Friday, August 1, 2008

Short story contest in New Orleans

P0-boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Desserts Spelled Backwards
What Do You expect?
Well, I just put a hundred dollars in my gas tank. things have gotten ugly, real ugly. So far I’ve not heard of anyone getting as much of a raise in salary as the gas prices, food prices and indeed all prices have warranted. And as I gaze out over the fen at daybreak, I am reminded of that little voice in my head that whispers… ‘what do you expect?’
Did I expect that government on all levels is not staffed by people that can’t make a living doing anything else, not that there’s that much else to do around here while we wait for the next big one to tear us a new one. Okay, we do have three options other than politics: 1. Work selling things that come from China. 2. Wait on tables that mostly consist of foreigners that are celebrating their currency exchange that is kicking our butts. 3. Gaze out over the fen and ask ourselves: “what do I expect?”
It all started with the CEOs of the gas company gloating about how much profit that they make at my expense. And then the article that Abita Beer has to spend triple the money to make a beer, and even the fact that PBR has gone up in price. Yeah, the squeeze is on and I for one do not feel like putting my hands together about it.
But what do I expect (and what does Hillary want?) question mark, question mark. I want to feel like I do when I eat chocolate, when I’m having ice cream, and that’s just not happening in this climate, at this time.
Consequently, I’ve entertained the thought of entering a short story contest. Top prize: two thousand bucks. That would feel like chocolate. Actually, I had to ask my kid sister to explain to me exactly what constitutes a ‘short story’. The only thing that I remember about what she told me (and there was a great deal) is “beginning, middle and end” and, “make it short”. I guess I’ll have to do it third person and other criteria like that that I picked up at the Tennessee Williams Conference and the William Faulkner Festival. I’ve learned a lot at those conferences, mostly through osmosis. I think that what I’m supposed to do is work up some inner demon, an inner subconscious demon and let it fly with as much attention to detail (not to mention alacrity) toward a release that aims at catharsis and self-actualization at the very least. Hence, the ‘gazing out over the fen’. Let me try it out on you.
Okay, here I am in third person gazing, gazing. Perhaps smoking a pipe. It is daybreak with all the riotous colors that accompany a red sky in the morning (sailors take warning!). The first birds of the day are taking flight, chasing the first insects that are on a diet of other insects including the damn mosquitoes that are carrying about a pint of my blood from last night, rich in single barrel bourbon.
I’m gazing for signs of the mailman or the recycling truck or perhaps my lover (that no count that has made a fool of me). The radio plays in the background a forgotten song (Ques: what was that forgotten song? Ans: Brenda Lee, ‘Comin’ on strong’). That old football injury (where I got hit by an old football) is acting up and the medication is just starting to kick in.
‘When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed…. No, no Nannette, I can’t use that line. Okay, off in the distance I hear something. Jingle bells? Clydesdales? Martini glasses? It’s a belly dancer! That’s it, a belly dancer delivering a dancing telegram. What does it say?
Work with me here, two grand aint nothing to sneeze at unless your nose is full of Peruvian marching powder. Okay, we can’t describe a dancing telegram; so, what do we have? I’m gazing over the fence (in third person), at the tor by the fen in deep anticipation and with an attitude both withdrawn and recalcitrant… clearly a made man.
Naw… I’m in a wheelchair, see? A torpedo from Toledo got me with his gat when my guard was down. I think his name was Louie or Lefty or something like that and hanging was too good for him, if you ask me. But he got what was comin’ to him and I even kicked him while he was down… yeah … and then I went out shopping for towels with his moll.
You know, scumbag is not a word that you hear, let alone read, very often and I think that I should include it in the story. Do you think it too harsh? I think it brings up a good visual. Like, just picture those people in your life that you relate to as scumbags; that’s the kind of guy Louie or Lefty was, and I did him in but good…the scumbag! He won’t be pullin’ no roscoe on nobody any time too soon.
Too much drama? Okay, how about a guy who quits his job at Sprawl-mart selling stuff made in China because his other job got outsourced and he’s waiting on tables because it’s the only place to make enough money to buy gas, pay excessive rent and utilities and his girlfriend thinks he doesn’t work out enough or spend enough time with her and he forgot to file taxes this year and he thinks that all politicians are thieving scumbags and the election is coming up and a hurricane is coming and cigarettes just went up to ten bucks a pack. He’s just gotten another ticket on his car, this one for a hundred and twenty bucks, he hasn’t been to a movie in two years and the day he decides to go, he gets hit by a Ben and Jerry’s delivery truck driven by Louie or Lefty or somebody like that, who gets out and tosses a melted Chunky Monkey in his face and tells him that he was better off by the fence with the tor and the fen and who does he think he is calling him names and going off to buy towels? Too much reality? Well, what do you expect, I’ve had a tough day…where’s my chocolate?

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