Monday, November 16, 1987

Life 101

a short story

“Okay, class dismissed. See you back here in ten years to discuss your grade.”

So my wife finally left me - and took the kids. I spiraled downward into a stupor and lost my job.

“Then what happened?”

Well, I got a job at a car plant, but that only lasted three months. Then I was a waiter. Then a janitor, a cook, and then a security guard.

“What about your personal life?”

My relationships weren’t lasting any long than my jobs. Bosses were kicking me out of their offices; girls were kicking me out of their beds. Occasionally I even slept with this woman who was married to a real creep. I was convinced she was going to leave him.

“And did she?”

Of course not. But I left her. Not her so much, just that town. I couldn’t hold a job and finally got evicted from my apartment. My brother in Omaha said I could come live with him.

“How did that go?”

Fine, for awhile. I wasn’t finding a job, but I needed some time to take it easy. I was going to museums and libraries - and the occasional massage parlor. I was reading a lot and painting. I was also watching a lot of TV. Eventually it was just the TV - and the occasional massage parlor.

“How did your brother react?”

He finally kicked me out. He couldn’t take it anymore. Then my parents took me in. They insisted I go back to college and finish my degree. I could live there as long as I was doing that. I commuted thirty miles every day. I quit after three weeks.

“So then what?”

I begged an ex-girlfriend to take me back. I moved in with her and she supported me for awhile. She got her ass pinched at a truck stop for forty bucks a night and was fucking one of the regulars occasionally. We didn’t last long.

“Wow. Do you realize you have not succeeded at anything?”

So my parents keep telling me.

“Why do you think that is?”

If I get bored with something, I quit. I won’t do it if it doesn’t make me happy.

“So is it working?”


“Congratulations. A+.”

Sunday, November 1, 1987

There's More Than One Fish in the Jerkwater: Inspirations from a Fish Part Two

It is better to be alone than to roll your eyes. I can always write or listen to tapes as a substitute for companionship. One must enjoy his own company before he can enjoy anyone else’s.

Weekends can last forever. Of course, sometimes they last two days. It is better not to be alone than dry your eyes. Oooh! Starting to get a bit melancholy, aren’t we? Have no fear...

“Fear Is Never Boring”

I’m trying too hard to be creative.

Dave, get a haircut.

Hell, no, we won’t go...”

Well, I’ll be The Damned.

I would love to go back to Georgia on a college road trip with a half dozen friends. Two cars, signs in the windows, and a babe that looks like Justine Bateman.

God, I want that Rolling Stone.

Family Ties is on tonight.

Art class, art class. You blonde, you.

“It’s hard to be a man when there’s a girl in your head...”

Close, but no cigar. Cabiche? Oh, those New York gang stories and Kiss posters. And the paddle and potty pass. Stand! Can you believe that?

“Change, it doesn’t matter who you are...”

“Ch- ch- ch- changes...”

“I’m moving through some changes...”

“Don’t change a thing for me...”

“It’s getting late for scribbling and scratching on the paper. Something’s gonna give under this pressure. And the cracks are already beginning to show. It’s too late.”

Saturday, October 31, 1987

Key to Life

a short story from my junior year in college

I peered at the elderly gentleman as he left my coffee shop. With a gloved hand I fumbled in the pocket of my heavy coat for the keys to the front door. The coffee sloshed wildly about his cup, splashing over the rim and scalding his bare hand. He winced in pain.

The man wore a bedraggled jacket with a broken zipper. His thin, brown trousers were held up by suspenders. He wore an equally thin pair of brown shoes. I tugged my heavy coat a little tighter to my body to block out the harsh wind.

I locked the door to my shop and shoved the keys back in my pocket. I wrapped my scarf snuggly about my face and straightened my stocking cap. His bare face reddened from the cold.

I watched him peer into a nearby shop window and suspected he was looking for another place that was open that would let him in out of the cold. I imagined shop owners every evening being disturbed by his loitering and vagrancy as they shouted, “we’re closed!” I looked back at my own cafe.

“Sir?” I said. The old man turned slowly toward me, hesitant to accept that I was truly addressing him. I reached my hand back into my pocket and pulled out my keys and tossed them to the old man. “It’s yours.”

Monday, October 5, 1987

Cappy Hap

a short story written during my junior year in college

She sat on the brick steps of the cathedral-style building. Brick and tile and pillars. I strolled by on the sidewalk. Cracks and weeds and concrete. I wore an old fashioned pilot’s cap. She wore a lonely face. I looked stupid. She looked normal. But I was happy.

“Hey,” I shouted as I arrived at the mail box, “would you like to borrow my cap?”

She peered up, startled. “What?” she spat out. She looked close to tears.

I hopped up the first set of steps to where she was sitting. I pulled off my cap and handed it to her. She pushed it back toward me, shaking her head. “I really think you should try it on,” I insisted, but she still waved me away. I crammed the hat down on her head anyway. She stood up, prepared to pull off the hat and throw it at me and then a strange thing happened. Her arm halted halfway toward her head, fell back down to her side, and a smile came to her face.

“You’re weird,” she said.

“Thank you,” I responded.

Odd Little Snippets

"jerkwater droplets" written during my college junior year

Shakespearian Dream
Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away there lived a bug named Orville. He died.

Tossed Aside
I throw paper wads
To avoid
Damaging the glass

Umbrellas and Horseshoes
It was a rainy day. I was at the typewriter composing. That was all I could come up with.

I admired her painting in the studio one afternoon.

Migration, hibernation
Full moon burns yellow
Cris air licks naked branches
Wrapped in wool
We wade in leaves

Red Squishy Things
"The same heart beats in every human breast."

An Unfinished Poem Sparked by One Line Which Sounded Great But Then I Couldn't Come Up with Anything Else
Apartment hunting early.