whipped up in 15min


   Yes and I’ve been having no small measure of bullshit problems recently. I keep getting blocked from the Internet!! Can you believe that? Me! That’s why I haven’t been posting stories with any regularity over the past two weeks. Somebody’s out to get me and I suspect it’s that Berners-Lee. Yes, the dude who started the WWW back in 1989. Okay, I know this shop-talk bitch fest is a little insular. It’s like watching nerds throw their glasses at each other. All I’m saying is that I want to have access to the web like everyone else.

   Before the troubles began I was writing a short-short story everyday on this blog. Everyday I pretended to be somebody different as an experimental new FaceBook application. I’m working on code that will generate a story to your specifications. You can send a short-short story to a friend as a gift. Just put in the name you want the main character to have, some kind of object that will be the main character’s demise and finally a setting. But for some reason – which I won’t get into here – Berners-Lee claimed to have come up with the code for this and then I suddenly keep getting blocked from the web. Can you believe that? Me? Mr. Facebook himself!! (I have 31,356,549 friends)

   Anyway here’s a ridiculous story for the day…

 


 

The Difference is Spreading

 

 

    He opens his hand and reveals another hand which opens in turn to reveal another and so on and so forth until there is a tiny hand that opens up to nothing. This is the trick the twenty-armed man likes to play for his siblings. His arms are like tree branches that sprout at the top of his shoulders and then slide down to make room for more. On their way down his side they get larger and larger. Right now – at the age of 13 – his lowest arms come out from the sides of his knees.

     His 4 brothers and sisters – normal except for the youngest who’s cross-eyed – applaud their brother’s game of suspense. Sometimes there’s a candy or a uniquely patterned pebble at the end and sometimes – like a sad ending to a European movie – there’s nothing but emptiness but it’s worth the price of admission. It’s thrilling to see so many hands consecutively open up. So many identical palms revealed one after another. The children are poor and know no other form of entertainment. In the past they used to climb their brother’s arms like a tree but since he reached 13 he’s complained about aches and pains in his bones and he doesn’t want the little ones scrambling up his limbs. Soon, he tells them, soon.

    They are a happy family who live on a farm in the middle of Saskatchewan but their father is an alcoholic. He’s a happy alcoholic who smiles widest when he drinks deeply from his homemade moonshine. He wipes the remnants of liquor off his lips and sings some kind of song in a language no one in the family comprehends. In fact, in French he sings about the wonders of having a 20-armed son. He stole normality, my heavily armed son, is what one line translates to. He loves to spit when he’s in the mood.

    The matriarch of all this moves quickly from room to room to house to barn and back again and it’s almost impossible to keep up with her long enough to get any detail straight. She’s fast and productive and proud of her deformed son, proud that he’s productive. He does more in the kitchen in five minutest than ten women could do in an hour. He’s a time-saver but she still has many things to do. She needs to keep the children out of the living room when her husband is labouring under a hangover.  She needs to keep the taxman at bay with baked goods. She needs to collect the dappled eggs. She needs to do so much but she’s so disorganized that she runs around doing very little. But she’s happy. Proud.

     I’m the dog that sits by the fence in front of the house. I wait for a car to stop so that I can jump in and wag my tail while I stick my face out the window. That’s my basic dream. In other dreams we’re driving after cats in fast cars. We drive just as fast and when we hit the horn the car barks. The car in front of us is packed with hundreds of cats that sometimes fall out the windows. I reach out the window and grab them and throw them into our car. When I wake up from my dreams I look into my paws and I realize that I can’t grasp a thing.

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      And I’m told that they’re going to suspend my computer privileges so there’s no point in pretending to be someone else anymore. I’ve been working on a series of characters and accompanying stories for a book called “Prose and Cons.”  

     That is all. 

     Enjoy today’s short-short story…   

 


 

In the Mountains a Story

 

   A short man, pudgy around the waist, packed a lunch of 5 Polish crepes and cucumber to take on his journey to the mountains to consult the Scientist-Wizard. At the foot of the mountains the pudgy man shouted, “Scientist-Wizard, I come in search of a new self. I’m 42 years old and I need to become something new.” These words echoed up through the valley running between the mountains and the pudgy man wished that could be the end of his efforts. But after several minutes of silence, the pudgy man undertook the four hour hike up the side of the mountain  When he reached the mouth of the Scientist-Wizard’s cave he whined, “You should put in some steps.” “Enlightenment’s never at the top of an escalator my dear friend,” the Scientist-Wizard replied, holding out a green potion. The man grabbed the drink and gulped it back after which he fell to the ground and writhed about like a fish. His body changed into something marvelously powerful. His skull grew two sizes larger to make room for all the new brains inside. Hours later he lifted himself up from the dirt, brushed himself off and looked down at his body. With his powerful new voice he shouted into the valley. He counted the number of times he’d breathed in his life. But somehow he still felt empty. The Scientist-Wizard emerged from his cave and asked if everything was in order. The man sighed, “I’m still the same inside. Deep down I don’t feel anything different.” 

   “It’s not my fault you made the wrong choice. I offered you advice or a drink. You took the easier one and failed to consider my words of wisdom which will always be there for you to take but will always remain outside your grasp.”


   I have one of the best jobs in the world. I step into a Flight Centre, sit down across from a smiling sales representative and ask how much it is to Tokyo, Korea or Brussels, France. Sometimes they think I’m joking and they laugh but I hold onto an earnest expression until they realize that I only have a grade one knowledge of geography. I ask a hundred other ridiculous questions, to test their patience with customers, and then I sometimes go over to the big map on the wall and ask how much that would cost. I’m a pain in the ass sure but through my dedication to my profession some of the weaker employees have been culled from the Flight Centre. 

    Each story that I’ve written on this blog is something that I’ve included in one of my tours of duty in a Flight Centre. After asking how much a Eurail pass is I’ll go into a rant about my idiot neighbour. Essentially, this blog is where I practice my ridiculous stories that I use in the line of duty.

   I’ve introduced myself as somebody different everyday in order to throw anyone off my trail. I didn’t want to reveal the tricks of my trade. Starting today, however, I’m training other secret shoppers and I’m using this blog as an educational tool. 

   Enjoy today’s story…

 


 

Snakes, Flowers, Gorillas and Mariachi Bands on Planes 

 

   I’d like our flight to take off in the evening, just at the tiniest hint of twilight if possible. I want to fly up as the sun is going down so that we can see the sun go back up again. It’ll be as if the sun is doing a double take on how romantic our evening is. Yes, it’s going to be a romantic vacation for us and I’d like to start it off right, you know, flowers, a mariachi band and a gorilla with flowers. It’s all in this poem which I’ve written for the occasion. Do you know who I’d call to get the green light for all that? I realize there’s not a lot of space on a plane but do you realize that Janice and I are both cancer survivors? Do you realize how important a ten-year anniversary is to one cancer survivor? Can you imagine two? Yes, it’s precious and there’s always room for compromise. Will it upset the other passengers? Well then I have a suggestion for the airline. No Snakes on Planes. I can’t believe they played that movie on the last flight I took to Europe. If the airlines want to reduce air-rage well why not show something a little more relaxing. They can stop their persecution of mariachi bands who want to make an honest living by playing for a cancer couple’s ten-year anniversary. What’s wrong with this country? Won’t all this simply add to everyone’s experience. The sun going down and up and music playing ay-ya-yayayyay. I’ll be getting into my gorilla costume – that’s how Janice and I met – and when I come out with the balloons the pilot will read out my poem. Do you know who our pilot will be? I’d like to ask him about reading this poem. If possible I’d like a pilot who’s survived cancer. Somebody that can relate. When was the last time you survived cancer? Well it’s important. 

  I’ve spent my career as a poet striving to find new forms of expression. Recently, I’ve been putting my poems up on youtube but this site has also been a foray into something new. Over the past five months I’ve pretended to be over a hundred and forty different people. The point of all this mask-making has been to examine the notion of identity online and off. The multiple layers of the self made up of the world around us.  

   You.

   Me.

  As a structural challenge I’ve also taken the comments made at the bottom of each day and allowed myself to use only those words for the next day or two or however long it takes to get another comment. Thereby playing out the permutations of another person’s message.

   And now for today’s short-short story…

 

Did he fit your handshake?

 

   One Wednesday evening, on the cusp of twilight, Derrick Garbert got the call about a Mini-Austin backed into a ditch at the corner of 168th and 80th. “Easy,” he said by way of good-bye and he flicked his cigarette out the window. He pressed his big hand down on the stick-shift which reached up with a customized hand of its own. His hairy fingers expertly slipped through the metal fingers and he put the truck in gear. After seventeen minutes of AC/DC’s High Voltage, he pulled up next to the front of the car. A seven foot man stood next to it. “You could carry that home, what did you call me for?” Derrick said, half-seriously. The man said something about his back but Derrick couldn’t understand his accent. Within minutes the car was hoisted up out of the ditch and Derrick was hauling it to the nearest mechanic. The man barely fit next to Derrick in his truck. The man seemed to be complaining about the size of his cab. “Don’t make them any bigger,” Derrick replied, squeezing the hand of the stick-shift. The man didn’t tip anything on top of the twenty dollar towing fee.

   “How did he fit into that car?” Derrick’s wife asked later that evening.

   “Don’t know. Didn’t ask. Don’t like talking to complainers. They make poor conversationalists.”

   “But you should ask about something like that.”

   “I don’t know. I’ve seen weirder things.” 

    But he couldn’t think of anything and that’s when he got the idea of taking pictures of everyone in their car after a successful tow. Just to be on the safe side as well as a nice touch. 

  It was a simple idea. The challenge was doing it from a secure location that wouldn’t immediately get shut down. When I started rest of the movie,  I thought it would be an interesting experiment to also write a short-short story everyday to compete with the movies. I mean let’s be honest there is an unstated competition among the arts and I thought I’d pit movies against literature. I took a circuitous route to revealing who I am on this site to add an element of daily suspense. So far movies are ahead but I’m working on other competition venues. In two weeks I’m going to be selling my next book to people during a movie. I’m curious to see how that’ll go.

   My name is Tommy Treadwell and may the competition continue…

 

A Man Tests the Level to Which his Wife is Actually Listening to Him

   So that woman who seemed to be flirting with me last week. Uh huh. Turns out she’s a really nice lady. Really? Yeah, we chatted today and she’s definitely not a prostitute. She works as a secretary downtown. Oh yeah? Cause you said that last week. What? That she must have been a hooker but this morning there were two bona fide hookers walking past the bus stop and there was neither tension nor camaraderie between them. Well, I stand corrected. It’s funny how we actually got to talking. A bum rode over her foot with a shopping cart. She was wearing these pointy little things. She was also wearing a lot of makeup. She had enough eyeliner on for ten as if she were a makeup bank for all the other secretaries in her building. Like as if everyone would scrap a little off her face and put it on their own. Yeah? I shouldn’t be that mean with my new friend. New friend?  Well yeah so the bum rode over the pointy tip of her shoe and I punched him out. That’s how we met. Uh huh. And she’s coming over next Wednesday for dinner and a threesome. Oh great.

 

     I suppose that’s always been my downfall. I open my mouth to say something profound but near the end of my discourse – fearing boredom on the part of my listeners – I want to jump up and down waggling my tongue to make everyone laugh or conversely if I start telling a joke I end up wanting to go off on some philosophical tangent. (for Ludwig Wittgenstein did suggest that an entire book of philosophy be written consisting of nothing but jokes) Hence this site which swings from funny to philosophical on a day to day basis. This site where I put on the cloak of another identity everyday. This site which charts the ups and downs of my moods. This site which I thank you for visiting on this your precious day.

    My name is Haber Klaustein and I live in Germany near the French border. I am five feet tall and when I’m laughing people think I’m weeping but when I weep people think I’m laughing.  The problem I suppose is that I’m so short people have no idea what I’m doing when my head is down. If I were six feet tall the world would know my emotions. As it stands, only children and dogs know my feelings but they of course are indifferent to such matters. This makes me weep and then people – thinking I’m laughing and wanting to get in on the joke – will throw in their two bits, telling me the one about the blind midget and the two-by-four.  Sometimes this makes me laugh. Sometimes it only serves to make me cry harder and then more people gather to make even more digusting jokes.

   In the end, what usually happens is that I come to this site to compose an identity – anyone taller than five-foot eight – and I climb up the ladder set up next to the computer and I dream of looking at the world from another height.  But today I pushed the ladder onto its side to write as myself.  Today is different because you’re reading and I realize that in communicating with another human being there is no height or weight or even nationality but simply the gist of what is to be shared.

    “I’m five feet tall,” I can write in a sentence that might make you laugh or think. I’m not sure which but the important thing is that it’s true.

   And here’s a story with the same problem…



 
The Clown that Could Compose Immortality


     The juxtaposition of the external self and the soul has never been greater than that of the case of Uli Stampenklammer a clown with the Klintskloppen circus which toured the smaller towns of Bavaria in the 1950’s and 60’s. For while Uli was famed for falling from great heights and then yelling some gibberish that inspired laughter (like “shizenhimmersvelt” or “kunstkoppenglimmerklop”), it was only revealed after his death that he also wrote under the pseudonym of Bernhart Strom, the famed mystic who wrote about the depths of the suffering of the soul. At his funeral on June 8th 1968, circus folk stood shoulder to shoulder with religious mystics from around the world. Moments of awkward silence potholed the ceremony like an old road that could barely be travelled. Where did his heart and soul really lie? To this day, Germans have a word –  Stampenklammerstrom- to describe the awkward feeling accompanying a decision to be made during a dilemma.  Some secretly take pleasure in this feeling.

   On my good days. On my off days I’m simply a fugitive with too much time on his hands. I’ve been writing these posts over the past five months as a way to communicate and practice the lies that are my daily bread and butter. When I arrive in a town I have to introduce myself with another identity. This is where I get some practice at saying, Hi I’m Jeff Ladouceur, or Hi I’m Lee Henderson, etc.  So why am I now stooping to the truth ?
   Even liars need a break once in a while.
   Don’t you think?

 When the World Withers Away

  I think it’s June. A hundred little signs tell me so. Of course the stuff of the world has dwindled from years ago when the world was so much more, this new world which I was the first to discover. I was a late 21st Century Columbus but there was no colonization, reward or even fame to follow. I never went back to earth. Couldn’t. They have no space programs on this planet.  Otherwise everything is like home with seasons, months and even people running from place to place with an eye on the clock. But happier. In some ways.  For one thing nobody dies on this planet.
   The world dies around you.
   I couldn’t believe it myself and when someone tried to explain this to me I thought I’d landed on an asylum planet with schitzophrenia being the order of the day.  But they looked and talked normal otherwise and were very hospitable to me as a stranger, offering me citizenship in the country that I landed. They even set me up with a job selling dice – a huge industry on this planet.  Through these early years of learning the ropes the only nagging worry was this denial of death but I never saw any cemetaries. There were no bereavement cards in stores and nobody knew what a coffin was. One night over beers with some of the guys at work I pressed the issue of death.

    “So absolutely no one dies?”

    This was probably the hundredth time I’d asked and so Joe finally caved.

    “The world dies around you.”

    “So there is death. Everyone else dies.”

    “It’s not really death per se. It’ s just everything slips into non-existence around you, as if it never were. I mean this is heady stuff. You can’t put it into words. I mean you can try but they’ll come up short.  They’ll disappear too but that’s nothing to be sad about. That’s nothing.”

   We stayed up extra late that night. I felt like I was ten years old again looking into the sky, contemplating infinity or something. It was odd to feel young in the face of such strangeness but when I went to bed and my face hit the sheets the nothingness seemed like a preview of the future.

    And here I am at the beginning of a shrinking world. I’ve retired because I can’t be counted on. Some days I’m gone. People don’t ask where I’ve been because they know I’ve started to slip into the other realm. This existence of an eternal one that flat-lines onto itself in a beep that goes on forever and ever. I don’t know how people know that. I suppose I’ll find out myself what it means. It’s funny to think that I can learn anything in this state. The sun didn’t come up yesterday. Otherwise it was a nice June day somewhat short of flowers and grass and distances but the warm breeze was enjoyable.  It reminded me of something. Somebody, maybe.

   I wonder how people on earth are doing? I forget more and more about my life as an astronaut on Earth – off of Earth. 

    June.

   The month I was married. 

   The photo I kept of her disappeared yesterday. Well it was an empty square.

   An anniversary blank.

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