(Originally published December 9, 2015)
By Nick Dunster
The elderly tenant called me up to make a formal complaint, insisting that I visit him in person that cold, December morning.
“It’s that immoral young woman over there,” he explained, gesturing toward a window in an adjacent block. “Every day she wanders around in her apartment with no clothes on. It’s really not acceptable.”
I peered across. “Well,” I said, “I can’t see anything.”
“Ah no,” the tenant explained. “You can’t see anything from there. You’ll have to stand on this table and then lean your shoulder against this wall. Then you’ll have the right angle.”
By James Rumpel
I turned on my TV so I could watch the press conference. Representatives of every movie studio, broadcast television company, and streaming provider were seated on a large stage. Each had a dour look on their face.
One of the CEOs stood and slowly walked to the podium. She addressed the cameras and crowd of reporters, “We regret to inform you that, as of last night, we have now filmed and produced every story possible. There are no more new stories to be told.”
I turned to my wife and said, “You know, I think I’ve seen this one before.”
James Rumpel is a retired high school math teacher who enjoys trying to turn some of the odd ideas in his brain into actual stories.
By Karen Southall Watts
Help wanted. Needed: someone with advanced degree who will take the same wages they earned flipping burgers in college. Also helpful: a lifetime of experience, but please be young and attractive. Bubbly and outgoing in the interview, but be willing to join a team of defeated people who hate this place. A master of empathy and soft skills to help us deal with customers, but don’t expect us to treat you like a human with value. Unwavering company loyalty a plus. Please upload your resume and then retype all the same information into our system. We might contact you.
“I keep writing as a tonic to modern life.” – the writer
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
By Lisa H. Owens
There’s a saying that goes something like this: Give a man an egg, and he’ll eat breakfast. Give a man a hen, and he’ll build a chicken-coop, nurture his hen’s hatchlings—fending off predators with his new shotgun. Incubate the baby chicks with heat lamps, ensuring they have high-end feed and spring-water. Repair the coop, keep the run spotless—naming the hens as they mature—the roosters becoming roasted Sunday Suppers. He’ll jump for joy once the hens start laying—rising early to gingerly collect the eggs. By then, he’ll be broke, exhausted—sick of eggs—choosing cereal for breakfast.
“I write to fill in the gaps.” – the writer
By Peggy Gerber
His hearing faded like an old photograph, so slowly and imperceptibly he didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. Little by little he began isolating, spending less time with family and friends, in complete denial of his affliction. When his children began begging him to get his hearing checked, he would shout, “Stop treating me like an old man. My hearing is just fine.”
Eventually, his family staged an intervention and he reluctantly went to his doctor to be fitted with hearing aids.
Next holiday dinner his grandchildren cheered, “Hooray, Grandpa’s back.”
Grandpa laughed, “Kids, please keep the volume down.”
“I write for relaxation. It is the best therapy in the world.” – the writer
By Roberta Beary
Judy spent her days doing two things: arguing with the butcher over the best scraps of meat for Jim and writing her novel. At night she’d read Jim her latest chapter, sentence by sentence. He was her best critic. One bark = delete. Two barks = needs work. Three barks = great writing. With Jim’s critical insights, Judy had 300 pages. Till she hit her one bark slump. Judy couldn’t stand that. Jim, now listen good. I’m reading you the whole damn thing. 36 hours later, Judy had three pages of great writing. Finally, The New Yorker emailed Judy. Her story was exceptional.
Roberta Beary identifies as gender-fluid. A survivor of trauma, they write for the silenced.
By Phil Temples
The two Siamese twins lived amicably together until they learned the doctors could separate them. They quarreled about it; the sister stabbed him to death with a kitchen knife. She later died.
“I write because I need more satisfaction in my life beyond what I get with the care and feeding of machines. (I’m a computer systems administrator.)” – the writer
By John L. Malone
I’ve got a poem for you, a very short one, he promised with a garrulous grin, and then, in a long-winded introduction in which all the masters of brevity were cited from Basho to Lydia Davis, he proceeded to demolish all notions of shortness. The poem took ten seconds, the intro five minutes.
John Malone is a South Australian writer of short stories, flash fiction and poetry.
By Doug Jacquier
That skinny German tourist’s leg didn’t really agree with me yesterday. Mostly gristle and I’ve still got lederhosen stuck in my teeth. Parked the rest of him under a log for a few days to mature.
Still feeling a pit peckish. Saw a mother duck and brood floating past. I thought ‘Yum, baby ducks’. Ate my lunch and had a nap in the sun on the river bank. Later, mother duck came back searching for her ducklings. She looked so distressed I put her out of her misery.
Sentimental, I know, but that’s just the sweet guy I am.
“I see my writing as sea shells which, when placed against the ear, whisper cryptic messages from an Other Place, just in case other people are in an Other Place, too.” – the writer