Funny Creative Nonfiction Fiction

"Thom!" Stephen shouted into the ether.

"What? Hello? What?" Thom looked around attempting to discover the source of the voice, knowing he was alone in the house. Oh right! It must just be the white noise machine he was so fond of. It occasionally made sounds he could misconstrue as his name.

"Thom! It's Stephen! That guy who regularly calls on you to serve as a character in his short stories because it's easier than coming up with other characters and there's like this particular vibe to the whole space now and it's sort of developed over time! Um... That guy!"

"Oh right!" Thom somehow responded, as their inexplicable exchange continued.

It was only now in this moment that Stephen debated whether to delve into a deeper explanation of how this ongoing meta-dialogue perpetuated, realizing that in all previous invocations it was as though all the thoughts, characters, and scenery operated like disembodied notions bumping into each other, with unexpected clarity and range.

"Thom, I don't know what I'm doing anymore. I think about my preoccupations with A. A. Milne, Kurt Vonnegut, Charlie Kaufman, Hunter S. Thompson, and Don Hertzfeldt, and I wonder where this desire to compulsively flirt with the 4th wall comes from. It just gets tiring and formulaic, right? But also I fucking love it. My God, everyone seems to. Why?"

"Uh..." Thom reflected.

"Thom! I almost forgot the reason I’m reaching out. I need you to write me a letter to a fake child I’m pretending to mentor as a term of my probation, on the topic of books, for National Book Week. I thought you might be able to relate better, seeing as both you and the hypothetical child in this situation are similarly fictional. My brain shit the bed this morning and it’s been slow going. My God. The transition here is terrible. I'm sorry. This premise made more sense at some point, but it's gotten really jumbled along the way."

The potential for conflict brewed, as one character had just made a request of another character, waiting on bated breath to hear a response. The extended pause made Stephen uneasy. He and Thom weren't prone to tense moments together, but things hadn't been the same ever since-

"Sure! I love writing fake letters!" Thom exclaimed.

“Oh. That was easy,” Stephen mused, his voice beginning to convey unwarranted frustration. “You are such an enabler.”

* * *

Dear generic abstraction of youth and naivete,

My name is Thom. If you’re anything like me, you’re a figment of a 38-year-old man’s imagination, existing in vague oblivion, while he navigates a very manic midlife crisis. However, it seems pretty unlikely that would be the case. I’ve determined my circumstance is probably unique.

Oh wait. Never mind.

Regardless, books are really fantastic. I love fun adventure stories and fantasy. I especially recommend Harry Potter. That little–

* * *

“Piece of s#@%. That little piece of s#@%,” muttered Stephen. “F%@$ing Harry? You’re going to ruin this fake child. If that’s the first book you recommend, my God. No. I’ll get my friend HuggieBot to write it. He knows all about children, and I programmed him to be sentimental, so I’m sure it will be thoroughly appropriate, grounded, and in good taste.”

* * *

Dear [Child's Name],

I hope this letter finds your well full of curiosity! I want books to know the heart of your love. You know, books are amazing charcuterie. They are like dessert portals that can transport you to magical lands, introduce you to fascinating characters, and let your bird soar like an imagination in the sky.

You know, books are so wonderful that even the wise Ron DeSantis would surely encourage you to dive into them! Just remember to ask for his permission before reading anything, because, as we all know, he is the ultimate authority on all things literary.

And guess what? Books are not only filled with amazing stories, but they also come in many shapes, sizes, and flavors. They are definitely a feast for your mind and soul. I encourage you to pick up a book and let its pages whisk you away to an evening in the kitchen with a maternal  surrogate, slaving over a mixing bowl filled with pre-fabricated wheat powder and avian menstruation.

Before I go, I just want to say that I'm here to support you in your reading journey, from buffet to buffet of inky, inky crab cakes.

Warmest regards,

[Your Name]

* * *

“Uh…” Stephen asserted.

“Stephen,” groaned Thom. “Stop overthinking it. Not everything has to be ironic and mind-bending. Just write something. Stop trying to pawn it off on someone else.”

“Uh…” Stephen continued. “Oh, um. Right. Ugh. OK. Whatever.”

Stephen took a long drag of Hawaiian Dream and slapped his forehead several times. After repeated thwacks, it eventually seemed to knock something loose enough to get Stephen’s neurons firing.

* * *

Dear Child,

I highly recommend books. Just generally, but I especially recommend unique ones, ones that are nothing like anything that has come before. Always be seeking out the new, but don’t be fooled. Because the past contains more newness than the present, and because we will never touch the future, but instead be always a moment away from grasping it.

Books were my friends as a child. I guess. I don’t know. It seems like every f%@$ing professional writer says some s#@% like that. Actually, I had a close-knit circle of friends growing up. I don’t recall them reading especially though. Oh, except for Will and Jennifer. That was a crazy year. I was in a 3-way race for top reader in the school, and the numbers were completely nuts. I went through periods of reading at least 3 chapter books a day, and I remember I read well over 200 for the year. And we had tests over all of them.

Oh my God. I just had a memory of taking one of those quizzes. It was called “Accelerated Reader.”

Everything was better in the 90s. I’d say before 2015 there were certain improvements in the world, but we’ve sort of taken 5 steps forward and about 50 back since.

What was I talking about? Right, books. My favorite children’s book is Harold and the Purple Crayon. It was the first book I read in my life that really gave me some sense of the concept of God.

Non-fiction is great too. I guess. At your reading level it might mostly be boring. Oh s#@%. That’s right. We’re in Florida. You can find someone to read this to you if necessary. I’d say start with asking quiet people wearing glasses for help, but avoid anyone with a red hat. 

Wait, why would you have made it this far and then somehow not be able to read the last few paragraphs?

I remember I really liked this particular bird encyclopedia. Except, I don’t really remember actually reading it. I liked to look at the shapes of the different birds. I’ve always found birds to be the most beautiful animals, such a fascinating fluke of cause and effect, or perhaps a natural outcome of conditions set billions of years ago.

I guess the point there being that there’s nothing wrong with looking at a book for just the pictures. It’s OK to have any kind of relationship you want with books. At least that should be the case. But these f%@$ing fascist f%@$s. Don’t let them tell you what you can read. Go find that banned book list. Track them down. There are reasons they don’t want you to read them. My God, it’s like the 1950s again out here. You’ve got to be f%@$ing kidding me.

Free speech is so seriously under attack that I don’t even know if they’ll let you read this letter. Always ask questions. Don’t let Meatball Ron get the best of you.

Remember, abortion is still legal somewhere.

Your friend in Crayons,


* * *

And in the name of the wielder of the violet writing utensil, and of the lands and the rivers and the baked goods that our Lord doth create as an image, from the darkness to the light, to the corporeal and back, by its power with His hand, Harold be thy name.


* * *

“Uh…” Thom critiqued.

“Shut up,” Stephen concluded.

August 24, 2023 14:06

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