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Flash Fiction by Dave Morrison
 
Recitals by Author
Art by Marty Ison
'Art' (c) 2005-2006 Marty Ison
What I Did On My Vacation

I met a girl who thought she was a clarinet. I explained the difference between flotsam and jetsam and she demurred. My fault? What would you have done if you were brought up by a Baltimore grandma who ate nothing but lit birthday candles and kept her teeth in a rotting jack-o-lantern next to her bed? I'll never forget that lullaby of hers - sticks and stones may break my bones, but a Louisville Slugger with nails in it...now there's a real Mother for You!

Indiana wants me, that's why I don't answer my phone...that and the fact that when I do I hear voices. But you know what? Of course you do.

My father went to school with Bazooka Joe. My mother went to school with Joe Black. My Aunt Freda went to school with one black tooth and a rusty pipewrench on a thong around her neck like a crucifix. I know. I know. But nobody listens to me.

I have an imaginary friend named Captain Donald who has two shrieking burning dogs for feet. He is a sausage filled with all of the things no one wants - junk mail, wedding gifts after the divorce, under-salted slugs, full diapers, discolored teeth, swallowed chewing gum, shameful thoughts, bits of rotted rope, kittens with birth defects, sneezed out cottage cheese, fezzes woven of rat hair, pre-war maps of Yugoslavia, neckties that play Christmas carols, unlabeled cremation urns, Holiday head cheese, yippy dogs with braces on their teeth, broken promises, bird diarrhea in tiny Elvis decanters, typewriter ribbons, missing board game pieces, scabs collected at car wrecks, parsley, sage, Rosemary's baby peas and Milton Bradley's Time-Bomb!

Captain Donald has no head - on his neck is a huge two-valve pig heart that blows clouds of dust and eczema rash like a broken vacuum cleaner. He smells like someone trying to put out a burning latrine with buckets of spit.

Man, I hate him. But I don't have a good enough imagination to make up a new friend. Plus, he shares his imaginary beef jerky with me, something you, by the by, have never offered.

The Poet
'Art' (c) 2005-2006 Marty Ison
   
They were on the train to Baltimore. “Baltimore,” he said as if making a discovery. “Baltimore. Saltymoor. Faultyfloor. Paltryscore…” She turned the pages of the magazine, but her eyes had retreated under her brow like two turtles’ heads. “In the good old days you could smoke on a goddamn train,” she mumbled. “In the good old days everyone wasn’t scared of a little cancer.” His fingers gently probed the air in front of his face, as if he were patting a cobweb dry. “Cancer dancer,” he whispered, “cancer financer, cancer romancer.” Trenton rolled by, and no one bothered to stop it. Crows threw themselves at the train's windows, leaving dusty outlines, and drops of blood from their eyes. "I hate when they do that..." she muttered. "I hate when the potentate is late! I hate trying to mate with the grate! It makes me irate stating dates, and baiting fate!" She carefully put the magazine on the seat. “All right, Henry, here’s one for you,” she said tightly, her nostrils flared like trombones. "Roses are red, violets are blue, if you open your goddamn mouth ONE more time you are a DEAD MAN. Do you READ ME?" His fingers wrestled each other in his lap as he frowned out the window, watching as another crow sighted him, wheeled, and caromed off of the glass, landing in the cinders by the side of the track. “…need me,” he whispered, "don't impede me..."
   
'Art' (c) 2005-2006 Marty Ison
Torn in Two

In his fury he took his left foot in both hands and tore himself in two.

It hurt like hell. Once again his goddamn quick temper had put him in a fix. That time Elaine had bitched about the way he was refinishing the bumper pool table he had tried to have a go at her tongue with the palm sander - all he had accomplished was to badly chafe her cheeks and get himself a weekly rendezvous with an Anger Management counselor. A fat lot of goddamn good that did, he thought. Now look at the goddamn damn dammit mess I'm in!

It hurt like hell, but it wasn't as messy as one might imagine, not that one might imagine it. His mind slipped and slithered over disjointed thoughts about what to do, as if it were wearing loafers and climbing a pile of wet bowling balls; he had a styptic pencil in his medicine cabinet...no, too small. He needed a styptic fireplug to close the amount of wound he had, and frankly the thought of all that raw flesh and torn nerve ending stinging...no no no. He needed to ...cauterize it! With a clothes iron! No- stupid! He could never heal himself back together if he healed himself separately.

He glanced at the half of himself with the wristwatch and penis and no head, and a hundred angry smart-ass things occurred to him. Focus, for Chrissakes! That other half was like a stranger's dog - being disconnected it didn't know or care what the head-half wanted. This wouldn't be like teamwork, but more like having a huge slug as a figure skating partner. He had to get himself together long enough to heal, that was the only answer.

The other half lay at the opposite end of the couch. The head-half clutched and pushed and wriggled towards its mute partner. goddamn dope, he thought, you could help out a little here... Without realizing it his angry thoughts were tumbling out of his mouth - "You headless fuck you, this is your problem too! Is it too much to ask you to meet me halfway?"

The head-half was panting out of its ragged esophagus and bathed in sweat when it finally succeeded in lining up the two halves on the stained and sticky couch. The two halves came together with a slurping sound and embraced awkwardly.

"OK," he whispered, exhausted. "Easy now. Keep still. Keep still."

He could probably ditch work tomorrow, but there was no way he was getting out of his cousin Leonard's wedding on Sunday.

Donít Worry Claire, Itís Not You
'Art' (c) 2005-2006 Marty Ison

Maybe I'm just jealous. Maybe I envy the way truth was modeling clay in your hands, you think? Your special artistry, your gift for changing the form of a thing, the way reality for you was like an old dog that rolled at your feet and showed you its belly.

The truth, as best as I could tell, wasn't a malleable thing for me. I couldn't mold it any more than I could shape a cinder block. Reality was a train that came and went whether I was ready for it or not. I was clumsy in that way. I was doomed to say a thing, then do a thing, and then pay for it.
And the shit of it was that I didn't learn that trick of yours, and it seems like a pretty handy one.

Maybe I'm just unappreciative. Hell, Einstein tinkered with time and space and everyone slapped him on the back and called him a genius. You tinkered with who promised what and who betrayed who, and who was what - in all fairness that's almost as impressive, and I didn't give you credit. I gave you back your key. I gave you a rib and a kidney and one leg below the knee, enough stuff to build a life-sized voodoo doll so you'd have someone to cripple after I'd gone.

Maybe I don't give you credit for your creativity. You invited me to a housewarming and then used me as a ladder to escape a burning building...but you hated that smell of smoke that I couldn't wash off.
Ah, your hate. Your hate was just your love in pieces, packed into a pipe bomb.

Yeah, maybe I'm just jealous...my words stuck in my throat, but you, in one afternoon, found one hundred brand new ways to say fuck you for loving me.

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