Short Fiction

What in the World

“Okay, so dig this – ”

“Did you just say dig?”

“Yes, I did. Anyway, I was just in the bathroom, right, and – ”

“Yeah, no shit, we are standing outside of it.”

“I swear to God you’re going to let me finish this. So – ”

“Okay, go ahead.”

“Fuck you.”

“What? Tell me what happened in the men’s restroom.”

“I don’t want to tell you now.”

“Why?”

“Because you were a dick and now the story is ruined.”

“Oh, you baby. Tell me.”

“No.”

They started walking toward the exit. She grabbed his arm and turned him around.

“Please tell me?”

“No.”

“Why!” she whined.

“Because.”

“Because why!”

“Honestly, given time to reassess, I figured it isn’t the best story to tell.”

“Okay, now I have to know. Please! I’ll make it worth your while.”

“Oh, really now?”

“Yes.”

“And how is that?”

“You’ll just have to find out.”

“Fuck. Fine. Okay. So I go to use the urinal. There are four lined up on the wall. The three at the end are like standard height, and the one nearest the door is lower for kids. In observance of the buffer rule – are you familiar with the buffer rule?”

“Don’t mansplain the buffer rule to me. Girls do it with stalls. Continue.”

“My apologies. At any rate, I go to the far stall. Two guys walk in, I assume they’re buddies, and one guy goes to the nearest tall urinal to the door, and the other guy uses the kiddie urinal.”

“Why didn’t he use the big one?”

“The kiddie urinal only alters the buffer if it would not cause consecutive users. You never complete a chain of guys if there is another option available.”

“If someone else walked in, what should they do?”

“Someone did walk in.”

“What did they do?”

“They went to a stall.”

“Jesus fucking Christ.”

“At any rate, the guy using the taller urinal started giving his buddy shit, saying ‘Ha! You’re using the urinal for guys with small dicks!’ Then his buddy said – ”

“Wait, wouldn’t the smaller urinal be for a guy with a bigger dick because it would hang lower?”

“God damn you.”

“What?”

“That’s exactly what his friend said. You ruined the story. You are the killer of joy,” he said. He turned away from her and started walking away. She followed him as he pouted to the car. He got in the car and turned it on before her hand was even on the passenger door handle.

“Wait, are you actually mad?”

“A little.”

“What? Why?”

“You just interrupted me like, thirty times.”

“You interrupt people all the time!”

“Like when?”

“Forget it.”

“No, you don’t get to just make a claim and not provide supporting evidence.”

“I don’t fucking care enough about this conversation to do so.”

“That’s because you don’t have an example.”

“Oh yes, yes I do,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“Then fucking enlighten me.”

“Whoah now, guy, you want to cool it?”

“Me cool it? You’re the one saying I interrupt people after you spent the past five minutes interrupting me!”

“Seriously, I don’t want to do this. Stop.”

“Fucking fine.”

He drove her home. He put on some music. She hated it. He knew she hated it. When they got back to their apartment, he flipped on all the lights and grabbed a beer. He sat down in the living room and turned on the TV. She turned off all the lights behind him and went to bed. He stayed up, watching some old movie until he passed out. He woke up to the TV blaring about some revolutionary culinary device, able to fry anything you placed inside of it without the use of oil. It was still dark out. He thought about getting up from the couch and walking into the bedroom with her, but he could move his body. He wanted to change the channel, but the remote was on the end table by his feet. He watched the infomercial describe the miraculous machine, a final cure-all to all of our home frying woes. Both safe, fast, and energy efficient, the whatever-the-fuck-it-is was going to shift our kitchen’s paradigm.

He got up from the couch. A blanket fell off of him. He didn’t remember it being there before. He walked into the bedroom and laid down on the bed. She wasn’t there.

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Don’t Blink

“Don’t blink.”

“What?”

“Just don’t do it!”

“Okay fine,” he said. She ripped the splinter from his foot. “Ah, fuck! God damn it.”

“You blinked!”

“What the fuck does blinking have to do with anything?”

“I don’t know. Just to give you something else to focus on,” she laughed.

He started bleeding from the gaping hole that the sliver of wood from her apartment porch rented in his foot. She went to the bathroom to grab some gauze and bandage wrap. He couldn’t recall if he even owned band-aids. She came back and wrapped up his foot. He wanted to cry but he wouldn’t. He did a poor job of hiding it.

It was the morning after their second date, if you counted the first one as a date. The first one they were hanging out at a small get-together at a mutual friend’s house. They developed an immediate rapport, he with his insistence on dominating a conversation whilst trying to be funny and she with her actually being funny. They spoke only to one another. They got so lost in their conversation the host had to kick them out, as everyone but them had already left. Upon leaving she asked him if he wanted to go to a bar or something for a nightcap, he declined.

Their second date was a real date. Dinner. Movie. He wasn’t that creative. She didn’t appear to mind. During dinner they were rapt in the the same rapport they had developed at the party. He asked her what she was going to order before their waiter came by. When it was time to order, he ordered for her. She was not impressed. She told him it didn’t count as charming if she had told him what she wanted to order. He apologized, she said not to sweat it, she was just joking. At those words his heart rate settled back down, he was worried he had blown it.

The movie they saw was one of those ensemble comedies where some famous comedian and his friends smoke a bunch of weed. It was only okay, but they laughed through it. They agreed they’ve both spent $20 on worse things.

After the movie, he drove her home and she invited him upstairs. He relented at first, but she insisted. He relented at his relenting. They went upstairs and drank some more, talked some more, and they had sex. It was good. He could see himself doing so again. She said she enjoyed it, which he took as either true or indicative of her grace that she would bother to lie to him about it.

That next morning she got up and made him coffee. She brought it to him in bed, telling him that she would be out on the porch if he was ready to get up, if not, that was cool too. She was wearing a big t-shirt that went a quarter-way down her thigh. As she walked away he had to follow. He got up and threw on his shirt and pants and followed her outside. He was barefoot and with the first step on to the porch the wood bit him. He yelped.

After she cleaned him up and he came to his senses beyond the pain in his foot, he could smell something from the kitchen.

“Hey, what smells so good?” he asked.

“Oh, I’m making cinnamon rolls.”

“Awesome, how much longer until they are ready.”

“I don’t know, thirty minutes?”

“Oh, okay,” he said. He looked at his phone. It was 9:30 am. He had to be at work by 1:00 pm.

“Do you not like cinnamon rolls?”

“No, it’s just that I have to get to work soon and, yeah.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I was just hoping we could hang out for a bit and I could do wifey stuff for you.”

“Oh, well, I can hang out for a little bit, I guess.”

“Okay, cool.”

They chit-chatted while they waited on the cinnamon rolls, but it wasn’t the same kind of conversation they had at the party or at dinner the night before. It was small talk. Work. Where they went to school. It was boring. When the cinnamon rolls were ready he ate his before it had cooled off. He inhaled his before she reached the third bite of hers.

“Wow, dude, do you want another one?” she said. She smiled. She thought it was cute.

“I wish,” he said, “but I’m cutting it close now.” It was 10:15 am. Her smiled turned to a pout.

“Are you sure you don’t want to call in and hang out?”

He wanted to more than anything.

“I’m sorry, I can’t.”

“Oh, okay then.”

He went inside and she followed him in, watching as he put on his socks and shoes. She walked him to the door and they agreed to call each other later that night. They kissed. He got into his car and drove home.

He blinked.

Always Crashing in the Same Car

I keep driving around your building writing a letter to you in my head. Sometimes the words don’t come to me. Sometimes I can come up with a line or two that I’m proud of, that deliver the exact message I want you to receive, but I never get to write it down. All I have are some crumpled up McDonald’s receipts and a couple of pens from the bank that I steal from that little canister when I go through the drive-through. When I think of something good I try write it down on the materials I have available but the paper is too crumpled. Between red lights I try and straighten it out on the steering wheel but I can’t get it quite right. When I do get one of the receipts right the light turns green or it is too dark where I am to write it down. Then I forget the idea.

I could always just park somewhere. How hard could that be? Just park somewhere and write it out. Hell, there’s a pharmacy on every corner, I can just walk in and get some notebook, a fresh pen, and have the space to write out my thoughts. Hell, if I am to do all of that I can just go home.

I give up on the letter idea. It’s a little trite, isn’t it? Maybe there is some romantic idea of that being a thoughtful personal thing to do, but I don’t know. Living in the same city, knowing where you are, what reason is there to write a letter? I could just park in your building’s lot. I could just walk up to the door and buzz you and you would let me in. I would walk up the stairs to the third floor and avoid touching the handrails because of the one time you told me you were walking behind some woman down the stairs and she hocked a loogie in hand and rubbed it off on the handrail you were using. I could use my stupid coded knock rhythm that I picked up from my uncle when I was eight. You would open the door with the rolling of your eyes and a smile. You would let me in and I would go to the fridge and check for your leftovers. You would tell me what was in there and then make it for me not out of kindness, but because I always make a mess. You would tell me about your day, who pissed you off, who you pissed off and how you didn’t care, and I would pretend to care. You know that, but you don’t care. You know it isn’t personal. I would eat the food you reheated for me, make a second plate, and make the exact mess you were hoping to avoid. You would make me clean it, but I would do a shitty job so you would grab the rag for me and call me useless. You would only half mean it.

We would go sit on the couch and put on some sort of tv show we have watched a thousand times and I would rant and rave to you about some bullshit, bullshit you aren’t interested in but I am passionate about. I know you don’t care. I don’t care. I know it isn’t personal. The conversation would continue, and while you didn’t care you were still listening. You would pick up a word or phrase of what I said and it would take you back. It would take you back to something I did that wasn’t so wonderful. It would make you mad. You would be right to be mad. I wouldn’t know how to make up for it. Even if you never say anything in the moment, I would know that you hated me. We would get tired and go to bed. We would have sex, or maybe not. We would fall asleep, and you would hate me.

So back to the letter. I’m still driving around. I keep looking at your building. I have a horrible conception of relative space, but I know which apartment is yours by the awful dying plant your Mom got you that you never wanted. I don’t park. I don’t write the letter. I don’t want to. It just feels worse than speaking words. I can’t go upstairs either. You would let me in. I don’t want to make you hate me again.

 

Sealand

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon,

Ahoy,

I am the Secretary of State, Homeland Security, Interior, and Defense, Prime Minister, and the Dear Leader of the Principality of Sealand, Thomas Tuttle. I am writing to address the United Nation’s continued refusal to recognize the Principality of Sealand as a sovereign state and invite us to join the United Nations.

To, again, briefly state the case for the Principality of Sealand, firstly it must be acknowledged that Sealand is beyond three miles from the British mainland, and therefore is outside of England’s authority. England itself has acknowledged this truth and lays no claim to Sealand. If anything, the government of Sealand is doing Britain and the surrounding nations a favor by existing. To care for and govern territory in the middle of the ocean would be a burden upon respective governments and their citizens. Even the great colonizers such as America and England have no interest in Sealand due to the lack of natural resources (mind you, both historically pillaging nations are members of the UN). Lastly, looking at some of the scaliwags allowed into the UN, such as human rights disaster areas like Iran, most of Africa, Russia, and so on, exclusion is rather insulting. The Principality of Sealand has never invaded another sovereign nation, committed genocide on our own people, engaged in the use of chemical or nuclear weapons, nor have I personally plastered shirtless pictures of myself riding a bear into the hotel rooms of guests at the Olympics. All of the aforementioned charges, nearly every nation in you club have committed twice over. Sealand would be a proper addition with a unique perspective on world affairs, and is not run by and gang of criminals. While as of 2004 as many as 74 of your 184 members were “free” democracies (let’s not dare say what that makes the others), that’s a number that could always use some bolstering.

Sealand has made numerous overtures over the years in hopes of persuading yourself and your predecessor Kofi Annan to allow Sealand into the UN. We have sent you the finest salt-water taffies and fish we have to offer. We have offered numerous peace treaties and voiced support for the council despite the outcry of our citizens. When repeatedly denied, sure, we may have gotten carried away with attempted embargos and declarations of war (which mind you, our beef with Uganda has not tempered with time), but our intentions have always been pure.

However, I know now my efforts are in vain, but as the lone member of this nation I am quite lonesome, and could use the company. This man is an island. Though with my lack of loved ones and anyone to care for, I also have a valuable asset; time, all the time in the world to poke around the mainstay of the Sealand economy, our massive server farm, the world’s largest. Sealand is a popular destination for torrent websites, pornographic pages, and search engines because of our utter lack of regulation and relatively low taxes. The only regulation really is that I have access to what is on these servers, a minor clause which most companies are happy to oblige. I mean, I’m just one guy. With my ample time, I have been able to research the interests of many world leaders through their Internet browsing history. Samples of my findings are as follows:

  • Russian PM Vladimir Putin most often searches for “living with a micro-penis.”
  • Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad often submits articles such as “9 Problems Only Girls With Big Butts Will Understand” to Buzzfeed.
  • Pope John Paul II often posted on fan forums of the famed “Naughty Midget Nurses” adult film trilogy, favoring the third film “Anal Fist This”
  • The Dali Lama searches for “big black butts,” as do coincidentally most U.S. congress members in the South, regardless of party.
  • Former First Lady, US Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton searches “Monica Lewinsky how to dismember body” on an hourly basis. Her husband former President Bill Clinton also searches the same name but followed with “upskirt pics.”
  • Former US President Barack Obama has a foot fetish
  • Former British Prime Minister David Cameron often views amputee pornography

I won’t even bother going into Trump. So that is enough for now. Though, I have one more. It seems that you, honorable Ban Ki-moon, do not believe there necessarily needs to be grass growing on the field to play ball, as it were.

To be candid, it would be a shame if I were not accepted to the United Nations by your next session. I can’t take another failure. It may break me. I might be forced to commit genocide on my people (myself I guess) and achieve the first full ethnic cleansing of any nation ever. It would also be a shame if, aside from having the blood of a nation on your hands (though I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling), I, in my last crazed act, sent this document and the evidence to every major news outlet in the world and expose your intense and passionate love of children.

I hope you sincerely consider my application,

– Secretary of State, Homeland Security, Interior, and Defense, Prime Minister, and the Dear Leader of the Principality of Sealand, Thomas Tuttle

A Cruise

By now the bodies have started to ooze, creating a pool of bile, urine, and shit on the Cinderella ballroom floor. Rigor mortis has set in making the makeshift nautical mass grave impossible to parse through. The hermetic seal nature of most cruise ships makes the full dissipation of the odor impossible. The only saving grace were the vents through which the stench travel out into the ocean air. God help us on the days where the wind is still.

Three weeks ago we set sail for Jamaica from Miami on a two-week Disney luxury cruise. It is the sort of simulacra scenario of my nightmares, but your perspective shifts when you have kids. They eat this shit up. Regardless of how you feel about Walt Disney’s history of anti-semitism or his work’s reinforcement of gender stereotypes, imprinting them on the minds of children for centuries to come, you can’t shake the feeling you get when you see your daughter’s eyes light up when she sees the characters from her movies and coloring books and bed sheets and lunch boxes and band aids and socks come to life. So you go.

In the days before ships were made of steel and still had sails, the worst disaster that could befall a vessel was a fire. It would spread in a matter of minutes with the wood feeding it like Popeye’s spinach. The boat’s movement would only fan the flames as they soon engulfed the sails leaving crew members to decide whether to jump and drown in the brisk waters, cling the a piece of driftwood and be baked to dried leather by the sun, or to burn. More often than not that decision was made for them.

On a Disney luxury cruise liner, the worst disaster is illness. Someone had boarded the ship without a clean bill of health. Nurses on the ship called it the worst strain of the stomach flu they had ever seen. Ask me how I know this. The flu was fatal not necessarily from the virus itself, but with every passenger shitting and vomiting his or her guts out, the plumbing in the entire ship stalled. Individuals resorted to relieving their bowels in trashc ans, potted plants,  even inside the heads of our beloved Goofy and Pluto. All of this because they were too embarrassed to admit they clogged their toilet. From this practice the entire ship became exposed to an unspeakable array of bacterium. We may as well have been eating raw chicken.

After most of the passengers contracted salmonella, they experienced similar yet more extreme symptoms of the flu. Passengers shat and vomited themselves to bone. More often than not the dehydration killed them. Everyone was horrified to eat the food on the ship due to its near certain exposure to fecal matter. This fear was justified considering that exact exposure killed most of the cooks themselves. People had decisions to make; drown, bake or burn, dehydration, starve, or suicide. Most people went with the latter two. There appeared to be more dignity in those options, though not always. Snow White jumped screaming off the top deck, not jumping far enough to reach the water as she is now currently occupying two of the ship’s decks. Grumpy Dwarf hanged himself, though evidence suggests it may have been auto-erotic asphyxiation.

So here I am, stacking bodies. Rather I’m rolling the bodies down the steps where Cinderella loses her glass slipper. I’m almost by myself now, as most of the ship’s crew left on lifeboats because they deemed the possibility of being found out in the ocean a stronger prospect for survival than remaining on the ship. They knew what was coming. They chose bake. I stayed with my daughter. I haven’t let out of her room. I told her she was grounded. I don’t want to ruin her vacation so every so often I’ll don a Donald Duck costume (really any costume not filled with vomit and excrement) and come by the room to cheer her up.

I knew I should have listened to my doctor when he told me not to go.