May 30 2007

Fictionlet

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“I keep thinking there must be a deep meaning in there somewhere,” Greg said, “but so far I haven’t come up with anything satisfactory.”

“In what?” Brigid asked, almost afraid to know.

“Well, I was just sitting here thinking about Scrabble over lunch–”

“Why Scrabble?”

He shrugged. “I dunno. Why not Scrabble?”

“You’ve got me there,” she admitted.

“Anyway, I was thinking about Scrabble, when it suddenly occurred to me that ‘evil’, ‘vile’, ‘veil’, and ‘live’ are all anagrams.”

“That’s it?”

“Well…”

“You’re looking for the meaning of life in ‘evil’, ‘vile’, ‘veil’, and ‘live’?”

“Well, it’s not like I’m looking real hard,” he protested.

“So they’re anagrams? So what? Nine plus nine is eighteen, nine times nine is eighty-one, and eight plus one makes nine! Who cares?”

He blinked rapidly. “Wow, they are, aren’t they? I never noticed that! Cool!”

“How is that cool?” she demanded. “It’s not cool, it’s just a freaking coincidence!

Greg tilted his head looked at her, frowning. “For someone who claims not to care, you’re taking it all very personally,” he said.

-The Gneech

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May 28 2007

Fictionlet

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“I am not going to any family reunion without a man wrapped around my elbow; I don’t care if he’s really my boyfriend or not,” Brigid said. “Not until Aunt Edna’s firmly planted, anyway.”

Greg furrowed his brow, as if reading an obscure text without footnotes. “Aunt Edna?”

“My mother’s mother’s sister,” Brigid said. “Basically, my Aunt Edna’s older than space, and convinced that any woman who isn’t married — or at least firmly attached — by, say, twenty, must be a lesbian, no matter what they say.”

“So what’s wrong with that?” said Greg. “Let her think you’re a lesbian, what’s it going to hurt?”

“Are you crazy?” Brigid demanded. “I’m not going to go around being the family’s pet lesbian! All my aunts would be getting their friends to send ’round their family’s pet lesbians to hook me up!”

Greg raised his eyebrows and smothered a giggle.

“Don’t laugh, they would!” Brigid said. “And even if most of them are just misunderstood singles like me, I imagine a fair number are bona fide lesbians, which I don’t have to tell you would be awkward as hell.”

Greg smirked. “You heartbreaker, you!”

“Get knotted.”

“Too bad they’re not evangelical — you could go through a miraculous cure and make everybody happy.”

“Ha!” said Brigid. “Not likely. Good New Englander liberals? The only thing that would make them happier than a pet lesbian in the family would be if I married a black playwright.”

“So, Arthur, pretty much. Maybe you should get him to go.”

Brigid frowned. “I tried. He told me to get knotted.”

-The Gneech

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May 25 2007

Fictionlet

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“Oh yeah,” Greg’s voice came oozing from the other side of the room. “Ooh, baby! That’s it!”

Brigid’s forehead wrinkled as she jerked out of the half-doze she’d fallen into staring at the TV. “Say what?” she murmured.

“So small, but so powerful … such clean lines … so very tight!” he continued to ooze in less-than-decent tones.

“What the heck are you going on about over there?” said Brigid, looking over the top of the couch. “You suddenly into exotic sports cars or something?”

“Huh?” said Greg, looking back at her over the frayed spine of Elements of Style by Strunk and White. He put his thumb into the book to mark his place. “Did you say something?”

Brigid frowned and closed her eyes. “Never mind,” she said, and went back to her nap.

-The Gneech

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May 23 2007

Fictionlet

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“How did your parents die, anyway?” asked Brigid.

Greg didn’t respond for a moment, then finally said in an unusually cold tone, “A truck fell out of the sky on them.”

“Eh?”

“They were riding down the freeway when a great big 18-wheeler came flying off an overpass in front of them and they couldn’t stop in time to avoid it. My mom, who was driving, was killed instantly; my dad lingered on a few days but never regained consciousness. Which may have been just as well, considering.”

Brigid winced. “Yikes,” she said.

“In a word,” Greg replied. “What forensics they could do on the driver didn’t turn up anything untoward; their best guess was that he fell asleep at the wheel. No doubt the jolt of going over the guardrail woke him back up again, but by that time his only feasible course of action was to plunge thirty feet to a fiery death.” Brigid nodded, and Greg continued, “So it’s not like there’s anything that could be done — the one person I could get mad at was just as dead as they were. The middle finger of God again, as I say from time to time. I’ve put up with a lot from God over the years without complaining, but in that particular case it’s always seemed to me like He was just being a jerk about it.”

Brigid found herself feeling unusually awkward. She managed to say, “Wow, that sucks,” which was wholly inadequate but the best she could come up with. Greg simply nodded, and went back to his scribbling.

-The Gneech

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May 14 2007

Fictionlet

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Greg hoisted the writing desk and looked to Isadora expectantly.

“You just lifted that like it was nothing!” Isadora said. “It must be nice to be young.”

“Where did you want me to move it to?” Greg asked.

“Don’t ever get old, m’boy,” Isadora continued without pause. “You don’t know how much you’ll miss being able to do things like lift desks, until suddenly you can’t do it any more.”

“This room? The living room?”

“After a while, all that keeps you going is getting to your next set of pills.” She pulled out a small pill organizer and opened a compartment, revealing a bright array of pills in various sizes, shapes, and colors — mostly pastel. “My blood’s too thick. So I take this one to thin it, except it thins it too much, so I take this one to thicken it back just a little. But that one puts my thyroid all out of whack, so I take this one to bring it back under control.”

“That is a lot,” Greg agreed, wincing slightly as the edges of the desk dug into the palms of his hands. “So where–”

“And this is just the mid-day bunch! You should see what I take at night so I can sleep! And this mask I have to put over my head to regulate my breathing at night.”

“Erm.”

“This is what science gets you! Sure, we’re all living longer, but at what cost, eh? I worked for years and years to build up my retirement, and now I’m just forking it all over to the drug companies. Old people are going broke right and left, but it’s a golden age for pharmacists!”

Greg finally put the table down with a puff of breath, figuring the only thing to do was to wait until the storm blew over.

“Not there,” Isadora said. “It goes at the top of the stairs.”

-The Gneech

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May 09 2007

Fictionlet

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“Wow, that’s sad,” said Brigid.

“Hmm?” said Greg, finishing off the last of his Frangipani sandwich.

“That guy, right there,” Brigid said, indicating with a nod the shiny convertible some twenty feet away. “Sleek black sports car, diamond-studded diving watch — and a ginormous bald spot. Can you say, ‘Overcompensating’?”

“Well now, be fair,” said Greg. “Not every guy in a shiny sportscar is having a mid-life crisis. It may very well be that he would have bought that car 15 years ago if he could, and now finally has the means. He may have been saving up for years!”

“So instead of being shallow because he’s chasing his faded youth, he’s just maintaining a consistent shallowness over time, is that it?”

“No philosopher ever drove a sports car, eh?” said Greg.

“Not with those hubcaps,” replied Brigid with conviction.

-The Gneech

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