was a giant cake fight. You know I can’t even pinpoint the exact moment people started shooting each other.

 

 

Organizer #264: Well we knew there would be some logistic problems. That’s what the supercomputers kept telling us but we kept plugging away at inputting data and things ended up pretty damn organized. There were the shootings near the end. Yes. The riot broke out in sector 456, that was an area we hadn’t anticipated as being so problematic. It spread all the way to the epicenter of the event in a matter of minutes. We told everyone to leave their guns at home. But there weren’t any more deaths than there are on average. Globally. That’s an important fact the papers keep leaving out.

 

 

Pizza Guy: Sold a hell of a lot of pizza but that doesn’t mean there was a conspiracy. I mean I knew the organizers and so I got the contract. What’s wrong with that? It was a surprise party and if they’d advertised the position, Ban might’ve caught wind of the event. I mean come on, people. I sell good pizza and so when that hooligan punk made disparaging remarks about me and my nepotistic pizza, I gave him the what for. And then somebody pulled a gun. Really shitty. I mean one day. Can’t we have one day for a guy’s birthday. I mean I don’t know him but he’s never done me no harm. Throw the guy a surprise party. Yeah, it’s a lot of work but they’ve got computers doing most of the hard stuff.

  While many of you know me from my GFTG blog I do have another side. A darker side? Well a more serious side and here at Fast Fictions, I’ve been exploring my more literary side. Over the past five months I’ve been writing a short-short story everyday under a completely different pseudonym. Some days however are less serious than others.

 


 

An extract from Europe’s Top Surrealist

 

Marcell Duchamp: Ostensibly an interesting concept, doing tai chi in a transparent sumo suit filled with water and tropical fish. Calming, certainly. Perhaps a little too calming? I would have preferred some danger. Why not piranha? Why not belligerent turtles? I think if you want to engage our attention you’re going to have to create something more demanding. Why not fill the suit with sewage? Juxtapose your graceful movements with inner revulsion and horror.

 

Salvador Dali: I have to disagree with Marcell. I think there was an understated tension in the cats that were hanging upside down from the ceiling. Their claws were out and you could clearly see that they wanted to get at those colorful little fishes. Clearly, these pussy cats were suspended too high to achieve their goals but we shared their discomfort. It was animal’s nightmare you presented for us which is what life is after all. Shocking.

 

Andre Breton: But can we ignore the video footage projected overtop of this performance? Teaching dogs to chase their tails and choreographing 25 of them to simultaneously spin around and around like whirling dervishes. Absolutely brilliant. Forgive my colleagues on the panel here. They tend to overlook the big picture. I see that you’re making a statement on pets  and how we become the caged animal in our pursuit of domesticating wild nature. Ending the performance by opening your mouth and releasing a hummingbird was the coup de grace to the concept of pet ownership. Bravo!! Bravo!!!

 

 

     And the previous four months of stories on this blog have been my dreams. 

     Here’s today’s dream…

 

Crossing Guard Goes on a Freak-Out

 

   Hardly. Exaggerated somewhat but there certainly were oddities to Susan Hargraves’ behavior one May morning after the player piano fell on her head. Sort of. Well it didn’t fall out of the blue sky but it did fall over and onto her body. It was just after eight and she was running a little behind and when she ran through the living room she elbowed the piano which was being propped up on books (several very weighty Norton readers) and a chorus of messy notes crashed down upon her. 

    She pulled herself out from the piano – a miracle to be alive! – and resumed her race out the door. This time a tad bit slower but no less hectic. More discombobulated. And notes were still banging around in her head as she ran down the front steps of her cute little home. So it was conjectured.

   Instead of her usual brisk walk to William Watson Elementary where she worked as a crossing guard three times a week, she took her hand-held STOP sign the other direction. Theories abound but the fact remains that within twenty minutes Susan was at the law courts. She marched into Judge Walburn’s courtroom and held up the STOP sign. Things went on business as usual and when the first witness had to take the stand Susan lowered the big red STOP and waved the woman forward with a hand and a smile. The judge was impressed. It worked.

   Around ten o’clock Susan suddenly shook her head as if she were trying to break free from something and then marched out of the courtroom without so much as a good-bye or good-luck. Later that morning she turned up at three different locations: a dentist’s office, an auto-body shop and a greasy spoon. In all these places people very politely stopped and started based on Susan’s confident comportment and sign. 

    At three o’clock – the official end to her day – she did a can-can kick and died of an embolism. 


 

     I’m the Executive Director of the Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ but in a recent article in the Walrus magazine, I was given a simpler moniker: “the de facto head of the Doukhobors.” 

     I’ve started this site in order to explore conflict. Here in British Columbia we have a great opportunity to become experts in understanding the inner workings of the conflict that emerges all around the globe. We have a microcosm of the world in our multicultural towns and cities and if we try to understand our fellow man and woman, we can become a prototype for communities of the future. 

     This requires seeing things in different ways. Over the past four months I’ve written a story everyday from the point of view of someone else as an attempt at putting myself in someone else’s shoes. For today, I’ve written the following fable in the typical architecture of a “joke” but it diverges and becomes an exploration into something else. In my humble opinion that’s what we all need a little more of: divergence of opinion while maintaining a respect for others points of view.

   And some chuckles along the way.

 

A FABLE FOUND IN THE CONFUSION OF A JOKE

     Unbeknownst to one another, Jesus, Muhammad and the Buddha were waiting at JFK to board a transatlantic flight to Europe, a six-hour trip, for vacations to get away from it all. Jesus was sitting closest to the large windows by the boarding gate. He was squeezed in at both sides by a family from New Jersey that – through their sizes and volumes and attitudes- often absorbed strangers into their scrum. The two youngest Roundsters, seated to the right of Jesus, were once again fighting.

    “Where’s the video camera?”

    “What camera?”

     “The reality t.v. camera that’s following you. Weirdo of One. Isn’t that your show?” 

      “Shut up.”

     “Weirdo of One.”

      “Shut up.”

      “Weirdo of One.”

      “Shut up.”

      Their father – to the left of Jesus – was analyzing the back of his boarding pass, going through the fine print, trying to find loopholes. “There are special categories of people that can board first. War vets, etc. They don’t announce anything but you can go first anyway.”

     “You’re not a war vet.”

     “For example.”

     “Weirdo of One.”

     “Shut up.”

    “Weirdo of One.”

     “Shut up.”

     “Would you kids pipe down. I can’t hear myself think over here.” 

      Jesus held the magazine – Fly Fishing America – closer to his face. He tried to remember being on the cross with the two men on either side of him. That was easy, this is now. Which one went up to heaven? Right or left? The one with the bigger beard and the breath that you could’ve cut with a knife. 

      Just then Jesus felt a tap on his knee. He lowered the magazine to witness a young boy with a brace on his left leg. The blond-haired boy looked up to Christ in supplication. 

     Finally.

     “Are you Jesus ?” the boy asked.

    “Yes, my son.”

    “Will you heal my Gameboy? It won’t work.” The blond boy held it up in the cupped palms of his hands.

     Christ sighed. “I don’t do electronics.”

     The boy ran away crying. “Jesus won’t fix my Gameboy.”

     “Weirdo of One.”

     “Shut up.”

     “Weirdo of One.”

     “Shut up.”

     Unbeknownst to Jesus, the Buddha and Muhammad were undergoing similar ordeals two and three rows behind him.