Short Story Of the Day (flash fiction) – Fresh Spam by Bill Chance

“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.”
― Dave Barry
 

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 (#75) Three fourths there! What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.


Fresh Spam

The group came into the restaurant. They were obviously businessmen, with the proper suits, uncomfortable shoes, and thin ties. One was young, the other three gray.

The waiter took their orders.

“I had the oxtail soup last week,” said one of the older men. “It was quite good. Can I have another order off the same ox?”

“Absolutely, sir,” said the waiter without hesitation.

“I see the special, Spam and eggs,” said the younger man. “Is your Spam from a can or do you make it fresh?”

“We make a fresh batch every morning using the finest organic ingredients, all locally sourced,” replied the waiter.

The younger man smiled and the others nodded – appreciating their apprentice’s knowledge of fine dining and his insistence on being treated in the manner he deserved.

One man was having difficulty making his choice. He asked the man to his left, “I say, have you tasted the stew?”

“Yes,” the man said, “I’ve tasted it twice. Once going down and once coming up.”

“I should order something else then?”

“Absolutely.”

Finally the orders were made, the dinners brought out, sent back because they were too well done. Upon return they went back again for more heat. The third time was the charm.

Between the tinkling of silverware on fine china bits of conversation escaped.

“I heard you this morning and wish you wouldn’t whistle at your work.”

“I wasn’t working, Sir; only whistling.”

“I thought you’d be married by now”.

“I proposed to one girl and would have married her if it hadn’t been for something she said.”

“What did she say?”

“No!”

The other two began to argue.

“But if you will allow me to—-”

“Oh! I know what you are going to say, but you’re wrong and I can prove it.”

Drinks were ordered and refreshed. One man was sticking to ice water, “When one is really thirsty, there is nothing so good as pure, cold water.”

Another replied, sloshing an amber liquid in a heavy glass “I guess I have never been really thirsty.”

The conversation turned to gossip about their coworkers that had not been invited.

“His versatility is amazing.”

“I thought he was stupid.”

“That’s just it. I never met a man who could make more different kinds of a fool of himself.”

“HarHarHar!”

Cigars were produced, two smoked, two merely chewed upon.

The subject kept returning to finances.

“Money! There are a million ways of making money.”

“But only one honest way.”

“What way is that?”

“I didn’t think you would know,” was the answer.

“The true secret of success, is to find out what the people want.”

“And the next thing is to give it to them,” suggested the young man.

“No it is to corner it and sell it in dribbles at the highest price.”

The dessert tray was brought around, covered in obscene combinations of gorgous treats piled up in an artistic arrangement. The most attractive waitress was given this duty. Each man asked careful questions about every sweet offering and they all smiled broadly at the melodious answers. But, in the end, they declined, moaning and rubbing their bellies and feeling upstanding and noble at turning down such temptation.

The bill came and a slightly generous tip was added. The cost was handed off to the company, though no real business had been discussed.

The four parted ways on the sidewalk outside and all proceded home except the youngest who had the stamina to meet some friends at a bar and make a night out of it. They all had the same thought, how dull their co-workers were, and how lucky those men were that he was around to pull their fat out of the fire.

Short Story Of the Day, Technology by Bill Chance

“There are three intolerable things in life – cold coffee, lukewarm champagne, and overexcited women…” he said, trailing off.

—-Bill Chance, Technology

 

 

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 (#16). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.

 

Anna Karina

 


 

Technology

Wilfred had tested positive and was in strict quarantine. He wrote low-level code for a living and could easily work from home. His condominium was more than large enough for one person. There were grocery stores and number of restaurants in his area that offered delivery – he wasn’t going to starve.

But he hated eating alone.

His place had plenty of storage space and he was always fighting his hoarding tendencies. Every now and then, though, his habit of keeping stuff served him well. Not very often, but sometimes.

As he dreaded another sandwich alone (he had taken to eating over the counter where he made his food to minimize cleanup) he had a sudden idea. Digging around in a disused walk-in closet he found an ancient dot-matrix printer and a big box of blank continuous pin-feed paper. He even had some extra stashed ribbon cartridges, enough to do a lot of printing.

He dragged it out and set it up on a sturdy side table. He was disappointed when he realized his laptop didn’t have a parallel port – but Amazon had a surprising collection of USB to parallel adapters with prime overnight delivery. While he was on the site he ordered a pack of large foam core board, some rubber cement, and a nice cutter for curved mat boards. Tape and scissors, he already had.

One of his common tasks as a code jockey was to write printer drivers, and it didn’t take him long to cobble together something to output some surprisingly good graphics (black and white, of course) to the ancient dot matrix.

The next job was to pick five people and download some quality images. His dining room table would seat six and he had nice quality place settings for himself and five others. There were so many folks to choose from, but it was his party and he could invite whomever he wanted.

It took a while to get used to the noise of the dot matrix in his condo. He had forgotten how loud and slow the things were. But the image of the paper slowly unfolding from the box and running through the printer was comforting and the noise ultimately became almost soothing.

Then there was the gluing, the cutting and trimming, and putting it all together. The smell of the rubber cement was nasty in the closed in space, and Wilfred decided he should have used double sided tape. But it did work and the odor finally dissipated.

Finally, he was done. He had several days to decide on his first menu and have the food delivered. He decided that it didn’t have to be too fancy and he should make what he liked. Nobody was getting enough exercise so it better be healthy. He settled on baked chicken meatballs with garlic-dill yogurt sauce served over zucchini noodles with mixed vegetables and sweet potatoes on the side.

He filled the six plates and put one at each place. Then he filled glasses with water and a nice white that he had stashed away.

So there he was with five other people – the foam core cutouts firmly taped up on each chair, arranged man-woman, with him at one head.

To his right was the French actress Anna Karina – the photo he printed was of her at her prime as a star of the early sixties New Wave. Her stunning beauty translated well to the black and white dot matrix printing – so many of her movies weren’t in color – Wilfred thought of her that way.

“After all,” she said, “Things are what they are. A message is a message, plates are plates, men are men, and life is life.”

To his left as the author Patricia Highsmith. She was born in Texas but settled in Paris and had a very unconventional life. She was burdened with alcoholism and depression, but sometimes that made for lively dinner conversation. She was plainspoken, dryly funny, and fun at the table, in general.

“I know you have it in you, Wilfred,” Patricia said suddenly at the end of a silence, “the capacity to be terribly happy.”

Beyond her was Oscar Wilde. Wilfred always loved the way he wove witty aphorisms through his writing and imagined he was always good for a quip to keep the conversation going. He was not disappointed.

“I’m a man of simple tastes. I’m always satisfied with the best,” he said, and everyone raised their glasses.

On the other side, next to Anna Karina, was the massive presence of Orson Welles. Mr. Welles was on good behavior and really enjoyed the food. His tales of some of the famous people he had met kept everyone enraptured.

“There are three intolerable things in life – cold coffee, lukewarm champagne, and overexcited women…” he said, trailing off.

Finally, at the other end of the table, was Cleopatra. Her English was surprisingly good for an ancient Egyptian Queen. She looked at life and the world in general in a wildly different way that anybody else and had the others thinking deeply about their own perspectives.

“Marc Antony?” she said, “I never understood how such a big man had such a small brain.” And everybody chuckled.

The meal ended but Wilfred still sat there enjoying the company and the conversation. Finally he collected the plates and glasses and was momentarily bothered by the amount of food that was wasted.

“But that’s the price for good company,” Patricia Highsmith pointed out. And she was right.

Everyone had such a good time. So they made plans for another dinner in a few days.

“I’m sorry,” said Oscar Wilde, “I have to fly to Paris for a meeting with my agent. There’s a play coming out and he is desperate for me to make some changes.”

The others talked about it for a minute and the decision was made to invite Groucho Marx.

“Then Groucho it is,” said Wilfred. He had plenty of paper and foamcore left and had learned to sleep through the sound of printing.