Standoffish

 
   Alex was fifty-eight years old and he wanted to be a poet, not a bookkeeper. The thing is, he never actually wrote poems. It was much easier to google poetic forms and write down the format for a cinquain – five lines, with an ababb, abaab or abccb rhyme scheme – than to actually write one.
   But he may have finally stumbled onto something. He figured out that he could do a poem a week – which meant he could do fifty-two poems in a year, enough for a self-published volume of poems – if he worked on them during lunch. Except for Maria.
   “Alex,” she said, “why are sitting over here by yourself? I got a table for everybody in the banquet room. Don’t be so standoffish.”
   Everybody was the entire staff of Waldron and Waldron, CPAs. He had made the mistake of telling Maria, the office manager, about Templeman’s, just two blocks from the office and, until now, usually overlooked by the downtown Seattle professional types. Now Maria had everybody showing up there for lunch.
   He closed his laptop and the old-school composition book where he kept his ideas. He stuffed them into his shoulder bag and followed her. When they got to the banquet room she announced, “Alex has agreed to stop being a dork and join us. Let’s hear it for Alex.” A couple of of his friends from bookkeeping started a slow clap. Everybody else glanced up for a second, then went back to gabbing.
   Maria had Alex sit next to her, then ignored him while she talked to Chuck, about how to deal with accelerated depreciation for software installations. He ate his PB&J sandwiches and bag of Fritos without saying anything to anybody.

   The rest of the story is HERE.

 

Hafaman Construction

 
   It amused his customers that Jimmy Hafaman had an MFA in Creative Writing and taught it part-time, in the evening program at the Community College. When he showed up wearing his Carhartts and a tool belt, with a copy of Bukowski’s Maybe Tomorrow in the nail pouch, it always started a conversation that ended badly.
   At his age – thirty-eight – people didn’t know whether he was a failed college professor on the way down or a day-job remodel carpenter hoping to start a literary upswing.
   He didn’t bother to tell them he could just as easily be a failed general contractor, trying to follow in his father’s large footsteps, the man who built Hafaman Construction and half of downtown Port Hudson. Or maybe a small-change community college instructor aspiring to build something out of more than just words, something people could raise a family in; generations of a family, for that matter.
   In fact, he was none of the above. Jimmy Hafaman wanted nothing more or less than to spend all day writing stories.

   The rest of the story is HERE.

 

Get a Job

 
   His throat was dry and tight as a bowstring. He could hear his eyelids squeaking. He scanned his 3X5 card every thirty seconds, until he could no longer tell if the words were correctly spelled. But he knew the set was good. Even Jana laughed a little when he made her sit down long enough to run it for her.
   “Jerry,” she said, “Too bad you can’t get paid for this, you big goof.”
   He looked up when he saw Abe Gleason, the emcee of Last Laugh, Comedia’s Open Mic night, slip between the curtains and shamble toward him.
   “Dude,” he said, “I’m really sorry, man, but Craig sucked so bad he emptied the place out. Randolph is pissed and he killed the rest of the show.” Randolph was the late shift manager.
   Jerry slumped in his chair and massaged his temples. “This will play right into Jana’s hands. She wanted us to go out to celebrate our fifth anniversary of hooking up and I said I had to be here.”
   When he got back to their two-room apartment, she was asleep. He climbed in next to her and she edged away from him as far as she could without going over the edge.

   The rest of the story is HERE.