Monday, August 28, 2017

Fifteen Super Short Stories



Many years ago when Livejournal was the Facebook of the day, a meme made the rounds of people asking others to recall when they first met. Well, let's just say I have a wild imagination. Enjoy.

+*+*+

In late October, 1918, shot down just five miles behind the German lines, DeBray and I hid in the burned out remains of an old manor outside the deserted village of Ch√Ęteau de Chambord. Our self-imposed imprisonment was relieved by a well-stocked wine cellar and a deck of cards with the 8 of Hearts missing.

For weeks we regaled ourselves with tales over bottles of Bordeaux from such vintages as Lafite Rothschild, La Conseillante and Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. Playing poker, DeBray ended up owning all of France.

Weeks later, desperate to rejoin our unit, we drank the last, cast fate to the wind, and ran into the night in a mad attempt to breach the lines from behind.

The next morning we found ourselves near frozen in a potato field, our heads pounding.

A farmer told us the war had been over for weeks.

+*+*+

"Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law states ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’" Stoker waved his hands like an orchestra conductor and created a herd of snow-white unicorns out of whole cloth. "Let’s applaud cerebral implants."

Another wave and gryphons joined the dance.

"I just can’t seem to be able to do that," I complained. I waved my hand and a dyspeptic unicorn smelling of old fish appeared and promptly melted into a greasy puddle. "What am I doing wrong?"

Stoker snapped his fingers and the puddle congealed into a pretty fairy who soared away on streaming wings trailing ginger and violet. "How are you building them?" he asked.

"Just like you. One molecule at a time."

"Ah!" he said with a nod. "There’s your problem. Your building blocks are too large. Start with smaller particles."

"Particles?" I asked. "What particles?"

"Elementary, my dear Loewen. Elementary."

+*+*+

I journeyed to Saint Kitts hoping the Caribbean sun would burn away my ennui. My paints had dried in my mind; my soul remained a blank canvas.

I heard her where she sang to herself in the front door of a little beach shanty. “My name is Tracy.”

She showed me mysteries in the tide pools and the sea caves. We explored the vendor stalls and I bought her a straw hat. We fed the pigeons in front of Saint Martin’s. She taught me how to drink Margaritas and how to laugh once again.

That night on my easel, I painted wild arabesques of color, pirouettes of pastels. Inspired fantasies flowed in watercolor.

The next morning, the beach stood empty, no trace of the shanty or its muse.

My watercolors are now famous, my best capturing her features with brightly-colored pigments mixed with my tears.

+*+*+

He sat in my counseling chair like it was a throne. “Humanity has grown weak,” he said grimly. “We gave them their chance, but they squandered their stewardship for bread and circuses. Now it is time for our return until humanity learns its responsibilities anew.”

I nodded and wrote “Delusional” on my notepad.

He stood and I cried out in surprise and awe as his eyes changed from human to the large orange slitted orbs of a tiger.

The receptionist burst into the room. “Dr. Loewen!” she asked, “What happened?”

I sat staring at an empty chair. “The old gods have awakened,” I whispered.

+*+*+

“My problem,” Razz said, reaching for her sketch pad and pencil, “is that I have too powerful an imagination.”

To demonstrate, she drew a butterfly that suddenly shimmered and flew off the page. I watched it flutter about my counseling office.

Razz shook her head in despair. “My apartment is filled with bats, unicorns, fairies, cartoon characters; all of them about the size of an eight by eleven inch sheet of paper.”

I meditated for a moment and then wrote out my prescription. Razz read it and smiled.

The next day, she returned grinning. “I never thought of drawing Aladdin’s lamp,“ she said. “I used my last two wishes to solve my problem.”

I twitched my nose. “Let me guess. Because you doubted his powers, you wasted your first wish on turning me into a giant green rabbit?”

“Bingo!” she said.

+*+*+
I remember it like it was yesterday.

It was tea time in Bejing and we had sat down for a quiet time of refreshment at Madame Chin's when the Tongs attacked.

I never knew you were so adept at self-defense with nothing but a pair of chopsticks.

Five minutes later, you rejoined me at our table, flicked somebody's spleen off the tablecloth and resumed your tea as if nothing had ever happened.

"Where ..." I gasped, "Where did you learn such martial arts?!?!"

You simply smiled at me over your cup of steaming Jasmine tea. "I see you never ate lunch at the Fullerton College cafeteria."

+*+*+

I remember it like it was yesterday.

When the Amazon Women from Mars invaded, Earth was thrown into total turmoil.

Fleeing the rubble of what was left of San Francisco, I found you walking among the wreckage.

"Those alien women are coming!" I cried. "We need to hide!"

You just smiled as you pulled out your ray gun. "Sorry, old chap, but I was one of the advance spies. Mars needs men."

Mars has such a pretty pink sky.

+*+*+

I remember it like it was yesterday.

There she stood on the balcony overlooking the lawn and you pushed me out into the moonlight where she could see me.

"Call her name," you said.

"E-e-e-s-Esmerelda!" I called, my voice shaking.

In the shadows you told me the words of love to woo her and I followed your advice and then and there she pled me her vows of true love.

"I'll be right down!" she cried gaily. I almost wept for joy.

She ran out into the dewy lawn and the moonlight and I reached out to hold her in my arms. Suddenly she saw me and with a cry of despair, she stopped and suddenly began to weep. "I thought you were Alexander!" she wailed.

I was the best man at your wedding.

+*+*+

I remember it like it was yesterday.

"Stay behind me," you yelled as we stormed the beach.

Bullets knit a tattoo of death around us, and though other men's lives were forfeit that bloody day, we made it to the first line of dunes.

"There's a pillbox just over this hill," you said. "Wait here until you hear the grenade go off," You grinned at me like it was a picnic outing.

Far over head, ack ack guns burst in colors of black and gray as Allied bombers flew deeper into enemy territory to deliver the death they carried in their wombs.

You rolled over the dune and I heard an explosion, but little did I know it wasn't the grenade you had yet to throw.

With a war cry, I stood to run over the dune and took a round in the gut.

When I came too, you were standing over me putting away the suture kit back into the med bag. "I had to jury rig you back together, but you'll be okay."

To this day, I still taste steel canteen when I belch, but you saved my life. I don't think I've ever thanked you.

+*+*+

I remember it like it was yesterday.

The undead had holed us up in an old Domino's Pizzeria. I and the three others were a screaming, lunatic mess, but you kept the rest of the survivors calm by finding what was left of the store's supplies and jury rigging some pepperoni pizza for morale as well as strength.

It was that evening when Dave carelessly showed himself in front of the big glass window.

Next thing we know, ravenous zombies had broken through and it was every man for himself. You stood on the counter and dealt final death to the undead with the biggest pizza cutter I had ever seen.

You got away. The rest of us didn't and I hope you still have the pizza cutter 'cause I'm coming for you and I'm getting really tired of eating nothing but brains and watching pieces of me slowly fall off.

+*+*+

You were cool, calm, and collected in your three piece silk suit. I sweated and twitched and looked like I had crawled out of a Salvation Army bin.

You were an old hand at the spy business. This was first outing.

She was slim and blonde and her legs went all the way to the ground and she wore a red dress that fit like it was her skin.

You swept her off her feet. I sweated and twitched and hiccuped.

When she betrayed us later than night, you smooth talked your way into having her release you from your bonds. She cried and kissed you, provided the keys and you swept her away to Istanbul where she now works as your new sidekick.

It seems you forgot your old sidekick. The bomb went off and now half my body is now metal and plastic.

I'm now the new Mr. Big and the world's #1 Bad Guy and when you and your new partner come to take me out, you'll find that all my sidekicks are ugly old men you won't be able to sweep off their feet.

I would write more, but it's 10 o'clock and I have to go oil myself.

+*+*+

I remember it like it was yesterday.

The clues given to us by that dying Mountain Shuar Indian had led us to the greatest treasure trove of all. The hidden gold of the Incan leader, Rhumunauhui.

We stood inside the ancient Incan temple and, because of my ignorance, I needed you to read the ancient pictographs on the wall.

"Yes," you said. "The treasure is behind this door. You open it and I'll nip outside to fetch more flashlight batteries.

The treasure was there just as you read, but you got the gold and I got the curse.

You now live in regal splendor, but I'm just a pile of amorphous slime and if it takes me all night, I'm going to ooze through that front door keyhole.

I'll see you in the morning.

+*+*+

I remember it like it was yesterday.

I had watched you walk past my place of business for weeks and one day I had to test my fortune.

You came strolling up the sidewalk and I knelt in front of you holding out a bouquet of true black roses and a box of bon bons made by Belgium chocolatiers from rich cream from virgin cows as I professed my undying devotion.

You looked at me with a withering glance bordering on pity. "You, sir, are beneath my station."

Today I drown my sorrows in absinthe, but I bear with pride the marks your stiletto heels made when you walked over me

+*+*+

I remember it like it was yesterday.

The Tyson Mansion was the Mount Everest of haunted houses and nobody had ever explored its arcane mysteries without going completely mad or failing to survive the night's adventures.

At two in the morning the apparition appeared, a grisly horror from a madman's worst nightmare.

In my panic, I dumped my attache case and threw everything I had at it: holy water, onions, crucifixes, sacred symbols, wolfsbane ...

Unaffected, it glared at me with malevolent evil.

You casually walked up to the monstrosity, looked it straight in the eye, and said, "I don't believe in you."

It vanished in a puff of skepticism.

+*+*+

I remember it like it was yesterday.

Of all the coffeehouses in all the forgotten corners of the world, you had to walk into mine.

Carlton at the piano played The Lady of Shallott in E minor. You stood elegant in a little off-the-shoulders number wearing a perfume that blended the best of jasmine and cinnamon and cardamon.

I treated you to a Coffee Cream Chantilly, my house specialty and we spent the night sampling arcane coffees from across the world.

In the morning, you excused yourself to powder your nose and when a half hour returned I realized you weren't coming back, especially when I noticed that you had so entranced me you had taken my wallet, my watch, my rings, my Saint Brendan medal, and my truss. You were good!

Keep it all. It's a small price to pay for the pleasure of your company, but please return my heart.

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