Yesterday on the plane I finally approved the release of two new short stories, Return of the Man and Hemingway’s Tab. They’ve been in and around my notebooks and hard drive for the past few months – your standard holding pattern – yet a part of me simply did not feel like making them public.
I took a little break from releasing fiction after receiving a constant barrage from readers and friends who insisted my stories were accurate portrayals of my life rather than the snapshots of emotion I constructed them to represent.
Other writers and artists have expressed to me similar frustrations – it’s nice to know I’m not alone – but at the end of the day there is no reason to be afraid. I think I’ve made it pretty clear over the course of my writing career that I care very little about the way others think I should write.
I’ve got almost 40 documents in my “Stories in Progress” folder, stay tuned.
Return of the Man
“I feel like the romance is coming back,” he told his friend, “I think I’m ready to let go of the bitterness.”
“Oh yeah? How many whiskeys have you had?”
“Fuck off,” he told his friend, “It’s not like that anymore.”
His friend laughed. “Easy boss. I’m just saying. If there’s one thing you are, it’s bitter.”
“So I can’t change?”
“Sure you can.”
“But here I am trying and listen to you.”
“Well, talking about it doesn’t mean you’re trying. You’ve got a long way to go.”
I’m so sick of these people who nitpick every god-damn word, he thought. Then he said to his friend, “What makes you so happy with yourself?”
His friend opened his wallet and showed him the pictures. “I don’t have to say anything,” he said.
“That’s a positive for you, not a knock against me,” the man pointed out to his friend.
“Sure,” his friend said, “But I’d encourage every second of it.”
“Soccer games in the cold on a Sunday morning don’t seem like heaven,” the man bit back.
“What is it with you? Do you want to be lonely your whole life?”
“Hell no,” the man said, “I want a woman.”
“Then it’s simple,” his friend said, “Go get one.”
You and your happiness, he thought, it makes me sick. The thing that really gets me is that they’re finding it in the situation, he thought, not the other way around. But the man knew that most people did not think this way and he said, “You make it sound so easy to find someone to spend sixty years with.”
“It was for me,” the friend said.
“Are you happy because you have to be or because you’ve realized your dreams?”
As the man spoke, the bartender walked by and his friend followed her with his head, watching her pour the drink and return a smile. After a few seconds his attention came back to the man and he asked, “What was that?”
“Nothing,” the man said, raising his glass as to signal for another, “How about those Broncos?”
“I don’t know what to make of it,” his friend said, leaning back on the bar stool and looking up at the televisions, “Tebow has a lot of work to do. I had him in fantasy for a while but I had to drop him. How do you think he’ll pan out?”
The man went on to tell his friend about how he had not been following football this season.