In this collection of rare, hard-to-find, and often too-short short "stories", Guy J. Jackson wields his not particularly helpful but still relatively charming (at least compared to being chased) worldview in order to pretty much study and correct all of humanity's foibles, or at least the ones that need correcting by the end of this year. Also, if you read these "stories" at the rate of one per day, you'll feel Zen for however many days that there are "stories", or so claimed Roundfire Books' late editorial assistant, Nils Samuels Chastain, even though it wasn't his place to decide that.
|Publisher:||Hunt, John Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.40(d)|
About the Author
Currently living in Los Angeles, Guy J. Jackson is a writer, performer and moviemaker.
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Drink the Rest of That
A Short Story Collection
By Guy J. Jackson
John Hunt Publishing Ltd.Copyright © 2014 Guy J. Jackson
All rights reserved.
An anonymous ski-mask narrator exposing the world's worst public transportation system is what we now have on every channel. You ever hear of The 9-Minute Rule? It's the rule whereby if you drop something (like a candy bar) you're about to eat on the ground you have 9 minutes to pick it up and eat it before the germs come. That means your candy bar could be sitting in a puddle of Hepatitis blood and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy vomit for 9 full minutes before the germs get to it, and you can stand there staring down at your candy bar in the puddle of blood and vomit for 8 minutes and 55 seconds before picking it up and eating it. Once I knew a fella, though, who dropped his candy bar on bare sidewalk and picked it up 3 seconds later and ate it and still got sick. That's the dilemma of a liberal who found out his dog was a conservative. The guilt of having roasted grasshoppers and watching their hoods turn red. Gotta go to where they doff their shoes before entering. Get the kids obsessed with some little thing or every little thing. Those are also all parts of The 9-Minute Rule. Subsets. Clauses.
- The End -
Old man's brought the dog home, and the old man's rapping our glass front door with his particularly twisted walking stick. Inside, we wait on the sofas, wait for his shouting to begin, tap our toes. Tonight it's only night because the day has failed to pervade a steady rain. Love has reared a typically ugly head, and tomorrow stretches like a fanfare to gum on the streets. No wonder there are cigarettes, you can hardly pick your battles without picking them improperly.
He decided on a rash of anxiety to top off his relaxing weekend in the countryside. A run up and down the library's stone stairs and no sweat on the brow, something stuck in the throat. What was the terrible answer to this the worst of questions? Where does he belong, this spinning spitting sunray of a salmon of a man? The other day in the forest while walking he was approached by a zombie squadron of the old, all of whom had a different question and different waffles to their smiles. He's not quite cut out for this, he's got no eyes for the future. There's those lights away out there, but the sadness is too complete and the burden in the belly too much to burble. Leave home too long and there's no way back. What's the definition of that face down there that windowways, has it got a beard or is it a woman lost in rude shadow?
How could they not want us to take pills and hole up in abstinence and ignore entirely the love of good people when there is so much wrong with every ember, every idyll. You've got your babbling brook, now go back to town and get a boat to put in it my fine-tooled man with your off-putting devices, you filching eyes from our favorite mists, our favorite clocks ticking their favorite times. There's the lights, but they have no comfort, not even the bittersweet brand. Not tonight anyway.
- The End -
70 People Say
My brother had been six months here, and I think never once did he wash his clothes. He was plenty grumpy from never leaving the house and never being close enough to a bathroom. He always thought someday he'd feel different but here he was here, and not only here he was here but here he was here at 97. That's an age, can you believe it? An actual age of a human being. People say: how are you, I know you, very nice to see you. That is, they say that, the ones of us who can carry on a conversation without talking about our long-dead friends or long-dead brothers or sisters or long-dead fathers or mothers. My brother wrote letters to all of them, those lodged in our past, while I begged out of writing letters. I didn't have anything to say to anyone. But even though my brother could write like thunder down the paper he'd absently fold the letters and stuff them in his pockets. I was washing his clothes for him because I had to do something to keep the motors grinding, at least grinding, and I could never remember he stuffed his pockets with letters, so he was finding his letters washed into tattered crumbling wads that fell apart if you tried to unfold them to retrieve the words. "You're not mad at me are you?" I'd ask each time. "They're just words," my brother would say, after saying "WHAT?!" a lot. Then he'd say: "And how am I supposed to send letters to dead people anyhow. You might as well wash them in the washing machine, it's as good a way as any to get the letters into the ether and on their way to the dead people." I wish he hadn't said that. What a thing to say. My brother was six months here, but six months on and I'm still pausing to look into the washing machine for ten-minutes-or-so stretches before the clothes go in. Looking in it for what I don't know. But I used to peer in washing machines as a toddler thinking they went somewhere. And I'm only one year younger than my brother so I'm almost back to being a toddler. So that's what's up. I'm looking for the dimension doors where the letters get posted to the dead people, the doors (or windows) my brother was implying. I'm looking every other day because I'm good about laundry. Yes, I'm looking. Something about those tiny holes.
- The End -
113 degree heat today and inside the car feels like a comet. My, that's okay, she's got her substantial lemonade and knickers dragging icicles. I for one haven't been able to lift them, so that counts for icicles. I know I shouldn't say as much. It's the heat piling frustration when I should let it sap frustration and all other strengths.
- The End -
I don't see how they could hear anything, for example me dragging a chair across the floor or walking about at 4:30 AM with that snoring going down fan-wise down in their apartment, it all stuck in the cracks, the snoring and the chair both.
- The End -
Once upon a time, she was The Princess Of 780 Wishes. That was down 1,704 wishes from where she had begun. She had also begun as a scullery maid, but she had casually freed a more-than-generous gnome from a well. The gnome wasn't full of trickery, he was grateful for being saved and more than indulgent. When he granted her 2,484 wishes the scullery maid-soon-to-be-princess kept saying: "Are you sure? ... Are you sure? ... Seems like an awful lot of wishes ..."
The gnome was sure. He hadn't wanted to die in a well, anything but that. 2,484 wishes was the least he could do.
So the princess was able to save some wishes back.
And some of her wishes had been bad ones. She had wanted to live in the future for example. But after two years of owning her own nightclub, Stiff Upper Lip Neon, in the heart of Los Angeles, she missed the primordial green of pre-history, back when such stuff as scullery maids becoming princesses was only the stuff of the day-to-day, and nobody felt it necessary or even knew how to paint those stories on celluloid.
Our princess hadn't grown accustomed to technology, either, up there in the 1990s, and hadn't known how to leave a decent answering-machine greeting, either, and so if someone called up Stiff Upper Lip Neon they'd hear her dull voice say dully: "Stiff Upper Lip Neon, please leave a message." Her dull voice didn't fit with the idea of answering machines, it just didn't cooperate with the technology and had no business being present with it, and neither did her voice fit the very concept of neon, neon in and of itself. Also, she hadn't come this far into the future, to where you are now reading or hearing of her, dear reader. Because you'd be hard pressed to find an answering machine in anyone's home nowadays, right? She only came as far into the future as to where answering machines had been invented and were in use. She only came up to the 1990s.
But never mind, she went back to her own time. She liked to see blue sky and not smog. She liked to see deer in the fields. She sort of missed indoor plumbing but she could wish for it for herself and she did and then she had indoor plumbing. She didn't understand why humans had invented the car things, the car things which seemed to just not do much besides go from place to place blowing and coughing a poisonous gas. She had enjoyed how far indoor plumbing had come through the ages, but that was about it.
Back in her own time, when she got below one thousand wishes, she spent a couple years counting and worrying. Did she use up wish number such and such yesterday or not? She wished back the gnome teleportation-wise and he didn't mind being interrupted in the middle of dinner with his family at all because the princess was his savior and she asked him if he had kept track of how many wishes she had used and he shrugged and said sorry he hadn't, but he thanked her again for saving him from the well because the backlogged thought of that well still gave him the shudders just to think about, and he then went ahead and topped her up with 545 more wishes. Then the gnome told her how he was so afraid of falling in another well he'd taken to carrying a walking stick and tapping the ground in front of him as he walked. He thought that the stick trick would be good for sightless people to use. He thought, too, that they should build small circular walls to warn him where there were wells.
Then one day the princess wished away her scoundrel prince and his plotting courtiers, and she wished away death, and found herself sad and alone, but also unworried by anything, even whether the wishes were dwindling stockpile-wise, and she lived happily ever after in her wished-for immortality. Happily ever after, by the by, would seem to be just a thing that gets said, and contradictory to 'sad and alone', but it's not.
- The End -
In early June of 1980 I am stopping stressing. Since it's June of 1980 I'm not sure the word has been invented yet. But let me tell you what it means. "STRESS" is an unknown, unseen force inside you that doesn't actually exist but is grinding your mind into powder. You don't want to be stressed because eventually it causes death or at least something like death. Also, death causes death.
In early June of 1980 I rumbled out of San Francisco and went to stay at a friend's house in the Humboldt Hills. His wife had just left him inexplicably. He was the one who used the word 'inexplicably' but once I got there to stay with him I could explain. He lived like there were still peasants in those California hills. He might as well have been an inbred in those California hills, always making toward entropy and never cleaning a dish if he bothered to eat off one and never cleaning his clothes except once a month when he would take them to a nearby stream and dunk them in, ceremoniously, and then hang them to dry from every available tree, no soap involved. It's like when you go hiking with these people who come across caves in the wilderness and say: 'Oh, we could live here'. I didn't mind these habits of my friend and in fact joined in with them but of course his wife must've minded because she had packed up and left him without a word. A clichéd way to leave someone if ever there were. Usually me and women get along okay, but I do feel like his wife could've returned the favor of my friend's apparently undying love and given him one word. At least one.
"Without a word," my friend would say each night in front of the fireplace, uttering the cliché's essence with more gravitas than it deserved, sort of. She could've given him one word so he didn't say that five times a night, every single night. Ten times a night. He'd say that after we'd have an eternal silence between us. Sometimes he stuck out his pinkie and wrote it out on the air while saying it. I read books a lot on those nights, even though books are passé and no one likes them anymore because they smell. I didn't ever reply to my friend saying 'without a word' because it wasn't a question, and mostly I'd be in the middle of some book, and anyway it was only my duty to sit there and be there and mildly field his misery.
Me, I let all my stress drain away, even though this friend of mine was in a hell of his own making because he'd gotten romantically involved with someone else in the world, tsk tsk. But I myself was having a great time imagining what was already imaginary (the stress) drain away from my head like a slow bad hiss of purple steam. I was there in the hills for many months and all through the height of summer. I still smile when I think of those days. You should never feel stress. It doesn't exist. Just like it probably didn't exist in 1980. And in, oh, 1910, they only called it "the flutters".
Eventually I discovered my friend had found a cave even though they were mostly all gone from those California hills. I'd wondered what he was doing with the trees he'd been chopping down in the environs of our cabin and so one day I followed him when he dragged off a tree. He was my friend and I suppose I didn't need to sneak along following him but then again following is always more exciting, stalking in the woods especially, it awakens your sense of what it used to be like back in the day. Nowadays even hunting is passé, and you hear about the few remaining hunters quitting hunting all the time because they have to get drunk to do the actual act of hunting and then they're just drunk and hanging around the woods forever waiting for a moose and sometimes they're drunk enough to shoot one another and finally the hunters give it up forever and tell everyone how hunting is actually totally boring and then they go to an exercise resort to get rid of their beer guts.
When I followed my friend I found he'd found a cave and built an elaborate door frame and door for the entrance. He was just putting the finishing touches on when I got there, using the last tree for a hitching post outside the door. For a horse, I guess, though he didn't own a horse but maybe his visitors would or maybe he was getting one later instead of a car. Reverse flow. Not me, though. I mean I suppose I was one of his visitors but I don't own a horse because horses never seemed to me like they should be owned. Nobody ever asked horses if they wanted anyone sitting on their backs. Imagine if we've all been riding horses for thousands of years by mistake! But point being: others of his visitors. I watched my friend from a stand of aspen as he planted his hitching post in a posthole and then de-barked it, which I thought he could've done the opposite way around. I sat there in the aspen thinking about how he was probably doing what he was doing the wrong way around but I didn't want to go talk to him about it, it wasn't my place, it was only my place to watch right then. I thought about my mom once telling me how aspens, or anyway ONE aspen, was responsible for the largest tree in the world. I thought about how with the door on it so that you could close it shut, my friend's cave he'd found was going to be so much darker.
- The End -
A Cabin with No Fireplace
Elton lived in a cabin with no fireplace. He still knew heat from the bars of his space heater and the scratchy blankets on his bed, and he still knew comfort from the overlarge sweaters he wore, but he just wasn't so sure that any feelings of warmth came out truthfully from his heart.
In the woods surrounding the cabin lived The Pokatee. At night, Elton carved quacking ducks from bars of soap while he squinted out at The Pokatee's blue-tinged campfires. During the day, when Elton glimpsed The Pokatee, they were slinking in among the trees in their costumes of wood and plaster and the amber lights of their eyes were all that showed of their faces and all that showed of the rest of The Pokatee was their enormous hands with just three fingers that looked coated in spider fur and flickered like snakes. It made Elton somewhat uncomfortable to be the only human living in the midst of what was obviously the part of the forest belonging to The Pokatee.
Elton never liked to think he even had any core of emotion, but sometimes broken ptarmigan would crash land in the woods surrounding the cabin and Elton would have to rescue the ptarmigan from the hunger of The Pokatee. As long as Elton walked out from his cold cabin with a fist-sized stone that he tossed in the air and caught one-handed The Pokatee would leave him alone. Elton would walk out and scoop up whichever stunned ptarmigan while The Pokatee, hidden behind nearby trees, made a ruckus sharpening their dinner knives.
But then the ptarmigan always half-flew, half-hopped away to unknown fates just a few nights from Elton taking them in, and Elton knew it was because the ptarmigan could eat seeds from the false-pewter bowl of seeds Elton put out for them, and the ptarmigan could preen their feathers on the hewn legs of Elton's one-and-only table, but they could never ever warm their ruffs by sitting near the blank cabin wall.
Excerpted from Drink the Rest of That by Guy J. Jackson. Copyright © 2014 Guy J. Jackson. Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
70 People Say,
A Cabin with No Fireplace,
A Freeway in the Clouds,
A Good Dream,
A House with No Clocks,
A Single Corner,
Acts of Laziness,
Addendum to Notes on the Red Truck,
Adventures in the Forbidden Zone,
After 57 Days,
All of it Like Tension,
All The Light,
An Apartment With No Mirrors,
An Epidemic Of Lemonade Stands,
Anglo Saxon Jurisprudence,
Animalia Ode to East Texas,
Answering Machine of Palanuk,
Any 4 Minutes,
Are You a Devil?,
Aren't Guns Fun?,
Arnie Spent Hours,