Short Story Week

It’s a special day here in the dining room office, and not just because we’ve broken from our regular pattern of correspondence and are chatting on a Tuesday.

Nice to see you, by the way.

Today, for the first time in several months, I’m going to post a piece of writing longer than a run-on tweet on this blog. In fact, I’m going to do this every day through Friday this week.

Now, before you go naming your firstborn after me to celebrate this inspiring recommitment to my craft, I should point out that I’m not actually doing any new writing. What you’ll be getting, in four parts, is a fictitious short story—“If These Walls Could Talk”—I wrote back around the start of 2011 to submit to a couple of literary journals, both of which subsequently rejected it.

This kind of thing used to bother me when I didn’t have an agent, but now I just laugh evilly and roll around in the imaginary pile of money my yet-to-be-offered book deal may some day bring me.

It sounds better when you just keep it to yourself.

I hope all of you enjoy this change of pace. I’ll be back with regularly scheduled programming next week and, shortly thereafter, a contest to win an Amazon gift card, so be on the look out for that.

In the meantime …

If These Walls Could Talk, Part I

“Wake up … LOSER.”

I have an overwhelming compulsion to obey, even though it’s the last thing I want to do. That might sound pathetic, but most people in my position would do the same. Ignoring a drunk roommate at, let’s see, 3:49 in the morning—oh, I really hope you puke all over yourself—requires a seriously Zen-like disposition or at least a comparable blood-alcohol level. Not possessing either, I’m officially screwed.

“Dude, shut the door,” I say, squinting my eyes in the blinding light from the hallway.

“Aha!” he yells. “You ARE up.”

“I am now. And I think half the dorm is, too.”

He pauses to consider this. “From now on, you shall call me … ‘master.’” OK, so maybe he was considering something else.

“Did you fall, too? Like, on your head?”

“I commanded you to … to arise from your slumber, and you obeyed me.” The “me” is accompanied by a triumphant thrust of his hands, and this unexpected motion draws his attention skyward, as his gently swaying head tries to figure out what his arms are up to. It’s a peaceful four seconds of silence broken by: “Make that … ‘master and commander.’”

“I see the Russell Crowe drinking game was resurrected tonight.”

“You will address me with respect,” he says before letting out a mighty belch. He still hasn’t moved from his spot in the doorway, so all I can make out is a teetering silhouette.

“If you think I’m calling you ‘master and commander,’ you’re even …”

“Do it, or I’ll turn the light on.”

“That was suddenly lucid.”

“Suddenly lucid, what?”

“Suddenly lucid, dickhead,” I say, feeling proud of my articulate comeback.

“No,” he whispers. “MASTER AND COMMANDER!”

I don’t know what startles me more: the light or that he just did a spot-on Russell Crowe.

“Your mom is hot, master and commander.”

“That’s more like it,” he says, flipping the switch back off and finally staggering into the room. He goes straight for the bunk below me and is snoring within about 15 seconds.

Naturally, I’m wide-awake now.

Read Part II

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