Nov 28 2005

Fictionlet

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“What’s the matter with you, boy?” said Uncle Bob. “When I was your age, I was out there protesting! I was making a difference! I was in a full-fledged riot once!”

“This is something to be proud of?” Greg replied, eyebrows ascrunch.

“Well of course it is! The world’s a mess, boy, an absolute mess, and it’s up to the youth to fix it!”

“What does rioting fix, exactly? I’ve never been able to work that one out.”

“Well…”

“Smashing some poor shop owner’s windows isn’t going to bring about world peace or anything.”

“No, no,” said Bob. “I never said it was. But we’re getting sidetracked on this whole rioting subplot. What I’m talking about is activism!”

“You want me to protest something?” Greg asked. “What am I supposed to protest? I’m pretty well contented with my lot, Uncle Bob.”

“Contented?” spat Bob. “How can you be contented? The Man is keeping us down!”

Greg blinked. “I thought we were The Man.”

“Don’t be stupid, of course we’re not The Man! The Man is those rich fatcats!”

“Oh,” said Greg. “My mistake.”

“Look at Bill Gates! He lives in a huge house! He eats steak every night! Don’t you resent that?”

“Why should I? If he wants steak, he can afford it. I hope he enjoys it!”

“But you can’t, don’t you see!”

“That’s not Bill Gates’ fault,” said Greg.

“Yes it is!” snapped Bob, working himself into something of a lather. “He hoards his wealth!”

“I thought you just said he spent it on a huge house and steak every night.”

“He should be forced to share it with those who have less!”

Greg rolled his eyes. “In case you haven’t heard, Uncle Bob, coercing one man to work for the profit of another is called ‘slavery,’ and after all the trouble they went to in the 1800’s to abolish the practice, I’d hate to see them reinstate it just for my benefit.”

Bob blinked, and Greg continued, “In any case, ‘because he has it and I want it’ sounds an awful lot like the moral foundation you seem to use for your repeated attempts to get me to fork over the trust fund. If I were to demand that Bill Gates start buying me steaks, I’d have no legitimate reason not to give you a blank check and say ‘Go for it, daddy-o.’ Which, as you know, is completely contrary to my foriegn policy. So, no protests for me, I think. I have to shore up the second act of the next book anyway, and that’s going to take all my concentration.”

Bob glared at Greg from under his bushy eyebrows. “You are a heartless, soulless creature,” Bob said. “And I feel sorry for you.”

“Well, that’s comforting at least,” said Greg. “Thanks for your concern, Uncle Bob!”

-The Gneech

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Nov 23 2005

Fictionlet

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“This is wonderful!” Greg said, beaming up at the morning sun and stretching his arms wide.

“Wonderful?” said Brigid, trying to shrink further into her heavy jacket. “It’s freezing!

“Bracing cold air! Wakes you up! Gets the blood flowing! Look at that bright blue sky!”

“Geeze, look at this!” said Brigid. “My fingernails are turning blue!” She breathed heavily onto her hands, making billowy white puffs.

“Well why don’t you put some gloves on?” said Greg.

“Now there’s a brilliant idea. Why didn’t I think of that? Oh yeah! Because I don’t have any! A week ago it was seventy frickin’ degrees — now it’s suddenly the dead of winter! What is that about?”

“It’s called November,” said Greg, pulling a large pair of mittens out of his pockets and handing them over. “I’d have thought you’d have heard about it by now.”

“Well it sucks, whatever it’s called,” she replied, pulling the mittens over her shaking hands. “I want to have a few sharp words with whoever made this rotten arrangement.”

“I blame Persephone,” said Greg. “If she hadn’t eaten those pomegranate seeds, we wouldn’t be in this situation now.”

-The Gneech

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Nov 16 2005

Fictionlet

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“Well, no, it makes perfect sense in context,” said Greg.

“It does?” Brigid asked, staring at the title of the text on his screen in mild confusion.

“Well, yes. You see, I was driving along behind this guy in traffic, who had a variety of political bumper stickers all over his car. There was a Kerry/Edwards sticker, and one rather smug one to the effect that anybody who claimed to be a conservative couldn’t possibly have feelings of any kind, and another that essentially espoused peace, love, and viciously beating republicans about the face and neck. But for all his vaunted touchy-feely social awareness, he was a vicious brute behind the wheel: constantly honking, tailgaiting, double-dipping at stopsigns, cutting people off, and so on.”

Brigid nodded. “Okay,” she said. “And…?”

“Well, as I was driving along behind this hazard to life and limb, an advertisement came on the radio for an opthamologist by the unfortunate name of ‘Doctor Clench.'” Brigid giggled momentarily at that, and Greg continued, “So I had this vision, you see…” He suddenly screwed up his face in a contortion of effort, and said, “HELLO! I am DR. CLENCH, and I’m going to be WORKING ON YOUR EYE if that’s ALL RIGHT WITH — *urk* — YOU!” Then, rapidly shifting into an exaggerated vision of anger, shouted in reply, “KEEP AWAY FROM MY EYES, YOU JACKASS!!!”

Brigid buried her face into the palm of her hand. “So that’s where you got the title, ‘The Adventures of Doctor Clench and the Road-Rage Liberal,'” she said.

“Well,” said Greg, “at least it’s unique.”

-The Gneech

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Nov 12 2005

Fictionlet

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Greg’s voice rung out through the apartment; there was nothing subtle about this performance. He was belting it out with every fiber of his being. “Ebrio quid faciamus nauta? Ebrio quid faciamus nauta? Ebrio quid faciamus nauta? Hora mutatina!”

Brigid sat blinking in her bed, her book suddenly forgotten, then was suddenly up on her feet and heading out into the living room. Greg was sitting at the table, typing away furiously on some piece of writing, casually belting out “What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor?” in Latin.

“Euge! Et spumat salum! Euge! Et spumat salum! Euge! Et spumat salum! Hora mutatina!”

She couldn’t help herself; she suddenly broke into riotous laughter.

-The Gneech

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Nov 11 2005

Fictionlet

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“Geeze, just what we need,” said Brigid, threading her way between a random pair of shoppers. “All I wanted was to get a pair of pants.”

“Aw,” said Greg, surveying the community art show that had descended upon the mall. “Try to get into the spirit of the thing! Some of these people have put years of their lives into their work!”

“Yeah, sure, maybe,” said Brigid. “But I don’t see why I should have to suffer for their stupidity. All I want is to buy some jeans, and I have to wade through the entire population of the city being determined to stand in my way everywhere I go.”

Greg tsked. “You are in a nasty mood,” he said. “Well I don’t care what you say, I think it’s fun. And some of this art is really good! Take a look at this etching, for instance.” He gestured at a large copper plate that had what appeared to be the Lincoln Memorial etched into it. “Look at the detail! That’s gotta be a lot of — er — hello?”

He stopped and looked around; he had apparently been talking to empty air, because Brigid had stopped three tables back and was practically bouncing. “Oh my God these are so cuuute!” she was saying as she picked up a statuette approximately two inches tall.

Greg wandered back over to her and examined the object: it appeared to be a porcelain goose, wearing an Edwardian-style suit with a high collar, a bow tie, and a tiny pair of spectacles. It seemed to be reading a parchment, which it held away from its body with the tip of a wing.

“Isn’t it the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen?” she said. “All of these are so precious!”

“Er,” said Greg. “Well, they’re not really my cup of tea, but…”

“Look at the bunny!” she squeed, scooping up another statuette. “He’s reading a bedtime story to the little baby bunny! It’s so cute!

“Cute,” said Greg, coldly. “Yes. So cute I’m going into diabetic shock just from looking at it. Can we move on, now?”

“Just a minute,” said Brigid. “How much is this one?” She began hunting for a price tag.

Greg sighed. “Remind me, next time you hate something, to let you go on hating it.”

-The Gneech

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Nov 08 2005

Fictionlet

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Greg sat, hands folded on the table, looking around the room in a state of expectant readiness, with a stack of copies of Retrograde Maneuvers at his side. He was still less-than-thrilled about the cover, depicting as it did a stylized cartoon man sitting backwards on a stylized cartoon motorcycle, pointing as if to say “Go that way!” Yes, it fit the title of the book, and yes, the main character of the book rode a motorcycle … but there wasn’t any scene like that in the book, leading Greg to the conclusion that it was misleading at best.

He’d been at Big Book Barn for at least half an hour, so far, and aside from a few friendly inquiries that hadn’t gone anywhere, his attempted signing was something of a flop. Of course, he hadn’t been able to talk-up the event properly — his agent had simply called up at four and said, “Get ye to Big Book Barn tonight at 7:30!” and so off Greg had get ye’d.

“Um … how’s it going?” said a familiar voice off to his side, causing him to make an extremly undignified squeak. Yvonne, wearing a lanyard with some kind of electronic key around her neck, stood there in a manner that could only be described as “perkily.”

Greg stifled his first intended response, which was “Good lord!” and instead managed to reply with a civilized, “Oh, hello! What are you doing here?”

“I work here!” she replied, shaking the electronic key on its lanyard. “I didn’t know you were going to do a signing here. It wasn’t in your blog!”

“Oh, yes, well, it was very short notice,” said Greg. “You read that, do you? Fancy that.”

“Yup! Ever since I read the book and saw the URL down on the bottom of the back cover. If it hadn’t been for the picture on your blog, I would never have realized that you lived across the hall from me! I was like, ‘Hey! I know that guy!'”

“Aheheheh … amazing, isn’t it, how you can feel like you know someone from catching glimpses of their public face … when really that person’s just a total stranger. They may lead a totally different life from what you expect!”

“That’s so insightful,” Yvonne replied, beaming. “I bet you have layers of wisdom that your book only begins to hint at!”

“Er,” said Greg. That wasn’t at all the response he’d been hoping for.

-The Gneech

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