A Month of Short Stories 2017, Day 22 – before the storm By Alex Sheal

Have a drink.

Over several years, for the month of June, I wrote about a short story that was available online each day of 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 – In September this time… because it is September.

Today’s story, for day 22 – before the storm by Alex Sheal
Read it online here:
before the storm by Alex Sheal

Then we slept, our storm-scattered raft adrift in the afternoon sun, mouths parched, detritus trailing us across the lifeless ocean. Or did fish school beneath us, flashing like bonfire sparks in a bottomless night?

—-Alex Sheal, before the storm

There is this comedian, Larry Miller (he’s the obsequious clothing salesman in Pretty Woman) that does this comedy routine about drinking in bars – it’s called “5 Levels of Drinking.”

He says:

You crawl outside for air, and then you hit the worst part of level five ~~ the sun. You weren’t expecting that were you? You never do. You walk out of a bar in daylight, and you see people on their way to work, or jogging. And they look at you, and they know. And they say, “Who’s Ruby?”

Let’s be honest, if you’re 19 and you stay up all night, it’s like a victory like you’ve beat the night, but if you’re over 30, then that sun is like God’s flashlight. We all say the same prayer then, “I swear, I will never do this again (how long?) as long as I live!” And some of us have that little addition, “……and this time, I mean it!

Truer words have never been spoken.

Today’s story reminds me of that bit, somehow.

This woman, a bartender at the NYLO Southside, asked Candy, “Is your husband a professional photographer?”
Candy answered, “He thinks he is.”

A Month of Short Stories 2014, Day 11 – Mirrorball

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 eleven – Mirrorball, by Mary Gaitskill.
Read it online here:

Mirrorball

Over the years I have read a lot of short stories. A lot of short stories…. Maybe a story every other day (with a lot of gaps, of course) since I was ten years old. That comes out to over eight thousand stories.

Obviously, that’s too high – but still, I have read a lot.

They all get mixed up – I’m always reading something that sort of feels familiar and then when I get to the end I realize I have read it before. I get authors mixed up, collections, anthologies and now with this internet thing… it’s so confusing.

One author that has always stood out is Mary Gaitskill. Her stories are full of desperate characters involved in all sorts of nasty trouble. She seems to know what she is writing about – she claims to have spent time as a stripper and a callgirl. I guess she is best known for writing the short story that the movie Secretary is based on – although the two are very different. She claims the movie was too charming and nice.

I know I’ve read the collection, Bad Behavior, that Secretary was in, but I don’t particularly remember it – I’ll have to read it again.

At any rate, today’s story is very different. This one is from her newest collection. Mirrorball is the story of a woman that has a one-night stand with a second-rate rock star and loses a piece of her soul in the process.

It’s a very unusual piece of writing.

I enjoyed the story, even though it isn’t really my cup of tea. It’s sort of an anti-Hemingway story in that nothing much happens (a couple of sexual encounters… and that’s about it) but a lot of words are spilled upon the page.

It’s a story told of a world inside of yet unknown to the characters; the world of their own souls – split, tortured, stolen, released.

It takes some skilled wordsmithing to go with something as ethereal as that and make it real to the reader. Read it, you decide.

He was a musician, well regarded in his hometown and little known anywhere else. This fact sometimes gnawed at him and yet was sometimes a secret relief; he had seen musicians get sucked up by fame and it was like watching a frog get stuffed into a bottle, staring out with its face, its splayed legs, its private beating throat distorted and revealed against the glass. Fame, of course, was bigger and more fun than a bottle, but still, once you were behind the glass and blown up huge for all to see, there you were. It would suddenly be harder to sit and drink in the anonymous little haunts where songs were still alive and moving in the murky darkness, where a girl might still look at him and wonder who he was. And he might wonder about her.