Category Archives: Stories by Tony (Blog)

Freewrite fiction: Four bits of short story

Photo by Tony Held.
Photo by Tony Held.



Tony’s wish

Tony wished with all his heart that he was rich. That he did not have to worry about money; motherfucking money! As he always silently called it. He sweated for it under bright hot suns; shivered for it on days with -20 wind chills; got humiliated for it by people who joked that he could load more bags of salt than the eight he was already tasked to carry. But by the way his temper kept building, a pink slip instead of a winning lottery ticket was more likely in his future.

Nicol the vandal

Nicol raised the spray can and took aim at the church sign that proclaimed an event related to “Comedy Sportz” without regret. God had betrayed him for the last time.

He sprayed and sprayed; sprayed until the word “Bullshit” appeared in crude letters on first one side, and then the other. “This place isn’t about God! You all deserve to die,” soon appeared below the expletive.

A few minutes later Nicol appeared in front of the church across the street. Soon the word “propaganda” appeared on the sign that proclaimed “God loves you.” Then Nicol aimed his spray can below “propaganda” and added “God is a traitor, if not a big fat lie” one letter at a time.

Sated at last, he flung the spray can into a nearby dumpster and stormed off down the silent street not giving a rusty f-word about his deed.

Back home, he sat up for the rest of the night smoking the last of his weed feeling not only glad, but damn glad.

Chadwick’s blunder

Chadwick lumbered off down the hall. He had no idea that now he had done it all thanks to his little outburst a few minutes ago. A performance none other than United Food’s district manager had witnessed. “Get him out of here!” He demanded to the store manager.

The store manager caught the eye of the assistant department manager Chadwick served under, beckoned him over … and soon Chadwick was on his way home facing either voluntary or forced termination.

He was so stunned, he could not think.

Nick and the moneyed elite

Nick hated the moneyed elite. “It’s all their fucking fault!” Was his common refrain when it came to the economic woes America suffered these days. He especially loathed the moneyed elite likes those fucking no-talent hacks and whores named the Kardashians ; they who loved to put their insipid lives on “reality” TV for all the world to see. They were the scummiest of the scum in Nick’s eyes. Why can’t terrorists pick on assholes like them? Nick sometimes grumbled in silence. (Well, the men anyway; Nick still respected the women even if they were tramps.) Instead, all those kill-crazy fucks did was kill innocent people like him and the next John or Jane Q. Public. Nick just could not understand it.

Eight bits of short story

Editing proofreading image
Photo by Tony Held.


1.  Canby the empty man

Canby hated his life with a passion.   So much so, he had become an empty shell.   Someone who ate, slept, and did little more than that.   Life now flowed past Canby like he was an island in the stream.   As he sat there spooning cereal into his mouth, his face looked as pensive as a kid who did not want to go to school.

2. Morant and God

If Morant had had his way, God would have drawn a line in the dirt with His sword and called out to all His believers to cross it as if he were Colonel Travis at the Alamo.   But Morant would not have crossed it. Just like legend said one decided not to do at the Alamo, because that soldier was “not ready to die.”   Morant heaved a deep sigh as he clicked the turn signal.   God had not given him such an option.   Now here he was, trapped by His will yet again in a situation he did not want to face ever again: a lean bank account that now compelled him to pull into the parking lot of a Cub Foods.   He cursed Him over and over as he crossed the snowy parking lot, bound for the employment kiosk inside.

3.  Yablonski’s dream and reality

Wow, that sure felt real, Yablonski thought as his eyes opened.   So real he swore he really had been living the good life.  One that had been chock full of wine, women, song, and plenty mucho money for him to spend on whatever he wanted.

He turned his eyes to the alarm clock.  “4:30” it read.   Just enough time to snooze ninety more minutes before he would wake up for the day.   A day of yet another shit standing by a register with an orange apron that said “Home Depot” over his street clothes.

4. George and Morris

When it came to customer service, George warmed to the task like he had been born to it.   He always had a friendly greeting backed by a smile ready for the men and women young and old that came to his register.  

By contrast, Morris went about his rounds at the grocery store like he was a clerk immersed in ledger.   He kept only one eye cocked for customers to meet and greet.   Sometimes he did as well as George.   Other times all Morris could do was “phone it in” as best he could, doing his best to play the part in the vital meeting and greeting of customers so vital for sales, sales, and more sales; or so the company propaganda claimed.  

Despite this 180 degree difference in work ethic, both men had become good friends.   When together they mutually bemoaned both the downsides of working for such a big grocery chain and their apparently eternal lack of success in meeting eligible women they could date.

5. Harry’s diary

As Harry scribbled away in his diary, his dog alternately looked out the window of his car and lay contentedly on the passenger seat next to him.   The sun had begun to set in a glorious blaze.   Harry scarcely paid it attention as he scribbled away; felt like the soldier named Sago in Letters from Iwo Jima as he buried hundreds of letter destined never to be sent home from Iwo.  

6. John hates Walter Mitty

Even fantasy no longer let John escape the drab realities he confronted every waking moment.   The powers of those escapist daydreams to perfect worlds were at last spent.

Eat shit and die, Walter Mitty! He thought grimly as he punched in for work.   You can’t hide in your daydreams forever.

7. Lloyd’s upset stomach

Lloyd stood on the asphalt path, his bicycle lying on the grass near him.   He kept watch on it out of the corner of his eye as he scribbled notes down onto scraps of paper. But the words did not soothe the burning ache in his belly and, by extension, his soul. 

8. Mickey and the Ides of March.

“Beware the Ides of March!”

“Not me, man,” Mickey’s reply to that saying always went.  “In my family, the freakin’ Ides of March come in freakin’ February.”


Freewrite memoir: agony in the old cadet chapel

boy old cadet chapel
Photo by Tony Held; image courtesy Wikimedia; composite image by Tony Held.

Laughter swept the old West Point cadet chapel from altar to organ gallery.   A fat, jolly priest whipping the wedding guests into gales of mirth sparked by antics like publicly teasing the older sister of the bride about how the younger daughter of a family is not even supposed to get shoes while the older one does.  He then went on to summarize the couple’s lives like he was delivering some kind of life summation eulogy laced with more jokes.  Like how the bride had never had a steady boyfriend, but that when her hubby to be had come back after more than one date, her parents knew he was the one.  He even read from a “supplement to the New Testament” that must have been some kind of Holy Land version of The Gigantic Joke Book something that included the phrase “… like a gazelle without its beak.”   And read something from the Bible itself about whether or not to love “the silent wife.”   The fat bastard should have been on a stage in Las Vegas!

Up in front close to where the fat assed clerical collar-wearing comedian performed a boy in his tweens struggled to stay erect in his seat.    The open salvo of laughter had stabbed his ears to the point they completely destroyed his concentration.   It is so bad he finally slumped forward, arms folded over his head in a feeble attempt to block the sound.   That drew the word “no” over and over from his mother out of concern that he would go ape and ruin the ceremony.   She was backed by unintelligible words from his uncaring, abusive father.   Seconds became minutes, and minutes hours for that boy until the fat f—k wearing the clerical collar ended his comedic antics and pronounced the couple man and wife.    By then the boy in the pew felt like he had been raped with a cane; burned with a thousand cigarettes; cut with a thousand knives; riddled by a million bullets.    A piece of his innocence that other events had chipped away at –the part that blindly trusts family to not hurt your feelings- was finally destroyed.

Shortly after the boy got home, emotional poison seeped into those wounds in his psyche.  The pain finally became so great each time the wounds ached that grotesque visions would swim across his imagination.  The boy wished that Raymond Shaw from The Manchurian Candidate had suddenly rose up in the back of the church, dressed like a priest just like at the finale of that flick, and shot both the fat priest and his abusive father right through the head.  Or that Pike Bishop and his three pards from The Wild Bunch had crashed through the doors, marched up to the clerical collar-wearing fat comedian, and blasted him like they do General Mapache, then turned their guns loose on his abusive father’s worthless hide.   In a grotesque vision starring the boy as himself, he walks up to the fat comedian  right after he cracks his first joke and then kicks him in the nuts and knocks him over the head!  Then as everyone gasps and shouts the boy falls on his abusive father as he tries to come at him and beats the hell out of him from head to toe.   By doing so, the wedding gets ruined for everyone, not just him, and to hell with parental wishes!

To this day that boy can still hear the laughter, and more important, feels over and over the hurt that laughter inflicted.   Sure that fat old fart wasn’t aiming the jokes at him.   The boy was still offended, though, especially since that BS was taking place in a place as sacred as the old West Point cadet chapel.   The likes of Gettysburg hero Alonzo Cushing had their funeral there!   Rotten shame the likes of that old fart or the boy’s abusive father did not die in Cushing’s place.

To this day, the wounds ache on and on inside that boy.   He has not been to a wedding since because of them lest he get hurt again by what he considers inappropriate antics.  But there is an O. Henry ending to this little story: That boy was me.

Everyone at the church walked away unscathed by the experience but me.   Even my immediate family was not affected.   That means I alone suffered in that sacred place corrupted by a smarmy stand-up comedy act thinly disguised as nuptials.    I suffered so much in that church some days I wish I could have cast all those people into hell.

Oh how terrible it is to suffer something you alone are affected by!   It makes you feel both like a freak and an outcast.