We're underway! Here we are, in the short story. We're cruising.
What's it about? Two lines and you want to know what it's about already? What's your rush, bozo? Okay okay--calm down. John Irving once told me that all of literature is about just three themes--man versus nature, man versus man, man versus sexually transmitted diseases. I'll let you choose:
___ man ___ nature ___ sex
Okay, so there's this guy. We're describing him now. He's just like you. You can identify with him, right? Your hopes. Your dreams. Your perverted filthy disgusting sexual hang-ups. Hey, just kidding.
The plot? Action! Adventure! Let's give him a gun. He's a hard-boiled private dick. A competent guy. A man of action. He has no cavities, his hairline doesn't recede, he can mess around all he wants, and he never gets herpes.
Doesn't sound too much like you anymore, huh?
But before we launch him on his adventures, we've got to introduce the love interest. So we're going to bring in this girl. Here she is. Wow!! Look at those tits! But look, there might be girls ... I mean women ... reading this too, so the love interest can't be just tits and ass. She's got to be an entire person, with intelligence and wit and significance. Let's call her Mandy. Say hi to Mandy, an entire person with great bazoomas:
Don't let me intimidate you--she's only here so you can wonder whether he gets her in the end. He's a macho guy, so love is no big deal for him--what's crucial is that he's this private dick on a hot case and the bad guys are trying to get rid of him and he's trying to elude them and this isn't a novel, only a short story, so we need some fast plot twists and turns and a punchy ending. Don't worry--I'll think of something.
But now you're hooked. No inclination to put the magazine down, go to the fridge for a beer, turn on the tube to see how the game is going. You're too busy wondering what's going to happen next. Me too, and it means a lot more to me as the writer than to you as the reader, believe me. You can't imagine how screwed up my life is. All I can do is write and if I can't even do that then I might as well give up right here.
You think I'm joking?
I'll prove I mean business. See this gun?
Okay, pal--keep reading or the writer blows his brains out. It'll be on your conscience. You think I'm kidding around? Try me--just switch to a different page and see what happens. Splat! All over the screen.
Better yet, keep reading or I'll blow your brains out! I mean it--I'm a desperate man. Your life means nothing to me. STAY AWAY FROM THAT TELEPHONE! Keep both hands on the keyboard where I can see them. You started this thing and now you're going to finish it. If it's the last thing you do. Don't make any false moves and nobody will get hurt. Just stay calm and KEEP READING.
So where were we? Okay, so he escapes from the basement torture chamber and he and Mandy meet. Some chit chat and then, because this is only a story and we don't have a lot of time for stuff like character development, they tumble right into bed. Biff! Boff! Biff! Boff! He's on top. Then she's on top. They do it in the rocking chair. They do it on the floor. They do it under the bed. They do it in the shower. They do it hanging by their teeth from the balcony.
Then it's all over and he's back on the street again wondering what the hell life is all about anyway.
Too depressing for you, huh? Okay, forget the private dick. I know a better one. There's this guy, see, and he's got to get this bear. God knows why guys go for this stuff but they do; you tell a guy that there's this guy who has to track down this bear and right off he's interested.
So he's out in the wilderness. Testing himself. Man against nature. He's stalking this grizzly. Why? Maybe the bear owes him money. Maybe the bear is a Nazi war criminal. Who cares? The important thing is that there's going to be a confrontation. Man versus bear. You're looking forward to that. He stalks for days. Stalk ... stalk ... stalk ... He lives off the land. Roots. Mushrooms. Nuts. Bolts. Wild animals lurk at the edges of his campfire, their fierce, predatory eyes watching him toast his nightly marshmallows. After dinner, he crawls into his sleeping bag, looks up at the stars and feels content with his place on this earth. Then he rolls right over and masturbates like a sonofabitch. When he masturbates, he has this fantasy. He's playing nude volleyball on a beach in southern California with Mrs. Olsen, that Norwegian broad who used to push Folger's coffee on TV.
The human mind is a funny thing, huh?
Finally, he catches up with the bear. The bear's Porsche has blown a right front tire and the bear is standing by the freeway with a thumb out. The guy pulls over and picks him up.
"Where to?" he asks the bear. Dialog! Can't have a short story without it. Here it is, finally, and not a moment too soon.
"Wherever," the bear growls.
So they're driving down the freeway in this convertible. With the top down, the radio on. "Wish they could all be California girls," the Beach Boys are singing.
Screw women readers--let's make the bear into a California girl! We'll make her a music video kind of girl--ready, eager and willing and nothing much between the headphones, so to speak. Plenty of good meat on her bones but only one oar in the water. What I'm trying to say is: a bimbo.
"I've got to tell you something, honey," she whispers. You put your arm around her. Mr. Macho. She giggles and snuggles close.
"What babe?" you ask. She looks adoringly into your eyes.
"I'm going to have your baby," she says.
Whoops! Turn her back into a bear? Okay, you're the boss.
So you let the bear off near the San Diego zoo.
"Thanks for the lift," says the bear. "And remember--only you can prevent forest fires."
Okay, let's wrap this up. It's gone the distance. Boy meets girl. Girl becomes bear. Bear becomes girl. Girl becomes pregnant. Pregnant girl becomes bear. Bear meets zoo. And we're left with a guy like you (only somewhat better looking and less fucked up) driving down a California freeway in a convertible with your favorite song on the radio. Up ahead you see a hitchhiker. She looks familiar but you're too far away to recognize her. A real sexy babe, though. Wearing a short, short skirt and a skimpy halter top. Fantastic knees. You speed up a little. Closer ... closer ... closer.
Surprise! It's your Mom.
See you in the next story.
Other stories and humor by Roz Warren:
Send email to Roz Warren or visit rosalindwarren.com.
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