Short Fiction

Week 334: Little Toughs, A Kvetch, Good Stories and an Extra Helping of Frederick K. Foote

Little Toughs

My football-shaped black cat, Dudley, has been assassinating my left ankle again. He is an irresistible little thug who takes “No” poorly. “No, Dud, I’d rather you not shred the new sofa.” “Um, no Dud, you may not go outside and fight with the crows.” He can hold a grudge longer than a Catholic funeral; and has the sort of personality that would drop a nuke to end a snowball fight.

His behavior has moved me to think about the small dangerous men in fiction, specifically, those vertically challenged actors in gangster movies of yore. Neither Jimmy Cagney nor Edward G. Robinson would be first selected to play basketball, but both were convincing monsters in the genre. But the one who places me most ill at ease is Joe Pesci. Although he essentially played the same character in Goodfellas and Casino, I find him as menacing as the HR Giger beaut in Alien.

“You’re a funny guy, Dudley.”

“Funny? Funny how? Am I a goon? Some kind of tail chasing clown–here for your amusement? Tell me ‘master,’ what is it that makes me so fucking funny?”

“No, no–just funny–you know, the way you chatter and bluster at wild birds, who’d kick your ass in three seconds. That’s all I’m saying. That, and the fact it is obvious you do lick your butt with that mouth.”

Unlike Henry Hill, I got whacked.

Fortunately, I’ve learned to always wear thick socks, even in the summertime.

Yes, there are plenty of tough little guys in film TV and currently snoozing under the new sofa–but not all of them are fiends. Take the “Fonz” from the 70’s sitcom Happy Days. I could Google Henry Winkler’s height, but see no need to do it. Unless Ron Howard is seven feet tall (which I seriously doubt), I’m guessing that Henry must be around five-six. Yet he was a positive role model during his time; you could be tough, but not merciless; a Golden Rule little tough.

The Fonz was all in the attitude and self projection. Even now in this virtual world of ours, proper attitude and self projection are necessary to get oneself across in a positive fashion. Although smashing a grapefruit in some dame’s mug or thinning the herd with a hail of bullets can be viewed as proactive, those types of actions also do harm to your reputation.

The Kvetch

You know, you really have to admire the Fonz. Even extremely lethal Jules in Pulp Fiction showed Fonzie respect. Just like most of you reading this, if the Fonz were now and not sixty-some-odd years ago, I bet he could send a respectful email, with the best of them, just like most of you.

The Fonz would not send what I call “blank verse” emails that have no body, no hello, how ya doing or go to hell in them. If he were to submit to Literally Stories, for instance, the Fonz would at very least tell us he is the Fonz, the title of his submission, the word count and perhaps even the genre. Maybe his latest girlfriend would convince him to spice it up with a little thumbs up emoji.

AAAAYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!

But then again, here I go preaching to the choir. I’m certain that you all are just like the Fonz. But taller.

WHHOOOAAAA!!!

Good Stories

As any reader can plainly see, I have abandoned all pretense of weaving differing threads together in an effort to create a singular tapestry greater than the sum of its parts. Hell, if I were looser in that regard, this thing would slide off the file it has been typed into and the text would form a pool at the foot of the screen.

Fortunately, there are five good reasons for the reader not to give up and wander away. This week we published three first time contributors, a writer who has struck gold for a second time and a redoubtable gent from Scotland who has certainly placed more words into this site than what one should think possible.

Hana by Mariam Saidan led off on Monday. Her debut is a beautiful, restrained story about the human heart; things that have passed, and perhaps what is yet to come.

Tuesday saw the happy return of Jill Malleck. Parent Interview is both wickedly funny and, sadly, a well observed, maybe not so cynical look at ruthlessness in parenting and education.

An invisible woman got herself across, Wednesday. I greatly approve of Clara, the protagonist in Cathy Adam’s first LS tale, the wryly titled Troublemaker. As stated during the review process, “…this one has the magic…” And I am jealous. I wish this were mine.

It’s been a long time since someone other than the author himself has had the privilege of introducing a work by Hugh Cron. Out of necessity, Hugh has only made humble mentions of his contributions in previous Saturday posts–most of which he has written. Fortunately, I need not be humble or stingy with my praise. Although we have never met, I’ve developed the opinion that if this man is your friend then your world is indeed a better place. And he is a damn good writer too. There’s an almost pathological honesty in his work, which is evident in Hugh’s The List, which came by to slap the drowsy reader around some on Thursday. I made an attempt at counting his story total and came up with 106.

A Huw of a different spelling closed the week, Friday. The Sack, Huw Williams debut piece, is a wonderful little darkness about an odd event devolving quickly into a profound strangeness. It has a great kick ending, which I admire.

Breaking News

Due to the uptick in volume of brilliant submissions, we have been forced, in fairness to all to change our response time from three to six weeks. Diane has skillfully emended the guidelines page to reflect that. It gives both the writer and the staff a fair shake, and is something that the Fonz would approve of.

(took an age – I changed a 3 to a 6 – then I had a lie down – dd)

The Extra Helping of Frederick K. Foote

This is usually the part of my meandering wrap ups in which I perform a little sing and dance and get the hell off stage before the Law is summoned. But this week I can leave my tap shoes in the closet and yield the stage to one of our foremost authors, Mr. Frederick K. Foote, he of some seventy-odd LS pieces. The reason why this appears on a Saturday is because it isn’t a story, but a prose poem. Thus a subject of regretful rejection. But since it is a very good piece of work, we asked Frederick if we could publish it as a Saturday Special, which, obviously, he has graciously allowed us to do.

One thing. For something to make a Saturday Special, it has to be out of the norm and highly special. They usually arise organically and are never purposely constructed with the aim of being a Saturday Special at the end. Just a little caution for those of you who may have just had a Big Idea. Like me. Without further gibberish on my part we are happy to present the added attraction below my name.

Leila

***

The Truth is The Light by Frederick K Foote

The Lawless Order was looking for me.

I saw them coming and hid in an orchard tree.

They spied me and said, “Nigger what are you doing in them branches?”

“Picking figs, Boss. Picking figs for you and me.”

The Ordered Lawless laughed, “Nigger you can’t pick figs in an apple tree.”

(It is often wise to help the Lies & Disorder folks understand how much smarter they are than we.)

“Get your ass on the ground nigger. We are looking for JC, the influencer, temple buster, social disruptor.”

“I’m kind of stuck up here Boss, come by in an hour or two while I work my way down.”

One Unlawful Order agent pulled a shotgun on me, another aimed an AR-15 at me, another pulled a stun gun, another a revolver, another showed a grenade, another had a bayonet, another had a nightstick, another had mace, and the last one was calling in an airstrike.

I was on the ground faster than instant grits. “JC? Who that, Boss? Oh, JC Penny. That nigger too broke to pay attention.”

Agent 374.5 slammed the butt of his AR-15 into my gut. “You ain’t no Chris Rock, nigger. Where is JC?”

Agent 666 slammed his boot into my behind. “Where is he, my nigger? Answer fast if you want to save your ass.”

Agent 00Soul cracked my head with his nightstick. “A nigger and a Jew. You know trouble is a brew.”

“Hey, I screamed, I ain’t no Chris Rock, but I ain’t no Rodney King either.”

And boy, did they laugh. They laughed the apples off the apple tree. They laughed up a 4.7 earthquake on the Richter scale. They rolled in the dirt and crushed the apples into cider. They laughed so hard.

(Unintentional humor can sometimes be your salvation.)

The captain of the crew sat on the ground, wiping away tears of laughter, and said, “Boy, you all right with me. I laughed so hard I shit my pants. But, nigger, we still need your crime partner right now!”

“I lost JC seven days ago up in the casino. I had to cut him loose. That boy keep up a mess. That’s the gospel.”

Special Agent from the Fruitless Bureau of Instigation snarled. “I don’t believe you bet the Jew and lost too. They are so good at numbers.”

“I didn’t lose him at the table. I lost him in the crowd. We came in as two, and he left with 32.”

A special agent from Homeland Insecurity shouts, “the nigger telling the truth. Casino tapes confirm what he just said. Let’s put his ass in the ground just to be sure.”

(I want to ask, be sure of what, you dumb-ass KKK cracker? But every thought that comes up doesn’t have to come out.)

“Hell no, shouts the captain, this Negro is a National Treasure. He may be the best Black comedian of all time. ‘I ain’t no Rodney King.’ And the whole pack dissolves into another round of maniacal laughter.”

I sneak away. I iPhone JC. “Get in the wind, little nigger. They got a task force after your ass. They got a nail gun and a carpenter with them. They got a toilet paper Warrant, and they say your grave is dug.”

JC, say. “Hey, we down here at the Crossroads getting down with the get-down. The whole crew is here except you. Get your Black ass on down here. This might be our last supper, Negro.”

(Listen, if you don’t go to the party, people will blame shit on you. But I figured I had a future in comedy. And I did. Check out my show in Vegas, Judas Iscariot, live at the Bellagio. Check me out nigger.  I be looking for you.)

Frederick K Foote

Image by falco from Pixabay 

12 thoughts on “Week 334: Little Toughs, A Kvetch, Good Stories and an Extra Helping of Frederick K. Foote”

      1. “Mountie” used as synonym for cop. Here in Portland OR USA, one of my father’s younger friends was known as a “county mountie” mostly because it rhymes.

        Writing as someone between Canada and Mexico, I frequently use the aside – or ten meters for non-Americans – or the like.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Leila,
    Excellent post as usual.
    And thanks for the very kind words.
    Regarding small man syndrome, I also think there is the opposite – Some big men can be very small. (Add your own thoughts)
    On screen, the camera just loves the energy of some folks – Cagney was a case in point and so was Bogart, even though he was four inches taller than Cagney, 5′ 8” is probably still considered small.
    Is it an urban myth that any scenes Alan Ladd did with Jean Arthur, she was standing in a hole??
    I hated ‘Shane’ – That wee boy was an annoying prick and his moaning at the end wasn’t tear inducing, it was cringe worthy.
    I wonder if the writers of ‘The Champ’ had ever seen ‘Shane’??

    Regarding Fred –

    I was delighted to see this as a Saturday Special. My reason isn’t a great one but it is true to me. I love when folks get insulted when they shouldn’t. If they had enough of the faith that they preach, then nothing like this would matter to them. This maybe a positive message or a negative one regarding that ‘fable’ but would some take this as negative??
    That is what is wrong with those fuckwits, they read the stories literally and god help anyone who alters to make a present social point even if they end up with the same message.
    …Or a different one!
    As always Mr Foote writes with power, experience and an acute perception.
    Hugh

    Like

  2. Very true about Mr. Foote, he is an honest man in dishonest times.
    I didn’t like Shane either, except for Jack Palance as the heavy. I know that when Ladd played one of the famous private eye (Marlow, I think) they coupled him with Veronica Lake, her being three feet tall. I also like Claude Rains but he usually played debonair types.
    Thanks as always.
    Leila

    Like

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