QVC




“My guest tonight will read from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s works.”
    “Bill wake-up.”
   “Huh, what, oh, was I sleeping?”
   “You dozed a little, musta been having a bad dream. Figured I best wake you, snap you out of it.”
   “Benny, It was a horrible dream. David on QVC had a guest and they were talking about blueberry apple scones.”
   “You don’t watch QVC.”
   “My mom does, she’s always buying stuff on that channel, I hate it. They really sucker in the old folks with their charm and easy payments.”
   “Do you remember any of it?”
   “Any of what…?”
   “The dream,” implored Benny.
   “Oh yea, it was horrible. After the blueberry apple scones David Kitchens and his guest, Shantel from New Orleans were cooking fire breathing kale and shrimp from the new roaster that was only three easy payments of $99 a month. Then Shantel disappeared and Calypso Vega came on the set and cooked Coconut veggie burgers in a tropical colored grill that automatically cleaned itself for four low easy payments with your Q card of just $119 a month, but it didn’t end there.”
   “What happened next?”
   “Miranda came out and started selling ten inch tablets, that were Andriods, and you could hang them like pictures or take them to the office, and hook them to the cloud, or connect them to 3D printers that made thousands of toys for kids you don’t have and then turn the toys into life managers that could buy more apps without your permission, and drain your bank account.”
   “That’s our modern world. Its breeding laziness and ignorance, soon we’ll all be stupid.”
   “Yeah, you’re right about that. So any way the dream shifted to my mom watching these purveyors of delusional lives constantly selling crap and I freaked out. She was sitting there in her recliner, talking and rambling about ‘I could use that. Wow, only nine easy pays, and I could have a rolling cart that is turquoise—which goes with my new grill—so I can put my nutty blaster on the other counter to make fritters for your papa.’ Mom, Dad doesn’t eat fritters, I told her. She just waved me off like I was some nonsensical idiot trying to delude her with crazy ideas.  Yeah in the dream I turned into the bad guy, my Mom thought I was evil trying to stop her from happiness.”
   “Did she throw something at you like last time?”
   “No, this time it got worse before it got better. Miranda disappeared and Lori from Shark tank came on selling jewelry with a model. The model was cute, nice brown hair, long and wavy, but the horror was soon unveiled. Lori opened up a case for jewels that constantly opened into new and ever expanding sections. It had draws that had more draws, and doors that were hidden behind more doors, soon I was trapped by emeralds and diamonds behind a thousand doors and no-way out. Mom was in her recliner saying ‘I want that, I need that.’ She got on the phone and asked if she could get three easy Q card payments. Lori talked to her, smiling right into the camera, pulling her in, taking her back to her youth, dreaming of glamour, and having the desires of strong affectionate men. I’m telling you, my mom saw herself as twenty-five again, and partying on Lori’s yacht. She bought the case. Lori thanked her then disappeared. I screamed at the top of my lungs STOP! STOP!”
   “Is that when I woke you?”
   “No, there was a moment of peace; suddenly I was a guest on re-runs of Q & A on C-Span. Brian Lamb asked me about my new book of Tennyson quotes and other thoughts. I responded to several enlightening questions that brought viewers to the inner-sanctum of deep thought. But my Mom called in and said right on the phone, to a national audience, ‘My sons an idiot. He wouldn’t know how to write a book on anything that really matters. Like how do you bake coconut custard pudding while reading your eBook in your motorized reclining chair while watching QVC and never have to get up and turn on the oven. That’s what’s important in life.’
   “It’s like Mick says, ‘you can’t get no satisfaction,’” Benny commented, then added, “Let’s make a pizza.”

    Finished version of this story is titled Home Shopping. It's in my latest book, Conversations.
Copyright © 2015
Artemis J Jones

#FlashFiction  This is a draft.

The Obituary

The Obituary


My first impression was: is this photo of Shelly photo shopped?  She was smiling.  I worked with her for twelve years, quit, and later came back to work another eight years with her and I never saw Shelly  smile once. She was my boss, not directly, she was the owner’s daughter and she took care of the accounting.
   I wasn’t  happy about her death, but it was expected. Shelly smoked, drank—like a fish—and never looked healthy. Her partying gold digger boyfriend John, only added to her overall deterioration.
   John, in polite company, was a lush, but in honest company, he was a sponge ready and willing to soak up any amount of funds he could get his hands on. Someday Shelly’s replacement will find a trail that leads to John, and a lot of used up missing cash. But what does that have to do with Shelly’s obituary?
Plenty.
   To be sympathetic, the obit was written by one of Shelly’s sisters. As a family they all seemed close, but you could tell there were differences among the Strunk clan.  Shelly and her twin Kelly were both average looking, slightly unattractive, and both had the same habits.  The other two sisters, were more health conscious, obviously did better in school, and married successful people.
   Let’s take some actual quotes from the real obituary.  “Died after a courageous battle with cancer.” False, she went where her money could take her but never made any attempt to battle the disease. She continued to smoke, and drink— to newer higher excesses—and never made any attempt to change her life. There was nothing courageous about it, she gave up the day she was diagnosed.
Next.
   “Never one to sit idle, even for a moment.” False, she only came to work when she had to, she hated her boring job, and frequently came in late, sleeping off a hangover. When she did arrive, usually after ten in the morning, she left for a two hour liquid lunch, and returned to her office late. But let’s be fair, she did work past closing time, sometimes as late as five thirty. Of course,  after closing time, it was drinking time.  Shelly was an alcoholic.
Next.
   “She had an abundance of pride for her only son Stephen.”  She loved her kid, in her own miserable drunken sot way—but pride? Not by a long shot.  She complained to the staff openly about the number of times he was in re-hab, she constantly shook her head in disgrace at him when he came in the business with really dark, old fart, sunglasses on to ask for money.  She had to fire her own son at least six times from a cushy job that he never deserved.  
Next.
   “Shelly shared a most unique bond with her identical twin sister Kelly.” True.  They were both party animals in their youth, they were both unhappily married on the same day, both divorced quickly after they realized their first husbands could only have sex with them when they ( the husbands )were drunk.  
    Next.
   Okay, so it isn’t wine and roses. It wasn’t a fairy tale life. After all the fancy words someone lost a family member, and a sponge lost a revenue stream.
   But why write a bunch of lies?  Of course we all have a tendency to think about ourselves in a state of constant regard for our family and friends, always caring, always loving, and always thoughtful.  We never see ourselves living—not for one single moment— in pursuit of selfish pleasure. So why do we write a bunch of lies about the dead?
   Because the truth hurts too much.




The Weight of the World


The Weight of the World



When will man ever be satisfied with his own existence?
This is the question that Harry asks to himself out loud every morning. Harry gets up at precisely 6 am. each day and prepares his morning nourishments. Then he walks out onto his teak deck over-looking the forest. 

Harry is a genius. 

Ever since man has had a whim of his power and prowess of the land, he has sought conquest: conquest of other men, other living creatures, and himself.  Modern man fights disease, enforces the rule of law, builds technologically complex structures and because of all this, man seeks to re-create himself as an automated machine in the form of A.I robotics.

Harry lives in this modern world. He is a large integral part of it: the constant development of mans knowledge to further enhance the reach of the human race. Yet Harry gets up every day and asks himself a troubling question. He is concerned that man is going to far, that mankind should stop the march of progress and just be happy with what we’ve got.

Watch Arrival Right Now


Harry is a savant, young, brash when required, and gentleman when not. He easily moves from the laboratory to the boardroom with the comfort only afforded to a modern guru. Harry knows that he can control man and change his behaviors, thereby affecting the future actions of all mankind. He also knows that the wars, greed, sexual over gratification, and hypocrisy will continue no matter what he does. The playing field will alter a little, robots will fight other robots, but in the end it will only have value if other humans die. Humans seem to cherish life precisely because they know that they can destroy it. Humans feel powerful knowing they can remove the ultimate reward, life, and in doing so constantly test their will to cherish life.

The essential battle that takes place in the minds of humans each and every day, of each and every human being, is this: Who must I conquer today in order to survive tomorrow?  The survival is not just the physical form but the idealism inside of each and every human being. Humans do find others who agree, and they live together because they all support a designed survival plan. Sometimes these groups are large and well organized. The power of these human organized groups is impressive—albeit to the members of that group—but there is always a need to increase membership for the survival of the group, and that is where conflict among humans always finds a spark.

Tomorrow Harry will get up at 6am, make his morning nourishments, walk out onto his teak deck, and ask himself the same question. Then he will go downstairs get in his Tesla and leave for the office.  Harry is many things, but he will never be able to answer the question that he poses to his great mind each and every day.

© copyright Artemis J Jones




What would Ernest do?


Ben and Jerry have both been working in New York for a long time.  Their friendship has lasted through many jobs and they both have a lot of juicy stories that they could tell, but they’re sure the lawsuits would follow, so they keep their mouths shut. They always meet for lunch on Fridays. Ben calls Jerry at 11am..

“Hey, you have some time for lunch today? 
“Where at?”
“Housing works Bookstore and CafĂ©.”
“I don’t know where that’s at. Is it in SoHo?”
“Yeah, it’s at 126 Crosby Street.”
“Why do you want to go there?
“I’m looking for an old book that might help me with a screenplay.”
“Who you working for now?” demanded Jerry.
“Mr. Allen, and I hope he doesn’t walk in while were there.”
“Why?”
“Touchy subject.”
Ben got there first and wrote Ben and Jerry on the list for a table.  He liked to do this, when the servers read the list, they always started looking around the room for the ice cream guys.  Ben had a need to mess with people, even in the slightest way. Jerry didn’t like trouble, so he was kind of Ben’s watchdog. Jerry is a stage manager, and Ben writes screenplays most of the time, the rest of the time he goes about the city looking for occurrences of conflict. He jumps right in, well after the punches have stopped of course, to try to get some feeling of anger, rage, and discontentment.  But let’s be clear, Ben is not a fighter, just a fan.
“Table for Ben and Jerry,” the waiter calls out. The rest of the patrons in the restaurant look to see who these Ben and Jerrys are, curiosity, disappointment, and a smirk on Ben’s face all happen at the same moment.  The waiter takes them to a table with a view of the street.
“So what’re you working on that is so hush, hush? asks Jerry.
“The screenplay is about how people don’t say what’s really on their minds, and how one segment of our society is becoming a little sheepish, and another more arrogant at the same time.”
“That could get deep,” Jerry said while chuckling a little.
“So I’m here because there is supposed to be a first edition biography on Ernest Hemingway. As a historical figure he comes across as a person who spoke his mind. I need some sense of what it would be like to be a person so blunt, in order to continue with the screenplay. Imagine if he were alive today, would he be a success or failure?” Would society dismiss him for his lack of tact, and irascible temper?
“Irascible, that’s what his ex lovers wrote about him when they were in a good mood. He left a trail of women in his wake. I saw the Biography documentary on A & E about ten years ago He flared tempers in his day.  If he was alive today, he’d knock your current employer out cold.”
“What, why,?” asked Ben with a little curiosity.
“His granddaughter has a new book out Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide in My Family. It’s a memoir of her life. In the book she tells about how your boss Mr. Allen was constantly trying to get her in bed, always grabbing her ass, as she stood inside the edge of the curtains on stage in low light, pestering her about lunch, and threatening to never allow her to work in this town if she didn’t comply. Your boss was doing all this while he was sleeping with his adopted Asian daughter, and hiding it all from his wife.”
“Let’s order, I’m hungry, and later we need to find that book if it’s still here. Waiter!”
“Two Reuben’s, and two Sam’s Summer Ale please,” Jerry called out to the waiter.
“Mr. Allen’s neurotic behavior will drive the directors mad, after he reads about more of his past shenanigans. And I can’t count how many times he will bother the writing staff. But I like it. Imagine a womanizer beating up another womanizer.  Who do you think would throw the first punch? That is if Ernest was still alive.”
“Dumb question there Bennny: Ernest of course.”
“No, I’m thinking that Mt Allen’s famous paranoid neurotic personality would go straight for his lawyer and get a restraining order. That would be his first punch, hiding behind the legal system. He’d be dancing in a room by himself cheering victory, or cowering behind a large curio in his dining room.”
“Ernest wouldn’t care about that, he’d follow wobbly legs Allen down Broadway and knock him out cold in the street. Can’t you just see him? Ernest Hemingway, limping in his right leg from the plane crash in Africa, dressed in his safari clothes and that symbolic gray beard accenting his scowl. He would be yelling at Mr. Allen, ‘coward,’ with his fists raging through the air as he dragged his bad leg through the streets of New York. Mr. Allen would be screaming for dear life, ‘ he’s a mad man, he’s trying to kill me’, of course no one in New York would care. Everyone would just think he deserved it, that justice was taking place on the streets.”
Jerry looked for their food while a smile of delight over the scene he just imagined went across his face. 
They both ate, and Ben got up and looked for the biography of Ernest Hemingway . Jerry helped, but after one hour and asking for help, it didn’t appear to be in the store. They walked out to 126 street, Ben had to head back to his loft and work, while Jerry headed back toward the New York City theater off Broadway. While Ben walked, he thought about, being direct, being the kind of person that speaks out, right or wrong, and puts all their cards on the table.
“I wonder what that would be like,” Ben exclaimed aloud.
The pedestrians ignored Ben.

© Copyright Artemis J Jones, 2015


HER


HER

The sounds of an automatic door opening—a sudden swoosh of air—and lite pleasant conversation between two friends: that’s what caught my attention.  Those words that signified a bond of trust and love, and admiration: released from your lips to the outer world, allowing the rest of us to hear, to be a part of your moment. Your movements requiring little effort as you accompanied your friend up to the car door. 
I do not know either of your names and I never will. I am sitting here outside a building watching many people come and go, and I’m suddenly mesmerized by the woman that you accompanied to the car door.
When your friend stood alone for a moment, you disappeared briefly from my sight and I watched her get into the car, her stature, poise, and grace taking me directly into the past— for a moment— allowing me to see her as she was before.

***
You are a Professor, and it is so easy to imagine your students and their entranced interactions with you.  Most would describe you as articulate, attractive, and insightful. Your students gather around your desk, for conversation and advice after every lecture. One student–a young man—is in love.  You’re the focus, of unknown affection. Those loving fantasies, with no manifestation, created strong indelible images that remain in an older man’s life to this very day. Your brown hair flows a little past your shoulders, and it always has a classic style. The lilt of the words you speak, as they carry themselves through the air, always find their way to the souls of each devotee.
***
But you have another problem now, and you will not give up. You are on your way to the long term care facility. A converted old hotel, that is a single story, with wide hallways and drab decor. Not quite perfect for you and all the other guests who are in wheelchairs. It is sterile just like the hospital from which you just emerged. No-one, including you, knows how long your stay will be. Your reality isn’t juxtaposed with a past life, it is a divergent path away from everything you have ever wished for, or dreamed of.
The person—you—that I witnessed getting into the car, was frail, and had a urine bag hanging off of her wheelchair. You carried the bag for feces and placed both bags on your lap as you were helped into the car seat. Too weak to fasten the seat belt, your caregiver and friend who first caught my attention, secured you in place, then she got in the driver’s seat and drove you away. A lot of your hair had fallen out, and your skin was pale, blotched, and loose. I think you were clinging to one hundred pounds with desperation that only a relentless lover of life could understand.
“Do you think it’s better not to know?” I ask myself two years later.
“Yes.” I answer to myself.
I could not bear to know of a negative outcome. I am fine thinking about you almost every day, and hoping that you are recovering, dreaming, and cherishing life. The tall beautiful woman that stood with all her strength, in that moment, will be unforgettable in my mind, and in the minds of many admirers that come from a past that is gone forever.                              

© Copyright 2015  Artemis J Jones
     1st revision, 07/25/2015






Some after thoughts: when you look at people who are sick, do you just see that moment? Or do you realize that you might be witnessing life interrupted,  a person who was vibrant, before illness took over their life.
To me this is a true story, and it will never be fiction.  I was sitting on a brick wall outside a hospital in Chicago two years ago. I had been in for ten days, going in very sick and coming out feeling much better. The Hospital CTCA only treats cancer patients.
When the caregiver and her friend came out of the building, this story begins.  I have thought about the women I witnessed on that day-every day since.


Be well!
AJJ


Whatever



Whatever

It’s really not that hard, you just make a decision. You think about what you want to do and then you work at it. Simple. Easy. That’s what I tell him, but it never sinks in.
Lots of people change their jobs, but you need to pick a vocation. You have to start. If you don’t do something you will never be ready for anything, that’s what I’ve been telling him for three years. I keep on telling him, but he never listens. Now I’m trying to show him carpentry, but he’s always distracted.
“I’ve got a splitting headache.”
Lot that phone will do for you son. Yeah, keep on staring at that phone, texting, watching videos.
“Son, will you put that thing down and pay attention!”
“Wait It’s almost done, Dad you should see this.”
“No thanks.”
Boy can’t read you know, that school just passed him through, can’t read a sentence, can’t turn a page, doesn’t know what a page is. Hell doesn’t know what a book is. Last month I bought him a book, he never read it.
“Come on son, put it down we need to cut these boards. I need to get these deck boards cut before it rains.” Deaf as a post. Put your gloves and goggles on and go get that plank over there.”
“What’s a plank Dad? Don’t look at me that way. I asked cause I don’t know. You always tell me to ask, don’t you?”
“The planks are the one by sixes, thinner than the other boards, and they are as long as the shed.”
Always ignores me, don’t pay no attention. I showed him everything as a kid, took him places, took him to Washington, told him about this country, took him to a Chicago museum just to show him a dinosaur. I showed that kid how to ski down a mountain when he was seven, and now all he does is look at that damn phone.
“I will set the guide fence on the saw, but you need to keep an eye on the plank as we guide it through.”
“I don’t like this saw, it’s noisy and I’m kinda scared of it. Can’t you get someone else to help.”
“No, I got you. Afraid you might learn something, huh. Just keep your eyes on the board, it needs to go straight and not bind the blade or she’ll kick back. Now, son look at me, are you ready?”
“Whatever… all-knowing father. Wisest man on the planet!”
Smart ass ain’t he. Got that from me. Only way I’d know he’s my kid. Ain’t got a lick a sense. Start this saw up, and then I don’t need to listen to his disrespectful mouth.
I motion to him to keep the board near the fence, he is shaking a little. Or maybe it’s that damn phone vibrating. I keep pushing at a nice steady speed, watching the fence, watching the board. Darn it! There’s a knot in the board. I should have looked at it. Gonna pop out, kid didn’t put his goggles on. I motion to him about his goggles and point to the knot. “Your goggles not the phone cover your eyes.” I keep putting one hand up to show him. Does he think I’m gonna call him while I’m pushin this board through. Here comes the knot, and there goes the knot, right up to his forehead. He’s not bleeding, gonna be fine.
“I’m done dad. I’m not helping no more. I going to Kaitlyn’s house.”
“Son, I need you here.”
“I’m not staying here cutting these stupid boards and doing whatever you want. I’m nineteen and I got a life. I’m going to Kaitlyn’s.”
“You know son, you got yourself a nice girl. She’s got a good head on her shoulders, and she’s pretty. What are you going to do when she’s done school and moves on?”
“Thanks for the slap and the compliment. That’s what I love about you dad— can’t say something nice without saying something bad.”
“I’m not supposed to be your friend, I’m your father.”
 I need that kid and he’s not here. How am I going finish this. I just sit sometimes thinking about my boy. I need my boy. I need my boy. I need him. Stop crying you baby. I need him, God bring him back. Why’d you take him. I wasn’t done teaching him, not even close, had so much more to do and you stole him. Gimmie back my boy. Every time I sit on this deck, I hear those sirens going… I think about him. I hated that phone, I hated it so much I wanted to smash it with my hammer. Hate it Hate it… I can see myself striking it, watching the pieces fly into the air, but it never changes, he’s gone. I wasn’t done coaching you boy. You know I tried, you know it, I tried always every day, I kept trying to show you something, wanted you to be ready, more ready than me. Every father wants that… every dad, always wants their kids to be better than themselves. I kept telling him don’t talk and text on that phone while you’re driving. His mother bought him that phone, I was against it, and now she’s damned for it too. It was just a drive back from the market, he was just going to Kaitlyn’s. She was just going to the market, she be back soon. I hear them now, maybe that’s her car, maybe they’re getting a second chance. Them sirens blaring again, who is it now? This deck was for me and her, she liked a little wine in the evenings and watching the sunset, it was all for her. Now they’re both gone, and it’s just me and little Lisa. How do I tell her, her mom’s never coming back?
Dear god, how do I tell her… that her brother killed her mother?

Copyright © 2015 Artemis J Jones

HAIR

Hair


“It flows unending, smooth as silk, and its beauty knows no boundaries.” Unknown.

Hey, I wanted to talk some more.
Why are you breaking up with me? What happened?
I cut my hair, so that’s it. That’s the reason your dumping me. You shallow bastard.
I'm stressed, damn right I'm stressed. My mother's been sick, the new job I started, rents due.
No, your right I didn't cut my hair because the rent was due, but the new job, they wanted a certain look and I saw the other girls in the office.
Yeah, Yeah, go on ranting about looking like everyone else. Keep talking bla, bla, bla, …

You know I'd go out with you if you were fat.
No that's not a lie.
It's not a lie, your shallow and I guess all this time you were just dating my lovely locks, not the lovely me. It'll be your loss. I should have seen it coming the way you always wrapped it around us when we were making love. Taking all those pictures of it flowing over my breasts. My hair was just a fetish for you, and I was nothing. You bastard.
Yeah I know, and I'll say it some more if I feel like it! So what did you tell your friends?
That I changed, BS. You are so full of it!
The job has changed me? That’s what you think? No way I’m still the same, I was always thinking about cutting it shorter, but I kept it long for you.
I should have asked …

Get the all New Echo here for $49.99 

I never considered how you would feel …
I did keep it longer for you …
Because I felt like it, damn it!
Look my life is mine – not yours.
And now you want to bring that up!
Yes I was hoping you'd ask me – I've been in love with you for a long time. Did you forget after I told you each and every day for the last five years.
Yeah, I know you said it too, but lately it was not that much, and that bothered me.
I don't think you meant it.
Why do you want to talk about my job again?
He's just a flirt, it's nothing.
You know his wife. Where from?
So you just worked with her?
Oh, now we’re getting upset.
Why would you- not look at her, she has that five thousand dollar rack for everyone to see.
Really? You sure can spin some crap.
Oh, you’re serious. Now you want me believe that breasts are not that important to you. You sure liked mine a lot.

Continued in my new book, Conversations.
                                                   


A Short Life

A Short Life

( Note as of 07/28/2015 )  I've revised this story and had another edit done. It will be posted in Short Stories, since the new version is over 1000 words.  Read it at SD1100.Blogspot.com 
   
When Bob walked into the gun store, he had no idea what he was doing. He had never owned a gun, only shot a BB gun when he was a kid, and was not a very good shot. But he was now sixty-five years old, he had heard about robberies in the area and started thinking he needed to protect himself. Bob never served in the military, and never did anything with law enforcement. He had been an actuary before retirement. He and his wife of forty-five years were living one block off the beach in a small cul-de-sac in sunny tropical Florida. The crime rate for his zip code was less than one in a thousand on petty crimes and zero per thousand on homicides. Bob went ahead and bought a gun anyway and, paid for a months’ worth of lessons.
"Stop squeezing your wrist! Use your trigger finger! You miss all your targets to the left!" The instructor exclaimed in a firm, but barely polite tone.
“ I’m trying, my finger is not strong enough to pull the trigger. Maybe you can show me another way to fire the gun” Bob replied
      Go to  Short Stories to finish reading.