I’m aware that talking about reading, in fact, telling anyone they should be doing anything, can start to sound a bit preachy. That’s not my intention at all. I hope you understand that. My hope is you can have as much fun reading as you have doing anything else. To the extent I come off as a bit preachy I apologize in advance.
To lighten things up I propose a writing contest. I will spell out the details in the prompt below. Your deadline is March 3, 2012 at 8PM Central Standard Time.
Prompt: In about 1000 words write a humorous short short story telling me “A funny thing that happened on the way to the bookstore/library.”
By March 7, 2012 I will judge your entries and award one of your stories a $50 cash prize. The second place winner will get a shirt of their choice from my T-shirt shop on skreened.com. The most outrageous story will get a T-shirt of my choosing. I will post every entry here and recognize the winners. Send all entries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck, but most of all have fun with it!
It isn’t fair to ask you to write without offering an example, so here is my story.
A funny thing happened as I made my way down the soggy streets. I was on the way to the bookstore to browse, a Sunday ritual. I had on a raincoat and some desert boots which were doing a decent job of combating the elements. It was humid. The combination of the raincoat and the walk were causing perspiration to form on my brow. My thoughts were centered on the perspiration. I hoped to look presentable by the time I got there. In the distance I could smell the animals and grilled meats coming from the mini-circus set up in the Main Street Mall parking lot.
Between the sloshing sound my boots were making and a clap of distant thunder I heard a screech coming from my left. I looked over and saw a bank building. It wasn’t a large multiple story corporate style bank but a small suburban bank with four drive-thru lanes and a red brick exterior. One of the lanes had an ATM machine. I’ve used the ATM several times on my way to the bookstore, although, technically, as a pedestrian, I should have used the one on the opposite side of the bank. The screech went off again and I looked skyward and then tree-ward to spot the bird that I thought must have made the noise.
As I scanned the tree line I caught a glimpse of a tiny clothed entity of unknown classification sitting like a gargoyle on the drive-thru roof. We locked eyes for a few seconds. I broke his gaze and made out his shirt. It was a work shirt commonly worn by mechanics and guitar techs. The kind with a name patch. I couldn’t make out the name from this distance. The shirt must have been custom tailored because mechanic’s shirts aren’t typically made in toddler sizes, I thought. Maternal instincts prohibit a mother from wanting to dress her child in OSHA approved attire.
As the sun peaked around a puff of cotton candy cloud I got a better view. Unless my eyes were deceiving me the entity was no gargoyle, but was instead a common monkey. No one was in the drive-thru. Bankers’ hours. The monkey appeared to be enjoying his leisure.
I looked around expecting a candid camera to be pointed my direction and saw no one.
I turned back to the monkey. He had started down when he saw me. The rain kept everyone else inside so I must have been the first person he’d seen since he made it to the drive-thru roof. He approached authoritatively like a guard at a gated community security shack. His approach was persuasive enough that for a moment I considered what form of identification would be most appropriate to present, if asked.
By the time he had covered half of the bank parking lot I was already feeling sorry for the little guy. Nurturing plans formed. I rehearsed the conversation with animal control where I would make it clear he wouldn’t be put to sleep unless it was over my dead body. After all, monkeys are our closest relatives, I think. He is practically my cousin, I would explain.
As he approached, I read the name tag on his shirt, Ferdinand. Suddenly, as if he understood I had identified him, Ferdinand dashed toward my shin and bit the shit out of my leg.
I screamed in pain even though there was no one there to hear it. As soon as he bit me he ran into a wooded lot. I looked at my leg and saw two puncture wounds like what you would expect a snake might leave behind as he injected venom through his hypodermic needle styled teeth.
I wiped a small trickle of blood from one of the wounds. I struggled to make sense of what happened. A hypochondriac by nature, nightmare scenarios ran through my head:
(1) I am patient zero in a global epidemic. We are all doomed and I will forever be known as the beginning of the end of mankind. Some few, maybe ten percent, of humanity will survive. Just enough to re-write The Book of Revelation to include my name and social security number explained by a numeric formula with a solution of 666.
(2) The monkey has given me some rare strain of monkey vampirism. Initially, I will be quarantined as the public fears scenario one (see above), however, as my powers of shape shifting and flight develop and the thirst for blood grows I will escape to feed.
(3) I am going to be rabid in twenty four hours or shorter, depending on the gestation time of rabies. I vaguely consider making a calculation of rabies half-life before I dizzily accept I don’t know what the fuck I am talking about.
By the time I pictured myself foaming at the mouth like Old Yeller I blacked out.
When I woke up the paramedics were around me and the owner of the house near the bank was explaining that he had come out when the rain stopped to check on his rain barrels. He saw me crumpled on the sidewalk. He called 9-1-1. The police officer wrote his statement down in a notebook with an oiled leather cover.
The EMS checked me out and recorded my modified Glasgow coma score, 15. They found no signs of head injury. Then they asked me what happened.
At the risk of being put in an insane asylum I explained I had been walking to the bookstore and blacked out. I left out any mention of Ferdinand’s frenzied attack.
The EMS observed me for fifteen minutes, watched me drink coke, and fed me four saltine crackers. They offered me a ride home. I accepted and resigned myself to just re-read a book I already had.
A week later the city sent me a bill for $837.14 due immediately but considered late in thirty days in exchange for the coke and four saltines administered by highly trained EMS professionals. I spent another $373.13 for blood work at my family doctor so I could sleep at night.
Photo Courtesy of Wojciech.Przybylski. Follow his work at wojciechprzybylski.com.