Short Fiction

Week 368: Adventures With Wildlife and Top Do-Overs on My Unsteady Jukebox

I love wild animals yet I know that some cannot love me back because I am human. Them’s the breaks. Still, I do my best to be friendly to the peripheral critters who hang around my hometown in abundance. Yet no matter how much I try to ingratiate myself to the wild things, some refuse to look past my status as a human being.

Fortunately, no majority of any wild species finds me disdainful, only a few devout misanthropes and the occasional bad apple. To be fair, I would say that a higher percentage of people find me objectionable than do, say, Voles. But, sadly, there have been exceptions to the tranquility.

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Week 366: Interstellar Demands, The Week That Was and the A to Z of Soul Crushing Coworkers

Interstellar Demands

The ten billion dollar James Webb Space Telescope began its journey on Christmas Day. The Webb is reputedly a hundred times more powerful than the Hubble– a garage sale find, costing a mere billion and change. The giant eye is scheduled to get down to serious peering by “mid year”–which I call June. Considering how it goes with NASA and associates, I think we can safely assume that June will happen no sooner than September–or at a time when I do not start three consecutive sentences with “The.”

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Legs Eleven by Hugh Cron

She smiled as she heard his wail. He’d always been delicate and wasn’t as mature as the other kids.

…But she knew that would change soon.

He ran into the room with his fist clenched out in front of him.

“Now then Jimmy, don’t cry. It’s only a bit of blood.

…And it’s worth it.”

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Week 362: A Brief History of Criticism and the Glorious Girl Groups of My Unsteady Jukebox

Brief Introduction

Hugh graciously gave me three weeks off from this task. His latest inspired me to create today’s post .

A Brief History of Art Criticism

According to an ancient scroll in my possession, a splintered human-like skull of an ungodly age, found in a French cave, was none other than that of the art world’s first critic, Ug-Pierre. Ug-Pierre had shared his thoughts on the quality of Ug-Jean Luc’s (he being the first temperamental artiste) cave painting Mob, Antelope and Spears. In the challenged lingo of the prehistoric French, Ug-Pierre had opined that Ug-Jean’s effort made no use of the prehensile thumb, lacked proto-humanity and that the last hunter looked more like a pile of mammoth dung than a cave dweller. Since murder was still legal at that time, one has to wonder if Ug-Pierre was suicidal or just an uncommonly stupid cave dweller.

Fast forward several millennia, and we meet Arduth Rameses-Bey, who went to Pharaoh and claimed he could secure his highness’ legacy by building a bigger, better Sphinx. After emptying the treasury and relieving the population of thousands of its strongest members, the project was accomplished twenty years later. Unfortunately, at the grand opening, the most favored of the hundreds of Mrs. Pharaohs said, loudly, and to anyone who’d listen, that it looked more like a sphincter* than a Sphinx–and the only way to fix that was through a human sacrifice. Well, of course, someone had to die, and since that particular Mrs. Pharaoh was better connected, old Arduth Rameses-Bey (whom the aging Pharaoh owed money) was selected for the honor. Sadly, a small comet appeared and detonated over the crowd and the bigger, better Sphinx, obliterating all from history, save for the account in the ancient scroll in my possession.

(*Why yes, the ancient Egyption word was the same as ours. Hardly a coincidence on the level of the sun and moon appearing the same size because the sun is four-hundred times larger, yet four-hundred times farther away–but it rates.)

You’d be amazed by the stuff I have on my desk. Right now the only surviving entry from the hitherto unknown Shakespeare diary lies next to my Chromebook.

23 April 1601

“Dark regret hath cast a shadow on mine soul. Out offending whimsy! that caused me to teach Second Best Anne to read: ‘Wot is this “to be nor not to be” tripe, Will. Why can’t you be plain spoken like that Ben Jonson?’”

The cliche is true: “Everyone’s a critic.” But critics don’t need to be trolls. And yet some are downright nasty. The late Harold Bloom was a well respected literary critic, but the way he went to town on Stephen King after King’s inclusion in a secret writer society of some fancy stripe was flat out vicious. I used to never think much about critics, because I’ve never been the object of such in print. But nowadays, I realize the awful power of being in a place (however humble) where my word counts for something, as a yay or nay regarding the works of others. I’ve also discovered that the only thing worse than getting a rejection is sending one. I feel like I enter a room, uninvited, where someone is whistling and smiling, while I tick off the seconds before the person sees me and I say something that ends all innocent happiness.

Then again it might either concern you or confirm a suspicion to know that this so-called evaluator of other writers’ work just lit the wrong end of her cigarette and is struggling to drink coffee due to the recent installation of a device in her mouth designed to ease TMJ. Oh, no, with me submissions are not evaluated in a paneled study like those you see in movies–in this case think of a dimly lit room where the cats take turns yarking on the carpet. Still, I am certain that things are classier at both my colleagues’ work spaces.

A Brief Epiphany of the Soul

Wow! That feels better! Confession, however insincere, is good for the soul! Now I can get on with rejecting folks with the spotless heart of a sociopath! Thank you for listening!

Now For the Object of the Post

Yet it remains better to salute hard won success than it is to dwell on our own little personality issues, or say shitty stuff about the work of other people in public; so let us get on with this week’s recap of top notch tales.

This week’s authorship has a combined total of five site appearances. Yes, all the writers this week made his/her LS debut.

Victor Kreuiter opened the week with Family and Friends. This is as fine a story set on Death Row as I’ve ever read. The focus of the piece is brilliant; it proves there is much of the unexpected to still be expressed in the time honored tale of a condemned soul.

Natasha Dalley made her site debut with Suffocating Half Truths. We see a lot of pieces that attempt what Natasha accomplished beautifully. Stories that present a possibly imagined person that intrudes on a “real” person’s mind; a shadow personality who is real enough for the one who experiences, in this case, her.

Tripp Watson’s ironically titled The Devil in Detail is most definitely a case of OCD gone awry–to put it gently. What happens in the basement stays in the basement until the coast is clear. Evil fun.

Thursday saw the first appearance of Grace Larson on the site. Three Headed Monster is something that anyone who has a soul can relate to. It is the right way to present the affection we have for those much loved creatures in our lives who have horribly short life spans. Grace is young and talented, and a much better writer at her age than I was. I should hate her a little for that–instead I am grateful that the future of storytelling is in good hands.

Dead Socks Do Count by Salini Vineeth closed the classy week. This is a knowing look into the minds of children. Not all writers are able to carry the actual perceptions of childhood into adulthood. Most usually relate the current feelings they have toward an old situation–yet Salini nailed the way kids really are. Quirky and funny, I hope that everyone reading has had a peek under the lid–so to speak.

There we are, our five new authors. Let’s give each one the praise that is well earned. For maybe that will encourage each one to come back as well and often.

I close on yet another musical note, inspired by Hugh’s latest wrap, courtesy of my Unsteady Jukebox. My grandmother was a big fan of girl groups of the sixties. The recent passings of Ronnie Spector and Rosa Lee Hawkins of the Dixie Cups has put me in a nostalgic mood for those melodic ladies of yore. In closing I present my top nine girl group songs of a time that managed to get along without me. Naturally, a tenth spot is left open for suggestions.

  • Soldier Boy Shirelles
  • Walking in the Rain Ronettes
  • People Say Dixie Cups
  • My Boyfriend’s Back Angels
  • The Happening Supremes
  • He’s So Fine Chiffons
  • Heat Wave Martha and the Vandellas
  • Foolish Little Girl Shirelles
  • Be My Baby Ronettes

Leila

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Just Dad by Hugh Cron – Adult Content.

“I’m no a bad guy.”

“I know.”

“But this. I need to do this?”

“What can I say?”

“And it’ll be you?”

“Yes.”

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Week 352- Ch-Ch-Changes

Welcome to Year 8, L.S.E.!

I’ve never understood greeting a new year with changing your ways in mind. If you are doing something that needs to be departed from, why wait until the Earth is at a specific, artificially labeled point in its orbit to quit smoking crack or stealing purses? And if there’s some grand task you want to undertake, don’t wait for Nike to give you permission or inspiration. They don’t give a damn about you unless you buy their shoes. Stuff will always get in the way; Be Persistent and as Inevitable as Death may not be the cheeriest slogan, but I’m not trying to sell you something, either..

Yet there are times when even a lame concept makes a convincing argument. And, yes, there are even times when perhaps evacuating the contents of my mind every other Saturday fails to show keen respect for the tales presented during the week. But most often I usually disregard the negative thoughts I have for my activities and do something different because I consider it a Big Idea.

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Week 350- An Antisocial Experiment, Five Magi, A Special Announcement and Hell’s Jukebox: The Love Songs

An Antisocial Experiment

There are endless social movements dedicated to improving people by requiring them not to be like people. Depending on your point of view this activity lies somewhere between education and brainwashing. I am old fashioned to the degree that I believe a person is influenced by both her upbringing and whatever chemistry is peculiar to her. You do your best to raise a child and if she grows up to be a doctor or a teacher you share in the credit, if she turns out to be a Josephine Mengela or the incarnation of Lizzie Borden, you shoulder some of the blame.

A person can improve. But people, as a whole, seldom do because there are “leaders” who want you to do as they command and will reward “good behavior” with letting you spend your life gazing into your phone and punish “bad thoughts” with unsupported accusations and placing you under the spotlight on the scaffold for a good old fashioned cyberstoning. This has been going on in one form or another since the invention of the third person–the first child who decides that her parents should be severely sanctioned for bringing her into this overlighted, loud and dreary existence, as well as not allowing her to have a phone until she can use one responsibly.

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As If He Still Drives a Capri

In the lull between my husband’s condemnations, I reminded our daughters that each Sunday is a Christmas. This way of thinking is Karen’s idea. She does Fridays and Saturdays in the shop with me.

She said when sorting citrus, ‘When life serves you lemons–’ and I held up my hand and asked, ‘Is there a cliché for grapefruit?’

Karen couldn’t think of one.

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