short stories


RADCLIFFE felt a vibration on his thigh. Someone was texting him.

“Did you RSVP yet??” The text read.

Two seconds later, his phone chimed. A new email.

“Dear Members, Please make sure to blah, blah, bladdy blah…”

RAD could not bring himself to read further. At what point in the day did he not have to react to some notice? At the notion of “notice,” three notification icons appeared instantaneously on his idle screen.

YOUTUBE: “Watch this video of owls attacking hawks.”

INSTAGRAM: “Someone you barely know anymore has just posted an update after a long time of not posting. Why this is news, we don’t know.”

EBAY: “A message from someone watching your item: ‘Does it come in plaid?'”

Complete drivel, he thought.

They say, if you put a frog in a frying pan and turn up the gas ever so slowly, he’ll grow accustomed to the heat on an unconscious level. He’ll reach the temperature for boiling and won’t even know it, by then it’s too late.

That’s how RAD felt in this day and age. Except it wasn’t the heat that was turned up; it was the information. WiFi radio waves permeated every 3-dimensional corner of the world. No node was left untouched. We were all swimming in a supersaturated slush of memes, updates, beeps, notifications, emails and other digital bits.

Our reality became synomymous with this omnipresent grid. It happened so gradually–first computers, then laptops, then smartphones and other mobile devices, then mass adoption to the point that you could barely function in society without one of these tools.

And now? In a moment of clarity, suddenly RAD became aware to it all. He could feel himself boiling.

‘I must escape,’ he thought. Way easier to dream such a notion.

You see, the comprehensive Snapchat digital video database, aggregated from virtually every smartphone owner on the planet, contained quite the complete user list. In other words, we were all tagged as individual pixels that comprised the Grand Internet projection. To truly GHOST (disappear) from this digital net, he would have to scrub all traces of his identity from the mother database.

He knew this because he worked for the NETWORK.

He had heard of one man who had accomplished this Herculean feat. Aptly named the GHOST. It was one of his first assingments reporting for the NETWORK. The guy had appeared in a few people’s Snapchat stories, in the Olde Neighborhood, within a short time window. This spike in spectre activity prompted the NETWORK to send its local correspondent, RAD, a native of the Olde Neighborhood, to interview its witnesses.

The NETWORK landed just outside our neighborhood like a spaceship. The futuristic architectural design from I.M. Pei resembled no earthly idea of an edifice I had ever imagined.

The intention of the NETWORK was world-class broadcast journalism, ignoring no corner of the globe, however miniscule. To appease their local neighbors, they had appointed RAD as their ambassador.

Nearly all of the Neighborhood residents’ personal accounts were identical. Mary LoGrasso who ran the local laundromat recounted quite lucidly, as she folded clothes amidst the whirring of washing machines:

“It was the strangest thing. I was snappin’ a video of myself, right here at work. I was going to send it to my girlfriend. When I went to add a filter in the playback, I noticed this shadowy figure in the background. I immediately looked up from my phone, but no one was there. It was as if he appeared and disappeared out of thin air…”

Then, Mary looked off in the distance, as if to relive that shocking moment more than remember.

“Or not that he was physically present in the shop. It almost felt like he was stuck in my phone.”

RAD corroborrated Ms. LoGrasso’s account with three other store owners on the block, who had encountered similar Snapchat intruders to their screens.

RAD titled his piece “The Snapchat Ghost Haunts Olde Neighborhood,” but nothing more came of it after the story hit print. Perhaps the publicity had scared the GHOST away.

RAD rode his bike through the city to clear his head.

The streets seemed empty, as he weaved through them by the power of his pedals. Graffitied snapcodes painted the sides of abandoned brick buildings and in the dark alleys between faceless concrete skyscrapers. He paid them no mind. They had always been there. They were like the maple tree shadows cast by the Sun at dusk. Natural fixtures.

Snapcodes were the physical gateways into Snapchat’s digital world. They resembled Braille patterns–a seemingly random mélange of dots–but aiming a phone’s camera at them would link that user to the associated content at the other end.

‘What if these were the key?’ he thought. Just because they had always been there didn’t mean they couldn’t provide some link to the elusive GHOST.

Picking up his pedaled pace, RAD started snapping every code he could find. First, he hit all the known spots. He snapped the one in the alley way behind the laundromat. Nothing. It was an old advertisement for Tide detergent. He snapped the code hidden under the highway overpass, just outside the Neighborhood. Nothing. It was some punk’s personal account. Over the next few weeks he spotted and snapped a total of 320 snapcodes and all brought him no closer to the GHOST.

Then, one day, when RAD thought he had done snapped every damn code this side of the Mississippi, an odd friend request appeared in his Snap queue. The advantage of cataloguing 320 bunk codes availed RAD the knowledge that this new request contained a code he had never seen, online or in the real world. He quickly accepted the request of this 321st code.

Instantly, a story from the anonymous user appeared. RAD looked down at his phone in anxious anticipation. It was from a man’s point of view walking up a street that looked to be in the Olde Neighborhood. RAD knew it was a man walking, because he began to talk:

“OK, if you’re watching this story, then you’ve accepted my friend request. I’ve noticed you’ve been scanning a lot of the breadcrumb snapcodes that I’ve laid throughout the city. Look, I don’t expect you to understand this right now, but we need to arrange a live chat through this channel. Exchanging stories back and forth simply won’t fly. In order to do this, I’m going to need you to do exactly as I say, at exactly the precise time I say and in exactly the precise place. We’re going to link our phones.”

RAD listened intently to the man’s instructions. He tried not to let the fact that this may very well be the GHOST distract him.

The next afternoon, RAD followed the man’s cleanly laid out procedure to a tee. He arrived at the Prado at precisely 3:20 p.m. He aimed his phone at the exact angle specified, in the direction specified, with the statue of Saul Revere standing proud in the foreground. When the second hand on his wristwatch ticked to exactly 3:21 p.m., RAD snapped the shot.

At first, RAD thought he had accidentally cued a filter to appear in his Snapchat screen. A man was walking around in the space by the statue where RAD’s phone was focused. But, when RAD looked up, away from his phone, his naked eye on the statue, no one was there. He glanced back down at his phone screen. Now, the man was looking directly at him.

“Can you hear me? Can you hear me?” the man beckoned to RAD from the small rectangular screen.

‘Yeah, yes. Yes I can.’ RAD said. Was this really happening? I am talking to an augmented reality within my phone, he thought.

“OK, I don’t know how long this signal is going to last. So I’ll be quick. The year is 2033. Your current experiment with the 3D-recorded show, ‘get weird.’ will initiate a rift in the spacetime continuum, once it hits a mass audience. Right now, with your minimal, but growing, audience, you’re merely creating minor gravitational ripples. Those ripples are what allowed me to detect your dimension’s signal, in fact. I then planted all of the ancient snapcodes all over the city, via Snapchat’s historical database. They would appear very old to you, but they’re actually from the future. I need you to do two things: (1) Don’t release your opus episode on the NETWORK’s prime-time slot. I know it’s a masterpiece. I know it all too well. But that grand exposure will set a series of events into motion that ultimately usher in a post-truth era. Nothing. Not even reality itself can be trusted. Fabrication technology has surpassed the discernment of the human lens. Needless to say, this awesome power has been exploited–”

STOP. Hard cut. OK, let’s back up a bit. One thing you need to know about RAD is that he’s the producer of a revolutionary segment presently, called ‘get weird.’ The NETWORK is overwhelmingly a multimedia news outlet, but they let RAD release his weekly, well-produced, well-edited segments–a documentary series on the people of his Olde Neighborhood. It was a hobby, turned professional identity. And now RAD had been approached to bring his quaint little segment to the big stage. The NETWORK was starving for ratings and views and they believed ‘get weird.’ would get them there.

Back to this inter-dimensional Snapchat:

RAD tried to simultaneously listen to the GHOST’s explanation of his origin, while also attempting to wrap his mind around what was actually happening right in front of him, inside of his phone.

The man continued.

“…and No. 2–”

RAD finally interjected, if at least to catch a moment to process this.

‘Wait, wait. So you’re from the future? The Snapchat GHOST is from the future. Of course. OK, so don’t air my episode. I am quite proud of it, but OK. I can do that, I guess. Dare I ask what the second thing is?’

“I need you to find, well, me, on your side. I’d be about your age I think, 27-28?”

‘OK, why?’

“I need you to find my counterpart in your dimension. I need you to find him so that we can complete the retinal sync.”

‘What is that?’

“If I can sync retinas with my past self (in your present), I can complete my leap. I can enter your dimension and release myself from this drab prison over here. Post-truth is no joke. It’s terrible.”

‘Where do we find… you?’

Suddenly, RAD’s screen became blurry. The projection vibrated, like liquid waves, and the phone shut off. And he sat there, under the Saul Revere statue, dumbfounded. And he hoped and he prayed that the GHOST would send him another Snapchat story.

awkward, short stories

Cutting-edge technology, sans manners

I enter Moronfabs on a bitter morning in March. In the refurbished brick and mortar building, on a busy, potholed Somerville street, I find shelter from an air that had scathed my skin like a cold razor. I’m 15 minutes early for my interview.

For some reason, reception is up four floors. I’ve already seen three quarters of the building, before I’m received. Furthermore, there’s no one there to receive me. Just a vacant iPad displaying an NDA stands atop an empty reception desk. A signature on the digital doc will notify my interviewer that I’ve arrived, the soulless iPad assures me. I produce my digitized John Hancock. The pixelated line drawn by my own digit, the most technologically advanced way to scribe one’s endorsement, looks bastardized against that same identifying mark scrawled on paper with ink.

I spend those 15 minutes waiting alone, in a mock lobby where potential co-workers pass by. They don’t offer so much as an acknowledgment of my presence. That’s OK. I’m too busy wondering where they got that R2-D2 end table. Perhaps it serves as some conversation piece to subtly indicate that this office and its occupants are fun, despite any other evidence I can observe from the young professional parade coldly gliding by.

A few more minutes pass; it’s now 10:03 a.m. He’s three minutes late for our scheduled appointment. Finally, the ice breaks, as my would-be hiring manager, all 6’2″ of him, enters my whereabouts. He greets me with a half-assed handshake, whisking me through unexplored bowels of the office building. A kitchen adjacent to the lobby teems with uber-casually clad workers. Through there lies a sales room. Slightly more stylish, cooler cats man terminals and adorn headsets, vocally pushing the company’s product to prospective buyers.

I am introduced to none of them.

The next thing I know, after much more whisking through anonymous conference rooms and workshops, I find myself in a small office with a single table. A laptop sits in front of me. Its screen broadcasts two Germans, teleconferencing from Deutschland, which is six hours ahead of our early A.M. Their lack of response to my presentation and thousand-mile stares–I can almost hear the German beergardens calling them from the other end–urge me to rush through the remaining slides. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere. And that place, right now, is Germany; population: this 2-dimensional duo quite literally phoning it in.

I look over at my hiring manager, whose brow gleams with sweat. Will his colleagues accept me? What will they think of his lackluster recruitment efforts? I’m reminded of my overly self-conscious mother, perpetually concerned with how her child’s behavior will reflect upon her.

Not that there was much oxygen in the small room to begin with. But post presentation, it feels like even that thin air has dissipated. If a whole room could have a lump in its throat, it would be this one. For what seems like an eternity, I’m locked in a little, stale closet, with strangers, whose collective body language clearly conveys that they’ll never be co-workers. I long for that cold, outside air.

My now defunct hiring manager follows my rushed presentation with an abbreviated tour of company departments. At best, as he breezes through half-baked explanations for the various areas of his workplace, it feels like a formality fueling justification for my visit. After all, this failed engagement burned a half day from my current job. If I had been contracting, that would have also equaled one half day’s pay.

At last, my tour guide and I reach the exit. A brisk and long-awaited goodbye, capped with a handshake, ends my brief career at Moronfabs. I brave the gray, unforgiving air outside once again. As I look out the window of my meandering Uber ride, upon little reflection, I know the job’s not mine. What may sound like sour grapes is, in fact, relief. I’m thankful to be heading toward a place where I actually like the people. At no other time does that seem more important to me than in this cab.

short stories

The Bachelor

“If he doesn’t choose my daughter…” the fine red veins were visible in the backs of Mr. Snyder’s eyes. The retired detective’s dimming lights protruded so far from his face, they looked as if they may fall from their sockets.

As Snyder shook his head, the air held heavy in the severe silence. Then, the shaking stopped. And those two strained optical globes shrunk back under their wrinkly eyelid canopies.

“… I’ll kill him.”

The camera crew had barged into the Snyder Family’s home not 20 minutes prior, and Papa Snyder had already worked himself into a homicidal frenzy, imagining his only daughter’s heart broken by the bachelor and the heinous game show he came from. Show producers decided to cut his couch interview short, at this admission of premeditated murder.

They brought the bachelor into the next family’s home. Maybe Mr. Marsh, Desiree’s dad, wouldn’t be so threatening in the face of his potential son-in-law.

The two sat on the shinily upholsetered couch. Eyes locked. The bachelor, a silver fox called Kent, held the stare to not expose his fear. Mr. Marsh: Zen.

“What is it that you’re planning with my daughter?” He was eerily calm.

“Um, um, I care for your daughter very deeply,” Kent’s velvet tone aimed to cool Mr. Marsh’s concerns.

“But how can you sit there saying you care for Desiree, when you’re currently courting three other women??”

Marsh’s voice rose at the utterance of “women.” To Marsh, Kent was afront to all females now, not just his blood.

“Ummm, that’s just the game.”

“This isn’t a game! This is my family.”

“OK. Cut!” a producer, off in the murk of the makeshift set in Marsh’s living room, called this second segment to a halt. The bachelor’s presence did not seem to help the situation.

In the sanctuary of neutral territory–a bar down the street–they set the lighting for Kent’s talking head atop a barstool.

He looked directly, desperately into the camera.

“I mean, I guess I didn’t expect them to react so aggressively,” Kent’s metallic eyes shifted back and forth looking downward. His whole body squirmed in the backless seat. His voice quivered. His shoulders shrugged. “What did these guys expect?”

“Okayy, Kent,” the producer yelled from off screen.

Kent dismounted from his cushioned perch to meet him. The producer put his consoling hand on Kent’s high shoulder.

“OK, we still have two families to visit. You ready for this?”

“Yeah, I guess so. I signed a contract, right?”

The producer, calmly, carefully: “Yes, yes you did.”

The show’s production van–a white, beat-up, unmarked box–followed two car lengths behind Kent’s chauffeured black car to the third home. Inside the back, black-leather seat, Kent felt the onset of flop sweat, but tried his best to calm his nerves, lull the butterflies in his stomach, and muster the resolve to confront his next would-be in-law. The buttery leather squeaked as Kent sunk into the warm confines of the car seat, the last comfort he’d experience for hours, maybe days.

Suddenly, a strong vibration in his hip startled Kent. The producer was calling.

“Kent, we’re about 10 minutes out from the next house. You don’t have to come in to join Kathryn and her family.”

“So, will I just sit out here like a creep?”

“I mean, it beats risking your health, no? I’ve heard Kathryn’s dad is 6’3″, 250. He’s also an ex-marine.”

“Semper, fuck.”

“Yeah, I wouldn’t go riffing on the Marine Corps’ sacred motto. Actually, forget I said ‘ex-marine.’ Those guys are marines for life.”

“This is not helping.”

“Oh, ya, sorry. Like I said, you don’t have to come in.”

“I really like Kathryn. I can do this.”



The family’s in the kitchen. The whole crew’s in the kitchen. Everybody’s trying to separate cowering Kent from Kathryn’s dad Gary, clutching the bachelor’s throat with ferocious, unbridled, old-man strength.

“I’ll rip your head off, you salt’n peppered prick!” The anchor tattooed on Gary’s throbbing forearm bobbed in the warm kitchen light, as this father of three throddled the young bachelor. “If you hurt my daughter, I’ll end you. Do you understand me??”

Gasping hopelessly for air, Kent could barely utter vowels, let alone an affirmation that he’d exchange vows with this angry marine’s youngest princess.

“Well, what is it?”

“Garryyy!” the marine’s wife shrieked from the threshold of the next room. “Let him go! You’re gonna kill him!”

“That’s the idea.”

“Sir, sir!” the producer finally came to Kent’s rescue. “We’re sorry. We’ll get him out of your home.”

The marine finally released his grasp of the now coughing Kent.

“Get him back to the car,” the producer instructed his other crew.

As they ushered the bachelor through Kathryn’s childhood home to the front door, Gary hung back breathing heavily. Veins popped out of his temples. His face, beet red under the overhead light gently swaying from the melee a moment ago. He cradled his heavy head in his hands as his wife consoled him.

“Gary, you gotta control your temper. This is Kathryn’s choice.”

“She doesn’t know what she’s doing. She shouldn’t have to compete for a man. The guy should just know, with not a shred of doubt in his heart. I guess nothing compares to a father’s love for his daughter.”

Gary was now sobbing into his giant meat claws.

Kathryn entered the kitchen from the back staircase.

“Dad, dad! It’s a game show. Do you have any idea what this is going to do for my acting career?”

Gary lifted his crying mug from his mits and looked at his favorite daughter.

“So you’re not in love with him?”

“I mean, he’s kinda cute, I guess. I think you raised a smarter girl than that, though. Daaadd. I’m not an idiot. I’ve made it to the ‘visiting the family’ stage and I still only have a 1 in 4 chance of marrying this guy. Not exactly great odds.”

“You have no idea how relieved I am to hear that, sweetie.”

The last destination on Kent the Bachelor’s family tour was the Jackson home. Gina Jackson greeted Kent, the show producer and crew at the doorway. Wu-Tang played faintly from somewhere inside.

“Hi, guys. Kent, you’re gonna have to tell my dad that you’re gonna pick me. I know that’s not part of the rules. I’m just a little concerned for your safety, okayyy?”

The producer stepped between them.

“Gina, Kent’s just here to meet your folks. We can’t make any promises like that this early in the game.”

As if from nowhere, Gina’s dad suddenly descended upon the frontstep conversation.

“Hey, Kent, if you hurt my daughter, I’ma sew ya asshole shut and just keep feedin’ ya and feedin’ ya and feedin’ ya.”

Deep inside of the Jackson home, the Wu-Tang rang on…


A wet spot expanded rapidly in the crotch of Kent’s $120 jeans. He froze, as steam rose from the warm moisture heavily flowing below his waste.

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.

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.

short stories, Verse

I’m human.

I’m human.

I’m writing this because I have yet met anyone ready or willing to listen to me for the extent that, sometimes, these long streams of consciousness last. The last one went a good 20 minutes I’d say. That’s a long time to listen to anyone not standing up in front of an audience, holding a mic.

These rants tend to go in any direction really, like the doodles I’d draw in the margins of lined paper, bored in a core college seminar that I had to take, but wasn’t particularly interested in. Grammar 101 comes to mind. I’d just go wherever the pen took me. Free-form doodling. Perhaps it was a primitive graph of my brainwaves that ebbed and flowed by the Moon’s pull on ocean tides.

It all depends on the current events, when I’m talking—what I had to eat that day, my mood, my attitude toward the Universe at that moment, what has recently happened in my life, what I’m looking forward to and what I dread will loom overhead. Is it a full Moon?

Right now I’m concerned with the concept of Truth. And that’s no typo, Ms. Stackenblochen, from Grammar 101. I did pay attention to you long enough to know that you can capitalize ‘Truth’ when you’re talking about an absolute. The lowercase, everyday matter-of-fact ‘truth’ is but a speck in the grand Venn diagram of its granddaddy.

It’s what attracted me to journalism, in fact, this asymptotic pursuit of the Truth. How it will forever be subjective in any one, or a collection of human minds. That it can be interpreted. Journalists, true journeymen, have the keen sensibility and skill to focus their sharpest lenses on the event horizon of this divine singular ideal. Because though no truth will acheive Truth, there are those that are closer. There are facts the are truer than others. And purely articulated statements are filled with the rich cream center of what Stephen Colbert would call “truthiness.”

The Truth is: We are human

Men and women who witness such profound revelations—phenomena poking out from under reality’s wool pulled over our everyday eyes—within their experience, who’ve cracked open the marrow of our world, would have the most genuine sense of the human condition. For that’s what we are: humans. And anything we say or think as such will ultimately be human.

Our Truth, therefore, is also human.

While I always was human and always will be, even after death, in the memory of those that will succeed me, I could be more human, more humane, kinder and more compassionate to my fellow brethren. We all are human, but some moreso than others. Some of our auras glow brighter with truthiness.

And we are all in this together. We carry each other along, into that Great Unknown. Into that abyss that knows no bounds. And as we travel there, as we embark on an existential frontier as a unified, cosmic caravan, we tell each other, looking back on Earth, ever-expanding like an errant radiowave emitting out upon the ether, our collective thoughts wrinkle the very fabric of spacetime, whispering…

“What a dream.”

short stories, Uncategorized, Verse

It’s on, Nahtflix


Ron Spector has spent many sleepless nights in his living room. They amount to countless hours of scouring the Internet, streaming supergiant’s archives, to accomplish a feat that no one, especially Nahtflix, saw coming. His record for adding Nahtflix streaming movies to his personal queue, or “Un List,” in one sitting is 173. Yet, what’s more impressive about Spector’s acumen at the point-select interface is the frequency in which he enacts such marathon selection sessions.

“Some weeks I’ll sleep a total of seven hours,” the 33-year-old software engineer said. “I’ll run straight for 36 hours at a time. I’ll take quick power naps, lasting 5-10-15 minutes. Then I’ll launch a series of selection sessions. I can usually break 100 in under a minute. Up around 150, I usually run into dead ends, where I can’t select any new ‘net flicks. I’ll take a deep breath, jump out of the window (system operationally speaking) and select another movie from the main browsing section. I’ve logged up around 40 individual selection sessions in an hour—all snatching at least 50 movies apiece.”

His goal is to acquire every movie Nahtflix has to offer online, in his personal queue. He’s also tracking the patterns by which new sets of movies result from each preceding single selection.

“I want to study the living and dying of movie contracts on this popular entertainment website,” he said. “As you see new releases sprouting up, I also want to keep track of the movies that fall off the map. I think, from the observation of this living, breathing, cybernetic organism, we can determine an algorithm that defines a universal explanation for the natural growth and decay of life.”

Nahtflix officials, however, are not backing Spector’s online campaign at discovery. Chairman Ricardo del Flixo issued a statement Tuesday calling for imposed limits to cap high-volume members’ personal queues.

“Supersaturated ‘Un List(s)’ would lead to unlawful transparency of our assets,” del Flixo wrote in his 370-page motion, that also included an official request for a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) search and seizure of Spector’s hard drives and any cloud services that he’s had access to since the inception of Nahtflix, Inc. back in 2008.

The real question is will Spector achieve his goal before Nahtflix, Inc. can legally stop him? The mega-website must wait for Federal Courts to pore over written affidavits of online, business and financial experts to determine whether Spector should cease and desist all interaction of any kind with If they find cause for alarm, both parties could testify in front of the Senate.

This, of course, raises more questions, like “Why doesn’t Nahtflix just cancel Spector’s account?” or “Or why don’t they set a cap on his queue alone?”

Those answers are simple: the company can’t. This case has already reached a national stage and, at this point, the publicity alone would send Nahtflix stocks plummeting, within hours of it hitting news sites.

Or so says Fox News Financial Analyst Frank Steamhed.

“Discrimination like this, by Nahtflix, on one of its members would be like the meteor that smashed into Earth and killed all the dinosaurs,” said Steamhed, a former hedge fund manager turned TV shock jock of stock talk. “No, they need to handle this in the courts and seek legality of their claims. The fact is, from a practical standpoint, no sanctions have been preset by the FCC to regulate such abnormal activity of a single user to his respective online service. At the very least, Ron Spector is testing Nahtflix’s ability to provide its service, whether he means to or not.”

Still, Spector maintains that he’s merely acquiring data for his human experiment.

However the empiric validity of Spector’s cause, the clock winds down to next Monday, when it will be wise yet imperfect judges who decide the fate of his unexplored science.

Courts, Wednesday, said they’d be willing to allow a temporary hold on Spector’s Nahtflix account pending trial. Spector, thus, has three days to complete his master ‘Un List’ before an indefinite halt on his account occurs.

“I estimate that I’ve logged only 5-10 percent of Nahtflix’s total offerings. And I’ve been at this for nearly six months, before the company caught wind of the abnormal activity by one user and then waged this legal battle against him.”

So Spector has taken to the Internet community and they have responded in electronic droves.

“I’ve developed a map that outlines the entire structure of the Nahtflix library,” Spector, a former hacker said. “I’ve shared it online and we’ve been able to assign different sections to willing extractors. This has certainly expedited the process.”

Regardless, courts could rule that all online behavior of this kind cease and desist for the entire Nahtflix nation of online users. With pedigree data of a person so interwined with everyday Internet usage nowadays, the FBI would have no trouble isolating those who would ignore this decree from the high court.

Penalties have been reported to include up to $10,000 in fines and one year in a federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison.

Ever vigilant over the long dark weekend, Spector and his band of loyal surfers point-select-search through the night. Spector has published a website for those who wish to join, in the 11th hour of this race between big business and discovery.

Visit for more information.

short stories

Full moon Friday 13

“There is something afoot at the Circle K (this Friday).”

Tomorrow, the 13th of June, 2014, marks a full moon and Friday the 13th, two happenings that, alone, could be considered ominous. And together, their combined impact is something we’ve only seen a half dozen times or so over the last century.

The last time such a dynamic duo occurred was Oct. 13, 2000. And, after tomorrow, we won’t see another “Full Moon Friday-13” until the August of 2049. A baby could be born today and then run for U.S. President in the time it takes another one of these clusterfucks to occur.

I like to think back on that mystical fall night on a Friday in October 2000, at Stonehill College. I had recently embarked upon my freshman year. I was probably inebriated. It may have been the night I knocked down a $10,000 street lamp on campus. You see, Kevbo had discovered that if you charged them like a bull, you could somehow disrupt the electrical fuse for just enough time to blow out the bulb. They weren’t broken. Just temporarily out of commission. Well I shook that lamp a little too hard. Let’s just say that thing took a bath in the full moonlight. And came crashing, splashing, smashing down.

Dear Stonehill,

I owe you a street lamp, but it looks like the Class of 2004 donated that giant Back to the Future clock, overhanging outside dining commons. So maybe we’re even.

Anyway, Stonehill, Reunion 2014 was great. Derek, you’re pretty ugly now, huh? (Did not age well at all.)

So whatever tomorrow brings–perhaps an electromagnetic tsunami, from the nether regions of a Universe we’ve barely had the opportunity to comprehend, or the heightened tide of bad luck for all you superstitious folk–know that you won’t have another chance to ride this wave before one and three quarters score.

The last time I felt the raw surge of this Perfect Storm, I destroyed an expensive lamp. I don’t know what could improve upon that…

Make a lamp?

short stories

Sega Genesis

Sega Genesis

Going for the trifecta in posting three days in a row. Never done that before. The 63 posts that I completed yesterday have taken me more than two years to author. And at least eight of them are chapters from an e-book I wrote (for all you dedicated Apple people, there’s a Kindle app), where I bound myself to publishing a new chapter every two weeks, like Sir Charles Dickens serialized his novels back in the 19th century.

So this will be lucky #64. Sixty-four is sort of significant. You can write it as 26 (two to the sixth power). It also reminds me of Nintendo’s 64-bit gaming console, N64.

Nevertheless, I was a Sega Genesis guy (16-bit).

So when I was little—maybe 8 or so—I’d play Sega’s X-Men like every day. Errrrry day. I completed level after level after level. Then I got stuck on the second-to-last stage for what seemed like a couple of months.

I just couldn’t figure out how to beat it. You see, at the end of this level, a message appeared. It said ‘RESET THE COMPUTER.’ Yet there was nowhere on the screen to reset the computer. A timer counted down, and frantically I searched for a solution. Time after time, the clock would dial down to zero and I would lose. I’d lose a life and have to start the second-to-last level all over again.

Eventually, I’d run out of lives and have to restart the entire game. Slowly, I’d make my way back.

After a while, when I approached this fateful, seemingly dead end, my eyes would glance down at the Sega Genesis itself.

There was a little, grey reset button there. It was installed by the manufacturers to reset the console, in case a game ran into glitches—kind of like restarting your computer. As I watched the clock winding down, time after time, an idea slowly crept into my mind: What if that was the solution?

I was extremely hesitant resorting to such a drastic measure. If it truly was not the solution, I would lose everything. No matter how many lives I had at the end of the second-to-last level, I would surely have to start from scratch. The risk for failure seemed too great.

One day, I got fed up with inevitably losing. I reached the end of that level and the clock began counting down. I felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger (Dutch) when Predator initiated his self-destruct sequence and the digital wristband counted down in those weird alien numbers. In a fit of pure, pre-pubescent adrenaline, I threw caution to the wind and pushed that grey button.

The screen went blank. I thought for sure it didn’t work.

Then a little green cursor appeared in the upper-left corner of the TV screen. And messages scrolled across the display. The Sega Genesis had indeed not been reset. At last, I had “RESET THE COMPUTER,” as the X-Men game had been telling me to do.

This experience has stuck with me all these years. It symbolizes an evolution in thinking, a paradigm shift. In some ways it represents a fundamental change in the way I perceived Sega Genesis, the X-Men game and how I solve difficult life problems to this day.

short stories

Mr. Friday Night

When the week wound down, most hunkered into their economy cars or onto subway platforms underneath city streets. They waved bon voyage to their professional obligations, before the brief weekend hiatus. The 9-to-5ers could notch another 40 hours under their respective leather belts and find solace in the grind that finally halted, if only for a day or two.

Then there were those knightly warriors who ventured willingly, wholeheartedly into the evening of the final weeknight. They answered the call of the weekend with the beckoning of their craft. These were not retailers; they were journeymen, true artists, who had each carved out a niche in Barter Barry’s grocery store. And they awaited to be great, in faithful anticipation, for the arrival of Mr. Friday Night.

They went by

Tokyo Craig

Tokyo Craig would bomb out of the double back doors, leaving them swinging, like a cowboy entering a saloon. His impetus momentum ushered a four-wheeled flat table packed high, near the fluorescent ceiling with boxed apples, various citrus orbs Duck à l’orange-bound (if they were lucky!) or stacked-on trays of loose beefsteak tomatoes. He earned the nickname Tokyo Craig from that one installment of the Fast and the Furious franchise, “Tokyo Drift.” When the produce-loaded conveyance glided diagonally smooth, guided by its levitating operator who’d hover along the brown linoleum floor, Craig was synonymous with drift.

He was the initiator, polite intimidator, all-too-kind instigator of the Dry ‘Duce Party that convened in a hobbit hole perfectly excavated under the stock room stairs for pallet jacks parking 8-foot cubes of perishable foods. His bristly Gandolph beard could not conceal the grin he greeted each and every person he’d meet.

Sir Charles Advertblastcastle III

Sir Charles wielded the four-wheeled table as if it were the Norse god Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir. He’d flip an empty upside down with one arm and hold it over his shock of blond hair, as if to summon the lightning and the thunder into that back room. Of course, Advertblastcastle would elevate these carts to the sky only to pile them on top of one another. This created space in the excavated hobbit hole where his fresh produce flew from the stocked shelves onto the store floor. Perhaps Sir Charles did have command of the electricity, as he dynamically conducted his faithful followers to “put it on the shelf.

Lex Mantooth (Wes Mantooth’s older brother)

Upon those who deserved social justice, the No. 2 Channel 9 evening news anchor Wes Mantooth would throw at them the “Book of Burns,” which older brother Lex wrote.

However accomplished an author he was, Lex was best in the moment. And whenever Lex Mantooth inflicted a particularly stinging dig, he’d add insult to the ego wound with his signature one-liner, You just got Lexed.

Ever leveraging his edgy lexicon, Lex never hesitated to coach colleagues on how to deal out their very own personal brand of verbal badassery.

When Mason showed off his giant classical harp, retrofitted with a machine gun-mounted base, Lex assured him that any one of the following lines would adequately narrate this weapon of mass harmonizing:

“Enjoy the heavenly melody of angels, while I send you to Hell.”

“I came here to do two things: play some harp and kick some ass. And it looks like I’ve done played all the harp songs I know.”

“Listen to this music, asshole.”

His younger brother may have been No. 2 at the news, but Lex was No. 1 in the eyes of Mr. Friday Night.

Wise Man Wade

Wise Man Wade possessed a more subtle approach. His metaphysical sixth sense kept a constant dialogue with the bustle that was Barter Barry’s. And his adept mind raced, running on the knowledge of everything. Ever the inquisitor, Wade interconnected each and every node into an intricate web reference, from which the Barry’s community benefited. He was at all times attuned to the Friday Night


Then there was Vik. He had become acquainted with Mr. Friday Night more so than any other. On the most opportune of occasions, and the stars aligned just right, some great men could inch the needle that measured fun’s factor near 10. On Friday Night, Vik ticked to 11. He radiated that extra oomph always and his energy was contagious.

Mr. Friday Night

The aptitude of Mr. Friday Night was not so easily distinguishable from any of the other warrior poets. In fact, his essence assumed a je ne sais quoi that no human could accurately articulate.

Yet let me make an attempt…

Mr. Friday Night was the Higgs boson particle array of the back stock room. His presence, merely existing in said premises, emulated a wave frequency that enabled all of those gentlemen scholars to perform in the way they did at each week’s close. An ethereal resonator was He, Mr. Friday Night, who embodied the dark and mystical entity of evening’s promise.

His Field of Dreams (and Choice): the excavated hobbit hole under the stairs, where He summoned the divine inspiration and shed it upon Tokyo Craig’s ability to emcee another ‘Duce Extravaganza, which was just code for camaraderie. As a catalyst for the positive activity, Mr. Friday Night elevated these men to the hyperaesthesian heights of evolved consciousness.