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Where the Watermelons Grow
The Littlest Ring Wraith
The Man From the Silver Age
"Well," said the drifter
Why We Haven't Played Many Live Shows Lately (Or, How We Became Part of This Complete Breakfast)
Alas, Poor Reginald
The Last Broadcast
WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW - a short short
by Adam Selzer
The little house down by the bay, where I grew up, was called the Rookery by the locals - back when they stilled called crows rooks. I was in my teens before I knew this, but I sure as hell knew about the crows. They were everywhere back then - my brother, Ronald, and I got to know them so well that we could even tell some of them apart from the others, and gave names to our favorites.
We didn't mind them, but they were the bane of my father's existence. He spent most of his life trying to get rich by growing watermelons all over the garden in the lot behind the house. About every half hour he'd shout "Boys! Crows!" and that would be our signal to grab a couple of brooms and chase the crows off of the watermelons. They always came back.
It's just my mom and her nurse there now. I took off the day I turned 18, left California all together, and ended up in St. Louis. Ronald joined the army, came back a bit worse for wear, and started a family outside of Phoenix - he works in some sort of technical job. Dad died of a heart attack with a broom in his hand, but he got his wish. For one reason or another, the crows are gone now, too. There are still watermelons; Ronald and I pay a couple of gardeners to see to that.
Ronald goes back to the rookery now and then to see mom, but I don't dare. It's simply too depressing for me to see what kind of shape my mother is in, and the things my mother will say. She doesn't recognize me; mostly she just stares at her hand, or fills nonsense into crossword puzzles. Occasionally she'll spout some nonsense, like "did you ever see a bear combing his hair?" When Ronald came to tell her she was going to be a grandma, she just stared at him for a while, then finally said "did you ever see a llama wearing his pajamas?"
Down by the bay, where the watermelons grow. Back to my home, I dare not go. For if I do, my mother will say "did you ever see a moose kissing a goose?"
Down by the bay.
THE LITTLEST RING WRAITH
by Adam Selzer
Long ago in middle earth there lived a little ring wraith. Since he was so much smaller than the other ring wraiths, sometimes the others would ride ahead of him, far, far faster than he could go on his little horse.
"Hey, guys!" he would shout. "Wait for me!"
But the bigger ring wraiths would shout "$%^# off, Gary!" And they'd leave the poor Littlest Ring Wraith in the dust.
Then, one day, as they were riding through Middle Earth, the herd of Ring Wraiths came upon a Small Creature That Had To Die. They chased it high and low, to and fro throughout the valley until, at long last, the Small Creature found a Very Small Cave.
The Ring Wraiths were furious, because they were all too large to get into the cave. All, that is, except for little Gary.
Gary gathered up all of his courage, crept into the cave, grabbed the Small Creature That Had To Die, and slaughtered the little bugger. When he emerged from the cave, he was holding the creature above his head in triumph. Gary felt as big as ten Ring Wraiths!
"Behold!" he said to his comrades. "I have killed the Small Creature that none of you could kill! Now you see that good Ring Wraiths come in all sizes, and all of them, even the littlest one, can be useful in the community!"
"$%^# off, Gary," said the other Ring Wraiths. And they rode off, leaving poor Gary in the dust.
THE MAN FROM THE SILVER AGE
By Adam Selzer
Back in '72, Matt took the job at the comic book shop after Joe Kent at the steakhouse finally told him to take a hike. Worked the evening shift. 25 years of selling the latest adventures to a neverending series of thirteen year old entreneurs, fifty-plus would-be knights-errant and assorted red-eyed geeks of all ages. Late at night he'd saunter home, have a beer, and watch some TV before taking his chances with the mirror. The gut never went away, and by and by came the grey specks around the ears. Near mint. Slight spine rool. Torn a bit around the corners, colors starting to fade. Slight crease on the cover.
Matt didn't give a good god damn.
Life wasn't the same as comic books, and just as well.
No one born in the Silver Age was still in mint condition, but no mad scientist in purple spandex would ever bring Joe Kent back to life. Fantasy for reality was a fair trade, even when they threw in the specks of grey.
The bedroom was empty and the clothes were dirty. But the news on TV was just sports and celebs every night - nothing about the latest threat from Dr. Doom.
At least, not until one night in January. That was when things really hit the fan.
"Well," said the fortune teller, "are you satisfied?"
The drifter considered his situation and chewed on a bent nail.
"I guess," he said, spitting the nail out into the gutter.
"So you wouldn't rather be a donkey? Or a satisfied pig?"
"Or a goat?"
The drifter paused to consider that one. If he were a goat, people wouldn't make fun of him for eating tin cans. No one would
call him Shiney Dan, or The Tin Woodsman, or Sparklebelly anymore.
"I'd make do as a goat," he said.
"But you're still satisfied?"
"I guess so."
The fortune teller went back to his caravan and the drifter made a beeline for the junkyard.
Why We Haven't Played Many Live Shows Lately
Or, How We Became Part of This Complete Breakfast
My life is okay, except for all the people who are constantly out to steal my breakfast cereal. Or, anyway, they WERE trying to steal my cereal. Let me explain...
The day began like any other day, I got out of bed, slithered to the kitchen, and got out a box of cereal. "Honeycomb" was the pick of the day. Big mistake, that.
I sat down, poured myself a bowl, and added milk. Before I could even put my spoon in the bowl, the milk began to move. Something was coming!
A dull roar was heard in the distance, getting ever closer, until, suddenly, my door was broken down by a bunch of kids shouting "honeycomb!" They ran into the kitchen, knocking me over, and grabbing my cereal box. They then ran out as soon as they'd come, though one of them paused to say "Honeycomb! We love the sweet crunchity taste!"
Since I was still hungry, I decided to try Toasted Oats, but as soon as I poured a bowl of that, a bunch of pirates crawled out of the cupboard, held a knife to my throat, and stole the cereal, bowl and all. Now I was out of milk!
Obviously, I was annoyed. Similar incidents had already made me stop eating Lucky Charms and Trix.
But I decided, later on, that there are two types of people: those who devote their lives to getting cereal in a way other than buying it, and those who live normal lives, occasionally getting their cereal stolen. And I wanted to be part of the former.
So I called up part of my backing band, and we all met at my house to begin Operation "Watch Me Steal The Jones' Raisin Bran." At exactly three o'clock, we snuck very sneakily to my next-door neighbor's back yard.
Joe (the drummer) served as lookout while Jamie (the guitarist) used some special tools to bust open the window, and I climbed in, ninja-style, and crept towards the pantry, where I retrieved the raisin bran. Just then, I heard the voice of my neighbor shouting "Hey!" and I ran, dropping the box as I went. This was proving to be much harder than I thought!
We decided to try a more surprising approach. We climbed up to the neighbors' roof, and spent the night there, waiting for morning chatting with a group of gentlemen who were waiting to jump into the shower to help as soon as the neighbor opened her bottle of shampoo.
An hour after dawn, when I figured that the neighbor would be crawling out of bed, we all jumped down the chimney, shouting "raisin bran! raisin bran!" But the living room was full of cops! Apparently, the neighbors were sick of getting their cereal stolen, and had planned ahead. The cops upstairs also caught the shower-helper gentlemen, whom I had thought were real pros.
They locked us up in a cell, but I had a plan of my own.
We used our one phone call to call Kitty, Jamie's girlfriend, and she brought us a box of honeycomb, which the guard passed through the bars of the cell. I waited until the guard wasn't looking, and opened the box. As I expected, I immediately heard the rumble of a distant honeycomb gang, who ran into the cell, breaking open the door, shouting "we want honeycomb!"
They grabbed the box, and, when they ran out, we were with them. We ran with them all the way to the honeycomb hideout, where we were made official members of the gang.
So now we have a whole new life, running from the law as part of This Complete Breakfast, dedicated to the theft of breakfast cereal. And that, my friends, is why we haven't played many shows lately.
Once in a test in my Oceanography class, I was asked to explain the origins of the magnetic stripes on the ocean floor. Well, I could't possibly think of the answer to that. But here's what I said:
Long ago, in the olden days, there was a Gypsy named Dave. Gyspy Dave loved zebras. He even had a pet Zebra named Reginald. He took Reginald with him everywhere he went, and always made sure that he plenty to eat. In fact, Reginald often had more to eat that Gypsy Dave.
One day, Gypsy Dave was walking around the market with Reginald. All of a sudden, a bunch of sailors came joyriding down the road in a covered wagon (which was what sailors used to do for fun when they were in port). Gypsy Dave managed to jump out of the way, but Reginald wasn't so lucky. He was killed by the wagon.
Gypsy Dave was distraught. "Look what you sailors have done!" he cried. "You've killed my zebra! Oh, poor Reginald."
But the sailors were a cold, unfeeling lot, as sailors were wont to be in those days. "Arrrr!" they said. "Dems de breaks! The beastie shoulda watched where he was going!"
Gypsy Dave was furious, and decided to perform a magical curse. "From this day forth," he declared, "there will be magnetic zebra stripes all over the floor of you beloved ocean, which will screw up your compasses for all time!"
And so, to this day, there are magnetic stripes on the ocean floor. They don't really screw up compasses, but nobody ever had the heart to mention that to Gypsy Dave.
The professor gave me partial credit.
Ernie woke up in the morning and turned on CNN.
"We're here to give you a special report!" said the man on tv. "The world is ending! These next few hours will be our final broadcast for all eternity!"
"Damn!" thought Ernie. "I should really be taping this!"
Copyright 1999-2006 by Adam Selzer, all rights reserved