Short Story

Saturday Skit: Roll With It

“Smell it,” he says.

“I don’t want to smell it.” Davey lifts up the plate and pushes it towards my face. I jerk my head back, saving my nose from shame.

“Piss, right?”

“It does not smell like piss.”

“My sushi is drenched in piss, here—“ he lifts the plate higher. “Brian, I’m telling you, my rainbow roll is absolutely radiating of piss.” We stare at each other, and Davey doesn’t budge: “Smell it!”

“Get your sushi out of my face.” One by one, surrounding tables pick up our conversation and begin eating their edamame like popcorn. One skinny Japanese waitress—the one who isn’t fooling anyone with that accent—she walks by and finds us arguing.

“Ever-ting arright?” She twirls her pointer in a curl. Her name tag says Sarah.

“Fine, thanks.”

“It’s not fine,” Davey fires. “Ma’m, my rainbow roll… it…”

“Uh-huuh”

“It smells like pee.” The quick sound of a half-popped edamame shell plopping into a bowl of soy sauce is heard. Even the fish have stopped swimming. (more…)

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Saturday Short: Training Day

The following is flash fiction. Check out my other Saturday Shorts here.

Training Day

Fresh air and midday sun (through glass) taunted lungs, and the mothers and fathers, settled and unsettled; the heavy eye balls; the sleepers in the stalls—all of us—sorted and slightly rocking. Our shoes and briefcases brimmed the aisles, and our mouths coughed. Blind but secure, the train rattled, and what could we do but wait. Care for a cup of tea? Anything. Just bring me anything.

Outside the corn was dead and dry. A man sat in the window seat and was careless to view any of it (us, sanctioned together by wretched fate), staring at his shoes, considering maybe, the asphalt that marked them. “You look familiar” I finally admitted as a gesture.

The musician began. He, like all else, assumed his story was worth telling, and he spoke, and I thought about the birds: free, hungry, singing, and why fly next to trains?

“—not as easy as you think, you know.” Around my age but much richer, he hated his life as much as I hated mine. I bought a few of his records, a decade ago, and once I shook his hand in a parking lot before a gig. He was an asshole.

“Why not quit?” I keep him busy, like a four-year old with a new toy. And I wonder off: free, hungry, singing.

“There’s no career fair for me. No running away. Like a monkey I’m expected…”

If listening is a skill, we must all get it wrong. The man spoke, and I couldn’t care, and when I spoke he didn’t care. Where you out of? he’d say, shortly shifting his attention a couple rows down to a partially unbuttoned blouse on an attendant who bent forward for a piece of trash. (more…)

Saturday Skit: Give ‘Em God

The following is a scene from a larger one-act play I’m writing called GIVE ‘EM GOD. It’s about my experiences leading worship and growing up inside the church (very much still a work in progress). I’m hoping to have it finished as a final project for my playwright course in a couple weeks.

GIVE ‘EM GOD: Scene 5

College Nights

(Spotlight over YOUNG TAD and YOUNG DEBORAH, sitting on the floor in the corner. They are outside. YOUNG TAD is smoking. The Moonglows’ “Ten Commandments of Love” plays quietly in the background, repeating if necessary.)

YOUNG DEBORAH: I guess… I never really thought about it.

YOUNG TAD: Yeah?

YOUNG DEBORAH: Yeah. You know. You grow up in the church and learn not to question things. Certain things.

YOUNG TAD: So you just—

YOUNG DEBORAH: Shut it out, really.

YOUNG TAD: And here you are in college, and your professors tell you differently.

YOUNG DEBORAH: I guess so.

YOUNG TAD: Before you didn’t think much about it.  Now you have to think about it. That right?

YOUNG DEBORAH: It scares me. What if they’re right and biology and evolution and big bang and… explains all this? It’s Santa Claus all over again. How fashionable… lying to children. Somedays I do feel I’ve lost my faith. But I look everywhere for it. The cupboards, the closet, under the bathroom mat. The toaster if I’m hungry. Lord. Somedays I don’t find it.  (more…)

Saturday Skit: Science

The following is a short skit I wrote for my playwright class. Enjoy!

SCIENCE

(Lights. A public bathroom. There are seven urinals against the wall. NARRATOR stands on the corner of the stage; he wears a suit. When men enter the restroom, their movements and talking freeze as the NARRATOR speaks.)

NARRATOR: The Three P’s of Pissing. There are three instincts every man of good character must possess inside an office washroom: Position, Poise, & Posture. Here, you will find seven urinals—ladies and gentlemen—and three washing stations. We are at Brodducks & Sons Insurance Agency, corner of Park & Granger. Ahh! Yes. Our first specimen joins us. Barry, 32, man of one wife and infant child.

(BARRY enters. He stops and surveys his urinal choices.)

Ahh. All to himself. What shall he ever choose?

(BARRY selects the first urinal in the row.)

NARRATOR: How expected. How common. That’s what we get with Barry, isn’t. Yes. That’s what we expect. Notice, if I may point out, ladies and gentlemen, Barry’s posture. He’s slumping, relaxing in his own world. No poise to speak of, no. Can you blame the man? No one else around. Go ahead, Barry. Take a load off. The first urinal in the row is always chosen by men outside the pack. Familiarity. What anthropologists call “comfortable.”

(OLD BILL BAILEY enters. He stops and surveys his urinal choices.)

NARRATOR: Here we go! Let’s see what Old Bill Bailey will choose. Ladies and Gentlemen. This is where the show begins. The second male in a washroom has the worst fate; his choice claims everything. The third and fourth male don’t matter; their urinal selections are consequential to space. But Old Bill Bailey, he can choose whatever he wants, but be careful! Ladies and Gentlemen. To choose the farthest urinal—on the other side of the room—most certainly, no man of good conscious could. And Old Bill Bailey is a man of good conscious. See, choosing the farthest urinal—on the other side of the room—suggests one of two things:  (more…)

Short Story: Reality Ace

A prologue to a short story I’m writing. Happy Short Story Saturday!!! (I just made that up). Warning: Rough language.

Prologue: Reality Ace

There’s no such thing as reality. Reality TV, that is. Viewers assume—we want them to; if not, we’d be on welfare—cameramen show up and start following strangers, like assholes.

No, no, honey. There’s contracts and lighting, and scripts. Have you ever seen a producer without a script? Me neither. When a producer’s involved you can bet there’s going to be a script. It’s going to be fake; that’s what you pay for—entertainment. It’s an industry, baby, and we don’t leave shit to chance.

A jungle, a deserted island, a cooking contest, it doesn’t matter. Reality TV is no better, no different than professional wrestling (sometimes, wrestlers wear more clothes); we know the winner (you know we do), and we know the outcome (you’ve got to know).

That’s what I do. Ace Jordan. I produce outcomes.

CBS, I started there. Every two years some new hotshot out of UCLA film studies guns for your job. So I ended up at NBC, but what did they know? Nothing, it turns out. A year later I moved on to basic cable with two offers: “Heels on the Hills,” (for lovers of rich, white suburban wife drama), and “Ghost Walk,” a run of the mill ghost hunters program.

I chose “Heels” for the paycheck, but it cancelled after three episodes. Pulling some strings, I found myself on the set of “Ghost Walk” as a location scout.

The show’s main producer, Jerry, told me the first season was filmed entirely in a studio. By season two the network asked him to branch out. 

“A real circus act,” says Jerry and it’s true. We’ve filmed in abandoned state hospitals and creaky old cabins—the locations, I find them all. It’s a shit job, but it’s mine, and I take it seriously. That’s the only way to get ahead: take your shit-job seriously.

Our indomitable hosts, Michael, Brad, and Aisla, are as good as any I’ve seen. On TV they’re touched, thrown down, and spoken to by entities. People ask me if I ever get scared while filming on location. I tell them that, often, we retake cuts due to crew laughter. Everything’s staged.

And honestly? Brad deserves an Oscar.

Tomorrow we head to Upstate New York, a little town outside of Rochester. (The worst part of canceling “Heels” and gaining “Walk” was the move from Los Angeles to New York. I’ve got a mouse-hole for an apartment, costing me what a three bedroom in the Valley did). There’s this old abandoned house in Pittsford I found—empty for nearly thirty years, the city is tearing it down—it’s perfect. We’re claiming it as the site of a 1942 family murder in Pennsylvania (that never happened) and interviewing fake neighbors for hire.

Ghosts are as fake as a Food Network cooking contest and I know the winner, the outcome. All I need is a paycheck and a way out, a way back to the Emmys.

Just give me a way out.

Short Story: Jake’s Jacket

The water’s just too damn cold.

Jake stood on the shore of California’s blue expanse, examining its horizon, noting the abnormalities under it. The ocean seemed empty to Jake. Sure, there was life teeming underneath, but nothing above he could see. The waves tumbled; the sea foam, in clockwork, came and went—hugging Jakes’s ankles, offering shallow solace.

Born on a farm in Pennsylvania, standing now, ankle deep, at the edge of existence. How did I—

“Why don’t you come back in?” Michael’s voice stole Jake away from his thoughts. He reached out his hand, “Let’s talk.” Michael’s body, not yet in the water but just out of grasp of the ocean’s reaching, rippling fingers, awaited response.

A black dot broke the surface in the closest series of waves.

“There!” pointed Jake, his arm outstretched, “Do you see it?” He laughed. A black seal broke the surface twenty yards or so from where they stood. “He’s come to watch me die,” Jake turned around and met Michael’s stare, offering a deflated grin,  “and you too?”

“Come on out.”

“DON’T!” Jake yelled, closing his eyes and breathing heavily. “NO!” He began to scream. Michael shot his hands in the air.

“Nothing in my hands.” Michael signaled, “Nothing in my hands.”

– – –

Inching slowly, ever so slowly, Michael approached Jake. Cold seeped in through Michael’s shoes and bit his skin. Jake had since opened his eyes and was reexamining the water. Finally, the two stood side-by-side; Jakes’s explosive vest was visible to Michael for the first time.

“Every inch you move is another towards death, my friend.”

“There’s no gun…”

“… so its been since birth.”

Michael closed his eyes in defeat.

The seal again broke the surface and Jake smiled. “I’m glad you’re here.”

picstitch

A short story exercise, 300 words or less. My first in a while. Thoughts?