30 days of short stories #1 [flash fiction]


This marks the beginning of a writing exercise. I am going to write short stories for 30 days. The minimum amount of stories I wish to complete in this time is 15. 30 is my stretch goal. Should be fun. Thanks for reading.

An Ocean of Trains

As Amber closed her work laptop at 5 o’clock, she saw Muffins at the door, leash in her mouth.

“You’re going to have to wait a few minutes.”

Amber went to the calendar on the wall and marked an X for the day she had just lived. Next week it will be six months of quarantine. Six months since parties, dinners with friends, picking up hot girls at bars. Six cursed months of abstinence. The only times she ever left the apartment were to pick up groceries and walk Muffins.

“All right, Muffins. Let’s get the fuck out of here.” Muffins knew those words very well. They meant she could go to the outside place and smell stuff. She got very excited, and she wanted to jump up and down, but you could only perceive her excitement by quickening of tail movement. Amber attached the leash.

Leaving the house, they were immediately pelted by those scorching August rays. Amber put on her sunglasses and her mask. Muffins was ready to walk.

They walked about half a block down the street, where they parted with the pavement in favor of a trailhead half obscured by tall grasses and cacti. This neighborhood was filled with hidden nature trails if you knew where to look. Amber and Muffins had been exploring for over a year and they still hadn’t found all the hidden gems that the neighborhood had to offer.

It was jackrabbit season. They were breeding like hamsters. Muffins could smell them all over the place and started darting left and right. Amber calmed her down with a couple tugs on the leash.

The trail forked and Amber stayed right. This was the path to the railroad.

Amber grew up in a bungalow next to the ocean. The churn of the waves always put her to sleep. There is something about a thing so powerful being so gentle — carrying so many monsters but yet singing so beautifully — there was nothing more comforting than this.

Now, landlocked, she always tried to live by the railroad tracks. Because trains are the oceans of the land. Great beastly churnings: an anachronistic steel leviathan lurching through the hidden boroughs of the country.

Amber and Muffins saw a male/female couple approach from the other end of the trail. They saw the woman and her dog and affixed their masks. As they passed, Amber steadied Muffins to make sure she didn’t jump up. The couple waved.

Amber said, “She misses people.”

The man said, “Don’t we all.”

Amber and her dog walked a ways down the path. She heard the bells ringing for the railroad street crossing. “The train is coming,” she said to no one. “I wonder if it’s headed to the ocean.”

suicide by cop

The idea that somebody
Can commit suicide
By somebody else murdering them
Is a weird concept

Suicide by cop
Presupposes that
A cop is merely a force
Of nature
With no personal agency
Like gravity
Like gas
Like the ocean
A cop just kills
With as much culpability
As San Francisco Bay

You can’t indict the noose
You can’t convict the gun
The tool of the suicide
Is blameless

Alienation #3

I read a story about a guy who died
And then people saw the work
He’d toiled over his whole life.
It was some kind of art
And people marveled about
How this quiet old man
Had made such rich things
And never told anybody.

It’s a story people like.
We’re all clamoring for some recognition
That what we do in our respective laboratories
Somehow matters.
Someday people will know what we made.
If not in this life,
The next.

Denver’s Birthday [short film script]

The following is a birthday present for my buddy, Denver. But you can enjoy it too if you want.

Denver’s Birthday


A birthday cake with unlit candles is sitting on a surface in the foreground. The background is a blank wall. Denver walks in from left of screen. He’s wearing some sort of formal wear. He lights the candles on the cake and stands center on the screen. He clears his throat, addresses the camera. The whole scene is one continuous shot.

I’ve prepared a statement.

He pulls a folded up piece of paper from his right suit coat inner pocket. He unfolds the piece of paper and reads.

Now that the Communist revolution is nigh at hand, it seems prudent to look back at how we got here…

He looks at the paper curiously. Addresses the camera again.

Wrong statement. This is for another occasion.

He folds the paper back up and places it back in his right pocket. Now he reaches into his left inner suit coat pocket and pulls out a different folded up piece of paper. Clear his throat again.

According to a Facebook meme I saw once, the ceremony of the birthday cake is an old pagan ritual. The candles are the light of life, and the smoke of the snuffed light carries our prayers to the gods. This is why we make the prayer of the wish before we blow out the candles.

Denver hands the paper left offscreen and exits to the right side of the screen. A new reader enters from the left.

We always feel the need to inoculate ourselves from cultural and historical context. History now only extends to the loudest living person’s lifetime.

This reader hands the paper left offscreen and exits to the right side of the screen. A new reader enters from the left.

Some historians and alchemists can see the holy interplay of billions of people over millennia interacting and grinding the grist of history, bringing forward the new, and leaving the unmovable by the side of the road.

The second NotDenver hands the paper offscreen and exits as before. Entering from the left once more is Denver.

So this year, my birthday wish is to see the dialectical interplay of all of time and space. I now send this wish to the gods.

Denver blows out the candles and walks offscreen.