Three or Four Enjoyable Stories by Eli S. Evans
Dear reader. Below are some stories I hope you will find clever and amusing. If you do, I hope you will consider buying my next book of small stories, which will be forthcoming with Moon Rabbit Books & Ephemera just in time for the holidays (though we’re not quite certain which holidays). If you do not, I hope you will feel free to not register your dissatisfaction in the form of cutting comments on the Berfrois Facebook page. These stories are dedicated to the memory of Eli N. Evans, a great writer and scholar with whom I will no longer be unjustly (to him) confused.
1. A Passion for Pork
A man with a passion for pork – a true pork lover, as it were – was driving down a two-lane highway when he spied, posted on the lawn in front of an otherwise unremarkable house, a sign announcing:
PORK FOR SALE
At once, the man pulled to the side of the road in a reckless fashion and jogged up the walk to knock at the front door, where he was attended to by the pork seller himself – a gentleman dressed in a manner that can best be described by saying his outfit was appropriately topped off by a hickory-striped engineer’s cap.
“So, what kind of pork is it?” the man asked him without preamble. “Free range? From swine nourished exclusively with acorns in the manner of Spain’s famous jamones de bellota? Better yet, free range and from swine nourished exclusively with acorns in the manner of Spain’s famous jamones de bellota?”
“No, no, nothing like that,” replied the pork seller. “Honestly, it’s just some pork I bought from the supermarket that, being a strict vegetarian on entirely ethical grounds (after all, I’m the picture of good health), I’ve ended up not having much use for, and which I therefore thought I’d pass on to someone more likely to make the most of its virtues.”
“I see,” said the pork lover. “And are you offering it at a discount relative to its original retail price.”
The pork seller cleared his throat. “I mean, it hasn’t been used at all, so I don’t really see any grounds for that. That said, I suppose I could offer it to you untaxed.”
“I see,” repeated the pork lover. In fact, he strongly believed that, much like a brand-new car the moment it’s been driven off the sales lot, a portion of supermarket pork once removed from the supermarket automatically loses between nine and eleven percent of its exchange value. Furthermore, he was perfectly aware that in the specific state in which the current transaction was taking place, groceries were not taxed in the first place, which is to say, the pork seller was playing him for the fool with this so-called offer of his.
All the same, so powerful and unbridled was this pork lover’s passion for pork that he simply could not say no.
“I simply cannot say no,” he therefore said.
At that, the pork seller retreated into the darkness of his abode, momentarily returning with the pork in question – a shoulder cut, neatly packaged.
“A fine specimen,” observed our protagonist.
But as he did not remember to check the expiration date on the package before stopping off at a nearby park to first fricassee its contents over the little blue flame produced by a propane camp stove he kept in the trunk of his car for just such a purpose and then consume them with a surplus of gusto that more than compensated for his lack of cutlery, the poor fellow contracted a nasty case of trichinosis thanks to which his face is now as swollen as a puff pastry.
Splish-splash: a man was enjoying his morning urination.
“Help!” he suddenly cried out. “I’m dying!”
“Not to worry,” said his wife, who was covered in avocado oil in the adjoining room (it was the bedroom, so the fact that she was covered in avocado oil there was not completely off the map). “Remember, we ate beets for dinner last night.”
“It’s not that,” the man explained. “It’s that out of the blue, it just occurred to me that since death is the natural and intevitable terminus of life, the fact that I’m currently living means, paradoxically, that I’m also currently dying.”
“Oh, pshaw,” said his wife. “You’ve got to change your thinking is all. For example, instead of telling yourself you’re going to die, tell yourself that this whole concept of death is really just something we humans have invented in order to be able to put a name to what resides beyond the limits of our capacity for imagining the future.”
“So you’re saying I’m not going to die?”
“I’m saying that the first law of thermodynamics is that the total amount of energy in the universe is a fixed quantity. How did Einstein put it – nothing die, it just changes form. But if your very capacity for imagination is part of your present form, how could it possibly extend itself to whatever form or forms the energy from which that present form is constituted will assume next?”
“I guess that makes me feel a little better,” the man said.
That was when he noticed the blood-red swill swirling in the toilet bowl beneath him.
“Help!” he cried out. “I’m dying!”
3. The Man with a Lot to Do
A man with a lot to do woke up one morning worried he wouldn’t be able to get it all done.
“I’ve got a lot to do,” he said to his wife, “and I’m worried I won’t be able to get it all done.”
“And I don’t have jack shit to do,” yawned his wife, “so I’d appreciate it if you’d respect my freedom to keep sleeping by zipping up that big flapping piehole of yours.”
On that note, the man went to the kitchen to make himself a cup of coffee. The coffee, as it turns out, was delicious – rich yet crisp – but its deliciousness did not prevent him from continuing to worry that he wouldn’t be able to get all the things done that he needed to get done. And then what? When would these things get done, and by whom? And if they simply did not get done…
Not knowing where else to turn, he decided to put in a call to his friend the early riser.
“I’ve got a lot to do,” he explained, “and I’m worried I won’t be able to get it all done.”
“What I lack in charisma,” replied his friend, “I make up for with my lack of charisma.”
“Alternate version. What I lack in charisma, I make up for with my charming lack of charisma. Which do you like better?”
“The first,” said the man.
“Because you have to give your audience a little rope, if that’s the right expression.”
“You get the idea. Besides, what does this have to do with my problem?”
“Nothing,” said his friend. “It’s just that I’ve been working on some new material and your shall we say unexpected call seemed like a propitious opportunity to try it out. Take it for a test drive, so to speak. Kick the tires.”
“Are you some kind of stand-up comedian now or something?”
“That depends on how much quality material I’m able to come up with. You want to hear another one?”
“Okay. You know how when you’re wearing cut-off shorts in the summertime, there’s always some wise acre who comes along and says, ‘hey, someone stole half your pants’?”
“So, my idea is when that happens, I say, ‘to the contrary, someone returned half my legs.’”
“Ha ha,” the man said. “That’s pretty funny, I have to admit. Although at the same time, from a practicality perspective in terms of actually doing stand-up comedy, it wouldn’t work unless you were first of all wearing cut-offs, which could be problematic because a lot of clubs have a dress code for the purpose of discouraging unruly behavior, and second of all, even if you were wearing cut-offs you’d still need someone in the audience to actually say that thing that you said, which honestly seems pretty hit or miss.”
“Yeah, well who fucking asked you, anyway?”
“I thought you were looking for feedback!”
“I am, but only if it’s positive.”
“Fair enough. But getting back to my problem.”
“Listen,” said the man’s friend. “I’m no certified life coach with a specialty in actionable deliverables, but the one thing I’d say is that no matter what, you absolutely cannot let this situation drive you insane.”
“Just trust me, man. I’ve got a cousin.”
“Everyone’s got a cousin.”
“Not like this cousin, man. He once threw a computer monitor out a second story window.”
“And it fucking broke, what do you think?”
Persuaded, the man immediately turned his attention to the task of not letting the situation drive him insane; unfortunately, his efforts were unsuccessful, which is how he found himself sitting in the lounge at the local insane asylum exactly one year later when his friend the early riser’s debut stand-up comedy special came on the television set.
“Hey,” the man said, pointing. “I know that guy.”
“Sure you do,” sneered the orderly, and slapped him in the back of the head.
A man made a thing.
“This is good,” he said, regarding it.
But apparently not everyone agreed.
“What???” asked one person, rhetorically.
“Pure stupidity,” remarked another, as though this were not an opinion but merely an observation.
“Just when you thought it was safe to leave the house,” griped a third.
At least the man’s mother was proud of him.
“I’m proud of you, son,” she said.
For a moment, the man felt better about the whole situation as a result of these kind words; but a moment later he realized he had to be dreaming insofar as: a.) his mother was deceased; and b.) in life, she was an unforgiving woman who called him “bonehead,” “nitwit,” and “unplanned,” and was fond of saying “tell me how much someone’s willing to pay you for it and I’ll tell you what it’s worth.”
Furthermore, even if someone had been willing to pay the man a lot of money for the thing he’d made (which, to be clear, nobody was), his mother still probably wouldn’t have been proud of him for it, since it so happens that the specific thing he’d made was a batch of muffins from her ashes.
Oh, I’m only kidding – this man hated muffins!
About the Author
Eli S. Evans probably was not Ritchie Valens in a past life, but at the same time, it’s not impossible. Scour the internet (or this web magazine) for other examples of his work. Buy a small book of small stories, Obscure & Irregular, from Moon Rabbit Books & Ephemera, or the larger book of even smaller stories forthcoming from the same just in time for no one can quite say for certain which holidays.
The photograph is a popular meme and is reproduced here under fair use.