Sunday, May 27, 2012

Weekly Prompt Story: Thumbs

By Chris Munroe

I’ve made a movie!

Basically, it’s about a high school girl who’s really into archery who falls in love with a car that transforms into a giant robot. But at the same time a pirate, played by Johnny Depp, falls in love with her, and she must make a fateful decision about who to be with before an asteroid collides with the earth, destroying the world.

Nobody’s hands have enough thumbs down to review this movie, but that’s okay.

With the money I’ve made, I can pay somebody to look me in the eye if I can’t do it myself…

Friday, May 25, 2012

Growing Old Together

She’s the perfect woman. Beautiful, bright, with a smile that lights a room and a wit that guarantees I laugh out loud every single day of our life together.

And what’s better, I managed at some point along the line to trick her into thinking she can’t do any better than me.

Nobody tell her she can, okay?

I love her.

I want us to grow old together.

Fortunately, we both have a theater background, and know enough people who know enough about stage makeup that we don’t have to wait for that to happen naturally.

Instead, we’re walking down the street, me with a cane, her with a walker, enjoying the looks on our neighbor’s faces as they struggle to figure out where they’ve seen us before.

We look to be about eighty. White hair, deep lines across our faces, a stoop to our slow, shuffling walks.

I’ve got a bit of a hunch, under my shirt. Padding, to simulate the real hunch I’ll have after fifty years of leaning in to kiss her. She’s got a boil on the side of her neck. No reason, she just thought a boil would be hilarious.

We were in the makeup chairs for close to three hours. Totally worth it.

I was going to scream at the passing kids to get off my lawn, but she rightly pointed out that this is us after fifty years of happiness, and I might not have that sort of anger in me.

So instead, we’re taking a slow walk around the block. Her hands on her walker, one of mine on my cane, the other on the small of her back, enjoying a warm, summer day and the prospect of a lifetime together. Happy, and temporarily old, and still very much in love. Enjoying each other’s company and the pained expressions we get as our neighbours pass and try to fit what they see into their worldview.

“Hello, sonny,” she says to one of them as his eyes go wide and he suddenly realizes who we are, “would you like a Werther’s?”

She holds out the caramel to him and he has no idea what to do. He just stares as we walk by, laughing.

I hadn’t known she’d brought some along. She’s not eating sugar and I never much liked them. She must have bought them for this bit, and this bit alone.

Such careful attention to detail.

Christ, I love her.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weekly Prompt Story: Bars

By Chris Munroe

So last week’s mission didn’t exactly go smoothly...

You were caught slipping the note into the book, the librarian alerted an international network of booksellers and librarians, and now you’re on the run, legions of angry, literate assassins hounding your every move.

I can’t help, in some small way, feeling responsible.

Tell you what, run to Canada, hide here until it blows over. I’ll meet you at Tipparary’s, even buy the first round.

It’ll be okay.

Because here, at the bar.

You’ll feel safest of all.

We can lock all the doors.

It’s the only way to live.

In bars…

Friday, May 18, 2012

Panic Room

The world is a more dangerous place today than it’s ever been in history.

I mean, obviously it isn’t.

My parents grew up during the Cold War, and lived with the specter of nuclear annihilation hanging over their head for decades, never even knowing what it might be like to be free of that constant threat.

My grandparents met while doing their part to fight a war that burned most of Europe to the ground, and so did my great-grandparents.

Still, in spite of how demonstrably safe I am in my suburban home in Canada, it FEELS more dangerous today than ever before, doesn’t it?

I’ve heard theories that this is due to the nature of news coverage and the need to fill 24 hours a day with news-like programming that draws enough viewer attention to sell advertising, but I don’t know if I have an opinion on that...

What I do know is that the world feels dangerous, more dangerous than it’s ever been.

And so, I’ve had a panic room installed in my home.

I know, I live in a safe neighborhood in one of the safest cities in the country, and the crime rate’s been consistently trending downward for decades, even with the recession, but I can’t be too careful when it comes to my personal safety.

I’m worth it.

I can’t really afford it, but that’s a matter I’ll deal with when my credit card bills come due. Or when they start calling me with warnings.

Or when they turn the account over to collections agents.

In the meantime, panic room!

It’s absolutely fantastic, I’ve spared no expense. It locks from the inside, obviously, and there’s no way to get somebody out of it if they’re unwilling to go.

The walls are reinforced with concrete, but covered on the inside with thick foam padding to prevent any sort of injury occurring.

The room is well lit, but completely free of furniture. When I’m inside it I’m there alone, with nothing but my thoughts to keep me company.

And late at night, when I can’t handle some aspect of my personal life, or when the dangers of the modern world start to get to me, I can get out of my bed, creep downstairs, lock myself inside my brand new panic room, and freak the fuck out to my heart’s content…

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Weekly Prompt Story: Your Mission, if you Choose to Accept It

Your Mission, if You Choose to Accept It
By Chris Munroe

What’s your favorite book?

No, don’t tell me. I wouldn’t be able to hear you, podcasts are a one-way form of communication.

Instead, open word on your computer, write the title of the book, the name of it’s author, and how and why it changed your life.

Write a love letter to the book.

When you’re done, print the page, fold it and put it in an envelope.

Now: Head to your local library or bookstore, find a copy of the book, tuck the envelope inside and return it to the shelf.

Congratulations, you’ve just connected meaningfully with a stranger.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Impulse Control

The line between society functioning and its breaking down is a razor thin one. We wander through our lives believing we’re protected by a system of laws, but we aren’t. We really aren’t.

Laws punish people who’ve transgressed, true, and hopefully act as a deterrent against transgression, but they don’t actually protect anyone because they can’t, by their nature, be enforced until after transgression has occurred.

What protects us is our shared agreement not to harm one another. We live by the consent of everyone we meet. Nothing more than that.

We, each of us, have the opportunity a hundred times a day to reach out and harm a stranger. As we wait for the train, all it would take is a push to kill the man waiting in front of us. When a baby cries in a restaurant we could easily throw it through a window before anyone een realized what we were doing. Every moment of every day is an opportunity to subject another human being to pointless, abject suffering.

We could, but we don’t.

Because everyone agrees not to hurt us, so we agree in return not to hurt others, and so society marches on. Because we agree that it should.

But we don’t have to.

This is what’s running through my mind as the man on the bicycle rides toward me. I don’t know him, never seen him before in my life, and until my arm snakes out, seemingly of it’s own accord, I don’t pay him a second’s though.

Once my arm’s out to one side, readying to clothesline the man, however, he’s all I can think about.

The quarter second between thrusting the arm out and impact with his throat feels like a lifetime, and I spend that lifetime thinking “Seriously? Am I seriously doing this? This man’s done nothing to me, and I’m about to put him in the hospital!”

I do not, however, spend any part of this lifetime letting the thoughts stop me.

The bike keeps going, but he’s thrown backward from it, hitting the ground already limp from shock and bouncing once before he collapses, curls fetal, and let’s out a combination moan of pain/gasp for air.

His windpipe may be crushed, I can only guess how many bones he’s broken and he’s bleeding from his scalp. I feel amazing.

I’ve transgressed the laws of society, and in doing so I’ve transcended them. In my momentary lapse of composure I’ve managed to take all the things about myself that I’ve always despised, my cowardice, my unwillingness to face new risks and new experiences, my fear of change, and destroy them, just as surely as I’ve destroyed the man on the ground at my feet.

I feel like a God.

I feel strong, and decisive, and capable of affecting great change in the world around me, and it’s a heady rush. I’m breathing heavily, panting really, and thinking to myself that everyone should take a risk and live this way, and my heart is beating so loudly in my ears that I’m nearly deafened by it.

My heart’s beating so loudly, in fact, that I don’t even hear the car behind me speed up, jump the curb and head toward me…

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Weekly Prompt Story: Smoking

By Chris Munroe

Yes, I do still smoke.

I know I shouldn’t. I know that it’s expensive, and I know what it’ll do to my teeth and the lines around my eyes.

I also know that cigarettes are the only product that, used as directed, kills 100% of it’s customers. Cancer, heart disease, I know what smoking does.

But I also know that twice a day, at work, regardless of how long my scheduled shift is, I will hear a manager say, in essence: Smokers, take a five minute break. Non-smokers, shut up and get back to work.

So yeah, I still smoke.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Prisons

Society has to be protected, everyone agrees with that, and so we built the prisons.

Prisons, to house the criminal element behind high, stone walls, where they’d be kept from the decent, law abiding citizens of our great land, and where they wouldn’t be allowed to sow their seeds of discord, never again endangering either the people of our great nation or their children.

Finally, we’d begun to think about the children.

High tech prisons we built, with state of the art security systems, foolproof lockdown procedures and ostentatiously positioned surveillance cameras, reminding everyone inside that some remote, unknowable force was watching their every move.

By doing this, we hoped to separate the convicted from their shared sense of humanity, to grind down their spirits and leave them bereft both of hope and of any sense that they deserved better. Also, we thought it might reduce violence.

The prisons were built, and they stood as a testament to our commitment to maintaining an orderly society, one in which crime would never pay and criminals never go unpunished.

And we looked upon our works, and we were proud. A series of state of the art prisons, in every major city, from one ocean to the next, capable of containing and restraining scum numbering in the tens of thousands, without any hope of their escape. Indeed, we had much to be proud of.

They were huge, the prisons we built, dauntingly huge, and the crime rates were lower at the time than they’d been in decades, but we weren’t worried about any of that.

The prisons would never go empty as long as men could pass laws to fill them…