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Good Narrative Principles

September 14, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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Window Display

For as long as he can remember, Johnny has been vacationing in Upstate New York. He owns a window shop and has found out the hard way that setting up an eye-catching display is vital to his business. It’s a window shop, after all. His latest purchase was an American flag hanging from the extended ladder off a toy fire truck, an appropriate 9/11 marker. Luckily his wife Nancy has the patience of a saint, except when she’s around a fresh water lake. She gets mean when the temperature slides past 80.

July 10, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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Solace

The Prisoner stands barefoot in the courtyard watching the sun, the glorious sun slide towards the horizon, staining the sky a purple pink. The temperature inches towards freezing. Minutes pass. The silence is broken by the crunch of the Guard’s heels as he circles our Man and jabs him with the barrel of his rifle as if checking to see if he’s fully cooked. The Prisoner, no hero, is on the cusp of talking. He’s almost ready to plead for mercy. But first there’s the matter of today’s setting sun and its power to bring him back to himself, reminding him that once upon a time he parked his car in the driveway and his only thought was: what’s for dinner.

June 21, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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Jello

When asked if he actually liked his job, Jake mentions that he always suffered from a bad case of Sunday night anxiety. Heading to the office Monday morning never felt good, but, with his wife due any day, Jake was in no position to consider a change or even a lateral shift in his work life. Yesterday, on the street outside the office, Jake collided with two sweaty guys hauling away the state of the art copier and the new editing equipment from the office. Upstairs, everything in his cubicle, including his flowering orchids, his books on fonts and basics of print design were gone. Later, at home, in a heightened state of confusion, Jake tackled the room that was designated to become the nursery. His glove ripped midway through spackling the wall. Jake felt a warm rush of air along the fleshy base of his thumb. Feeling simultaneously frightened and set free, he cupped the air as his new complex reality began to take hold, like Jello starting to congeal.  (Photo: Tim Duch)

June 8, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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Transition Planning

News of Dr. Anastasius’ pending retirement was greeted with alarm by his long-standing customers. Would he sell his business to a young upstart fresh out of veterinary school, to a heartless franchise populating the local malls or to someone like himself, someone who had a way with animals? You could sense Dr. Anastasius’ special gift in the waiting room, where an unusual calm prevailed, even among the aged dogs, house-bound cats and caged birds awaiting their turn. The local paper ran a tribute to him. The Mayor honored him with a framed plaque. When the doors finally opened on the new veterinarian’s office, Dr. Anastasius’ loyal crop of customers withheld judgement, despite the evident lack of good vibes or thoughtful service. That is, until the new Vet labeled a frightened rescue cat “bad”. That’s when all hell broke loose.

June 1, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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The Queen of Fringe

Back in the ‘80’s, when fringe was in fashion, I was it. I dominated the market. I sewed fringe to the outer seams of sleeves, the edge of a fetching clutch bag or the hem of a dress with padded shoulders. They say it’s coming back, but I’ve moved on to the next big thing in my life – stemming the tide of chaos. Rain pours in through the top of closed windows. A boil has erupted on my back. My new lettuce spinner is broken. My days are like that now, an endless stream of pesky chores with no end in sight. Hands down, my brief reign as the Queen of Fringe was way more fun.

May 30, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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Not So Nice

You’d think that a doctor would have an easier time than the rest of us mere mortals finding someone with whom he could spend the balance of his days. Lonely, the Doctor took the advice of his ninety-year-old Mother and posted his profile on one of those dating apps. Unlike at work where everything was tidy and his staff anticipated his unspoken requests, he was, after hours, lost in a sea of potential mates parading on his screen. He struggled to imagine any one of them as a person with thoughts, feelings and most important of all, political affiliation. So, he hired a matchmaker, someone who boasted that she could find him a suitable wife in under a month.   She was expensive enough. He calculated that each of the twelve dates he went on cost him on average $237 factoring in the matchmaker’s fee amortized over the course of the contract. Inevitably, even before the appetizer arrived, he was ready to kick his date to the proverbial curb. (Photo: Tim Duch)

May 25, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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He’s a Nice Guy

You don’t even have to say it. The “but” is implied, as in, “he’s a nice guy but…” But, he chews with his mouth open. He’s a sentence completer. He’ll throw you under the bus or steal from his own mother. So, what makes him such a nice guy? Maybe, he tells a good joke. Maybe we’re “nice” until we prove ourselves otherwise.

May 23, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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One Step at a Time

Winter was the worst. We were always on the move, camping out in barns, huddling for warmth against the restless cows and calves unaccustomed to strangers. Despite the endless hunger and dirt, I couldn’t keep my hands off of Sabeen. She’s just so beautiful, you see. She could have been the wife of a sultan, or a tech wizard and yet she chose me. She whispers words of caution, telling me to wait until we’re settled before we start a family. I don’t want a family. I just want her. Yesterday, we passed by a luminous lake in the late afternoon. I took a deep breath and let the anxiety subside. Eventually, we’ll end up somewhere. And yet, right now, we’re between here and nowhere.

May 16, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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In the Old Days

The slightest thing used to unhinge me. Like, picture the loop on a strap of a watch that keeps it from flapping around once it’s secured inside the tongue of the buckle. Yeah, it’s a little thing and sometimes it breaks. In the bad old days, if the littlest thing went awry, I’d be paralyzed, unable to do anything, I mean anything, like focus on work or even a stupid conversation about the weather, until I made it right. Once, when the loop on my watch broke, I camped out in front of a jewelry store waiting for it to open. The owner, afraid that I was about to rob him, called the cops. Since then, I’ve developed coping mechanisms to address my slight OCD tendencies. Most of them involve clever solutions, like, returning to the example of the broken loop, I’ll simple take off the watch. Sometimes, if I can’t get past it, I pop a little pink pill, which generally does the trick.

(Photo: Tim Duch)

May 15, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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The Way He Did What He Did

Maybe the thing I’ll miss most about him is the way he cut the strawberries. Using a simple paring knife, he’d carve out the calyx, alias the green stem, with a minimum loss of sweet fruit, leaving behind a hole that was exquisitely small and symmetrical. Only a surgeon would approach the task of preparing strawberries with such precision. True, it took him forever. While he was engaged in this task, he wouldn’t tolerate “chit chat” as he called it. As you can imagine, he wasn’t the easiest of men to live with. Since he’s been gone, I’ve switched to bananas.