Thursday, July 28, 2011

Life's Work

by M.A. Leslie

Life's Work

The cool air flowed through the window screens and tickled his cheeks as he tapped away at the keyboard. There was stress-induced sweat building on his brow as the words finally began to flow from synapse to nerve end, and eventually onto the screen. He had finally cut through the creative snare in his brain that had plagued him.

The streets below were quiet, and, aside from the light flicker of a streetlamp, there was no movement at all. In the distance there were a few sounds of moving vehicles and distant conversation, but it didn’t matter. All senses were tuned to the white canvas filling with consonants and vowels, watching as they bled onto the page and became words, sentences, art.

Satisfied with the breakthrough, he allowed the blinders to form and the only thing that could be seen was the glare of the laptop screen. The world around him went blank and bleak as he fell into his imagination. It was genius, it was perfect, and it was what he had waited for.

Somewhere distant in his mind, he heard sounds of life and movement. There were voices around, and quiet breaks in concentration, but not enough to pull the blinders from his eyes. He sat, and still the flow of words poured like water from an open faucet, from the tips of his fingers. They continued to come and he continued to write. There was only him and his work, what he assumed was his bliss.

The world and room around him had changed, and night had become day, and then changed again. A forest was growing on his face, but he didn’t feel it or care to notice. Nothing would break his focus. There was just his work and the tapping of the keys, a pianist playing a sonnet. That is, until he was finished.

The man leaned back and heard a slight crack as he stretched. The room came back into focus, but it was much different than he remembered. All that remained was the bed and the dresser. The pictures on the walls were gone. Slowly he stood, unhooking the laptop and walking out to show his family the amazing work he had completed. They were gone.

The rooms of the house were as nude as birth. With a puzzled melancholy the man sat down at the kitchen table, his life’s work next to him. He had no one to share it with; all that was left sat on the screen.

With a sigh he opened the screen again to see it, but like all other things in his life, the laptop slipped. With a crash the computer bounced open against the floor. The screen was blank, except for a reflection he no longer recognized.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Guest Posting in Mordor

Hey folks, just wanted to say that I have a guest post up at the Rejectionist's bloghouse.

Really, she's much more friendly than she looks. Come join the fun. There are free cookies!

Okay, I lied about the cookies.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Some days you feel like a tarantula...

Some days you feel like a tarantula... and some days you feel like a giant centipede.

Which are you?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Charity Hot Dogs

We're doing a charity barbecue today. What's not to love? Supporting nature conservation. Eating hot dogs. Enjoyig sunshine.

Note to self: This thing called "the outdoors" is interesting. It may be worth experiencing again sometime in the future. Strangely, there are no computers there. Or, you know, fewer.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Limits of Napkins

by Paul Michael Murphy

The Limits of Napkins

I was just about to shovel in a forkful of fettucini when the guy at the table next to us horked up his entire lung. You can’t not look when you hear something like that, so both Terri and I eased our eyes over to their table, the way you do when you don’t want to be obvious about it.
He was with a girl. She was young. I pegged her at twenty-three but my pegging’s not what it used to be. The way they go about now, she could have been seventeen or thirty. I expected her to be embarrassed. She wasn’t. “What the hell?” she said.

“I’m sick,” the guy groaned into his napkin. He wouldn’t take it away from his face and I imagined a Ghostbusters-like slime behind it. The napkins were of decent quality, but the things are meant to wipe away a bit of food from the corner of a mouth, not absorb the entire contents of some guy’s respiratory system.

Some of the stuff was leaking-- no, oozing, out. It hung there at the bottom edge of the napkin, swaying back and forth like Poe’s pendulum. “Oh, my god. You are so gross,” the girl said. I half-expected her to abandon the poor schmuck, but she didn’t. “Really?” she said. “You’re gonna do this tonight?”

“I can’t help it,” the guy said, his voice stuffy with whatever was miraculously still in his nose.

“Unbelievable. It’s always about you, isn’t it? I get a promotion and instead of just sitting there and--”

The guy pulled the napkin away from his face. It would have stopped you mid-sentence, too. Snot was covering his face, coating his lips, dribbling into the little patch of hair on his chin.

“Give him your napkin,” Terri told me.


“Your napkin. Give it to him.”

“I’m not doing that.”

“Why not?”

“He’ll know we were watching.”


“It’s rude.”

“So is hacking up a quart of mucus in a restaurant. Give him your napkin.”


“Why not?”

“He’s disgusting,” I whispered.

“It’s a napkin.”

“Then give him yours.”

Terri looked down at her napkin like it was a cherished family heirloom. She shook her head.

The guy cleared his throat. He coughed. I knew what was coming and couldn’t help myself. Right as the guy was about to unleash another torrent, I hopped up and thrust my napkin to his face. It was just in time.

“Thanks,” the guy said.

His date looked at me with piercing eyes. “What the hell?” she accused.

I apologized and sheepishly returned to my seat. The girl’s eyes followed me the entire way.

“My hero,” Terri said.

I grunted and looked down at my dinner. Fettucini. All that white sauce.

And as I stood to go to the bathroom the girl said, “Next time, mind your own damn business.” Then she dabbed at the corners of her mouth and carefully laid her napkin back over her thighs.