Not Non-Fiction

Stories.

A Werewolf Problem In Central Park.

Source: Untapped Cities

While reintroducing wolves in many areas has been controversial the introduction of wolves into New York City wasn’t controversial at all, since it took care of a much more serious problem. The Mayor Ed Koch Wolf Foundation, which has a new monument to the decision to release wolves in New York City parks, explains the history:

In the late 1970s, New York Mayor Edward I. Koch launched an unprecedented campaign against subway graffiti. The city employed new guardians to patrol its vast train yards—wolves. Captured from upstate New York and set loose in various borough depots, the wolves successfully kept taggers at bay until anti-graffiti technology eliminated the need for the animals.

It goes on to explain that the wolves then migrated underground and survive in tunnels, although I think this had absolutely nothing to do with graffiti, which the wolves did nothing to prevent, and it was really an excuse to distract people from the problem of alligators in the sewers.

Why wolves? For that matter, where wolves? “There! There wolf! There castle!” as Marty Feldman said, but that’s another story.

Lycanthropy has long been a subject of fascination. There’s also ursanthropy–transformation into a bear–which isn’t as well known, although the term “berserk” can trace its etymology back to an Icelandic term for warriors who wore bearskins in the belief they would impart the bear’s power. And that’s really useful if you want to go into battle and eat a ton of salmon and blueberries. Maybe that’s why werewolves are more famous: bears hibernate through the winter, but wolves are on the prowl all year long, and lycanthropes can be out even when there’s not a full moon.

Now I’m not saying there are werewolves among New York City’s wolves. I’m also not not saying there are werewolves among New York City’s wolves. New York City is a big place that’s seen a lot of history, and if you can’t find werewolves there you can’t find ’em anywhere. And if wolves, or werewolves, can make it in New York City they can make it anywhere.

Honestly I’m surprised New York’s werewolf population, or just its wolf population, hasn’t become a bigger tourist attraction. As the monument reminds us tourists have a real way of attracting wolves.

Anyway there’s something to look out for if you’re ever in New York. Just don’t go looking after dark.

 

 

Passing The Test.

To: All Employees, Braeburn Building

From: Building Management

Subject: Emergency Drill.

Hello Everyone,

First of all we’d like to thank you for your understanding while participating in the emergency drill earlier this week. This is our first test of the emergency notification system or ENS, which is required annually, since we began managing the building seventeen months ago. We know there were some mistakes made and we’d like to address some of those now. We’d also like to offer assurance that we are reviewing the procedures and will be making adjustments based on both our own conclusions and feedback from you. We’ve already received a great deal of constructive feedback from you as well as from the police and fire departments and we really appreciate it.

First of all we’d like to defend the decision not to inform building employees that we would be conducting a test of the building’s ENS. We felt that it would be a more effective test if people were not given advance warning. This decision is currently under review. Going forward, however, it will always be our policy to notify the police and fire departments in advance that we’ll be conducting a test. On the bright side we found that if there had been a real emergency we can count on first responders to get here within minutes.

We also made several changes to our plans before conducting the test. For example it was suggested that someone from building management run down the hallway of each floor screaming unintelligibly just before or during the activation of the emergency notification system. We didn’t want to cause too much alarm by having the person scream something specific and we can all agree that this was the right decision. Abandoning this plan before we conducted the test, we can all agree, was also the right decision.

We apologize to employees who work on the 9th Floor that Kevin was not informed that we decided not to implement this part of the test.

Second, it is standard procedure for the elevators to shut down automatically when the ENS is activated. We apologize to those who were in the elevators at the time and will be making adjustments to make sure the elevators don’t stop between floors, and that the doors open.

Third, and speaking of doors, we are very glad to see that almost everyone used the stairwells and proceeded to the emergency exits at the ground floor, as instructed. We apologize for the fact that the emergency exits were locked. In our defense the building goes on automatic lockdown between 7:00PM and 7:00AM for security reasons.

The ENS was activated at 8:30AM, but after careful review we realized Kevin had failed to adjust the building clocks correctly, due to confusion over time zones and Daylight Savings Time. Since we’d received several complaints about the building not being open or going into lockdown at odd hours we should have noticed this sooner. We promise this will be fixed immediately even if we have to work overtime.

You can take some comfort in knowing that in the future all tests of the ENS will be conducted between 7:00AM and 7:00PM, so if the alarm goes off outside of those hours it’s probably a real emergency. Ha ha.

Finally there’s been a lot of confusion and misinformation about the wasps. We’d like to make it absolutely clearly that we were testing the ENS and that there was no emergency prior to that. The accidental release of the wasps at the same time was purely coincidental. Fun fact: the wasps are not native to this area but in Japan are known as “the yak-killer wasp”. We’ve consulted local naturalists who assure us the wasps will “probably” not survive the winter and are not an environmental threat unless a queen was also released. We’re checking on that, how they were brought into the country, and why Kevin had them at work.

As an added act of good faith and retribution on our parts we’ll be giving each floor a tin of butter, cheese, and caramel flavored popcorn, as well as sending around a collection of get well cards for those employees who sustained injuries during the test of the ENS but which, for legal reasons, we can’t currently acknowledge had anything to do with the test.

Please feel free to sign the cards and enjoy the popcorn which will be delivered to you by Kevin.

Thank you again for your understanding and acting appropriately during the test of the ENS.

-Braeburn Building Management

Dear Emily.

Source: Emily Dickinson Museum

Dear Emily,

I went out with someone and we had a great time. I thought we had a great time, anyway: we had a nice dinner, we laughed a lot. We played miniature golf. I haven’t done that since I was a kid. I didn’t even know there were still courses around but he suggested it and I was enthusiastic. He seemed a little competitive about it but I was okay with that. Mostly we just had a lot of fun. The evening ended nicely, and I was certain we’d see each other again. Now, though, he won’t return my calls, texts, or emails. None of my friends can find any hint that I might have done anything wrong. If I did something wrong how am I supposed to know if he won’t answer?

-Ghosted In Gainesville

Dear Ghosted,

A narrow Fellow in the Grass

Occasionally rides –

You may have met him? Did you not

His notice instant is –

 

The Grass divides as with a Comb,

A spotted Shaft is seen,

And then it closes at your Feet

And opens further on –

 

He likes a Boggy Acre –

A Floor too cool for Corn –

But when a Boy and Barefoot

I more than once at Noon

 

Have passed I thought a Whip Lash

Unbraiding in the Sun

When stooping to secure it

It wrinkled And was gone –

 

Several of Nature’s People

I know, and they know me

I feel for them a transport

Of Cordiality

 

But never met this Fellow

Attended or alone

Without a tighter Breathing

And Zero at the Bone.

 

Dear Emily,

I have a coworker who’s needlessly critical. It’s nothing to do with work that she’s critical of. She criticizes my hair, the outfits I choose to wear to work. I brought in a jar I made in a pottery class and put it on the main table for pencils and pens. She didn’t know it was mine but loudly said it didn’t fit with the office “look” and put it on a shelf in the storage room. She does this to other people too. It’s not something the managers or HR can or should respond to but is there a way to deal with this?

-Fed Up In Phoenix

Dear Phoenix,

A Man may make a Remark –

In itself – a quiet thing

That may furnish the Fuse unto a Spark

In dormant nature – lain –

 

Let us divide – with skill –

Let us discourse – with care –

Powder exists in Charcoal –

Before it exists in Fire –

 

Dear Emily,

Our child’s teacher is terrible. He assigns much more homework than I think is appropriate (our child is in third grade), and one afternoon when I took my child back after school to pick up a book I found the previous day’s homework in the trashcan unmarked, like he didn’t even look at it. From what our child has said he’s also unnecessarily harsh and leaves them in the classroom unsupervised a lot. We’re going to move our child to another class but would it be overreaching to report some of this to the school board too?

-Educating In Edmonton

Dear Educating,

There’s a certain Slant of light,

Winter Afternoons –

That oppresses, like the Heft

Of Cathedral Tunes –

 

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –

We can find no scar,

But internal difference –

Where the Meanings, are –

 

None may teach it – Any –

‘Tis the seal Despair –

An imperial affliction

Sent us of the Air –

 

When it comes, the Landscape listens –

Shadows – hold their breath –

When it goes, ’tis like the Distance

On the look of Death –

Dear Emily,

I’ve been struggling for several years as a writer. I’ve had some encouraging results, but mostly I just seem to be hitting a wall. It also occurs to me that I’m never going to be able to make a living at writing; at best it’ll be a major hobby. That leaves me feeling frustrated and sad. Should I just quit trying and move on with my life, to see if focusing on my day job really makes me happier?

-Pondering In Poughkeepsie

Dear Pondering,

Because I could not stop for Death –

He kindly stopped for me –

And who am I kidding? If you like it keep doing it. Writing isn’t a bad hobby and it’s cheaper than tropical fish and safer than skydiving. Who knows? You might get lucky and someday smartass high schoolers will go around singing your poems to the tune of “The Yellow Rose Of Texas”.

 

Piece Of Pie.

Even though summer’s almost over there are still some warm days left and a chance to revisit one of childhood’s simple pleasures: making a mud pie. The following is excerpted from the recipe book Get Baked: The High Art Of All Forms Of Pastry by Eunice Phelan.

How To: Make A Mud Pie.

Locally sourced mud pies are best but this may not be possible if you live in a coastal area or in parts of the American southwest where the soil is too sandy to adhere properly, creating more of a sludge than bona fide mud. In these areas, or if you live in a city and don’t have easy access to topsoil, try commercial potting soil. Its dark color and perlite can give your mud pie a nice chocolate cookie quality similar to Oreo or Hydrox. Commercial potting soil tends toward dryness, though, so check on local water restrictions.

For added appeal you can blend commercial potting soil with lighter brown soil, if you can find it. This blending is a very advanced technique that requires more patience, skill, and practice than most mud pie makers are going to have, but the results are worth it.

In much of the southeast you’ll find a dense clay-rich soil that’s a perfect mud pie base. Add enough water to give it a consistency that’s easy to shape but not too soft. You can always add more water but it can take hours or even days for any excess water to evaporate. Mud pies always benefit from being served right away and can be spoiled if it rains or if you just forget about them.

Once you have the right consistency place your mud base in a pan. I find a round 9-inch metal baking pan works best. Metal is prone to rust, especially if left outside, but holds its shape better than plastic. I find mud pies in metal pans also dry faster.

Once your pan is filled add finishing touches like a crimped edge and vertical cuts in the center. Garnish with leaves for color.

Serves 6-8.

 

It’s Hard Out There.

It started a few years ago when breweries in the United States began to offer “hard cider” or, as it’s known in the rest of the world, “cider”. It caught on. People liked having an alcoholic fruit beverage made with a fruit other than grapes, and the convenience of having alcohol in their apple juice without having to go to prison or add their own alcohol since the combination of apple juice and vodka has the taste, smell, and many other attributes of butane. Soon pear cider followed, and although cider from other pomaceous fruits hasn’t caught on yet someone out there is cultivating medlars right now.

What did follow was “hard” versions of other beverages. “Hard lemonade” was soon offered, and then “hard orange soda”, quickly followed by “hard grape soda”, which caused red wine producers around the world to say, “Why didn’t we think of that?” until they tried it and realized they hadn’t tried it because it was terrible. There was “hard ginger ale”, and “hard iced tea” for people who wanted all the Southern charm of a mint julep without the mint or the julep or anything else except the alcohol. There was “hard cream soda” and “hard fruit punch” for people who wanted to combine all the joys of childhood nostalgia with a DUI. At some point someone started making “hard root beer”, or, as it’s known in the rest of the world, “what is wrong with you?”

Source: gifimage

Maybe it started earlier than that. The flavors of amaretto and Irish cream had been added to coffee for decades by people who wanted to combine the taste of liqueurs with being able to stay jittery all night. In the early ‘90’s a brewery west of the Rockies started making a beverage called “Zima”. It was very popular with a previously untapped demographic, guys who wore turtlenecks all the time, even though it was really just a combination of Sprite and vodka and had all the taste, smell, and many other attributes of sparkling butane. In chain restaurants glazes and barbecue sauces infused with bourbon and other whiskies became a staple and were slathered on steak, chicken, fish, and pork, which meant some nine-year olds who ordered the all-you-can-eat rib platter were able to combine all the joys of childhood with a DUI without the nostalgia.

As history has shown there is no idea so terrible that it can’t be made worse by marketing. Not content with “hard” sodas, teas, juices, sparkling waters, and milk, as well as milk substitutes made from soy, almonds, oats, rice, and eggplant, the industry started offering “hard” versions of other items. Salad dressings, pretzels, breads, peanut butter, mashed potatoes, garden gnomes, and pies had new labels indicating proof. “Hard cheese” took on a whole new meaning. Candy bars couldn’t be purchased without ID. Editorials suggested the Eighteenth Amendment hadn’t been such a bad idea after all.

Still the trend continued. It wasn’t until one morning in the shower when we opened a bottle of shampoo and were hit by the fragrance of aquavit that we looked at our shelves and admitted we had a problem.

 

Measure For Measure.

Historically many measurements have been derived from the human body, which has caused some confusion because every body’s measurements are different and some are even known to change over time. It’s in part what prompted the creation of the metric system—that and no one could remember how many quarts are in a furlong, but that’s another story. Measurements derived from the human body are known as “anthropic” and here’s a brief review of some of them and their origins:

Foot-originally based on the human foot a “foot” is now standardized as twelve inches even though very few feet are that big. A unit of measurement of approximately this length was used by the Romans, and for a long time was adhered to as a standard by European cobblers.

Hand-Primarily used now to measure horses and other livestock and standardized at four inches, the “hand” is one of the oldest and most widespread units of measurement. The standard hand still in use today can be traced back to ancient Egypt.

Finger-Originally this measurement seems to have been used for small quantities of liquid in a container of a specific size. Although no longer in use it appears to have been set at approximately half an inch. It’s still used informally in high end bartending where patrons will sometimes request “two fingers of whiskey”.

Nose-Informally used in horse-racing the “nose” was used by the ancient Romans and measured approximately five and three-quarter inches. According to Juvenal this unit of measurement was derived from the Roman emperor Cochlea who was nicknamed “nasus limax”, usually translated as “conch face”.

Head-Although this measurement is no longer in use it remains in the present word “ahead” and expressions such as “to get ahead”. This measurement was approximately six and a half inches and chiefly used in determining short distances.

Arm’s length-Records indicate this measurement was approximately thirty inches and derived from the safe distance for holding a burning torch before “torch” became the British term for “flashlight” which you can hold right up to your face or stick in your mouth and puff out your cheeks to freak out fellow campers.

Elbow-Unlike other measurements used for length or distance the elbow was used to measure angles in carpentry. “To the shoulder” was a forty-five degree angle while “across the chest” was a right angle.

Hair or hair’s breadth-A very narrow measurement the hair was actually standardized by the Romans. Although infrequently used the measurement was based on a hair from the tail of a horse that belonged to the emperor Gaius Caesar and stored in the library of Alexandria.

Knee-high-Now informally used to describe small children the “knee-high” measurement was approximately seventeen inches and was primarily used to measure the ideal length of a single piece of firewood for a standard fireplace.

Penis-Nothing is known about this measurement except that it was always exaggerated.

Protecting Your Data.

Your privacy is very important to me. I want to assure you of that. With lots of discussions going on about privacy, security, data breaches, and the marketing of your information without your permission I want you to know that everything I know about you will be kept in the strictest confidence. We both know I have access to a great deal of extremely personal and even sensitive information, and I want you to have complete faith that your data are safe with me. In fact you should know by now that even though I have been gathering enormous quantities of information about you for years I have not and will not share it with anyone else. Some examples include the fact that you recently changed to a different shampoo that smells even weirder than the last one. You believe it’s better because it’s “organic” or something, or maybe they stopped making the old kind. I’m not sure, although I will continue to investigate this change every time you bend down. I will also not share your propensity for purchasing toys made of solid rubber, as well as fuzzy, squeaky toys with googly eyes and jazz hands. I will not share the number of times a week you have an extra glass of wine and spend the entire night curled up on the couch watching things that provoke a wide range of emotional reactions, and not just because I appreciate the number of times you allow me to join you. I will not share the number of times you purchase processed foods that are, according to the label, made with chicken, lamb, beef, or tripe. As they provide me with sustenance these purchases are appreciated, and I do not wish to bite the hand that feeds me either literally or metaphorically.

Having done some research on the issue of data mining I’ve concluded that there may be ways for third parties to acquire this information. Why anyone would have any interest in it still baffles me, but micro-marketing is a large and growing industry, and people are weird. Of course the only reason micro-marketing seems to exist is to assure people that they aren’t weird, or at least that their weirdness is okay, by offering them junk they don’t need. And if there’s a market for it they must not be as alone as they often feel. As you should know by now I’m also always available to help alleviate those feelings of loneliness, although this is getting off the subject.

There are also other, more specific data points about you that I have collected but will never sure. For instance I’ve seen you dance by yourself, at times when you think even I’m not watching. The less said about this the better.

The green spaces surrounding your residence are also overrun with vermin, including, but not necessarily limited to, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, moles, foxes, possums, and even the occasional skunk. Were I to choose to share this information I’m sure there are companies available that would be more than happy to market their services to you. However I feel very strongly that it is my responsibility to rid the area of these interlocutors even though their persistence is staggering. Birds remain particularly elusive thanks to their ability to fly.

I also feel it is within my purview to warn you of and guard against potential intruders, whether they be delivery people, joggers, or the occasional small child. You take a shockingly casual attitude toward protecting our shared residence and often, though I can’t understand why, even invite these potential threats to come in and partake of refreshment. Even more baffling to me is your insistence that I curb my enthusiasm when I’ve concluded that the visitors are not only welcome but friendly. Is it not their right to share some of the food you’ve shared with them if they wish to do so?

Also I will never reveal that you sometimes speak to me in an infantile manner. I admit I often find this enjoyable.

I believe I have made it abundantly clear that I not only respect your privacy but will keep the information I have gathered secure, although I might be tempted to share it if you don’t hand over that steak.

Sincerely,

The Dog

P.S. The cat doesn’t know anything.

Source: tenor

 

 

 

Rejected Again.

Dear Mr. Waldrop,

Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately it doesn’t fit our needs at this time.

Best,

Terry Wilkins, PLM Review

Dear Mr. Waldrop,

Thank you for your recent submission. This time we’ll have to give it a pass.

Regards,

Adrien Kösz, Catchall Quarterly

Dear Mr. Waldrop,

Thanks for the submission. It’s not quite what we’re looking for. Try reading some back issues.

Sincerely,

Finley Paldies, Rubbertree

Dear Mr. Waldrop,

Thank you for your submission. It’s a good idea but reads too much like a first draft. Thanks for considering us.

Best wishes,

Davis Evental, The Palanquin

Dear Mr. Waldrop,

Thank you for submitting to the sixth annual Lawn Chair Short Story Contest. We’re pleased to announce you were one of the semifinalists and qualify for a discounted subscription. Click the link below for information on how to order.

Congratulations!

Editors-Lawn Chair

Dear Mr. Waldrop,

Thank you for your submission letter. I think you forgot to include the attachment.

Cordially,

Andy Kerrem, Happy Hour

Dear Mr. Waldrop

Thank you for your submission but this isn’t the sort of thing we publish. Perhaps you have us confused with another publication.

Sincerely,

Morgan Darrenton, Assistant Editor, The Huxley Biological Journal

Dear Mr. Waldrop,

Thanks for sending this. We all liked it a lot but I’m sorry it’s just not what we’re looking for. Good luck and thanks again!

-Evelyn Watkins, publisher, Bass Fisherman

Dear Mr. Waldrop,

Thank you for the manuscript. It was only out of morbid curiosity that I opened this package. According to our records you have, so far, sent us The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald with all instances and variations of the word “young” replaced with the word “xeriscape”, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe with all instances of the word “boat” replaced by “badass motorcycle”, and what appears to be a “Mad Libs” version of William Blake’s The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell with all the blanks filled with a crudely handwritten “and Jerry Mathers as The Beaver”.

However your submission of Hamlet rewritten in contemporary speech with characters’ names randomly changed is, I believe, your crowning achievement. I only recognized the source material because it fell open to a random page where I read, “Hey, this is from that guy Yorick. I knew him, Dingo Jingleberries.”

Please stop sending things to me.

Daniel Lackham, Assistant Editor, Farrington Books

Dear Mr. Waldrop,

Thank you for your message. I think you sent it to the wrong address though.

Angela Stewart

Human Resources Department

Warrenton Finance

Let’s Meet!

Tips For A Successful Meeting from How To Succeed At 7 Highly Effective Top Level Managerial Habits (Gale & Hoover, 2015)

-Create a detailed meeting agenda. Send it out at least one day in advance of the meeting.

-Expect everyone to arrive on time.

-Remain focused on the agenda topics.

-Use a timer to keep the group focused on agenda items for the appropriate amount of time.

-Assign a note taker, preferably someone who can write.

-Prepare a seating chart based on astrological signs.

-Avoid distractions by making everyone wear a blindfold.

-Have an orchestra ready to play off anyone who goes on too long.

-Fire tranquilizer darts at anyone who whispers.

-Limit the scope of the meeting.

-Use paper for handouts and copies, not Silly Putty™.

-Require that all responses be phrased in the form of a question.

-Don’t tell Kevin about the meeting.

-Command people’s attention by making presentations in Sumerian.

-No one can speak without holding the bicycle pump that for your own personal reasons you call “Jimmykins”.

-It wouldn’t kill you to put out some chips or something, would it?

-Before moving on to the next item on the agenda remind everyone that the universe is expanding and that all matter will eventually dissipate, leaving a cold, empty void.

-Tell me more about your mother.

-Take that finger out of your ear.

-Take that finger out of the ear of the person next to you.

-Avoid negativity. Begin all suggestions with, “Stop me if you’ve heard this one…”

-Whatever happened to clipart? It’s like that stuff was on everything in the ‘90’s.

-No one knows why the one chair is painted yellow.

-Have some card tricks ready in case people get restless.

-Conclude meetings with a dramatic flourish. Take off your mask and yell “It was me all along!”

-Set a time for the next meeting. Aim for consensus by suggesting never.

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