They say that Jackson Bart’s voice is so smooth and deep, people would pay to hear him read the phone book.
So, he did. He toured the country, reading the phone book.
He filled coffeehouses, bookstores, and Hard Rock Cafes. Pretty soon, he booked arenas and stadiums, and he sold those out, too.
That’s when the phone company stopped printing the book. Instead of recycling unused books, they didn’t print at all.
Jackson tried to read online listings and his iPhone contacts list, but it never was the same.
Now, he reads numbers in bathroom stalls as he cleans toilets.
It was the best of tricks, it was the worst of tricks.
Sidney Carton could pass for Charles Darnay, and the others thought he was going to trade places with the doomed Frenchman.
Lucie would get her husband back, while Sidney would lose his head.
“Am I really going to do this?” he asked himself, facing the moment of truth.
“Hell no,” was his answer, but he said it in French with his impression of Darnay’s voice.
Then he had himself smuggled out of the prison as Darnay.
Lucie wasn’t fooled one bit. But she grew to love him anyway.
As he neared the age of fifty, Don Quixote grew weary of endless adventure and battles.
“Go home to your island,” he told his companion Sancho.
Quixote rode his horse Rocinante one last time down the main road, and settled into the old Quijano Estate.
“Please, come back,” wrote his beloved Dulcinea.
But he never did.
Quixtoe hung up his lance, hammered the helmet of The Knight Of The White Moon into a shaving basin, and quietly read books.
“Fight us!” hissed the giants on the hills.
But they were long since dead, and their skeletons turned in the breeze.
Sisyphus groaned as he leaned into the boulder.
The stone bit into his scarred flesh, blood welling from ancient wounds.
Just when he thought he couldn’t push any more, the boulder finally began to move uphill.
Every inch of motion was agony to Sisyphus’s soul, but he could not stop.
The Gods had stripped him of reason and logic, leaving him with just compulsion and suffering.
When he got to the top, Albert Camus slapped him on the back.
“Well done!” he said, and he pushed the boulder back down the hill.
Sisyphus screamed and chased it.
Camus laughed, jealously.
I listened to the ghost of David Rakoff read his latest, final book.
David Rakoff is a brilliant writer, but he’s also a brilliant performer, so his audiobooks are what I get.
I remembered that his book was available as I left the office, but iTunes wouldn’t load it because I wasn’t on WiFi, and it was a large file.
So, I walked to the bus stop, waited for the bus, got on, and squeezed my way to the back door where I stood in the stink and jabber…
And then, home. Wifi.
Loading… loading… loading…
Speak, ghost. Speak.
God watched Abraham carry his son Isaac up the mountain.
“Seriously?” mumbled Jesus. “You going to let him to this?”
God tried to stifle a laugh. “Nah, I’m just testing him.”
“Dad,” said Jesus. “You’re a dick.”
God scowled. “Oh, shut up. I’ll stop him before he stabs the kid.”
“Would you do this kind of thing to me?” asked Jesus.
“Of course not,” growled God.
Abraham put down his son and felt around for his knife.
Shit. Left it at home.
So, he picked up the kid and dashed his brains out on the rocks.
“Oh fuck,” said God.
I like stories that begin “Once upon a time.”
And I like stories that end with “And they lived happily ever after.”
So when I go to the bookstore, I check the first page for “Once upon a time” and the last page for “And they lived happily ever after.”
If they’re there, I’ll buy the book.
Otherwise, I won’t.
The rest of the book doesn’t really matter. Because no matter what happens in the book, they’re going to live happily ever after.
Why bother reading the book at all, I suppose.
I skip to the end, and I smile.
Once upon a time, there was a duck’s nest full of eggs.
They all hatched at the same time.
One of the babies was uglier than the rest, and the others picked on him.
As they all grew up, the ugly baby didn’t sprout feathers and a beak.
Instead, he grew shiny scales, pointy teeth, and wickedly sharp foreclaws.
Because he was a velociraptor.
One day, a duck made a comment about how ugly he looked.
The velociraptor slashed his head off, and he ate the duck.
Then, he killed and ate all of the judgmental little bastards.
Richard Matheson’s book “The Shrinking Man” was retitled “The Incredible Shrinking Man” by his publisher.
I suppose it’s possible for someone to think a shrinking man is not incredible unless told so bluntly.
Go ahead and try it yourself. Walk up to people at random and shout either “I’m the shrinking man!” or “I’m the incredible shrinking man!”
See which people are more impressed, stunned, or horrified.
If someone calls the police on you, forget about bail or calling anyone. Just wait until you’ve shrunk enough to fit between the bars.
Feel free to shout that out at the guards.
Once upon a time, there was a prince that was seeking a bride.
But every prospect just wasn’t good enough for him, and he sent them away.
Until one rainy night, a woman showed up at the palace, seeking shelter from the storm.
The prince stacked up a dozen mattresses, and he slipped a single pea under them.
Then, the princess climbed up the mattress pile, got under the covers, and tried to go to sleep.
But as hard as she tried, she couldn’t.
“Do you feel that pea?” asked the prince.
“No,” said the princess. “I’m afraid of heights.”