Stories in Search of Beginnings, Middles, Ends, and Sides

Written by Michael Blitz; rescued by Derek Owens.

Excerpts from a collection of 65 stories (by Blitz) with images (by Owens). Publication forthcoming.


The Murrays

The Murrays

They could call them “superheroes” all they wanted. Wearing capes didn’t make them so. At the first sign of a cold or flu, their muscles would come off. They might manage to gut-punch one or two of them, but they would, as always, get carried away. And that would be when they would have to exchange heroism for

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Some Times

At that point, Joe was livid. His face had turned the kind of red that turns to its neighbors for support.

“Sometimes yes means absolutely not! And did I not just say yes?”

“I don’t know what you said!” I said. Joe wasn’t looking. There was someone at the window, waving.

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Pretty Things

you.

Ugh, he thought. She’ll never believe that.

“How would you know?” she whispered.

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Rotten Timmy – Part 2

able. Not again. How the fuck had he gotten himself into so deep this time? Bad enough he’d forgotten to check in with—what the hell.

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The Tide and the Tied

This was not exactly true, of course. But “I” couldn’t tell the difference between right and left, if his gonads depended on it.

You mean “absolutely not,” I corrected.

On the near-side of apoplexy, Joe erupted, “No. I. Do. Not. Mean. What. You. Say. I. Mean!”

I thought to say more but didn’t

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Knowing

her frail hands weren’t frail—though that is how she thought of them. It was, she believed, part of her allure.

He smiled at his wife to hide his loathing, but secretly he hoped that she knew. Other men stared, in hunger, in haste, in desperation. But they weren’t looking at her hands. They didn’t see her hands and knew nothing about what those hands had done and could, at any moment, still do. Only he knew, only her husband who was not her husband—the man whose hatred of her was surpassed only by the dark stain

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With Things

you.” Ugh, he thought.

He would add, in passing, that “she was a foolish girl who went through the motions but didn’t have a real thought in her head.” He couldn’t even be sure that his wife had seen him flirting with the girl. She’d glanced at him, but it was that empty gaze she always had when she was butchering a chicken. Well, it was a mystery. It was as though people actually wanted something so terrible. Still, there was the problem of explaining.

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Return to Me, So That I Shall Be Returned-To

as a dove is, the dough of doubt becomes a sign of resignation on the brow of souls and the soles of the downtrodden! Relief, they say, comes only to those who say “Release me, Lord!” But who among us knows from what or whom release must come? Reach up your arms, then! Raise up your voice and declare that this day, no

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Not All the

I hadn’t realized that each button, buried among hundreds in the cake-tin, was part of her memory of my grandfather’s brown cardigan, her own father’s black suit coat, her daughter’s “man-shirt” that predicted so much about her. My sister loved those buttons differently. To me, they were checkers and coins and color-tests; to my sister, they were bits of treasure, and that, I have always known, is why my grandmother allowed my sister to brush her thinning gray hair and to hear secrets that none of us would know. It is also why my grandfather would sit with me.

The Wooden Thing

The Wooden Thing

not weeping! Buckets and buckets of tears. And sweat. No, not sweat! Crying everywhere. Not good.

Start again.

Start with a name.

Then a description. No! Things. Start with the things, then the description, then the names.

Okay, but crying for Christ’s sake? What the hell was with the crying? No one cried anymore. People wept, now.

“They,” he muttered, “should be weeping.”

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Never With

be. If the mother was mad, who made me? All that death makes a man wish he’d moved, stepped out from behind the stone curtain. Not me, though. I didn’t wish. I didn’t die, either.

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One Day Like Any Other Though

He was laughing, as his goddam father had done. Nothing so tragic that they couldn’t laugh like mental patients, the assholes. She hated him and everyone in his bloodline. As they stepped up to take their place beside the casket, she placed the white orchid beside her mother-in-law’s hideous face. She moved away, her husband’s laughter drowning out the muffled sounds of crying. Someone was praying. She felt her husband’s hand on her shoulder and shrugged it, and him, away. He was still laughing, and it

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The Academy – Part 2

All new boys. Captain Sweeny was happy. And excited. He turned to his assistant, Private Cortz Bouse, and smiled that smile, the one that meant something. Private Bouse knew what it meant but tried not to think about it.

“All new, fresh, eager boys,” Captain Sweeny murmured. “Private Bouse! Show them to their bunks!”

“Yes, Sir!”

“And tell them to be ready for my inspection at oh-seven hundred hours.”

“Yes, Sir!”

“Oh, and Private?”

“Yes, Sir?”

Captain Sweeny paused a moment. “Nevermind.”

“Yes, Sir!”

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Asshole of the Beach

“I wonder if there’s more water than sand,” Netty thought out loud, as she often did. And just as often she ignored herself.

“They are both infinite.”

Netty looked up suddenly. Who had spoken? She had thought she was alone, but now there was a stranger smiling at her.

“What?” It was all Netty could think to say.

“The number of grains of sand and the number of water molecules in the sea are both infinite. They can never be counted.”

“Never?” Netty asked and then immediately wondered why she should even be listening to this strange man.

“Well, maybe if you had an infinite amount of time, you might be able to count them all. But would you really want to?” He turned away from Netty and began to cry.

“You’re crying! How strange!”

The strange man turned back to her, eyes brimming over with tears.

“You see, my new little friend,” he said, “my tears are as infinite as the sand and the sea.”

Fortunately, just then, Netty felt the necessary hatred.

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Tarship

all and then some!

Chapter 2: Birds Died That Day

It was the rain, or maybe the lack of rain, or the direction of the rain—he was never sure. The boy was still following him. Neither had said a word. Maybe it wasn’t the rain at all. The boy caught up and tugged at his shirt. He looked down at the filthy lad and saw that the boy was pointing to something off in the distance. He made his eyes follow the boy’s line of sight, and sure enough, the boy was right.

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Everywhere in Force

Ah, that song. That voice. But now it was all fading, and it was hard to accept that soon, if he continued, there would not be

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Ah, M’amour, Mais Pourquoi?

Mais, bien sur!”

Ugh, she thought. He’s speaking ‘French’ again. And not even good French. Once he’d told her, “Mon amie, j’ai besoin la mer sur ton tete!”

You need the sea on my head? She’d asked him.

“Ha ha! It is an excellent joke!” he’d replied. He then grinned like an idiot, and she told him so—or at least told him partly.

“Idiot!,” is what she’d actually said.

“Ha ha ha!” he laughed. And now, he was doing it again, speaking some kind of dickish fake French that infuriated her and made her hate him even more. He was her husband, but come tomorrow, she would be long gone.

“Speak English,” she muttered just loud enough for him to hear but not so loud that he could be certain he’d understood.

“Oui, oui, mon petit spatule!”

“Get out of my way,” she hissed at him as she stepped past him into the bedroom. “You just called me a spatula.”

“Ha ha ha ha!” he laughed, delighted by his error.

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eland Security

“The redacted redacted redacted redacted notwithstanding,” he explained, “the redacted redacted unfortunate.”

“Yes, sir, that makes perfect sense.” Major Thomas was the professional sycophant desired by every member of the redacted redacted. “Will you be holding a press conference, Sir?” The Major already knew the answer would be “Of course!”

“Of course!” General Owens was nothing if not terse. “And I’m going to tell those journalist bastards that if they misquote me, the redacted redacted redacted redacted redacted redacted Pacific Ocean!”

The meeting was over, as signaled by the General’s customary cigar-lighting. Major Thomas turned to the others to indicate, without words, that it was time for them to leave. One by one, the members of the redacted redacted filed out. The last to leave, Major Thomas turned back to look one last time at the man who, by the Major’s hand, would be dead within the hour.

“What are you looking at?” demanded the General.

redacted redacted redacted, Sir.”

General Owens made the sound he always made. As the Major made his exit, closing the door silently behind him, the General felt the first twinge of guilt. He had learned of the Major’s plans for him and had made sure, during a moment when the would-be assassin looked away, to redacted redacted redacted the redacted.

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Me Not. He Loves Me. He Loves.

look for all she cared! This was supposed to be her day.

“You expect me to just forget about—”

“Aw, c’mon, honey,” he whined. “

Emerson Fitapaldi’s Clutch

“Now, for Christ’s sake!” The pit boss was livid. Obviously “now” was not going to mean releasing the Trans Am on time for Emerson Fitapaldi to zip back onto the track.

“Clutch is shot!” the clutch-guy yelled right back at the pit boss. “Gonna take another minute.”

“We don’t got a minute, asshole! And Emerson Fitapaldi sure as hell don’t’ got a minute!” But the pit boss’ words were lost just then as eight cars roared by.

Standing a few feet from his car, Emerson Fitapaldi watched the track, neither upset nor, for that matter, interested. He was out of the race, he knew. In fact, he knew he’d never sit behind the wheel of another race-car.

“Take your time, Spring-man,” Emerson Fitapaldi called to the idiot beneath his car. “I’m done here.” He tucked his helmet under his arm—he’d give it to his mother who would give it to the Church of the Last Affliction. The parishioners could auction it off to pay Father Buxbaum’s salary. He’d sell his jumpsuit on ebay. And he’d sell the name Emerson Fitapaldi to whatever TV commercials wanted it.

“Whatta ya mean yer done?!” The pit boss was furious; the rest of the crew were stunned. “Yer not done tils I say yer done!” The pit boss thought of himself as the corner-man for a prize fighter named Emerson Fitapaldi, and Emerson Fitapaldi understood that just as the pit boss understood why Emerson Fitipaldi kicked him in the crotch before walking away.

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Minor Disagreement

inexcusable. Just terrible. What else could he say?

“Let it go,” he said.

So, there was something else he could say. But to whom?

“To me,” she said. “Who else would listen to you?”

She was right, I thought. She was almost always right—

“Almost?”

Very nearly always right, and this time he was afraid to

interrupt.

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If You See Me Walk Away, Stay.

But it’s damned hard to write an autobiography. You can write every single stupid little thing you’ve ever done or thought or thought to do, and you still wouldn’t get it all. This was not going to be a slam-dunk. No picnic. Walk in the park? Not a prayer. Not even a wing. Maybe it could be

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Olive Told Me She Picked

never really liked Olive. And I’m pretty sure that Olive never really liked me. But one thing’s for sure. If there is a prettier girl than Olive, she doesn’t live on Earth.

Truth be told, I don’t live on Earth either. Along with the second wave, I moved to Mars—or Earth-Too, as we call it (not very clever) almost ten years ago. I volunteered mainly to get as far way from Olive as possible. I hated her. I’ve always hated her, but in those last few months on Earth-Won (another cleverism we dreamed out here on Earth-Too), I grew to despise Olive as much as she probably despised me. On Earth-Too, I have a girlfriend, but she isn’t very pretty. Not pretty at all, actually. She came here in the first wave and now she kind of looks Martian. But males outnumber females almost three to one, so I’m considered super lucky to have a girlfriend, even if she won’t have sex with me. Nobody has sex with anyone else here because before we make that kind of commitment, we’re all waiting to see who’s coming in the third wave next year. I think Olive might come, which I don’t care about because I wouldn’t go near her except that she’s so pretty I mi

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Possibly to Do with Herschel’s Anus

bits around the dying star. Sad to see

end. Herschel’s telescope told of

art of the story. For the rest, a simple

all, and behind the last door was

oratory where Herschel’s assistant had

astronomers argued, nevertheless, for

ray.

But Herschel had a darker

seen something beyond the last

past the Kuiper Belt. With his ass

as able to conclude that the dwarf

Earth. Herschel had never told his ass

in telling anyone what he’d seen.

one would know anyway, at least

fore the most catastrophic collision

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Holding on to Yesterday’s Tube

Insufficient? The nerve! He’d had to make do with a hammer and the wind. It was the wind that was insufficient. And the utter lack of bunting.

I’ll show you insufficient! He built a fire and looked around for something to cook. It was raining, which meant

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Give Us This

to have the chance to dig the thing up!

“It is likely to be perfectly preserved. But remember, you are to do nothing beyond the simple disinterment.”

But we all knew that, once it was in our hands, not one of us would be able to resist examining, handling, maybe even caressing it. At dusk, we gathered up our picks and shovels and retired for the evening. The temperature had dropped to a dozen degrees below freezing, but we hadn’t even noticed the cold while we worked the site. Now, in the big tent, even with the stove going, we all shivered. There were plenty of blankets and a half gallon of brandy; we wouldn’t freeze. And yet all but one of us would be dead by morning. Of that every one of us was certain.

Thee and Thou

Thee and Thou

“Who,” Don asked the new poets, “do you read?” He took a long pull on his pipe, exhaled a plume of magenta smoke, and took an inch off the top of his cup of wine. Back then, professors could be just that cool.

“I read limericks,” one of the idiots said.

“Nepo,” another idiot offered.

“Ogden Nash,” the third idiot ejaculated.

Don was pleased. Only three idiots this time.

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Zounds

He called the story his “much-like.” It was not, of course, about the real Jesus Christ. But what is undeniable is that the part where Jesus rises out of the septic tank was the single most significant reason the publisher turned the manuscript down. Like he said, “There’s no “I” in “Jesus.” Sadly, shortly thereafter, he was murdered. Or someone was.

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The Art of, As They Say, What?

“Oh, please!” Rod wrote.

“Does the word,” Sheila said, “self-absorbed mean anything to you?”

Looking up, Rod was obviously startled by Sheila’s use of italics. “When did you,” he asked with his favorite sneer, “start to be so emphatic?”

“You can just wipe that sneer—”

“Be careful, love!” Rod was quick, but Sheila was quicker.

“You don’t scare me!”

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The Twelfth of Sometimes

though it was a perfectly lovely bouquet.

“Nothing,” Johnny Mathis snapped, “is perfect!” But he was, as always, wrong. One day, it was true, he would be right. It was a statistical certainty.

“Oh, darling,” she murmured, “nothing is certain.” Still, she thought, he seems sufficiently convinced that I am my sister.

“You,” he remarked, “seem somehow different.”

Yes, she thought, yes.