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Stories   for   Non-Functioning   Literates

Warning: This is not "Chicken Soup for the Soul"

All Stories by Mike Welch, Copyright 1997, All rights reserved

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"A Man & His Bic"

He was an outpatient by trade but he wouldn't trade it for the world. For the world had betrayed him. He had two thoughts fiercely contending with one another. 'It does not take an army of ants long to devour a worm,' he thought as he finished his apple while opening his email. "But if I were to gnaw on the fore leg of my enemy, would that look good on my resume?"

He carefully affixed a stamp to an envelope. "Perhaps I should write the letter first..." Pulling his Bic from the drawer he began: "To mine enemies..."

The phone rang, not once, but more than once. 'That has nothing to do with this story,' he thought as he returned to his Bic. The phone insisted. He picked up the receiver. It was the sanitized, shallow, hairless man he met on the busboy. "This is me!" he answered, ignoring the temptation to submit to a passive voice.

"How are you?" the sanitized, shallow, hairless man inquired.

"Childless and bitter? Why do you ask? What is the purpose of your unsolicited call?"

"Ah, but I am returning your call,Sir."

"I am rather busy with my Bic at the moment, could you mail it to me?"

"Your Bic?"

"Let me ask you something. If you were a worm and I were an ant, or perhaps even an army of ants, would you consent willingly to being my snack?"

He had always somehow enjoyed the sound of a dial tone, even more than anything ever recorded by John Tesh. How he longed for that sound, the dial tone, that is. He stared at his Bic and reminisced. It was presented to him at his retirement party. He worked forty years for it, for it was all he company could afford that year.

The sanitized, shallow, hairless man was asking what type of snack he might be for him. 'Is there no longer any dignity in common telephone conversations?' he wondered.

"Let me put it this way...If you were to crawl into an apple, it might render you more palatable. Now if you don't mind, I'd really like to get back to my Bic!"

The dial tone he had longed for had finally arrived. He felt like dancing, but there was no beat, just one beautiful note. He felt bad about offending the sanitized, shallow, hairless man, but conversation had long ceased to bring him pleasure. Besides, if he really wanted to, he could now add something to his resume. He had gnawed on the fore leg of his enemy.

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"The Exit Files"

Why are you different Kevin? We are going to take you to the doctor. He will clear your throat of wicked words. We'll wait outside and draw you a bath. I haven't said anything until now because it was a metaphor for the Truth itself. We are unwilling to accept the possibility of a miracle. Kevin? Are you okay? The doctor is a powerful man.

Perhaps he'll increase your dosage. We cannot go full circle to find the Truth. There is not enough time. We have to get back to work.

If I'm wrong I'll meet you out at the airport, okay? I want to believe you but we all have to die. You understand that, don't you Kevin.

Maybe I'll see you again sometime. Are you ready Kevin? Are you okay? I need to go to the station and file a formal report before my last confession. I'm not sure exactly why.

There's a man that I work with & usually I am able to discuss things with him, events that defy explanation. Perhaps you saw these things because you needed to. It makes me afraid...afraid no one is listening. Kevin? Kevin?

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"Travis and Diana"

Travis & Diana are defective units of society who live in a remote mountain community behind a stadium. They don't go anywhere or do anything enjoyable except complain about everything. Life, for all practical purposes, has ceased to exist for them, but they are comfortable in their exile from public fellowship. After all, the world is out to get them.

Their situation may seem a little bleak to most of you, but they have settled comfortably in their existential exile. No one seems to understand the one common bond that unites them. The truth is, the world IS out to get them. And why not? The reality is, they are both lucky. They are both lucky they found each other because Travis & Diana are the necessary tragic victims of human existence. They are lucky they didn't end up imprisoned in a sweat shop. Conversely, they are lucky they didn't end up with lucrative careers as well, and they are acutely aware of this.

You see, Travis & Diana are actually very fact, too bright. They know life sucks, while the rest of us choose to look the other way. As child prodigies, both grew up under the umbrella of the highest expectations. They were such bright little kids that they had no friends--as it should be. That is life's punishment for seeing too much. As humans, we are supposed to fit in with the flow of things. The common denominator should be our goal. If you are too bright, people will hate you. You get shunned. It's the natural order of things.

God, or The Great Spirit, or whatever you wish to call that 'force that through the green fuse drives the flower,' favors conformists. In the end conformists win. They get it all. Marriage, careers, children, material success and loads of friends. They get acceptance. They become valued members of a peer group. They get credit cards.

However if you are too bright, you slowly cease to function with the rest of us. You see through everything. Ha ha! At first it's funny. Everyone is desperately reaching for the carrot, but you know there really is no carrot. But you can't keep it to yourself. NO. You have to point it out. You know everything is an illusion. What good is it to have a career? A career, you are quick to point out, is nothing but a euphemism for entrapment. You didn't play sports. 'What good is it to chase after a ball? There IS no ball.' But don't you see? People don't want this information.

The brighter you are, the worse the curse. Remember how much the other kids hated you for knowing so much, for being the teacher's pet, for being the first to raise your hand and answer the teacher's questions correctly, for speaking in such well-constructed sentences? You were probably already wearing thick-lensed glasses. Curse number one. You see, the cosmic order of the things, the 'force' has already singled you out for a slow eventual breakdown to obscurity. In the end you are left with a pile of books, a few clothes and a bottle of bitter pills. But you have chosen your route, but in the end your path becomes your pathogen.

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I am a slimy green thing attached to the eyelid of a goldfish. I need him to live. He is my food, my sustenance, but his owners want to kill me because they value his existence more than mine. It's all about values. They know that eventually I will suck the life right out of him and attach myself to another fish. You see, the fish is graceful and "pretty" and I look like a shimmering wad of snot, so I will probably die soon, even though I caught him fair and square by natural selection.

I'd like to point out it was their ignorance of aquarium water chemistry and biology that allowed me to come to life in the first place. So, in a sense, they created me. I am their Frankenstein. I don't mean to moralize here, but doesn't that imply a certain sense of responsibility for me on their part? Am I not due a little child support instead of being aborted from the tank?

You see, it's all about point-of-view. If they let me live, killing off fish after fish, I would get bigger and bigger. I might be ugly from a human perspective, but I do look unique. If they let me live long enough, they would really have something to show off when they entertained friends at the house. Anyone can have a goldfish, but how many can show off a huge slimy booger in a ten-gallon aquarium?

I'm very low-maintenance actually. All they would have to do is toss me a live goldfish a couple of times a month instead of having to feed me everyday like they do with Goldie. And just what do they feed Goldie? Dried fish flakes! So who is the parasite here? At least I'm not a cannibal. When you go fishing, what do you use for bait? A live worm! So just who is on welfare and who is signing the entitlement checks? Think about that the next time you take antibiotics. Have a nice day.

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"Too Nice"

My wife says I make unreasonable demands, like the one time she was recovering from a bullet wound...and she wouldn't let me pick her scabs. I she was...practically on her deathbed, & all she could think of was "herself." She didn't seem to even conceive of how much this hurt me. My self-esteem needed a boost and my yokemate, my love, my helpmeet, my little Nether-Britches, my heiress wasn't there for me in my time of need. But I'm not a selfish person, so I decided to teach her by example. I didn't even give in to the urge to tell her that, with all that damned ointment, she smelled like a camphor ball. I could have pointed to her and laughed uncontrollably, but I've come a long way since then...I didn't even show the photographs to anyone. They were for my private viewing & pleasure only. Some things have to remain sacred, even if they are marketable.

I knew the message of my "example" would have to be especially strong since the scabs were starting to heal. They say, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," but that never seemed to work for me. Besides, have you ever tried to blow yourself?

Well, my little plan never worked. The autopsy report mentions a 'curious lack of scabs on fresh wounds.' And here I am all alone with all that money and no one to pick on. I guess what I'm trying to say isn't everything. People respect you when you have enough money, but it won't buy you a jar of fresh scabs. So I guess I'm the fool for trying to take the high road with my little "example" while she's up there somewhere laughing. Nice guys really do finish last, don't they?

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"The Fear of God"

Nine year-old Rhonda was suddenly stricken with a debilitating disease. Unable to walk, she would lie in her bed for hours on end thinking of one day being able to get up and walk again, to run and play with her brother and her sister and her canine, Dogma. That never happened. She died one fine morning while the mockingbirds laughed at her just outside her window, despising her existence as they frolicked from tree to tree. But don't feel sad for her. She could have gotten better if she had more faith, but instead she was weak, so it was her duty to die. The Great Spirit despised her weakness and killed her for feeling sorry for herself. After all, there were many people in the world worse off than she. She should have been thinking about them instead of wallowing in her own selfish dreams. Instead of daring to wish to walk again, she should have thought about the added financial burden her death would bring upon her grieving family. The Great Spirit loves us and wants the best for us. Remember that next time you allow yourself to wallow in selfish thoughts and dreams. The Great Spirit has better things to do than to waste so much time inflicting us with disease and death when we deserve it. How can He express His love for us when we behave so badly? Next time maybe you will think twice before you sing at the table. Now wipe that smirk off your fat little face and go clean up your room. Fade to black.

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"Filthy Lucre"

"What does it take to get ahead?"

Her bank statement sat comfortably in her barcolounger mocking her as she knelt in shame on the floor.

Today was supposed to be the busiest postal day of the year. The postal service was estimated to be handling over 750 million pieces of mail today. "If only every piece of that mail were addressed to me containing Safeway coupons", she said to her cat, Parvo, "we would be set for life."

Parvo regarded her comment without so much as a wag of the tail, except for the word 'Safeway', which translated into kitty language as 'would you like a snack?'.

When the day ended and the coupons did not come she cursed herself for not wishing for lottery tickets instead. Another dream gone awry, she remained on her knees before the barcolounger, her eyes cast down in delicate remorse. She got up and chose a shortcut to a better situation and suddenly realized she needed a roll of quarters for laundry. Sometimes the art of pleasing can never be mastered.

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She was a woman of incredible beauty, and a proud son as well, if not profoundly confused, and yet she somehow wished to purge herself of this dark secret. She was not alone. She was adorned with adjectives the moment she was conceived. She walked to the stairwell descending an octave as she explained the origin of obedience to crunchy whole-baked goodness. She was still in the clutches of the dark secret. She was aware of the virtues of animal husbandry, however, here she sat, day after day, in quarantine with her flame-retardant sleepwear sucking on a bar of fruit pectin. Suddenly she summoned the services of Hardware, a transgendered manservant, to besmirch the dark spirit with lanolin ointments.

'What was the harm,' she mused, her face lean and haggard, 'with a few Australian Toaster Biscuits after a high colonic?' The doctor strongly suggested an assorted muffin with sans-a-belt slacks, but she misplaced her HMO card.

Her connective tissue responding rather well to the attentions of Hardware, she began to accept her fate. The dark secret no longer enslaved her spirit. Hardware mumbled something about a fully posable bend-em toy as she allowed herself to smile without benefit of clergy.

Yes, the realization was complete. It very often happens that rules are chopped into tiny pieces and dumped along the roadside in Hefty trashbags.

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Comments welcome. Stay tuned. More to come...

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Mike Welch, Copyright 1997, All rights reserved

Mike Welch

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