Unable House

daily writing exercise, 750words.com

fiction by Jason Edwards

There is neither rhyme nor reason in the arrangement of the forks found in the cutlery drawer of Able House, in Eastern Pigback, Montana. A veritable miasma of disorganizational styles. For to call it merely disorganized would be a disservice, akin to the insult applied to those erstwhile lexinauts wandering The Library of Babel as described by Jorge Luis Borges. Rather, the forks as they lay are purposefully chaotic, an oxymoron of placement, intent, and silverware.

Legend has it that a hobo found himself lost in Eastern Pigback, no mean feat, as he had never been in Montana in his life. He came upon Able House and entered. Inside he found anything and everything he might need: cans of beans, sticks for making bindles, extra large king-sized beds, matches, decks of cards with only a few missing, foreign coins, a bidet, small shiny bottles for trading, hand-built folding knives. But the cutlery drawer drew him. Called to him and seduced him. He opened it, saw the forks there, all higgledy-piggeldy, and went mad. His ghost still haunts Able House, they say.

That the hobo had never been to Montana in his life but was there for all of his death was the very character of Able House and the cutlery drawer. Put Fate on trial, for all the good it would do. And as legends go, the story of the hobo is especially troubling since no one has ever visited Able House and lived. So where do the stories come from?

A man sits on a bench on a train platform waiting for the number seven at 5:30. Another man walks past him, and the first man only realizes later that this man is now sitting on the bench as well. Minutes go by, as does the number 7, and 5:30. The man has a moment of self-realization, self-awareness, occupies a temporary duality as he watches himself listening to the other man tell stories of Able House. The cutlery drawer of madness. The upstairs bedroom dresser drawer of socks and madness. The door in the pantry the once led to a small garden but now only leads to madness.

The man puts a spoon into his mouth, blinks a few times, tastes soup. He looks around himself. He is at home, in his kitchen. His wife is there, telling him about the price of beef. He’s been home for a while, having taken that train, having picked up his car, having pulled into the driveway, entered his house, changed his jacket for a sweater, shoes for slippers. The soup is mediocre. His wife is mediocre. His life is mediocre. He resolves, over a stiff drink, to leave it all behind and find Montana. Later, he reads the evening paper, fornicates, sleeps, and the next day goes to work for the rest of his life.

He never tells anyone the stories he heard about Able House, but whenever his brain detects connotations and permutations of memory pointers that drift towards the places where the stories are sequestered in his head, he recalls them. He’s at a mediocre dinner party, a man named James waves his fork around for emphasis as he relates his distaste for government and mass murder, and the man recalls Able House, understands for a moment that there’s more to mass murder than mere madness, goes back to his cutlet. It tastes of sand, but then everything does.

The cutlery drawer, the sock drawer, the door from the pantry to the garden. These are only a few of the elements that make Able House one of the most evil places in Easter Pigback. Eastern Pigback is one of the most evil places in Montana. Montana itself is evil, as is the United States. And so is the Earth, and our Solar System, our galaxy. Scientists have more or less proven that our galaxy is but one of billions in a cluster of galaxies, each separated from the other by vast reaches of empty, cold, indifferent, and hostile space. The only thing that makes such large empty regions fathomable is that this cluster of galaxies is itself within a wall of clusters, and the empty regions separating these clusters is nearly but not quite infinitely larger. And then there are other walls of clusters of galaxies, and the space between them is madness.

Are these walls of clusters of galaxies themselves grouped in some sort of collection of walls? But what is a collection of walls? Let us call it a house. Able House is a collection of walls, of clusters, of galaxies, of stars, of planets, of countries, of counties, of vast acreages, of places where hobos find themselves lost, are driven mad by willfull chaos, and in death live only inside the entropy-making minds of tired old men who hate their wives but hate them gently.

Bananas! Zombies!

Daily writing exercise, 750words.com

fiction by Jason Edwards

Hello everyone, my name is Bananas Sunday. Thank you all for coming out tonight. I think there are still some chairs in the front, for those of you standing in the back. Don’t be shy! I don’t bite, not at these rates, anyway. My little joke.

Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way: yes, that’s my name. Bananas, as the fruit, although technically it’s an herb, and Sunday as in the day of the week, not the ice cream dessert. So no jokes or nicknames like Parfait, or Split. If you must know, it is a family name. We think it might have been Bananas on Sunday, once, but we know for certain that it was never Bananas on a Sunday, or for that matter, on a Sundae. Alright?

Oh, and my last name is Smith-Wopington. Bananas Sunday Smith-Wopington. When I was in infants we used to joke about how difficult it would be to put my name on the back of a football jersey. Not to mention the color commentator on the radio fumbling over my name every time I put one through to Brainless, our striker.

Which might as well act as a segue, since we’re all here to talk about the Zombie situation. I’m sure we could spend the entire evening on my name, but let’s not let ourselves be distracted any further. It’s just a name, and I do appreciate your using the whole name when addressing me. I’ve chose not to answer to “Bananas” or “Bans” or even “Smith-Wopington.” Reminds me of Army.

Now of course if I was loitering on a street corner smoking a dog-end and pawing through an American stroke book and you were to shout “Bananas! Zombie!” and one of them was behind me, I’d have no choice but to respond, wouldn’t I? But, for example, when we dined at Chez Egal, they always said “Mr. and Mrs. Bananas Sunday Smith-Wopington, right this way please.” Or at least they used to before, well, the incident.

That’s why I’m here, you see. The zombies. They’ve touched me personally. My wife, Elephant in the Room, was taken from me. And that large sigh from me was as much sadness as it is frustration that I have to explain her name as well. I mean really, we have zombies to talk about. But if that’s what you want.

When my late wife’s mother was with child with her, no one would talk about it, except that when they did it was always after using the phrase The Elephant in the Room. And so when she was born, her mother, in her delivery delirium, named her that, leaving off the word The, of course. That we both have and had unique names is entirely coincidental. It has nothing to do with how we met. I’m telling you because people always ask.

I met Elephant in the Room Smith-Dentist at a Catholic mixer. The romantic part about it is that neither of us were Catholic. I’m a God fearing protestant and my sweet Ellie was raised Zoroastrian. We were crashing. We met, lied about our names because we were young and foolish, fell in love, finally revealed our true selves, and the rest, as they say, is history.

A history snuffed out by zombies, which is the point, so if you’d let me get back to the matter at hand, that would be delightful. I mean, it’s what you paid me to discuss, isn’t it?

I mean, really, we usually wait for questions until after, and they’re usually on the topic of zombies. I have no siblings. Neither did my wife. We did not have children. Not that it’s any of your business, but we didn’t believe in the sort of activities that one would do that would eventually lead one to having children. I’m not talking about sex, you filthy perverts. We went at it like rabbits. I’m talking about reading the books, timing one’s copulation with the moon, preparing the house with gates on the steps and little plastic safety covers in the outlets.

Listen to me, I know what I’m talking about. You think fornication creates offspring, but then you thought zombies were a kind of fiction, too. And now here you are, huddled in a small auditorium and paying me to give you some insight and instruction. Is it my fault you can’t get past my name? Do you think I owe you something for my fee, some duty to change my name so it doesn’t distract? Well, I’m sorry, that’s not the contract I signed.

See? You see? There they are, at the doors, all this time wasted on my name and now they’re here, and you all packed in like sardines, an apt metaphor as they’re about to eat you were you stand. And to think some of you had the opportunity to move up here closer to the front. Always the first to go.

If anyone owes anyone anything it’s these damned zombies who owe me thanks because I always seem to be giving these lectures to what amounts to future dinner morsels. I’ve already cashed the cheque, so I’ll leave now.

Tropes of Cancer

Daily writing exercise, 750words.com

fiction by Jason Edwards

One of those self-satisfied, smug little shits. Always with the half-grin on his face, and looking down as if “oh gosh look what I did.” Like, even when he’s peeling a fuckin satsuma orange. He sits there at his desk and peels it in one go, the whole peel still together, and that smile, and then sort of dangles it over his trash can and lowers it in. I hate that smug little prick

You know what I should do. I should find a hooker, and pay her to shave her pubes, and then put ’em in a baggie, and then go fetch one of those peels out of his trash can. Then I can sew it back together, and stuff it with the hooker’s pubes. Wear gloves so my fingernails don’t get crabs. And then give it back to him.

Here you go, Blaine. You always seem to peel these things in one go, and I was thinking, like you could put one back together, and I was thinking, why not give it a try, and so I did, and well, here you go.

What kind of fucking name is Blaine?

I can see him, he takes the orange, he goes oooookaaaay… like it’s weird or something? Like he’s not sure what to do? Use your fucking imagination you little twat. Pull your head out of Dartport’s ass or Greenport or whatever fuck port town you grew up in you little hipster piece of shit. How do you know I’m not an alcoholic? And sewing up this orange was my way of dealing with a bad night when my sponsor’s phone wasn’t picking up and my wife was four glasses into a seven-glasses-of-Chardonnay night? You want I should be ashamed of the gesture, go back to the sauce, beat Chardonay a few more times.

That’s her name, in my head, Chardonay, my fake wife with the drinking problem. Fucking Blaine’s probably dating a Jessica. I can’t stand Jessicas. We had one here, a few years ago, a Product Manager, or PM as she liked to call herself. Idiot. Program Managers are PMs. Product Managers are just product managers, what the fuck.

So get with the program, Blaine. Or maybe I got a secret crush on you, ya ever think about that? Look at me, I’m five seven, two hundred and forty five pounds, oily skin, hair is disappearing right off the top of my fucking head, I’m supposed to spend my whole life picking up rent boys and getting mugged or AIDS? Like I need some snot nosed prick with a holier-than-thou attitude and a trash can full or rotting orange peels to judge me just because I made a gesture. Suck my dick ya faggot.

Well, lucky for you Mr. Probably Watches Indie Films, I don’t have a crush on you, and I ain’t no alcoholic. I can hold my booze. Where was I last Saturday night, huh? While you were squinting at sub-titles and burping up your shitty shawarma? That’s right, I was at the Hop Cat, making with the small talk with a broad. A real broad, too, not the skinny Jessicas you take back to your place so you can show her the Sitar you bought when you were pulling a Habitats for Humanity gig in Edison New Jersey.

Yeah, so what, turns out she was a pro, and had a dick. Point is, until I knew she was a hooker with a penis, I was doing what men do. Talking to a woman in a bar. Listening to the Eagles. Drinking a White Russian and checking the baseball game over her shoulder ever few minutes. Big broad shoulders, come to think of it. Fuck you, that’s not the point.

The point is, you a smug little self-satisfied prick, if I give you a sewed up satsuma stuffed with a prostitute’s pubic hair, you take it and you thank me for it, god damn it. You put it on your desk and when you’re sending in your reports you hit spell check first and then you let your finger hover over the mouse and you look at that orange before you click send. And you think, what would Gabe do?

Gabe would hit spell check again. Gabe would make note of it. And when Gabe’s boss points out a spelling error in one of his reports, and Gabe says spell check must have missed one, and then chuckles, and his boss says Well I guess you need to read these more closely before sending, and then when he gets to Blaine’s reports, and says No spelling errors here, at least, Blaine better not have one of those smug little self-satisfied half-grins on his face or Gabe’s going to shove that pubic orange down his fucking throat.

The Stone Cold Heart(h)

Hearthstone Noir

Another rough day in the city with nothing to show for it but a half-empty bottle of Old Noggenfogger and a Piloted Shredder. Little guy was hanging in there, but he was down to two health after a clumsy dance with Sludge Belcher’s cousin Slime. Across the board, Confessor Paletress stood on a busted-up stairway to heaven, and you know how the song is sung: “There are two paths you can go by.” For me, a lifetime of good intentions had more or less sent me in the opposite direction. We’re talking Rank 10. I’ve seen more Paladin secrets than Garrett’s seen hairstyles.

What could I do. I ended my turn, and wondered if maybe that Overwatch all the kids were talking about was worth a gander.

Garrison Commander arrived. Wonderful. That’s sarcasm, by the way, if you’re taking notes. The boy with the angel’s face healed himself for two, and then she walked in. Legs up to her hips, and that pale blue skin only a banshee queen can pull off and not look like a cosplay kid with serious daddy issues and a mountain of therapy bills.

Her red eyes stared through my soul, or at least what was left of it. “I have no time for games,” she said. Another self-heal, and next came Doctor Seven: PhD, RNG, FML. I dutifully reached for the concede button and the other half of that Old Noggenfogger, when priest-boy offered, “My apologies.”

Something about that apology stuck in my craw. Maybe I was going down, but not without a fight, damn it. I ran my good old Shredder into Sylvanas, and who should decide to show his face but Mr. Doomsayer. I tossed a handy Arcane Shot at the banshee queen, muttering “Thanks for the mammaries”. The Sayer walked over to the other side, and I managed a Webspinner and a token Steady Shot for good measure before ending my turn.

The Doom did his duty and made everything go away. Including my spinner, and my empty hand was graced by none other than the King himself. Mr. Krush and I were old friends. On my turn, I introduced him to the priest.

They didn’t get along too great.

Finished The Witness

Finished The Witness. Again. I mean I did the 7 lasers, down the mountain, flying elevator ending. And then I did the Final Challenge, got the last hex diagram ending. Also there’s the cave hint to find the secret hotel and weird PoV ending. And now I’ve gotten all the puzzles, so I’m at 523+135+6. I still have not found all the audio logs, so I guess one more ending to go.

One can get the 664 puzzles by finishing one of several puzzles last, but the “last” puzzle would seem to me the environmental puzzles associated with the “Secret of Psalm 46” video. Ostensibly, one would solve that last puzzle, and see that one had done 664 puzzles, and wonder if that number meant anything. I Googled it– and there’s not much (or, there’s a whole heck of a lot, because pretty much everything has been mentioned, ever, online. The internet really is almost Borges’s “Library of Babel”). But what popped up at the top is Monserrat.

664 is the area code for Monserrat, a small island in the Caribbean. Hello, island? It doesn’t have the same shape as The Witness island, or, it sort of does if you want it too badly enough- roughly oval, with a mountain on one end (actually, it’s a live volcano).

But one would have, ostensibly, just listened to a lecture that pointed out the folly of trying to find meaning in all these numbers and coincidences. Or, if not folly, the meaninglessness of such a task. And yet, in that lecture was mention of Masquerade, a book that acted as a treasure hunt for a real, actual treasure buried in a real place.

Then again, Masquerade said, in no uncertain terms, that there was treasure to be found. The Witness does not make this claim. And besides, what would one do, fly to Monserrat? If one could afford to just up and fly to Monserrat, what does one need with treasure.

Afterall, the other video lectures speak to:

  • Art as interpretation only, with science being the only discipline where reality is created (via change)
  • Giving up what you “want”
  • Recognizing that you are all that exists and where you are is the only place that exists
  • Completing a task is a kind of death
  • There is no one reality, but levels of complexity that depend on a define one another.

Taken together, this all speaks to there not being any significance to the Montserrat Coincidence. If one were to go there, to “check things out,” the trip itself would (have to) be its own reward.

We look for meaning in things, desperately, and the result is art. That’s all fine and good, and one could take a trip to Monserrat to look for meaning there. No matter what one found, one could write a book about the trip. Or make a documentary. Or post a blog of photos taken on location. The search for meaning creates meaning. There’s a seductiveness to that– back in the day when scientists were really getting fired up about quantum mechanics, they were, more or less, finding all of the stuff that they thought they would find. It was almost as if they created realities just by looking at them. Schrodinger’s cat, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty, all of that coming into play via real-life experiments.

The Witness is a piece of art. (What else could it be). I suppose if enough people got enthused about the Monserrat Coincidence, and did something about it, reality could change. The island might see an uptick in tourism. The game’s creator might decide to go there and hide clues to the game’s sequel. But now we’re getting into the realm of will. How would you feel if you were to have come across the game a year from now, solved all 664 puzzles, looked it up, got excited, flew to Monserrat, and found a bunch of gamers there who said they did the same thing as you, found nothing, and decided to make something for people to find anyway.

A little disappointed? I would be. Not unlike when the writers of “Lost” finally admitted that they were making it up as they went along. We want there to be meaning and purpose. But at the end of the day, there is no meaning without a Creator and a Grand Design, and let’s face it, belief in a creator can only stifle curiosity.

Lazarus in the Nazareth Ghetto

Poetry by Jason Edwards

Random access Wichita memories:

Bethany’s songs, death of virginity,

So much fun and Aqua-Tomfoolery.

Lucifer and the cherubim, legions

Baptized by fires set on seraphim,

Make holes in the sky. They fall when I fly

Broken wings, and that succor from sirens.

Murder in the birth degree, Nephilim

Turgid words in my head, alive I’m dead

Resurrected, sacrifice common sense,

Nourished by delicious flesh turned rotten,

Word-proof lazaretto, sneak in, shadows

Write them down so they can be forgotten.

The Good Enough Life

Daily writing exercise, 750words.com

fiction by Jason Edwards

Sits on chair in his hawaiian shirt and his cargo shorts and his birkenstocks. Got the shirt on a trip to miami and the shorts in a department store and the birkenstocks are actual keens but he calls them birkenstocks. The wind moves some of what’s left of his hair around on his head and the sun is threatening one of his toes where its sneaking past the shade of the porch. His clothes are too big for him. His nose is too big for his face. People think he frowns too much but that’s just the way he looks. He’s old, older than the kids on the beach over there, some of them just about ready to not be kids anymore, to make the kind of mistakes that lock you in until everything’s used up and you’re left to sit on a chair in a shirt and shorts and sandals and sun and wind.

He tries to think about things but he doesn’t try very hard. There’s a gin and tonic melting next to him. That wife. An honest to god mumu. Go way back, to wars and barracks and kids who can get ready at reveille before the others because they don’t shave yet, tell one of them they’d be on a porch on a chair in mexico and an old broad in a mumu would give them a weak gin and tonic, and all but one of them would laugh and start talking about movie stars and their bosoms. One of them might sort of smile and go back to cleaning his gun. Guess what. Dead on the shore the next day, too bad.

His names is carl or peter or maybe jackson. He’s not sure. He tries to remember but he doesn’t try very hard. There’s a taste on his lips, salt, and tonic, and weak gin. He looks at the glass. It’s half empty. It used to be half full but he’s not too worried about it.

There’s a screech and a laugh and one of the kids is running after one of the other kids. One of them’s holding a brassiere and the other one’s holding her bosoms. That’s what it looks like from here. They’ll go to school and learn why that’s not okay to do that, get degree and jobs and have kids of their own and teach them why that’s not okay to do that, and then their kids will do it too. Carl or peter or jackson doesn’t have any kids. If he did, he’d teach them something else. Fishing, maybe. He’s never gone fishing.

Grew up in the city, in a building, went to school in a building, joined the military, and there was so much outdoors to deal with, no wonder people lost their minds and shot guns at each other. Explosions and other loud noises, waiting for the next artillery barrage because at least it would drown out the sound of tomlinson over there, screaming his guts out. There’s a joke there, since tomlinson’s guts where all over his lap and the more he screamed, the more guts there were.

Nothing to it put to ignore the smell of your own shit, wait for enough people to die that it was safe to crawl over to a CO, get on a boat, try not to look at clocks. Because then you’re squinting at sunlight bouncing off of buildings again, a bunch of buildings all gathered around a patch of grass, a pretty girl with gaps between her teeth in a skirt and a sweater, a beer in the student union, some fun in the back of a borrowed car, a cap n gown, a suit n tie, a trip to Vegas, a job looking at pieces of paper.

And then a hawaiin shirt and a pair of cargo shorts and birkenstocks. A mumu and a weak gin and tonic. A bunch of kids in the distance. A sunburned toe. Carl or peter or jackson tries to think of something to tell them if they decide to put their brassieres back on and respectfully approach the old man with the wispy hair and the giant nose and the more or less permanent frown on his face. But he doesn’t try too hard.

There’s another gin and tonic next to him, or maybe it’s the same one, or it might have been the one from before. When he was 17, he knew, someday, he’d be sipping G n Ts by the beach and living the good life. Somehow it happened anyway.

Deadpool Review

Daily writing exercise, 750words.com

fiction by Jason Edwards

I have yet to locate my chagrin, but I have been assured that much to it the follies of men continue unabated. To wit, this new Deadpool film, which I feel more than qualified to review despite my not having seen it yet. Nor have I viewed any of the trailers. Did you know they call them trailers because they used to come at the end of movies, not the beginning? Seems people are too eager to leave. And “coming attractions,” frankly, is vulgar.

No, I have not seen the movie or seen the coming attractions, but I have seen movies featuring Ryan Reynolds, and I have also seen movies with comic book characters in them. Furthermore, when I was a young teenager, I had the idea for a coffee-table book called “The Missing Wall,” which was to be artists’ conceptions of the walls you never see in sit-coms, since that’s where the cameras are. “Three’s Company,” “The Cosby Show,” “Friends.” You’ll call me prescient, since I was well into my twenties and no longer a young teenager when Friends first aired, but I give those as example of what the book would be, not an example of what my thinking was.

The point is, nowadays people reference the so-called “fourth wall,” especially when fictional characters break it, which is to say, when they say or do something indicating that they know they exist in a fictional universe. Which is, of course, impossible. I’m no philosopher, and as far as I know epistemology is not something to be trifled with, but it seems obvious that a fictional character can’t “know” anything. It is more precise to say that a fictional character’s creator is the one who breaks the so-called “fourth wall,” by using his character to remind the reader or viewer that what he or she is reading or viewing is, indeed, fictional.

My understanding is that this Mr. Pool breaks the fourth wall all the time, and since I more or less invented the concept of creating a fictional fourth wall, I have probably not only the best but the only point of view when it comes to how a fictional character can break a wall that only exists in a fictional universe. The reader or viewer is unnecessary. That closes the loop on the epistemology of fictional characters knowing things. One doesn’t have to read or view something to review it- indeed, it is exactly those who have not seen something who can best review how it’s fictional fourth wall is broken.

Furthermore I have seen The Dead Pool, a Dirty Harry film from 1988, featuring a then little-known Liam Neeson and the late great Jim Carrey, who isn’t dead, but who’s greatness is a bit tardy. Who better than Ryan Reynolds to play Deadpool than the Jim Carrey that Jim Carrey could have been if instead of playing a punk rock heroin overdose victim he had instead played to the camera and broken the fourth wall in the scene on the houseboat where he dies? What would make this remarkable is that the scene itself was probably shot on an actual houseboat and therefore it’s fourth wall was probably not fictional at all.

Elle MacPherson, some people in Hollywood would say, is a bit past her prime, but I think that’s a bunch of nonsense. I don’t know if she’s in the movie; I just wanted to say that.

But think of it. Jim Carey, a kind of 80’s Ryan Reynolds, (or, if you like, Ryan Reynolds, a kind of “now” Jim Carey in the sense that we tend to cartoonalize the past and have more respect for the future than we should) looks at the real wall, which is fake, and breaks it, making it fake by virtue of it’s being real in a fake world. So it’s fake and real and real and fake all at the same time. And all of this is only happening in our heads because in The Dead Pool, he didn’t do that. This adds a negative co-efficient to everything so now the broken wall is whole again, and real and fake and real and fake.

This unbroken wall, rebroken in our heads, and therefore neverbroken, both real and unreal, reminds us that what we are seeing is made up, which is to say, reminds us that what we are seeing is made up in our own heads. It reminds us we’re us. This is what Deadpool does. And this is why you shouldn’t go see the movie, unless you’re not going to, in which case you already have. And if you have seen the movie, I’m afraid you haven’t seen the one you weren’t going to see yet, but don’t worry- there’s a sequel promised, so you can decide now not to see that one, and write your own review of it right now.

Helping Marjorie With Her Artificial Leg

Daily writing exercise, 750words.com

fiction by Jason Edwards

Remember that time we went to the fish market, and I kept saying this is so stupid, this is so cliche, this is so tourist. And you just laughed and charged forward, like you knew exactly what you were doing. You have this way, Marjorie, of making people think you know exactly what you’re doing, even if they can’t figure it out at all. Well now I’m starting to think you have no clue what you’re doing, and you’re too stupid to realize that where you end up is as random as where you thought you were going.

I mean I know you take credit for Wallace, since we met him that same night and he was fascinated by our fish market story. One thing led to another, as they say, and he stills loves me, even after everything. But why should I give you credit. We would have gone to that party anyway. He and I would have talked about something. I was wearing that black dress with the red and yellow flowers on it, the one you gave me after the accident, the one you said you couldn’t wear anymore.

I mean, god damn it, Marjorie, you drove your car into the side of a French restaurant and lost your leg, and you have some people convinced that you somehow meant for that to happen. Not literally, of course, no one thinks you timed it so that drunk driver would side-swipe you and force you to hop the curb. But karmically, Marjorie, karmically, people really do think you wouldn’t have had it any other way. Lost your leg, met Carl in rehab, fell in love, got married. And then when he fell out of the hot air balloon, my god.

People hate you Marjorie, did you know that? They’d never say it, but they do, they must, who loses the love of their life in a freak accident, gets a huge life insurance settlement, only to have it taken away when the insurance company somehow proved your marriage wasn’t legal? No one except you, and what did you do when you opened that letter from the bank, saying they’d taken all the money back plus ten thousand extra for costs? You went and got ice-cream. You said Puppy Park only makes Salted Carmichael once a year and you weren’t going to let something like money keep you away from your favorite. God I could just kill you.

Yes, I said I would always be there for you, and I’m going to stand by that promise. I told you, in the hospital, that I would help you with your artificial leg whenever you wanted me to. I felt so bad, my best friend lost her god damned leg, I had to say something, and you, you smiled, and you said thank you, and you meant it, and you made me feel better. Later, I told Wallace that story, and he said I must really hate you for that. I never realized it before. I do. I hate you so much, Marjorie.

You told me that you can’t wear dresses, because of the artificial leg. You said it was ironic that you had to wear pants, clothes that show off legs, and that you can’t wear clothes that hide legs. I still don’t know what the hell you were talking about. Remember, I asked you, So explain shorts to me then. And you made that sweet smile with the wet eyes, the face you make when you’re finally feeling pain for a change. I can’t get that face you of my head.

I’ll tell you what happened. Wallace told me that he loves his baby girl but he hates his ex-wife for forcing him to be a dad. I just wanted to make him happy. I thought to myself, what would Marjorie do? What would sweet happy-go-lucky Marjorie do? What would stupid one-legged flighty miss Marjorie do? So I told his ex that Wallace was giving their daughter funny looks. And I thought of your sweet smile and your wet eyes.

I swear I made it up. I swear I had no idea. And now Wallace is in jail. And it’s your fault, Marjorie, it’s your fault. You want to take credit for Wallace, then take all the credit. Do you know what they did to him in prison? He says he still loves me, and now I don’t know if that makes me happy, or if it makes me feel filthy.

No Snacks

Daily writing exercise, 750words.com

fiction by Jason Edwards

He’s sitting in a house he built himself, out of an old grain silo. It’s actually pretty boss; the problem is, he has no snacks. And he needs snacks, fucking snacks, stat.

There are no, for example, Cheetos. No Doritos. No Fritos. Is it crunchy, does it end with -tos? It’s not in his boss house. God damn it.

The first floor is nothing much to look at. A hole busted through the wall, dirt floor, lots of junk and bric-a-brack all piled up, higgledy-piggeldy. Old prams, broken chairs, stacks of lumber from the build, cans of dried paints. Obviously absent: Ho-hos, Ding-Dongs, Twinkies, anything at all made by Hostess, Little Debbie, or their ilk. But there is a staircase against the round wall, and it goes up through ceiling fifteen feet above.

Popcorn: nope. Cheezits: nope. Hardwood floors of polished mahogany: yes. Windows, triple-pain glass: yes. Gorgeous view of a stunning landscape: no. Rather mediocre view of farm building and an old tornado-wrecked house: yes. Can you eat these things? Fucking no.

On this floor there’s a largish area with rugs and couches and a television. Bookcases hide the stairs that came up. Next a few walls go up eight feet, a half-bath, as they call it, there’s a kitchen area. This is the area of doom and gloom, at least today. It has no Funyuns, no cheese cubes, no Lil’ Smokies. There’s a pantry with ingredients, but ingredients aren’t snacks. Cans of things and bags of things and boxes of things. Edible? Strictly only. Enjoyable? You kiss your mother with that mouth?

In the middle of the room, a spiral staircase that goes up to the third floor. Bedroom on one side, study-cum-office on the other, large bathroom in between. This is not an exercise in irony. There’s not going to be suddenly lots of Twizzlers and Gino’s Pizza Rolls stashed in secret nooks and crannies. The bed-side tables flanking the California King. The air-craft carrier-sized desk. The jacuzzi tub, the separate shower with room enough for five peoples. If only there were five people in it now, carrying buckets of chicken wings.

The bedroom area on one side, the office on the other, the bathroom in between along the wall, and opposite that, what could be called either a very steep set of stairs or a lazy ladder. It goes up to the fourth floor. A gym, sort of, a hobby area, sort of. Is he into small appliance repair, as a hobby? Say, vintage Easy-Bake Ovens, with fudge brownie packets to test that the repair was successful? Or perhaps old Sno-Cone Machines? For godsakes, maybe even a box full of old candy wax-lips to make the world’s first edible candle? Fuck me in the ass right now.

The gym area has a treadmill but no Gatorade Chews, a weight bench but no Power Bars, an exercise bike but no Energy Goo. There’s a sound system and a TV screen for distraction. Go ahead, turn on the TV, get distracted from the lack of bowls of salted peanuts with commercials of bowls salted peanuts.

There’s one more floor, and a proper ladder this time, and the ladder goes up to the roof. Oh don’t worry. It’s protected on all sides by a three-foot railing, so you can’t accidentally fall off from lack of energy from lack of snacks. If you ever heard a story about an amateur astronomer who keeps a decent-sized telescope in a large water-proof footlocker on top of a boss house made out of an old grain silo who also kept in the locker bags of Peanut M&Ms, you’re experiencing what we call pure mother fucking fiction. He does have the water-proof foot locker, the decent-sized telescope, and he also has mostly overcast nights and a distant but not-distant-enough small town that barfs up an unexpectedly huge amount of light pollution, and whatever the spiritual hole the universe has created to take the place of bags of Peanut M&Ms.

And that’s pretty much it. He gets up, he goes to work, he comes home, he watches TV, makes dinner, does some work in his study, goes to bed. It’s not a bad life. Except for the fact that it’s pretty much the worst life any human being in the history of human beings has ever led. For there are no snacks. There’s no punch-line to this, there’s no moral, there’s no revelation. If there were, he’d eat those instead. Instead, he just sits on the dirt floor at the bottom of his boss house made out of an old grain silo and pines and pines and pines.