Short Fiction

I, Feckwit By Leila Allison

Act One:

The Afterdream

Upon the gray dawn of the stark afterdream that inevitably follows prolonged bouts of alcoholic narcolepsy (induced by several gin and tonics), I awakened and recalled giving the role of an Artificial Intelligence to one of my Fictional Characters (FC) toward the end of my reverie and setting this individual loose in the realm of make believe in which I am the ruling Penname* (*just one word there, spell check–like “dumbass”).

As is usually common in prolonged bouts of alcoholic narcolepsy, I remembered only bits and pieces of the event. I recalled first swearing an FC to a vow of secrecy and endowing s/he with the mind of a supercomputer. I know that I laughed maniacally, which was stopped short by a flash of light. The next thing I knew I was coming to under my desk, amongst the dust bunnies, glasses askew, a bent yet unbroken, unlit cigarette still in my mouth.

There was only a blank page in my mind when I tried to conjure the name and face of the FC I had endowed with the gift of Artificial Genius. I immediately suspected duplicity. I reckoned that the FC had used her/his new found power of technological supremacy to conceal his/her identity from all, even I, the Creator.

I rose, brushed off the dust bunnies, straightened my glasses, lit the bent yet unbroken cigarette and chased two Tramadol with an energy drink I had stashed in my desk. This is the best possible breakfast when one must dress a mind wounded by gin.

I gazed out my office window. Being my realm, I can gaze at any vista I have created at will; it’s like changing the channel, but what I see is actually as there as things get. I chose the “Barnyard” view of the realm because Barnyarders are sweet and innocent, which makes them as trustworthy as a Mai Tai mixed by Bill Cosby–thus the usual suspects when it comes to acts of cunning.

I studied the Barnyarders, that collection of free-thinking fowl and gentle yet constantly plotting livestock FC’s, and detected nothing out of the ordinary.

We all know someone who is so sensitive to slight sounds and minute changes in air pressure that she knows when she is no longer alone long before she sees someone there. It’s like she has eyes in the back of her head–Right? I am not like her because I have no reason to evolve the knack. I clearly heard my office door open, then two distinct sets of hoof-beats approaching from behind, no one making the slightest attempt at stealth. Without turning from the window, I sighed “What now?”

Act Two:

I, Feckwit

“Hah! X-O-X, O-X-O, O-X-O! I, Feckwit!!!”

Act Three:

Codependent Is Just Another Word For No One Else to Use

“Shit,” I muttered. I had been counting on the sketchy recollection of my creating an AI FC to slink off into the large cave in my mind that holds my suppressed memories and alcoholic blackouts. But the voice of “Feckwit” brought the ugly truth home to me.

I turned around and there was one of my leading FC’s, Miss Daisy Cloverleaf, the Pygmy Goatess (also known as the lead half of the superhero team “G.O.A.T.”) and her much less renowned brother, Fenwick.

Daisy and Fenwick are your standard, brown and white, excessively cute Pygmy Goats. The telling differences are Fenwick’s short horns and beard. Personality wise, Daisy is a go-getter, while Fenwick is either a philosopher about life or a bone lazy beatnik, depending on how you look at things.

But Fenwick was a different case that morning. He was wearing a tam to which a paper mache horn that Daisy used for a prop during her “Unicorn Phase” the past winter was affixed. Fenwick was also wearing a kilt and his entire body (including his beard) was dyed his Tartan plaid. I caught a glimpse of empty packages of Tartan plaid food coloring in the wastepaper basket next to my desk.

“Hi, guys, how’s it going,” I said, playing it cool. Still clinging to the hope that the situation might slink off to my cave of suppression.

No such luck.

“Hah! X-O-O, O-X–X, X-O-O–I Feckwit!” said the former Fenwick.

“Miss, Leila?” Daisy asked, politely but firmly.

“Um, yes.”

“What have you done to my brother?”

Act Four

A.I., A.I. , X or O!

“Rats,” I said. “You noticed.”

“Hah! O-O-X, X-X-O, O-O-X–I, Feckwit!” Fenwick/Feckwit again.

“It was rather hard not to,” Daisy said. “I figured it had something to do with your twisted desire to be a part of AI Week on Literally Stories.”

“Gee, Daisy, now that you’ve kicked a hole in the fourth wall, feel free to spill the backstory. Be sure to speak loudly enough for Kat, Marco, Ailbhe and Hugh to hear you from our little slot in ‘Rejected Pending.’”

“Oh, no no no,” Daisy said, demurely, shaking her head. “I couldn’t do it without saying wordlessly, smelt or violating the Five Adverb Rule.”

Act Five

The Secret Square of Pi or

Two-hundred-fifty-five-thousand-one-hundred-sixty-eight Ways to Kiss Your Sister

“Well, it’s like this,” I began.

“X-O-O, O-X-X, O-X-O–I Feckwit!”

“Um, thank you, Feckwick, Fenwit, whoever you are,” I said.

“As you were saying,” Daisy said, in her sweet little passive aggressive tone.

“The trouble began with my desire to create an AI colliding with my ignorance of code and technology beyond using a mouse. But since I have never let a little logic get in my way before, I devised a code that is based on tic tac toe and endowed it in Fenwick–the ‘Feckwit’ thing is something he came up with on his own.”

“I see,” said Daisy.

“You do? Great! Well, glad we had this little talk.”

“O-X-O, X-X-O, O-O-X–I Feckwit!”

“I see, so far,” Daisy said.

“All right, but this is where it makes sense only when you are drunk on gin.”

“Paul Lynde for the block–I Feckwit!”

Daisy glanced at her brother, “That’s a new one.”

“You see, Daisy, I looked it up and there are 255,168 possible ties in a game of tic tac toe. What Feck–I mean Fenwick is doing is speaking each pattern that ends in a draw with the top line first, the middle then the bottom. It was a wowser idea about half a fifth of Gordon’s ago, but makes no sense now. I guess while I was feeding him this information, clips from The Hollywood Squares I had running on my laptop probably got in his mind as well–As you see, it is all a silly pedestrian explanation and not really worth the bother.”

Daisy looked me in the eye for a long time. “It’s a close call, but I think I prefer my brother the way he was before.”

“Oh, all right I said–so much for AI Week–There’s a secret square question around here somewhere I got from the show, that will close the Feckwit program.” I began to root about my desk.

“I hope you find it soon, this act is getting long and you might have to look up another tic tac toe draw pattern for Feckwit to say.”

“You’re such a doll, Daze, the way you keep kicking holes in the fourth wall–Eureka, Found it. Something Paul Lynde said on The Hollywood Squares eons ago: Feckwit! ‘True or false: according to an AMA survey four out of five doctors say that crossing her legs is bad for a woman’s circulation.’”

“‘Not in this town.’” Feckwit said, affecting the Lynde queeny touch. Then he began to blink and show various other time honored physical tells that convey a sense of waking from a dream– like shaking his head, mouthing “What the (insert any profanity)?” upon seeing his plaid coat. The usual sinking into the afterdream stuff.

On their way out of the office, Daisy turned and asked “You forgot to resolve the bright flash of light you saw in act one.”

I lit another cigarette–”Probably had a stroke or maybe something blew up in a nearby story.”

“And the Scottish Unicorn part?”

“Beats me. Seems like I heard it somewhere.”



17 thoughts on “I, Feckwit By Leila Allison”

  1. Hi Leila,
    Brilliant tie(s) in to so much.
    Any reference to Tramadol has a Scottish link. Frankie Boyle did a sketch show called ‘Tramadol Nights’. His writing was good but his acting was terrible!!
    …I just read lately that he will be doing something regarding the monarchy, now that will be interesting!
    Loved the code based on Noughts and Crosses – I didn’t see that coming.
    ‘Noughts And Crosses’ as well as ‘The Falls’ were two of my favourite Rebus books by Ian Rankin. I’ve read most of them but those two really do stand out.
    Glad you mentioned the Scottish Unicorn as no-one that I have asked realises that it is our national animal!!
    In what universe did someone come up with that??
    They probably reckoned that nominating the haggis would just be too silly.
    Maybe there will be a Nessie / Unicorn marriage and we will have a sprog that can be brought up in Edinburgh zoo?? There will probably be a competition to name it and someone will come up with something clever but more than likely they will call it Senga.
    Shit!! I would hate to see the soft toy of it. Let’s be honest, since a Unicorn became so popular, the images of it are disturbing.
    I tasted Unicorn Gin once, it was disgusting.
    Anyhow…Back to your story – This was worth an acceptance for the Bill Cosby line alone!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, David

      Paul was a specific genius of the type we don’t see anymore. Like the Yeeeeesss guy on all the 60’s sitcoms and guys like Foster Brooks. Hey, a Foster Brooks AI. Another thing the world does not know it needs.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Pygmy and or baby goats might replace cats as the cutest pets if they weren’t so horny (or are they antlers?). Can they be house trained? Fictional I suppose could do just about anything. Gamboling down the trail.

    I think the dizziness and spacio-temporal distortion will fade.

    If not, sweet dreams moonbeams.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Doug–
      I bet Pygmy Goats would make fine pets.But being herd animals you’d have to get (for their mental well being) at least, say, four. And then perhaps train someone the size of a Rat Terrier to manage them. Sadly, I’m guessing all that would attract negative attention from my landlord, being I live in an apartment. Thus the concept of freely rocking on often must take place in one’s heart and mind.
      Take care,

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Late to the party, missed the chance to be the first to comment on the Bill Cosby line… So I’ll claim “Goatess” instead, loved that one. Something about the tone reminded me of Daumal’s “Night of Serious Drinking.” The defining treatise of my college extra curriculum long, long ago. Nice to be reminded!

    Liked by 1 person

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