And now I’m published!

The World Unknown Review, Vol I

The World Unknown Review, Vol I

Shameless self-marketing post:  One of my noir-ish humorous shorts was chosen for the first volume of The World Unknown Review, with L.S. Engler, editor. Containing 11 short stories and one novella, this new literary review features authors who have an impressive publishing background, as well as those (me) who are just breaking into the business.

My story? Titled The Crucible, this tale is a slice of life featuring an English teacher at an exclusive private school. Distraught with the futility of his efforts, he receives a ray of hope in a promotion to headmaster, only to see…well, you will have to read it for yourself.

If you are a teacher, you can probably relate to this story. If you aren’t, you very well may be one of the characters!

Yes, I’m excited! And you should be, too. Eight clams and some change for the paper version (huzzah for an editor who wanted to make a traditional book!) and just under a dollar for the Kindle version.

If only there was some occasion where you could use a new gift. Hmmm.

Now, back to my happy dance!

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Vanity – an equal opportunity evil

The Sale

“Geez, are you okay? I mean, really, do I need to call someone?”

Walt Turner was embarrassed enough, no need to call any more attention to himself. He wanted to kick himself for even walking in the door to a place like this, but the girl was cute and the prices seemed reasonable. Call someone? Certainly not his wife, that’s for sure.

Now, bent over at the waist, with his lower back seized up, Walt came to the inescapable conclusion that his middle-aged body could not keep up with his brain’s desire to relive the activities of his youth.

“No. It’s just a twinge. I’ll be fine in a minute.”

The twenty-something girl, while experienced in her trade, had never had a customer injure themselves before physical activity. Most of her customers felt great until the next day, when their body realized it had used muscles that had laid dormant for years.

“Okay, if you say so. Ummm, let’s just postpone the deal for a while. Here, take your money back.”

Walt, glancing up from his stooped body, silently agreed by pocketing the wad of twenties. The back pain was quickly being replaced by the guilt of being foolish.

“Listen, will you be here this next weekend? I mean, I think a couple of Motrin and a few days with a heating pad should do the trick, but I didn’t want to try this again unless you were here.” Trying to inject some humor into the situation, Walt managed to wink at his companion.

The girl giggled. “Why Mr. Turner, you are such a cutie. Of course, I am always here. And if I’m not here, it’s because I am with a customer somewhere. I tell you what, you come back when you’re feeling better and I will give you a discount.”

Putting on his best face, Walt Turner replied “It’s a date. See you Saturday sometime.”

Walt slowly shuffled his way out the door. Seeing his car parked down the street, he mumbled out loud “Real smooth, Walt. Only you could go into a sporting goods store and hurt yourself just by picking up the box of weights…”

© D.J. Lutz – March 2011

Man’s Best Friend?

See Image:Gold doorknob.jpg

What's on the other side of the door?

Here’s a short peice that’s just a bit of fun. With as much crap that is going on these days, a little light-hearted fiction could do wonders for the soul…

Man’s Best Friend?

Little Billy Watson was very excited about seeing the Grand Canyon. After all, he liked digging holes, especially to look for worms, and this was supposed to be one the biggest holes around. Of course, there was that one day when Billy’s mom screamed, finding a herd of squiggly creatures living in what used to be the jar of freshly ground coffee beans. Yes, Billy had to pinky promised that he would not do that again. The trip would take a week, maybe less if Billy’s big brother was driving. Cousin Ed would be staying at the house, picking up the mail and taking care of Zinger, the Wonder Dog. That was the only part of this vacation that had Billy worried.

Cousin Ed was not a dog person. He wasn’t even an animal person. Billy’s uncle had once caught Ed trying to spray paint a Mohawk haircut he had just given his neighbor’s dog.  Billy remembered distinctly what Ed had muttered upon being discovered. “What… pink should look just fine..unless you think purple would be better.” And now, the very same canine coiffeur would be taking care of Billy’s one and only dog. Billy carefully wrote out daily instructions, just to be sure Zinger would be alright. When they left, Billy said his goodbyes and then looked at Ed, saying “Don’t forget, Zinger likes to sleep in the comfy chair by the TV. Don’t pile anything up there, okay?”

Cousin Ed waved, telling Billy to not worry so much. “We’ll be fine. Zing and I are like old pals.” After the family car pulled out of the driveway, Ed turned to Zinger and with a stern tone, said “Okay, dog. Here’s the way it’s going to go. You keep quiet, you get food. You sleep on the floor and stay off my chair, you get food. You do your business outside, and…that’s right, you get food. Got it?” Turning away and walking toward the kitchen to get a sandwich, Ed thought out loud “Dumb dog. Probably didn’t understand I word I just said…”

Zinger, who had little command of the English language other than the words treat and ball, tilted his head. While he could not understand the words being said, Zinger clearly understood the type of human who was saying them. Zinger decided to play along…for a while.

The days went by quickly. Zinger found a blanket on the floor, making a nice little bed for himself. He watched Ed carefully. Making mental note (as dogs and cats always do) of the times of day that Ed did certain activities. Finally, sensing that Billy would be coming home soon, Zinger decided it was time to teach Ed a lesson.

Ed was sitting in Zinger’s chair, watching television. It was almost lunchtime; Ed had made a bacon sandwich.  The Wonder Dog knew it was time to act.

Zinger raced to the front door, barking loudly. He even threw in a growl, for good effect. Then, quick as a flash, Zinger raced to the kitchen, zooming outside by way of the little doggy-door. Running around to the front of the house, Zinger barked all the way down the front walk, as if chasing someone away. Curious about the whole affair, Ed got up from the chair, opened the front door and looked out. Seeing no one, he said “Come on in, dog. Whoever it was, you must have chased them off. Looks like you are finally good for something…”

Zinger trotted in through the front door. Ed, now a bit cautious, carefully locked the knob and the deadbolt. Returning to his chair, Ed finished his sandwich, washing it down with another beer.  Zinger sat back down on the blanket, feigning sleep.

Two beers later, Ed let out a belch that could have woke the cat next door. Now was the time and Zinger was ready. Repeating the earlier performance, the wild quadruped started scratching at the front door, all the while growling and snarling; teeth were bared. Then, as Ed tried to stand up, Zinger ran by him on the way to the kitchen, almost putting Ed on the ground.

As before, Ed heard the dog run around to the front of the house, barking the whole way. Then, a sudden silence. Ed was curious now. Something was going on. There was someone out there, he just knew it. He looked out the window, but did not see anyone. More troublesome was that he could not see the dog.

Zinger let out a whimper.

That did it. Ed just had to investigate now. He flipped the deadbolt and swung open the door. Taking three staggered steps out onto the porch, he called out. “Hey! Come here! Don’t be playing games with me, you stinkin’ kids. I gotta mean old dog here, too. I’ll give you a poundin’ if I find you…”

Slam!

Ed whirled around, only to find the front door closed. Reaching for the door knob, he suddenly sobered up enough to remember that he had not unlocked the knob, just the deadbolt.

“Oh crap.”

Peering in the window, Ed realized he had been played like a fiddle. There, in the comfy chair, sound asleep, was Zinger the Wonder Dog. Now all Ed could do was hope that the family arrived before those two extra beers came back to haunt him…

©D.J. Lutz, March 2011