Short Story Of the Day, Gratuitous by Bill Chance

“Sammy wanted to change channels. He wanted to see something silly and funny. He didn’t want to have to think as hard as this was requiring.”

—-Bill Chance, Gratuitous

Playdays, by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, A Woman’s Garden, Dallas, Texas

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#10). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.


Gratuitous

With the COVID lockdown Sammy was watching way, way too much television. He became uninterested in what he was watching too. Whatever was on, was on.

He found himself staring at an interview with a famous actress. There were ferns on the set. The interview was odd because it attempted to be highbrow – asking questions related to the events of the day (insane as they are), the price of fame, and the philosophies of the motion picture business.

Sammy wanted to change channels. He wanted to see something silly and funny. He didn’t want to have to think as hard as this was requiring.

He was feeling the buttons on the remote, getting ready to switch, when the interviewer asked a question that made his eyebrows raise.

“What is your position on nudity in the projects your are working on? Or in the world of film in general?”

“Well, I suppose that if it in service of the plot or character of the work, then it is OK,” the actress said.

“So if it isn’t… if it is gratuitous, you are opposed.”

“Oh no, no. If it is gratuitous, so much the better. That’s like a little bit extra. We all like a little bit extra.”

Sammy switched to Netflix, moved the cursor sideways until it was posed over the little magnifying glass. Using the arrow keys he began to clumsily type in the actress’ name.

“Let’s see if she’s got anything on here,” he said to himself.

Short Story Of the Day (Flash Fiction), Storage by Bill Chance

“Sylvia was driving and I didn’t realize how drunk she was and how icy the roads were. She slid around the corners, whooping and laughing like a crazy person. It scared the shit out of me but Sylvia thought it was funny.”

—-Bill Chance, Storage

Mural, Deep Ellum
Dallas, Texas

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#9). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

A flash fiction bit I wrote from a prompt from the book The 4 A.M. Breakthrough. I’ll put the prompt after the story. You don’t have to read the prompt if you don’t want to.

Thanks for reading.


Storage

All five of us were laying on Sarah’s huge bed watching Game of Thrones – she has a great big plasma television on the wall in her bedroom and an HBO subscription. It was actually very innocent, comfortable, and fun until Alice started kissing Sarah. She has a girlfriend and can’t go around making out with anybody she wants. It ruined the whole evening. I gave her a kick and pushed the two of them apart, giving both a piece of my mind. They laughed at me, even though they stopped sucking face. It interrupted the whole thing… it upset me so much I missed Arya killing some dude… they said she stuck Needle slowly right up through his neck. I wanted to see that. They wouldn’t even run it back for me. So selfish, so self absorbed.

Then, well, Alice was in the back seat, half passed out. She was still pissed off at me about the kissing Sarah thing from Game of Thrones night. Sylvia was driving and I didn’t realize how drunk she was. She slid around the corners, whooping and laughing like a crazy person. It scared the shit out of me but Sylvia thought it was funny. When we arrived home she said, “Big deal.. we’re here OK aren’t we? All’s well that ends well, that’s what I say.” What an idiot.

I swear that Alice and Sylvia are out to get me. I see them talking to each other, quietly, when they think I’m not watching. We all decided to go swimming and those two chose the spot – some lake out in the country. When we got there, I fished my suit out of my bag and they all laughed at me. We walked down and the place was full of naked people. They all stripped down and jumped in. It was disgusting. I wore my suit and everybody stared at me – stared at ME. They were the naked ones, but they made me feel like I was the one that had something to be ashamed of. Alice, Sylvia and Sarah all knew that I can’t stand people to see me naked. Joyce drove us down there but maybe she didn’t know. It was so humiliating, I get shivers thinking about it.

With those three all trying to destroy me I thought at least I had Joyce on my side. It gave me comfort. She has always been a good friend. So I called her up and tried to get her to take my side against the others, but she told me I was crazy. “Gwen, you have gone BATSHIT CRAZY!” was exactly what she said. I slammed down the phone and cried for an hour. That whole group has it in for me. My birthday is coming up and they haven’t even mentioned it. They know it’s my birthday and they are ignoring it. It is awful… I need new friends. I’m going to just ghost them, I swear.

So it was my birthday and that bunch of bitches completely ignored me. Joyce came by the house and didn’t even mention what day it was. All she wanted to do was get me to go shopping with her and I told her to go to hell. She laughed and absolutely made me go. On the way she said she had to stop at Sarah’s and I hit the roof. I said I’d wait in the car, happily, but she would have none of that. She practically dragged me out of the car and into the apartment. Right when we went through the door everybody jumped out and yelled, “Surprise! Surprise!” It was a party for my birthday. My friends are the best.


From The 4 A.M. Breakthrough

Writing Prompt:

Paragraphs As Containers

Write five paragraphs of narrative about one individual who has decided to stop spending so much time with a gang of friends. Each paragraph should be about an isolated problem of this larger issue. All five paragraphs should have overlapping characters, but you do not have to follow one character all the way through the five paragraphs. Think of the paragraphs as tiny stories in and of themselves. Separate each paragraph by a space.

This is a question of Story VS. Storage. Paragraphs are boxes into which we put information. Let each new paragraph in your writing signal another set of thoughts and ideas.

 

Short Story Of the Day, The Call by Bill Chance

“As useless as always. There are so many jerks out there. I had a shoot last night and the photographer made a pass at me. Of course that happens, but this guy was awful. And disgusting.”

—-Bill Chance, The Call

Telephone Pole, Deep Ellum, Texas

 

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#7). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.


The Call

Jim was not a morning person and suffered from bad hangovers. He had learned to drink a glass of water and take aspirin before he fell dead asleep drunk – he knew hangovers were partially caused by dehydration – but had forgotten. Again.

The ringing phone felt like needles poking him through thick cotton. The phone was tangled in the same mass of sheets and blankets he was. The only way to find it was to trace the cord from the wall through the disorganized confusion until he found the instrument. His last apartment had one of the new style phone system with square jacks in the wall where you could move your phone from one place to another but this one hadn’t been updated and the phone was hard-wired. At least there were two, one in the living room and one by his bed. That was a modern luxury.

Finally, he had the earsplitting thing in his hands. It felt huge and heavy. At least it had buttons. He never missed the rotary phones that had mostly disappeared over the last few years. He would always hesitate, stumble and get wrong numbers with those things. He stared at the phone and considered not answering. He could not think of anyone he wanted to talk to right then. But he knew the phone could keep ringing for a long time so he lifted the receiver, mostly to shut it up.

“Hello?” he said.

“Hello,” said the voice on the other end of the line. Jim tried to figure out who it was. It was female and sounded young – about his age. The voice sounded a little familiar and he felt embarrassed that he couldn’t figure out who it was. He decided to go with it and try and figure out who it was by context.

“How are you?” Jim asked.

“Oh, good, good. I just wanted to check in and see how you were doing.”

“I’m fine, same as always. What’s up?”

“Nothing really. I just wanted to check in and talk.” Her tone was cheerful but flat. No clues. “Did I wake you up?” she asked.

“Oh no, I’ve been up for a while,” Jim lied. “I’ve just been puttering around, making breakfast, that sort of thing. Went for a short run.”

“You run in the mornings?”

“I try to.” Another lie. “You know it gets so hot later in the day.”

“No kidding.”

There was a pause and Jim realized he was no closer to figuring out who the hell this was. He decided to kick it up a notch.

“How’s your family?”

“Great, great, really. My sister is graduating high school later this year and everybody is excited about that. The last one to leave the house.”

“Has she made college plans?”

“Well, she’s never really been college material, as you know, but she is thinking about State. Giving it a shot, I’m proud of her.”

Jim scraped his mind for someone with a little sister that wasn’t too smart. And “State” didn’t help him at all. What State? Which State? He was going to have to dig deeper.

“How’s your love life?” he asked. There was a pause.

“As useless as always. There are so many jerks out there. I had a shoot last night and the photographer made a pass at me. Of course that happens, but this guy was awful. And disgusting.”

So she was a model. Jeez, did he know any models? His poisoned brain cells were not working very well, he couldn’t think of any women he knew that did that. Who was this? Nothing to do but keep on asking questions.

“That’s awful. The world is full of jerks. What was the shoot for?”

“Nothing, really. My portfolio mostly. That makes it worse. I should have known.”

And the conversation went on. Jim really enjoyed talking to this woman. She was funny, thoughtful, and did a lot of interesting things. She was the kind of person he had been looking for his whole life. And he couldn’t figure out who she was. He cursed his foggy mind. He cursed the damn telephone.

They talked for over an hour. They talked about movies they has seen, television shows they watched, and music they liked. They talked about the weather and the politics and even traded the best jokes they had heard lately. Jim’s hangover had disappeared and he was beginning to feel like this was going to be a good day, maybe the best of days.

But suddenly there was a pause on the other end of the line. She was not responding to what he said. He could hear her breathing.

“Are you okay OK?” Jim asked.

Another long pause, then the question, “Frank?”

“Uhhhh,” was all Jim could say. Then a click and a dial tone. “Wait!” he shouted even though he knew it was too late.

Jim had been a wrong number all along.

Suddenly feeling sick, he hung up and stared at the phone. He stared at it for a long time, trying to will it into ringing again. It never did.

He wished that there was some way to find out what number had called. He wished he could call back. Maybe someday, but that would be too late.