Entitled, December 3, 2021

This Show Case features five pieces submitted in response to our fifth Writing Prompt: Entitled. We hope they stimulate your mind, spirit, and urge to write. Maybe they will motivate you to submit a piece for our next prompt:

Arrogance

Submissions are due by the end of Monday, October 3, 2022, and will be published here the following Friday. Please attach yours as a .docx, .doc, or .pdf to an email to stranscht@sbcglobal.net. (Guidelines: any genre, approximately 6 – 1,000 words.)

And please share this Show Case with your family, friends, and other writers.

Ruthless

by Chip Pentium

Those in the basement pool area were the lucky ones. The electromagnetic death passed overhead, killing loungers on the east balconies instantly. Guests and staff on the west side of the prestigious Las Vegas hotel received a reduced dose of radiation that let some live for hours longer. The shock wave followed several minutes later, distance having drained its fury. Windows vanished in puffs that showered glass shards onto the grounds. A rolling thunder briefly shook the building.

Sounds from the shock passing overhead vibrated the water in the pool. Ripples formed and spread and merged. “What the fuck was that?” Damond Hiller demanded.

The old man floated righteously upright in the water, reminding his bodyguard of some cartoonish character. An image of Yosemite Sam formed in Frank Carter’s mind. “Sir? Probably a sonic boom. Nellis Air Force Base is a few miles east of here.”

Upstairs, they looked about at the devastation. “That was some sonic boom, wasn’t it, Frank?” Others from the pool had followed them, expressing disbelief, mostly in curses. Everybody ran to check on family and friends but returned at a slow walk. Those able to place phone calls confirmed that the destruction was worldwide.

“They’re dead,” Damond angrily shouted. He was referring to the unlucky few who lay mostly unconscious in the halls and rooms opposite from where the radiation blast had struck.

“No! We have to help them!” A heavyweight man bent over his wife, whimpering. “She’s suffering, Damond.”

Usually, Damond listened to whatever Darryl Hanson the Third had to say. The twerp’s inherited wealth was vast, and he could be counted on to invest in anything Damond recommended. Damond had also inherited money but unlike Darryl, he knew how to take advantage of his position in society. His fortune grew while the only thing growing around Darryl was his girth.

But things had changed. Finance’s digital counters no longer mattered. Money had vanished like windows in a nuclear blast. His life depended on physical resources now, and he was entitled to whatever he needed. He had to seize food, safe water, shelter. And the unquestioning obedience of others. He needed useful people. He didn’t need useless ones.

“We can’t just let her suffer, Damond,” the fat man pleaded with him.

“OKAY, Darryl,” he sighed. “Frank, gimme.” He held out his hand, beckoning, signaling with his other hand that he meant the gun in Frank’s shoulder holster.

Sly, for once in his life, is ashamed of himself.

by Mimi Speike

Ferd is not in my pirate episode, he’s in other pieces dealing with Sly’s kittenhood. As a youngster, Sly’s favorite game was to play pirate with his best friends, Ferd and Herk (a hedgehog).

The Santa Clara, a merchant vessel, has been captured by English pirates off Aquataine. A few crewmembers are being evacuated to (comparative) safety on the aggressor. The Clara, severely damaged, will be left to drift. 

My cast:

Sly: He’s a cat. Who talks. (When he’s of a mind to.)

Feo: Sly’s nemesis aboard the coastal trader. Also a cat. 

Pedro: a runaway Duke, in disguise. His uncle wants the boy eliminated. Pedro gone, the title is his. The pirates are after a duke. They thought they had him, but Pedro and Sly have managed to convince them he’s an English lad.

Gato: (actual name, Hernando del Gado). A crewmember on the Spanish ship. No cat, but he’s landed on his feet nonetheless. A good talker himself, he’s sold his services to the Englishmen. Meredith is their captain.

_________________________

 “Over here, son.” An Englishman indicates a group waiting to clamber down the rope ladder into a transport.

 Pedro and Sly have been sitting on a crate, awaiting instructions. Feo appears, clutching a comb, his prized possession, between his teeth. “Here I am,” he mumbles, “set to go.”

 “What makes you think you’re coming?” spits Sly.

 “Gato’s going, ain’t he?”

 “So?”

 “Where he goes, I go. I told you last night.”

 “That’s rum-talk, you dingleberry! He’s ain’t taking you!” Sly turns to Pedro. “Creep here thinks Gato’s gonna save his ass for him.” They both snicker.

 Feo looks at his toes. How could he have been so silly? Who wants a smelly old codger of a cat, no manners, idiosyncrasies aplenty, none of them endearing. A tendency, at his advanced age, to diarrhea. Regurgitation at the most inconvenient moments, on a lap, for instance. Hairballs expelled, revolting masses of fur and what-not, the bane of a long-hair. Nor is he a treat for the eyes: a chewed-off ear, a skin disease, open wounds his pal smears with a salve. He’s insulted by most everyone. But not by Gato, who brushes dried vomit from his fur, and tidies up his rear end, restoring his dignity. He’d thought himself thick-skinned until Sly happened along.

 Sly gets his goat. That one, so damn superior, always pushing it in your face. The windbag has declared himself dedicated to the improvement of minds, and takes for granted that they should be extravagantly grateful for his interest in them.

 That wasn’t quite it, as Feo came to understand. Sly is not simply fond of the sound of his own voice (though he is). He’s a math whiz. He can’t believe that, properly coached, anyone in the world would not be as enchanted with algorithms as he.

 It was a charming peccadillo, it made you want to tackle equations yourself. But there was no escaping the reality that you couldn’t multiply, and never would. The enthusiastic tutor would not give up on you. You were subjected to lesson after lesson, until you put your foot down.

 “Let a know-nothing be,” Feo had implored. “I don’t get it, never will.” Sly would pooh-pooh his student’s negativity and prepare another lesson. Feo had made the mistake, at the outset, of showing an interest in self-improvement. Sly, thrilled at the possibility of molding a tabula rasa, a blank slate, pure potentiality, into a superb instrument of intellectual accomplishment, exulted that he’d finally found a willing pupil. He’d given up on Pedro.

 Feo, after his initial blowup over increasingly annoying exhortations, had moderated his antagonistic attitude. This was a matter to chuckle, not to rage, over. He’d borrowed from Sly’s stash of pencil and paper, without permission, to try to make progress secretly, on his own. Sly had accused him of thievery. He’d been subjected to such a stomping and yowling, back up, tail vibrating, such a tantrum, that he’d vowed to steer clear of the crack-pot from that instant. He was no intellect, never would be. Huh! What did the fool have worth stealing, anyway? (Plenty. You’ll have to read the book.)

 Feo and del Gado had both led difficult lives. When Gato confided his dreams for a warm hearth, a soft bed, and a small garden plot, it had sounded damn desirable to the cat. He’d never considered leaving the sea, it was all he knew. With Gato at his side, the thought of starting over no longer frightened him. It was dawning on him that a human caress could be a lovely thing, that some men were kind, and scratched you under the chin. Even a butt-ugly, mistrusting cat might find a protector, and it was a relationship to be treasured. He’d never been a lap-cat. He was not cuddlesome. He’d learned to be wary of human contact, thus, he’d never attracted admirers.

 Feo, demoralized, drops his comb into a coil of rope. Gato gone, he won’t need it. No one but Gato has ever shown an interest in grooming his snarled fur. Unable to hide his dismay, he collapses, his features registering despair so profound Sly shudders to see it.

 “Where’s m’boy?” a voice calls. “Where are you, you old fart? Come to Papa!” Gato scoops up the animal and joins the queue waiting to depart.

 “What d’you think you’re doing?” snaps Giles Goodwin, in charge of the evacuation.

 “He’s with me!” Gato snaps back.

 “In a pig’s ear,” snarls Goodwin.

 Gato stands his ground. “Let’s see what your captain has to say. He wants me to do a job for him. I’m more than willing to do it. But I must have this critter along.”

 Meredith, catching wind of a ruckus, hurries over. “Trouble, Mister Goodwin? I asked you to superintend a smooth retreat. What’s the beef here?”

 “Another loon has got to drag his cat with him.” Goodwine glowers at Del Gado, and at the cat shivering with apprehension in his arms.

 “He don’t go, I don’t go,” insists the Spaniard. He appeals to Meredith. “Humor me. I’ll be the more disposed to please you.”

 “Into the skiff with them, Mister Goodwin,” growls the captain.

 “In!” Goodwin’s voice is flat, his eyes are slits.

 “My thanks, Captain,” calls Gato. The man has rushed away. To Goodwin, he gives a frozen fish eye.

 Gato and Feo, and Pedro and Sly, are seated in the boat. Gato cradles his cat. Feo, his face buried in the crook of his pal’s arm, shakes and gasps and gurgles, comforted by the man who supposes him terrified of the confusion all around him. 

        “Easy,” Gato croons. “You’re safe, sweetheart. It’s you and me against the world, old man. No one – no one!” – he’s been murmuring into Feo’s ear. He raises his voice so Pedro will hear – “no one has an animal sweeter, or smarter, or braver than you, m’darling.” 

          Feo raises his head, spies Sly sitting opposite, flares his nostrils, pokes his nose back into the fabric of Gato’s coat, and continues to bawl, not from fear, but from joy. 

            Sly says nothing. In the presence of such pain, what is he to say? Any solace he might offer would be woefully inadequate. At that moment he loathes himself.

Evolved Entitlement: 

A Lost Chapter of the Book of Genesis

by Carl E. Reed

The stentorian voice boomed out o’er the lush greenery of the acres-large garden: “Eve! Me damn you! Show yourself. You too, First Rib!” 

Loin-clothed Adam and Eve emerged from the rustling bushes to stand squinting into the sun in a lush-grassed meadow situated amongst flowering shrubs and leafy-bowered trees. Foxes, badgers and wild dogs trembled in burrow and den; birds twitched and stutter-stepped nervously along wind-whipped branches. 

“I see you are now wearing clothes!” remonstrated the thundering, basso-profundo Voice. “Who told you to cover your nakedness with cloth?” 

“First of all,” said Eve, standing hip-shot and shouting into the sky, “I should hardly dignify a strand of twisted cloth ’cross the genitals with the trumped-up moniker ‘clothes’! ” 

“We tried fig leaves—” ventured First Man. 

“Shut up, Adam!” snapped Eve. “I got this.” 

“Impertinent little beast—” boomed the Voice. 

“Don’t you talk down to me, chauvinist pig!”  

Im up here” roared the Voice, “youre down there! I’ve no choice but to talk down to you.” 

“Well,” said Eve, conceding the point, “I suppose that’s true—but the problem is one of design, eh? You could incarnate as flesh and come down here to talk to us at eye-level if you so desired.” 

“Later,” said the Voice. “Many millennia from now. After I send myself to your offspring to preach and get crucified upon a Roman cross as an only-begotten son who is me and also a Sacred Ghost: Three-in-One; all the Ones aspects of the Three and paradoxically, the One entire.” 

“Err—” said Adam. 

“He’s trippin’, ” Eve whispered. Then, assuming a more upright stance and shaking a clenched fist at the clouds. “Why are you so concerned that we’re no longer wandering about starkers? You some kind of voyeuristic pervert?” 

Thunder boomed and lightning crackled.  

“Know that the Lord Your God does not indulge in such demeaning practices! Or revel in objectifying prurience. I check from time-to-time to ensure that you have not been devoured by lions, tigers, or wolves—or infested with lice—or shit-spattered by rampaging bands of screeching, poo-flinging monkeys. ’Scuse me for caring.” 

“Appreciate that!” called Adam brightly. 

“Stop simpering,” said Eve, throwing a sharp elbow into her mate. “God!” 

“You talking to me or simply exclaiming?” inquired the Voice. 

“Talking to you,” said Eve. “What is it you really want to know?” 

“Why have you eaten from the Tree of Knowledge?” 

“I can explain that!” piped Adam, voice high and screechy. 

Another sharply thrown elbow into Adam’s ribs.  

“I said I got this,” Eve hissed. “God!” 

“Yo! Still here.” 

“How can you set us down in a garden next to a Tree of Knowledge, knowing nothing, yet expect us to forever ignore the temptation of a tree of enlightenment?” 

“You spoke to the serpent—”  

“Serpent?” Eve interrupted. “I talked to a flying squirrel.” 

“I see,” said the Voice, momentarily thrown. “And . . . what did this, ah . . . loquacious aeronautical rodent say?” 

“He said the apples were red, ripe, rich and delicious!” cried Adam. “And organic! Boy howdy—all true!” 

Eve rounded on Adam. “I swear, one more word out of you and you’ll never experience the ecstasy of goofy-faced-locked-hip-spasming again! Do I make myself clear?” 

“Perfectly, dear.” Adam stared fixedly at his feet. 

Eve tilted her face back up to the sky. “I ate from the Tree of Knowledge in order that certain ontological and epistemological categories and conditions be both better explicated—I mean to say fully digested, intellectually speaking—and integrated into an Eve-volving weltanschauung. Get it? ‘Eve-volving’. Clever, eh?” 

There was a moment of silence. 

“Eve,” softly rumbled the Voice, “the word was ‘entitlement’. ” 

“No, no . . . that can’t be right,” protested Eve. “Last showcase the word was ‘devolving’, so it only makes good, counterbalancing, lexical sense that the follow-up-showcase ‘e’ word would be its polar opposite: ‘evolving’. See?” 

“This was a pass/fail exercise,” pronounced the Voice, “and you have failed.” 

“Wait! Wait!” cried Eve, hands to either side of her head. “Uh . . . I think I’m entitled to—” 

“Too late,” declared omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, invisible Sky God of the Hebrews. 

“Damn it!” said Eve.

“Thy wish is my command,” said the Voice. “Effective immediately, I banish thee and O. H. M. (original human model) from the garden of Eden. Henceforth a state of ever-lasting enmity shalt exist betwixt woman and flying squirrel. O, woe is thee! And the squirrels—they shalt never evolve into the gregarious, parchment-scribbling, pterodactyl-sized scribes I’d intended the species become. But back to thee: Thy female descendants shalt roam the earth and know the pangs of hunger and thirst and slow internet dial-up speeds, and they shalt bring forth children in their turn in pain and lamentation and high anxiety. Valium shalt only partially assuage womanly angst.” 

“Lord, m’man—” First Rib began. 

“Shut up, Adam!” said Eve. “Don’t grovel.”

“Who’s groveling?” said Adam, taking a step back from his wife. “The bitch made me eat the apple, Lord! You don’t have to go all blood-and-thunder and ‘old-timey’ language on us—I mean me. You know she’s just impossible unless I give in to her every whim.” He spread his hands in supplication. “I should suffer alongside her?”

“Yes,” said the Voice. 

Adam and Eve were hurled from the Garden of Eden. They crashed into cushioning sand dunes just outside gargantuan, golden padlocked gates.

Man and woman rose from the dunes, brushing sand from their eyes, hair and loincloths.

“Well, I suppose we must now make the best—”

Eve’s eyes were kindled hell fires. “What did you call me?” 

BLAKE FORESTER, PHD

by Perry Palin

Blake Forester, PhD, drove his newly mortgaged yellow Camaro 2 SS slowly through the campus, looking at the spring leaves on the trees and the sunlight and shadows on the solid sandstone buildings. Students strolled on the brick walks, and a gardener worked in a flower bed. He found the parking lot that Sheila, Dean Granstrom’s assistant, had mapped for him in an email. His appointment was for 10:00 AM, and he was neither early nor late. He entered the building that held the offices of the College of Arts and Sciences, and walked past the dean’s office suite to find a men’s room where he could comb his hair in front of a large mirror. He opened the door to the dean’s outer office at 10:00 AM sharp.

A thin, attractive blond woman looked up from her computer and smiled. “Dr. Forester, I believe?”

“Yes, Dr. Blake Forester. And you are Sheila. Thank you so much for arranging my visit.” Blake smiled and let a wink escape his right eye.

“You’re right on time. I’ll let Dean Granstrom know you are here.” She rose from her chair and opened the door to an inner office. After a quick exchange with the dean, she told Blake he could go in. 

“Good morning Dean Granstrom. I had a fine room in the hotel. Sheila was very helpful. I hope you’ll tell her how much I appreciate her help.”

Dean Granstrom’s white hair met his collar. He was sixty years old, a little heavy, wearing a blue shirt and a tan sweater vest, unpressed chinos, and brown laced shoes. Granstrom sat at his desk and looked at Blake over the top of his glasses. He took off his glasses and placed them on his desk. Blake was dressed more formally, but with polished tassel loafers.

Granstrom rose to shake Blake’s hand. “Let’s move over here to talk.” He led Blake to two leather armchairs with a small table between them. “Coffee? Soft drink? Tea, maybe?”

“I would like a cup of coffee. Dark, organic Columbian, black.”

Granstrom went to the door to ask Sheila to bring the beverages. The two men exchanged pleasantries until the coffee arrived. Blake sipped his coffee and made a sour face.

Granstrom said, “Well, let’s get down to business. What do you consider your strengths for the position for which you have applied?”

“I appended a list of my publications to my vitae. Have you read them? My dissertation is on the rust on the under side of the leaves on the north side of a bean plant. You may know that bean rust infects a large minority of our soybean fields, reducing yields and income to farmers.”

“I saw the list. For our purposes here, why don’t you tell me what your research found.” 

“The rust is the same on the north side of the plant as it is on the south side.”

“I see. Tell me why this is important.”

“It was original research. Not everything has an immediate application. But it’s important to know that the rust infects both the north and the south sides of the bean plant.”

“And that led to your PhD?”

“Yes it did. I’m proud of my work on it.”

“We are looking for someone to teach three courses each term of lower division classes, starting with plant biology, unless there is a lab involved, in which case it will be two courses each term. Tell me how you will prepare for each class session.”

“I’ve seen a lot of professors at work. I’m sure that won’t be a problem for me. I certainly won’t let it get in the way of my research.”

“And what research will that be?” 

“My work on bean rust. I will be in the lab for twenty-five to thirty hours each week, except when I travel to read at conferences, and for the holiday and summer breaks, or course.”

“You’ve seen the terms of our compensation plan for new associates, I assume.”

“Yes, and I want to talk about that. I could start at the top of the salary range, or a bit beyond, but not for less.”

“I have some leeway on salaries, but I don’t have total control.”

“Really, Dean Granstrom, I have my doctorate, and I’ve had two post-doc assignments, albeit short ones. My mother makes more money than your salary range, and all she had done for 30 years is teach high school English.”

“This is  one year appointment, as are all our new hires, with the possibility to renew.”

“If the compensation can be settled, I will come for a four-year tenure track contract, with a minimum of a ten percent salary increase each year. That will move me in the direction of what I am worth. You won’t want me to spend my time looking for a position at another college. With a four-year commitment, I won’t need to be looking until year three, unless, of course, tenure is assured by then.”

“Hmmm. I think we’re done here. I trust you had a good night at the hotel.” 

“Oh, yes. Thank you for that. Not every college will pay for accommodations. I upgraded to a suite when the first room had a too small bulb in the desk lamp, and the minibar and the room service breakfast were adequate. I’ll see that Sheila gets the bill sent to her.” 

“Thank you, then, Dr. Forester, for coming in. I’ll be making my decision in a week or two.”

“I’m looking forward to joining you, Dean Granstrom.”

They rose, shook hands, and Blake walked to the door. In the outer office he made a point to see that Sheila wore no rings on her left hand. He smiled and told her that he looked forward to getting to know her. Sheila smiled professionally as Blake left the office. 

Dean Granstrom watched the door close behind Blake. He moved to his desk, turned Blake’s resume face down at his left and picked up the file for the next candidate, who was due in half an hour.

I’m Just Really Good at My Job

by S.T. Ranscht

“Hello, Adam. Welcome to my world. Your world.”

“Uhhh… thank you?”

“I know, it’s all a bit too glorious, isn’t it?” the world’s owner confided gleefully.

Adam hesitated. “Well, I suppose that depends on what you mean by ‘glorious’.”

The owner seemed taken aback. “I should have thought it was obvious.”

“Not to me,” Adam admitted. “I mean, compared to what?”

“Oh. Right.” A pause followed.

“Can I ask you a question?” Adam ventured into the pause.

“Yes, I have granted you that ability.”

“Okaaayyy… How did I get here?”

The owner’s glee returned. “That’s a great story. I suggested that we make man in our own image, and everyone agreed—“

“Who’s ‘we’?”

“That’s not important. I’m this world’s Project Manager, so you’ll deal only with me.” The PM hurried on, “Anyway, I made this dense fog cover the entire globe so everything everywhere got really wet, and then… I made you out of mud. Mud! Then, you know the thing with two holes in the middle of your face?”

“My… nose?”

“I wasn’t sure you knew that word. Yes, your nose. Get this — I blew into it and guess what happened. You came. To. Life.”

“Huh.” Adam tried to rub the confusion out of his brain by massaging his forehead. Hard. “That’s not really much of a story. I don’t mean that in a negative way. This is just constructive criticism you can take or leave. It has good plot points, but your execution is weak. Not enough world building. No character development. No tension. The climax is contrived — all those periods, supposedly to give each word equal impact. And no resolution.” He shook his head. “I’m just saying it could be a really compelling story if you added more detail. Some dialogue. Motivation. Why, for instance, did you decide to blow into my nose?”

“Thank you for your feedback,” the PM said in a way Adam thought sounded a little pouty. “I’ll consider it if I ever decide to tell that story again.”

“So, what am I supposed to do?”

“Well, I had a couple of ideas. You get to name every living creature and growing thing.”

“What? Like Javier, Su Mei, and Thaddeus? Or Spot, Splashy, and Flighty?”

“Not what I had in mind, but the deal is made and it’s up to you.”

“Maybe something more evocative of each living thing’s life story,” Adam contemplated. “Yes, that would be much more interesting.”

“As you wish,” the PM acceded. “And you get to till the land in this garden. You know, grow more plants. For food.”

“That sounds like tedious, backbreaking, thankless work. No thank you. What are my other choices?”

“Other choices? I was hoping this wouldn’t come up quite so soon — especially because I’m having second thoughts about its wisdom — but, yes, having made you in our image, I thought it would only be fair to grant you free will, too. You may do anything you want — except for two tiny exceptions. So. I can hardly wait to find out: What do you want to do?”

“I’m not sure you really mean that, but,” Adam announced, “I want to be a writer.”

“Oh. I’m afraid that’s not an option.”

“But you said, ‘anything’.”

“That I did, but I haven’t invented writing yet,” the PMsplained with forced patience.

“Then maybe I just invented it,” Adam countered. “After all, I am free to define myself, correct?”

“Yeeesss.”

Adam decided right then that, even though he couldn’t see the PM, the tone he’d just used was accompanied by eye rolling. Adam filed that image away for future stories.

“I’m curious,” Adam began, “Why can’t I see you?”

The PM chuckled in a pitying way. “Looking upon my face would be too overwhelming for you, a mere man.”

“Really? I would have thought, having made me in y’all’s image, y’all would have a face like mine. What’s the real reason you’re hiding? Are you hideous and misshapen? Scarred beyond belief? Or just everyday ugly?” In the silence that followed, Adam imagined the PM glaring at him, crossing his arms, and tapping his foot in an aggravated way. The power he felt inspired his first naming. “Hey, do you see that sinuous, slithery creature over by the apple tree? I’m going to name him ‘The Great Deceiver’.”

The PM scoffed, “That’s not a proper name. That’s a title.”

“Precisely,” Adam agreed. “I’m a writer. A storyteller. And I just entitled your glorious creature’s life story.” Adam’s grin radiated a heavenly glow. “But I thank you for your feedback.”

The PM drew a deep breath. “Adam, I am going to give you a gift. You may name her whatever you deem appropriate, but I will call her Eve.”

“I don’t need a companion,” Adam replied. “In fact, I don’t want a companion. Writing is going to be a solitary job. A companion would just be a distraction.”

“Perhaps so,” the PM allowed, “but a writer is entitled to an editor.”

A frown crept over Adam’s face. “That sounds really annoying.”

If the PM’s face had been visible to him, Adam would have seen his first nastily satisfied smile.

~~~

Dedicated to GD and Carl with love and affection. And joy.

50 thoughts on “Entitled, December 3, 2021

  1. I think my favorite part of this exercise is discovering how much variety results from your prompt explorations. Thanks to each of you.

    Chip, once I sorted out the POV switches from Damond to Frank to Damond again, I could acknowledge the full impact of the grimmest level of entitlement: abandon your humanity and value no life but your own in a desperate effort to survive. Powerful.

    Mimi, it’s good to see the roguish cat is not a completely heartless bully. Your description of Feo is hilarious, yet heart-rending.

    Carl, the tour de farce continues. This unexpected mix of ancient and modern danced on the page at breakneck speed like water drops on a hot skillet. I started laughing at “You, too, First Rib!” and nearly burst a gut at “Eve,” softly rumbled the Voice, “the word was ‘entitlement’. ” How meta can you get? (“ ‘Eve-volving’. Clever, eh?”) Yes.

    So much delightfully wrought imagery, riffing throughout, like: “birds twitched and stutter-stepped”, “…or shit-spattered by rampaging bands of screeching, poo-flinging monkeys. ’Scuse me for caring”, or “the ecstasy of goofy-faced-locked-hip-spasming”. She spoke with a flying squirrel?!

    And your characterizations? I’d watch that show.

    I’m still laughing.

    Perry, so suave, so confident, so cluelessly oblivious. Your MC defines entitlement. I wanted to hear his excuses when he failed to get the job. Well done.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. mimispeike says:

    I’ll comment on these pieces one by one. Carl, I start with you.

    This is fun. Your language, as always, is delightful. The humor is very appealing. It would have been great if we had more confidential conference between Adam and Eve. “What is this woo-woo voice from above? Are we hallucinating?” (Comments continuing along this path.)

    “What’s hallucinating?”

    “Damned if I know. The word just popped into my head.”

    I’m smiling.

    Raised Catholic (well, they tried), turned atheist around ten years of age (years later I overheard my parents discussing how I had almost failed my First Holy Communion), I would have been rolling on the floor.

    Something like that would have knocked it out of the park for me.

    And you better believe I’m paying attention to your punctuation.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Kudos to everyone who contributed again!

    @ Sue. Thank’s for letting me know what you found funny and why. (I see we riffed–though in completely different ways–on a similar theme. Many lols. Heh! Great minds . . .)
    @Mimi: Sly! strikes again! PS. Do you favor the Oxford comma or the more modern, streamlined AP-style approach to the use of the comma when punctuating a series of three things? Explain and give us a sample. That’s your punctuation homework for this week. 😉
    @Chip Pentium: Hi there! This is A.M.D. Dual-Core.
    @Perry: Competent work, as always. That final paragraph–ouch!

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Oxford comma civilizes, clarifies, and saves innocents and others from unintentional libel. For instance, “He went to the end of the line behind two sexual predators, Jesus of Nazareth and Mother Teresa.”

      Are there four people in front of him or only two?

      AP’s style guide promotes imprecise communication.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Not true, Sue! Or rather–not always. In some circumstances using the serial comma can create ambiguity. Consider this book dedication:

        To my childhood friend, Big Bird, and Mr. Rogers.

        The serial comma after Big Bird creates ambiguity about the writer’s childhood friend because it uses punctuation identical to that used for an appositive phrase, leaving it unclear whether this is a list of three entities or only two. (Is the writer’s childhood friend Big Bird?)

        Plus the Oxford comma is unnecessarily fussy and ads bulk to a text, slightly slowing down reading speed. How can that ever be a good thing? (Unless the writer is consciously trying to sound fin de siècle or earlier.)

        I use AP style unless omitting the Oxford comma would create confusion. In that case, of course, I use it!

        Liked by 5 people

        • The ambiguity culprit is not the Oxford comma.  It’s the willy-nilly use of commas for separating list items, wrapping appositive phrases, and other jobs.  Reader has to guess which comma does which job.  Hope to put more detail in a standalone comment soon.  Need to clean up first: some clown tried to decorate the Xmas tree with commas.

          Liked by 2 people

      • @Carl: Hmm. Reason would seem to indicate Big Bird was the childhood friend because without an appositive, the poor dedicator had only one childhood friend and was unwilling to name said friend.

        I am no fan of reading as fast as possible. I believe writers worth reading deserve to have every word read at the pace they intended. Pauses can say as much as words.

        Lol, I’m not sure how an Oxford comma is any fussier than any other comma, but the only reason I find text bulky is that it contains interminably long paragraphs in Times New Roman with no space between them.

        I guess it’s a matter of personal sensibilities, and I will like you just the same whichever way you lean. 😏

        Liked by 5 people

  4. Sly, for once in his life, is ashamed of himself
    Mimi, your imagination is original with surprising detail and scope. And your writing is delightful. The only reason you’re not a published author is …well, you never bother to publish anything. You need an agent!

    Evolved Entitlement: A Lost Chapter of the Book of Genesis
    I Loved it, Carl! This is an awesome-fun read with the all-out assault we’ve come to relish from your stories. When you next hold a public reading, I recommend you do so on a roller coaster.

    BLAKE FORESTER, PHD is sublime, Perry. I’d never thought of a sense of entitlement being quite so thoughtlessly assumed. This is really well done.

    I’m Just Really Good at My Job
    So clever, all the way through and it made me laugh at the end. The way it referenced life’s negatives to the Almighty’s scheme of things reminded me of Mark Twain. Have you read his “Letters from the Earth?” (I know you’d “get it.”)

    Ruthless critique
    Sue caught the error, the PoV break, but this is no more than a glorified anecdote, and not too probable at that. The story is both good and original. Unfortunately, the parts that are original are not good and the parts that are good are not original. What other culture could have produced someone like Chip Pentium and not seen the joke? “Ruthless” proves there are two ways of disliking flash fiction; one way is to dislike it; the other is to read Chip Pentium.
    (With apologies to H. L. Mencken on The Great Gatsby, Samuel Johnson to an aspiring writer, Gore Vidal on Hemingway, and Oscar Wilde on Pope’s poetry.)

    Liked by 4 people

    • Assuming “Chip Pentium” was an alias deliberately well-covered with a corresponding email address, I politely backed up one step and took the ride. Yes, what other culture indeed?

      All due respect to Oscar Wilde, the third way to dislike flash fiction seems to be to write it ruthlessly, lol.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Carl caught the dupe with his, “:@Chip Pentium: Hi there! This is A.M.D. Dual-Core.” 😀 but I was counting on your courtesy to get away with this, Sue. I submitted a story, as Chip, to that ungallant, caddish and discourteous staff at Sci-Fi Lampoon and the unchivalrous illegal spawns trashed it. Thankfully, the Writers Co-op crowd is more receptive. 😊

        Liked by 3 people

        • When I saw Carl’s response, I guessed he knew who Chip was. You were on my very short list, but I wasn’t ready to swear to it. I sympathize with your reaction to the Sci-Fi Lampoon staff and I’ll take your word for their collective character. After all, you do know them well.

          Liked by 3 people

          • The Sci-Fi Lampoon staff make me feel like Dr. Frankenstein. Their latest gig: putting together an anthology of stories about situations where things are going so very well that you just know your day is about to get fucked up. The miscreants are titling the anthology “The Fuckening.” And they are actually getting submissions from countries around the world. What a planet we live on. 😏

            Liked by 4 people

              • No, I think they’re on to something. Submissions are plentiful (the listing is on Duotrope) many are of excellent quality, and response is world-wide. I’m wondering, if perhaps our sense of propriety is simply not applicable to the world at large?

                And for the record, I love the staff at Sci-Fi Lampoon -& I love lampooning them.

                Liked by 4 people

    • mimispeike says:

      I blew my recent submission, I think. Aside from my trouble with commas, it occurs to me: I read somewhere that trad publishers (and maybe agents) don’t want novellas. They want full novels. (Same work, more profit.) Has anyone else read this?

      While I doctor my punctuation on Sly, I’m making great progress on Maisie. I have three covers laid out (roughs, but incorporating art I already have half finished, they’ll go final quickly), I have two look-ahead promo pages for Maisie, and a promo page for Sly that will be the final page in all three editions of Maisie. I have Maisie’s back cover set up, needing only one image groomed. I may switch out one figure, and I may not.

      I’m going to build Sly‘s cover as well. I have the rough to duplicate, with minor tweaks.

      I ask anyone who is not sick of my begging for advice to comment on my use of italics here. When I repeat Maisie so many times, do they all need to be italics?

      Liked by 3 people

    • mimispeike says:

      I’ve been wrestling with what to say on this piece. You’ve said it yourself: “. . . a glorified anecdote, and not too probable at that.” Vaguely amusing, but nothing about it grabs me. The character is fulfilling your mission of being entitled. I know it’s difficult in a short piece, but I want to get inside people’s heads.

      And – where’s the horror?

      I know, everybody is too shell-shocked to feel much of anything except, can I survive? I’ll give you that one.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Regarding the comma debate…
    The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition, states:

    “6.16 Use of the comma.
    The comma, aside from its technical uses in scientific, bibliographical, and other contexts, indicate the smallest break in sentence structure. It usually indicates a slight pause. In formal prose, however, logical considerations come first. Effective use of the comma involves good judgement, with the goal being ease of reading.”

    Clearly, comma usage in fiction is better determined by the author than by arbitrary rules.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Perry Palin says:

      Mimi,

      Monty Python, or SNL maybe. No fiction in this little piece. When I worked for my living one of my tasks was to interview job candidates. I interviewed everyone from janitors and kitchen workers to top managers. Some people came in nervous. Some were quietly confident. Some were pushy and overbearing. Some were entitled. The worst were attorneys and college presidents.

      The hardest part of this exercise, and it was good for me, was to cut 600 words from my first draft to get close to our guidelines. I cut what I thought was some good stuff.

      Liked by 5 people

    • Gary Filtz’s post is amusing and easy to identify with. Over the years, I’ve worked on acknowledging that any expectations I may have concerning other people’s actions have to be fluid and backed up by an alternative plan. Even the expectations I set for myself, such as, expecting to have a particular project completed by a specific deadline, are subject to the vagaries of everything I have no control over. All I can do is be ready to adjust my actions to do whatever it takes to meet my goal. Of course, generally that begins with allowing more time than I expect any job to take, lol.

      Liked by 5 people

  6. victoracquista says:

    Thank you fellow authors for amusement and worthwhile discussion. What struck me most about the current slate were two stories about entitlement that featured Adam and Eve. That struck me as more than coincidence. Cosmic connected consciousness within the co-op? Cosmic Karma? Great minds thinking alike? I can only speculate.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hahaha! I can’t speak for Carl, but my motivation was was to poke at the Original Entitlements — the Divine versus the human. Doesn’t free will free us from blindly following someone else’s dictates even as it lays full responsibility for the consequences of our actions on us? Are we not ruled by our own discipline and the pressure or approval of our fellow humans?

      Liked by 4 people

  7. Great episode.  The same contributors who provided LMAO hilarious sendups of Adam and Eve also provided lively discussion and LOL funny examples of pitfalls in punctuation.

    Consider Sue’s example of standing in line behind either 2 or 4 people:

            He went to the end of the line         behind two sexual predators, Jesus of Nazareth and Mother Teresa.

    Yes, adding an Oxford comma would make it clear that there are 4 people.

    Wanna go outside the box and risk serious blowback by making it clear that there are 2 people? Just write

            He went to the end of the line         behind two sexual predators (Jesus of Nazareth and Mother Teresa).

    Tho short, the appositive phrase here has enough structure to really need being marked by the parentheses, unless U want to be ambiguous.

    I’d rather fret about whether my writing is clear than about whether I can save one tap on the [,] key by avoiding an Oxford comma or two taps on the [Shift] key by avoiding parentheses.

    Now consider Carl’s example of a book dedication that’s ambiguous, but only because some people are stingy with keystrokes:

            To my childhood friend, Big Bird, and Mr. Rogers.

    Wanna have 3 dedicatees and avoid naming the one in the Witness Protection Program?  Just write

            To Big Bird, Mr. Rogers, and my childhood friend.

    or (if U don’t want to imply U had no other friends)

            To Big Bird, Mr. Rogers, and a childhood friend.

    Wanna have 2 dedicatees and include a little note about the first one? Just write

            To my childhood friend (Big Bird) and Mr. Rogers.

    Wanna tweak the emphasis on Big Bird’s role in your life?  Just write

            To Big Bird (my childhood friend) and Mr. Rogers.

    Wanna have 2 dedicatees and include a little note about the second one?  Just write

            To Mr. Rogers and my childhood friend, Big Bird.

    A short appositive phrase at the start or end of a sentence can often be marked by single comma, w/o any flap about which comma closes something opened by a previous comma.  An appositive phrase in the middle of a sentence is often more readable if wrapped in parentheses rather than commas. Always, if the phrase is complicated enough to need its very own comma(s).

    Yes, routinely wrapping many appositive phrases in parentheses might make a page look like somebody clipped their toenails over it.  That’s a symptom of overly complicated syntax that begs to be misunderstood.  Don’t hide the symptom with inconspicuous commas that exacerbate the disease.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a fine analysis of the listing comma and it’s substitutes, Mellow. I use parentheses less often than commas for lists, but I think parentheses are effective to set off information or commentary that deviates slightly from the subject at hand. However, in that capacity, they seem to carry the tone of an aside, interesting and pertinent, but low-key. For a more emphatic deviation, I prefer an emdash or two.

      Liked by 2 people

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