8thdayfiction

…and on the 8th day, micro fiction was published on some dude's blog.

Archive for the month “November, 2012”

Ralph Spaghettio

“Hi. I’m Stephanie.”

“Nice to meet you, Stephanie. I’m Ralph–Ralph Spaghettio.”

He braced himself for the usual reaction he received whenever he gave his full name: Laughter, corny jokes at his expense that almost always included the phrase “Uh-oh!”, other assorted nonsense that he’d heard a million times. It always made him cringe.

Stephanie stared at him, then said “It’s my deh-day. I’m fwee!” and held up three fingers.

“Well, happy birthday!”

“Stephanie, don’t talk to strangers”, said her mother in the next chair over. She put her arm around her daughter.

Ralph should have been offended–Really, lady? You think I’m going to abduct your daughter, in the middle of the DMV, in front of you and, what, ten, twelve other witnesses?–but he didn’t care.

It was a good day. He had finally met someone who hadn’t made fun of his name.

And, when all was said and done, he was still heir to the SpaghettiOs fortune.

Seriously: Ralph was CRAZY rich.

*****

For my big girl Liliana, who turns “fwee” today. Thank you for being such a sweetheart!

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Small Talk

Dave turned to his cousin as they sat there watching the game.

“You know, they call baseball “America’s Pastime”, but sometimes I think football really deserves that title these days. It sure seems to be the more popular sport of the two, don’t you think?”

His cousin turned to him, stared at Dave for few seconds with his mouth slightly agape, then replied, “But…I thought America’s pastime was, like, what happened yesterday, or when Jimmy Carter was President, or World War II, or Ben Franklin.”

“Well, no–I…never mind. I was thinking of something else.”

They both went back to staring at the TV.

Dave took a long pull off his bottle of beer and remembered once again why it was a bad idea to try to make small talk with Wendell.

Cruelty-Free

Marsha picked up one of the containers and got the attention of the guy manning the booth.

“Hi. So, what is “cruelty-free” hummus?”

“Well, in our process we don’t smash or grind the chickpeas. We lightly massage them one-by-one until each breaks down into a paste-like substance. Then, of course, we add the olive oil, lemon juice, tahini, and seasonings.”

“So, if you don’t mind me asking: Why?”

“Well, we believe each chickpea has a soul, and that lightly massaging each one individually into a paste is the most humane way to send that soul on to its next plane of existence.”

He looked at Marsha. She stared back at him, unsure of how to respond. She had never before considered the soul of the chickpea.

He stared back earnestly for a few seconds, then burst out laughing.

“I’m just messing with you! We just use that method because it makes it taste better. Here, try a sample.”

He handed her a small pita wedge with some hummus smeared on it.

It was the best hummus Marsha had ever tasted. She immediately bought five containers of it.

It was a win-win. Marsha got some super tasty hummus–“addictive”, as she liked to call it–as well as a fun story to tell about its purchase. And Randy made some sales, and got confirmation that his adding-a-dash-of-cocaine-to-the-hummus-“seasonings” gambit totally worked.

Pretty Much A Total Failure

Gabe and Zach were reminiscing.

“You remember that stick of gum that used to come inside packs of baseball cards?”

“Yeah, man–and it was like a rock? And when you put it in your mouth and bit down on it–”

“It’d just shatter!”

“Yeah, and you’d have, like, a mouth full of sharp bubble gum shards!”

“Yeah, man! HAHA!”

Tina poked her head in the room. (Tina was not fond of Gabe, or of the “Remember when?” conversations he was always initiating with her husband).

“You know, if you two like the past so much why don’t you just make a time machine and go back? Geez!”

Gabe and Zach looked at each other and realized she was right. They got to work.

And six months later, they had built a time machine. It was basically a refrigerator box covered in tinfoil with a dial from an old TV they’d found at the junkyard stuck to the front of it and the old TV’s antenna glued on top for good measure.

Gabe and Zach were kind of idiots.

The thing didn’t even work; it only went back to 2011. “Not much of a time machine”, as Tina was fond of saying.

The guys used it anyway and decided to go back and, for some reason, try to find Lenny Dykstra and help him turn his life around.

But they never found Lenny Dykstra, and eventually they got tired of 2011 and the machine ended up in Zach and Tina’s attic, collecting dust.

Every once in a while they’d haul it out for one of the kids’ birthday parties, but mostly it stayed in the attic because it was pretty much a total failure and none of them liked to look at it and be reminded of that.

Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction For The Lazy And Noncommittal

“No Gene, I’m sorry. The answer we were looking for was “Brocktoon”. Gentlemen?”

Five men with rifles walked onstage and shot Gene, execution-style on live TV.

Because, you know, it was the future and that’s what game shows were like. The current lust for violence and exploitative tabloid culture taken to their logical extremes and what-not.

And it should have shocked people but they ate it up because it was a broken world and seeing a dude shot on live TV was the only thing people had to look forward to because the harshness of life had stripped away their empathy and left them with nothing more than simple bloodlust.

Because, you know: Dystopian society and all that.

And what’s more, that show was the number one show on TV.

So, think about it, I guess? You know, because maybe it could really happen if we’re not careful or something?

I don’t know.

Karl’s Dinner

Karl took one bite and started to gag.

He walked his plate over to the garbage can, spit the bite into the trash, then tilted his plate over the can, letting the rest of his food slide right into the trash on top of the lone bite he’d ventured.

It was disgusting. And Karl was even a fan of Taco Bell.

But they had no business trying to do Thanksgiving, and that Doritos Locos Turkey-Mashed Potato-Chipotle Cranberry Sauce Cheesy Double Decker Gordita Crunch Supreme with Gravy proved it.

Bliss

Betty pulled the tray out of the fridge and carefully set it on the counter. She opened the cupboard and got herself a plate, opened the bread box and retrieved the bread, and pulled a knife out of the silverware drawer.

She took two slices of bread out of the bag and threw them in the toaster. As they warmed up, she peeled the plastic wrap away from the tray and carefully cut two slices.

The bread popped up from the toaster, perfectly golden brown. Betty snatched up the slices, put them on her plate, and assembled her sandwich. Unable to help herself, she picked it up and took a bite before she’d begun to put things away or even walk her plate over to the table to eat.

Bliss. Betty smiled and continued chewing. And chewing.

And chewing.

She was convinced that the only thing better than Thanksgiving dinner were the several days of leftover tofurkey sandwiches afterwards.

THE SALE OF THE CENTURY

Of all the made up, commerce-driven “holidays”, Black Friday may be the most polarizing: Chances are you either love it, or love to hate it.

Casey was squarely in the former category. He was the General MacArthur of consumerism, waging war on his disposable income. He relished planning out his attack weeks in advance, scouring sales fliers and online ads and clipping coupons. He fed off the energy of the masses as he went with them, pouring into one store, then another, then another, bombarding each one and their glassy-eyed employees in succession as they opened their doors for business, one after another on that fateful, profit-driven morning.

So when an unmarked envelope arrived in Casey’s mail a week before the big day, and inside was a plain white sheet of paper that simply read:

SALE OF THE CENTURY
NOV. 23RD, 6AM
THE DANK ALLEY BETWEEN THE TARGET AND THE MICHAEL’S IN THE STRIP MALL OFF BALDWIN BLVD

Casey wasn’t creeped out, as most rational people would have been.

On the contrary, he was stoked to find out about a sale that he had not seen advertised anywhere else.

*****

Casey arrived in the alley at 5:58. No one was there, but he could hear muffled voices in the distance; Target was already open for business.

At 6AM sharp, his wandering thoughts were interrupted by a gravelly voice at his back.

“Casey Waltz?”

Casey spun around to see a large, grizzled man in a trench coat hovering over him, and at that moment, it occurred to Casey for the very first time that he might be mugged or murdered.

He took a step back.

“Who are you? How did…?”

“Easy now, Casey. Easy. I’m not here to harm you. I see you got our ad.”

“Um…yeah.”

“Good. Glad it worked. So…you’re a bit of a shopper, no?”

“Uh, yeah…yeah, I guess.”

“Good, ’cause we have something for you.” The man reached into his trench coat.

Casey flinched. He’d seen too many movies where guys who looked like that guy used that exact motion to reach for a gun, a switchblade, a hatchet–movies where guys in trench coats didn’t pull flowers out of them.

The man put out his other hand in a “calm down” motion.

“Casey, relax. I just want to show you our inventory.” He pulled out a small black leatherbound book and handed it to Casey.

“This is everything we have in stock. Take a look.”

Casey took the book and opened it. He started flipping through the pages.

A photo album, full of five-by-seven glossy celebrity headshots.

The man spoke again. “While you’re having a little look-see, allow me to explain. The individuals in that book have all, at one time or another, sold their souls to get where they are today.”

Casey continued flipping through the book. Kelly Ripa. Nick Lachey. Donald Trump. Jerry Jones. The entire Kardashian family.

The man continued. “I work for the guy who works for people who know some people who were involved with the guy who carried out the original transactions. The whole corporate structure is quite complicated and frankly, it’s a little above my pay grade. But what it boils down to is this: My employers are looking to liquidate some of their existing stock, so I’m prepared to offer you one soul, any soul you choose from our stock, at a significant discount.”

Casey looked up at the man, nodded, and kept flipping through the book. He furrowed his brow, pointed at one of the pictures, and looked back up at the man.

“Really? Tim Tebow? But I thought–“

“Yep, that’s what everyone thinks. But yes, Tim Tebow. You don’t even know.”

“Huh.”

Casey once again went back to flipping through the pages. The Situation. Tyra Banks. David Hasselhoff. Ashton Kutcher. Jessica Simpson. Oprah…

*****

Christmas morning, Casey had only one gift to give Julie, but it was a doozy.

She tore off the paper.

“It’s so light…what’s in here?” She shook the box, then opened it.

“HA HA, Case, very funny. Just what I always wanted: A picture of Ryan Seacrest.”

Casey then explained to her, as best he could without sounding insane, that what he’d given her was not just a picture of Ryan Seacrest. It was actually Ryan Seacrest’s soul.

This was followed by several rounds of arguing and accusations leveled at Casey that he’d “ruined Christmas”, which quickly escalated to an entire day’s worth of yelling (by Julie) and pleading for understanding and open-mindedness (by Casey) after he revealed that he had purchased Ryan Seacrest’s soul from an unnamed grizzled man in the dank alley between the Target and the Michael’s in the strip mall off Baldwin Blvd. for the low, low price of five hundred dollars.

But after the dust had settled, tempers had cooled, and Julie had bit her tongue long enough for Casey to go over all of the benefits of being the owner of Ryan Seacrest’s soul with her, she was on board.

Especially once she’d made first contact with Seacrest, advised him that his soul was under new ownership, and the hush money started rolling in. Because as it turned out, Julie was a naturally gifted blackmailer. About the only thing she and Casey enjoyed more than the money were things like tuning in to the Emmys red carpet pre-show to watch Ryan Seacrest, sporting a purple sequin-bedazzled tux, declaring “I love me some sequins–This suit’s for you, Liberace!”, simply because Julie had sent him a note threatening to eat his soul for breakfast with butter and syrup if he didn’t follow her EXACT instructions.

Yes, life for Casey and Julie was good. They had to hand it to that unnamed grizzled man in the dank alley between the Target and the Michael’s in the strip mall off Baldwin Blvd.–his Black Friday special really, truly had been THE SALE OF THE CENTURY.

Tom’s Anniversary

Tom rolled over in bed and opened one eye.

11:53.

He decided it was probably time to get up. He roused himself and waddled into the kitchen.

“Well, well–look who’s among the living. And actually a few minutes before noon. A bit early for you, isn’t it?”

Tom glared at her. She never missed an opportunity to be sarcastic. To remind him that she thought he was a lazy slob wasting his life.

“Mom, just–could you not today?”

“Fine, fine. I just thought that today of all days you might…”

Her voice trailed off and she went back to pretending to organize the cupboards.

“Might what, Mom? What is–”

He stopped himself as he realized what she meant by “today of all days”. It was the anniversary. The anniversary of the day his life was simultaneously saved and ruined.

Mom started up again. “It’s just, I think about how lucky you were…then I think of your cousin Jimmy, and–”

“And WHAT? WHAT, Mom? WHAT? In case you’ve forgotten–because it seems pretty obvious you have–I know how lucky I am! I’m AWARE, OK? And what makes you think that a day goes by–a minute goes by–that I don’t think of Jimmy? He was my best friend. I don’t know why I got picked and Jimmy didn’t–we didn’t even know what was happening until it was too late. I watched them take Jimmy and the others away, and I stayed. For some reason, I got to stay. I don’t know why–I’ll NEVER know why. I didn’t ask to be pardoned, Mom, so if you don’t mind could you just LAY OFF ME?!”

Silence as those last screamed words hung between them. Mom looked stricken. Tom stared daggers at her for a few seconds, catching his breath, then stormed out of the room.

He was sobbing as he re-entered his bedroom, slamming the door behind him. Getting out of bed had been a mistake.

He grabbed his half-empty bottle of Wild Human from under the bed and got back under the covers. A rainy Thanksgiving seemed like as good a day as any to spend in bed, alternately sleeping and drinking.

Another Quiet Day At Dale’s Fancy Napkin Emporium

It was another quiet day at Dale’s Fancy Napkin Emporium.

Really quiet. Once again, Dale had sent everyone home early and was manning the phones himself. Which wasn’t a problem, because they weren’t ringing.

And that gave him a lot of time to think. What had gone wrong? Was the FNE simply a victim of the lousy economy? Dale rejected that idea. He was an entrepreneur, a go-getter; he didn’t believe in the idea that there were forces beyond his control.

And it’s not like people stopped using napkins, no matter how good or bad the economy got. If ever there was a recession-proof business, fancy napkins was it.

No, Dale ended up coming to the only logical conclusion, and the one that scared him the most: He was living in a different America than the one in which he started the FNE.

A changed America. An America where people still used napkins, sure, but they were content with the crappy paper kind you use once, crumple into a ball, and throw away.

It was no longer an America were people were willing to pay a few hundred dollars for a four-pack of dry clean only napkins crafted of the finest linens with hand-embroidered gilded thread accents. It was an America where fancy napkins were considered “frivolous”–an unneccesary expense instead of a sound investment–and that made Dale sad. He figured he was probably going to have to shut the Emporium down completely before too long.

But Dale always saw the silver lining, and in this case he realized shuttering the Emporium would give him more time to focus on his new venture: High-quality men’s matching silk pocket square and ascot sets.

That is, “focus” as much as he needed to. If anything was a staple of American life, even more so than fancy napkins, it was high-quality men’s matching silk pocket square and ascot sets. Those things would totally sell themselves.

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