12 and 1 by Ed Darrin

By Ed Darrin
In our college days at Penn State, Ed Darrin and I shared a taste for bizarre, post-modern literature. I think he's always been able to better articulate the form than I have. 12 and 1 is a great example of what came into our heads in the wake of McSweeney's. -CL

1. But Alisa did not know that the teletype keyboard had been improperly connected. Her frantic typing did not appear on the screen, the conversation was cut off, and the delay caused her to miss the sell point for a perfect short play. The stock fell, and she lost almost 2,000 dollars. She also accidentally hung up on her mother, who would not answer her return call.

2. A surgeon in an emergency clinic has just finished putting stitches in a maid's lip when he is told that he will need to assist in stitching up the chin and eyelid of the hospital chairman. One of the nurses jokes, "He must have lost another fight."

3. A man in a bookstore carefully reads the dust jacket of a book about how mass marketing affects us all.

4. Mrs. Deaver, her car, and her five bags of groceries were all found the next spring when a fisherman visiting from Ohio happened to see something shining in the water.

5. Someone mistakes a sound from a Shockwave-animated website for a knock on the hotel room door and opens it into the maid's face.

6. A rash of flu-like symptoms in babies in a Midwestern town results in panic. The hospital chairman, who has always had profound stage fright, faints in front of the camera just before the start of his television interview for the nightly news.

7. A woman writes a book about mass-marketing and enlists her graphic-designer boyfriend to create a cutting-edge webpage, with sound and animation, to promote the book on the internet.

8. The man rushes the maid to the emergency room--they fall in love, and get married a week later after she recovers from corrective dental surgery.

9. A boy requires stitches after fainting and landing head-first on a footlight during a grade school play. The experience is so exciting that he decides from that moment forward that he wants to be a doctor. Eventually, he becomes chairman of a new hospital in his hometown.

0. A deaf woman, frustrated with her struggles at an intolerant workplace, spends more free time on the internet and discovers that she has a natural aptitude for the rapid pace of the online stock trade. She quits her job and becomes a highly successful day-trader and day-trading consultant.

#. After reading a book about the evils of mass marketing, a writer for an Ohio advertising firm decides he should quit the game and take a year off to do the things he's always wanted. The first thing he plans is a fishing trip in Manitoba.

*. The widow Betty Deaver drives home at night from the grocery store, distraught over a phone conversation-turned-argument with her daughter that afternoon. With tears streaming from her eyes, she misses a sharp bend in the road and drives into a half-frozen pond. Nobody sees this happen.

+1. Pressure from the advertising department causes many orders for a new teletype machine to be shipped before the development team can fully test the product. After a faulty connection is discovered in the keyboard adaptor, hundreds of the cables are recalled and replacements are sent out. Sales figures are not adversely affected.



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I can't believe that I forgot to comment on this story earlier, but it really is one of my favorites ever posted. This could easily work as a film, in a Magnolia sort of way, but without Tom Cruise once again parading around in his underwear and William H. Macy wearing braces.

This story is pretty darn totally great. A well-envisioned set of situations and circumstances, each more potent than their brevity suggests.

Being able to comment on a post this old may even be almost as totally great. As well.

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This page contains a single entry by Ed Darrin published on January 7, 2002 6:31 PM.

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My Name Is Not William, Part 1 by David Kendall, Jr. is the next entry in this blog.

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