The Fastest Thing

I remember a joke of when I was younger. With younger, I mean really young. I don’t remember how old but like, maybe 10? It was definitely in elementary school, that I remember. We used to think we were so cool, my friends and I, telling dirty, “adult” jokes. The premise was simple, a school with kids, just like us, and the teacher asks a question. What is the fastest thing in the universe? Weird question to ask a bunch of eight to ten year olds, when you think about it, but jokes have little logic I guess.

Frank had always been an asshole. He is the kind of smug and wise cracking co-worker that loves to dish it out but takes it terribly when someone goes after him. He is the kind of opportunistic boot licker that always agrees with the boss even when everyone thinks they’re wrong. Frank has been known to cut people off in meetings, but even worse, to steal ideas from others and take full credit for them. He is also bad at taking blame, even when his actions are directly tied to a poor performing project. Worse, he is the office’s resident prankster. And not a good one. God, Frank is such an asshole.

I knew a lot of jokes growing up, the dirtier the better. My friends and I were a bit of a misfit group, humor was the only thing that glued us together. And it was definitively that kind of low-brow humor that we shared, the Adam Sandler in his forties type of humor. There was this classic three act set-up I loved when I was a little kid. The set-up is: authority figure (usually a teacher) asks a question. Act 1 – the teacher’s pet answers the question with what could be the right answer. Act 2 – another smart kid answers with a more creative, equally likely to be right answer. Act 3 – Pepe answers the question. I don’t know why, but the name of the third kid was always Pepe, or “Pepito” as we used to call him. Sometimes the answer itself was the punchline, other times it required an explanation. Either way, Pepe would give an unrelated, clearly wrong, and so despicably crude answer that people would burst out laughing out of sheer shock. We used to think we were such bad asses, all the way back in grade school.

I always got along well with everyone at work. I am a bit of an introvert and kind of shy, so it’s not like everyone’s best friend, but I get along just fine. I am most comfortable at happy hours, tie undone and a cold beer in my hand. Not too many beers though, I was never much of a party person. I enjoy the casual conversations, telling blue jokes and such. The people I work with are, for the most part, the same. Casual, good-mannered people, most of them a bit older than me, with mortgages and young kids. My future selves I suppose. I even liked Frank at the beginning, but we are just too different of people. He is the outgoing one, the I-can-do-this-my-first-try kind of guy, the go-hard-in-the-paint kind of guy. I am a bit more of the, I-like-me-a-quiet-night kind of guy. I think I fit better in the company in general too, but I am not sure. I always found that to be a bit weird. (more…)

Of Sewing Shears and Budget Cuts

The final straw for Ms. Elizabeth Ledbetter, teacher of Home Economics at West Bulgewater Middle School, was of course her sewing shears. In fact, the school district’s sewing shears—all equipment belonged to the district, she knew that—but she held fond feelings that approached guardianship toward the most valuable tools of her trade. And the fizz brained art teacher, Ms. Birdie McCaw had dulled them. (more…)

 

Electric-type Revenge

Ash sat in his beat-up silver Honda, waiting. The prison parking lot was mostly empty at this time of day and he’d parked inconspicuously amongst some employee vehicles.

Twenty-five years they’d been locked in this dance, Ash and Team Rocket. Twenty-five years of lies, and kidnapping attempts. Sometimes it felt like they’d met on a weekly schedule. Ash was always told to laugh them off. That they were harmless. They were inept. Everyone brushed them off as bunglers, not even worth their time.

Ash had read an article online that they were getting out today. Bunglers! They’d put him in the most abject danger as a kid. The kind of stuff he couldn’t tell his mother about when he called home. She had worry lines around her eyes when they talked, her big boy running around the world without her. She didn’t need to know. He only ever got out of it because he had the best friend in the world. (more…)

March Stories at the Confabulator Cafe

Welcome to March at the Confabulator Cafe! We’ve got another great lineup of new, free fiction for you this month.

Our prompt: revenge or breaking point.

We hope you’ll enjoy where the Confabulators took this prompt. We also hope you’ll give a warm welcome to brand new guest author Sebastian Sanchez, who will have his Cafe debut later this month.

Here’s the March schedule:

Monday, March 5: “Electric-type Revenge” by Dianne Williams
Monday, March 12: “Of Sewing Shears and Budget Cuts” by Emily Mosher
Monday, March 19: “The Fastest Thing” by Sebastian Sanchez
Monday, March 26: “Blessed Omeka” by Aspen Junge

 

Plausible Coincidences

It wasn’t surprising that I could hear Ben’s phone echoing throughout the bar.  It was a Tuesday night, and there were only other two groups of people in the room.  It wasn’t surprising that the ringtone was some sort of digital screeching sound, either.  Ben’s idea of a good ringtone usually involved whatever stupid joke he had recently found on the Internet.  No, the surprising part was the fact that it was ringing at all.  The battery had died half an hour ago, in the middle of one of Ben’s Snapchat filter selfie binges.

“Are you… going to answer that?” I asked, staring at the phone with one eyebrow raised.

“No point,” Ben said.  He grabbed his mug in both hands.  “I mean, you can answer it if you want,” he added, “but I already know what it’s going to say.  Lemme finish my beer, and then we can go.  I’m gonna need your help with a few errands.”

I cautiously picked up Ben’s phone.  I didn’t even have to answer the call—it picked up once I held the phone next to my ear.  “We need you again,” said the raspy voice.  There was a loud click, and then nothing.  I paused, examining the phone closely.  There was no caller ID, no incoming number… just a black, dead screen.

“Dude, what is going on?”

Ben shook his head.  “Don’t worry about it.  Just… we need to go to WalMart.  I need to buy a 4-pack of light bulbs.  The really bright, high wattage kind.”

I folded my arms, and stared at him.

“Okay… look, just… I need to do this.  So either you drive me there, or I walk home and try and drive over there myself.  So if you don’t want me to drive drunk, then let’s go.”  He slammed down his beer mug for emphasis.  Whatever was going on, I was going to have a better chance of getting an explanation if I went along with his plans.  I shrugged, and put on my coat.  It wasn’t like I had anything better to do tonight.

(more…)