Friday, October 17, 2014

Going Dormant For A While

So I went to post a Friday Flashback and realized that my last post was a duplicate. Like, a recent duplicate. Like, an embarrassingly recent duplicate. And I realized my heart's just not in it. Maybe if I had more time I could give this enough attention, but I have a new baby, a job that's (enjoyably) engaging, and a few other projects I'm juggling. So I'm going to disengage here on the blog for a month or so.

When I have something interesting to post, I'll post it here. Failing that, I'll post it somewhere else and link to it from here.

Until then, follow my twitter feed for the snark and announcements.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Flashback: Jim And Todd

Through the end of the year, Kurt is re-running some of his favorite Friday Flash Fiction stories. If you like this one, it--and a hundred similar stories--can be purchased on Kindle in a new collection.

Jim and Todd
Word Count: 596
Published: 7/12/13

This is Jim. He is a junior partner at a prestigious law firm. He drives a Miata. He is drinking a sherry cobbler. He is talking with Todd, an ad man. Todd drives a Chevrolet. He is drinking a Mai Tai. He is wearing his favorite suit.

Little do Jim and Todd know that this is the last conversation they will ever have.

Jim and Todd went to high school together. Their spouses get along well. Their children are roughly the same age. They’re on each other’s Holiday Greeting Card lists. They wish each other Happy Birthday on Facebook. They enjoy each other’s company and have many friends in common.

And yet, they will never speak to each other again. They will never see each other in person. They will not speak on the phone. They won’t exchange a letter or email or SMS message.

It’s not about prestige. And it’s not about geography either. They will both stay in the same city, living just two townships away. They won’t have a falling out of any kind. Neither of them is going to die in the next twenty years. There is no reason at all for anything to come between them. And yet their friendship, which they both find rewarding, is ephemeral, and is about to dissolve completely, without either of them noticing at first.

They will, cliche though it may be, grow apart. It can be put no more simply than that. They have dissimilar interests. They live in different worlds. They belong to different political parties. They practice different religions. They attended different colleges. They support different sports teams. Now, either of them would say that it’s important to surround oneself with people who disagree with you. They even believe that this makes their friendship more valuable.

And yet…

One day, Todd will hear some story about Jim and think It’s been ages—I ought to give Jim a call and catch up. But he won’t. This will happen many times to both men. But neither will call, even though their numbers are at this very moment programmed into each other’s phones. Those contact lists will be migrated to dozens of different phones over the next twenty-odd years.

And then one day, Todd will die. He will have lived a happy life, but he has a heart condition that he doesn’t know about, and he doesn’t eat very healthily or exercise as often as he should—he accepts this about himself and he wishes his practitioner would stop hounding him about it. He will die in his early sixties. Not exactly young, but short of retirement.

When Jim sees Todd’s name in the obituary, he will be overcome with something that isn’t quite sadness, isn’t quite loss, isn’t quite regret, and yet it moves him profoundly. He will find Todd’s number in his cell phone. He will hesitate before calling, telling himself that it’s crazy to call a dead man’s mobile.

When Todd’s wife answers, Jim will offer his condolences. He’ll ask if they need anything. They will exchange small talk, ask about each other’s families. “Oh, we’re divorced,” Jim will say. “Oh, he just got a promotion,” Todd’s wife will say. Jim will ask about the funeral service, even though he doesn’t plan to attend, and even though all the information is in the paper right in front of him.

Jim will remember this last conversation with Todd—not what it was about, who can remember what a conversation is about? Just that it was friendly, and pleasant, and a long time ago.

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Friday Flashback: Horoscope

Through the end of the year, Kurt is re-running some of his favorite Friday Flash Fiction stories. If you like this one, it--and a hundred similar stories--can be purchased on Kindle in a new collection.

Word Count: 595
Published 4/19/13

ARIES (The Ram) March 21 - April 19 Aries and Pisces are at odds with each other this month. Old rivals threaten you, but you can triumph if you act now. Enlist the aid of kind strangers.

TAURUS (The Bull) April 20 - May 20 The stars entreat you to commune with your fellow man. A stranger might approach with an intriguing offer. Trust him, especially if that he is an Aries. The stars foretell that other signs are going to be interested in your goal. Pass it on, and you all may be rewarded.

GEMINI (The Twins) May 21 - June 20 Jupiter waxes in your sign. It is time to throw off old habits and look to the new, especially where rivalries are concerned. You will need some new gear. Seek the Lion’s assistance.

CANCER (The Crab) June 21 - July 22 Saturn lingers in your sign this month, telling you to be mindful of goings on around you. There may be an opportunity for gains, if you act with haste. Consider enlisting the help of air signs to undermine a rival.

LEO (The Lion) July 23 - August 22 The Lion gathers his Pride. A Gemini may come asking you about tools and collaboration. There may be some mention of enemies. There may be some under-the-table dealings. There is much power to be gained in exploiting this, if you play your cards right. When the time comes, consult with an Aquarius.

VIRGO (The Maiden) August 23 - September 21 War is all around you, but it is not without opportunities. Look for a Capricorn with a plan. You won’t find one, but maybe you can coax one into tagging along. If you’re approached by an Aries, he’s going to sound hostile, but it’s all right, he’s cool. The stars can vouch.

LIBRA (The Scales) September 23 - October 23 The Scales so often seek justice. If you run into a Cancer, a Leo, a Virgo, a Taurus, a Gemini, or a Virgo, you’re going to want to get in on this action. That goddamn Pisces has wronged you for the last time.

SCORPIO (The Scorpion) October 24 - November 21 The stars are hazy and brimming with consternation, but not towards you, per se. Honestly, Scorpio, things are going to get hairy this month. It’s probably best if you just stay out of it. Take a vacation or something.

SAGITTARIUS (The Archer) November 22 - December 21 The Archer will be approached by many people with plans to deal with a certain fish that we don’t feel like we need to point out by name. That melon-farmer is going down. Aries is the instigator, but we’re going to let Aquarius do the planning, so try to pass that along.

CAPRICORN (The Goat) December 22 - January 19 The Virgin will approach you about an arrangement. And not the Virgin Mary. The stars are talking about a Virgo. As in Astrology. Try to keep up. And don’t get too worked up about the “virgin” thing, either. Anyway, stuff is going down, you’re going to want in. Just go with it. The stars foresee, etc.

AQUARIUS (The Water Bearer) January 20 - February 18 The water-bearer has many friends this month. Unite them in common purpose. But before you can strike, you must plan. Join together at a place where water flows freely to discuss an arrangement that may benefit you all.

PISCES (The Fish) February 19 - March 20 Mars is prominent in your sign. Your enemies are at the fountain. You know what must be done. Show them no mercy.

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