short stories

Pratt v. Pratt


A blank stare. Vacant blue eyes and a gaping mouth peered into the camera. Streaks of blond hair struck back from Pratt’s painfully wrinkled forehead.

‘He has to know I am the original PRATT. There can BE only one PRATT. And that is me. That other guy’s such a douucche bag. He knowws I came first, into the limelight.’

Pratt’s words hung on that Californian twang, tinged by the silver spoon of entitlement. He hadn’t earned a nickel to his name, yet he drove a blue-speckled metallic black Maserati. A shock of black lightning he’d speed through the night like a possessed supervillain.


‘What’s this guy’s problem?’ Pratt’s eyebrows shaped an apprehensive face. His voice lilted with concern. He shook his head working out the reenactment of engaging with the other Pratt in his mind. ‘He keeps calllling me to say that HE is the only real Pratt. I don’t think he gets that there can be two Pratts.’

Pratt’s eyes gaped wide into the camera. Bags hung beneath them. Beads of sweat glistened on his temples under the gently buzzing lights.


The two Pratts met on the double-lane bike path. Two figures walking slowly toward each other, silhouetted against a setting sun over the Pacific Ocean horizon. They stopped about 10 feet apart, straddling the dotted yellow line that divided the bike path’s two lanes. Both sets of piercing blue eyes held the other’s in heavy focus.

‘Dude, LAaaa is not big enough for both of us Pratts,’ Surfer bro Pratt broke the silence. ‘I suggest you eitherr get outta here, unless you want me to kick yerr ass.’

‘Listen, I realize we’re both named “Pratt.” It’s not exactly an uncommon name.’ Pratt thought he could persuade his eponymous opponent with reason. ‘I’ve met tons of Pratts in my day.’

‘Yeahh, but were they yerr cousinz, bro??’

‘No. Complete strangers. Much like you and me.’

‘I highhly doubt we are strangers by noww, bro.’

‘Yeah, I know. You keep calling me to scare me away. Well, it’s not working. I deserve just as much right to be in LA as you.’

Just then, the more sinister Pratt leapt into attack mode. Much like a Kung Fu master flying through the air in a jump kicking swoop (at least that’s how he pictured himself in his mind), Pratt sailed toward his self-inflicted foe. ‘If you won’tt listen to my words, then, bro, listen to the cold steel of my unforgiving, flying foot!’

The receiving Pratt simply stepped to the side. Pratt fell to the ground and a cyclist nearly ran over his head. ‘Watch it, broooo!’

The good Pratt shook his head. He couldn’t believe he had to spend his Sunday afternoon dealing with this moron. ‘Listen…’ Pratt said. He was always trying to get the bull-headed Pratt to listen. ‘Listen, man, I don’t want to fight you. You’re just going to have to live with the fact that I’m here, as well.’

‘Bro, I will never do that, bro.’ Pratt was still lying on the pavement coughing on sand kicked up by the drive-by cyclists. ‘You may have won this round, bro, but I will not give up. You better get busy moving or get ready to fight, bro.’

Little did the ignorant Pratt know, Pratt (the more educated one) had been recording this entire rendezvous with his phone.

‘Is that a threat, bro??’ The good Pratt baited his evil “bro.”

‘You better believe it, brooo. You should fear ferr yerrr life. One dark LA night, when yerr walking down Santa Monica Boulevard, you better watch yerr backkk, brooo. You may just see a Maserati’s headlights over your left shoulder. That’ll be me, brooo. Comin’ for you. And I don’t miss.’

‘So you’re threatening to run me over with your car?’

‘You won’t even see it comingg, brooo.’

‘But you just said I’d see the headlights over my left shoulder.’

‘It’ll be toooo late, brooo.’ For some reason, Pratt had still not gotten up from the ground. Maybe he liked dwelling at the bottom of humanity. Just lying on the path, as cyclists and longboarders weaved by.

‘Ooook, then,’ even-tempered Pratt said. ‘I’m going to leave now.’ As he turned to leave, Pratt reached into his pant pocket. Yup, the phone recorded it all.

Later that day, Pratt paid a visit to the local police station. He pressed charges against the evil Pratt, armed with evidence of his life threatened. Pratt’s Californian-singed voice signature imprinted on the audio tape was too good to mistake for anyone other than that awful bro Pratt.

From thereon, Pratt could not go within 500 feet of Pratt. As it turned out, Los Angeles was big enough for the both of them.


Don’t make me take off my sunglasses

Had a call in this morning to FedLoan Servicing. They’re the suspect school loan servicer who swindles me out of $710 each year on an errant monthly payment claiming they failed to process my income adjustment plan. I made two attempts in the past two months to avoid this, yet they consistently drop the ball. Third year running.

Don’t make me take off my sunglasses.

I have to remember two dozen passwords for double the online accounts that manage my personal admin. I have a running text file that I update frequently to keep these logins inline. Yet, I continually find myself hitting the ‘Forgot password’ option and resetting.

Don’t make me take off my sunglasses.

I’m in my mid-thirties approaching a doldrum of social activity as past friends get married, have kids and do other things they’re supposed to do to remain relevant in this given American society. I’m finding less and less in common with these folk. It’s not that I don’t want to change; I just want to follow a unique path, not one laid out from likely decades of manifested destiny.

Don’t make me take off my sunglasses.

I did manage to steal away some time to reassess life priorities. Work is certainly not the be-all, end-all; it’s merely a method through which to tread financial waters and pay homage to society’s true god, the Almighty Dollar.

Hey, capitalism, don’t make me take off my sunglasses.

But I did briefly escape the imposed American Dream to ponder, find peace of mind in the stillness of inactivity and complete lack of urgency. Zen.

And I’ve found a purpose, better than anything anyone else can tell me. I’ve located it within.

Alright, lemme take off my sunglasses now.

I got work to do.






Picasso’s ‘Girl before a Mirror,’
Is art
Van Morrison’s ballad ‘Into the Mystic,’
Is art
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,’ written and directed by John Hughes

They trace frequencies onto the media of paint, vinyl and celluloid, respectively. Each of these art forms require adept skill with instruments through which the artist conducts his energy.

An instrument conducting energy through a given medium.

Creative writing, however, remains one of the only art forms in which its instrument and medium are the same—the written word. The written word, which can be read, heard, said, sang, seen, and most importantly, thought.

Or is the medium the brainwaves of the prose reader? His instrument, like a player piano, is the script before him. While his eyes scrawl words latticed like hanging ivy all over the page to project a play within his mind.


The thick, gooey cerebral medium, as still as an endless well, as violent as sea squalled swells a thousand miles off the coast of any shore. When a brainstorm strikes, conjuring a nor’easter of electric, swirling connections, the artist must tune the vibrations from the source, the eye of the storm, staring straight up through the heavens concentrating ever upward into a golden recursive spiral, drawing the levity on down to his fingertips, where speech meets screen in the form of the printed word.

Just like the vibrating needle recording rich sound’s footprint on liquid vinyl.

Just like a painter’s fluid arm brush strokes the blank canvas.



Lose faith
Abandon, ye, all hope
Rid your mind from the plague of ill-formed pipe dreams

Just drop them
And move on
Stride boldly forward into the moment

Only for that moment and no other
Don’t hold back
This life is just now

If you’re not fully here


Then you’ll never get to that mystical carrot
Hanging six feet in front of your face

It will always be six feet away

To attain It, forget it
Let go of the stifling burden

Now you’re weightless

Free to float through the ceiling
To where the True Carrot shines
Warmly within arm’s reach


Earth Airlines

Are we just visiting?
This planet, I mean.
Is the Earth a starship hurdling through space?

Our bodies are the pods enveloping life forces
Until we’re big enough to crawl into the next shell
The stillness, serenity are but illusions

They’re the Gifts that Mother Earth gave us
The present days of our short, short lives
The stillness is but a feeling that will fleet upon death
When we’re reintroduced to the explosion of deep space expanding

Let us wait
Just wait
Sit down in your seat


Let your trays down from the upright position
Recline your back rest
And relax

Earth Airlines fly smooth through the black velvet
Maximize your time here
So you’re awake when we arrive

As the galaxy slings us along its celestial arm
Into the Grand Destination
That lies beyond all possible human conception


My heart truly beats

I’m more soluble than salt in the universal solvent
Dissolving into the feeling of being alive,
I drink from an overflowing fountain tapped into the human spirit

My color is clear
my fabric, smooth liquid
that resonates with the low rumble of the Big Wave

I take the form of my container
whose limits are bound only by the speed of light
and imagined possibility

Horizons blur between mind and environment
The gap between many and one becomes none
The illusion of separation itself evaporates into nothing but a notion

And my heart truly beats

Top 10 Lists

Confessions of a digital marketer

I was born within the rare 3-year window known as the Oregon Trail Generation (1980-1982).

I tell you this for one reason: we are the generation that bridges the gap between old and new media.

We’re old enough to remember what the world was like before the Internet, before computers took the forefront in popular technology. We contacted people remotely via landlines attached to rotary or touchtone phones. We can sift through a library’s physical card catalogue, fluent in the Dewey Decimal System. We read the newspaper.

Yet, we’re young enough to embrace the Internet’s revolutionary technology. The World Wide Web is not a foreign entity to us. We came of age within it.

We are the Oregon Trail Generation and are tasked with bringing the old world into the new, while translating what new media means to the old school.

I was born in 1982.

This was the last year an American could grow up, complete high school and go to college entirely untainted by the seismic shift social media would bring, beginning roughly in 2004.

Post graduation, I would acquire a Facebook profile, Twitter feed, LinkedIn account, and then later Instagram, Google+ and build up my own blogs. I adopted these social media just as billions of people have since the early days of the modern world.

But I remember the old school. I remember the way a newspaper is laid out. I even wrote for the Boston Herald. And what I’m always telling baby boomers is that online media — Facebook updates, blog posts, Twitter feeds, LinkedIn’s shares and comments, the entirety of news activity online — is not that different than the way information proliferates via print media. A screen is just cheaper to print on, especially now that everyone has their own personal printing press in their iPhone or Android.

There is a lot to be gleaned from a newspaper, actually…

Top 5 newspaper principles marketers should use online

#1: Write a striking headline

Headlines should evoke an emotion to captivate interest. Though space is limitless online, people’s attention spans are not. The headline should not be too long. And just like in newspapers, don’t say in 10 words what you can say in five or less.

#2: Get to the point

Like the newspaper’s inverted pyramid story structure, the best information on any blog post should be right at the top. You’ve got your reader there by the headline, but the body is the only thing now that will keep them there. After all, they’re just one click away from the next article.

Mark Twain once wrote that the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. Wisely chosen words will also get you to that point quicker and optimize your SEO.

#3: Layout is important

No matter how well you write a blog post, if it’s not arranged aesthetically — if the font is “weird,” if the copy is bunched together — the text is less legible. Just like how a newspaper is carefully laid out to include stories prominently on a static page, blog copy should be broken up into digestible blocks and separated by subheads.

#4: Length is important

In the newspaper world, longer stories meant less real estate and more ink and paper. Though you won’t be wasting valuable ink, paper or page real estate on a blog, you’ll be wasting your time. The average blog post should be between 300-700 words, according to Most people won’t read much beyond that before jumping to the next page.

#5: Fit the pieces together

Components of a newspaper fit together like pieces in a puzzle. That’s a physical space, but you could say that the pieces of a blog story and its accompanying social posts and emails are linked in time. SEO is only one way we get people to read our blog posts. We can also effectively time supporting tweets, Facebook updates and email blasts that direct people to the story webpage and encourage followers to comment and share — that cascading effect that propels a “viral” story beyond your primary audience.

Social posts and emails sent at 9 a.m., EST, and 12 p.m. EST, are known to perform best. At 9 a.m. on the East Coast, people are just sitting down to their desks and don’t quite want to get into work. At noon, they’re going to lunch and, on the West Coast, it’s 9 a.m. again.

short stories

Two feud, eating chicken tortilla soup

They hadn’t spoken for years. Maybe three. For both, it seemed longer to the point that enough time had passed and neither could fathom any sort of reconciliation. Yet the draw of Shandy’s chicken tortilla soup was too irresistable. Its southwestern flare, the fresh onion, avocado, cilantro, lime zest and crisp tortilla strips floating in rich chicken broth and cooked to absolute perfection wafted pure heaven into the nostrils. The spicy consommé was a palette magnet for anyone who experienced this culinary delight, especially these two now polar opposites.

As an added wrinkle in the rift between them, this soup was only served on Wednesday nights and only at one place – Shandy’s Soup Shack. As a traditional, family bistro this little shack believed in neither takeout orders nor delivery. Patrons, therefore, had to eat in.

So the two would eat, sitting across from each other at the bar in the step-down soup shop, sipping this brothy goodness and shifting their looks to avoid eye contact. Often they’d bury their faces in the steam subliming from their bowls to avoid awkwardness.

One was called Jimmy. He had adopted thick-rimmed, black glasses and a bushy, tie-on beard that looked fake in its synthetic fibers because he couldn’t afford the real human hair kind. Despite the obvious falsehood of his disguise, Jimmy thought it adequate to avoid his estranged friend. Plus the fibers were a nice soup flavor-savor for later when he returned to his quaint one-bedroom.

The other ex-compatriot was called Kenny. Sunglasses and a baseball cap were enough for him, evidently, to keep up the incognito. Although, in a subterranean bistro that was dark even at high noon and lights kept dim into the evening, the shades drew more attention to him than they deflected.

Every Wednesday, these two characters would sip their soup in silence, not talking, not acknowledging the other, addicted to this dish and shameless in their persistence to not make amends. That was the power of the soup.

This phenomenon that occurred every seven days, in Shandy’s downstairs, turned to urban legend. Word of mouth spread. And foreign patrons, new to the place, would venture there to not only enjoy this local delicacy of the chicken tortilla soup, but to witness this ineptitude in social graces, between a bearded hipster and his Unabomber enemy.

Some would even say that the mystery of their falling out was more of a draw than the delicous, southwestern Wednesday special. In fact, the soup itself was more the MacGuffin that perpetuated these weekly theatrics like clockwork. And questions of their friendship or lack thereof abounded.

What could have caused such a rift? And how good a soup could this be that drew them, reluctantly and addicted to the bistro barstools weekly? That they’d go to such great lengths to shroud their true identities from each other, though it was so obvious to everyone else on the outside looking into this real life comedy of conflict.

I was one such foreign patron and my curiosity got the best of me one night, when I became wise to the depths of Jimmy and Kenny’s burnt bridge. I had to know what came between these once great friends.

One Tuesday night, I approached the Shandy’s owner who tended bar. I asked him about these two who’d be in this very establishment a mere night from then. Cooperation with me the inquisitor was not his M.O., however.

“The one with the beard is called Jimmy,” he said. That was all I could get out of him about that guy. “And the other is Ken.”

I couldn’t do much with first names in terms of a background check. And due to the tightlipped nature of the reluctant owner, I didn’t want to approach either of these two on that fated Wednesday night. The tension was palpable and a powder keg that could blow away any future chance at enjoying the chicken tortilla soup.

I had to approach this mystery with caution, therefore, if I wanted to satisfy both my unquenchable curiosity and thirst for scrumptious southwestern delight.

The soup was just that good.


After the falling out with Ken, I had tried to make my own version of Shandy’s chicken tortilla soup in my kitchen. And by a kitchen, I mean the hotplate that sat on the counter by my sink in a studio apartment the size of most people’s living rooms. There was no space to dice the onions and jalapeños. I couldn’t afford the quality chicken breasts the soup shack used either and the gaminess of the Star Market store brand were present in every bite. I’m also pretty sure old man Shandy included a secret ingredient in that rich broth. No matter how many times I took home a to-go cup and tried to disect its ingredients to isolate the mystery flavor, I failed.

Every Wednesday, then, the beard would go on and so would those clunky glasses that I didn’t even need. After a few months of donning the costume, I could sort of tell people were wise to the disguise, but I was in too deep at that point. Despite its obviousness, the costume was my only security blanket protecting me from confronting that awful Ken.


To tell you the truth, I didn’t even really like the soup. I hate spicy food. And I’m mildly allergic to cilantro. Luckily, as a glorified garnish that sat atop the broth, I was able to pick it off often before diving in.

It was stubbornness really that brought me back every Wednesday night. I liked to make Jimmy squirm. And that beard was so ridiculous. That stupid thing was always good for a chuckle to break up my week.

I knew how much he loved that soup. I also was not going to let him forget what he did. That was his punishment.


I sat in the corner of the bistro the following Wednesday. In a dark booth, I awaited the two, Ken and Jim, to arrive.

The confrontation could not occur inside the restaurant. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t follow one of them home. Contact would have to be made, if I were ever to get to the bottom of this caldron of conflict and chicken tortilla soup.


Speaking of dreams…

Speaking of dreams…

I used to know when I was dreaming, at a very early age.

Maybe when language had finally made sense to me, I was forming, not only complete sentences, but fully articulated ideas and scenarios, in which to construct an interpreted reality inside my mind. Of course, these fantasies were uncluttered by the filters, emotional scarring and conflicting morals that came along with life experiences.

And even as a young boy, I knew these realities were too clean for what the authentic account of our world entailed. I’d crouch down in the fetal position on the floor of my dream, shut my eyes tight and pray to wake up. I wanted to once again feel something real, however tainted its true identity.

I grew older, more wise, cataloguing a cacophony of memories, thoughts, ideas, wishes, concepts, emotions, attitudes, personalities, accents, sins, virtues, lies, truths, half truths… a severely wrinkled, grey area.

These signature marks on my more mature perspective deepened the complexity of an adult mind and I could no longer tell the difference between dream and reality, at the height of REM.

The maze of my mind had become too complicated. Unknowingly, asleep, I was trapped. You see the wide, bird’s eyed ego of my awake self sat perched atop a concealed iceberg-like id, underwater stretching infinitely beyond the bounds of the Great Barrier Reef. While under, snorkeling, snoring, deep-diving these coral depths, I got lost in its intertwining, ever-shifting intricacies that linked path upon path of a bottomless marine rabbit hole.

Eventually, I’d awake. My light mind would float to the top at dawn, like the multifaceted orb in a Magic 8-ball.

In one of these lucid daytimes, at last, a moment of clarity in the crisp ocean air. If I could dream within dreams, layered like an onion, like Russian nesting dolls, innumerable levels thick, if I could jump between these levels that sequenced in a Fibonacci spiral tunneling within the coral reef that was my brain stem, then perhaps a reality awaited above even the apex of our collective cerebral cortex. Perhaps we weren’t the biggest Russian doll.

Perhaps, this communal consciousness was yet another underneath layer, beneath ether unfathomable, in specific terms, but entirely conceivable in glimpses of brilliance, like the Sun poking through holes in the clouds.