Sep 28 2005

Fictionlet

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Greg awoke from a dream that somebody was sitting on his chest; the room was dark except for an indigo-ish bit of ambient light that came in around the curtains, suggesting that it was approaching but not quite dawn. He looked around the room blearily, with the uncomfortable sensation that somebody was still sitting on his chest. The worry that he might be having some kind of a coronary flashed through his mind briefly, only to be replaced by extreme puzzlement at what he saw:

Under the blanket, where the relative flatness of his chest should be, was a mound approximately the size of a shoebox, and it was apparently this that was producing the pressure on his chest.

Greg blinked and boggled at this for a moment, his brain still trying to claw its way up out of the dark and into conscious thought. Slowly, a bit worried what he might find there, he lifted the blanket and peered under it … only to be confronted with a cat.

“Um … hello?” he said. It was a perfectly ordinary cat as far as Greg could tell, with white fur and gold-colored eyes, that looked back at him as if embarrassed. “I was hoping you wouldn’t spot me under here,” seemed to be the cat’s general attitude, and it meowed as if to say as much.

Greg looked at the cat. The cat looked at Greg. “Where did you come from?” Greg said.

“Meow,” replied the cat, which wasn’t very informative, but at least showed a friendly spirit.

Greg weighed his options. Brigid had been out until well after midnight the night before, and presumably the cat had come home with her … but waking her up in the pre-dawn hours for an explanation would require an act of Congress, if not several tons of high explosives. It was also, if Greg hadn’t first wrapped himself in several layers of kevlar and foam rubber, hazardous to his health. On top of which, Greg couldn’t figure out any way to get up without spilling the cat in question, and as it seemed a cat of goodwill, he was disinclined to do so.

Finally, Greg shrugged. “Right, well, good-night then,” he said to the cat, and released the blanket, which collapsed back down into a mound shape. There was a muffled meow, then silence, and within less than a minute they’d both gone back to sleep.

-The Gneech

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Sep 27 2005

Fictionlet

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“They were provoking me,” snarled Brigid, who stared out the car window with her arms crossed.

“Well, yes,” said Greg. “Obviously, I sympathise, and anybody who deliberately plays ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ is clearly asking for it. But surely you could have chosen a less extreme reaction? Like maybe just switching the power button to ‘off.'”

“Lacks finality,” said Brigid.

“Maybe so, but you must realize that it will be months — if ever — before they let you back in that restaurant.”

“I’m not going back to any friggin’ restaurant that willingly plays ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ at me!” she snapped.

Greg nodded, understandingly. He’d long felt the same way, himself.

-The Gneech

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Sep 21 2005

Fictionlet

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“So,” said Alex, “where is this mysterious lunch place?”

“Just up ahead,” replied Greg. “You’ll like it.”

“What’s it called?”

“‘The Pit.'”

“‘The Pit?'”

“‘The Pit.'”

“Cheery name. What is it, barbeque?”

“Olives.”

Alex shook his head momentarily. “Olives?”

“Yes indeed, old scout. ‘The Pit’ is that newest and trendiest of places, an Olive Bar. They have soups and salads and sandwiches and all that, but their showpiece is a long bar containing heaping piles of every kind of olive known to man. Black olives, green olives, oil-cured, water-cured, brine-cured, dry-cured, and lye-cured. Whole olives. Stuffed olives. Stuffed olives with pimento. Stuffed olives with jalapeño. Stuffed olives with anchovy. Stuffed olives with capers. Manzanilla! Picholine! Kalamata! Niçoise! More olives than you could shake a stick at — even a very large stick! For an olive-hound like you, it’ll be paradise.”

“Who’s an olive-hound?” said Alex, apparently rocked to the core.

“You are,” replied Greg, “if the way you were putting them away that time at OneTrueCon is any indication.”

“I was only ‘putting them away’ as you put it because I’d gotten lost in the Dealer Room and hadn’t been able to find the exit until well after dinner time — and olives were all that stupid bar had to eat! Ever since then, I can’t stand the damn things! Jeeze!”

“Oh,” said Greg, eyebrows slightly raised. “So … this isn’t what you’d call a ‘thrilling surprise.'”

“No,” said Alex. “The idea is turning my stomach.”

“Ah,” said Greg again, and exhaled awkwardly as Alex stewed. Finally, Greg hazarded, “Well, they also have pizza.”

“Oh. All right then,” said Alex, and off they went.

-The Gneech

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Sep 17 2005

Fictionlet

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Brigid shuffled out into the living room, hair frightful, eyes twitching. As always, Greg was in the kitchen, and of course he was singing.

“No one to talk with, all by myself,” he sang. “No one to walk with, but I’m happy on the shelf! Ain’t misbehavin’, savin’ myself for you…”

She shuffled her way to one of the stools at the bar and deposited herself on it. Before she’d said a word, Greg had slid a large cup of coffee in front of her, singing, “Like Jack Horner, in the corner, don’t go nowhere, what do I care? Your kisses are worth waiting for … belieeeeeeve me!”

“Geeze man,” she croaked. “What is it with you?”

He turned back from his frying pan to look at her. “What do you mean?”

“Every frickin’ morning you’re in here, chirpy as a meadowlark, no matter what horrors were inflicted the night before. And look at this, you’ve served me frickin’ coffee, while mangling Louis Armstrong amiably. It ain’t natural!”

“Would you rather I mangled Irving Berlin? The weather is frightening, the thunder and lightning, all seem to be having their way! But as long as I can be with you, it’s a lovely day…

“No! Sweet merciful heaven, no!” She buried her face in her hands.

Greg tsked. “No pleasing some people,” he said, and turned back to his eggs.

-The Gneech

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Sep 14 2005

Fictionlet

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“Uncle Bob!” I snapped, trying to get him to pause in his polemic on the evils of the American right wing. One too many cups of coffee and a large bottle of root beer had more or less made it an emergency that I get to Ye Olde Reste Roome with all due dispatch, and for some reason this idea was just not getting through his round forehead. “Will you please pull into the rest area up ahead!”

“Waste of time, waste of time, my boy,” he said. “We’re nearly there!”

“You said that three rest areas ago,” I pointed out. “Seriously, I have got to make a pit stop.”

“I think,” Brigid’s voice floated forward from the back seat, “he’s afraid to stop the car because it might not start again.”

Uncle Bob guffawed, as he did at just about everything Brigid said. “Don’t you worry about the Black Beauty, babe,” he said.

Brigid’s voice was definitely menacing: “You didn’t really just call me ‘babe,’ did you?” I turned to shoot her a warning glance, lest she pull out a hockey stick and club him over the head — going 75 miles per hour is a bad situation to be in when the person behind the wheel suddenly has his brains bashed out.

“I like you, babe,” Uncle Bob said. “You’re my kinda mamma. Smart! And cold.”

“Cold,” Brigid repeated, as if he’d just told her she was a frog.

“Yeah, you’ve got that whole ice queen act down to a science — and when a cold mamma heats up, boy how she sizzles!”

“Good God,” Brigid said, turning to the window in an apparent search for an escape route. She didn’t quite make a jump for it … but I know she was tempted.

“That sounds like it came from some movie somewhere,” I commented. “But getting back to the matter at hand, I need to stop at this rest area, Uncle Bob. Seriously! If you value your sanity and your upholstery, you’ll get into the exit lane now while you still can!”

“Be a man, boy!” said Uncle Bob, waving a hand which I would have preferred he left on the wheel. “I told you we’re almost there!”

“And it was a lie again this time!” I said.

“Such a wuss,” he said. “If you weren’t my precious sister’s only child, I wouldn’t have anything to do with you.”

“If I weren’t your precious sister’s only child, you might have gotten the money in my trust fund yourself instead,” I replied.

Thankfully, that shut him up; he grumbled and hunkered over the wheel in a sulk.

He also completely failed to stop at the rest area.

-The Gneech

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Sep 09 2005

Fictionlet

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“I must take issue,” Greg said, “with this casual bashing of anyone of the male persuasion. I realize that once upon a time it was all the vogue for men to stand around bemoaning the wickedness of woman, and that for some time now women have been enjoying getting some of their own back. I don’t begrudge that; in fact, I applaud it. However, I think we have reached the saturation point on this particular issue.”

“Oh you do, do you?” said Brigid. “Well, that’s just like a man.”

Greg ignored the comment and swept on. “The cliché that men are all inconsiderate, unperceptive babies who only care about jiggling flesh, beer, and the big game is just as detrimental as the idea that women are irrational gold-diggers who can’t do math and only care about shoes.”

“Lots of men are inconsiderate, unperceptive babies who only care about jiggling flesh, etc., etc.,” said Brigid.

“That’s as may be,” said Greg. “But not as many as pop culture would have you believe. And that’s not the point. The point is that we need to cultivate a better image than this. Not just for men, mind you … when it comes to the battle of the sexes, my inclination is to lay down my arms and say, ‘Can’t we all just get along?’ But we need to create an image to aspire to, for both men and women, to lift us up out of this postmodern funk.”

“And who do we model this image on?” asked Brigid. “You?”

“Of course not me,” said Greg. “I am a muddleheaded chump. I knew from early life that ‘muddleheaded chump’ was my vocation and I’ve devoted my life to being the best muddleheaded chump I could be. I was thinking of somebody like Da Vinci, or Thomas Jefferson, at least for men. For women, I don’t know, who would you consider the ideal?”

“Actually, I kinda like Da Vinci myself,” Brigid said.

“You can’t have Da Vinci, he was a man!”

“Says you! I’m taking Da Vinci, and let’s see you try to stop me!”

Greg shook his head and rolled his eyes. “Women!” he said.

-The Gneech

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