Sunday Snippet, Flash Fiction, Porn and Cat Food by Bill Chance

“The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet.

And whither then? I cannot say”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

(click to enlarge)

Porn and Cat Food

Cecil Thompson had some meetings with vendors scheduled all over town so he spent most of the day driving around. There wasn’t anything to see except the other drivers stuck in traffic all around him, moving slowly in lockstep to… somewhere.

Right after dawn he was creeping along in six lanes of rush hour traffic with some guy stuck next to him in an old clunker Chevy. The passenger window was open and no more than three feet from Cecil’s face. The guy was reading a magazine. The morning sun cut in at an angle so Cecil could clearly see his chubby face, his ponytail, and the the magazine. He tore off a plain protective cover and the title was BOOB-A-RAMA.

Traffic was really slow so Cecil was stuck beside him. Ponytail dude looked at that magazine for a while, holding it this way and that, then set it down and picked up another one. Tore its cover off too. And then another and another.

Cecil thought, “How pitiful can you get?” This is at seven in the morning. Ponytail dude must have stopped off at some slimy convenience store for coffee, donuts, and a big pile of porn. Now he’s cruising around, reading (well, not really reading) while he drives. Cecil felt filthy just sharing the same tarmac with him.

And who actually buys porn magazines anymore? Shouldn’t he have at least a tablet? Nothing worse than an old-school pervert.

Cecil guessed he was just getting ready to face his day.

Later, Cecil pulled up behind a fire engine. Red truck, silver ladders, yellow brown hoses. No lights, no siren, stuck in traffic, going nowhere very, very, slowly. Cecil felt a little sadness, assuming the truck was returning back from some fire, some emergency; he hoped everyone was alright.

Then he noticed the back of the truck. The little running board back there that extra firemen can ride on was piled high with bags. At least twenty bags of kitty litter and maybe five jumbo bags of cat food. The truck was returning from a visit to the pet store.

The firemen can’t leave their truck, in case of a call, so they have to take it out to the store with them. On a mission of mercy for the firehouse cat.

Cecil don’t know why, but he found that even more comforting than he found the ponytail guy with the porn magazines disturbing.

Short Story of the Day, Flash Non-Fiction, The Boy Who Drew Cats by Jesse Lee Kercheval

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

Six Persimmons by Muqi Fachang

The Boy Who Drew Cats by Jesse Lee Kercheval

from Brevity

A Month of Short Stories 2015, Day Twelve – Town of Cats

The last two years, for the month of June, I wrote about a short story that was available online each day of the month… you can see the list for 2014 and 2015 in the comments for this page. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.

Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year.

Today’s story, for day twelve – Town of Cats, by Haruki Murakami

Read it online here:

Town of Cats

As I go through the stories this year I notice that almost all of them are by some of my favorite writers – people that I have read before. Today is no exception – I’ve been a fan of Haruki Murakami for years. Well, I guess there’s nothing wrong with revisiting what I know is genius – and I have a few more – but I need to work harder to find some new stuff.

Murakami is known for his surreal style and very odd plots. This story is an exception – it’s a prosaic tale of a son visiting his elderly father in a care home. The surreal aspect is supplied by a story within a story – about a mysterious city occupied only by nocturnal cats.

This tale is interwoven into the story of the man and his son. Their relationship has been strained… well, forever. The son is on a quest to find a solution to the mystery of his past, what has happened to him, and where he is really from.

He finds less than he expected and more than he hoped.

Tengo folded his hands in his lap and looked straight into his father’s face. This man is no empty shell, he thought. He is a flesh-and-blood human being with a narrow, stubborn soul, surviving in fits and starts on this patch of land by the sea. He has no choice but to coexist with the vacuum that is slowly spreading inside him. Eventually, that vacuum will swallow up whatever memories are left. It is only a matter of time.

A Month of Short Stories 2014, Day 29 – Catskin

A year ago, for the month of June, I wrote about an online short story each day for the month. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.

Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year.

Today’s story, for day twenty-nine – Catskin, by Kelly Link

Read it online here:


I have been a big fan of Kelly Link for most of this century after discovering a glowing review of her collection Stranger Things Happen in Salon Magazine.

She writes in a style of updated, modern fairy tales – swimming in tides of shifting reality. These are not children’s stories, however, they are unremittingly shocking, violent, and sometimes surprisingly sexually explicit.

But like all the best fairy tales and ancient folk stories they are emotionally true and tell of longing and loss that we all feel, even if we aren’t aware of it (until we read the story).

Today’s story, Catskin, is from her second collection Magic for Beginners. It is a long tale of what happens when you poison a witch (which, by the way, you should never do).

Go out right now and buy her books. And while you are looking or waiting for them to come to you in the mail, you can go and download Stranger Things Happen (and some other stuff) for your device. I love the fact that she does this – and love even more that it doesn’t seem to hurt her sales.

Now, since witches cannot have children in the usual way — their wombs are full of straw or bricks or stones, and when they give birth, they give birth to rabbits, kittens, tadpoles, houses, silk dresses, and yet even witches must have heirs, even witches wish to be mothers — the witch had acquired her children by other means: she had stolen or bought or made them.

She’d had a passion for children with a certain color of red hair. Twins she had never been able to abide (they were the wrong kind of magic) although she’d sometimes attempted to match up sets of children, as though she had been putting together a chess set, and not a family. If you were to say a witch’s chess set, instead of a witch’s family, there would be some truth in that. Perhaps this is true of other families as well.

One girl she had grown like a cyst, upon her thigh. Other children she had made out of things in her garden, or bits of trash that the cats brought her: aluminum foil with strings of chicken fat still crusted to it, broken television sets, cardboard boxes that the neighbors had thrown out. She had always been a thrifty witch.

Some of these children had run away and others had died. Some of them she had simply misplaced, or accidentally left behind on buses. It is to be hoped that these children were later adopted into good homes, or reunited with their natural parents. If you are looking for a happy ending in this story, then perhaps you should stop reading here and picture these children, these parents, their reunions.