Creative Writing

Organized chronologically (for lack of a better means), contents are as follows:
Geek Scandal | A Dinner at ELS | Your Average Neb | More Randomness


Geek Scandal

This vignette was one of several frankly absurd stories I wrote in my junior and senior years at Kimball Union. It was written in the fall of 1985.

Something strange was happening in the bowels of the science building. The feeling mounted as one approached the top of hill, that something monumental was about to occur. It almost became overwhelming when one came near the large green doors at the front of Fitch. A wave of expectation could be traced to the door of Room 101, identified by its plaque which proclaimed: "Computer Learning Laboratory." Commonly known as "Geek Central" by normal students of Kimball Union Academy, it was the home of assorted hackers, miscreants, and genetically deficient freakos. And now, one such specimen was innocently executing a directory of all accounts. Little did he know that he was about to start the biggest scandal in KUA history. One of the "60" accounts appeared on the screen. He leaned closer to the terminal in interest as he saw a file entitled "GRADES.TXT."
"Hmmm…" he said to himself, while noting that the protection code seemed to be set at "0". "I’ll check this out." He "pipped" the file to his monitor, and his eyes almost popped out. All the grades of every student in DR were listed here. His grades were listed here! He checked the room to make sure no one was there and quickly shut the door. He chuckled in glee as he swaggered back to his terminal. This was a hacker’s dream come true. Luckily, it was he and not his roommate who had discovered this little slip-up. He hated his roommate. With a malicious grin, he moved into EDT. Aha! Here were his roommate’s grades! D, F, D-, F, D… "This is such fun," he thought happily as he elevated his own grades several notches each.
He spun around in panic as he heard a familiar pattern of beeps coming from the hallway. It was Mr. Egan! And from the sound of his dragging feet, indicative of a backward-leaning posture, Biff was with him! Oh, this was bad news. In a panic, his sweating fingers fumbled over the keyboard as he attempted to get out of Edit. The beeps drew closer and the sound of Biff’s claws on the linoleum seemed to be amplified by the hallway. Oh, if it wasn’t too late! Somehow he managed to exit from the file, hitting the keys C, O, M, P, U, T, E, R, T, R, E, S, P, A, S, S, I, N and G in the process. He feverishly logged off as Mr. Egan and his favorite roommate entered the den of conspiracy.
He turned around with a sickly grin on his face and asked rather too loudly, "How’s it going, Mr. Egan?" Mr. Egan tilted his head back in a familiar gesture, imitated by Biff, and said, "Hoho. Well, that depends on what you are referring to."
"Well, uh… how’s Biff?"
"About as frisky as usual."
"Oh… that’s wonderful…"
He peered anxiously at Biff as the dog, seemingly with a sixth sense for trouble, threw his body (along with Mr. Egan’s) across the room to leap at the computer screen. The geek almost fainted in fear as Biff’s jaws slobbered over the keyboard. Mr. Egan, with a trademark "Ho, ho, ho", heaved backward on the leash. "No, Biff, you already had your dinner."
The geek, with a feeble giggle, collapsed onto the terminal, managing to turn it off in the process.



A Dinner at ELS

During my sophomore year in college I lived at the Emerson Literary Society, a non-traditional co-ed private society of 25 members. To say that ELS and its residents were unusual would be an understatement. The following incident really happened, and was not at all out of the ordinary!

Brian: I’ve got this great story to tell you, about the policemen in Boonville…

Jim listens for a few seconds. His eyes slowly open wider and begin to gleam with an insane light. He abruptly dives under the table.

Jim: Join me, comrades!

Eric and Rick also climb under the table and hold a conference with Jim, while Brian gabs on in the background. No one else at the table seems to notice the activity or Brian’s story. Conversation continues.

Jim: All we can do is assume the fetal position. (Curls up.) We’ve got to convince ourselves that this is not real.

Jim, Eric and Rick: THIS IS NOT REAL.

Brian: …and this policeman said, "Well, I’ll let you off this one time, if you’ll buy me a beer."

Jim, Eric and Rick: THIS IS NOT REAL.

Brian: And my friend thought, "Anything to keep from getting a ticket."

Jim, Eric and Rick: THIS IS NOT REAL.

Brian ceases his monologue. Jim, Eric and Rick climb out from underneath the table and look at each other knowingly. Eric laughs. Jim gazes at his coffee vacantly. Rick resumes eating.

Brian: Oh, and this other time my friend was driving through Boonville, and the same policeman –

Jim and Eric immediately scramble under the table again, but Rick is so intent on consuming food that he does not notice for a few seconds. Then, suddenly comprehending what is happening, he also disappears beneath the tabletop. Nothing is visible from outside except six lower legs. Jim wears tattered black Reeboks. Eric’s white sneakers are strangely reminiscent of golf shoes. Rick’s are old, navy blue running shoes, the kind that have stripes to trick you into thinking that they are Nike’s, but really aren’t.

Jim: Now we’ve just been born, but premature, so we’ve only got ten minutes to live.

He flails his arms about helplessly. Eric and Rick laugh loudly.

Brian: I couldn’t believe it, but this policeman actually remembered who my friend was and –

Jim: Let’s try again.

Jim, Eric and Rick: THIS IS NOT REAL.

Brian: – didn’t know what to do, after all –

Jim, Eric and Rick: THIS IS NOT REAL.

Brian gives up. Jim, Eric and Rick emerge from underneath the table for the second time, having the appearance of soldiers rising from the trenches of WW I. Brian is disgruntled. The rest of dinner passes without incident until only Jim, Eric and Brian are left.

Brian: What was wrong with my story? I thought it was interesting, but you weren’t listening. Want to hear it now?

Eric starts to dive under the table. He lets out a strangled cry.

Eric: Jim!

Jim’s eyes are back to normal.

Jim: Oh, no, Eric, I’ve done my hitch. You can continue if you wish, but I’ve had enough.

Eric loses his air of hilarity. Brian sees that his attempt to annoy Jim is not succeeding, so he falls silent. Dinner is at an end once again. Everyone goes away.



Your Average Neb

Sometime after graduating from college I sat down in front of my father's old manual typewriter with a bottle of wine and strung together this page of references to movies, novels, cliches and what was playing on the TV in the other room. As an attempt to weird out the unflappable Ben Nelson, it was a success. As a piece of literature... let's say it'll never make it to anyone's class reading list. It dates from summer 1990.

Noslen Neb was his name. He never misspelled. He could light matches with his mind. He grew just a little bit taller every day. His jokes were tantamount to murder. People gasped as he passed. This was the story.
"Hey, fellas! Go back to cheatin’ on your wives! Can’t you see I’m sittin’ here talkin’ to my husband?" Neb thought to himself, "Hm, this sounds like the beginning of a hackneyed gumshoe epic, a la Sam Spade, Dashiell Hammett novel, but what the hey? Who am I to argue?" And he continued to suck down the old whiskey on the rocks (a double). The babe opposite him at the bar was young. Available. Dirty blonde. And she wasn’t his wife.
Her lips moved: "So, whaddya say? The night is only middle-aged, and I have no birth defects."
"Have any washing machines that need fixing?"
"Gosh, I dunno. But some malfunction can be arranged, I’m sure of it."
Neb thought on the proposal. He drank some more. Then he muttered, "What would Mom think?"
"What’s that?"
"I said, ‘How long was Hobbes’ dink?’ After all, I was a philosophy major."
"Length is relative, honey. I was a physics major."
Suddenly Neb realized that the whole scenario reminded him of a TV show called Highland Rangers. Or was it Highland Yankee? Goodbye Hanky Panky? Since it was impossible for Neb to be confused, the resultant emotions must be called something else. AROUSED, Neb leaned over the bar and said, breathing into her ear, "Huh?"
"I like your style, baby. Let’s adjourn to my office."
The office turned out to be a small quonset hut thirty yards from the main building. Adorned with various animal skulls and artifacts from late 30s episodes of the Arsenio Hall show, Alucard’s domain was a study in necro-kitsch. Neb settled back into a black mohair Laz-Y-Boy and waited for the show to begin. Sixty Shakespearian sonnets later, he knew he had at last found his match.
"Would you like to light the candles, baby?" breathed Alucard.
"Only if you’re ready."
Alucard slid by his left shoulder, heading for the desk. Neb’s eyes traveled over the opposite wall as he pretended indifference to the rummaging sounds she was making in one of the drawers. She was a fan of whips, chains, electrodes, the Marquis de Sade and Holly Hobby from what he could gather. Movie posters and rancid coffee grounds covered the bare metal. She obviously didn’t make much dough if she was living in a low-down shack like this. Almodovar and Bunuel. Hm. He’d never heard of the jokers.
Her footsteps resounding on the dirt floor returned Neb’s attention to Alucard as she made her way back from the desk. With a second look, Neb realized that it looked more like an examination table at the morgue than a writing desk. Ooh, she was right for him. He gazed up at her face as she seated herself in the chair across the table.
"You know what I like about this place?" she asked.
"Tell me."
"You can howl like Allen Ginsberg, and no one will ever know."
Suddenly, just when Neb expected to be slipped a mickey, or to have his bones jumped or to learn that 2+2 does not equal 4 according to some numerical systems, he realized that the whole damn story was silly



More Randomness

One day Orson and I sat down to write. Not being in the mood for plotline, coherence, etc. I once again resorted to absurdity. The day was June 3, 1996.

Sometimes nonsense is the only recourse. Telly Savalas, well known for his baldness, often had things to say, or so someone told him. I’ve heard tales of the lands up north, where gristle fests and poofy hair go hand in hand, and the igloos melt with midwinter passions on every side… Mush!
One day as he popped allergy pills, Ford Bradson realized he had had strange dreams the night before. Grasping at straws he swallowed a gallon of Dr. Pepper in the blink of an eye. What could it all mean? As far as he could tell, he hadn’t slept in twenty years! Distracted by the woman pulling at his sleeve, he decided it was time for work. Long hours of relentless game-playing later he blearily raised his head from the interface unit and vomited the morning’s load of Twizzler’s into the waiting bucket. Good food!
The computer was shut down and with the twilight glimmering through the portholes, he wheeled to starboard. A quick beard-trimming and he was fit for shore leave. He stepped confidently up the dock and with bursting good humor addressed the first human he met with a resounding, "Hey!"
"Is that strychnine or are you just happy to see me?"
"I DON’T KNOW!" he grinned.
There was nothing for it but to spawn upstream.
Italy was beautiful in the spring, depending on where you happened to be, which didn’t happen to be a verdant field or a pensione or a fruiting vineyard. No, you were in an airless box several feet below the tourist mob. You were dead. When you’re dead you might as well let your mind wander. Time is money? Time AND money might as well be dog’s britches for all the good it’s going to do you, so why not go wild!
Fol de rol, fiddle my wicket, tell me a tale new...
Something tells me I'm about to make a fool out of myself. But that's nothing new. It happened in '49. And again in '52. Then there was '56, '57, '58, and rogue '59. Twice in '60 and... hell, no need to bore ya to death! The scarecrows are punishment enough. Tap dancing was my specialty, ye see. Twyla Tharp look out! While masturbating I often thought of my coming fame... but my sheets were as far as that went.
(This is where Orson took over.)
We used to call her "The Blurbmaestro," only not to her back, you understand, but dead-on, full in the face, devil-may-care and damn the libidos! We would sing our dull songs, "Blurt us a blurb," "Shout out a shortie," "Just a quickie quip, oh Blurbmaestro. Oh, Blurbmaestro, please!" She would dance amid our calls, raise an eyebrow or two, kick off her Vans and dream up a dozen in as many minutes.
"More!" we'd all yell as we circled the fan, hitting high, mid or low depending on mood. And so it would go until Blurbmaestro grew weary -- then off with the eye-caps and farewell to day clothes. It was time for the donning of sleeping shorts and favie. The writing was done and the fun almost over -- we'd get all our brain bits together to start dozing or a late night sex-fest, who could say? If we were lucky we could slumber until late- to mid-morning except for Blurbmaestro, who would have a work day!


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