On this day of my humorous short story collection being available, here is an excerpt from a story called "Grandpa & Me," which found itself in a U.K. journal a few years ago. I'm just huge in the U.K. This is also the story that prompted one editor to write back, "--> “Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately I can't use it. My submission guidelines clearly state that we prefer nor (sic) profanity, and yours is laced with it.”
In my defense, I don't think it's got much profanity in it. I ain't no prude. So, then, here are, I don't know, Parts I and II of "Grandpa & Me." For more, buy the book, you silly goose.
Grandpa & Me
A pair of fragile arms lifted me into bed.
“Tell me a story, Grandpa," I said.
“Who am I? Mark Twain?" he replied. "Now go to sleep or I'll get the chloroform."
“Tell me a story."
“I think I hear Mr. Boogey Man."
“I hear the Wolf Man and Dick Cheney coming too."
“All right, all right," he caved. "Once there was a boy, an ugly little boy, a bit spoiled. Nobody liked him. Every night he wanted a story. 'Tell me a story. Tell me a story' Like his Grandpa was an old radio serial announcer. Then one night the boy was eaten by tigers, and his Grandpa kidnapped by Nazis. The end. For a written transcript send four dollars. Now, sleep!"
He pulled his watch out again and moved it back and forth until I fell asleep. When I awoke there was a note stapled to my pajamas:
I have eloped with Mr. Boogey Man. Don't look for me or Frankenstein will find you and kill you. And, for Pete's sake, you’re seventeen. Make up your own damn stories.
This saddened me greatly. With the rest of my grandparents having passed on, and my parents having died in a horrible unicycling accident when I was little, I was now on my own. I fended for myself around the house until graduation. Then I got a summer job, hoping to maybe attend college in the fall.
One August day my friend Shane and I were sunbathing in the front yard when Grandpa showed up.
“What are you kids lounging around for?” he demanded. “This lawn needs mowin’ somethin’ fierce!”
“Grandpa?” I said. I couldn’t believe it. “Where have you been?”
“It’s my birthday today,” he said. “I’m here for my party.”
We hadn’t planned a birthday party for Grandpa, but we decided we’d have an impromptu one. I was excited, but try as I did to find out where he was for six months, Grandpa would not tell me. He was mum except for shouting, “Mind your beeswax!” whenever I asked. Grandpa just wanted to talk politics and sports. None of this, “How ya been doing?” business.
So the three of us walked to the liquor store so Grandpa could get some whiskey and we could buy him a birthday present. He was turning eighty. So we wanted to get him something nice. We didn’t know what though. Shane asked me what grandparents like, as if I’d know. I said, “I don’t know. Pills? Metamucil? Dentucreme?”
We knew we didn’t have much time. Grandpa had some brand of whiskey he really liked and was very impatient. So he would be pushing for us to hurry up in about twenty seconds. Sure enough, when I turned around he was already standing at the register bickering with the cashier.
“You’re cardin’ me?” Grandpa said. “Don’t be thinkin’ I’m flattered, you son of a bitch.”
“Sorry,” the cashier said. “We had one of those Progeria kids in here last week tryin’ to buy some Mike’s Hard Berrys.”
“What the hell is that?”
“It’s an alcoholic beverage with…”
“Not the Mike’s shit,” Grandpa said. “What the hell is a Progeria kid?”
“It’s a little tyke who ages really quickly. This one was seven, but he looked…about your age. What are you, eighty?”
“Anyway, there’s like forty of them in the world. He may be dead by now.”
“Goddamn freak show,” Grandpa said. “Kids! Hurry up, for Chrissakes!”
I ended up buying him a couple of smut magazines. When I presented them to him he grabbed them from me and smiled.
“Do you like ‘em, Grandpa?” I said.
“Of course I like ‘em. It’s porn, isn’t it?” As we walked out of the store, Grandpa continued eyeing his magazines. “Women should always be naked,” he said. “You can’t let women rule your life, Boy. Understand? You think Ike Turner let women rule his life? Or Jackson Browne? Or Lobster Boy? No!”
“Grandpa, I would never hit a woman.”
“Goddamned Lobster Boy, son!” he said. “Beat the shit out of his wife and kids with his lobster claws! Roy Campanella beat his first wife while confined to a wheelchair! That Def Leppard drummer showed his wife who was boss with one arm!”
“Grandpa, what the fuck,” I said. He then produced a bar of Fells Naptha soap, shoved it in my mouth then proceeded to tell me two of the most horrid domestic abuse jokes I ever heard.