Jun 18 2009

Fictionlet

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“Really?” said Lisa, sipping her soda. “Well, that’s a useful skill I suppose. It must be somehow.”

“I don’t know how he does it,” said Sharon. “It’s uncanny.”

“You think we’re joking,” said Brigid. “Here, watch this. Hey Greg!”

Greg, who’d spent the better part of the past ten minutes of the party intently watching the activity in the fishtank, looked up and made his way around a chatting couple. “Yes?” he said.

“Say something ridiculous and yet somehow strangely poignant,” Brigid said.

“Hmm,” said Greg, put his hand to his chin for a moment, then said, “How about: Jim Backus with a walker looking ancient and decrepit in his thirty-second cameo on The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island.”

Lisa, who had been chuckling in amusement until now, looked at Greg wide-eyed, as if he’d told her a beloved relative had died. “Wow,” she said. “I remember that.”

“Anything else I can do to be of service?” Greg asked.

-The Gneech

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Jun 15 2009

Fictionlet

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Greg staggered out of the hall and into the living room, only to have to step back and lean on the wall for support. His eyelids and eyebrows were twitching as he tried to force his eyes open, only to have them involuntarily squeeze shut in a painful squint; his head hung low and he was barely moving. “Uuunphff…” he managed to say.

“You look like I feel,” said Brigid from the counter, where she hovered over a half-finished bowl of cereal. “I thought you were a morning person.”

“Unh?” said Greg again. “I feel terrible. I don’t understand it. I went to bed normally, I slept normally … but I feel like I’ve been up for 24 hours with a pair of crying babies screeching into each ear and someone rubbing lemon juice into my eyes.”

“Welcome to my world.”

“I know … I never really understood what it was like before. I feel like one giant bruise. Every inch of my body feels like it’s been pummeled by an angry librarian with particularly pointy knuckles. And you go through this every morning?” He managed to slide along the wall and into the kitchen, where he stood staring at the coffee maker as if trying to figure out what planet it was from.

“Well, not every morning,” said Brigid. “But six out of ten, I’d say.”

“It’s horrific,” he said, and with a look of sudden realization reached for the cabinet containing the coffee mugs. “How do you keep from stepping in front of the nearest bus and ending it all?”

“Mostly by pushing other people in front of the bus instead,” Brigid replied. “By the way, there’s no coffee in that coffee. We ran out yesterday.”

Greg stopped where he was as if he’d just heard the worst news of his life. “Right. Tell my secretary to hold my calls, I’m going to go back and die peacefully in my bed.” He began the long slide back along the wall towards the hallway.

Brigid looked over at the answering machine. “Hold his calls,” she said.

“Thanks,” said Greg, stumbling off towards his room. “It’s nice to know I can count on you in a crisis.”

-The Gneech

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Jun 04 2009

Fictionlet

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Wenton blew a huge cloud of cigar smoke and said, “Look, Greg, if you’re having trouble with your book, put it on the shelf and work on something different for a while. No novelist worth their salt should be publishing under only one name.”

“How do you mean?” said Greg.

“Well look at Stephen King. When he needed a break from ‘being Stephen King,’ he’d write as ‘Richard Bachman.’ Barbara Mertz had two parallel careers, both floating around mystery and horror, one as Elizabeth Peters and one as Barbara Michaels. Your pen-name is your brand, you see. You’ve established ‘Greg Bumerli’ as a breezy comedy writer; now pick some other genre you love and write something totally new under a different name. If it’s a hit, you’ve now doubled your revenue stream; if it’s a flop, it won’t hurt your main line.”

“Do you do that?” Greg asked. “I’ve never heard of you using other names. But I guess when you’re The Man Who Reinvented the Whodunit, you don’t need to, either.”

“Pfft,” said Delaney. “The whodunits I do for love. They’re not how I make my living. I’ve written fifteen trashy airport novels about Paris Blaze, a woman cop whose career revolves around going undercover in the harsh, crime-ridden underworld of bisexual nymphomaniac swimsuit models.”

“Uh huh,” said Greg. “At least you kept it classy.”

“You laugh. But the film rights alone paid for my house.”

“There’s a film?”

“Not yet,” said Delaney, and drew at his cigar again. “And if the world’s lucky, there never will be. But if there is, I get one percent of the domestic gross and an option on sequels.”

“And there goes another facet of my youthful innocence dashed,” said Greg.

“Well at least you heard it from a friend,” said Delaney, and quaffed his drink.

-The Gneech

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