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Stories Tragedy

War Crimes

Andriy watched his father move an anti-tank mine out of the roadway using his bare hands, all the while smoking a Chinese cigarette, the tobacco loose and pungent. “Your name, Andriy, means manly and strong,” his father explained through clenched teeth, delicately carrying the explosive. “I named you for days like these. You will be a…

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Comedy Stories

Few and Far Between

“He fell again,” my husband mouths to me, then returns to his phone call with his-brother-who-I-cannot-stand. “No, no. I’m right here. I can be there in twenty minutes.” Of course he’s going out in an ice storm in the middle of the night. Of course he’s the one my father-in-law calls, a man who patently…

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Comedy Stories

The Making of Chocolate

Step 1: The Selection and Harvest of the Cocoa Pods Although Jean-Paul had received several invitations from Brussels to Zurich, he decided to apprentice with one of the chocolatiers in Paris. Parisians had a particular passion for all things chocolate, even prescribing it from their pharmacies in the 18th century. Whether chocolate had any medicinal…

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Comedy Stories

Down to One

“Are you there God? It’s me, God.” “Which one?” “What do you mean which one?” “That’s rather arrogant of you. There are 33 million Hindu gods, 28 Buddhas, and 12 Olympians. For all I know, you could be a talking totem pole. So don’t be a primadonna. Just narrow it down for me. Which god…

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Stories Tragedy

Get Thee to a Nunnery

“Sister Theresa, what time does the new applicant arrive?” Sister Pauline asked politely, to avoid Sister Theresa’s wrath. For a Franciscan, Sister Theresa could be entirely uncharitable, even to the abbess herself. “Oh you old cow, I’ve told you twice already!” Sister Theresa replied, throwing the bread dough she’d been kneading into a large wooden…

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Comedy Stories

Marked for Failure

Twenty years earlier, Chaoxiang’s mother had held her newborn son, weeping with joy. Of all the auspicious names to choose from, his mother picked the Chinese name for “expecting fortune.” As an undocumented kitchen worker at AmeriCasino’s Shanghai Buffet in Reno, Chaoxiang had learned to temper his expectations. In the midst of chopping endless mounds…

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Comedy Stories

Perilous Times Shall Come

When the end came, it was the people in the cities who suffered the most. Barbeau lay low on the snowy roof of the abandoned ski chalet, focusing his 10×50 binoculars on the great plumes of black and gray smoke spiraling from the general direction of Washington, D.C. It appeared Interstate 66 was still blocked…

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Comedy Stories

Pink Martini

“I don’t think I’m ready.” “You’re ready. Besides, you don’t have a choice.” “I don’t have a chance . . .” “C’mon. She’s sweet.” “She’s scary.” “She’s sweet and scary and—six years old. Look, I think you have a distinct advantage, being a grown up and all.” “Ugh . . . tell me what she…

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Comedy Stories

Death By Sharpie

Lori Greene was needlessly cruel and we were afraid of her. “Please don’t slice and dice other students with your sharp tongue, Lori,” scolded Ms. Attaway, our 7th grade drama teacher. “Everyone deserves your respect.” When Ryan Wiggins laughed at her rebuke, Lori Greene decided to cancel him on the spot. “You’re a pervert, Ryan,”…

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Comedy Stories

The 2nd Floor of the Circuit Court Building

“Stay off the 2nd floor of the Circuit Court building,” my older brother advises, lighting a cigarette directly under a No Smoking sign. “Why?” “Ain’t nothing good up here,” he replies, his cigarette ash falling on the paperwork declaring him my guardian. The clerk frowns at him while he signs, but he flashes her a…

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Comedy Stories

Moved On

“No.” “Hear me out.” “No. No-no-no. No. Get out.” “I can explain.” “I’m sure you can explain, and I’m equally sure I don’t want you to. Goodbye.” “It’s been three months. We should be able to talk about it.” “No. No-no-no. No. Get out.” “Don’t shut the door on my—DAMMIT.” “Move your foot.” “Move the…

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Comedy Stories

The 10th Circle of Hell

🏅 ❤️ “Virgil?” “Yes, Dante.” “Um, what’s going on here? I was told there were only nine circles of hell.” “There were only nine circles of hell in the 20th century. But for the 21st century? We needed to expand.” “You needed to . . . expand. Hell.” “Yes. We’ve added a whole new circle.…

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Comedy Stories

Florida Man

Miami ⛱⛱⛱ “Well, that was dramatic.” “You know the drill. We had to put a hood on you. It’s better you don’t know where you are.” “You could have just beaten me up on the street.” “Where’s the fun in that? Now, look Ricky, we’re tired of waiting for our money.” “I got your money…

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Stories Tragedy

Featherless Biped

The morning traffic jam at the high school peaked at 7:47 a.m., short tempered fathers slowing down to jettison their surly sons, mothers asking their daughters if they wanted to take an umbrella just in case, seniors cutting off all other cars to drive diagonally through the parking lot. Mister Carlton angrily tapped the steering…

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Comedy Stories

No Thank Hugh

🏅 ❤️ “Thanks a lot for coming in tonight—you are a wonderful crowd. Now get out of here!” Hugh’s trademark comedic snark teeters between sincerity and sarcasm. The audience does not know how to take his tone, so they laugh even harder, cheering and whistling at the close of his set. But Hugh is already…

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Comedy Stories

Texting After a Funeral

❤️ “It’s over. ⚰️ That’s all that matters.” “C’mon. Don’t be that way.” 🙄 “What way?” “The way you always are ☣️—who you always are.” “All right. ❓ Who would you like me to be?” “Be happy . . .” 😊 “You want me to be happy? Fine. ✨magic✨Ta da! I’m happy.” “Feels good, doesn’t…

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Comedy Stories

[Ok.]

[Ok.] A text from you. You want to meet me. For coffee. Something quick—so when it doesn’t work out—we can both leave unscathed. Of course, I say. Why not? I try not to—but I start imagining a cozy cottage for us by the Baltic sea, like the one my Polish grandparents lived in. A garden…

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Comedy Stories

The More Things Change

Today’s the day you change. You mean it this time. Everything. Change every jot and tittle. You are unsure what a jot and tittle is—an expression you learned in Hebrew school—but it seems like a good phrase to use today. You pull out your iPhone and google “jot and tittle” → [every small detail has…

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Stories Tragedy

Styx & Stones

❤️ A cold thick fog enveloped the muddy banks of the River Styx, chilling Persephone’s ankles. Demeter pulled Persephone’s coarsely woven robes tightly around her—robes of finely combed linen made from flax soaked in olive oil. When dried in the balmy Grecian sun, Persephone’s clothing smelled of newborn lambs and gentle sunbeams and fresh mown…

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Stories Tragedy

What I Want To Say

“Okay, little ladies . . . You know this is a difficult conversation for all parties concerned, but I am going to ask you for 110 percent. I am going to ask you to bring your ideas to the table as we think outside the box. This should be a constructive meeting for all of…

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Stories Tragedy

I Nothing You

“Wait . . . can you still hear me?” she asks, expectantly. She paces around the parking lot at dusk, seeing if the connection is better from a different angle. She holds the phone up and squints at it. She hikes a bit up an embankment, stupidly looking at her phone, wondering if two bars…

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Comedy Stories

Waiting for Samuel Beckett

“You wanna do something fun?” “No.” “You wanna do something fun?” “NO.” “Why not?” “Because your idea of fun isn’t.” “Isn’t what?” “Isn’t fun.” “C’mon.” “No.” “C’mon.” “NO.” “Really?” “Really. Whenever we go out, I end up regretting it.” “You don’t.” “I do.” “C’mon. Fun. Let’s go.” “I don’t want to do anything fun with…

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Comedy Stories

The Stuff That Dreams Are Made On

“I don’t think he loves me anymore,” I say, buttering a warm piece of bread. The bread basket is almost empty, but the waiter will bring us another. We’ll say we regret ordering more. It will ruin our appetite. But we’ll eat more bread gleefully—slathering yellow smears of animal fat on empty carbohydrates. My oldest…

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Stories Tragedy

Another Form of Water

The weather forecast called for snow flurries, unusual for this time of year. Yes, she had bundled up the kids for Halloween in all types of inclement weather when they were young—but never for snow. It never snowed this early in the season. No matter, she thought. The ground was parched and dry. Any precipitation…

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Comedy Stories

Witch Hunter’s Grandson

27 January 1736—London. Matthew Hopkins, III sat stoically with his glass of port at The Prospect of Whitby, a public house on the banks of the River Thames, four short miles from Parliament Square. The pub’s heavy oak paneling was a comfort against the cold, the glass window panes delicately frosted in lacy patterns of…

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Comedy Stories

Kerfuffle in Yazoo County

The white boy falls out of the Ford F-150 pickup truck first, hitting the road with a sickening thud. His left eye is already turning purplish-red, eyelid swelling to a most startling size. Moments later, a pretty dark skinned girl is launched from the Ford’s passenger side as well, but she elegantly falls, executing a…

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Comedy Stories

Mac

It is Alex LaCroix’s fault. Even as a 1st grader, I know he is pure Virginia white trash—all the LaCroix’s are, my mother says. Still, blonde haired, blue-eyed Alex Lacroix is the most handsome boy in class, if not the entire grade. Even if he is shorter than I am. It will be two decades…

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Comedy Stories

Void > Water > Air > Fire > Earth

Void. All gone. I hold my empty red wine glass, eyeing the waiter, feigning interest in the enthusiastic young man standing in front of me. He speaks without ceasing. Not a pause. Not a comma. Not an intake of breath. Just a wall of words emanating from his overly large mouth, a chasm devoid of…

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Comedy Stories

The Abyss Gazes Back

Of course he was late. I’d been warned. When he finally arrived, he sauntered in, wearing an Italian double breasted deconstructed blazer in flecked wool. It looked luxurious, silk and cashmere with patch pockets. He could have paired the jacket with anything. He chose basketball shorts. The kind you find on the floor at Ross…

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Comedy Stories

A Man In Love

The peroxide blonde gave one last heave then awkwardly dismounted. Wordlessly, she gathered up her clothing and strode into the bathroom. Tom Mosley lay very still. There were sounds of a toilet flushing, a faucet running, and oddly, tooth brushing. He made a mental note to throw out his toothbrush after she left. When she…

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Comedy Stories

Golden Repair

I’m not going to say another word. There’s really no point. We go round and round and round. It’s just so tedious. Of course this is a waste of time—and money. But I’ve found that in almost thirty years of marriage to her, she is an expert at doing both—often simultaneously. She could teach classes…

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Comedy Stories

Jax Gets Vaccinated

“Jax . . . are you coming with me tonight?” Jillian yelled from the bathroom, holding a mascara wand in her hand. She had desperately tried to prevent her eyelashes from clumping, but they seemed destined to cake together in a Liza-Minnelli-in-Cabaret kind of way. No response. “Jax!” “Go without me,” came his muted reply.…

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Comedy Stories

Lawn Darts

🏅 Billy Putnam shot my dad in the butt with a BB gun. It was quite a feat, as nailing a middle aged man on a ladder cleaning out his rain gutters couldn’t have been easy all the way from the house next door—a house whose gutters were always full of old leaves and debris.…

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Comedy Stories

The Teacher’s Dilemma

“Should we get started?” the principal suggests in a cheery, singsong voice, tapping on the microphone. “People? Please take your seats. Excuse me, people?” Her smile is brittle as she grips the microphone a little too hard. She stands alone on the Cafetorium stage, a space that doubles as both a lunchroom and a theater—and…

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Stories Tragedy

For the Last Time

“Ow! You little bugger—you’ve nipped me for the last time.” Five months in, breastfeeding had lost its luster, especially as the baby began to teethe, searching more for pain relief than for nourishment. Perhaps they were both just thoroughly exhausted, as both mother’s and child’s sleep schedules—blissful for a month or so after a chaotic…

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Stories Tragedy

The Joys of Late Stage Capitalism

He threw a larger piece of brick, shattering another pane of glass. Who would complain? The warehouse had already been emptied out. A company car drove by, slowly, its headlights washing over him. Gordy momentarily felt sheepish, squinting his eyes, hiding the alcohol he’d been drinking behind his back. He reminded himself he was a…

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Stories Tragedy

Land Of Milk & Honey

“It’s time,” the smugglers mutter, steely-eyed, unblinking. “It’s time.” “Martina,” her mother whispers a final directive. “You be Martin until these men take you over the border.” She zips up her daughter’s padded jacket and inspects her newly shorn hair. Just 11 years old. She can pass for a boy. “Yes,” Martina replies, meeting her…

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Comedy Stories

Takeout & Delivery

Is that it? Silver Toyota Land Cruiser. Ubers are almost impossible to spot until they nearly drive up on you. Virginia grabs her luggage and double checks the Uber app on her iPhone for the driver’s name. Lee. She dutifully takes note of the license plate to compare before entering the vehicle. She isn’t going…

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Stories Tragedy

Yellow Leaf

“Because you cannot take care of her properly,” I finally say after arguing for almost an hour. “Now, I’ve brought some brochures—” “I take care of her just fine,” my father replies evenly, those coal black eyes of his boring a hole through me. “I always have. And you know what you can do with…

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Comedy Stories

Take the Cannoli

“Carmine, you don’t have to help,” Rosemarie says. “You’ve done enough.” “Where’s all the ladies from the Women’s Guild? Widows aren’t supposed to clean up after their own husbands’ funerals. Mannaggia!” Carmine shakes his head, shoving a final piece of coppia ferrarese into his mouth. “There’s been three funerals this week already. What’s one more?”…