Short Fiction

Week 330: Fear and Recreational Violence


I’m afraid of heights, close places, and small talk with strangers. This makes me a crummy candidate for riding in planes. Which is fine because I’ve only been on one air trip in my life, and I will never do it again. I’ll go by car, rail or ship first. Hell, I’ll walk, if it comes to that. A friend once told me that air travel is statistically much safer than going by sea. She also reminded me that I cannot swim. I retorted that I may learn how to swim anytime I please, but that my prospects for self propelled controlled flight are limited.

Excellent questions usually attract poor answers. For instance “Why do some people joyously skydive and bungee jump, while others clutch the sides of their chairs until the blood has left their knuckles just contemplating those activities?” I usually reply to something like that with “You never hear about anyone leaving a crater after she falls off a barstool, right?” Yet, later on, when doomed to spending time with my own thoughts, I wonder why I am afraid of the devil may care aspect of life.

Ernest Hemingway devil-may-cared with the wildest of them. He courted danger and killed shit with macho aplomb; he displayed a “Small Man” attitude toward God, always calling the Lord out behind the cantina on account of some trifling offense. Although I admire a lot of his work, I’ve always suspected that I wouldn’t have liked Ernie too much if I had known him. Still, he did live, albeit in a recreationally violent, shooting unarmed animals sort of way.

Yet there is no specific personality blueprint for a writer, except the overwhelming desire to do it, the need to get it out. When I was a child I was driven to fill every scrap of paper I could lay a hand on with words and pictures. I guess you can call that a compulsion that touches on the edges of mental illness; one which can even destroy the creator just as effectively as slamming into a mountain side or being in Hemingway’s rifle site.

This week’s assortment of stories speak of fear and idiocy and heroism and quiet despair and humor and blood-letting and life in general. Whether the viewpoint be random or fated, these stories stand as representatives of the minds that created them. And each piece, in its own way, is alive for the duration of the memories caused by it in the minds of the readers.

Regardless, whether it be by personal compulsion or the intellectual need to express the self clearly, four of the five writers who appeared on the site this week have a true eye trained on the world they describe, whereas the individual who appeared in the middle is completely lost, scared witless and makes it up as she goes. Coincidentally, the first three authors have appeared on Literally Stories approximately two-hundred-fifty times combined, while two made their site debuts. And yet that does not matter, for again each piece will remain alive as long as the memory of it stays with its readers.

Tom Sheehan reset the site record he has long held on Monday, with The Code Master. Tom has written millions of words over the years; his is a strong yet sensitive voice. And his trove of memories and soldiers and winners and losers do live on in the memories of his readers.

Tuesday saw the return of Yashar Seyedbagheri with American Nightmare. Yash has already piled up twenty stories this year alone. He has an introspective style which is easy to follow, but he at the same time asks many questions about life that are not easily answered.

The undesirable showed up Wednesday, with a True Daily Double by Leila Allison. Third-person-ly speaking, Leila says that this is a recollection of a time gone by and of people who will not be all the way dead until she is–And that she’ll go famous–as one of the longest lived, yet least productive human beings, in all history.

Clarity was restored Thursday, when Ben Fitton debuted with Civil Servants. The visual aspect and tone of this piece, as well as the action, make the title of the piece, in my mind, highly ironic.

I was happy to see Ed McConnell make his first appearance on Friday with Tuesdays at Tommy’s. I find his voice droll and entertaining. And like talented Ben Fitton, we look forward to hearing more from Ed in the future.

Recreational Violence

I have discovered that if you are unwilling to court danger, danger will come looking for you, and by doing so, will expand your consciousness and make you a better, more worldly hermit. Danger has entered my life via my twenty-pound shorthair eleven-year-old black cat, Dudley. Lately he has aimed his recreational acts of violence at me instead of the flies and moths he has gotten too fat to chase effectively.

Right now as I write this, with my peaceful girl cat, Izzy, asleep beside this Chromebook, I am aware of two gold eyes trained on me from beneath the sofa that’s behind this desk I am seated at. When I finally rise and take two steps toward the kitchen (my usual destination) Dudley will assassinate my left ankle. He will spring from his lair like a watermelon-shaped ninja and smack my left ankle with his paws five, maybe six times then follow me as I hobble to the kitchen. This has been going on for the last three weeks or so. I have no clue as to why he is doing this. But that, like my fear of flight, is a part of the universe I live in and must report on.

Before I go off to certain doom, I bestow flowers and rainbows on the persons who comment on other writers’ works. That is how we pay each other; it is how we acknowledge each other’s existence, which is something I require full time.


9 thoughts on “Week 330: Fear and Recreational Violence”

  1. So much in so few words. BBC 4 )UK) is doing a documentary on Ernest Hemingway starting 29 June. I have earmarked time to watch. Also Michael Palin has a series “Hemingway Adventure”. where he travels to all of Hemingway’s ‘places’, I intend to find time – ideally to follow in his footsteps, (if only).
    As for fears, I think the biggest fear for most people is that of success, it is so much effort, and anyway who wants the ‘troll’ attention. Do you know that jealousy is a disease.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve seen the PBS Hemingway documentary and it’s pretty good. He was a pretty unhappy person, volatile and often depressed…”living” for him meant putting himself in danger of death, which is why he purposely went to various war zones and hunted big animals. He didn’t treat other people very well, but he liked cats…. part of the danger theme, no doubt! The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida, is home to approximately 60 polydactyl (six-toed) cats, all descendants of one given to Hemingway.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Leila,
    I am afraid of heights and really don’t have a daredevil bone in my body.
    If I want to be adventurous, I’ll see how much Absinthe or Woods Rum I can drink before I pass out.
    Coincidentally, the Woods Rum is why it has taken me two days to comment on this!!!
    Brilliant as usual, and what a mischievous looking fellow for an image – I think his name, if male, would be ‘Grimly Fiendish’ or if female, ‘Penny Dreadful’!!
    I love Penny Dreadful for a female cat and when you think on the initials of PD – It is so appropriate.
    Grimly Fiendish was a terrible but brilliant song by ‘The Dammed’ from the album ‘Phantasmagoria’
    I first came across the character in an old comic called ‘Shiver and Shake’. Gru must be based on him!! But then they both are probably based on ‘Uncle Fester’.


    1. Thank you and I’m glad that you and the rum came to an accord. It will be like it is in Hell here, weather-wise, today, for the third day running. Kuwait tomorrow. The scolds say not to drink alcohol when it is like this. “Grimly Fiendish” is my reaction to that nonsense, since there is no AC. The Climate Change advocates seem gleeful. Why? I agree, the place is ruined, but is everyone dying cause to go “I told you so”? Still not a good enough reason to put ice in bourbon. Anyway, thanks again. You are appreciated by all!


  3. This is wonderfully written with a lot to think about. Fears are not always baseless and at times they are the defining factors of our lives. I’m afraid of heights too. Don’t look down dizzy types, but the fear of flying doesn’t figure on the list.
    The stories here are always deep and thought provoking and of course most entertaining. Love reading them and showering rose petals upon them.
    Cats, according to me, aren’t very friendly creatures. Something in their eyes that say they’ll betray you any time. Maybe Dudley has donned the irritability cloak that often comes with age.

    Liked by 1 person

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