The CSS Awards - Site of the Day

3 Short Pieces

Steven Miller

The Money


     I make the money.  Not the money you think of first, the obvious money.  They wouldn't need me for that.

     When I worked at the local newspaper, I gathered up the misprints, the ones that ran before they stopped the press, and sold them for three bucks a pop, which is a killing.  Misprints like, “Spacious 2br apt, enclosed patio with huge dick,” and “Mayor outlaws unleashed poets,” and “Local Lesbians Come out to Audition.”  That last one ran lede-story on Sunday.  One thousand papers and I sold them all.

     At the energy company, I collected fraction-watts, those bits of kinetic energy that find themselves in limbo; did you know that 99/100th of a cent's worth of wattage may be legally repossessed.  I sucked those right back through their copper wires at the end of every month, and at a half a million units, those almost-pennies add up quick.

     I've even went to work for you from time to time, picking up the vestiges of moments we once had--the florescent bulb gleam in your eye like the moonlit gleam the night we made love on the beach, the gritty sand, the stabbing grass, the tiny crabs scurrying--or an almost-smile as you talk on your cell phone, our son scurrying out of your new Lexus SUV, that reminds me so much of our wedding day.

     If I gather up these almost-moments, these sweet nothings, will they add up to something real again?  Something like love?





One Week


I have had a headache for one whole-week.  Not four quarter-weeks with three reprieves of a few days.  Nor even two half-weeks with one reprieve of a few hours.  No, I have had a single headache, unremittingly, for the length of one week.

     Things I have done to alleviate it:  take aspirin, ibuprofen, antihistamines, meth-amphetamines, placebos, sea salt, salt water saline, salt water taffy, I have watched Bugs Bunny and Daffy (the old switcheroo episodes) and old-fashioned Coke commercials, I have worked out, been lazy, watched the filmographies of Martin Scorsese and Patrick Swayze, toggling back and forth, until I went crazy, I tried wearing my heart on my sleeve, saving face, eating crow, beating a dead horse, looking a gift horse in the mouth, horsing around, being the horse about town in a one horse town, being a clown, and when all else failed I passed a health care bill in Congress which only raised the cost of my various ineffective methods.

     It has only been a week and already I've run out of medicine, pop culture references and cleverly used idioms.  If it does not slacken soon, I shall be crazier than a rat in a shit house.  I shall have bats in my belfry, be as nutty as a fruitcake, as mad as a morbidly obese woman at a salad bar, be pushing my bed-slippers across the gritty linoleum of Wonderland, tinkered in my thinkered, bothered in my nothered, the local chairman of your third party branch, the life coach of Kanye other words, I shall be hitherto unwell in my head.







     I don't care much for Joking, which is not to say that I don't care at all for Joking, just that I don't care much.  I would say, if I had to say, that I care for Joking about as much as I care for a cousin, not a close cousin, one I have a genuine friendship with, but rather one for whom I feel the perfunctory kind of love that one must feel for family, no matter how trivial the connection is.  I don't ask my uncles or aunts about him, but when they mention his new job or new wife, I nod politely as if I care a great deal for Joking and all of his affairs.  If a bus were charging recklessly towards him while he bent over to tie a shoelace, I would not push him out of the way, would not sacrifice myself like that, but when, at his funeral I said, “Why, oh why, didn't I push him out of the way?” I would be propounding it honestly, because I really do wish that I cared more, that I cared more Joking.  Mostly, he just makes me feel inadequate, like I have a heart of stone.  So, I hope you understand my ambivalence towards Joking, and why I cannot laugh at your dreadful puns.








Steven Miller is a graduate of Kansas State University. His fiction has appeared in the online journals Bartleby-Snopeselimae, and Hobo Pancakes.  He is currently putting his English degree to work writing ad copy for the local newspaper: "Feeling Down? Come on Down to Clown Town!" 

A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure. - Henry David Thoreau


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