“The Write’s Tough,” by Michael Price

Aug 20th, 2014 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

I think I may have a problem. I first got an inkling while proofing my last short story, “Life with Shoe Polish,” which, sadly, isn’t as good as it sounds. As a supposed man of words, the interminable quest for viable, interesting plots and characters may catch up with me somewhere down the line. That said, some thoughts over which I am currently mulling:

I’ve already been working on a one-act play: A woman comes home from work to discover her Pomeranian has been appointed U. S. Ambassador to Maldives. The very model of canine sexuality, Monsieur Barque-Barque inexplicably attempts suicide but, fortunately, his weapon is one of those ultra-realistic looking squirt rifles and he succeeds only in heinously matting his fur, making him look more than a little bit anorexic. He eventually resigns his post and runs away to join the Peace Corp, where he not only stumbles upon the irrepressible enjoyment of smoking pickled aphids in a beer bong but also the proper etiquette when passing gas through prison bars. The end will surely sneak up on you: Little Barkie becomes a Broadway sensation in the smash hit historical drama “Lint in the 24th Century,” where the little fella stops the show in act three with his particularly moving portrayal of an overemotional toenail clippers. As yet untitled.

A possible short story idea: John and Margie Taxidonkey share an outspoken belief in ghosts, but only the ones that make the bed when they leave in the morning. In a spectacularly vivid dream, John is confronted by an especially effeminate apparition, who maintains that heaven is a lovely place to visit but advises John against the pin-striped onesy/teal tam outfit he has planned. In a related dream, Jasper the Casper also mentions something to Margie about hell being a bit humid this time of year but, at the time, she’s rinsing her hair in a crock pot of chili con queso and doesn’t hear a word and later crashes an international convention of insurance salesmen, calling out, “What the hell is literal vagary?” several times during a speech by an Alex Trebek impersonator.

In a novella with the working title “Urban Cramping,” a teen-aged girl wakes up one morning to discover she has changed into her mother’s bundt pan. Substantially aroused, she spends hour after hour perched on the edge of her bed fondling a giant economy-size can of Liquid Plumber to the velvet croonings of Ry Cooder’s Greatest Hits. She later joins a support group for people who never pick up loose change off the ground and impulsively dives into her little brother’s kiddie pool filled with fruit cocktail. In the end, she accidentally kills herself by sticking her finger down her throat, and leaving it there. It’s a little slow moving at first, but “Cramping” picks up considerably in the middle of chapter two after the young lady gets a nipple stuck in the garbage disposal.

Or, how about this: A former Playgirl model bumps into an old girlfriend in the produce department of Ralph’s, significantly contusing her left areola. After years of therapy, he has finally come to terms with their break-up and now accepts her parting depiction of him as “a rotting and nauseating swine carcass” was uttered out of concern for his mental health rather than cruel hatred, which was his initial thought. She, however, never the benevolent sort, rediscovers the enfeebling capacity of an accurately launched ten-pound bag of potatoes and over-tips the bag boy to help her tie him up in the middle of the dollar isle wearing a “Past Due Date” sign around his waist. Important determination: light comedy or memoir?

The theme in my work-in-progress first person narrative “Tower of Scraggle” ruthlessly explores the age-old question, “Is there a God?” And if there is, what’s His excuse? Does He have to answer the same three life insurance questions as everybody else? Are His inoculations up to date? When He gets P.O.’d, does He actually say, “I, incidentally, do damn it!”—like my friend Merton Mandlebury has maintained for years? And if He is indeed all powerful, why did I so grossly overpay for cable last month? My mind is burdened with doubt, doubt which I suggest in the story’s final paragraph could be easily lifted by a 4-14-24-32-43 and 13 Power Ball ticket, sold at the Holiday Station, right down the street, just on the other side of McDonalds. Hint, hint, God… or would I have had to even say that?


While Jim was working out at the club one morning he overheard one of the trainers tell a guy, “You should be able to bench press your own body weight.” So, clever logician he, Jim decided to lose 80-90 pounds and give it a shot. Actually, for the most part, Jim likes his club but the mirrors bother him awfully, probably because whenever he’s there, the lights are on. He meets a very pretty lady in a Pilates for Toolbags class but when he asks her name, she gets confused and runs around the track spritzing all the black guys with bleach water.

The difference between life and death varies, but always includes a soul that takes a lot of long weekends. I like this theme but, as yet, I’m drawing a blank on the details.

I’m considering starting my very own mythology. I’m tentatively calling it My Mythology, which, admittedly, may be a bit of a stretch, but good enough for the time being. A few possible characters I’m considering, admittedly rough sketches at this point:

The Blork is a flightless bird with the torso of a dachshund and the head of a divorce attorney. My Mythology holds that when a Blork kisses on the lips it either means six more weeks of black-and-white Gilligan’s Island reruns or he’s lost his bus pass. The Blork, a veteran politico, never votes in years ending in a two and contributes financially only to candidates who voluntarily yodel the theme from “Shaft” during campaign fund raisers.

I see The Great Cantini as a twenty-one year old supreme being, similar to a snapping turtle, which, once a month, swims ashore in search of a decent salad bar, oftener during PBS sweeps weeks. Sporting a ratty looking zit the size of Connecticut sticking straight out from his forehead, Cantini always giggles uncontrollably whenever it hears the word “cockpit” used in the wrong context and shamelessly name drops “Whitcluck Whatzenhoisen” at cocktail parties whenever the opportunity presents itself, although they have never met and there is no such person.

Fickey is a small poisonous rodent and the pride of Overland Park, Kansas, whose badger-like snout has been autographed by Joey Bishop. Its diet consists primarily of soft-boiled two-by-fours, sweet and sour Republicans, and kale chips, and often shows up at soup kitchens wearing an “I’m With Stupid” button that’s missing the arrow. It does the crossword puzzle in ink every Sunday but whenever it runs across the clue, “Picnic playwright, four letters,” it loudly orates the phrase, “Another spear wound to the head, if you would,” several times to a bunch of Lutherans eating hot dish.

I gotta believe the My Mythology plot lines will practically write themselves.

Another potential comedy: A long time wino paratrooper turns suicide bomber by exhaling on the Persian Gulf. A former wallet model, Johnny Fluffenfold had been recently featured in an episode of Beaver Bitches From Boise as a down-on-his-luck wrestling mat before finding his true calling as the middle-aged guy who belts out a raucous “Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo!” at the end of erectile dysfunction commercials. Just before his big exit, Mr. Fluffenfold climbs to the top of Kareem Abdul Jabbar and recites several Euclidean Theorems in Swahili to the tune of The Beatles’ When I’m Sixty-Four.

Or, how about a piece of epic poetry chronicling the adventures of an advanced class of first grade prodigies that haven’t even been born yet? An idea still in the formative stages with the possible working title, “Hemorrhoidal Chalkboard,” I see this as a somewhat static, cerebral piece, but one that definitely ends with the phrase, “Etcetera. The end… no wait, I didn’t go yet!”

I have never understood poetry.

Then there’s the one about the occasionally successful author of short fiction who runs out of meaningful ideas to write about.

Which, of course, is borderline absurd.


Defenestration-Dapper GentlemanMichael Price received his BA in Theater from the University of Minnesota in 1980 and has been writing both short and long fiction ever since, primarily as a source of self-amusement. Regularly published in literary journals, he performed his one-man one-act play “No Change of Address” at the 2011 MN Fringe Festival; most folks even clapped. A former photographic body model, Michael still enjoys fitness training, working on crossword puzzles and Sudokus between sets, because he is still so easily bored. He lives in St. Paul with his long-time friend and Scrabble punching bag, Pamela Veeder.

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