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Nano Stories the Second
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Fri, January 16 2009 - 6:34 am


Nan always was a yelper.  She couldn't help it.  When Jack objected to her yelping while he was driving, she couldn't stop.  It was a reflex to feeling threatened by the traffic.  Or, as he chose to interpret it, her distrust of his driving, which was, truth be told, sometimes swiftly precise.

When he finally lost his temper and hit her for being a jerk (as he put it) she moved to the back seat and tried not to watch the traffic.  As often as not, she would fall asleep.

Which is why she, completely relaxed and belted in, emerged quite unscathed from the accident Jack died in when a car coming from the left ran the red light and hit the driver's side at 35 miles per hour.

Black-Market Blowfish

That first oboist is doomed, at least as a musician.  He has blown his ill wind for too long and I won't hear it any more.

He is an old fogey, a fuddy-duddy purist who won't change with the times.  Anytime we try to play any new music, he blocks it.

"Musical genius peaked in the 1700's," he brays.  "Nothing since has matched it."  Needless to say, nothing composed since the year 1900 meets with his approval.

He still uses fish skin to cover any possible gaps in his reeds, even though he is so expert at reed-making he probably doesn't need it.

Well, I'll supply him with fish-skin!  I'll give him fish-skin enough to numb his lips and tongue when he tries to play!

Blowfish skin may not contain enough toxins to kill; I don't know.

But I'll find out.  This will be quite an experiment!

And I maintain enough objectivity to observe the consequences.

If they turn out to be fatal, I simply don't care.

I'll give myself an A!

(Inspired by reading Murder in C Major by Sara Hoskinson Frommer.) 


Once i shunned my studies.  A lumpy frump, i clumped past the trumpeting strumpets to the dump in my sump pumps and humped jumping bums.

Trundling under clumps of shrubs, i,  some dunce, blunted my stunted brain with slurs and grunts.

Stultifying stunts shunted hunks of junk into puddles of crumby funk.

Hunting chunks of gunk flunked me.  I shrunk.

My slump lumped me with lunks and hulks and nuts and drunks.

I thunk it fun to stun-gun.

Then i dumped u.

Now I fly!    


He had seen on TV that women who go to book clubs are usually single.  So he struck up a conversation with a woman in front of the library.

She reminded him of his mother:  quiet, sweet, a little timid.

It made him angry just to look at her, but he hid it well.

What did she do for fun?  Did she have any pets?

Yes, a cat.  Bingo!  Maybe she would be his next victim.

And sensing something in him tense, she added that she also had a dog.

A big one - but surprisingly quick and agile for his size.  Why, one time an intruder broke into her apartment and her dog jumped him before he could even get his gun out of his belt!

Unfortunately for him, he already had his finger on his trigger.

Oops!  Maybe she was scaring him.

For his part, maybe she didn't remind him of his mother after all.  She seemed to enjoy the fate of her would-be attacker a little too much.  There was a little too much relish in her affect - too much of a sparkle in her eye!

She looked at her new acquaintance with guilty relief as he found an excuse to slink away.

She hadn't had a chance to confide in him her favorite hobby - storytelling.

She tossed her head.

Oh, well.  You win some, and - you win some!

Meditations on a TV Ad for a Certain Medication

The couple amorously throws all their distractions onto the lawn outside.  Books, magazines, remote.  Then they begin to dance.  The man, leading, steers the woman to the bedroom door.  She smiles, and they enter.

Viewers' subsequent fantasies: 

Hers:  Instead of yielding to the man's obvious desires, the TV mate smiles and stiff-arms him back through the hall to the living room for a longer dance.  "Not so fast, buster!"  Thirty seconds of ballroom bliss is not going to get him where he wants to go!

His:  Going into the bedroom, the man's extremely engorged penis gets caught on the door.  The next scene shows him lying on the bed, his cock still erect, with a bandaid on it.  The woman bends close to kiss his wound.

Down to the Seventh

The twenty-year old father felt a surge of anger towards his own dad.  If he hadn't been holding the baby, he might have picked up that bottle and beat him over the head with it.

His forty-year-old father looked at him in wonder.  How did his son get to be so - oh, forget it.  He looked around for someone to blame, but his own dad, sixty, was over at the far table losing at cards and, as usual, drinking.

The great-grand-dad of the group was regaling everyone with misogynistic jokes and songs, whether they were listening or not, leaving his wife to tend to his own father, who had just attained one hundred years of age in spite of all statistics about drinking and smoking.  He snorted at her attempts to make him comfortable.

The forty-year-old's wife looked at the flushed and angry faces of the six generations (even 6-month old Hughie looked about ready to squall!) and shook her head.  How was she going to get them all together for the magnificent portrait she had envisioned?

Maybe a six-generation patrilineal photo wasn't such a good idea after all! 


Splendid Song

The trained alto, walking through the woods, sang for her own enjoyment.

The time traveller from another planet visiting earth for the first time, heard her and was enthralled.  He wrote in his travel memoirs that the species called "human" on Earth had marvelous voices that were well worth the trip.

"I have never heard anything so enchanting as that low call, trilling with joy and thrilling with vibrato, heard in the eastern woodlands of the North American Continent."

Some later travelers heard thrushes, which they assumed were human.  Others, who landed in cities where the human species abounds, were mystified by his claims and disappointed that they were so patently false.  The human species was obviously a common squawker, repetitive and often shrill.

Scientists made hundreds of recordings of the human voice chosen at random and played them to the author of the memoir.

"Oops."  He remembered his transporting experience with regret.  He had not realized that what he had heard would be so rare. 

Great Expectorations

I don't know why my mom got the idea I would accomplish great things.  She was most ignorant of the world herself, and when I was living with her in Indiana the only position I was interested in attaining was a spot along the banks of the Kankakee River, or with a little more time, the Tippecanoe.

So when I called her from my home in neighboring Illinois to come for a visit one Fourth of July, who knows what she thought.  Maybe the fact that the great orators Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama had come of political age in Illinois confused her.  Or maybe it was my gay invitation, my slurred diction (I would never have made that invitation if I hadn't been a little high!) that twisted the sound and meaning of my words.

At any rate, on the Fourth of July Mom was disgruntled to learn that she had driven halfway across the state in a flowery summer dress to attend not a community courthouse speechfest full of high-flown verbal acrobatics, but a humble backyard picnic complete with watermelon seed-spitting contest!

Marital Bliss

I'm not too opinionated, am I darling?

Not at all.

Some people say I talk a lot, but they hardly talk at all!

You just have a lot to say.

I admit I kind of dominated the conversation during the potluck last night, but everyone else was just stuffing their fat faces.

Including me!

That week I stood on the old orange crate in front of the courthouse and spoke to passersby I might have been a little extreme, but that was really a vital issue! ... What was it now...?

You were only exercising your First Amendment rights.

Maybe I shouldn't have thrown that brick through the mayor's window.  Perhaps that was crossing the line.  But burning the flag, breaking a window, what's the difference?

We could only afford one brick.  You can't build anything with just one brick!

Right!  Well, honey, I'm gonna go write in my blog.

Go for it!

He Knows Not What He Does

He didn't feel proud.  If he had, he probably wouldn't have left that small valley and started walking up the mountainside.

He just felt full of himself.  He wanted to achieve something.  He wanted to be seen?  He didn't know what he wanted.

At the top of the mountain (or at the rim of the volcano, for that is what the mountain turned out to be) he still felt that he was wanting - something.

The crater of the volcano was smoking.  Boy, there was a lot of energy down there!  That is what he wanted!

So he jumped in.  He sucked up all the energy and heat and fire that was there, and it still wasn't enough, so he blew his top.

That drove him right straight through the earth (what was a little magma?  Just more energy!) through another volcano on the other side straight up into the sky!

Now he is a star.

He's still not happy, though.  People keep staring, and pointing at him.  As if he were some kind of freak.

True Story - April 7

I don't know why I woke up;  perhaps my lover turned over in bed.

I was lying there, waiting to drift back into sleep, when an electronic device sounded.  Was it the dial tone of the speakerphone downstairs?  Was my mother in trouble and trying to call for help?

The speakerphone sounded again.

I got up and started down the stairs.  "Mom?  Are you okay?"

"How do I turn off this flashing light?"

"It's just a message light."

"How do I turn it off?"

"I'm not waking up everybody in the middle of the night listening to telephone messages."

"Everybody" was already awake when I returned to bed.  "Everything okay?"  "Yes."  But of course now the sound of the leaky faucet, due to be fixed in the morning, had changed from babbling brook to major racket.  I went downstairs again to try to slow it.


As I climbed back into bed for the second time, I saw the morning star. 

True Story - Jos' View 2

As he's heading East in his U-Haul, Jos' birds spill their food and start complaining.

It starts him thinking:  "Why are birds so bad?"

And then it comes to him.  Birds are reptiles, and long ago reptiles - dinosaurs - ruled the world.  Then came the big disaster that wiped out the dinosaurs.  Many of the little reptiles survived, including the ancestors of our present-day birds.

Forever harking back to the past glory of their relatives, they multiplied and some of them got bigger.  Of course they would rule the world again!

Then along came these ugly fleshy almost-hairless things and they started taking over.  They farm - farm - ostriches for food!  They think they own everything!  They don't even have wings and have to leg it over the earth's surface!  Who do they think they are?

That is why birds are so bad, Jos concludes.  Disappointment of rising expectations. 

After the very flesh-ridden Steelers' Super Bowl win over the Cardinals yesterday, I bet Jos' birds are really pissy!

Population Wars

The people were multiplying.  Multiple children, multiple pregnancies involving births amounting to litters.  They wanted their physical type to take over the world.

People of every extremist kind were doing it.  Zero population growth, the preservation of the planet, and global warming meant nothing to these people.  In hidden communities all over the world, they were multiplying.

They were determined to take over the world so that their kind would prevail.  Fear of "other" became so entrenched that scientific reality, although exploited for their narrow parochial aim of more births, was ignored.

Myopia set in, and all people could do was breed, breed, breed out of fear and self-love.  Although leaders begged the populace for "green" consciousness, these populations would not listen.  Carbon emissions went through the ceiling and the birth rate went up.  The economy plunged and the birth rate went up.

Everyone in these communities had lots of guns and military training.  As their numbers grew, they started to reveal themselves and parade their goals.

Moderates were shaking their heads.  How would this all end?  In a war to end all wars?

They needn't have worried.  The obsessed purist populations began to have more and more birth defects.  They wasted their resources caring for beings weakened by overbreeding.  Disease ravaged their numbers and infant mortality rose.  Like trees infected by fungus-laden beetles, they started dying younger.

Nature, after reeling a little, balanced. 

True Story - Jos' View

On the phone:

She:  That jet being hit by two birds at once - maybe they were Kamakazi birds - hostile like in Hitchcock's The Birds - or suicide bomber birds.  All of nature out to get us now.

He:  No, no, they did it on purpose, but they are like juvenile delinquents!

She:  Geese playing chicken.

He:  Yeah.  My birds here are all chirping and excited because I'm on the phone with you.

She:  When my kids were little, they always misbehaved when I was on the phone.  "Who is she giving attention to when they aren't even here?"

He:  Yeah, they are chirping and fluttering around because they want attention.  But make no mistake, they would eat you if they could!  If they couldn't eat you, they would still peck at you.  They would peck you to death, and then go, "Oh-oh, they're dead!  Now who's going to feed us?"  "Well, why didn't you think of that before, you knucklehead?"

She:  Juvenile deliquents.

He:  Yeah, juvenile deliquents.

The Red Queen

It was the coldest day of the year.  The children, trying to get several miles worth of exercise in two stories and a basement, were all over the house.

The dog, following, and the cats, evading, added to the chaos and giggles.

The kids remembered the attic by mid-afternoon and went to plunder the game chest.  Chinese checkers held them for a while, then the Parcheesi board was brought into play.  Everyone spurned Monopoly this time, who knows why.  That would have kept them occupied for hours!

As they scampered up and down stairs they trod upon the cards that frightened them so much in the tale by Lewis Carroll.  The parts of a chess game, too esoteric for their age group, lay scattered on the floor, also.

One of the kids took a bit of yarn, tied it around a queen's neck, and tied it to one of the banister railings, where it swayed every time a gust of air from the sub-zero weather or a child or the dog swept by.

The expression on the chess piece's face remained fierce, implacable as she twisted above her fallen pawns.

The Red Queen didn't care.  She didn't care at all. 

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