Saturday, December 31, 2011

328. Where the pavement meets the dirt

Shortcuts are a funny thing.
On paper, it's as easy picking one line over another.
In practice, it's an altogether different thing.
They sat in the dark, waiting for headlights.

Friday, December 30, 2011

327. Hydrodynamics

The water spilled over his hand, eddying around his knuckles.
When it pleased him, he toggled on the shower.
He stood in the heat and watched the steam escape.
The sound of the toilet flush downstairs reached him before he felt the temperature change.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

326. Choosing gifts

A package sat in front of her on the coffee table.
The giver of the gift waited anxiously.
She carefully separated the tape from the wrapping paper using her thumb.
Underneath the wrapping paper was a velvet painting of a chimpanzee wearing a tweed jacket.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

325. The shortest distance between two points

He walked with his hands behind his back, thinking.
It had the effect of making him look vaguely professorial.
He thought of at least sixty things as he walked.
He looked up, having arrived, entirely unintentionally, at his old elementary school.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

324. Points of origin

At the border, there is a small booth just big enough for one desk and one person.
The purpose of this booth is to house an individual to note the number and origin of motor vehicles entering the province.
The woman in the booth is fifty years old.
When she was fourteen, she wanted to be a singer.

Monday, December 26, 2011

323. Cabin in the woods

Twelve of them went to a cabin in the woods.
There were no horrific or supernatural goings on.
The had dinner and after dinner, port.
The next day, twelve of them went home.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

322. Gossip, damn lies and murderous innuendo

Her phone rang with news.
It was her neighbour to the left.
Apparently, the husband of her neighbour to the right was leaving her for a much younger woman.
She had to tell everyone.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

321. Tap tap tap

It started with his foot.
Next it was his fingers.
He was in full-on fidget.
He was bored.

Friday, December 23, 2011

320. Downtown

The old downtown was a brickwork canyon.
Lining Main Street were abandoned buildings that were once actual destinations.
Here and there the odd soul made up the daytime traffic.
A banner, erected by the Downtown Enhancement Authority, promised big changes were coming - two year ago last October.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

319. Support groups

Dozens of men an women walked in lockstep.
It was too dark to discern much about them.
In the dark, they all looked the same.
They walked up the rickety steps into their meeting room.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

318. Open doors

The door opened precisely as she passed by it.
There was a dread sense that someone had been waiting and watching.
Being a curious sort, she stuck her head in for a look anyway.
The door swung closed behind her.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

317. A former boxer brushes his teeth

He reached into the medicine cabinet for his toothbrush and toothpaste.
Sliding the mirror closed, he came face to face with himself and stopped.
A twelve-year career in the sweet science had beaten various disfigurements into the face of his youth.
After ten minutes of poking and prodding at old war wounds, he wandered out of the bathroom without ever brushing his teeth.

Monday, December 19, 2011

316. Proper hygiene

The common pen is actually an amazing invention.
It is a stunning combination of written human communication with technological magnificence.
Modern man has gone so far as to make this marvel imminently disposable.
The woman in the food court was using it to clean her ears.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

315. Couples

I'd been holed up in the hotel for a week, writing.
It seemed there were only two other guests: a couple who I saw in the exact same seats each night at the hotel's shitty bar.
One night when I stopped by for a drink, the woman was sitting with a new man.
I didn't know how to feel.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

314. Body ink

The woman on the beach had a new tattoo at the small of her back.
You could tell by the perfection of the inky borders.
In time, it would age to a smudgy, blue parody of itself.
For now, it was perfect.

Friday, December 16, 2011

313. Vaccination records

The elderly gentleman and I were sitting on the side of the road with the rest of the passengers watching our bus spew angry steam from its radiator.
He was dressed in a three-piece suit like a proper gentleman.
He'd loosened his tie and rolled up his shirt sleeves against the heat.
The vaccination scar on his arm reminded me of my father.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

312. Perspectives

He was quite tall.
Maybe I was just shorter then and he wasn't so very tall.
Either way, he towers over me in my memories.
When he picked me up, it felt like flying.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

311. Vacancy

Her eyes had taken on a vacant quality.
It wasn't sad so much as peculiar.
She was somewhere a thousand miles from there.
A voice from behind her brought rushing back.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

310. Doing something

We live in a world where it's important to be doing something.
We're so devoted to this idea, that even doing nothing becomes something to be done, to be scheduled.
In our world, the calendar is sacred.
By his fourth day on the beach, his calendar had been eclipsed by the tropical sun.

Monday, December 12, 2011

309. Cloud patterns

You can look at clouds all day, puzzling at their shapes.
Most people see animals - I have no idea why.
Then again, some of us see something more risque.
In the end, that shape is a pattern of your own making.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

308. All inclusive

Close to the equator, the water is wash-basin warm.
Northerners flock there in the winter flush with pesos.
They go there to be waited on by locals in exchange for tips.
They leave with sunburns and memories bought on the cheap.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

307. Late dinners

The restaurant wasn't fancy, but it was intimate and quaint.
They were in the midst of the kind of classic four-hour dinner where old stories are well remembered and new ones well received.
Their conversation was interrupted by a horrid cackle of a laugh.
Like that, the evening slipped away.

Friday, December 9, 2011

306. Golf buddies

There were four of them: golf buddies.
Every year, they'd go on a trip to play golf.
They'd golf, drink and look at girls.
Their humour was neither funny nor charming.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

305. Nautical miles

They had grown up next to the ocean.
They knew it.
Most days, it was cold and dark and unforgiving.
That December night, they stood in that same ocean thousands of miles away, drinking a beer with a Spanish name.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

304. Introductory Swedish

She looked quite bright with an armload of books written in Swedish.
The pile dwindled as she wandered from room to room dropping off books.
She picked up her pace, knowing the IKEA where she worked was opening soon.
Incidentally, she was quite bright.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

303. The squeaky wheel

The old women fought to stay on course through the slick, slushy snow. Her little cart fishtailed through the parking lot as she dragged it toward the bus stop. Its load of groceries for one wasn't especially heavy, but her shoulders and back were beginning to ache. She arrived just as the bus rumbled off to its next stop.

Monday, December 5, 2011

302. Surface tension

Six-year-old Patty could see sunlight through the chlorinated water.
Suspended under the surface of the pool, she felt an eerie sense of calm.
Then the panic set in.
Her brain screamed as she thrashed upward, chasing oxygen.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

301. The big musical number

She was in the midst of a daydream.
In that dream, she was in the middle of a crowded street.
All at once, the people in the street behind her broke into a choreographed musical number.
It was a dream of course, but it's good to believe we live in a world where ridiculous things are possible.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

300. The whole enchilada

He could hear crying, dimly.
At his current level of consciousness, it wasn't immediately clear if it was cats or children.
The movement to his left suggested she was already springing into the role of the responsible parent.
He rolled from his side to his back, expanding to fill all the warm corners of the bed.

Friday, December 2, 2011

299. Chasing a man called Q

The whole town was waiting for the man on the radio. He was coming from the big city. Everything was scrubbed clean; even down to the tiniest nook and cranny. They were expecting him.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

298. Sugar horse

The horse burst in half.
Its insides spilled out onto the grass.
Dozens of children rushed towards it.
They scurried back and forth grabbing up toys and sweets and jamming them into their pockets.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

297. Pockets of rhythm

A collection of strangers waited at the bus stop.
The bus was late.
They milled around trading awkward smiles and looking for ways to occupy themselves.
All of them, that is, except for one teen who was engrossed in the music from his Walkman.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

296. Knitting

From his bedroom, you could hear the neighbourhood park.
On this day, it was filled with children and snow.
They had all flocked there as soon as the radio had announced school was cancelled.
He readjusted his broken foot and tried to concentrate on something else.

Monday, November 28, 2011

295. Nighttime acrobatics

Her parents were in bed.
It was time to put her clandestine plan into action.
She slung one leg over the window sill and plunged out into the dark.
The night air cooled her skin as she clung to the bed sheet; too far down to climb back, but too high off the ground to jump.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

294. Human geometry

The intersection between two lines is a matter of geometry.
There's a certainty watching two things heading inescapably for each other.
From time to time, it's the same with people.
He wasn't aware of these things of course, as he drunkenly (and mistakenly) tried to force his keys into the door of his neighbour's apartment.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

293. Truckers welcome

There it was, like an oasis in a sea of asphalt and wilderness.
He pumped his brakes and activated his turn signal.
Responding to his turn of the wheel, the trucked lurched down the ramp.
'Truckers welcome' the sign said.

Friday, November 25, 2011

292. Wood grain

​The segment of cedar showed nearly 800 individual rings.
 ​It had been felled, cut and glazed within 10 miles of where it had grown for centuries. ​
The hipster couple bought it for 45 dollars and turned it into a coffee table. ​
Sitting in their 750 square foot apartment, it would never get any older.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

291. Once I was the King of Spain

See that humble pie maker?
Once, he was the most powerful ruler in all of Europe.
Twelve years ago, he left on an anniversary tour of his colonies and was overthrown in a bloodless coup.
Now, he stamps each pie with a crown so he never forgets.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

290. Memoirs of a boneless man

Every bone in Alex’s body disappeared during the night.
When he woke, he leaped to his feet in a panic - or at least he tried.
His formless frame slid off the bed and onto the floor.
From the floor, he blubbered for help.

289. Unexpected locations

It appeared one day in the middle of the industrial park.
The Spanish-style exterior was conspicuously beautiful amongst the cinder blocks and brickwork.
Rumours of what lay within its walls drew the curious like moths to a flame.
They also made killer shrimp wraps.

Monday, November 21, 2011

288. As seen on tv

She fell in love with the cartoon lizard that changed colours.
His lovable anthropomorphism and plucky exploits made it impossible not to love him.
She made her mother promise to get her one.
The lizard’s endangered status put the mother in a horrible bind.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

287. On guard

Being a crossing guard was a special honour reserved for sixth graders.
They were very grown up.
Each of them were issued a reflective vest and whistle.
As she stood with her equipment in the November drizzle, she further explored the concepts of “special” and “honour”.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

286. Man on a cloud

There was a time when Charles Lindbergh was the greatest hero anyone could imagine.
He conquered an ocean that was unfathomably wide and infinitely deep all on his own.
But they killed his son.
What sadness that man must have felt.

Friday, November 18, 2011

285. When Henry Browning came home from war.

When Henry Browning came home from war, the whole town turned out.
The day hostilities broke out, he walked twenty-six miles to enlist.
Their only man in the fight, they hadn’t seen him for six long years.
When Henry Browning came home from war, he walked by them, every one.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

284. Forgotten equipment

It looked like some bizarre crime scene.
The little league field was abandoned.
A catcher’s mitt lay next to the chain link fence where it had been abandoned.
At the other end of the field, the parking lot was empty, save for the glass from the front windshield of a minivan.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

283. When kittens have similar delusions

The shaft of sunlight beaming through the window made the room feel like August.
The man lay on his back, snoring.
The cat beside him was also asleep, left leg twitching occasionally.
They were both dreaming of conquest.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

282. Scientific evidence

They’d made a major breakthrough in polymers.
A reporter and photographer from one of the national newspapers had been dispatched to get their story.
The lead researcher searched everywhere before finding a tie and tying it smartly.
He headed to the lobby for his big interview, failing to notice the giant guacamole stain on the front of his shirt.

Monday, November 14, 2011

281. Whiskey and clowns

Greg’s only job was renting the Easter Bunny costume.
Unfortunately, on the way to the costume shop, he stopped at a saloon for some refreshments.
He reappeared three hours later, dressed like a clown and reeking of whiskey.
Twenty minutes later, he had passed out under a desk. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

280. A little, off the top

“Andrew, you need a haircut.”
He had barely had a chance to drop his suitcase and take off his coat before it started.
He’d been away at college for six weeks, but nothing had changed.
He suspected that it never would.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

279. A boy called Safe

This is the story of two boys.
One boy had many frog-catching, scraped-knee adventures, while the other did everything he was told and always buttoned his coat and tightened his scarf.
One boy grew up to be a man of substance and character.
The other boy knew only sadness and regret.

Friday, November 11, 2011

278. Killer robot driving instructor

In 2121, cars were still driven and young people still learned to drive them.
We believed, in our infinite wisdom, that driving was best taught by robots.
They were imbued with a cybernetic patience that seemed designed for kids like Peter.
But his 23rd failed attempt at parallel parking caused something to snap in the circuitry of Mechanized Driving Unit 6231981.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

278. The Day of Despair

They met at a freshman mixer.
There were sparks.
They spent the night together.
They spent the next four years trying not to be in the same room.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

277. Zombies and bacon

The diner was famous for its bacon sandwiches.
People came for breakfast, lunch and dinner to sample the savoury pork.
Taking his first bite, he was transported to a delectable daydream.
So enamoured was he with the sandwich, that he failed to notice the first zombie limping towards the window.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

276. The perils of living in an inflationary universe

At first, having jobs that did more than just cover was enough.
But then there were Joneses to be kept up with.
Slowly, stuff - boats and place settings and matching luggage sets - began to fill up their lives.
None of it made them happy.

Monday, November 7, 2011

275. The international secretary

All the fellas at the office loved the secretary with the accent.
It was Parisian, mysterious and sensual.
When she spoke, they imagined themselves in a James Bond film; one of the Connery ones.
What she heard in reply served only to remind her how far she was from home.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

274. Minor crimes of the elderly

It was a perfect scene.
An elderly couple walked hand in hand through the park.
A tiny white dog bounced along ahead of them, pausing occasionally to indulge his curiosity.
They stopped for a minute, backlit against the morning sun, to light a joint.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

273. Mornings in the park

A light fog hung low in the park.
It was chilly, but bright.
Except for the old man walking his dog, the park was empty.
The smoke from his pipe smelled somehow, grandfatherly.

Friday, November 4, 2011

272. Armour plating

A group had gathered in front of her.
They were screaming and shaking their placards.
She was uneasy, but at least she was doing the right thing.
She hoped.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

271. Harold Schenk skips Daylight Savings Time

Harold Schenk of Wyoming didn’t observe Daylight Savings Time.
Couldn’t see the point of it all.
Seeing to his farm meant he was awake well before dawn each day anyway.
Plus, he wasn’t sure all this government-imposed time travel was on the level.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

270. The water tower

When I was a boy, my parents always told me there was nothing in the water tower on top of our building but water.
I never believed them, so one Saturday, while they were sleeping, I climbed the fire escape to investigate.
There was no water.
Instead I found a bunch of teenagers smoking and doing things with each other.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

269. Divine intervention

He had been religious in another life.
Although even then, he was more of a goer than a believer.
But now, with his father fading, he was more open than he’d been in awhile.
He couldn't tell if the holy trinity was present, but he found comfort in the mechanics of the ritual.

Monday, October 31, 2011

268. Described viewing

Nine, eight central: It was the season premiere.
Twenty-one million people were hanging on the edge of their seats hoping to learn the fate of their hero.
It was a time for action and answers.
But the baby needed feeding, so he relayed snippets of dialogue and salient plot points while she warmed a bottle.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

267. Reunion events

Two old roommates conspired at a corner table.
They were diagramming a prank worthy of their college days.
The plan was a simple, diabolical thing of beauty, awaiting only execution.
But screw it, they decided, and ordered another pitcher of microbrew.

266. I just bought a chainsaw

My neighbour has a hundred year old oak tree.
At least he had one until I knocked it over with my truck.
I was wrestling with my new phone when it appeared out of nowhere.
The remnants of the tree are resting on his Buick.

265. Peacock feathers.

It is a misnomer that only women worry about their looks.
Men, in fact, are quite vain.
They worry frequently over the opinions of women.
This particular man had been standing in his date’s building for ten minutes, fussing about his looks in the mirror by the elevator.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

264. Hail Marys and holy water

The priest was preaching on morality.
The pews were full (ok, full-ish) of people listening intently (ok, intently-ish).
Three boys at the back were focused on a shared prayer book.
Tucked within its covers was a magazine one of them had liberated from his father’s stash.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

263. Petty criminals

Perfect crimes only exist in the movies.
This one was as close as you get in real life.
They had planned and executed the robbery of the convenience store to a tee.
Their downfall was using the store’s washroom to don their ski masks.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

262. Against the current

Christmas shopping had begun in earnest and the mall was unbearable.
He was seized with a desire to escape this seething, sweating, swarming mass of humanity.
He could see the exit to the parking garage, but couldn’t reach it.
He leapt to the underused, opposing escalator and beat a hasty retreat.

Monday, October 24, 2011

261. Revenue sharing

The man in the three-piece suit stopped.
He reached into his pocket.
As he made to hand a fistful of change to a homeless old woman, he stopped again.
He reached into his wallet and handed her a twenty.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

260. Pastries

The kitchen was a mess.
Bowls, spoons and various cooking instruments clogged the sink.
A cake sat, freshly decorated, on the counter.
The two of them stood there, like children, with frosting on their faces.

259. Holiday spirit

The air was crisp.
Department store spookiness hung over the neighbourhood in anticipation of All Hallow’s Eve.
Everywhere in the neighbourhood, except one house.
That one house was in full-scale Christmas mode, including a permanent loop of tortuous carols.

Friday, October 21, 2011

258. Old textbooks

Her shelves were filled with old textbooks.
She’d always said she might need them some day.
They had survived multiple moves, several bad breakups and a flood.
She kept them as a reminder of all she’d accomplished.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

257. Group sex

The room was dark and the bass was throbbing.
An invisible line separated the boys from the girls.
The sexual tension was palpable.
The boys began to cautiously invade enemy territory to the sounds of the Venga Boys.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

256. Now a major motion picture

She was eager to read the book; downright impatient.
Unfortunately, The Megastore where she went to buy it had nothing but movie tie-in editions.
She’d be damned if she was putting a picture of those two vacant-eyed starlets on her bookshelf.
The dog-eared copy she ended up buying came from a local used shop.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

255. An old sofa

He reached deep because she wouldn’t.
Up to his elbow, he found what he needed.
Then he found some more.
There was at least enough there to pay for the Chinese takeout, with tip.

Monday, October 17, 2011

254. Going to the bathroom on an airplane

Getting from the front to the back of a tiny plane is a little like ballet and a lot like rugby.
To get there, he had to navigate an oversized carry-on bag, a colicky baby and lady elbows deep in crossword puzzles.
He slid into the necessities closet to complete his business.
It was at that moment the plane hit a patch of rough air.

253. Barbarians at the gates

They had invaded, set up shop and made themselves comfortable.
And they’d made life miserable for their host.
Now they wanted out and they were willing to make life difficult to get what they wanted.
The result was nasal drip and a dry, hacking cough.

252. Weights and measures

There are seven fundamental units of measurement: kilogram, metre, second, ampere, candela, kelvin and mole.
These units give us a startling specific understanding of our world.
they aren’t exhaustive.
For instance, they give us no insight into the distance between the couple sitting on the couch.

251. Fast food

It had been conceived by a businessman.
It was then cooked up by the lab rats and vetted by the guys in marketing.
It was transported by a trucker and assembled by a teenager who was paid a pittance.
Then you bought that burger for less than five bucks.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

250. Ear to ear

He made the decision to smile at everyone, for a whole week.
Friends, families, pharmacists, you name it, were all met with a toothsome grin.
Some folks were  put off , or at least confused.
Most smiled back.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

249. Pizza

At the front of the line was a man purchasing four pizzas.
Were they for his family?
Perhaps they were to share with his co-workers.
Surely he wasn’t planning on eating them all.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

248. The man with two watches

I passed a man today wearing two watches.
One can only assume one of them was anchored to this time zone.
Whether the other was set to Mountain, Pacific or Venusian, no one could say.
Maybe it didn’t even work.

Monday, October 10, 2011

247. One giant leap

Man was walking on the surface of another planet, Mars.
It was monumental.
It was an unprecedented moment in human history.
And it was only on paper...for now.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

246. The remake

The actors were younger and better looking.
The effects were better.
But the movie just wasn’t as good.
It should have gone direct to video.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

245. Mnemonic devices

Hundreds of yellow sticky notes filled the wall.
It looked like the work of a mind obsessed with conspiracies.
In reality, it was every “to-do” he’d ever made from the day he turned twelve.
Some had faded, lost their stickiness and been re-attached with scotch tape.