Category Archives: Short Stories

White Christmas

Short Story Updated; Originally Published as Part of My Collection, Emotionless Souls

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Uncle Jay took the last of my coke. Alright I said it, still doesn’t help me. Now how will I get through this holiday charade known as Christmas Eve? Uncle Jay is standing across the room staring at the over decorated tree with glazed eyes and a cocaine induced grin. I wish he would die this instant.

Three feet away is a speaker blaring Christmas music that sounds like Barry Manilow, but I’m not sure. To be safe I begin walking across the room toward Uncle Jay; balancing my Jack on the rocks in my right hand as I maneuver past an ill placed holiday basket containing ten thousand nut variations. I approach a small table where Jake and Pete are playing Black Jack. Every year another piercing appears on Jake’s face. This year it’s the left eye brow. It’s one of many family secrets in the open that no one talks about.

Jake and Pete are discussing what girl would cause the biggest stir if she were to appear on Bangbros.com. Pete quickly says “Britney Spears” and he is so proud of his answer he hits on eighteen, predictably busting in the process. Jerry seems content with the answer, but not very impressed as if he was anticipating Pete’s response. Jerry pauses for dramatic effect and then says “Jessica Simpson”, then adds “The shock value alone”. This response draws an agreeing nod from Pete.

His form of a concession speech.

I continue past, taking a drink in the process, resisting the urge to yell out the correct answer because this would cause quite a stir.

Uncle Jay is standing alone when he spots me moving toward him. He smiles smugly causing me to get angry and trip over Aunt Carol’s new Gucci bag.

I put my hand in my coat pocket and feel the empty cellophane bag. Nothing. Less than a hour ago Uncle Jay borrowed my coat to go smoke a Lucky Strike and now my coke is gone. Aunt Carol looks up at me as I continue balancing my drink, but she doesn’t seem to mind that I kicked her bag because this gives her a chance to show everyone her new bag, for the third time this evening. A fifteen hundred dollar purse with less than twenty dollars inside.

I watch this travesty as Aunt Carol tells the story of how she saw it and had to have it and then I turn my head because there’s movement across the room where little Todd, my three year old cousin, is pulling on the tree causing ornaments to fall off. Uncle Jay just stands there laughing.

My Aunt Joyce jumps out of her seat to announce that she’s making Bloody Mary’s. Not any ordinary drink, these are made with Aunt Joyce special ingredients she stores in a leather case, stowed in the trunk of her Corolla.

Aunt Carol’s display has started an accessories fashion show. Now Aunt Sharon has to sit up and display her bright red Marc Jacobs bag, smiling proudly as if it were a child. Tabitha, a friend of the family (so I’m told), giggles when everyone looks at her asking her to show them her bag. Although reluctant at first, a confidence beams out of her as she grabs her new gold Fendi bag. A hush falls over the room until Aunt Carol asks “Is it fake?” Tabitha quickly replies saying, “No, it’s real, isn’t it great?”, followed by Aunt Carol reiterating that “Well, it still could be a fake. You never know.”

Aunt Joyce returns with her Bloody Mary, sits, and takes a big drink.

I finish my Jack on the rocks. Aunt Joyce quickly notices my empty glass, stands up and runs to the kitchen to fetch me another one before I can say a word. I stand there waiting, my head spinning from the six drinks and two grams I’ve consumed today.

My cell phone is vibrating so I answer it and it’s Jackson, my friend who’s in town for the holidays and he wants to know what I’m doing tonight. I explain the family situation and the Barry Manilow and then he tells me I’m creeping him out so I stop. Jackson asks if I want to go out later and that sounds tempting, but then I find out he’s out of coke so we decide not do anything because it really wouldn’t be that fun.

I look back at Pete and Jerry, Pete is still trying to think of someone to top Jerry’s pick, but he’s at a loss for the obvious. Next to them my nieces Jill and Candy are playing with a scarf, throwing it high into the air and crashing into each other as it falls down. Aunt Joyce comes back with a fresh drink for me and a brandy chaser for herself. She has something white under her nose which makes me think she just did a line, but then notice it’s not powder, rather foam from egg nog she was probably drinking in the kitchen.

Continuing to walk toward Uncle Jay, I have a clear path until Carl, my brother in law, stops me and asks me what I’m driving. I tell him “Same Nissaan” which doesn’t matter because he’s not listening, but rather waiting to tell me about his truck, the new F150. He asks me if I want to see it, and I tell him I saw it last year and then he tells me that last year he was driving the F110, not the F150. A Lionel Ritchie song starts playing on the radio so immediately Aunt Sharon goes over to Grandma and starts rocking her back and forth. Little Todd is pulling on Grandma’s leg, Aunt Sharon continues to rock her back and forth and Grandma is shooting darts out of her eyes at anyone watching. This is enough of a distraction to walk past Carl.

Finally I approach Uncle Jay and I tell him “We need to talk.”

“Okay, but hey first can you see if you have any gum in your jacket? I think I may have left some in there when I borrowed your jacket.”

Gum. Right. I put my hand in my pocket and there’s nothing buy the empty bag.

“No, check the other one.” He says.

I put my hand in my left pocket, finding a half pack of gum and another bag, my bag of cocaine. I let out a visible sigh and hand over the gum.

“Are you okay?” Uncle Jay asks.

I look across the room. Aunt Carol is now holding Tabitha’s Fendi bag and shaking her head, Grandma is kicking at Todd in an attempt to get him to go away, and Pete has a perplexed look on his face.

“Yeah, I’m okay.” I say. “I guess.”

“So what did you want to talk about?” Asks Uncle Jay.

“Oh.” I pause and take a drink of Jack Daniels. “It was nothing. Merry Christmas.” I hold up my glass and then realize he doesn’t have a drink.

We both stare for a minute at the family and chaos ensuing.

“I’ve got some coke.” Says Uncle Jay.

“Oh?” I reply.

“Yeah. I’m just saying, if you want…”

“Cool.” I say.

Walking past Pete I lean down and whisper “Olsen Twins” into his ear. His face brightens as he hears the words, knowing that in a minute he will be able to show up his cousin, and once again be on top. Uncle Jay and I leave the room and head to the bathroom, humming a Lionel Ritchie Christmas song along the way.

 

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Short Story: Casting Call

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Jesse is from the Midwest, his hobbies include jumping and collecting sombreros.  What a fucking idiot.  A pile of Jesse-type resumes and head shots lay in front of me.  A pile of want to be reality stars for a new show where they will compete for chance to compete in an egg toss, or if Jesse is lucky, jumping.

Without asking the bartender brings me another Vodka rocks.

Debbie works as an exotic dancer.  She considers herself conniving and nice and believes she would be a good player for the show.  Plus, she has great tits.  Her words.

Reading her bio reminds me of the other day I was walking on Venice Beach, looking out at the sunbathers.  Ten years ago there was  study that showed at any given time one out of every ten women on Venice Beach were active or had done porn.  Last year this same study was revisited and found that the number was now five in ten.  Alarmingly High!  Thank you Mr. Internet.

I drink another vodka rocks.

I drive my car, an older BMW with a tree deodorizer hanging from the rear view mirror.  I find Jesse first.

Jesse is living in a bungalow in Marina Del Rey.  When I come to the door all I have to say is I’m with casting for the show and he lets me in.  He offers me drink, food, anything I want.  The desperation is sick.  We sit on his couch, a soiled piece of furniture that leans to the right.  Jesse explains his motivation for being on the show, believing this story matters he is full of passion, but it’s not real.  How can it be?  We’re talking about reality television here.

He shows me his sombrero collection, I try one on, when he puts his hands up to straighten it I grab him and throw him to the ground, take the sombrero off my head, and strangle him with the string of his own sombrero.  He tries to jump, but I use my weight to keep him down, then there is nothing.

Debbie is dancing at the Seventh Veil on Sunset Boulevard.  When I get there she is dancing on the main stage, I grab a seat and put a dollar in her G-string.  Working the pole: slide up, then down.  She crawls slowly toward me.  Purring.  Licking her lips.  Rod Stewart’s “If you think I’m sexy” is playing.

After her three songs, Debbie offers to give me a private lap dance.  Once she finds out who I am she offers to fuck me in my car.  It will be days before anyone notices she’s gone.

My next stop is on Crenshaw Boulevard, to see Timmy.  He is gay and wants to use the show to show his fierce side.  We are talking in a bar, he excuses himself to use the bathroom and I follow him.  Timmy is startled when I open the stall, and even more surprised when I knock him off the toilet.  I lift my foot, ready to come down on his head when I feel a nudge. It’s the bartender.

“Closing time, do you want another one?”

I nod.  He looks down at the stack of Jesse-type head shots, now covered in my drool.  “Any good ones in there?”


Short Story: Dopeman

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My mentor always told me this was going to happen.  Why do you want to deal anyway?  This is the stressful side of the business.  Users, now that’s the rush, the relaxation.

Staring at a gun in my face.  Pleading. Begging.  Bargaining with one of my clients not to shoot me.  You have the bag, keep the dope.  Keep your money.  Just let me walk away.

I spit out the two twisty bags of crack I was storing in my mouth.  “Take-it!”

Eventually, they all get greedy. They are junkies for Christ sake! This is what my mentor told me.  Listen, to me, I’m trying to teach you.

I was listening, just never took his words seriously.  Every user is your friend at first.  You are more important than their family and friends.  You are their God, their savior.  Once using turns to addiction, your relationship, it changes.  No longer is your client prompt with crisp dollars.  Now, it’s crumbled stained dollars and even bags of change.  “It’s all there, trust me”.  Never let a customer slide, it shows weakness.  My mentor told me this, but I never took his words seriously.

Stress is looking cross-eyed at the barrel of a gun pointed between the eyes.  More stress is when you hear the gun engaged one slip from the end.

If a client ever turns the tables on you, tell him what he wants to hear.  My mentor’s words.  At this moment I am speechless.

The blue flannel pajama top with ivory colored shorts is an odd combination.  Once you lose the grasp on using, nothing else matters.  My job is to notice this, to prepare.  Unfortunately I was too consumed in just showing up, collecting my form of a check without taxes.

I am afraid to move my head to the right or left, but I suspect other junkies are lurking, seeing what is happening.  At this point, it’s too late.  I’m finished.  Even if he pulls the gun away, I’ve lost control.  Occasionally you need to let your clients know who is in charge-send a message.  I didn’t understand at the time, but now it is clear.

My last ditch effort are the tears I force out.  I tell my client I will give him all the drugs I have, plus ten thousand dollars.  I say I will do anything.

When a hand holding a gun begins trembling, this is a cause for more stress.  I am seconds away from passing out when he slowly pulls the gun away and asks, “You serious about anything?”

I tell him yes.  He puts the gun down at his side, unzips his pants and says, “Well, let’s get started…”

I reach behind my jeans, loosen my belt a little bit, enough for me to pull out my gun out of my pants and with one swing of the barrel knock my client on the pavement.  I scream to let all watching know what is about to happen.  I pull the trigger, sending a message.

If you don’t pull the trigger, someone else will.  My mentor’s words, months ago.  This is before he started using and became an over zealous junkie.  I’m going to miss his words.


Short Story: Corporate Downsizing

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I almost puke when I look at my watch and see that it’s only ten o’clock.  I’ve only been here for two hours and am already over this place.  Up and down the elevators, making sure I touch base with all of those on my to-do list.  For what?  To get shit on later by the Executives?  Apparently so, apparently this is why I work here.

My constant drain of coffee is the only thing keeping me moving.  Despite all I have to do facilities team just let me know I have to move from the fifth floor to the tenth, and oh yeah; we don’t have any boxes or anyone to assist.  If you could have the move done by lunch – well that would be great.

I listen to my voice mail and it’s my boss, Michael.  Apparently there has been a major meltdown and I’m needed to answer questions.  Read between the lines: we need to identify who made a mistake and then rectify the problem by firing this person.

I grab some of my things from my desk and get into the elevator.  Might as well get this over with, if I am fired at least I have most of the day left.  Jackie, my boss’s assistant looks at me, crinkling her eyebrows, “You still here?  Last I heard Michael said you had left, or were in the process of leaving.”

I lose it and tell Jackie to go fuck herself.  Who is she to question my employment?  As the elevator climbs to number nine, one floor left, I decide I’ve had enough.  I get out on nine and then back down to my desk on five.  Instead of packing up my things I throw everything into the hallway, stomp my computer, and erase all of my work.  The picture of our department is shredded and left on my otherwise now clear and clean desk.

I grab my book bag and make a new to do list.  Back in the elevator I go to the sixth floor, and find a Financial Analyst named Baker who has been questioning my numbers for the last six months.  Baker is startled when I crash though his door while he is on the phone and downright terrified when I begin urinating on his desk.  Neither of us say a word.

I contemplate stops at the eighth floor, where IT is located and then decide there isn’t time.  Surely by now Baker has alerted security and they are looking for me.

On the tenth floor I grab the recycling bins and take them to the center of the room.  If you do something quickly and don’t look anyone in the eye you can’t get away with almost anything.  I dump all of the paper in the center of the room, and then make paper trails to the walls, each way except to the elevator.  I tell everyone they may want to head to the elevators.

I light a match and within two minutes the tenth floor is engulfed in flames.  I run to the elevator and push the button for the first floor.  Nine, eight, seven…  The elevator stops at five.  Jackie is standing there, looking at me strangely as the door fully opens, “You still here?  Michael said you were moving to the tenth floor.”


Short Story: CEO, Homeless Inc.

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If you walk the streets long enough you realize people throw out anything. Barry knew this. Barry was what they refer to as a seasoned veteran of the streets. Not something you buy, real street credit.

It started back in the late eighties when he stumbled upon his first IBM PC Jr. It was judged outdated and obsolete, taken to the streets to be thrown away. Printers, phones, video equipment, it piles up fast. Within a couple years, before he knew it, Barry had half a block of equipment, mostly working, the rest used for parts.

When wireless technology started Barry saw an idea. He was able to hook up the computers (stealing wireless internet access from local businesses), and charge a dollar for use. Everything from the news to prison pornography. There were no rules.

If you Google Things to do with a hammer you receive 3,020,000 hits.

If you Google Naked Amish you receive 836,000 hits.

Commuters on their way to work. Area deli and coffee shops. Tourists. They all stopped to use Barry’s street side internet access. Nothing planned, it just happened. Barry was a natural with computers and now able to supply a service.

If you Google Business Plans you receive 148,000,000 hits.

Barry wakes, runs his business, and though not very profitable he is able to eat and no one bothers him on the street. The only life he knows, completely independent, no authority figure, and no commute.

It’s when Abdul approaches that things begin changing.

Abdul owns a deli and wants to give his customers internet access. Business has been down and the competition will shut him down if he doesn’t act fact.

If you Google New York Deli’s you receive 1,300,000 hits.

Barry agrees to help Abdul for food and the customers enjoy the new amenity Abdul has given them. In fact, after a month passes the two computers are not enough to sustain the need of his crowds.

Abdul propositions Barry. Convert the deli into an Internet Café. Partners. The next two nights Barry doesn’t sleep, just sits in the park, contemplating Abdul’s offer. Change is not always good.

They go to work, taking out loans for renovations, installing the new computer system. Advertising. Barry rents an apartment, due to lack of credit, the new equipment (and old equipment) is used as collateral.

The grand opening is successful. Lots of positive feedback and the patrons are enjoying themselves, not too mention the food sales were as high as ever despite only half the room dedicated to eating. Abdul and Barry expand. More loans, more collateral, more stress.

If you Google MBA Programs you receive 13,600,000 hits.

Once the new systems are implemented they see a sharp decline. Businesses around them are closing. Tourism is down. Supply vs. Demand.

Now taxes are due, the owner of the building is calling, Barry’s rent is due.

If you Google Debt Collectors you receive 836,000 hits.

Tax Collectors. Repo-men. Collection Agencies.

Borrow more. Bargain with creditors. Buy time. Lie. Do anything necessary to extend payment for a month, a week, even a day.

What can take months or years financially to create can take less than a month to bring down. It’s the flipside of the American dream they don’t tell you about.

Barry is back on the streets, now with nothing. The equipment is gone, the repo-men took it all, including the IBM PC jr.

If you Google Entrepreneur you receive 19,300,000 hits.

Sleeping on the street, near the man-hole covers for warmth, Barry wakes up and looks across the street. There sitting is a Dell, last years model. Barry looks both ways as he crosses the street and drags the machine back to his side.


Short Fiction: Open Door Policy

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Maybe it’s because I drink Red Bull, maybe because I’m the newest member of the team. I’m not sure the reason, but I know I’m not one of them. Maybe, this is initiation.

They stand around the Phaser 2000 laser printer and drink coffee, they do this every morning. No words, just standing in a circle, drinking coffee, and collectively taking deep sighs. There is something else I’m not telling you.

Dale doesn’t have a right ear. Well, it’s not that he doesn’t have any ear; just most of it is gone as if he lost it due to disease, or lost a major bet. Jason? He doesn’t talk; I’m not just talking about the circle, but at all. He only mumbles occasionally and drinks his coffee, black. Chris is bruised. Not “ran into a door” type bruises, but deep bruises. The ones that hurt mentally. Then there’s Andrew, scar face. No one would ever say this, but everyone is thinking it. Someone took a knife and slashed an “X” on his face, probably foster parents, I hear this is common.

Supervisors come and go. Reviews and Updates. The bruises and scars, they stay.

I talk with Lola, our boss, who tells me this happens a lot and that I need to just get myself acclimated to the position, eventually I will fit in she tells me if that’s what I want. I tell her I do.

Days, weeks pass. Each cubicle the same. Beige carpeting, white filing cabinet, Post-It notes. A stapler. Lola approaches and asks if I can work late. I look at the others, standing by the printer, drinking coffee and nod.

In the evening Lola changes into snug jeans and a tight white T-shirt. I remove my tie. Lola proposes we finish up at her place; it is close by and more relaxing. We can sip beers she tells me. I agree quickly and we walk (three blocks) to her building. Ignoring the concerned look on the door mans face, Lola grabs my hand as we walk up to her apartment.

When her door closes and she removes her T-shirt to reveal no bra she tells me she never wears underwear, any kind. I blush and she laughs. Without turning on a light Lola leads me into her bedroom and lays me down on her bed. Still wearing jeans she moves over the top of me slowly, then removes my shirt, and then kisses my chest lightly.

It’s so dark I can’t see Lola, but I hear the question, “Have you ever fucked your boss before?” I don’t answer because I can’t talk nor can I see where she is at. I get off the bed, stand and turn until I can sense that she is standing in front of me. She takes my right arm with her hands, slides down and holds my right hand.

“I asked you, have you ever fucked your boss before? Are you going to answer me?” I nod and then mumble something that she takes as a yes. She laughs; actually it’s more of a cackle. Still wearing jeans, she pushes her body against mine then slowly moves down my body, removing my pants and boxers. She works here way back up and backs off.

On a table near the bed Lola lights a candle. Just enough light to see where we both are. She comes closer and we kiss. She spreads her lips and I kiss her hard, that’s when I feel it. Cutting into my tongue, cutting into my upper lip.

I quickly push back. With just a little light hitting her face I see her holding a razor blade between her teeth. Still manages to cackle at me. Blood runs down my face. I look for my pants, but she kicks me in the head, I land on my back. I feel the whip crash against my chest. I scream.

Fighting off the whip, I finally get to my feet and run out of her bedroom. Lola hits a switch that activates the lights throughout the apartment. I leave my clothing behind, run through the living room, and then I see it. The wall.

On the wall are at least a dozen different leather whips, chains, and knives on display. Most look used and never cleaned. Some are in glass cases. In the middle is a small glass case with something inside. I look inside, Dale’s ear. Under the case, is a plate that reads DALE.

When I come to the door I pause because I’m naked, enough time for Lola to whip me one more time across my back. I open the door and leave, down the steps, past the doorman, covered in blood. On the street a police officer sees me and turns the other way. When a naked man is covered in blood and half his upper lip is hanging no one wants details.

The next day in the office I park the Red Bull. Grab a coffee and walk over to the printer. Dale is the first one to see me. He nods and moves over, making room in the circle. I was now officially part of the team.


Short Fiction: Slam Dunk

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“That’s about it.” Says Bernie.

“Yeah, we’re definitely ready. I know I am.” Replies Karina.

Bernie sips his coffee, “I know I am, ready that is.” He sets down his coffee mug that reads NUMBER 1 EMPLOYEE.

They were ready. A presentation to the money players. Two months worth of work, an additional week of preparation, countless take-out orders. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, even Anheuser-Busch would be represented. A new sparkling water was at stake and Karina was confident that they would convince them to invest. Karina twirled her pen.

“You still believe in that?” Bernie pointed at the pen, “You know, for good luck and all?”

“Oh. I don’t know, I guess, it’s been with me through it all.” She says, still twirling her ten cent Papermate pen.

The truth was Karina didn’t know anymore. At one point she truly believed that the pen brought her good luck. It was with her during her GMAT, Graduation School, her first major presentation. Her first promotion. At this point why mess with karma.

“I like it, and hey, it still works.” Confirmed Karina.

Sitting in the conference room there is a pause, then the phone rings. It’s their boss, he only wants one of them to give the presentation. “Decide amongst yourselves”, he hangs up.

“Don’t worry about it, I’ve got it.” Says Bernie.

Karina quickly interjects, “No way, I’ve poured my heart into this, it’s mine. This presentation is a slam dunk.” Holding her pen tightly.

Bernie chuckles, “First off, it’s not a slam dunk, a presentation can’t be a slam dunk.” Bernie holds up his coffee mug, “If I had a donut and placed it here, that would be a dunk.” Condescending, Bernie continues, “If Michael Jordan drives to the basket, now that usually results in a slam dunk.”

“I disagree.” Says Karina. “Anything that is hands down a winner can also be categorized as a slam dunk.”

“No way, besides..” Bernie pauses, has a sip of his coffee. “Men are better leaders, better front men for presentation puposes.”
“That’s ridiculous.” Karina shakes her head. “What do you base that on?”

“Well, I was thinking about this on my way to work today, look at rock n’ roll band, lead singers. Name me one female.”

“Well it may not be rock, but what about-“

Bernie cuts off Karina, “No, I said rock. Give me one.” Without giving her a chance Bernie blurts out, “Jim Morrison, Robert Plant, Mick Jagger, and Axl Rose…just to name a few off the top of my head. What do you have?”

With a disgusted look on her face Karina says, “Axl Rose was manufactured.”

“Yeah, but still…”

Karina stands up. “This has nothing to do with our presentation. Give the intro. Run through the facts. Then conclusion. That’s it and I’m going to do it.”

Bernie stands, “No you’re not.” He reaches across the table and grabs Karina’s pen. He snaps it in two. “No, no you’re not going to do the presentation.”

Karina’s eyes are wet.

Their boss calls. Everyone is waiting. Showtime.

“It’s okay. I’ll take care of it.” Says Bernie.

Karina stares at Bernie, “You know first impressions are everything Bernie.”

Confused, Bernie stares back. “Yeah, so.”

“You can’t go in there with that stain on your shirt.” Karina points to a tiny dot of ink that splattered from the pen.

“Oh that, no problem.” Bernie grabs a tissue from his pocket.

Dabbing the ink spot Karina leans across the table, grabbing Bernie’s coffee mug.

“Janis Joplin.” Says Karina, holding his mug. “Janis Joplin, there you go I named one.”

“Yeah, but still…” Bernie is eyeing his shirt, now clean.

“You’ll never get that stain out.” Karina laughs.

“What-“ Bernie is cut off as Karina throws Bernie’s coffee all over his shirt.

“Don’t worry Bernie, It’s okay. I’ll take care of it.” Karina walks out. As she reaches the door she looks back and says, “It will be a slam dunk!”