Three Stories in One

In 2005 I set out to do a daunting task, and I got fully daunted by it. I wanted to make “Three Stories in One” an illustrated book. “Three Stories in One” is an iredeemibly bonkers short story I wrote in high school, sort-of* cowritten by Boone Siebersma, featuring the public personas of some people we knew, such as myself (the cranky passive narrator), Boone (the unique and aloof one), Luke (sex-starved and well-groomed), Wendy (the badass racecar driver), and Amber (the perky cheerleader). I got through about sixty pages when I put it aside temporarily and never got back to it.

Which is a shame, because the work I did for it was really quite brilliant. Here’s some highlights.

* Sort-of in the sense his inspiration and encouragement were crucial to the process, and he wrote the sequel on his own, but the words on this one are mine.

Who Does He Think He Is?

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I’m Jeremiah. I’m a middle-aged white man in America, so that means I’m over-represented in the media and in the workforce. I’m also a pretty good writer. You can find out a lot about me in this journal, going all the way back to 2005.

For example, my day-to-day life is normal but interesting. What I consider my best slices of life are here, though sometimes things happen that are beyond insane. Speaking of insane, I’m bipolar and have ADD, and these things are so deep a part of me that I have to spend a lot of time making sense of it. I sometimes find myself thinking about the past, and I get a little nostalgic, sometimes sad, but I think about my friends and things are (usually) okay. I’m deeply steeped in pop culture, and I have some pretty serious opinions, though you’d never know that by talking to me. As I said, I write, and I reflect on my unusual process as well as my successes and failures at it quite a bit.

Basically, I like to write little essays that aren’t, with one or two exceptions, too long, and these are hundreds of them. Stop on by, take a look around, tell me what you think.

A Very Bad Joke

One fine morning, Patricia Black set out for work. By the time she arrived at The People’s National Bank, she was ready for anything.  

Well, almost everything.  

At about ten o’clock, she was surprised by the appearance of a frog, who hopped right up to her desk and said, “Ribbit!” 

Not one to turn away a customer, she asked, “What can I help you with today?” 

The frog said, “Ribbit.” 

She didn’t know what ribbit meant, so she would have to make some guesses. “Would you like a loan?” 

“Ribbit!”  

There was something affirmative in that ribbit, so she replied, “You’ve come to the right place! The first thing I need to know is if you have some collateral.” 

The frog spit up something on the desktop.  

Delicately she picked it up and studied it. It was some sort of clay statue of a unicorn, about the size of a cell phone. But what was it? Knowing she wasn’t going to get a straight answer out of the frog, she turned to the man at the desk next to her, Joel Bey. “Joel, can you tell me what this is?” 

Joel frowned thoughtfully, but he shrugged. “No idea.” 

If there was anyone who would know, it was her boss, the bank manager, Walter O’Connor. She excused herself to the frog and headed to his office immediately.  

He waved her in as if he were glad to see her. He was always glad to see everybody. He was just that kind of boss. “What can I help you with, Patricia?” he asked. 

She explained her new client and held up the unicorn. “And this is what he would like to use as collateral, but I have no idea what it is.” 

Walter studied it, muttering, “I haven’t seen one of these in a long time.” 

“What is it?” 

“Why it’s a knick-knack, Patty Black, give the frog a loan!” 

I … I’ll see myself out. 

The Aristotle Code

I’ve decided that, when I finish the novel I’m working on, I want the next one to be a conspiracy thriller. I’ve done some thinking on it, and this is the plot: 

The hero is a middle-aged, square-jawed professor in the philosophical anthropology department of Yale named John Hawke. He has eight PhDs and speaks twelve languages, none of which will ever come up in this book. All of his straight male students want to be him, and his straight female students want him, but not in a creepy way. One day, during office hours, when he’s teaching a student a fresh, exciting way to see philosophical anthropology, a beautiful, alluring, stunning, mysterious woman appears.  

The woman, Vanessa Riviera, came to John because he’s the World’s foremost expert on Aristotle, and with his dying words, Aristotle revealed the location of The Holy Grail, but in code. Together, with a mysterious organization that doesn’t want The Holy Grail found dogging their trail, they travel the globe and find the location of The Holy Grail, only to discover that it had been moved. They do more globetrotting, and they are pursued again, until it is finally revealed to them: 

The Holy Grail is actually a wine goblet a suburban mom in Wisconsin named Karen picked up at a garage sale because she thought it would look so cute next to her Hummel figurines on her mantel, but the cat kept knocking it down so now it’s in a box in the storage shed that her husband, Harold, has been promising that he’ll clean, but he never does, instead he watches football and History Channel documentaries about World War 2. 

The climax of the book is fifty pages of Dr. Hawke, Vanessa, and representatives of the mysterious organization standing around Karen’s backyard as she goes through her boxes and talks about everything she pulls out. (“This is the bowling trophy Harold won in ’08 for bowling his first 200. He never got a 300, but he was always proud of this little thing. Here’s an ash tray little Mackenzie made me in school. We don’t smoke, but it was a sweet thought, and we had it on our coffee table for years. Here’s the monogrammed coasters we picked up in the Black Hills in South Dakota. Hunter was conceived there. Well, there’s no Holy Grail in this box. Maybe it got put in with the Halloween decorations.”) 

Eventually the mysterious organization gets bored and leaves, and Dr. Hawke gets The Grail. This turns out not to matter to the world in any way whatsoever.  

The Hell with It

Today, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. is our work Holiday Party. Those of you who have read Jeremiah’s Inferno will know that this is the Seventh Circle of Hell, below Standing in Line and one above Stuck in Traffic. 

For those not in the know, the Circles of Hell are as follows:  

1. Four-Year-Old Explaining the Plot of their Favorite Anime;  

2. First Dates;  

3. Holding in a Fart for a Long Elevator Ride;  

4. Pickles and Mushrooms;  

5. Exercising;  

6. Standing in Line;  

7. Work Holiday Parties;  

8. Stuck in Traffic;  

9. Discussing Politics with my Former Best Friend from High School. 

Hack the Planet

The reason they won’t let me write suspenseful thrillers in Hollywood or TV Land is because all of my stories would end like this: 

*Our scene opens in the VILLAINS lair. The VILLAIN has been defeated, but he has left one dastardly trap for the heroes—a biological weapon that is primed to subject all of Los Angeles to an agonizing death. In a desperate attempt to stop it, the HERO and HEROINE confront the VILLAINS laptop.* 

HERO: The only way to stop it is to enter the password! 

HEROINE: We’ve only got two minutes left! Start guessing! 

HERO: There’s a catch! If you enter the wrong password three times, it automatically triggers the device! I know an algorithm that can bypass the security node and access the device! *HERO types furiously, but the screen flashes red, and he pounds the table* Dammit! There’s a firewall eating my code! I can’t get through! 

HEROINE: Two guesses left! 

HERO: There was only one thing that he loved in this life! One thing that made him human! His daughter! *HERO types the VILLAINS daughters name, but gets another red flash* Dammit! 

HEROINE: One guess left! 

HERO: There’s only one thing we can do, and it’s a long shot! Before the Villain murdered him and his family, my brother entrusted me with a worm he coded! If it works, it’s like an electronic skeleton key that can— 

HEROINE: *Slides the laptop over to herself and types P-A-S-S-W-O-R-D. With a dull hum, the device powers down* 

HERO. Goddammit.