Thursday, October 18, 2012

Old New Fiction

Every so often a web site just dies. They don't leave a suicide note or nothing. You just walk into a room one day and there they are, hanging from a pipe like David Foster Wallace. And some of these sites were literary journals with MY fiction on it! Oh, the nerve!

Ooh, while I'm on the subject, R.I.P. elimae.com, an "electronic literary magazine," or whatever the hell it was supposed to stand for, that published some perplexing stuff that I used to parody on a regular basis. They will cease publication in the next week or so. So good night, funny man! In your honor I will be giving away PDFs of my mini-book The Elly May Parodies to those who buy Puppet Shows after November 22.

Now what the hell was I writing about? Oh, my stories that disappeared. These are two flash fiction pieces called "The Texas Prison Museum" and "The Banana." Enjoy, one person.


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The Prison Museum


Leslie sat in the car outside, squeamish and dizzy, waiting for her husband Jack, who was staring at Old Sparky, the decommissioned electric chair that executed nearly 400 prisoners in the Texas Prison System over 40 years. If the two were driving to Houston for Leslie’s friends’ wedding, Jack demanded, they were stopping at the Texas Prison Museum. The place gave Leslie the creeps, but Jack was not going to let this opportunity pass. He admired Old Sparky like he was pricing it for auction.

 “Hey, can I sit in this?” Jack asked the lone staff member inside.

 “No, you can’t sit in it,” the staffer said. “It’s an exhibit. Would you ask to sit on the Mona Lisa?”

 “Mona Lisa’s not a chair.”

 “You can’t sit in it.”

Jack had already been inside longer than Leslie was willing to allow, but he wasn’t ready to leave. He had to look at everything – the contraband exhibit, the inmate art, the Bonnie and Clyde paraphernalia.

“Can I hold the pistol?” he said, referring to the nickel plated pistol police found in the criminal duo’s death car.

“What is wrong with you? No. These are exhibits. Look but don’t touch.”

Jack went outside to get Leslie, who was in the passenger seat of the couple’s Buick Le Sabre, air conditioner running, thumbing through a wedding magazine. It was nearly 100 degrees and she wanted to get going. Jack tapped on the window and she rolled it down.

“Can you take a picture of me in the jail cell?” Jack said.

“Why can’t you ask someone inside?”

 “Because you’re my sweetie?”

“I’m not going in there.”

“It’s just a museum, like Tussauds or the potato chip factory we went to.”

“You have five minutes then I’m driving away without you.”

Jack ran back inside like a child hearing ice cream truck music.

“Hey, can you take my picture?” he said to the staff member before he could welcome Jack back.

“No photos,” he said.

“No photos?” Jack said. “Is the Bonnie and Clyde case still open? I just want a picture of me inside the cell or standing in front of Old Sparky.”

“Absolutely no photography. It’s the rules.”

“Fine,” Jack said.

He ran to the back of the museum towards the famous electric chair. The staffer followed, but, by the time he reached Old Sparky, Jack was sitting in it, smiling like an old woman in a comfortable recliner.

“Get out of the chair, sir,” the staffer said.

Jack looked up at the lever to his left and said, “Hey, does this work?”

He pulled the lever down and 2,000 volts went through him, killing him in a matter of seconds.



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The Banana


Moseph and I stood against the wall by the little carousel horse outside the supermarket, smoking Lucky Strikes and punching each other on the shoulder. Moseph’s real name is Maureen, but I started calling her Mo, which led to Moseph. She said she liked it, so it stuck. I also called her Molicious, Mo Vaughn, and Mo’ Better Blues, but she said she liked Moseph more than any of those.

While we were standing there a woman walked by carrying a bag of groceries with a bunch of bananas sticking out of the top, kind of like how you always see a loaf of French bread sticking out of grocery bags in movies. Movie characters love French bread. Only the bananas weren’t sticking out that tall. They were normal size bananas, just probably lying on top of something else in the bag

So Moseph grabbed one of the bananas. She did this by walking towards the woman and forcefully holding down the rest of the bunch and pulling the banana she wanted from the bag. The woman was busy talking on her cell phone so she just looked back at us in disgust and kept walking rather than get into an argument with us.

We spent the next ten minutes brandishing our free banana and talking on it like it was a phone. We handed it to each other whenever people walked by and said, “You’re too young to have the baby. You need to get an abortion. Here, you talk some sense into her.” Then we walked up to people and handed them the banana, saying, “Phone for you. It’s Steve. He’s pissed.” One guy took the banana and said, “Hello? He hung up.”

When we got bored with the telephone routine, Moseph and I started talking about how we had never seen anyone slip on a banana peel in real life. So we ate the banana and tossed the peel on the ground in front of the supermarket. For twenty minutes no one slipped on it until a two-year-old walking with her father did. We started laughing, but felt badly about it when the father heard us. So we just ran away after that.

When we stopped running Moseph and I talked about how wonderful it was seeing something live that had only happened before in cartoons. I wondered what else we might see that day, like a bunch of bees forming an arrow or a hammer, or maybe we could paint a tunnel onto a rock and run through it like it was a real tunnel. The world was our cartoon oyster after what we saw. In fact, maybe that’s what we’d see: a giant oyster that would clamp down and trap us if we walked inside its mouth to steal the pearl.

But we got scared thinking about the oyster and the bees. So we just got some Chinese food and vowed never to speak about real-life cartoon situations again.






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