Like A Boss

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It took me a minute to find him because of all the loud music and the angry hostility with which both men and women glared at me as I pushed through the dance floor to reach the table.

“Casper here is a flight instructor,” Dom introduced me, standing up as I walked over. He looked awkward getting up from the stool, his belly hanging over his dark pants, protruding against the buttons of his suit. It looked like there was sweat gathering at the spindly junctures of his mustache and goatee from the effort. I shook his hand concernedly.

“Ah, another protege?” asked the man sitting with him. “Looking to consistently pull more beautiful women? A new master for our method?” Continue reading

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An Unworn Pair

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Franklin was intent on dating someone who offered him no conveniences. He looked down on his friends who dated women that cut their hair very stylishly for free, or cooked gourmet meals. Likewise, he looked down on his friends who dated men that did their oil changes or helped pay their student loans. He wanted no pragmatic advantages. He saw them as sellout compromises, reminiscent of the comforts that keep older unhappy couples from divorcing – once they thought of all the hassle, the little bits of laziness they would surrender. He wanted no ignoble and petty considerations like that in his calculations of freedom or commitment. Continue reading

Keeps No Record of Wrongs: A Valentine’s Day Story

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When Callista started dating Colin Raffaeli, I had to break them up.

You have to understand how terrible Colin Raffaeli is. Imagine Colin Raffaeli pulling up with his friends in his gigantic off-roading pickup with those monster truck tires I’ve never even seen at a dealership (where do you get monster truck tires?), Lil Wayne blaring at that bass level that’s so distorted you hear the car vibrating more than any music.

I didn’t have to imagine because I was watching the driveway from behind the French blinds in the front sitting room by the foyer, under our track lighting. Colin Raffaeli was wearing a big white Abercrombie polo and big khaki cargo shorts and big brown flapping flip-flops. You could almost smell the body-spray on him.

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The People You Meet

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“That’s so true,” she said.

I looked up from my Maki roll. “What is?”

She showed to me her phone, on which was a picture of fuzzy stock-art of two hands clasping over a candle with a quotation in intricate white Gothic-font text on top: “Life Truth #754: When The People Most Important In Your Life Are The Ones You Didn’t Expect.”

I said, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.”

She looked surprised. “No, it’s not,” she said.

“You’re implying there’s something unusual or special about people you care about – I assume you’re thinking a best friend or a boyfriend – that it’s somehow a unique magical thing that you didn’t expect to meet them or expect them to become important to you?”

“It’s true for me.”

“No, it’s categorically true. That’s why it’s stupid to say. Like if you say, ‘Isn’t it crazy that when I lose something it’s always in the last place I look?’ Because then you didn’t look anymore.”

She had this wide-eyed expression. “Ohhhh-kayyyy,” she said, drawing it out like you would for an accosting hobo. Continue reading

Snow Day

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I pulled up to Des Plaines Oasis while Sadie was still babbling on in the passenger seat about her night-class professor, some mustached old Timothy-Dalton-now-lookalike with cheap blue blazers that were too big even for his strange gorilla frame, Phillip something. “There’s a whole way,” Sadie was saying, “like, the whole system, of how everything has been designed to keep women from power.”

“Jeez,” I said, trying to look through the thick ice and snow built into a haze across the windshield. “It’s murder out here.”

The parking lot was covered in white and terrain hazards in snow drifts and mounds so that it looked like a construction zone where parking spots had hastily been carved out of a hilltop. The wind outside continued to blow the falling snow around in a faint fog that could blind you for more than a few feet.

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Blast From The Past Part 1: Put Down The Scalpel

I thought it would be fun this week to post some old stories I had written so I could give them a fresh look and accept any new feedback that came from people who have never read them.

The story for today is from the not-so-distant past, the summer of 2011 when I was brand new to New York and living with two Turkish guys in a one-bedroom in Sunnyside, Queens. It was the first time I tried my hand at writing a flash fiction piece in a surrealist style, which followers of The Midnight Diner will know I’ve continued doing (see: “Playdough for Lunch“).

This story was published last fall in the online lit journal Thirteen Myna Birds.

“Put Down The Scalpel”

The doctor’s sleepy eyes peered at Angela from under heavy wrinkled hoods. He was huffing and puffing. Sweat trickled down the grid on his forehead and the bridge of his nose and around his eyes. Angela watched his hands move to a tray of surgical instruments as she lay on the operating table, just below the doctor’s breath. She raised an eyebrow in concern. She could hear a faint buzzing.

Doctor, why are you sweating? It is cold in this room.

Patient, I am nervous.

Doctor, why would you be nervous? Why are you not calling me by my name?

Patient, I have forgotten the procedure and your name.

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The Embrace

Robin lay in bed next to his wife with his eyes closed, hoping to fall back asleep. It’s Saturday morning, he thought. No reason to get up and face the world now, and if I open my eyes, then I might as well just get up; it’s bad enough I can see the light coming through the parted blinds through my closed eyelids. He listened to her breathing and locked into a vision, a mental image of her sleeping body rising and falling with deep sleeping breaths.

She had been different lately. He tried not to think about that, but the more he pictured her sleeping body with his eyes closed and listened to her breathing and occasionally snoring the lightest of purring sounds, the more he couldn’t shake the image of an embrace between her and her coworker from a week before. Walt. A tall man with tall dark hair and impossibly long legs ending in long feet clad in impossibly shiny black shoes. The embrace – he viewed it while waiting for Kate in his car, waiting to pick her up from her company’s holiday party, his view obscured somewhat by fat, wet flurries that came down mockingly and separated him from his wife – the embrace – him waiting like a fool, biding his time playing with the defrost buttons and humming along with Phil Collins coming in staticky over the factory car speakers – the embrace between Walt and Kate – a little too long and a little too close and Walt was a little too tall and Kate was looking up at him a little too hard and Robin was a little too jealous there in his warm car feeling cold while she in the cold hugged Walt and felt warm.

Robin suspected the worst but said nothing to Kate. Continue reading