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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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Very short stories

January 1st, 2016

BY JOHN M. DANIEL

In the October 2015 issue of Black Lamb, I told of my introduction to the pleasure of writing pint-sized stories. Actually, they’re smaller than pint-sized. At 55 words per story, they weigh in at about six ounces, which is what a Coke bottle held when I was a kid. It cost a nickel. I digress.

Over several years I wrote dozens of such miniatures, and most of them were published, under a variety of pseudonyms, in collections Steve Moss and I put together for Daniel & Daniel and Running Press. Here are some that were written, again pseudonymously, for a collection published by Quality Paperback Book Club. They were disqualified because the stories were supposed to be submitted only by members of the club. So these stories appear here in print for the first time.

From Here to Eternity

“Looks bad, Frank,” Saint Peter said. “Booze, broads, brawls….”

Frank shrugged. “I did it my way.”

sinatra“You belong downstairs with the hookers and gangsters.”

Frank smiled.

“But the Boss likes your singing,” Pete continued. “Put on this white robe. From now on you’re singing in the choir.”

“Like hell!” Frank thundered.

Pete smiled back. “Bingo.”


Welcome to Kansas

Whatever Judy was on blew her mind away. She tripped higher and higher, her head spinning, her brain a rainbow.
When she finally came down, she found herself in a cornfield. The world was black and white.
“I’ve a feeling we’re not in Hollywood anymore, Toto,” she sighed. “Wonder what they fed me this time?”

For the Birds

When Brother Francis made the farmers of Assisi quit hunting, birds ate all their crops.

But after Francis died, the town prospered. Now it’s a gold mine, with tourists photographing his statue in the town square. Everybody’s happy.

But the farmers still cheer for the pigeons who crap on the head of their patron saint.

Seeing Eye to Eye

The microbiologist peers into her microscope, focusing on swirling molecules. She’s sucked into a galaxy of suns, each surrounded by spinning planets. On one planet is a mountaintop, where an astronomer trains his telescope on the heavens, gazing out beyond his solar system, beyond the universe, until he’s consumed by the eyes of God.

Forwarding Order Expired

At ten I received a letter from the man I would become. “I’ve learned to correspond across the years,” it said. “Enjoy your youth.”

At forty, I received the boy’s reply: “I can’t wait to be your age.”

I wrote the next letter forward thirty years. “I hope you’re well.”

My letter was returned unopened.

Death is for the Living

“Martha, after you die I’m going to marry Alice.”

“My hospice nurse?”

“We want your blessing, Martha. Life’s for the living, y’know.”

Martha’s tears dropped from her cheeks to the pillow.

After Ralph left the house, Martha rose and spent the rest of her life swallowing Ralph’s medications and refilling his bottles with her own.

My Name’s Larry, and I…

I used to be an alcoholic. Booze was all I lived for.

Then one fateful day, my marriage broke up, I lost my job, and I got in a horrible automobile accident.

I haven’t had a drink since that day. That day changed me forever.

I don’t miss the alcohol. I just miss being alive.

Leo and Mona

“Smile.”

“What for?”

“It’s your job.”

“I don’t feel like smiling.”

“C’mon, Mona. You have it easy — a sit-down job, you don’t have to strip, you’re well paid, now smile.”

“Why?”

“Because I say so.”

“You? Mr. Famous Painter, Mr. Hotshot Inventor, Mr. Big Cheese—”

“Big What?”

“Cheese.”

“Say again?”

“Cheese!”

“Hold that pose.”

Injury to Insult

“You’re foolish to insult a witch,” I scolded.

“You’re no witch.”

“You think not?”

“Prove it,” he sneered.

So I unlaced my bodice.

His jaw dropped.His eyes fell. His heart sank.

I kicked his heart, his eyes, and his jaw under the bed, then said to the rest of him, “I rest my case.”

The Second Course…

The unfaithful slave was ordered to choose between two doors. Behind one, the girl he loved; behind the other, a ravenous tiger.

Hearing growls behind the left-hand door, he opened the right. Entered.

Slam. Click.

The room was empty.

There was no partition between the two chambers.

Next door, a tiger was finishing his appetizer.

Catch and Release

He wobbled into school, still flinching.

“I was caught,” he said. “Thrown on a pile of dead bodies. It was all dry. All hard. I couldn’t breathe. Monsters squeezed me and ripped my mouth apart and threw me away. Brrrghhh!”

“They’d caught their limit,” I said. “You were lucky.”

He shuddered. “The others were luckier.”

Independence Day

I watched the little kid stamping up and down the sidewalk all morning. Finally I asked, “What are you doing?”

“Getting free of my mother,” he answered.

“You’re running away?”

“I can’t,” he whined. “My dumb mom won’t let me cross the street.”

“So how—”

He grinned and resumed his march. “I’m stepping on cracks.”

Seventeenth Summer

My first affair was with the tennis pro at the club. Then I found out he was also serving aces to three other members.

“Sweetheart,” he sighed, “in the game of tennis, ‘love’ means nothing.”

Older but wiser, I quit tennis and signed up for golf lessons. The golf pro had a better stroke anyway.

Cross-town Traffic

Every Thursday Lucy drives across town to make confession.

“Father, I have sinned.”

Michael forgives her, and she puts a twenty in the collection box.

Every Thursday evening, Michael drives across town to the Lapdance Lounge.

Reclining, he whimpers, “Mamma, I’m a bad boy.”

Lucy punishes him, and he places a twenty between her thighs.

… And Have Nice Day

Folks, this is your captain speaking. We’re experiencing some difficulty with three of our engines, and we’re going to have to lose some weight. So I have volunteered to take the parachute and jump. Automatic pilot should keep you flying for a while, and eventually you’ll… land. Sort of.

Enjoy the rest of your flight.

The Birthday Present

When I turned sixteen, Father sent me to his mistress’s apartment, and she guided me down the sweet-scented path from virginity to manhood.

“Wow,” I sighed when it was over. “That’s the nicest thing Dad’s ever done for me.”

“Sweetiepie,” she chuckled, fanning her glistening breasts, “he did it for me. It’s my birthday, too.”

Excalibur

It felt light as he drew it from the stone and held it high, dreaming of the Grail.

But when he looked farther into the future and saw a round table in splinters and his dreams trashed by civil war, the sword grew heavy in his hand.

By then he could not put it down.

It’s for You…

Alexander Graham Bell requested an audience with Queen Victoria, to whom he presented his new invention.
“A telephone, Your Majesty. You put this part to your ear, like this.”

She did so and heard a voice saying, “Hey lady, you got Prince Albert in the can?”

She hung up and said, “We are not amused.”

Where They Get Summer Movies

The contest rules were broadcast all over the infinite universe. In galaxies everywhere, an infinite number of monkeys sat down to an infinite number of typewriters and began writing. They eventually wrote the world’s shortest stories of all time.

But they missed the deadline.

So they sold their stories to Hollywood instead. •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: 13th Anniversary Issue, Daniel | Link to this Entry

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