Tag Archives: myths

Nameless

A man walked up to St. Peter. St. Peter asked him his name.

“I don’t know,” the man said. “I can’t remember anymore.”

St. Peter said, “I can’t let you into Heaven if you don’t know who you are,” and St. Peter looked right past the man.

The man couldn’t allow St. Peter to ignore him. “Wait, wait, wait. Can’t you just look up who I am. You’re St. Peter. This is Heaven. You know everyone, right?”

“I only check the book. If you don’t know your name, I can’t let you in.”

“It’s… what? That’s ridiculous! I told you I can’t remember!

“Next.”

The man pushed the soul stepping forward out of the way. “I’ve been a good Christian all my life! Now I’ve come this far and you’re going to just leave me out here!”

The line began getting restless. “I want to see my wife! Stop holding up the line!”

The man spun to face the line. “I have every right to be here! I’m the same as all of you!” The souls in the line refused to make eye contact with the man.

“Name,” St. Peter said. The man turned around to see that people were making a line around him. “Jennifer Dougherty,” a soul said. The man cringed.

“I’m… I’m Paul!” he cried, “Paul… Johnson!”

St. Peter looked in the book. “I don’t see you here.”

“John Smith!” he pleaded. “Terry McBride!” he sobbed, using a name he once knew in life.

“The Terry McBride you knew is already with us.”

“If you knew him, why don’t you know me!”

St. Peter blinked listlessly. “What is your name?”

“I DON’T KNOW!” the man burst into large, streaming tears, the kind that he hadn’t cried since he was a child and he had snot bubbling out of his nose. “Please! Please! Please!” was all he said for an hour before sobbing on the cloud.

The souls refused to make eye contact with him, even when he tried grabbing at their ankles, begging to use their names. They shook him off like a leper or a spider web, disgusted and shocked by the wretched shape in the clouds. Nobody would even dream of giving up Heaven for this man. “You call yourselves good people! You think you have the right to go to Heaven! I’m glad I’m not one of you! I’m glad!”

A child tried walking up to the man and asking what was wrong. The man licked his lips, thinking that the child would give him his name, but his older sister was there and she pulled him back. She glared at him until they were safely through the Heaven’s pearly gates.

Nobody did anything about the man. He just milled about, trying to remember his name. But the longer he stayed there in the clouds, the less he remembered about his life on Earth. He began to loathe the transient band of people, marching into Heaven. He used to be one of them. He could have easily been one of them, would have gladly been one if he was given the chance. But now, he was glad he was on the outside. The idea of being behind those gates with those people made the man nauseous. He could have been trapped in there with them, but now he was free. Free to do whatever he wanted. The man entertained the thought of tearing apart St. Peter or dragging him off the clouds, but he didn’t want anything more to do with that decrepit bouncer. Let them all suffer up in the clouds. He would find something else. The man walked to the edge of the clouds and spread out his arms. Someone clapped him on the shoulder.

“Hey, man! You don’t want to do that! What are you doing? You got Heaven right here. If you fall off, who knows what might happen to you, or if you can even find your way back!”

The man shook off the soul’s hand. “Get off me! Who says I even want to be in there?”

“My man, that’s Heaven! Eternal bliss! Why wouldn’t you? Come on now, let’s get you back in line.”

“I said get off!” the man shrieked. “You don’t know me! How long have you even been here?”

“Almost two hours now, I reckon.”

“I’ve been here two years. I’m getting of this God-forsaken cloud!”

“Don’t go blaspheming right here of all places!”

“Would it be better if I blasphemed somewhere else? Would you be more comfortable with that?”

The soul looked puzzled. “Well… I suppose not. But why have you been out here so long?”

“I don’t know my name. St. Peter won’t let me through.”

“Oh, come on. How can you not remember your name?”

“I just don’t! I’ve tried!”

“Get yourself back from the edge, man. We’ll brainstorm.”

The man never could remember his name, but the soul who pulled him from the edge stayed with him to help him remember. His name was James Banner. He used to be a high school teacher and football coach. People were drawn in by these two men, speaking and laughing. Heaven could wait a moment, they thought. Most just asked them questions and waved goodbye as they crossed over. Some stayed for a while, trying to help the man remember his name, or at least giving him some company for a while in the clouds. A large camp was forming at the gates of Heaven. It was a point where people would reminisce about their lives back on Earth. There were some who just couldn’t let go. They stayed with James and the man. Eventually, there was a pocket outside of Heaven, not quite there and not quite anything else. Almost Heaven, they called it. They hadn’t made it to the land of angels, but what if they didn’t like it? They’d be stuck there all eternity.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XXII

Cat on a Hot Piano

“Just push out the seat for him and he’ll play for us.”

“Excuse me?” the young man barked a laugh. “Did you just say the cat would play piano?”

“Shoot. Sure did. Kick out the stool for him. He ain’t as young as he used to be.”

Old Tomboy must have been impatient. He leapt right up himself and played a version of “Skimbleshanks.”

“Ooooh. Wow,” the young man murmured.

The cat barely acknowledged him and just walked away, tail in the air, puckered asshole pointed in the men’s direction.

“That cat’s a helluva piano player,” the old man nodded.

* * *

Old Tomboy’s real name is Tomas Alfador Perry, but the locals just called him Old Tomboy. For seven years, that cat played for the patrons at the Dirty Lyre. The patrons and bartenders fed him as much as he could eat and some to carry back to his wife and kids. This was a cat no man would try to pet and no local would let him either if he tried. The regulars were protective of Tomboy like the secret service to the president. Everyone left the cat well enough alone. Strangers and tourists got the stinkeye and a knuckle sandwich if they weren’t too careful. The Dirty Lyre was still a tourist spot for the curious traveler, but folk learned fast what was the expected behavior around Old Tomboy.

* * *

It was on that seventh year that the owner, one Jerry Talbot, accrued some serious debts with the mob. Gambling on top of protection dues–they decided he was expendable. The bar was closed for almost a month until it opened up again as Cat on a Hot Piano with a blue neon sign. The regulars didn’t show up so much, but the tourists kept coming in. Oh, but there was only problem: no cat. Old Tomboy was nowhere to be found.

* * *

Houses leave bits of scraps and booze out for the cat now and then, though all the stories of seeing him are all hearsay. Folk say he may be dead, from exposure or getting sick, though most of us think that’s all a buncha hooey anyway.

Truth is, a lot of times people hear cats fighting in the alleys near Cat on a Hot Piano. Old Tomboy beating his wife, they say. Who knows who started that rumor, though it rings true for a lot of us locals. Out of a job, living off scraps and booze. They only thing that would make us angrier is if someone tried to stop us from beating our wives. That cat’s spinning out of control. We all are.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XX

Mountain-Hill People

The Mountain-Hill people live high up near the sky god. We are the first of the tribes to gain his blessing and suffer his wrath. When one lives close to the clouds, vegetation may not be as common and the terrain may break a scout’s ankle or become a steep fall for a brave hunter. The birds are very important to our people. They guide and sustain us. Our names reflect these things and remind us of who we are. The People become a part of the land.

Our greatest explorer was called Downhill-Runner. He would fly down hills like the eagle, never thinking about how he would get back up again. There were many times when he found himself stranded on his own away from his tribe, finding his way back days later to tell stories of his discoveries around the Great Fire on the flat peak. The People would eagerly await his stories each time. One day, Downhill-Runner did not come back. He became one with our ancestors in the mountain mist and the clouds above.

The greatest tracker among us is called Feather-Finder. The feathers on our people’s dress is a sign of great hunters. Birds can be elusive to even the greatest of archers. But even though, Feather-Finder has more feathers than any person, he boasts never having killed one bird. For, you see, Feather-Finder is as silent as the mist. He tracks down prey, never being able to shoot them himself, but he gathers the feathers he finds behind every rock and in every crag. In his youth, Feather-Finder often snuck up on the birds and scared them away, taking the feathers they left behind. It is said that the large eagle tail feather he wears is from a mother eagle he snuck up on and plucked the tail feather from her rump. That is also how he gained the deep diamond scar on his face when the mother eagle bit at him.

Of course, there are others who make up the tribe, not quite heroes but part of the People all the same. Meat-on-Feather, for example. He was named this because he was sloppy, lazy, and never saw things through to the end. Cloud-head thought deeply on matters and smoked his pipe endlessly. Eagle-Voice had a terrifying battle cry that echoed through the mountains. He was a very loud person but could call the People together in a moment’s notice.

These are the Mountain-Hill people. Of course, the peaks and valleys are also the Mountain-Hill people. Each blade of grass eases our tired feet and each drop of water that sooths our throat. These are all our ancestors, our brothers and sisters.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XX

Muse Song

She had hair like the rainbow reflection of an oil slick. She inspired men to sing dirges for lost lovers, drown themselves in loneliness, and play instruments with the most miraculous and audacious talent. But still, the muse wanted more.

She took men down the path of their salvation and destruction, forced them to see pure truth and go blind from it — but the muse wanted more for herself.

The muse had never actually played an instrument and the other muses said that it wasn’t even possible. Muses could only give inspiration but not create art on their own. The muse was not satisfied.

She picked up a violin and found she was awful at it. Perhaps they were right, she though. But still, the muse wanted to play. So she practiced. Day in and out, she was practicing. It was barely noticeable to her but she was improving. Frogs and nightingales came to sing along with her song. She was still not as proficient as the ones she inspired, but her skills were improving. The muse would not stop until she was satisfied with her art. So she kept practicing. And she kept improving. But she never stopped.

 

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XX

Boy on the Green Moon

Out in space, there was a boy who lived on the green moon and an old man who lived on the blue moon. The boy ran around his moon, plucked cheese out of the craters, and had a grand time of it. The man looked at the boy and sighed, then looked back out into the depths and the blackness. Before the boy went to sleep, he would look at the man on the blue moon and talk to him. Though the man could not hear him, he would sit intently and smile. Then, he would roll over to the dark side of the moon and fall asleep.

In truth, the man had wished to be closer to God. He had wished for freedom and detachment from everything. He’d learned that being closer to God was a lonely prospect. He would spend the day kicking rocks around, hands in his pockets, eyes wandering toward that playful child. He was free, too, and also alone. Maybe the child didn’t even know sadness. Maybe he could see something in the black sky the man couldn’t. But strain his eyes, all he could see was the blue ground, the green moon, and the small child who asked him questions every night that he could not hear or answer.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XVII

Lady Godiva is Dead

Bear with me. You may find this tale unsettling, but “settling” you was never my intent. If it were up to me, Charles, you would never take a moment’s peace.

Godiva is dead. I tell you this because someone has to know. She is dead. God killed her and I am vain enough to believe that she should be here with me.

Invisible creatures assault me in the early morning, long before the sun rises. They are messengers. If I close my eyes, they will take my life, they say. They kill the innocent. You are safe, then, Charles. After all, you killed her too.

Let me tell you a story: one day a strong woman bore herself down the street, wearing her shift, humbled before the ragged masses. The privileged have the opportunity to lower themselves from their positions of majesty. Though they have this unique option, they never take it. Lady Godiva did. She humbled herself.

Some say Godiva will be resurrected one day. They are fools. Godiva was nothing more than human. But better to be a fool than what you are. You don’t even see a person. You see flesh and take pride in that you see so much. So little, Charles! You see little more than what the Church has put in front of your eyes. I shake my head. I bite my thumb.

You killed her. With your apathy, you split open her bowels and drained them on the sidewalk. Her guts run in the sewers, where all our memories go. But I will never forget. Lady Godiva is dead.

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Filed under Flash Fiction

Eight Stories about Ironing (Revision)

Iron

Iron (n.): a handheld device used to steam press clothing and eliminate wrinkles. Despite the name, modern irons are made with a stainless steel sole plate, so as to keep irons durable and rust-free. In modern usage, the term “iron” is often used as a metaphor to describe the process of leveling out an article or spirit using any tool regardless of whether one actually uses an iron to do so. The ultimate goal of an iron is to flatten.

Baba Yaga

In some versions of the folklore surrounding Baba Yaga, she irons out the path behind her so no one can tell where she’s been. I just made this up.

Janet

Janet hated doing laundry but she loved to iron. As soon as her husband threw off his shirt or tie upon returning home, she would snatch the bits of clothing and begin ironing. She never kissed him when he walked through the door. He never got so much as a “Welcome home, honey.” Janet’s husband hypothesized that she did this because she is a neurotic bitch with a withered vagina. Her therapist thought the same thing, though instead he told her that she was trying to gain control over her life by ironing clothes. She needed to get out of the house, maybe volunteer or take dance lessons. Janet wonders if this was all true, even the part about the withered vagina (though no one said a thing, Janet is actually very perceptive). She decides she’s going to take up the hobby of ironing more. You see, when Janet irons, all traces of her husband go away. Gone are the scent of his sweat and cologne; gone the cardboard dust aroma from the storage room in the office; gone the smells of his secretary’s unwithered vagina. Gone.

Inventors

The inventor

Iron Age

Philosophers and historians say that time is cyclical. Or it repeats itself. The Dark Age and the Iron Age repeat themselves in one form or another, as do the Inquisition, the witch trials, and the Red Scare. I don’t know about such things. I’m not a philosopher. Or a historian. But I do repeat myself.


Confession

I was taught to iron on an 8×8 inch square of fabric. This did not prepare me for ironing out oddly-shaped clothing with thick collars and obtrusive sleeves. It did not prepare me for bumpy buttons and embossed patterns. Nor was I prepared for burned clothes and burned hands. It also did not prepare me for heartbreaks and hangovers and sucker punches.  I remain unprepared for the fickle hearts of women and the affairs of men. My life is limited to this 8×8 inch of fabric and I still can’t quite get that last crease to go down.

Baba Yaga Again

I heard she kidnaps children, steals their bones and then irons out their skins to hang and dry outside of her chicken leg house. Okay. I made part of that up, too… don’t judge me. Look at yourself.

Paul & Susan

Paul always did it himself. Started his own company. Self-made millionaire. Business trips on his own coin. Ironed his own clothes at the end of each day. One day, they found him at the front of the hotel, smashed into pavement and surrounded by broken glass. His death was documented, photographed, and he was filed away in the morgue.

Susan didn’t want to be young or sexy. She just wanted her face to be perfect. She hated stubble and the texture of a burning log in the fireplace. She went online and looked for porn of people wearing masks. Her favorite was comedy and tragedy masks, but those are hard to find. She read about Paul in the newspaper and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Susan got Botox and didn’t have to worry about choices anymore.

The Ghost of Iron

The ultimate goal of the iron is to flatten. There is a mass grave – a surplus of irons that have done their job and gone to rest. Their ghosts still haunt us, clinking on chains woven from Jacob Marley’s skin. Every year, they come to this very spot, bury their faces in the ground, and howl into pillows made of dirt.

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Filed under FEATHERTON II, Flash Fiction