It’s embarrassing but true. I woke up this morning to a murder of crows cawing up a storm. I looked at my alarm and saw that it was five minutes to wake up time anyway so I rolled out of bed. There was a sudden silence and then the sound of a car taking off. I imagined the crows breaking into a neighbor’s car and taking it for a joy-ride. I chuckled to myself at this little cartoon in my head when I stood up and then fell over. I looked down and saw that my feet were missing. (I’ve been fighting a brutal cold and took three helpings of neo-citroen last night. I guess it had numbed my body completely.) 

   I knew I should have gone to bed with the lower half of my body safely stowed away in a safe. That’s the advice I would give to you. 

   But the show must go on in spite of the missing feet – as showbiz cripples often say – and so without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, here’s today’s short-short story…


In the Award Winning Hereafter


    John and Tina entered the Silver Stars Senior Citizens Talent Contest with some minor bickering. John had written on the entry forms that Tina was 65 when in fact she was 64. “I don’t qualify,” she insisted while John dug through her closet of shoes, looking for her Middle Eastern-looking slippers. “It’s a cute bit. The folks’ll love it, Tina.” He stepped out from her closet with her shoes and a large smile that lifted his aging face. Not since the birth of their grand-daughter had Tina seen him looking so spry.  

    “Okay but on one condition.”

    “You name it.”

    “If we win the prize money goes to Iraqi orphans.”

     John nodded vigorously and his glasses slid down his nose. 

    That night, John and Tina wowed the audience of 87 seniors with their homey yet eclectic rendition of Aladdin’s “Whole New World” but midway through a “world” they both toppled off the edge of the stage, landing on their heads. A chorus of worried gasps rushed through the crowd. Hands went to mouths. One senior pulled out his cell-phone to call his paramedic granddaughter. Three seniors- fearing that the grim reaper was in their midst – left the auditorium, grabbed some free quarter-sliced sandwiches and fled the building. 

     For their part, John and Tina continued dancing into the afterlife, assuming the fall was all part of the rush of the performance. They spun, waltzed and jitter-bugged into heaven assuming it was still just the backdrop to their song. God, for once in his life feeling bad about a mishap on earth, decided to pretend it was a Muslim heaven. His angels were dispatched with Muslim garb to give all the Christian residents in the event that John and Tina should dance through their quarter. “Otherwise, business as usual,” God announced.

   And so it went for John and Tina for eternity.

   A whole new world.



   So the jig’s finally up and here I am coming out with my hands raised to the sky. Yes, I, David Eggers have been the merry prankster (sans LSD) behind the past five months of various claims to authorship on this here site. As of today you can put your address in the comments section below to receive a copy of all the contents on this site in a special 141-box edition of McSweeneys. Each story is written around a box which opens up to another box and down and down it goes until the smallest box, which is today’s story, will be in the palm of your hand for you to enjoy.

   I hope you’ve enjoyed all the playful fictions on this blog. 


Arms, Arms, Arms, the Arms of the Man


   Anderson was sorely disappointed in his newly acquired abundance of arms. He’d forgotten to pick up the six-sleeved t-shirt handmade by his mother in anticipation of the great change so for the first week he walked around with his extras bundled around his belly, stretching out his favorite t-shirts beyond belief. All he wanted was to put these extra appendages to good use. “It’s like carrying around a bunch of unopened Christmas gifts under your shirt,” he complained to his co-worker, Marc, in the mail sorting room. “Go shirtless,” Marc suggested. “In pubic?” Anderson hollered and he threw a letter bound for Bolivia into the domestic bin. 

   Anderson made mistakes. He was a busy man. While his supervisor, Bernard, berated him later that afternoon for having the highest rate of misdirected mail, Anderson counted – thumb to fingers- the reasons for his failings. When Bernard stopped shouting to take a sip from his tepid coffee, Anderson countered with 17 explanations which included: Marc makes innate suggestions regarding my personal life, I’m still waiting for the six-sleeved t-shirt which will help me be the best employee this place has ever seen and I have chronic itching which keeps my hands preoccupied. As Anderson explained this one of his new arms reached out from beneath his shirt to scratch at behind his knee.

    “And finally Marc keeps sexually harassing me. I got these extra arms to swat him back,” Anderson concluded, repeating a lunch-room joke that now come out in earnest. Why did he say that? 

     Bernard raised the thicker end of his monobrow.  “That’s a serious charge. We have to take that seriously, you know.” He walked behind his desk, opened a drawer and flipped through some files.

    Anderson nodded while his twenty fingers tapped out rolls beneath his shirt. It sounded as if his stomach were rumbling. His heart was beating furiously. Confess that it was just a joke. Yes, piss Bernard off even more.

    “Where did he touch you?” Bernard asked with his pen hovering over the official looking document. 

     “The buttocks,” Anderson said.

      “How many times?”

      “Three or four.”

      Anderson’s hands and arms became damp beneath his shirt. He felt like he was at the bottom of a pile of people. He wished he never gotten all these arms. Run, something inside him said. He wished he had ordered two new pairs of legs. But would his mother be able to find a pattern for pants that size? 



     “Sign here.”

     Beneath his shirt he crossed all his fingers and then signed the report.

    Yes, I’m George Stroumboulopoulos and I’m here to prove that I’m more than just a funny name. I’m also a writer. The stories that have been penned over the past five months on this site are none other than creations of yours truly. Yeah, I love hanging with guests at the Hour but in the evenings when I’m home alone, I sit down and write up a little something within the gathering silence of my soul.

   Yes, I’ve been fibbing for the past five months about my real identity but I wanted this site to make it on its own. I’ve had a lot of fun pretending to be others. I even got a comment recently from someone thinking that I was Yann Martel.  As this blog has almost reached five thousand visits I think it stands on its own and I can tell you who I really am.

   I hope you enjoy…



The Writer, the Thief, the Cop and the Father of Something


   A block from home, John got off the #4 to stroll along his favorite route. It was a cold, rainy Monday in June but he felt refreshed, brimming with optimism and the light rain felt full of memories. At a leisurely pace, his shoes slapping the small puddles on the sidewalk, he took greater notice of the world around him. A middle aged woman who’d also just gotten off the bus fumbled through a mess of unknowns to get to the keys in her black purse. John watched her carefully as she opened the front door of her apartment. “Dig through every moment for clusters of detail,” John thought to himself but she was already out of his view. Turning the corner at Pandora, he scanned the odds and ends of lifestyles cluttered on the patios of a three-story apartment building. He noticed how easy it would be to step up from the brick border below to one particular balcony on the second floor. What kind of story could be propped up on that brick? A teenager sneaking home late at night? A neighbor in need of one more chair for a barbeque? A ex-husband sneaking back to collect some things that are rightfully his?

    “I can’t leave you in the car alone.” John looked over to the street and made eye contact with a man standing over the back door of his Honda. The man’s gaze glared with resentment that he was having to share this awkward moment with a total stranger. John glanced back at the stories of apartments. The windows were now streaked with raindrops that were getting larger.

    Meters away from his own apartment building entrance, John heard the woop-woop of a lazy police siren. A patrol car crunched onto the gravel in front of him and a stocky police officer swaggered out from behind the car. The rain started to fall heavily and John reached for an umbrella holstered at the side of his backpack.

    “Hold it right there,” the officer shouted and pulled out his gun. He spun for cover on the other side of his patrol car. “Do not make any sudden movements and put your hands where I can see them.”

     Fear and confusion cascaded down John’s body but he raised his shaking arms against this weight.

     “I was just going to get my umbrella,” he said quickly. “I’m just on my way home.” He turned slowly to show the umbrella at his side.

     The officer slowly walked out from behind the cover of his car. “There’ve been a string of break-ins in the neighborhood and the suspect’s profile fits yours. You’re not hiding an Australian accent are you?” 


     As John reassured the officer of his innocence and Canadianness, the man he’d seen earlier by the car walked by with a labradoodle in a pink sweater. Under an umbrella the man was reading aloud from Watership Down with none of the grimness of the expression before. The dog seemed to be listening as he walked at the man’s side. 

    The officer apologized but reassured John that his caution was for his own good.

     “6 places broken into. An Australian apparently. We can’t take that lightly,” the officer said and stretched his chin out. 

     As the officer left, John fumbled for his keys and imagined a list of reachable things people have mistakenly been shot for: umbrellas, slices of bacon degreasing in a book, a collector’s bus pass from 1972, a labradoodle collar, early success.

  Yesterday, after coming home from work I came across this article about unusual bookmarks.  I’ve also found a slice of bacon as well as a nail-polished fingernail clipping, a photo of a nude dwarf cheating at poker and a garter belt with a telephone number on it. The slice of bacon that I found was on page 45 of Michael Ondaatje’s the English Patient. I remember that page as being a particularly tough hurdle and I guess the person reading the book gave up then and there (while eating breakfast). There were grease streaks throughout the earlier pages and I tried to read the book again but I kept imagining Hana feeding the English Patient bacon. It ruined the poetry of the reading experience.

  There isn’t much else to say about myself. My name is Jack and I’m the one behind the past five months of different stories on this site. It’s just something I decided to do a while back. I haven’t really thought too much about it and today seemed like as good a day as any to come out with my real identity.

  And here’s a story for today…


Halo Power


On an overcast afternoon in September, John saddled his paint-flecked body over the deck railing of his newly purchased house to get at a window. He placed his foot out on the outer border of the terrace that held no greenery and after a weighty fall and thump he was lifting his broken neck up from the grass below, his head inches from the brick border of the empty garden. He crawled to his old house across the cul-de-sac and called his daughter-in-law. When she arrived her two children raced out ahead of her shouts for them to wait, wait, wait and once up the familiar stairs of their grandparent’s place the granddaughter screamed at the sight of her Grandda holding up his head. Three months later, with a halo holding vertebras C3 and C4 in place, John was looking out the window of the old house, thinking of what needed to be done with the new. At the weekend arrival of his son-in-law he walked a lively jig into the kitchen. The top frame of his halo bumped the edge of the open fridge twice as he tried to get at two beers deep in the back. “Today, we’ll celebrate the luck of the Irish, so we will,” he said and his daughter asked her niece about the state that they found Grandda in. The five-year old did a Disney version of Munch’s scream with her head at an angle and her eyes askew. Everyone laughed and John smiled but deep down he was thinking of what paints he’d mix together for the trim around the windows.


    And when I’m not touring the world with Iron Maiden, or working on solo material, or flying commercial planes around Europe, or producing television programs for the BBC or fencing, I like to relax and pretend I’m someone else. The past five months of stories on this blog have been a playful effort towards creating a labyrinth of different fictions, falsehoods and identities. The challenge for you the reader is to glean the truth. That I’m Bruce Dickinson can be easy proved by looking into the parallels between the lyrics of Iron Maiden songs and the themes explored in the short-short stories on this blog.

  Here’s today’s story from the point of view of an audience member at an Iron Maiden concert in Vancouver.



making one little something an everywhere


   As we walk through the muddy heavy-metal parking lot my entire body is buzzing with the thrill of seeing Iron Maiden once again. “Grad 88,” one woman screams from the back of a pick up truck. I help Paul finish his tall can of beer on the final stretch down Renfrew and suddenly we’re inside the Pacific Coliseum where I’m amazed at the flora and fauna of hair drooping from head-bangers young and old. Twenty-three years ago, when Paul and I saw Maiden for the first time the Coliseum was packed to the rafters with teenagers in leather jackets. Now we make the steep hike to our seats in section 25, aisle 20, passing out of shape geezers older than us. The concert begins with the sold-out Coliseum shrieking as one beast to the start of Aces High and things are pretty cool but throughout the show Bruce Dickinson says Vancouver too many times. He puts the word everywhere. He’s like a pilot flying around and around a city, announcing the obvious. But the view still seems spectacular, expansive even. During Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner I want to tell Paul something interesting about Coleridge, the poet who wrote the original lyrics to this song 200 years ago. “Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink,” I catch in the screams near the end and I realize the song is over and I didn’t really hear any of the poetry under the crunch of the guitars. I let out a full bodied scream anyway.

    I try to remember Paul’s dad picking us up on that snowy night in ’85 and the slow drive back to Surrey but this time around I say good-bye to Paul and walk home alone along Pandora Street. I imagine myself as a 14-year-old walking the streets of East Vancouver after the show, trying to find Paul and his dad. How familiar would the houses have looked?  I try to imagine the present through the past, searching for insight into change but suddenly I’m home. Lisa is in front of the computer recording something with her guitar.  It’s past eleven and I have to get up at five-thirty but my ears are ringing and my body’s still buzzing. “I just started working on a song for our wedding favors,” Lisa says. It takes a second for this to register any meaning, “wedding favors”. Lisa walks into the living room and sits down on the couch with her guitar in her lap and I stretch out on the rug with my head sinking into a large blue throw pillow. A big glass of water rests on my chest.  I look at the wall and think about having to wake up and go to work in a routine that’s now into its second decade. Briefly, the routine feels as small as our living room but then Lisa plays some chords that she’s strung together. “I don’t want to sing yet,” she says but lyrics from the back of my mind are supplied for the moment: “And makes one little room an everywhere.” This line from a poem by John Donne surprises me and I want to tell Lisa that it’s for her but she’s playing and I close my eyes and listen to the chords of her nascent song. My desire for insight into memory and change is fulfilled with gentle waves of bliss.

   With her guitar strumming talent, with her puddle-sized blue eyes, with her house proud nature, with her supernatural love of horses, with her neurotic quirks, with her ardent devotion to family and friends, with her bird-song voice, with her concern for delicate details, with her snoopy nature that wants to unearth all the secrets of a stranger’s heart, with her laughter that giggles up in joy, with her gestures that articulate a deeply felt vision, with her love that I feel to my core, with her buried Irish brogue, with her turns from gentle to fierce.

   She makes one little memory an everywhere.


     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.

   Over the past five months I’ve been writing a short-short story everyday on this blog. Today however is the end of the line. I’ve been writing this blog as a place to test some of ideas about what makes and what doesn’t make a site suck.  There are some good features on this blog and some not so good features. There’s a continuous theme of somebody admitting they are the real individual behind this blog which might be interesting or annoying depending on your tolerance for ambiguity and this is followed by a different kind of story everyday. That’s the overall concept of the blog but there are few visuals and the layout is quite simple. But what do you think? In the next six days, I’m going to ask you to provide any feedback you might have in the comment section below. The person providing the best feedback for the blog will be mailed a collection of short-short stories, Fast Fictions. It usually goes for 10 bucks so this is a nifty little offer. 

  And here’s today’s short-short story…



Killing Someone is Harder than You Think


   Wednesday evening, in the kitchen, she teaspoons out two helpings of the poison into his glass of water. Upstairs the toilet flushes and she quickly stirs the crystals until they dissolve into an apparent absence. After this she tosses the spoon into the sink where it clanks a couple times but she thinks better and picks it up to rinse it under hot water.

   “Deep cleaning the spoon?” he yawns as he passes to pick up his glass of water.

    “You can never be to sure,” she smiles but he’s not listening to her. He’s sleep walking his well-worn path to bed. In the morning he needs to get a head start on his marketing strategy for the Flecher account but all that work is safely stowed away at the back of his mind. He can’t afford to think about anything right now. 

    In the bedroom he places the glass of water on the nightstand, folds his clothes into a neat pile – next to Thursday’s pile – and slips into bed without messing up the sheets. He breathes in through his nostrils and breathes out through his mouth. He falls asleep.

    In the middle of the night, however, he wakes up to a lopsided duvet. She’s been having a fitful night of anxiety and half-nightmares and the sheets have rippled out waves of worry. He gets up to go to the toilet and when he gets back into bed he gives the sheets a shake but the edge of the duvet knocks over his untouched glass of water which falls onto the alarm-radio knocking some of its transistors out of commission. What he notices is that Thursday’s pile of clothes is soaked. The digital time display reads 4:22. He’ll clean it up in the morning.

    But in the morning, the alarm fails to go and he sleeps in until nine. He arrives late for work with no ideas and loses the account. At twelve o’clock he punches the bathroom wall but in the mirror he can’t believe his pose. Who cares? something inside him whispers and his organized mind reshuffles all the days and weeks and years that have led to this juvenile outburst. For twelve years he’s been working too hard. On his lunch break he goes home to burst into her afternoon routine. What was she worried about that led to such a horrible sleep?  He swings open the front door to surprise her with a bouquet of flame-tipped lilies and roses but she’s on a ladder in the foyer changing a bulb on the chandelier. The door knocks over the ladder and her head lands on the edge of a table. 

   At her funeral, he cries that it was one of her unknown, late-night fears that brought him back to life.