Speak Like A Child

Below you will find the results of my having challenged myself for a number of days to write a short story with a beginning and middle and an end inside of 30 minutes.  Here is what I came up with.  I hope you like it.

I read that Shorty Maurice died.  The obituary didn’t say how he died, which was revealing to the people who actually knew him.

Those people probably knew how he died.  Or why he died.

His shtick was the crossbow.  At the end of the night, after last call, 2AM, the bands would be loading out and the kids would be gathering on the sidewalk.  Talk of an afterparty.  Who had what substances.  Shorty would insinuate himself into a conversation and, within minutes, take grave offense at something someone had said.  The conversations were often so innocuous that Shorty would require a few tries to get really pissed off, but he always succeeded in blowing his stack.

Shorty would run to his car and return – steely eyed – with his Barnett crossbow.  He’d point it at the offending party and talk would cease. 

He’d do this about once every two or three years.  Short, wiry bastard with a reddish-brown afro and a mustache.  Oxford shirt tucked into his jeans.  Coked up to the rafters.  His hands would shake and people would lean away from him, 45 degrees at the waist.

Shorty’s unhinged Vietnam vet/Deerhunter number didn’t withstand much scrutiny.  He was 5 years old when the US pulled out of Saigon.  Both his parents taught art history at a big deal Catholic college.  Shorty was crazy because it was easier than getting a job at a bank or going to grad school.


Cooler heads would eventually prevail.  Shorty would return the weapon to his car, but only after announcing that he could only be pushed so far and that nobody appreciated him as much as they should.

Shorty’s girlfriend, Carlotta, who had plenty of masculinity issues of her own, would drive him home.  She was a short, grumpy bodybuilder-type with a smoker’s cough who liked to get drunk on bourbon and wrestle the guys in the bands.  Her thighs were so pumped up that she tended to teeter-totter when she walked.  People called her “The Penguin.” 

Shorty and Carlotta didn’t have a healthy relationship.  They had bruises on their necks and shoulders and stuff.  One day, Carlotta disappeared.  Everyone was worried that Shorty’d killed her, but she’d moved to Venice, California, turns out.

I’m going home, next month, for a visit.  I’ll sit down with the old bandmates.  We’ll grab lunch and that’ll be enough nostalgia for the year.  All sorts of weird rumors about Shorty’s demise will emerge.

Some people don’t like having crossbows pointed at them.

2 thoughts on “Speak Like A Child

  1. I immediately associated the crossbow with the story Ry Cooder told about Doug Moon in the studio with Captain Beefheart, during the Safe As Milk sessions. He pulled out a loaded crossbow and aimed it at Don.

    “Goddam it Doug, put that thing down!” -DVV

    Carlotta brings to mind Queen Carlotta of Mortville, from Desperate Living.


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