The best way to keep your friends is fear

Leadership Week

woman spying on man spying on his girlfriend
woman spying on man spying on his girlfriend
Source image by freepik

Sissy was the most popular girl in her school, a fact easily confirmed by her Facebook page, which showed she had more friends than there were students. The cheerleading squad (including the junior and freshman squads), JV and Varsity baseball, basketball, track and football teams — women and men, even the SpongeBobs on the math club and debate teams. Friends tagged her in thousands of photos on Instagram, even friends on her friends’ friend lists. In the hallway between classes, a dozen students would ask her to pose for a selfie.


Subtlety is lost on the clueless

Leadership Week

Man covered in trash in alley filled with trash
Man covered in trash in alley filled with trash
Source image by Way Home Studio

Jeremy stopped inside the McDonald’s front door, scratched his ear and returned to the sidewalk. “Let’s try again,” he told himself, then carefully stuck his head through a crack in the door. The store was open, the lights on, but empty. No one. As though every employee had been absorbed into the blob, or taken by the Rapture.

Just like his mother always warned him. “Everyone good will vanish, and you’ll be left behind. Better think about that, Buster.” Not like he believed that crap any more than he believed Jesus would rapture a forty-year-old alcoholic like his mother. …


Politics are only as honest as…Who are we kidding? There’s nothing honest about them.

Leadership Week

tagger sneaks through high school hallway
tagger sneaks through high school hallway
Source image by Best Studio

When Corey agreed to be Paul’s campaign manager, he swore he would run a no-holds-barred campaign. Paul didn’t give it a second thought. How hard core could you get in an election for sophomore class president? Sure, he was bothered by Corey’s Photoshopped posters of his opponent Amy sacrificing a goat to Satan. And maybe writing Amy’s phone number after the message “for a good time call” in every bathroom stall. Perhaps slightly more concerned when Corey wrote the message in all the girl’s restrooms.

But when Corey started the rumor that Amy was pregnant with Ms. Lovechile’s artificially inseminated…


Never deviate from your plans, unless you like the newer option better, or the one after that

Leadership Week

man sees aliens behind his tv
man sees aliens behind his tv
Source image by nomadsoul1

Daniel’s best friend Jordan ushered him into his living room, where four other couples from their church waited along with a guy in a suit that Daniel had never seen before. Jordan’s wife Cherry offered him a cup of coffee just as he spotted the black sample case behind the lazy boy. “Who’s the salesman?”

Cherry leaned into his ear. “I thought you were bringing Karen.”

He raised his coffee cup, a cheap china knockoff Cherry bought from Karen’s garage sale two summers before. “She thinks it’s an Amway pitch. Couldn’t convince her otherwise.”

When he added that he’d prefer…


Even hell is worse if you start the day without coffee

Hell’s Mall Week

coffee cup surrounded by flame
coffee cup surrounded by flame

Background image by Wirestock

None of Jared’s office mates believed they were in hell, no matter the evidence to the contrary. “It’s a job, just like all our other jobs,” they’d say when he pointed out the telltale signs. The stacks of files in their in-boxes that doubled in size with each file they put in the out-box. The inability to finish a task because supervisor emails popped up every five seconds demanding their immediate attention, the motivational posters that left readers with a sense of dread, posters that multiplied daily:

  • “Hard work and industry are their own rewards. …

Can you be a hypochondriac if the germs are really out to infect you?

Hell’s Mall Week

Image for post
Image for post
Source image by wirestock

Wall-to-wall souls, packed shoulder to shoulder, walking in lockstep and not one of them wearing a mask. Not one of them except for Prufrock. The only soul with any sense to wear a mask in a crowd during a pandemic, and there’d been a lot of them lately, so many he could no longer keep track. COVID-19, COVID-19a, COVID-19b, COVID-19d, COVID-20, COVID-20a, H1N1, H1N2, H1N3, 3.5 …


If you don’t enjoy self-reflection, stay away from mirrors

Hell’s Mall Week

rhinoceros pawing through dress rack
rhinoceros pawing through dress rack
Source image by Sindi Short

Irene, who clocked in at 4’ 10” and weighed 330 pounds passed Montgomery Ward and Spells’ “Plus-sized” racks, the “Curvy Women” rack, sizes 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 and 2 before wedging an opening between the thousands of women surrounding the 0 rack and ripping clothes from their hangers with no concern whether the seams, or fabric, remained intact.

She felt as though someone had wrung her body through a depression era laundry wringer; the hand-cranked kind that jerked, fought back and still left folds and wet spots on your towels and sheets, which she knew…


DemYou are what you wish to eat

Hell’s Mall Week

Image for post
Image for post
Source image by Clip Art Max

If there was any cartoon character George admired, it was J. Wellington Wimpy, the fat guy in the Popeye cartoons he watched as a kid. The one with a head so small he must have pissed off a witch doctor, with a nose even bigger, no neck, nothing for a body but a balloon-shaped belly, and an appetite for hamburgers. Boy could that man eat hamburgers, which George would give his life for now, if he had a life to give, but the Powers That Be stuck him in this food court to search for anything to eat.

Anything but…


Be careful of the daily grind lest it remove your nose

Hell’s Mall Week

Overweight woman naked in mall
Overweight woman naked in mall
Source image by funplanner.com

Five pounds to go, only five pounds, five measly pounds easily removed by a few more miles of walking, or so Calista[1] believes, although she loads her fitness app on her fitness watch to run the numbers again and holds the watch a few inches from her eyes to read the numbers, and it says ‘2.3 kg=500 laps.’

“Kg?” Calista pounded the tiny watch toggle to switch from metric to real because there was no way she would need to walk 500 laps to lose 5 pounds. It had to be wrong. If two-and-a-half kg was 500 laps, then 5…


If you want romance, don’t marry the guy covered with gun oil

I ❤️ valentines

Girl gets valentine balloon from milita husband
Girl gets valentine balloon from milita husband
Source image by Gpoint Studio

The light from the window dimmed, the pink and purple hues washing the wall above the day bed where Brick and the little woman Charlotte cuddled for a romantic Valentine’s celebration. He’d prepared all week for this evening, his manly responsibility after Charlotte suggested he could be “a little more romantic.”

This afternoon, for instance, he asked Charlotte to make sure the room was spotless, and he even finished cleaning his rifle so she could use the card table for dinner. He laid out the roses, chocolates and pink champagne he’d picked up from the gas station at the turnoff…

Phillip T Stephens

Living metaphor. Follow me @stephens_pt.

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