Writing, Books, and Bourbon V

Podcast Notes:

    • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
    • Histories by Herodotus
    • Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence
    • An Artist of the Floating World by Kazou Ishiguro
    • The Buried Giant by Kazou Ishiguro
    • Never Let Me Go by Kazou Ishiguro
    • Naguib Mahfouz’s Nobel Prize
    • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
    • Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize
    • Zen to Done by Leo Babauta
    • zenhabits.net
    • Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
    • Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling
    • Gentlemen Jack Tennessee Whiskey
    • Signs & Wonders
    • The Finest Companion™
    • The Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins
    • Pete the Cat books by Eric Litwin
    • Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
    • Get Jiro by Anthony Bourdain
    • Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a documentary film
    • Flip phones
    • Scrutiny on Instagram
    • Kindle on Google Play and Apple

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The Screw #007

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Photo by Adam Wilson

What is Magical Realism?

Podcast Notes:

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Bonus Episode #001

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Photo by Qurratul Ayin

Writing, Books, and Bourbon III

Podcast Notes:

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The Screw #004

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Photo by Adam Wilson

Writing, Books, and Bourbon II

Podcast Notes:

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The Screw #003

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Photo by Adam Wilson

Writing, Books, and Bourbon I

Podcast Notes:

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The Screw #001

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Photo by Adam Wilson

You Can’t Bribe The Dead

Corruption was a drug and Mario was hooked. He bought the building inspector whisky to ensure his permit was approved. A $100 bill got him out of a speeding ticket. A steady stream of pizza kept the zoning board at bay.

He took a selfie on his land the day conservation approved his appeal. In the caption, he bragged that he could get anything done. When he posted it to Facebook, his sister asked where his wife and daughter were.

More bribes brought the construction to a swift conclusion. Nothing could stop him from building his dream home, but living in it was another story.

It started like a classic horror movie. Glasses fell from shelves with no apparent cause. The stove lit in the middle of the night. Doors slammed when there was no wind.

Mario called the police, offering a large sum of money to the first man to arrest whoever was staging the strange events.

No culprit was found.

Red writing appeared on the walls, telling Mario to confess and flee. Knives flew from sheaths, scraping the skin of Mario’s ears as they whizzed by. The third time, he needed stitches. He slipped the triage nurse a fifty so he could cut the other patients.

Mario called a priest, offering him a bottle of wine and a generous donation to rid his house of the ghost. When that failed, he bribed the ghost itself with sugar skulls, spirits, and gold.

Mario’s computer froze. The screen turned red. When he finally got the machine to reboot, his corrupt actions were listed on every social media outlet he knew about, and few whose existence were new to him.

He hired a hacker to find the culprit, but once again, it seemed the work of a spirit. Messages showed up on every screen in the house demanding he confess and leave. Mario was steadfast as ever, unwilling to concede.

The next morning, a picture of him performing oral sex on the head of the conservation commission went live on Facebook. The calendar on her desk revealed it to be the same day she approved his appeal.

His wife left and daughter left.

Mario wouldn’t budge.

A series of three videos were posted on YouTube. The first showed him at his old job as an automotive safety inspector. A man in a suit gave him money. Mario destroyed a report.

The second video showed crash tests in which air bags failed to go off. It showed Mario writing the report, then replayed the first video.

The third showed an elderly woman and her grandson splatter against the windshield when their new car crashed. It ended with a headline “Retired Horror Actress and her Computer Genius Grandson Die in Automobile Collision.”

When the police came to Mario’s house, no bribe could stop them from hauling him out the front door, into the cruiser and away from his home. He couldn’t help but wonder what kind of bribes the prison guards would require.

Sara Codair

Image: Yesica

The Pieces She Kept

Marisol lived upstairs in the house, with the others. She never wore shoes. When the others weren’t looking, Marisol broke into the parlor and destroyed the tea services, one piece at a time: cups, pots, saucers, sugar bowls. Each time, she plucked a piece out from the china hutch and dropped it, effortlessly, and smiling as she watched it hit the hardwood floor.

As soon as the others heard the shatter, they chased her out of the parlor, beating her with brooms and rolled up magazines. They wept over the loss of their fine country roses, their Noritake and their gold-trimmed Warwick. They swept up what they couldn’t salvage, but a few shards became embedded in Marisol’s feet as she ran away. She kept those.

Eventually, after months and months of bleeding soles, she collected enough jagged china and pulled it all out from her hiding place under the bedroom floor. She stole a bowl of wallpaper paste and Aunt Crinoline’s jar of rubber cement, then she took the shards and glued them together, forming a three-foot tall hairless Siamese, a feline-shaped gargoyle that loomed over her bed.

When the others asked, Marisol promised the cat did not hop down from the bedpost and wander the house at night. That clicking sound was not its claws on the floorboards in the hall. She insisted the cat was just a sculpture, a mosaic of mismatched porcelain, sleek and inert. The dark puddles of liquid around the cat’s heels were not blood, of course, no. Those were just stains from leftover tea.

Lorna Dickson Keach

image: Stuart Rankin