Motility

“Low motility.” That was the diagnosis. My sperm sucked.

The news was disheartening, for sure. Felicia and I had been trying to conceive for over a year. When we didn’t have any success, we both got checked out. She was fine. I wasn’t. Typical me.

I followed the urologist’s instructions: boxers instead of briefs, avoided temperature extremes, and even changed my diet to a more Mediterranean one. Every follow-up visit brought the same result: low motility. My name’s Larry Mangold. We even have the same initials.

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Gratification Through Annihilation

I don’t provide my services in a back alley. Far from it. The spare bedroom of my home is warm and calming and safe for those who, at the peak of their emotional burdens, can feel the weight of their worry and sorrow lift from their bellies.

I accept no payment.

I ask no names.

My wife, the light of my life and my partner in our secret community outreach, passed away five years ago. It still hurts to mention her.

Her loss was a singular catastrophe for my health and wellbeing. I meandered without purpose or direction for months before I could resume a semblance of my day-to-day activity. With no one left to love, and I include myself in that calculation, I had little remaining but my work and charity. Those would have to suffice. It was either that, or to join my wife in death. I knew it wasn’t time yet.

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A Cure for Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is where creativity goes to die. Fragments of ideas with such intense potential, swirling in a cloud of what-could-be, are left unrealized on a blank sheet of paper. It can be hopeless. Devastating. But there’s a way out.

Experience is the cure. Ideas are born of experience; fill your mind and fill your soul with what you want to write about. Want to write about sailing? Get on a boat and go somewhere. Want to write about the countryside? Rent a house or get a job in the countryside. It’s that simple. Over time, if you’re open to it, the stories will come to you. Continue reading “A Cure for Writer’s Block”

Emmy Smols

For those unfamiliar with Sade Smols, the small man I devoured, I insist you read his story before proceeding here. It’s not because I worry you won’t understand what I’m about to tell you, but rather because you need to know what kind of creature I am.

I am a monster. I am a murderer. A cannibal. A savage. And for those reasons, and many more, I decided to take my own life.

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The Shores of Pluto

Late last month, just before Christmas, a strange, prickly feeling crept up my spine and made a patch of my neck feel cold, as if someone had left a window open. I looked around at the familiar setting. Nothing seemed amiss. The windows were shut. The doors were closed. I realized my heart was pounding and I couldn’t figure out why I was so anxious. After a moment, the feeling passed.

I had lunch alone at my desk. My sandwich was good – ham and cheese and butter with a little dijon mustard. The rest of the office had gone out, taking advantage of a break in the snowy weather. I ate mindlessly, relishing the peace and quiet, until I felt the cold again. This time, it was physical and penetrating. A frigid wave of thick air wafted into my cubicle and chilled me to the bone. Goosebumps rose in a wave over my back, neck, and arms. The feeling of uneasiness returned. Something flickered in the periphery of my vision.

I whirled around, my swivel chair nearly toppling over.

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Expression Captioner

You know that interactive meme site that takes pics with your webcam and makes captions at the top and bottom of the image? My girlfriend showed it to me the other day. We were pretty impressed by how well the software picks up on facial expressions and makes captions based on what the algorithm detects. Anyway, we played around with it for a while, got bored, and then watched some Frasier reruns.

Last night, when I was home alone with nothing to do, I clicked over to that site again to see what kinds of captions I could get it to come up with. For a while, it was no different from the other day. Right when I thought I’d had enough and was ready to head out and get something to eat, the page refreshed and a new button appeared. “Live caption.” I clicked it. My webcam light turned on and my familiar, stupid face appeared. Every five seconds, a still-frame was captured. Like before, it was captioned.

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Centipedes

I’m an intern working at the Center for Entomology in Colombia. Like all interns, I do the jobs everyone hates: fetching coffee and tea, delivering mail, janitorial work, etc. The hours are long, the pay is nonexistent, and the people are rude. All that said, though, I’m learning a hell of a lot. I get to work with some species seen nowhere else.

The other night, I was mopping the floors. Since the Center is in the middle of the of the rainforest, quite a bit of mud gets tracked in by the researchers and employees. So, every night, usually well after midnight, I’m the last guy in the place until it’s all cleaned up. One of the final rooms I clean is where Scolopendra gigantea are housed.

I hate that room. Despite my love of insects and bugs and spiders and all manner of other creepy-crawlies, giant centipedes scare the hell out of me. They shouldn’t be so big and aggressive; something about them seems out of place in a rainforest that otherwise appears to have an equilibrium among the species. Maybe I’m just a wimp.

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There is nothing wrong in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.

You can tell just by how the police are leaving the area, broadcasting reassurances as they go. If there was something wrong, the police would be staying.

Ignore the rumors you’re hearing. First off, it makes no sense whatsoever that one of them would just be crawling on top of Kings Theater. Imagine how ridiculous it sounds. You can go there yourself and you won’t see anything. Nothing shimmers, nothing floats. Anyone who says they see it is trying to trick you.

Stand at the corner of Church and Flatbush and look toward the theater. Past the ambulances. There was an unrelated shooting not long ago. It’s already been investigated and deemed to be unrelated. Yes, there is blood on the street. No, it’s not more than a human body can hold. Don’t try to make it any worse than it already is.

If you’re too nervous to go out, it’s fine to stay indoors. It’s warm today, so I assume your windows are open. Those sounds you hear in the sky are helicopters – just the police going back to the other boroughs where they can concentrate on real emergencies. If one of the helicopters looks unfamiliar, it’s just because it’s a new technology the police have. You should be reassured by that.

Look, I was there.

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Sade Smols

I always scoffed at the local legend about the tiny people who lived in our town. That’s what the adults talked about when we were growing up – the little helpers who lived in the cracks and crevices of homes who scared away bugs and cleaned up crumbs. I never saw one. No one I knew did. But still, people talked about them as if they were there, like modern fairies.

This morning, I woke up to one standing on my pillow, deftly cleaning a puddle of drool off my pillowcase.

He seemed as startled as I was.

“It’s okay,” he assured me.

I was surprised how loud and clear his voice was, as he was only four inches tall.

“I’m Sade Smols,” he said. “I’ve been cleaning here for the last six months.”

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A Case of Hives

My ex-wife, Janie, died. I was happy to see her go.

I regained custody of our beautiful son, Barry. He’s four years old. For the last two years, I’d been out of his life. Janie kept him away from me. God only knows what poison she filled his head with; all her hatred of me spilling out of her lying mouth to make Barry despise his old man. But all that’s over now. He’s mine again. And he’ll love me soon enough.

It was clear she’d said some terrible things to influence his perception of me. “Daddy’s bad,” Barry informed me one night. Tears filled my eyes and I clutched my son to my chest and whispered, “your Daddy is a good man, Barry. Your Daddy will take care of you.”

I meant it, although I hated him when he squirmed to get away. He was afraid of me. His mother’s poison still coursed through his veins.

In early April, Barry seemed under the weather. I checked him out. He’d developed hives. I was overjoyed. This would be my opportunity to redeem myself with him. Once he saw how well I could take care of him, he’d love me again. I thought back to his tiny hand clutching my finger moments after he was born. He’d loved me from the start. Then Janie ripped it out of him. I seethed.

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