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Original photo by Yinen Chen

Tales of Terrible Laughter

Dark Comedy, Family Mayhem and a few told in earnest

My Medium portfolio of fiction

A sample of my short fiction published on Medium.

  • The Cabin by the Lake
    Essays on Gothic Poetry Chapter 4
    Last August, in Marquette, Michigan, while I walked on the Lake Superior shore, a single ray of sunlight arrested me. It broke through a wall of storm clouds that hovered above a cliff and called my attention to a tableau sculpted within their faces. A man and woman driven apart by the sudden exposure. Her face consumed by shadow, turned away in anger; his face in highlights, enraptured by illumination.
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  • Choices
    “Take your pick.” Alice nudged identical boxes toward him. Black with black ribbons. Always a choice with Alice. Never breakfast at the diner but “breakfast or brunch?” “Joe’s Diner or Jim’s?” “Pancakes or crepes?”
    Same with gifts. Two gifts, always two. You choose. Identical boxes, identical wrapping. Like Schrodinger’s gift. Maybe empty, maybe not. You never know until you look.
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  • An American Werewolf in Neverland
    Shep’s first vision after the accident? A wall of boys staring down at him, not one of them more than ten years old, each dressed in awkwardly-stitched green cloth decorated with leaves, branches and rabbit bones. They clutched hand carved weapons — sling shots with intestine bands, blow guns carved from reeds, stone knives.
A fairy’s wing between werewolf’s teeth
A fairy’s wing between werewolf’s teeth
  • Happy to See Me?
    Yes, I had a gun. But not in my pocket. No, I wasn’t happy to see her.
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  • Angry Ghosts
    The people in the lobby posed at awkward angles, like cast off pieces of an irregular puzzle. One piece, who worked in my office but whose name I didn’t know (or care to know) stared at the walls, his feet, the slowly revolving fan, as though rehearsing lines for the one moment the spotlight turned to him.
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  • Digging to Nothingness
    Sharon ignored the doorbell. Carmen stopped her text. “At least talk to him. He’s been ringing for twenty five minutes.”
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Murderous thoughts most likely from his recent behavior.
  • A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings In Arkansas:
    Reflecting on the semantics of efficacy at the end of time.
    How elegant were our modeling algorithms? Sleek, pared to two thousand lines. Verifiable, retracable, duplicatable. As exquisite as a butterfly etched into crystal.
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  • Still Life With Suits
    Deconstructing philosophies of Will
    Three men line the table. Their faces turn to a fourth who sits, perpendicular, at the corner end, his eyes lacking focus and staring into the distance. Each wears a charcoal suit, lilac Oxford shirt, and burgundy tie striped with gainsboro gray. Onyx and silver cufflinks engraved with “自律.” The characters represent the Japanese word “Jiritsu”.
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  • Stranger Words
    “I can’t believe you suggested I read this shit.” Dominique tossed her iPad onto the bedspread. Pale blue with Siamese kittens. Her bedspread. The bedspread that replaced Darth Vadar.
    “They made a TV series.” Brett sat against his lumbar pillow typing on his Chrome book.
    “They’ll make a TV series from any book that makes teen boys cream their jeans. Give them guns and tits and it’s a guaranteed sale.”
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  • Open Carry
    A Cautionary Tale for Gun Toting Teens
    Hunter infuriated his father when he left his gun at home. He attended James Butler Hickok High, Texas’ first open carry high school. Guns were the students’ best defense against school shootings.
    Today, however, his forgetfulness saved his life. (Members only)
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  • Festivities, Families and the Art of Pressing Flesh
    Kristin drew her shades. Powdered sugar snow drifted across her lawn. A car idled in front of the house, exhaust fleeing upward and vaporizing like ghosts of winters past. Snow covered the windows, blocking her view of the couple in the car.
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Better Homes and Crime Scenes

Written from prompts on The Weekly Knob

  • Egg Hunt
    Better Homes and Crime Scenes #5
    A chocolate egg isn’t good enough. If Nolan doesn’t return with a BerriCreme deluxe egg his wife Adias will kick him down to an even lower level of the hell called their marriage.
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  • Metaphor and Manslaughter:
    Better Homes and Crime Scenes #4
    She peeks from the painting. Shares secrets, secrets locked in amber and buried beneath the earth’s core. Secrets from the unviverse that gave birth to ours. I’d listen the rest of my life.
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  • Rotary Dial Telephones
    make handy weapons. You grab them by the cradle and swing for the face. Three strong swings and the body drops. Leave the phone beside them…
    Better Homes and Crime Scenes #2
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  • Her Husband’s Urn
    Better Homes and Crime Scenes #3
    I could’ve bought an urn. I’m not a cheap shit like Dick. This suits him more.
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  • Terms and Circumstance
    Better Homes and Crime Scenes #1

    Shevaun tilts her glass. A toast. “My wine glass is my hourglass. The lower it gets, the more tolerable your company.”
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More…

  • Updated Report on the Subversion of Planet GMW-S-BF-3:
    Analysts have predicted on many occasions that humans, the sentient species who refer to their planet as “earth,” need no subversion.…
  • Uninvited Guest
    When do you know it’s time to take a leap of faith?
  • Christmas Truce:
    Beyond the fort, silence descends. Not even the mockingbird calls from the oak tree that overhangs the road. The color white suffocates the…
  • True Soldier:
    The Consortium promised. This would be the war to end galactic conflict.
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Wry noir author Phillip T. Stephens wrote Cigerets, Guns & Beer, Raising Hell, and the Indie Book Award winning Seeing Jesus. Follow him @stephens_pt.

Written by

Living metaphor. Follow me @stephens_pt.

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