Jim Archives

December 26, 2007

Jim: I'm Sure I Have An Excuse For Writing This

Inside the warm bar, over an inversion layer of cigarette smoke, Christmas lights twinkle amid vines of cheap plastic holly. But my attention is fixed on the stunned crowd as I lift the karaoke mike and belt out the final refrain:

“On the twelfth season of Gunsmoke, the writers gave to me:
Twelve crusty sidekicks,
Eleven levered carbines,
Ten mules a braying,
Nine saloon doors swinging,
Eight vultures swooping,
Seven horses rustled,
Six guns a blazing,
Five card hold-em,
Four tumbleweeds,
Three French whores,
Two broken stirrups,
And a cartridge in a bear’s knee.”

I drop the mike and flee.

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January 18, 2008

Jim: Pre-Punjab

Folk are usually too cynical to believe what they hear, especially when what they hear comes from a parentless street urchin. Yet the little girl’s forecast flowed from conviction, carried on a tide of harmonious sincerity: a promise from an angel’s soul.

And now, as the bells chimed noon under a black velvet sky, they gathered in the shadowy streets. Anger drove the mob toward the orphanage with a heat more intense than their torches.

They found no sign of the girl, not even a strand of curly, orange hair. But from somewhere far away, they heard a tiny “Arf”.

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January 21, 2008

Jim: After Closing Time

The bartender, a typically jovial man both large and fat, sat on a cold, metal chair and scowled. Sweat dripped from his clenched jowls as he explained to the pair of lantern-jawed detectives, “That drink was one of my specialties; some rum, some white wine, several flavors of Schnapps, and…”

“Hemlock,” interrupted one detective, reading from a single piece of paper.

“And nightshade,” confirmed the other. “Plus arsenic, bleach, antifreeze, turpentine, and belladonna.”

“You forgot the Drano,” whimpered the bartender.

“So the question remains…” the first detective began.

The other detective nodded and finished, “Why is that asshole still alive?”

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January 22, 2008

Jim: Another Reason For Nursing Homes

Grampa sighed and shook his head. “Nope. Never done that, but it sounds like fun.”

“Oh, come on,” I scoffed. “You can’t be serious. Hell, Grampa, you’ve been all over the world.”

“That was a long time ago and I mostly went by ship or train.”

“You’re telling me that you’ve never flown on a jet?”

“Can’t say that I have,” admitted Grampa. “Sure would like to, though.”

“Then how did you travel to Aunt Flora’s last year?”

“I went there inside a jet,” grinned Grampa. “I suspect that’s a whole lot different than flying on one.”

Grampa’s a jerk.

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January 30, 2008

Jim: There's Something In The Basement

There’s something in the basement.
I can show you where it’s at.
It’s hiding there, all in the dark,
And it’s getting pretty fat.

There’s something in the basement.
You should really come and see.
I’m not quite sure how many arms it has.
But there are more than twenty-three.

There’s something in the basement.
You won’t believe your eyes.
Since the first time that I saw it
It has quadrupled in size.

There’s something in the basement.
Now it’s advancing across the floor.
Its mighty claws are now on the stairs
And I think we should lock the door.

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February 1, 2008

Jim: The Tour Group

The tour guide smiled at the elderly matron. “That’s a very good question, Madam,” he said. Then he turned to the group and waved a hand toward the monolithic stones behind him. “While many people believe that Stonehenge was built by Iron Age Druids, archeologists have shown that the circle predates that ancient religion. Modern carbon-dating techniques of the wood used to shore the stones into place show that actual construction began…”

The woman was about to interrupt the droning guide but, sadly, the squatting pixie she’d seen grinning impishly from the top of the closest stone was already gone.

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February 13, 2008

Jim: Literacy or Litter At Sea?

Bosun’s Mate Hitchens stood smartly at attention on the heaving deck. “Yes, sir,” he replied to the Captain, whose eyes glinted grey in the gathering gloom. “That’s what the semaphores from the flagship ordered.”

“It’s damned odd,” the Captain murmured. “But it’s too dark to request clarification. You’re dismissed.”

Hitchens knuckled a salute and went below. He’d scored much higher in knot tying than in signals at the Academy but knew he’d read the message correctly. He grinned in satisfaction as the frigate turned hard to port in the stormy night.

And directly into the guns of the Spanish Armada.

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February 22, 2008

Jim: And His Wife's Name Is Sherry

Timothy Twofeathers stared at the floor with piercing blue eyes over a hawkish nose. “You have no idea what it was like, your Honor. Growing up, I mean. I was too Anglo for the kids on the reservation and too Indian to fit in with the other boys in town. I was born a part of both cultures, and so everyone ostracized me.” Timothy sniffed and mumbled, “It’s tough being a half breed.”

Judge Owens peered over his wire-framed spectacles. “I sympathize with your situation, Timothy. But your childhood traumas don’t exactly explain why you broke a wine steward’s nose.”

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March 4, 2008

Jim: Below A Hollow Tree

The dark pit reeked of blood, urine and fear; all mine, I’m afraid.

I was strapped hand and foot onto a massive iron chair, glaring straight ahead at the main inquisitoner’s tiny leer. “Look,” I repeated. “When somebody short and wearing a green outfit shouts “cookies for sale” outside my door, I just assume they’re a Girl Sc…”

A small fist struck my jaw like an iron bar. “We’re getting tired of playing nice with you,” sneered the elf. “So we’re sending in… Ernie.”

Hush fell over the crowd of little men as Ernie entered, wielding his uncommonly razor-sharp spatula.

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March 10, 2008

Jim: The Title Is Important

One of the guardsmen looked away and absently flicked a speck from his burnished breastplate while the other guard white-knuckled his pike and said, “See here, old woman. We got orders that all the witches are to leave the village.”

The bent, elderly woman just gave the men a haughty stare.

“I’m s-sorry, g-g-grandmother,” he stammered. “B-but, you see, we have to…”

The crone grimaced.

“Um,” said the first guard. “We don’t want to make trouble, ma’am, but, um, we were specifically told…”

The old witch craned forward. “My name is Griselda Pinlace,” she hissed. “That’s Miss Pinlace to you!”

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