Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Short story

Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Fifty-Two


What is Reality?

by
Alexander M Zoltai

~~~~~~~~~

Sam worked hard to keep up with current events. He ventured through many social media spaces to form his opinions…

One day, on what he thought was a whim, he decided to search a few of those spaces with the word “reality”…

He created a special document to hold his collection of the comments he thought could help him form his own opinions—quite a mixed bag of thoughts and feelings:

“No such thing as reality, we’re all fooling ourselves, life is a dream.”

“Reality is what you end up with when your drugs wear off.”

“I could really let go on this one—so much to say—don’t quite know the words… I think we need the reality of compassion for ourselves? Maybe that’s what I mean…”

“Reality is good drugs, safe sex, and plenty of food.”

“I doubt reality—fantasy is much kinder…”

“The reality of politics is the successful implementation of a fractured program of values.”

“The reality of love is unconsciousness.”

“The reality of politics? War, greed, enslavement, abuse, oppression…”

“Love is the Only reality.”

“Hate is the only reality—love is a trickster wraith…”

“The state of the world is a reality? The state of politics is a reality? The state of corporate culture is a reality? Actually, all that is just what a bunch of folks want to be real whether it is or not—just what dances around pretending to have permanence—just the latest phantom of a perverted selfish imagination propping up a temporary rule of chaos with the sacrifice of humanity’s hopes and wishes as its outcome.”

Sam had gathered these few, out of many more, to help him think things over; but, the last one, the longest one, had something about it—oh, sure, some of the others were important in their own way; but, something was lurking in that last one…

He went back to the site and followed the thread further:

“…just the latest phantom of a perverted selfish imagination propping up a temporary rule of chaos with the sacrifice of humanity’s hopes and wishes as its outcome.”

“How can you say that? There are real values in every person’s reality…”

Sam scanned down a bit:

“Real values? Lasting? Values someone can count on to not evaporate in the face of the latest fad-thinking?”

“Values? Reality? Come on! It’s all just random stuff—what evolution uses as raw materials…”

“Well, if I can jump in, values are fluid—yours mine theirs—easy to turn them into each other, depending on the circumstance…”

Sam scanned a bit further—found more from the original person who’d talked about “…the sacrifice of humanity’s hopes and wishes as its outcome.” :

“Well, you can doubt whether humans have a higher self—that’s fine. Plenty of ‘modern’ philosophers and scientists claim our minds are just the result of random chemical interactions. But, if you really want something to think about—want some solid info—some thoughts that are more true than most everything else I’ve ever read, check out this link: http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/PUP/pup-7.html .”

Sam took the link—read the words—grabbed his dictionary—read it all again—and, again…

Nearly every day for a few months, Sam referred back to that link and the “magic” words that made so much sense…

He’d go to sleep wondering how he could ever live up to those words…

He’d wake up with fragments of those words floating in his consciousness…

Sam decided, after he’d thought long and hard—shared some of his thoughts with his best friends down at the cafe—thought even more… He decided he hadn’t truly been living a Real Life up to this point…

His new motto became:

“If you can’t nail down your values—can’t clearly name your reality— your mind will surely get you in trouble.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Fifty-One


Story as Seed

by
Alexander M Zoltai

~~~~~~~~~

She was an aspiring writer…

“Aspiring” in its original sense, “to breathe on”…

There were the breaths of her poetry on her website; those of her essays in various magazines; and, some works where she was holding her breath—most dearly held was the novel, tentatively called, We All Fall Down….

It was to be a “moral tale”—ethical lessons taught through the lives of its characters.

She was hyper-aware of the supposed “sin” of “didactic writing”—“…work that appears to be overburdened with instructive, factual, or otherwise educational information, to the detriment of the enjoyment of the reader…”.

In fact, her hyper-awareness acted such that, in every line, through each paragraph, breathed into the whole story, she worked to present some “…detriment of the enjoyment of the reader…”.

If “enjoyment” meant pure unconcerned pleasure and carefree entertainment, she was aiming to lure the reader into an ethical “trap” and let its jaws snap shut on the reader’s heart…

The one “catch” was her own moral state…

She’d been working on the novel for eleven years, seeming to make no robust progress; yet, the progress was happening—happening in her soul as she lived the life of her characters; those sad folk populating the pages—people she was torturing and tormenting for her own good—making them suffer so she could learn how to be truly moral in a world run amok—a planet that was growing sick of its human inhabitants—dear Mother Earth, pregnant with abominations of greed and lust and every variety of injustice…

The novel was to be an “atonement” for her own sins:  leading certain men into grief and heart-break, leading others into near insanity from her playing them against each other, her stealing from her parents; and, worst of all, abandoning her only child…

Finally, after a few more years, she reached the stage of needing at least one other set of eyes on the manuscript, one other heart judging the work, one other soul sharing its point of view…

It took six more months to be sure she’d selected the right person.

She asked them to be her “Beta Reader”.

They assented.

They took the manuscript and didn’t share a single comment—seemed to disappear from the face of the Earth…

First she was mad, then frightened—what if the story had deeply harmed her reader’s psyche?

She finally took an extreme action—registered a missing person’s report.

Many months later she received a phone call:

“Miss Monaghan?”

“Yes…”

“You filed the missing person’s report on John Grigore?”

“Have you found him?”

“Well… Yes and no…”

“Huh…?”

“One of our resources made contact which led to his calling us; but then, he only mailed us a message for you…”

“What’s the message?”

“It’s a number of pages and he requested we send it to you—not read it to you…”

“O.K., send it; and, thank you!”

“You’re welcome, ma’am…”

~~~

She received the message, nine pages long—read it over innumerable times…

In essence, he’d told her, “Thank You!”…

In words he’d pleaded with her to publish the novel, gave her many clear ideas for minor improvements, told her to definitely keep the title, We All Fall Down; then, asked permission to send her $50,000 to help her promote the book…

Finally, she called the indicated phone number:

“Hello?”

“Yes, hello, may I speak to Mr. Grigore?”

“Who’s calling?”

“Amy Monaghan…”

“Ah… Mr. Grigore wishes for you to provide a post office box number for him to send you the cash.”

“I can’t speak with him?”

“I’m afraid not… He said you have his opinion and his eternal thanks; but, he must remain hidden for his own reasons…”

“Oh… Well, thank you. I’ll get a P.O. box and call back…”

“Very well.”

~~~

Amy got the money and put it in a safe deposit box.

She went back to the novel and “wrote in” John Grigore—tried to immortalize the man who proved to her that she could release the book to the world.

He, as the character Phillip Goshen, was mentioned briefly near the beginning as a friend of the female protagonist—appeared briefly near the middle of the story with an example in action of supreme morality—was referred to multiple times in various settings—appeared one more time on the last page, uttering the last words of the novel—words taken from his nine-page letter to her:

“I’d lived a life of corruption and lies, lived out dramas of incredible woe, played people for all they were worth, traded my soul for cash.

“I’m in hiding now, hiding from the world that welcomed me into its con game, made me rich, spawned a thousand mental diseases called failed relationships.

“I’m healing in my hideout, praying mightily for Grace…

“My enduring anthem has become, ‘Heed me, oh wretched Folk—those who ignore their humanity. Clean up your act, be kind to your Dear Mother Earth; because, we all fall down; but, the World needs those who always get back up…'”

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Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Fifty


Relating

by
Alexander M Zoltai

~~~~~~~~~

She was yelling again and he was walking out the door…

He loved her dearly; but, when she wasn’t herself, he just had to leave…

His thoughts roiled: Am I too sensitive? Should I just stand there and take it? But, the times she starts hitting me—she snaps and starts slugging… So? no blood drawn… Still… Weird… Damn!

He went to his friend’s house—his very understanding friend—and, they had their usual chat:

“She’s at it again, eh?”

“Yeah…”

“I think you’re right to leave—you grace her into not being physically violent.”

“Yeah…”

“Still can’t talk it out with her?”

“No…”

“Want to just sit a bit…?

“O.K….”

~~~

He returned home after about two hours.

She was as she usually was, after enough time to return to herself—sorry and weeping—clinging, begging—so sad…

~~~

Gradually, over many tense and wasting weeks—time full of drama and pain—she began to show a bit of control…

He was able, sometimes, to talk her down—out of the fit of anger…

And, about six months later, she finally came out with what was causing it all…

He was hot and cold at the same time—eager and chilled, as she said…

“I’m so ashamed… You must have been really doubting my sanity… Oh, Lord… Here goes—I was assaulted as a child—sexually… Most days of the week… my dad and my uncle… took turns… I thought it was all gone and buried—sure wasn’t… Oh, Lord, I hope you can understand………?”

“Oh, God, yes, Love… You just rail on me and slug away, any old time—I am so, so sorry………

They melted into each other.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Forty-Nine


Love and Unity

by
Alexander M Zoltai
Dedicated to
Audra Michelle Kee

~~~~~~~~~

When Sam’s parents died, he’d moved in with his grandfather.

Two more different males would be hard to find.

Grandfather let Sam do whatever he wanted when outside the home, since Sam was indeed a young adult; but, inside the home, Sam had to learn a few rules. The hardest one to follow was to not talk people down, which Grandfather called “backbiting”.

Today had witnessed one of their most intense discussions about this issue.

Grandfather: “How was your day, Sam?”

Sam: Not too bad, Gramps; but, Pete at work can’t do anything right. Sometimes I think he’s screwing up just to cause as much trouble as he can.”

G: “He can’t do Anything right?”

S: “Right, he’s as dumb as a brick.”

G: “Dumb as a brick…”

S: “Gramps, come on, you know what I mean—he’s always acting stupid.”

G: “Always?”

S: “Geez, why is it so damned hard to talk to you?”

G: Well, Sam, have you considered it may hurt me to hear you refer to another human as always stupid, not able to do anything right, and dumb as a brick?”

S: “Hurt You? I don’t get it…”

G: “You didn’t know my father…”

S: “Met him once, but sure didn’t know him…”

G: “He could seem to be the nicest man when out in public; but, at home, he couldn’t seem to stop himself from railing against all of humanity, one human at a time.

“The fact is, once they’d interacted with him a few times, folks could sense this in him,  even if they’d never experienced his behavior at home. Unless they had to associate with him because of business, they avoided spending more than a few minutes talking to him.

“I doubt most of those who shunned him knew why they suddenly needed to be somewhere else, because he could act like he was sweet as a buttercup.”

S: “Well, O.K…. so your dad did it all the time?”

G: “Yes, he even spewed hatred at businesses and organizations and the weather and God.”

S: “Well, I don’t do it All the time, do I?”

G: “No, Sam, but doing it at all harms you, deep in your soul—my father died an extremely lonely man…”

Grandfather promptly left the room and Sam fell into a trance of internal investigation…

~~~

Talks like this happened about once a month with various members of Grandpa’s extended family being introduced as the star offenders of moral etiquette.

Sam began to wonder how his grandfather had turned out to be so loving… He also began to wonder how Grandpa could still stand to be around him—put up with his behavior…

~~~

Over the next year Grandfather began to suffer more and more from his maladies of aging—Sam began to treasure his talks with him, wished they could last longer, happen more often…

~~~

Grandfather died…

~~~

Sam got married…

~~~

Sam struggled in his life—fought with himself to be internally moral until he finally attained love for and unity with all other humans…

This amazing transformation came in a rush, like a sudden payoff for all the gritty moral work over the years; and, it burst from his heart the moment he saw his daughter’s first child—a boy…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Forty-Eight


The Goal

by
Alexander M Zoltai

~~~~~~~~~

It seemed like a boundless Jungle; yet, he liked the coolness much better than the seemingly endless Desert he’d just been wandering in—he’d find a landmark and have it be a mirage, top a large sand dune and have it collapse under him.

Yes, he thought. He might get back on track somewhere in this Jungle…

~~~

Years later, he thought he saw a way out of the Jungle—a large Hill that rose above the creature-infested, dark and chill vegetative snarl…

He reached the top and saw a Trail leading yet further up—Is this my Path?—a Trail with large boulders and thousands of smaller rocks—Path with stumbles nearly every step—going up; but, toward his Goal?

~~~

Years later, he got to the top of the series of Foothills that, in turn, became a Mountain.  At this, he paused, wondering if the Journey was worth his time; but, time was not the issue, value was—was this time of Value?

~~~

Years later, after descending the other side of the Mountain, he reached a Shore…

Should he stop here, distill Water, eat Fruits from the fringe of Trees?

But, the Goal…

He almost couldn’t remember; then, a Storm broke loose and its ending brought a Rainbow…

His Goal… The Goal of Every Soul…  Just on the other side of that Sea………

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Read More Story Bazaar Tales

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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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Grab A Free Novel…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com