Fantasy Fiction Funny

You’d think that a large sweater would still fit after all this time with no alterations. What the…..is going…..on. Jesse pulled and tugged on the knit sweater made for him by his talented aunt for his birthday a few years ago and it was not only good-looking, it fit him perfectly. But today, after getting out of the shower and getting ready for work, it refused to go over his arms and torso. Grunting, he finally got it pulled over. He began going to the gym to get some cardio in and was able to keep his weight even, but he stepped on the scale this morning and saw a 10 pound gain! He had no cookies or any other deserts the night before and no extra water, either. He shrugged it off to a bad scale. Now the sweater. It fit tight all over and the sleeves only came down to the middle of his forearms until they couldn’t be pulled down any further. Maybe the scale was right. Maybe he gained some weight. It didn’t make any sense. But….another shrug, a change of sweaters. Something more plain like one of his sweat shirts. If anyone asks, just be honest. Best policy to have, he knew. Now it was time to act on that. 

Jesse Marina had been one of those that had things taken care of for him, had a great lucky streak, according to those that knew him well. Once out of college, he had a great job almost handed to him with no help from his well-to-do family connections. His grades were very good, and he got his degree quickly. He had a satisfying social life as well. Friends, even some beneficial ones as well. 

But Jesse felt like he needed a change, a more disciplined approach to his life. He found a self help book. Somebody named Jack Grant, some self-help guru or something. At least, that’s what Jesse thought at first. But woa! This dude knew what he was talking about! Organize! Visualize! Intend! Action! The best flows to and with those whose structure is solid and aligned. With some purposeful planning, some goal-setting, Jesse knew what he had to do. Think positively and structure life perfectly to achieve aims and goals. So after the interview process was over and he got the job, he wrote out the program and used affirmations to counter any negative self-talk or judgements that came up. Even with his luck, he would have some moments of doubt and uncertainty. He was human after all. But, according to Jack Grant, he could be more. 

Okay, the sweater fiasco this morning was no big deal. Maybe with the workout program he began, he gained a little weight and now the scale needs to be replaced. All good. Still, all good. Time for breakfast to get fueled up and ready for this day of goals. The sausage links were out of the freezer and being microwaved now. Until smoke came out of the back and the coffee maker’s pot cracked and leaked hot black fluid on the counter and on Jesse’s good shoes. Ow. Okay, okay. Just a set-back. Or two. Nothing to panic about and doubt about the program and the flow of everything right. Jesse unplugged everything on the counter and called maintenance about the rebellious appliances. It was then when he reached the landlord’s office that he was put on hold. All okay. All still okay. He still had time to get to the new job to get things done and impress everyone… “Mr. Marina? Are you aware that you’re over 6 months behind on your rent? Due to your extreme negligence we will now pursue legal action against you. Good day and see you in court.” Sputtering a protest, the call ended before he could form words of protest, to provide evidence that he had receipts proving his legal existence on this property. Nevertheless, he decided that the plan and program and he WILL endure and succeed! He took screenshots of the emailed confirmations received and left for the day, one shoe still squishy from the spilled coffee. He leaned down to pet his sweet and loving cat, Bonnefeld goodbye and got clawed with a swipe and a hiss for his show of unconditional love.

“Urrgh!!” Jesse said through clenched teeth, watching his friend and housemate of 5 years bound away hissing. “Okay. Okay. Your future does not depend on an animal’s temperament. Let’s just get going.”

Driving from home to the office, his mind wandered, thinking of what would probably happen next. The engine blowing up, all 4 tires exploding at once, trucks in the other lane not noticing his leased hybrid until they drove over him like a speedbump. “NO! NO!” Not going to happen! Every day, everybody has some hiccups! Some trip-ups on the road to success! It will be alright, Jesse! It will be alright!” He slapped his hand on the steering wheel, shouting that loud to reinforce that truth. 

Twelve minutes late, he walked in. “Mr. Marina, I presume.” the owner. A stocky man of about 50-ish stood next to the time clock, watch face up, waiting for an excuse. Before Jesse could open his mouth with that excuse, “From our interview, you claimed to be punctual, well-mannered, loyal. You seem to be none of those things on your first day here. Can you give me any reason why I shouldn’t make this your last day as well?” 

Jesse fought hard in his panicking mind to come up with a set of words to convince him not to fire him so quickly but failed miserably. “Alright, fine. Since you can’t provide me with a reason, I’ll give you the day to prove to me that you can be capable of doing this job. And no lunch break since you were late.” He turned, refusing to hear Jesse’s “Thank you” and leaving him with the wordless stares of everyone passing him. 

True to his refused word, he kept his nose down to his job and kept at it until quitting time, his stomach rumbling from no lunch. The hunger kept at bay by fear of all of his goals never being met. He clocked out quickly, hoping to avoid his new enemy. He failed. “Since you have proven yourself not to be a total imbecile today, you’re welcome to come back tomorrow.” and left. 

The program works, this was just a series of set-backs. It works. Everything works, he kept repeating as he drove back to his apartment. Still his apartment, hopefully. 

A note. On the door. A note.

Breathe, Jesse. Breathe. Organize. Set Goals…..

“Per our conversation earlier: Our mistake. You are up to date on your rent. However, we’ve had complaints regarding smoke in your apartment. A fine will be added to this months’ rent for smoking when it has been clearly forbidden in your lease. Have a nice day.”

“A fine…..is better than being kicked out and paying 6 months’ rent. That’s it. The day is over now. Time to chill now, read Jack Grant’s books again and re-watch his videos to reinforce my goals. Maybe do some calming meditation.”

He slipped his key in, and the smell of smoke was strong. From the way his day went, he expected the apartment to have caught fire from…..who knew what now. No. No black marks on the walls. Carpet still on the floor. But Harvey. His cat of 12 years sat staring at a pile of ash in the middle of the kitchen floor. The animal was still intact, no singed hair or whiskers. He just sat upright. Watching the smoldering pile of ash and…..discs?

“Harvey? Did you do…..” Jesse’s mouth stayed open when he recognized what had burnt. He recognized the titles of his Jack Grant books, his DVDs and CDs. All very old school, but he bought them at a clearance price so Mr. Grant could favor downloads and his subscription only community instead. The plastic and silver melted, the vinyl covers barely recognisable, as were the covers of his best-selling sensational books, now in paperback and PDF. “Harvey…..what in the……..” Jesse’s mouth had a hard time staying closed, gaping open and closed, gasping for recognition and reason for this. Before he could succumb to the temptation to strangle his elderly, four-legged roommate, his phone sounded the text notification.

“Dude! Dude! I know you’re big on that guy, Jack Grant, right? That tall guy, talks loud and gets paid a boatload to tell everybody how awesome they really can be? You won’t believe what just happened!” Pat, his former college roomie, sent Jesse a news station link to Jack Grant’s admitted extortion and even claiming to be dealing with “evil” to further his goals. 

The reporter on video in the first link: “.....people that seem to be adhering to his program of self-improvement have seen nothing less than total ruin of their lives. Obviously, this is just a coincidence, but it’s been these waves of hard times on some of his readers and fans that sparked an interest in Mr. Grant’s financial dealings. Police and FBI agents found duplicate records, questionable accounts and money holdings in various worldwide banks. The SEC is now conducting an investigation before locating Mr. Jack Grant, who has suddenly disappeared. A worldwide manhunt is now in operation.” Jesse still had the soundness of mind to send his friend a “thx. ‘Preciated cu l8r” before shutting the phone off and slipping it into his pocket. 

“Okay. You didn’t do this. Did you?” Harvey glanced up at his human bunkmate, licked his lips and whiskers and walked away from the carnage on the peeling kitchen plastic tile. On one corner of a mostly destroyed cover was…. “On purchasing this entire program, the buyer releases all responsibility from the author for bad days, really bad days, jail time, attempted murders and conflicts both external and internal and other unnamed hard times that could be seen as coincidence from adhering to the program. If you are experiencing such harshness, please do not attempt to sue the author as your reading this constitutes agreement not to do so. Have a nice day.” That disclaimer melted before Jesse could grab the dustpan and scoop everything up and toss it all in the apartment complex dumpster.

He took a deep breath before pulling over the same sweater as yesterday morning. A perfect fit. The landlord came over in person to give Jesse a new microwave oven. So this morning, he had his fill of sausage links and a biscuit. No smoke, no sparks. He was all good with the carbs since his scale seemed to have returned to some idea of sanity. 

Jesse Marlin was humming a tune on his way to work early and was greeted by his boss with a sincere apology and even a hug for taking out his bad mood on him….

He went to work, his co-workers all greeting him with smiles and cheery “hello!”s. At the earliest moment that he could spare, he sent Pat a text letting him know that the news article was weird, but maybe something about it made sense. “Dunno, bro. But thanks for the heads-up”

After a few minutes went by, the reply came. “Dude. What are you talking about? I never sent you a text yesterday. Your phone was out of service.”

March 05, 2023 03:27

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Russell Mickler
20:20 Mar 13, 2023

Hi David! Loved this dialogue, "From our interview, you claimed to be punctual, well-mannered, loyal. You seem to be none of those things on your first day here." ... ouch! And this was fun: "Pat, his former college roomie, sent Jesse a news station link to Jack Grant’s admitted extortion and even claiming to be dealing with “evil” to further his goals. " Very rushed, though; jittery pacing. I suspect you were racing through the coffee :) Still, a fun read - thanks for posting! R


David Drake
01:32 Mar 14, 2023

Thanks! I did feel like I had rushed this. The idea, concept, characterization was just "racing" through me to get all of this on screen/paper. I've had a hectic week at my day job, so I may have reflected it in the pacing. I'm still somewhat new to doing this, and I'm still learning. Looking back at it, the pacing may have fit in with the stress and aggravation the protagonist was going through. Nothing seemed to "be right" or fit in with a plan of perfection. I appreciate your feedback!


Russell Mickler
02:01 Mar 14, 2023

No sweat - it was a good read! Hope to see more soon! R


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