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"Cheap Eats":55 Fiction

by Corey Stixrud

Live a Sage, Die a Fool

At last! The overseer's trembling hands turned the final page of Don Quixote. The knight's epitaph! He came to the final couplet: "But had the fortune in his age To bananafishpoodle. He died, brokenhearted. Below, in the warehouse, infinite rows of monkeys continued their ongoing effort. His predecessor's first success was War and Peace, unabridged.

A Plea From Solitary Confinement

"Dear Mom, I know I shouldn't brood: The food's OK (Thanks for the chocolate!), I sleep tons, and I know you're out there thinking of me. But, geez, it's so dark and lonely in here. I want to see mountains, the ocean, even a tree. Could you arrange a womb with a view?" Love, Tristan

Out on a Limb (Dedicated to Linda)

An awkward hush fell over the party when the one-legged lady arrived. Even the blindfolded birthday girl sensed the prevailing mood change and reluctantly stopped swinging at the wire-framed papier-machied star. Confused, I turned to my wife. "How did she lose her leg?" I whispered. In a doleful voice my wife replied, "Unfortunate pinata accident."

And He Wept

Betrayed by his father, he picked up the remnants of his shattered life and moved on. Disdaining friends, he built a shack by the river, tended the garden, drank wine, ate fish and bread, even herded sheep. Life was good. Nevertheless, one relentless question haunted him: "Why did the mob choose me and not Barabbas?"

Driving Home after Dinner

The two children sat in the bed of the station wagon, staring at me wistfully through the glass. They had such languished expressions: doleful, yearning eyes; knitted brows; pursed, expectant lips clearly hungering for a hint of kindness or even simple acknowledgement. Finishing off my strawberry waffle cone, I flashed them a warm, comforting smile.

Watching Quo Vadis with the Kids

The ragged but saintly band of Christians huddled together, at peace with imminent death. The starving lions were released into the arena, roaring and pawing the air with menace. Slaughter ensued. My youngest, Geoffrey, began to sob. "It's OK," I whispered, "They're with God now.""No, dad!" exclaimed Geoffrey, "The littlest lion didn't get any!"

Winston Bailey

There he stands, after 7 years, Winston Bailey, my tormentor, perched near the cliff, delicately sniffing flowers. Memories flood back: schoolboy initiations, taunts, shameful beatings, torture. I have not forgotten, nor forgiven. Opportunity. I push, enjoying the view. A lady taps my shoulder. "Have you seen my husband, sir? His name is Miles, Miles Hutchinson."