Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hands and Faces and Coughs and Drinks and Conversation and a Pocket

They sat across from each other. The man looked up at her occasionally, but only because he was sure she was doing the same. She was not.

He put his hand on the table. Someone ordered something. He turned to see who it was. She was fat with purple eyes. She might have been smiling. He couldn’t tell. He turned back and looked at the woman across from. Did you hear that man hiccup earlier?

She looked at the man for the first time. No.

He laughed at this, one sharp, piercing bleat, and then looked down. I didn’t either. And he grunted after he said this.

She stood up. I was waiting for a drink. She didn’t look at him when she said this.

I know, he said. But in fact he hadn’t known. I am too.

She sat back down. They waited for a drink together, though neither ordered one. The drink was simply expected, or rather it was assumed. Sitting, both thought, should result in a drink. And so they sat together waiting.

After a time the man looked back over at the woman. Do you play cards?

She didn’t. What about chess?

Yes, she did play chess, though she wasn’t in the mood.

Neither am I. He put his head down. I was just… but he didn’t continue. He scratched his face with his hand.

Finally one of them coughed. I must go.

Yes. Fine. Ok. And as the woman got up from the table the man put his hands in his pockets.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Crouton the Lamp

She owned a small lamp she called Crouton. Crouton, she would whisper to it late at night, I miss you.

She lived in a small apartment. She shared it with dozens of other things: books, pots, two towels, a camera, a mattress, a sink, etc. Each of them had a name. Sometimes she would forget one of the names and so would call it something different. She hated having to remember so many names and wanted to get rid of it all. But she couldn’t, for she hated being alone.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Following a Woman for a Moment

There is a woman. She is part of this story. She wears brown clothes and has brown hair. Men, or some men anyway, desire her. Others do not. She has two or three somewhat close friends who she speaks to when she must. Her apartment is modest, her skin is fair, her father is a professional of some sort, her university degree is from an accredited school, etc. She likes certain things she does, though for the most part she is bored. One day, the day that this brief history takes place, she comes across a cat. Like most people, she is not immediately repulsed by the thing. She approaches it, extends a hand and coos. The cat tries to bite her, then begins hissing. The woman is frightened. She hurries past the cat. When she gets back to her apartment she locks her door as if the cat might be following her. But it is not. Nothing is. Except us.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Certain Feelings Sometimes Fail To Correspond To What Most People Would Probably, More Often Than Not, Refer To As Reality

I fell into a small cup of fish. Not really, of course. But I thought I had.

It was a damp, noisome place. It was not at all what I’d hoped I’d fall into. But, like I said, I hadn’t actually fallen into it. It just seemed like that, for a moment, and then it passed. And now I don’t feel like I’ve fallen anywhere at all. I feel fine, more or less.

Friday, March 27, 2009


…and her eyebrows, her stripes, her smiles and screams and soft, unseen sighs…

Thursday, March 26, 2009

An Agreeable Situation, III

The more he typed, the less he said. Of late he had typed so much he could hardly say anything at all. Nobody noticed, however, because nobody expected him to say much anyway. And so he went on typing and being silent, and the others went on talking as they always had.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shuffles Eats Only What It Wants

A goat named Shuffles eats only what it wants. One man, not knowing this, tried to feed Shuffles a cake as he passed it on the road. Shuffles refused it, so the man continued dejectedly down the road, alone.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Clip's Mother

Clip hadn’t eaten his supper. His mother wanted quite badly to scold him for this, but she was somewhat afraid of her son. So she said nothing, and Clip ate nothing.

Monday, March 23, 2009

An Uninteresting Discussion on an Uninteresting Subject, Blankets, and the Men Found Within, and, Eventually, Tears

Enjoying a blanket is not an easy thing. For one, there is the question of authenticity. That is to say, who made the blanket? Or rather, what is it made of? Or then again, what patterns can be detected on its surface? Or, or, or, and on and on. Questions of this sort, as well as of other sorts, surely, often arise when considering a blanket. They can also arise, but with slightly less frequency, in regards to children. One often finds oneself asking, Who made that child? Of what is it made? Why is it patterned so? And on and on and on.

Other things people occasionally find themselves asking questions about: spectacles, doorframes, celery, robust women, fans (electric, handheld, and the human sort), forests, lunch, refrigeration, &c &c. Other things too, surely, or most probably.

Inside of every blanket you’ll find a man, as they say. But people, of late, have forgotten some not insignificant thing about the sort of men one finds inside of blankets: they’re boring. Yes, they’re boring. Nearly every man I’ve ever met inside of a blanket has bored me nearly to tears. I say nearly because I never cry. I don’t have the capacity. I am all dried up. Desiccated. It is sad really. Or not. Not sad like a blanket anyway. Few things are though. And that, more likely than not, is why people ask so many questions about them. Though, obviously, that is not necessarily so.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Painting, a Picture, and a Coat

He hadn’t taken off his coat in some time. Others complained of this, though he wasn’t aware of it. He liked the coat a great deal, so it probably wouldn’t have had any effect anyway, him becoming aware of the others’ complaints, that is. He might have grumbled a bit, as he often did, or he might have felt a little silly, but he almost surely wouldn’t have taken the coat off or checked to see if it smelled. A coat, he felt, ought not be removed or too closely inspected. In fact, he felt this about nearly all things – they ought to be worn no matter how onerous, disregarded no matter how noisome, etc. In short, coats, like people or advertisements or seats or celery, ought for the most part to simply be ignored, overlooked, unscrutinized, etc., for once these things are inspected too closely, very little can be done but complain.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An Interminable Initiation

A photograph of him as a child hung near the floor of his room. He would look down at it from time to time. He was wearing a plaid shirt, and one of his hands was showing. This photograph, a photograph of absolutely no consequence, was printed in the year 1987. In 1988, something horrible had happened to him. Since then a number of more or less horrible things had happened to him. But none, one might argue, as horrible as that first horrible thing. It had been a sort of initiation, an initiation which, unlike most initiations, had never concluded.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Visiting Old Loves

She had brown hair and pretty features. A man once photographed her for a magazine, but the magazine never actually used a picture of her. Her features were not that pretty, after all.

She slunk about when no one was looking, and she only rarely brushed her teeth. Kissing her was still fun though, or so some thought. On weekends she would visit a man she had once loved and who now lived in an institution outside the city. They never said much to each other during these meetings, but they looked at each other a great deal. She forgot how they had met and so did he. They never talked about the past though. They mostly just sat and looked at one another. When she returned to the city she would cry. It was never about anything in particular. She simply sat and cried. He would cry too, often. Though when he cried people would crowd about him and ask him questions. He would never respond to any of their questions. He hadn’t responded to a question in a great number of years. He tried not to think about questions. He mostly just tried to sleep. When the woman would arrive on the weekends he would smile. He didn’t know why this stranger with the pretty features was visiting him, so he didn’t know what else to do but look and smile. She held his hand once, and this had made him cry a great deal more than usual. She had felt like holding it for a long time, but something had always prevented her from doing so. On this occasion she had mustered the courage to finally do it. She reached out and grabbed his hand. It was drier than she remembered, and she almost laughed. He turned away from her when she touched him. She left a few moments later and the next weekend she didn’t come. The following weekend she returned, however, and continues to do so to this day.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Realizing at a Certain Point That There Isn’t Much Point in Carrying on with Whatever It Is You Are Carrying on With

She couldn’t recall having agreed to meet the man at noon, as he later claimed that she had. Instead at noon she had had a sandwich. It had been a ham sandwich, she said to the man, with a piece of cheese on it. She hadn’t minded the taste of it, but it hadn’t struck her as particularly noteworthy either. “Just a bit of ham with a slice of cheese, really.” For his part, he couldn’t have cared less what she thought about the sandwich. He was still upset. “But you had promised to meet me at noon, not some sandwich.” “Well I didn’t meet the sandwich,” she replied. “ I ate it.” And there was really very little he could say to this, for it was true, she hadn’t met the sandwich at all, but instead had eaten it. Still, he was not entirely pacified. “Nonetheless, it doesn’t settle why you didn’t meet me at noon.” “No,” she replied, “it doesn’t.” And it became clear to the man that there wasn’t much point in pursuing the point any further.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Several Words Accompanied by Several Simple Phrases


Through which a secret message was passed. The message: smudged, thus rendered illegible.


A twig, or some such thing, on a sweater. The owner of the sweater, a corpulent man with a red face, curses. Then he puts his hand to his mouth.


Intended to light their way, fails, and results, tragically, in tragedy.


The shape of a skull, perhaps, or a shape drawn on the back of a receipt. A pile of tissue has accumulated on the man’s desk. He hangs his head in shame, certain that someone might someday notice.


The woman I met the other night. Said things similar to things I might myself say, though her things were said with a smile.


A frank but foreign species, inclined to indolence and altogether lacking certain social skills. Once captured, it should be treated with insolence.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Not Knowing How To Say Something, So Deciding To Say It With a Horn

A man, declaring his love to a box, blows his horn. The box says nothing in response, but its silence seems to the man to suggest at least a slight reciprocation.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A thought came to him. Perhaps she hadn’t meant to. Perhaps. And then a sort of smile broke across his face, for she most surely had.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Woman in the Plaid Coat and Plop. Also, a Journalist.

Walking this way, Plop decided to turn and go the other way. A journalist approached him. Why did you do that? the journalist asked. I’ve forgotten, Plop replied. And then the two stopped speaking.

A woman in a plaid coat once said to a man she didn’t recognize, I haven’t forgotten you at all. But she had. She was a liar.

Plop met this woman at the bank once. She had complimented his hair. But she hadn’t meant it. And Plop could tell. When he went home he shaved off all his hair. The two never ran into each other again.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Man, a Chair, a Priest, a Barber

In place of a bed he had a chair. It wasn’t a particularly comfortable chair, but, as he said, it would do. He had ducktaped the seat in place, and the legs were nailed into the floor. When attackers would try to push him over in his chair, it wouldn’t budge. But no one ever tried attacking him. Once when he was a boy, an older man had told him that beds were no good. Whether this had any influence on his decision to not have a bed, a decision he made much later on in life, is not certain.

This chair then, the one nailed down to the floor, served a number of different functions. He used it, like most people with a chair, to sit in, but he, unlike most others with a chair, also used it to make love in, to sleep in, and to work in. Women adored making love in the chair, but they didn’t much care for sleeping in it. Thus he rarely had overnight companions. Like so much in this story, it is not certain how he felt about this.

For brevity’s sake, we will conclude with the following short anecdote, unrelated to either the man or the chair but, in some slight way (perhaps), germane: a priest and a barber were sharing a sandwich. One of the men looked at the other and said, “What’s on yours?” The other man replied, “Same as what’s on yours.” And both men had a hearty laugh over this.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Civic Pride

Very few people ride trains these days. Some lament this fact, though most don’t bother thinking much about it. One of the former is called Bulb. Bulb used to ride the trains a great deal and, compared with most others, still does. Though his health prevents him from riding as often as he’d ultimately like, he is able to hop aboard at least once a month. He never takes the train to any place in particular. To his thinking, a train is a thing without a destination. This is problematic for Bulb because there are often people on trains who collect tickets, and since he never has a destination, he never has a ticket. Thus, Bulb never gets very far when he travels. Sometimes he’ll pick a car that is far enough from where the ticket takers begin taking tickets that he’ll remain on the train until after it gets out of the station, but this is the exception more than the rule. For the most part, Bulb is expelled from the train well before it leaves the station. This is too bad, perhaps, for Bulb, but it should fill us citizens with great pride, for even though our trains are nowadays nearly totally unused, we still employ enough people to eject those few souls who would actually care to use them.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Being a Sister and Having an Avocation

A woman sits at a table peeling a hard-boiled egg. Once peeled, she stuffs the thing into her mouth. From the table she grabs a squirt-bottle of mayonnaise. She raises this to her mouth and shoots a thick, white stream of the stuff into her mouth. This, coupled with her saliva, works to break down the egg. Then she smashes the egg against her teeth with her tongue, though she never allows herself to chew. Finally she swallows and, for the most part, it all goes down. What’s left she picks out with her tongue and sucks noisily down.

She picks up another egg from her plate and turns it over in her hand. Then she raises it up and tosses it across the room. It explodes against a portrait hanging on the wall, a portrait of her brother. Yolk runs down the portrait in thick yellow rivulets. This egg, apparently, had not been hard-boiled. She chuckles, then takes up another egg. She begins peeling it, and the entire process begins again. This is the sister’s most cherished avocation.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


There is a home video of a woman. She is lying on a mattress naked. She doesn’t know she is being videotaped. You can hear the breathing of the person videotaping her. You can also see when he reaches his hand out and touches the woman. He sets it down on her thigh. It is a thin hand, and the sleeping woman doesn’t stir as it caresses her. Then the person videotaping the woman steps back so that the naked woman falls out of the frame. There are a few seconds of video left where the person with the thin hand jostles the camera about, but nothing can be clearly distinguished in these frames. I found this videotape upstairs. There was a piece of tape with a small, childish scrawl on it. It read: paean.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mr. Round Roundly’s Gray Curtain

A thick curtain obscures the window. Two women pace outside, staring up at it. It stares phlegmatically down at them, unflinching, uncaring, quiescent, a sort of haughty rebuke to their supplicating eyes.

Behind it lays all sorts of things. A table, for instance, and a chair. There is painting of a mallard, its beak swollen with yellow, its head a dark, sickly green. One of the women on the street has a mallard tattoo on her thigh, though she has never seen this painting.

For lunch the two women share a sandwich. One of them doesn’t eat bread, and the other won’t eat anything but bread. This makes for a felicitous arrangement. Both sit chewing their food in silence, only occasionally letting their eyes drift from the curtain.

The curtain is gray. It was purchased at in auction in 1929. The woman who had initially bid on it had been from Ohio. She didn’t bid high enough, however, and so returned to Ohio empty-handed.

The person who had won the curtain was called Edward G. Roundly. His grandson, Round Roundly, had inherited the curtain. He didn’t care for the thing, but left it hanging out of respect for a man he hardly ever knew. It has remained untouched for well over a decade.

The women met Round at a bar. Round met all his women at a bar. If he were to condescend to come out and speak with these women, he would probably tell them they’d be better off going back to the bar and trying to meet some other nice young man. But Round never condescended to come down to speak with his women, and so these women, good women really, healthy, pretty, sufficiently amiable, etc., will pace about outside for hours, staring up at the gray curtain, and yet neither will ever get to stare at the man they both want so badly to be staring at: Mr. Round Roundly. For Mr. Roundly, as perhaps evidenced by this story, is a far more fascinating character than the gray curtain, though we will not have an opportunity to stare at him either.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

24 Words

Two men limp towards each other. “A brisket?” “No, turkey.” “Fine.” The two men laugh heartily at this, then limp away from each other.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Park Is No Place To Be During A Storm

It began in a park, as such things so often do. A woman in a hat, a man with a limp, three brown paper bags, a mother, two friends, &c &c. One of the women present asks one of the men present if he’d like a scoop of ice cream. The woman is an employee of Cold Lips, an ice cream distributor. She hates ice cream herself. The man she addressed hates ice cream too. “No I wouldn’t.” He turns away from the woman. One of the other people present picks up a brown paper bag. “May I have this?” She doesn’t address this question to anyone, so no one responds.

A storm descends. People generally vacate parks when the weather is stormy. These people were no different. They all left the park at once.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

From Time to Time, Sitting

He stepped forward, then turned around. There wasn’t anyone there. He took another step forward. Then he sat down.

Two weeks later he stood up. His legs being a bit stiff, he decided he might try leaping. He hardly got off the ground. Ashamed, he looked behind himself. Still, no one was there.

Months and months have passed since he last sat down. He looks down at the ground longingly. He likes sitting. Then he turns around. Someone is standing behind him. It is a large man without much of a face.

“May I sit down,” he asks the large man.

And the man without much of a face says, “From time to time.”

Grateful, the man turns away from the man without much of a face. No one is there. He turns back around. The man without much of a face is gone. Pity, he thinks to himself, and then begins to think all sorts of other thoughts.