The Trunk (2100 words)by Paul Briggs
It started with a conversation with Mrs. Crawford at the Scheiner Street Sewing Shop. It was April of ’91, I was getting ready to graduate from high school, and as soon as I was out the door I planned to pack my bags and head for L.A.
Step one? Get some bags. I mentioned to Mrs. Crawford that I was having trouble finding a suitcase big enough to hold my clothes.
“I might be able to help you there,” she said. “My sister Jane — have you met her? She’s married to George Shaddick. They live up in Rice Lake. They’re cleaning out their attic, and they have a lot of stuff they’re trying to sell… or get rid of, anyway. One of the things they’ve got is a big old steamer trunk. Have you ever seen one of those? Some people use them as coffee tables. I think it would be about the right size for you.”
“That sounds good,” I said. “Do you know how much they want for it?”
The Fog of War: The Board GameIt’s a Red Day by the calendar, but not even Tenni warriors are inclined to go out and practice in the middle of a blizzard. My father has gathered the older children of all four of his wives together in the main hall, along with Kirim and a few cousins like Shalh. The Duchess, the alpha wife and the brains of the family, is with him. There are game boards on the table, each with twelve squares by twelve.
“Today I am going to teach you how to play tukunshumang,” she says. (If you’re curious, the name means “fog of war.”) “In this game you will learn tactics, strategy, and adaptability in the face of the unexpected.”
She takes out the pieces and explains the rules. The slower kids need them explained two or three times, so this takes a while. Here’s the short(ish) version:
First, there are the Infantry pieces. These are little flat disks like checkers pieces, and there are thirteen of them on each side. Twelve of them have a p
J. Alfred Prufrock Comin' Round the MountainMALE VOICE: Let’s go through the streets half-empty, you and I
FEMALE VOICES:(You and I)
MALE VOICE: We’ll eat oyster-shells and sawdust, you and I
FEMALE VOICES:(You and I)
MALE VOICE: Oh, do not ask “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit
Where the evening’s lying drugged out on the sky
FEMALE VOICES:(On the sky)
MALE VOICE: There’s the room where all the women come and go
FEMALE VOICES:(Come and go)
MALE VOICE: Yes, that room is where the women come and go
FEMALE VOICES:(Come and go)
MALE VOICE: ‘Cause that Michelangelo
May be just a gigolo
But they always come when to his room they go
FEMALE VOICES:(He’s a ho)
MALE VOICE: And indeed there will be time to smoke that stuff
FEMALE VOICES:(Smoke that stuff)
MALE VOICE: If you want to smoke that sliding yellow stuff
FEMALE VOICES:(Yellow stuff)
MALE VOICE: And a hundred
The Growth Ledger (Deleted Scene)11/14/83 10 years, 4 months 74¼” 204 lbs.
Reenie never had much time for Saturday morning cartoons. Usually she was up and out jogging with Derek when they were playing.
But one morning it was raining so hard that even Derek and Reenie were willing to stay indoors. When Reenie was done lifting weights in the basement, she came up and sat down next to Jody.
The Smurfs was on. I remember this because it was a very strange episode, where there was some kind of magic door that could only be unlocked by solving an algebra problem. Given the sums of K+E, E+Y and K+Y, they had to solve K+E+Y.
“I wonder if I could figure it out,” said Reenie. (People sometimes assumed that because she was so big and strong, she couldn’t be very bright. She took great pleasure in proving them wrong.)
“I bet I can,” I said. I’m an accountant — it would be a pretty poor showing if I couldn’t solve this. So we both picked up paper and penc
Welcome To Our World (1700 words)by Paul Briggs
2. 3. And a little symbol — a thick vertical line with arrows pointing outward on either side. That was what was on the little slip of paper taped to the bottom of Gomez’s desk drawer.
She had found it working at his desk yesterday. Her first thought had been that it was some kind of password, but the symbol didn’t match anything you could make on the keyboard.
It wasn’t until the end of the day, when she’d stepped into the elevator, that she had realized what it was. The symbol had been sketched out to match, as carefully as possible, the “open door” button on the elevator. On a whim, she had pressed 2, then 3, then the “open door” button. What had happened, of course, was that the door (which had been in the process of closing) had opened again. Then it had closed, and the elevator had gone down to the second floor, then up to the third floor. That had been a minor waste of time.
Today, she was about ready to forget
Locksmith's Closet (Deleted Scene: Swan Attack)Ahead was the beaver dam pond.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired,” said Gary. “Could we stop to rest for a minute?”
Lock looked at his watch, then nodded. Gary sat down heavily on the ground and started massaging his legs. Then there was a rustling in the bushes… and a swan burst out and charged him, wings beating furiously.
Lock backed away, but it kept coming after him. He turned to run, tripped and fell to his knees and dropped the camera. The swan’s wing struck him across the shoulders.
This was much more painful that he would have believed. It was like being hit by a steel baton wrapped in a very thin layer of cloth. Lock dived into the underbrush.
It was still after him. It pecked at the soles of his shoes, which didn’t hurt, and then pecked him in the seat of his pants, which did. Some part of Lock’s mind was astounded at his own actions as he turned over, kicked it in the chest and punched it in the side o
Locksmith's Closet (Deleted Scene: Mom Loses It)by Paul Briggs
Catching a glimpse of his face in the side mirror of the car, Lock grimaced a little. When Dad was alive, Mom would always make them get a haircut just before he came back — a really short haircut, just like his. Now Dad wasn’t coming back, period… but still she kept after them about their hair. Which was why, right now, his ears were sticking out like a pair of big mushrooms in a field of auburn stubble. And his cheekbones flared out, giving his whole head that stylish gourd shape. On Monday he would go back to class looking like the Prince of Dorkness.
Bill, sitting in the back seat, wasn’t much happier. The barber who had done his hair had seen the length of it and muttered something about “damn hippies” and Bill’s jaw had dropped open.
“Hippies? Hippies?” he’d said, looking around in disbelief. “Am I the only one here who even knows what decade this is?” But neither Mom nor the barber wou
How I Got Laughed Out of Hollywood (First 6 Pages)by Paul Briggs
SCOTT, quite old — at least eighty — but quite sharp.
“JERRY,” a young man.
“ECKELBERG,” a man doing a very bad Bela Lugosi impression.
“ANNE,” a young woman.
“MELISSA,” a woman of no particular age.
SCOTT is sitting, front and center, with a glass of iced tea at a table next to him. He looks out at the audience with a rueful smile. “JERRY’s” voice comes on over the loudspeakers. Theremin music is playing in the background.
“JERRY”: The end of the world began, not in terror and darkness, but in innocence and light. It began here, now, at this place, with this conference of learned men.
The theremin stops.
SCOTT: The end of my career in Hollywood began, not in terror and darkness, but in 1957. I was planning to direct my first motion picture, and I wanted it to be a good one. I’d been looking through a lot of scri
Wooby Paul Briggs
PHIL, a highly literate man of indeterminate age
JEAN, a highly literate woman of indeterminate age
An apartment. Early evening.
PHIL is sitting at a desk reading a book and looking irritated. JEAN enters, much more cheerful, whistling "Funiculí Funiculá."
PHIL: Would you please stop whistling that "cubiculo" song? I'm trying to read this stupid woo book.
JEAN: Stupid what book?
PHIL: Woo. A pejorative term for the more unorthodox forms of alternative medicine. I'm expected to deliver a fair and unbiased review.
JEAN: How's that coming?
PHIL: Here's how you're supposed to treat a hangnail: (reading book) "In a room with good ventilation, using a mahogany-handled, monkey-hair brush…" (shouting into the book) How can I even afford that, you preening narcissist?
JEAN: I'm sensing a certain amount of animosity here.
PHIL: Well, to be fair, they do say the handle doesn't have to be mahogany, as