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I Always Knew You Were Kind

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I Always Knew You Were Kind ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp 

Geneva watches Booth Faraday in his back yard out her upstairs bedroom window. He holds a newspaper in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other. After adjusting the crotch of his pants, he sits down in a lawn chair and unfolds the newspaper and takes a drink of the beer; turns the pages of the newspaper impatiently and ends by throwing it on the ground. He puts his head back with his face toward the sky and closes his eyes. He doesn’t know he’s being watched, she thinks. But then he opens his eyes and looks toward her and she jumps away from the window as if from an electric shock.

Booth and his mother have lived next door for three years and Geneva has never even spoken to them in passing. They are people who keep to themselves. Booth goes to work early every morning but Geneva doesn’t know what he does. Some blue-collar job. Maybe a factory worker or an automobile mechanic. When he comes home, he rarely goes out again. Never any visitors that Geneva has seen. On weekends she hardly sees him at all. Not that she’s watching for him. He’s nothing to me, she tells herself, after each of her secret spying sessions.

She goes downstairs where her sour-faced mother, Mrs. Bobo, is sitting at the kitchen table slurping her coffee. Ignoring her, Geneva turns to the want ads in the newspaper and sits down across from her.

“You’ve been watching him again, haven’t you?” Mrs. Bobo says.

Geneva circles an ad in red ink and looks up. “Did you say something?” she asks.

“I said, ‘you’ve been watching him again’.”

“Watching who?”

“That man next door. What’s-his-name. Mrs. Faraday’s son.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Geneva says.

“I would like some scrambled eggs this morning. I’ve been waiting for you to come down and fix them.”

Geneva stands up, takes two eggs out of the refrigerator and carries them to the stove.

“You really don’t need to be looking at those silly want ads,” Mrs. Bobo says.

“I’ll look at them if I want to.”

“How many jobs have you applied for that you didn’t get?”

“I don’t know. Dozens.”

“That’s right. Dozens. Doesn’t that tell you something?”

“It tells me I haven’t found the right one yet.”

“You really don’t need to find another job. Your father left us well-provided for. That’s one thing I can say about him.”

“People don’t work only because they have to. Some people work because they want to.”

Mrs. Bobo laughs her cruel laugh. “C’est la vie,” she says, but Geneva is sure she doesn’t know what it means.

At other times their conversation is less cordial, as two days later when Geneva is preparing to go for a job interview.

“I don’t think you’re going to get this job, either,” Mrs. Bobo says.

“Why not?” Geneva asks.

“They’re going to take one look at your qualifications and see you don’t know how to do a thing.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about, as usual.”

“You look ridiculous. You have too much curl in your hair. It makes you look like a clown.”

“Thank you.”

“Too much makeup for your age. You look like a floozy.”

“Nobody uses words like ‘floozy’ anymore. It reminds me of just how old you are.”

“The old words are the best words for getting things said.”

“Why don’t you just shut up and let me alone for a change?”

“How can you tell your mother to shut up?”

“Easy. Shut up!

“I have this terrible pain in my chest and you’re abandoning me. I might not still be alive when you get back.”

“Then I’ll call your favorite funeral home and let them know where to pick up the body. They’ll be glad for the business.”

“That isn’t funny. You break your mother’s heart.”

“Why don’t you go watch TV? Isn’t there one of your game shows on?”

“You know I don’t care for game shows.”

“Then why do you watch them all the time?”

“Because I have a daughter who can’t stand to be in the same room with me, that’s why.”

“Why don’t you take a nap or something? I’ll bring you a cheeseburger when I come home.”

“Don’t bother. I couldn’t eat a thing.”

The interview doesn’t go well. The interviewer is a man, no more than twenty-four years old. He talks about how youthful and vibrant the company is. Geneva can tell right away he doesn’t consider her a serious contender for the job.

“Why do you want to work here?” he asks, looking bored.

“I don’t,” she says.

“You don’t want to work here?”


“Then why are we both wasting our time?”

“I just now decided.”

“I guess we can consider the interview concluded then, can’t we?”

“Yes, and thanks for nothing.”

“Thank you for nothing,” he says.

The next day Mrs. Bobo is sulking in her room and doesn’t ask Geneva how the job interview went. To give herself something to do, Geneva goes into the kitchen and makes two batches of cookies, one chocolate chip and the other oatmeal raisin. While the cookies are cooling on the counter, she has an idea. What man doesn’t like cookies?

She puts on her new yellow-flowered blouse, brushes her teeth and fluffs up her hair, which, thank goodness, still looks decent from the interview the day before. She takes a round tin left over from Christmas, lines it with wax paper, and puts about three dozen of the cookies in it, half of each kind.

She tries to smile as she rings the doorbell at the house of Faraday, but her heart is pounding and she has a terrible taste in her mouth like an exhaust pipe. She is sure that Booth will answer the door because it’s Saturday, but Mrs. Faraday comes to the door instead. She’s a short, squat woman with bulging eyes like a frog and hardly any neck to speak of.

“Yes?” she says when she sees Geneva. She takes her cigarette out of her mouth and picks a piece of tobacco off her tongue.

“Mrs. Faraday?”

“Yes. Who are you?”

“I’m your next-door neighbor. You must have seen me around.”

“Yeah, I guess so. What do you want?”

“I just wanted to pay a neighborly call and bring you this.” She holds out the tin of cookies.

Mrs. Faraday eyes it suspiciously. “What is it?” she asks.

“It’s cookies I made.”

“How much?”

“I’m not selling them. I’ve giving them to you.”

“I don’t eat sweets much, but thank you.” She takes the tin and holds it against her body under her elbow.

Geneva tries to see over Mrs. Faraday’ shoulder into the house, but it’s too dark to see a thing.

“Is your son home?” she asks.

“You know him?” Mrs. Faraday says.

“No. I can’t say that we’ve been properly introduced.”

“He’s busy right now.”

“Oh, that’s all right.”

“I can get him if you want.”

“Oh, no! Don’t bother. I just thought I’d say hello and introduce myself.”

“I’ll tell him you dropped by.”

“Oh, would you? Thank you!”

Her cheeks burn with embarrassment.

Relations between mother and daughter remain strained. Mrs. Bobo stays in her room watching her small portable TV at the toot of her bed and speaks to Geneva only when necessary. She eats her meals and then returns to her lair and locks the door.

“How long is the silent treatment going to last, mother?” Geneva asks at lunch.

“Why should I speak if I’m only going to be told to shut up in my own home?” Mrs. Bobo says.

On her birthday Geneva fixes herself up in a special way. She takes a bubble bath, washes and sets her hair and, sitting at her dressing table in her underwear, puts on her “full face,” including fake eyelashes. When everything else is done, she puts on the black dress that she wears to weddings and funerals.

She buys a bottle of wine and an expensive cut of steak. She gets out the good china and places candles in the middle of the table.

When Mrs. Bobo comes into the kitchen, her pink-tinged hair askew from her nap, she says, “What’s all this for?”

“Sit down and eat, mother, before the food gets cold,” Geneva says as she pours wine into the glasses.

After a couple of bites, Mrs. Bobo says, “The meat is tough. I can’t eat it.”

“Do you want me to cut it up for you?” Geneva asks.

“Of course not! I’m not a child!”

“Don’t eat it, then, if you don’t want it.”

“Well, I won’t eat it! And I want to know what you’re all gussied up for? You look like the cat that swallowed the canary. Are you wearing false eyelashes?”

“I have a date this evening,” Geneva says.

“Who with? I hope you’re not cavorting with some married man!”

“Why would I be?”

“Because that’s the only kind of man you could ever hope to get. Somebody who has completely given up on life.”

(The truth is: after she washes up the supper dishes, she is planning on driving downtown to a little getaway called the Melody Lounge, sitting at the bar, having a drink or two and listening to the music. Being asked to dance is not outside the realm of possibility.)

“Don’t you know what day this is?” she asks.

“It’s Thursday, isn’t it?” Mrs. Bobo says. “What’s that got to do with anything?”

“You don’t remember what happened thirty-eight years ago today?”

“If it’s your sly way of telling me it’s your birthday, I already know it.”

“Aren’t you going to wish me many happy returns?”

“No. I don’t think your thirty-eighth birthday is anything to celebrate.”

“Why not?”

“What have you ever done with your life? You still live with your mother in her house. You don’t have a career. You were never able to land a husband.”

Geneva has been drinking wine steadily for two hours. She finished off one bottle and has opened another. She holds up her glass and says, “Here’s to many more happy years in your c-c-company, mother!”

Mrs. Bobo gives a snort of disgust. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” she says.

“Why? I haven’t done anything.”

“You’re a terrible disappointment to your mother!”

“Do you want me to leave?”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you? To be absolved of all responsibility!”

“I don’t feel responsible for you, mother. I’ve stayed with you and helped you all these years because I didn’t want you to be alone. I can go anytime I please.”

“You ungrateful thing! After all I’ve done for you!”

“What have you done for me?”

“I’ve supported you for thirty-eight years!”

“You don’t think I could support myself?”

“No! You live on my money and that’s the way it will always be! Just how do you think you’d manage if I were to say you don’t get another penny of my money?”

“I have money of my own.”

“Bah! And don’t think you’ll get a cent when I die, either. I’ve already spoken to my attorney about changing my will.”

Geneva downs another glass of wine and says, “How about if I murder you before you change your will? I could always poison your food and you’d never know it. Or, how about this: I come into your room in the wee hours of the night and hold a pillow over your face until you’re no longer breathing. An old woman dying in her sleep. Nobody would ever question it.”

Oh!” Mrs. Bobo says, sputtering with indignation.

“You are a horrible, spiteful, vindictive old woman and I wish I never had to lay eyes on you again!”

“God will strike you dead for saying such things!”

“I wish he would! Then I’d never have to look at your ugly old face again!”


Mrs. Bobo tries to get up, catches her foot on the leg of the chair and sits back down with a jolt, spilling the wine. “I want you out of my house by nightfall,” she says. “Take everything that belongs to you and get out!”

“It will give me the greatest of pleasure!” Geneva says. Not knowing what else to do, she picks a baked potato off her plate and throws it at Mrs. Bobo. It strikes her in the forehead; she falls off her chair onto the floor and begins wailing.

“She’s trying to kill me!” she screams. “Help me, somebody! My own daughter is going to kill me!”

“Get up, mother,” Geneva says. “You’re not hurt. It was just a squishy old cooked potato and I didn’t throw it that hard.”

Oh! Oh! Oh! I think my leg is broken! I’m having a heart attack!”

Geneva knows she has had too much wine and believes she is about to do something she will regret. Wanting only to get away from Mrs. Bobo, she runs through the house and out the front door. She feels the blood rushing in her ears and has a couple of seconds where she loses consciousness, which happens in moments of extreme anxiety or anger. She runs to the house next door, the Faraday house, and pounds on the door.

When Mrs. Faraday comes to the door, Geneva rushes past her into the house as though escaping a fire.

“What the…?” Mrs. Faraday says.

Geneva runs through the dark house into the kitchen. There, standing beside the sink, is Booth Faraday in a bathrobe. He looks at Geneva as if she is a lion about to spring on him. Geneva runs to him, reaches up and encircles his neck with her arms.

“Please marry me!” she says. “I know I’m drunk and I do apologize for that. Today is my birthday. I’m older than I care to admit. My life is terrible. My mother and I hate each other. I just threatened to kill her. She’s lying on the floor in the kitchen screaming in pain. I don’t want to go to jail. Please help me!”

Booth pulls her arms from his neck, takes a step back and says the first words she has ever heard him speak: “Do I know you?”

Mrs. Faraday is standing in the doorway to the kitchen. “I’ll call the police,” she says in a calm voice.

Again Booth speaks: “No need. I’ll handle this.”

“There,” Geneva says, smiling. “I always knew you were kind.”

She takes a drunken step toward him. He steps out of the way as she falls to the floor. The thing she is aware of as she blacks out is that she is wetting her pants on the floor of the Faraday kitchen.

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp

An American Son ~ A Capsule Book Review

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An American Son

An American Son ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp 

Marco Rubio was born in Miami in 1971. His parents came to the United States from Cuba during the 1950s, in search of a better life for themselves and their children. They had no formal education and job skills that would only ever allow them to work in menial jobs, but they were determined that their four children would have better lives than they had had. They survived as Americans without exactly thriving and saw their son Marco become an attorney, a family man with four children of his own, and a successful and powerful politician.

An American Son is Marco Rubio’s story, from his modest upbringing in Miami to his hard-fought election in 2010 as Florida’s junior senator. He began in Florida politics when he was elected to the West Miami City Commission. From there he went to the Florida House or Representatives, where he was eventually elected speaker of the house. When his term of office ended there, he considered leaving politics for good and concentrating on his law practice, but the opportunity came up for him to run for the United States Senate. At a time when nobody believed he could win, he challenged a powerful and popular sitting governor, Charlie Crist, for the nomination of his party to run in the general election. Defying the odds and also conventional wisdom (not to mention a barrage of vicious personal attacks), he won the nomination of his party and went on to the win the general election in a three-way race. It’s a story of perseverance, of not giving up in the face of overwhelming odds.

Too often politicians in Washington, with their $1500 suits and their luxury vacations, come across as elitist and out of touch. Marco Rubio might prove over time to be a different kind of politician. He wasn’t born into a privileged environment. He has lived in the real world and he knows what it’s like to struggle. He comes across as a decent man, maybe overly ambitious but not overly egotistical. He’s not perfect, he makes mistakes, and he’s figuring out the way as he goes along the same as everybody else.

An American Son is breezy reading, never ponderous or bogged down in unnecessary detail. I found the whole book interesting but especially the second half where Marco details his up-and-down campaign for the Senate where he was attacked daily by the opposition. Some politicians have the job dropped into their laps because of what their names are, while others have to work for it, night and day, over months and sometimes years. It’s not an easy road and it takes a certain kind of person to want to do it. Somebody with plenty of drive and ambition but also with the conviction he can make a difference in the world.  

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp

A Cross-Eyed Woman

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A Cross-Eyed Woman

A Cross-Eyed Woman ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp

“Did I tell you I’ve got a new girlfriend, grandpa?”

“Is that so? What’s her name?”

“Lucille Meisenbach.”

“How much does she weigh?”

“A hundred and thirty.”

“How old is she?”

“She’s a year younger than me, grandpa.”

“Don’t be in no hurry to marry a person with a name like Lucille Meisenbach.”

“I’m not. I only just met her.”

“Make sure you know everything about her before you marry her. Her people, too.”

“I’m not going to marry her.”

“What’s wrong with her?”

“Nothing, except that she’s cross-eyed.”

“You don’t want to marry no cross-eyed woman.”

“Okay, I won’t.”

“Cross-eyed woman is a sign of trouble.”

“How do you know, grandpa?”

“I’m seventy-three years old. I’ve seen everything and what I haven’t seen I’ve heard about.”

“I wouldn’t want to marry her, anyway.”

“Why not?”

“She’s got six toes on one foot.”

“How many on the other?”

“Just five.”

“Eleven toes is bad luck. It’s a mark of the devil.”

“If you say so, grandpa.”

“You don’t think you’d want to marry her after you’ve known her for a while?”

“No, sir.”

“You say that now, but if she gets it into her head to marry you, she’ll find a way to ensnare you against your will.”

“I don’t think that’s going to happen, grandpa.”

“Why not?”

“She’s not very smart.”

“You don’t have to be smart to be evil.”

“I wouldn’t exactly say she’s evil, grandpa.”

“You probably just don’t know her well enough to see her evil side.”

“If I start to see it, I’ll dump her.”

“Maybe she won’t let you dump her.”

“If I want to dump her, she can’t stop me.”

“I see you know very little about women.”

“I know enough.”

“Just make sure you find out everything there is to know before you marry her. If she’s got them two flaws, she’s bound to have others.”

“I haven’t seen any others.”

“Well, she’ll be setting her trap to catch you.”

“I don’t think so, grandpa.”

“Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“I went to dinner at her house on Sunday after church. We had fried chicken. Her mother’s name is Vera Meisenbach.”

“How old is she?”


“How much does she weigh?”

“Two hundred.”

“A big woman.”

“Yes, sir. Big and tall. Broad shoulders. A wild look in her eye. Kind of scary.”

“And that’s not all, is it?”

“No, sir. She’s got a hump on her back.”

“Uh-oh! A big woman with a hump on her back has a cross-eyed daughter with eleven toes. Freakishness runs in the family. That’s not good.”

“I can’t claim to be perfect myself.”

“You’ve got the right number of toes, you’re not cross-eyed and there’s no hump on your back.”

“That’s true.”

“Count your blessings.”

“Yes, sir. I also met Lucille’s daddy. He’s a little bitty man like a midget.”

“A pattern has been established.”

“Lucille told me he’s got a metal plate in his head that lets him pick up radio transmissions. I tried to keep from laughing.”

“How much does he weigh?”

“Ninety-four pounds.”

“His wife weighs more than twice what he weighs?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Not pleasant to contemplate. How old is he?”

“He’s forty-nine years old.”

“And his name?”

“Luther Meisenbach.”

“Any other progeny besides Lucille?”

“A brother named Norland Meisenbach. He’s sixteen.”

“Is he cross-eyed?”

“Not that I noticed, but I didn’t pay that much attention.”

“How much does he weigh?”

“A hundred and ten.”

“That’s small for sixteen, isn’t it?”

“I guess so.”

“Anything freakish about him?”

“He’s got a turned-in foot and he doesn’t talk much because he’s got a stutter.”

“So there’s something wrong with every one of the Meisenbachs.”

“Yes, sir. I guess you could say that.”

“If you take my advice, sonny, you’ll get as far away from that bunch as you can. They’re not wholesome to be around.”

“Yes, sir. I don’t really care that much for Lucille, anyway. When she looks at me, it looks like she’s looking over my shoulder.”

“She’s probably looking to her master for direction.”

“You sure have opened my eyes, grandpa. I’m glad we had this little talk.”

“Not at all, sonny. I’m always glad to give you the benefit of my superior knowledge. That’s what grandpas are for.”

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp

If Mr. Shinliver Dies

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If Mr. Shinliver Dies image 2

If Mr. Shinliver Dies ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp 

As soon as I walked into the office and heard laughter, I knew something was wrong. Ramona Sugarman, the receptionist, sat at her desk filing her fingernails.

“What’s going on, Ramona?” I asked.

“Mr. Shinliver had a heart attack,” she said casually.

“Oh, my gosh! Is he all right?”

She shrugged her shoulders and trained her cross-eyed gaze on her little finger. “How should I know?” she said.

As I proceeded to my cubicle, all the way in the back by the window, a football whizzed by my head, followed by a burst of laughter.

“Uh-oh,” Buster Finney said. “I think he’s going to tell on us.”

Irvine Beasley caught the ball, gripped it with both hands and pretended to throw it right at my face. “No, he won’t tell,” he said. “Not if he knows what’s good for him.”

“No football in the office,” I said, but they knew I was only joking.

I entered my cubicle and set my briefcase on the desk. Theresa Belladonna poked her head up over the partition that separated my cubicle from hers. She held a lighted cigarette in the corner of her mouth like a street corner wino.

“Good morning!” I said.

She removed the cigarette and blew smoke in my direction. “Did you hear the good news?” she asked.

“No, I haven’t heard any good news so far this morning.”

“You know that conference that Mr. Shinliver and all the top brass went to in Buffalo?”


“Mr. Shinliver had a heart attack.”

“Oh, my goodness!” I said. “Is he all right?”

“They say he was in Miss Wagstaff’s room when it happened. You can only imagine what they were doing.”

“I’d rather not,” I said.

“He’s still alive but he’s on one of those machines that does his breathing for him.”

“Poor Mr. Shinliver.”

“It’s the best thing that’s happened around here in a long time.”

“How long will it be before they get somebody in here to take his place, though?” I asked.

“At least a few days,” she said. “A few days of peace and freedom. It’s exactly what we’ve needed here for a long time.”

“It’s probably some kind of trick,” I said. “Shinliver is probably watching our every move this very minute.”

“That old bastard! Isn’t there some kind of law against spying on people?”

“It happens all the time.”

“Not to me it doesn’t,” she said, lighting a fresh cigarette off the old one.

“I didn’t know you smoked, Theresa,” I said.

“Now’s the time to start, when there’s nobody around to tell me I can’t do it.”

On my way to the kitchen to get my customary morning cup of tea, I saw that Reynard Gilhooley, the resident beatnik, was sitting at his desk openly snorting what appeared to be cocaine with a rolled-up dollar bill.

“Good morning, Reynard,” I said.

“Can’t you see I’m busy?” he said.

“Somebody got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning,” I said.

While I heated the water for my tea, I stood and looked over the tray of donuts. I was happy to see that there was still one left that was oozing red jelly out the side like a delicious wound. As I picked the donut up and bit into it, somebody clapped me on the shoulder from behind.

“Well, well, well!” a booming voice said. “Look who bothered to show up for work today!”

“I’m always here, Melville,” I said as I turned around and tried to smile. “I never miss work.”

It was Melville Herman, of course. The braggart. The blowhard. The man who managed to make himself offensive to everybody in the world, including a string of ex-wives.

“Did you hear the good news?”

“About Mr. Shinliver, you mean?”

“If the old boy buys the farm, guess who your new boss will be?”

“I wouldn’t even venture a guess,” I said. I took a step away from him so I wouldn’t have to look at his big teeth.

“It’ll be me, you fool!” he said. “Who else?”

“What makes you think that?”

“It’s all but in the bag. Who’s the person with any competence around here? Who keeps this place afloat?”

“I don’t know. Miss Wagstaff?”

“Wagstaff’s just a puppet! And she’s a lesbian, besides.”

“Really? I heard that she and Mr. Shinliver were an item.”

He laughed his hyena-like laugh. “You are so funny!” he said. “Nobody talks like that any more!”

“Like what?”

“I’m going to take some measurements in Mr. Shinliver’s office and see how my furniture is going to fit in there. I think I’m going to want some new curtains, too. The old ones probably smell funny.”

After Melville left, I sat down at one of the little round tables with my tea and donut and looked out the window. Off in the distance I saw a column of smoke rising into the sky. As I was trying to think what it might be that was burning, Mae Fudge came into the room. She was a big woman with a hairdo of elaborate curlicues that reminded me of pictures of Louis XVI.

“Before you ask,” I said. “Yes, I have heard the news about Mr. Shinliver.”

“Nobody’s going to get any work done today,” Mae said. “Probably all week.”

“What am I supposed to do about it?”

“They look up to you. You can talk some sense into them.”

“And have them hate me the way they hate Mr. Shinliver?”

“I’ve heard by way of the grapevine that if Mr. Shinliver dies, you’re going to get a big promotion.”

“What if I don’t want it?”

She looked at me suspiciously. “Everybody wants a promotion,” she said.

“I’m leaving this place,” I said.

“What? Have you found a better job?”

“I didn’t say that. I said I’m leaving this place.”

“Well, you don’t have to get all huffy about it.”

“I’m not getting huffy. I just don’t like having people asking me questions.”

Somebody turned on some loud music that could be heard all over the office. People came into the kitchen, not only to get donuts and coffee, but to dance in the space between the sink and the tables. Believe me, there is nothing more disquieting than white-and-gray accountants—one of them wearing red socks, I noticed—dancing with each other.

“They’ve all gone crazy,” Mae said.

“Their oppressor is gone,” I said. “They’re experiencing a heady moment of freedom.”

“It won’t last.”

“Of course it won’t. Mr. Shinliver will be back or somebody just like him.”

I went back to my desk to escape the loud music, but I could hear it all the same from there. I put on my headphones and listened to some Mozart and, while doing nothing, pretended to work. I was sure I was the only person in the whole place even pretending.

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp

Wishing Will Make It So, Part 2

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~ Wishing Will Make It So, Part 2 ~
(A Short Story by Allen Kopp)


Part 2 of my short story “Wishing Will Make It So” published in the current issue of Circus Book. Click on this link:

Wishing Will Make It So, Part 1

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~ Wishing Will Make It So, Part 1 ~
(A Short Story by Allen Kopp)


Part 1 of my short story “Wishing Will Make It So” published in the current issue of Circus Book. Click on this link:

The Yack-Yack Club

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The Yack-Yack Club

The Yack-Yack Club ~ by Allen Kopp 

When you’re making your way home in rush-hour traffic after a demoralizing day at the office, it’s scary to think that as many as twenty to thirty percent of drivers on the road are yapping or texting on cell phones. They don’t signal when they should and their driving is erratic, at best. Not only are they jeopardizing their own life and limb, but they are also jeopardizing yours. There are statistics about traffic accidents caused by driver inattention, but how many of those are caused by driver inattention due to cell phone use?

People like me who are not addicted to cell phones don’t understand the attraction. I have a cell phone that I use only for emergencies, and I hate it. I have never sent or received a text message because I have no desire to do so. I can be reached on the phone when I’m at home, but when I’m out somewhere there is nobody in the world I care to talk to. Being away from home means I cannot be reached by phone and I don’t want to be bothered. Leave a message and I’ll call you back when I get home if I feel like it.

Like it or not, I’ve seen advanced cases of cell phone addiction. On the first day of a new job, when I was introduced to a woman who was to be my co-worker, she was yacking on the cell phone and couldn’t put it down long enough to meet me. She yacked on her cell phone almost the entire time I knew her. She told me she never turned her cell phone off, even when she was sleeping, meaning that she was available to receive callers, not only during the day, but also all night long. When we flew on a business trip, she was indignant that airline safety regulations required that her cell phone be turned off. She turned it back on the first second she was allowed to—you could see the relief written all over her. Just think of the important calls that came in when she was thirty-five thousand feet in the air!

And then there are the people who wear the cell phone in their ear all the time, without having to hold it in their hands. When you’re at the mall or in some other public place and someone comes near you and says something, you think, wrongly, that they are talking to you. What they are doing is merrily pretending you don’t exist while regaling you with their idiotic cell phone banter in a very loud voice. (“Well, I’m at the mall. Where the f**k do you think I’m at? Don’t you remember I said I was going to the f**kin’ mall? Well, where the f**k are you at? Well, what the f**k are you doing there? Don’t you remember you were supposed to…”) Did they forget their manners, or did they just not have any manners to begin with?   

Speaking of bad manners, what about the person you’re having lunch with who drags out his cell phone and gets or receives a call right after placing the order with the waiter? Does he think I came out to lunch with him to sit silently while I listen to his inane conversation with his ex-wife or his teenage son? I might as well be back at my desk listening to the fluorescent light hum above my head.

I’ve heard people yapping into cell phones in public places in Chinese or other foreign languages. I’ve heard people yapping into cell phones at five-thirty in the morning when I’m lucky to be able to put one foot in front of the other. I’ve seen a woman bring out a cell phone at the movie theatre during a very loud movie and talk over the movie. I’ve seen people who can’t leave their cell phones alone long enough to have their kidney stones irradiated, vote, or renew their driver’s license. I’ve seen a woman talking into a cell phone while eating a salad and nursing a baby at the same time. I’ve seen people on roller skates talking on cell phones. (If alien intelligences are picking up all the cell phone jibber-jabber from earth, they will conclude that the planet does not have intelligent life on it as previously thought.) I sometimes wonder what all those people are saying and who they are talking to. All I know for sure is they are not talking to me.

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp


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