Fiction: January 2009 Archives

This is the story of Paul Sylvania. Paul lives alone in a tiny studio apartment in Manhattan, located a few blocks north of Columbia University on the Upper West Side. He spends his days nearby behind a counter at "Justin's Deli & More" making omelets, toasting bagels and pouring coffee for the typical ungrateful throng of New Yorkers that grab-and-go as they dash off to their own versions of a repetitive day.

His mornings never fail to start off the same way. He wakes up at 5:45am, takes a shower, gets dressed in a pair of dark slacks and a white button down shirt, then eats a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, all while the morning news is heard in the background being spit out by the local talking heads. After he brushes his teeth, he heads out the door to the establishment he has worked at for the last seven years.

On this Monday morning, he enters the deli and does one last thing for himself as part of his morning ritual; he opens his wallet to take one dollar bill out and places it on the counter near the New York Lottery machine. Justin Koehler, the owner, looks up at Paul and says, "feeling lucky today, Sylvania?" Paul responds with a sigh, "a dollar and a dream, right?" Paul enviously looks up at all the faded lottery tickets exclaiming the previous winners' earnings dangling above the lotto machine. While their intention is to encourage and excite future customers, Paul can only see it as a fat middle finger to him.

After getting his ticket, Paul carefully folds it into fours and places it in his wallet sandwiched between two twenty dollar bills. He then heads off to the grill to put on his apron.

Now, you might expect Mr. Sylvania to proceed through his day full of regret and boredom about his life. I would agree with that assumption, but that's where we would be wrong. Why wouldn't he be, right? He is exhausted by the end of every day and heads home with a consistent frown on his face and the smell of bacon on his shirt. For some reason, as soon as Paul puts that ticket in his wallet, between the two twenties, he comes alive. It's as if someone injected a large amount of caffeine in his system. Paul becomes an entertainer, occasionally bringing smiles to the regulars as he excitedly echoes their breakfast orders through a musical yell, "one scrambled egg white omelet with a side of turkey bacon coming right up" The people that are lined up to order their breakfast of choice begin to wonder how he will announce their order.

How did this happen? What are we missing in this story? Does he think he has a winning lottery ticket in his back pocket? We need to keep watching this man to find out more...

Here we are in his apartment on Tuesday morning, and we see a cereal bowl with a couple of remaining mushy cheerios making it's way around the milky shallow remains of Paul's breakfast. As we look up, we get a glimpse of him apathetically heading toward the door. As we follow Paul, he seems to be the same as he was yesterday morning. He enters the deli, and again takes out a dollar. We see a similar conversation with his boss, and again the folding of the ticket and the procession over to the grill to get his apron on and get to work. As he begins to head over to his work station, we see him skip. Yes, skip! Does he think he won the lottery again? Is this man a bit slow?


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It was halfway through his colonoscopy when Mercer St. Stephens came to a realization that was to affect the entire course of his credit rating. Having been administered only a mild, local anesthetic, Mercer was miserably awake -- if not exactly alert -- for the procedure and distractedly watched the monitor as a fiber-optic camera plumbed the cavernous depths of his bowels. At that moment, Dr. Mark Crenshaw was studying the monitor and talking softly into a headset mic as he worked the remote control.

"Uh, excuse me, Doc," said Mercer. "What are you doing? Who are you talking to on that thing?"

"What, this? I'm recording the DVD commentary," replied Dr. Crenshaw, as if the answer were obvious.

"DVD commentary?"

"Sure. I got the idea from that Monty Python movie, The Meaning of Life. You seen it?"

"Uh, once maybe, a long time ago," Mercer half-fibbed. He didn't think he'd seen it, but he didn't want to come off as culturally illiterate.

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If he ever got out of this alive, Peter swore he'd never mistake a mausoleum for a pet shop again. He also swore he'd never huff paint behind the hardware store where he worked and then take a shortcut through the cemetery on his way home again. Finally he swore, bitterly and with much vehemence, at himself for getting into this situation in the first place. Clearly he was just in a swearing mood.

As he crouched behind a tombstone, he heard the moans and cries of his pursuers as they combed the graveyard looking for him.

"Fools! Idiots!" cried one in a thick Romanian accent. "How hard is it to find one frightened boy?"

Frightened? Boy? The words alone made Peter's blood boil. Okay, maybe he was a little scared, but he was no boy. Would a mere boy blunder his way into a night of terror involving the ranks of the undead, who were even now intent on making him one of them? Actually, yes, he would. But it would take a man to get him out of it.

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This page is an archive of entries in the Fiction category from January 2009.

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