Mark Leach (marienbadmylove) wrote,
Mark Leach

Short fiction from 2006

I just stumbled across some short fiction I wrote back in 2006 (immediately before I ventured into literary appropriation and conceptual writing). This feels like reading the work of a stranger...


While contemplating the meaning of life one morning, a man noticed that his thoughts had become a bit ragged 'round the cerebellum. A trip to the brain barber was in order.

"Can you give me an Einstein?" the man asked as the barber snapped the long cape around his neck. The barber eyed him up and down a moment, absently working the shears. Finally, he shook his head.

"It wouldn't suit you. Your brain doesn't have the right texture."

The man shrugged. "OK, then, just a trim."

"Leave it long in the medulla oblongata?" the brain barber asked.

"Exactly. But take a bit extra off the frontal lobes. I've been feeling a little manic depressive lately."

The customer read an old copy of Field & Stream while the brain barber did his work. Bits of gray matter floated down into the crease of the magazine. Four dogs playing poker watched from a rug on the wall.

When the brain barber was done, the man thanked him and even gave him a big tip. But he knew it was a bad brain cut. At home that night, the man's wife tried to cheer him up.

"It'll grow out. And until then, you could hide it under your college degree."

That did cheer the man up, because he had graduated from an expensive private college, and he suspected people were always impressed by it.

"Maybe next time I'll try that little place in the strip center by the Albertson's," he said hopefully. "I hear they do a great Vint Cerf."


Mindful of the old poem, we offered to pay the piper in advance. But still he would not take away our children.

"Rats only," he insisted. "I don't do dysfunctional families."

So we dressed our children in rat outfits. Cute gray felt ears, rope tails, black shoe-polished noses -- we even handed out wedges of cheese, enough for every child in town. Then we marched them down Main Street.

"See, we're inundated with rats!" we told the piper. "Do your stuff. Lead them out of town."

But he was not fooled by our little deception.

"What lovely children you have. Why do you want to be rid of them?"

"Because we have tired of being parents," we explained. "The urge to procreate, to leave our names and lives to future generations, while strong a few short years ago, has long passed. Now we wish only to live in the present, driving sporty two-seater convertibles, playing golf, drinking margaritas and vacationing at Club Med. Rid us of our encumbrances, oh great piper, and let us be the children once again!"

The piper looked at us sadly and and slowly put the pipe to his lips.

What beauty! What enchantment! What rapture! We were mesmerized, as if in a dream. We would have followed him anywhere. And, if fact, we did. Because when the music stopped, we found ourselves trapped in a deep cave.

Frantic, we searched for an opening -- a hole, a crevice, a fissure, anything – but none could be found. It was a tomb, a cold stone tomb. Our tomb.

We shouted for the piper. "Come back! Please take us back home!" But we knew it was too late. We were finally paying the piper.


The illusion of happiness is typically achieved while on high, giddy flights into the abstract, one of my "king of the world" trips. I am susceptible to a certain racing of thoughts, a sense that I am somehow onto something seen only by me  (through my third eye, of course). The sky turns a different color, the big dome of heaven ablaze in the multihued shades of indulged compulsions. I am dizzy with the superimposed light of my own odd, eccentric convictions. (If only I had migraine auras!) So I don the mask of
smiles, my preferred attire for engaging the practiced world of apparent normalcy, and write my little thoughts. I am authenticated! Then the inevitable nightfall. Metaphors crumble under the impossible weight; I have outrun myself. It is all hallucination, one more magical, broken symptom. Illumination becomes illusion. I am left to wander the dark emptiness, chasing spectral notions and the Shadow, which is me.


We were so happy, enjoying our little day trip in the country.

We explored the treasures, the crafts, the deals. We even had sausage on a stick. And then you had to ruin it.

As we passed that car on the two-lane blacktop, I told you it had been too close to their bumper. I did not like it. And you just smiled. You smiled! It was like you thought it was funny, no big deal. Then we saw the gas station. Do we need gas? No -- no, you said. We'll just fill up as we're leaving. So, of course, I had to tell you that I HATE THAT!

Don't you know that by now, my dear one? I know you must know it (how many times have I had to tell you?), so you must be doing it on purpose. First passing the car, now not getting the gas. You are therefore odious.

So you said, "OK, we'll get it now." And then you set your mouth in that hard, cruel, unfortunate way of yours, so much like a creature of the companion – a Coffin-Puntura. I always hate it that you, Coffin-Puntura, are that hateful way. You are always digging our graves, ruining our every nice thing.

Why can't you be more like me? Why can't you just enjoy our happy day?

DENTAL PSYCHIATRY (or how toothpaste can cure your rage)

The story has its own image and is equivalent with god. The goal is to become perfect, to control and make ourselves carefree – especially about money, again and again. And for those of us that ego would eat, I offer the helpless rage of one who has attempted to help me forget my rage. And it was out of that “perfection” of rage that I saw failures that constantly informed us to become perfect. But perfect in suggestion is not food but fluoride.

Stop laughing, damn you. I take my mental hygiene seriously!

I think after brushing, rage is defeated. The world wins over our achievement. Listen up, damn you all to hell! This information can help you. It is about our teeth, the rage – the fluoride.

Our own human utter failure would deify anger, and it makes us go the way of a childish character. Maybe it’s the only way we fail (i.e., profound rage equals outward “success”). To me, depression is the eye to hopelessness, to a way to transcend our humanity. It is this depression and our inner critic that informs us. Calcium fluoride makes Knowledge – it makes this to transcend the anger, to go the way of our humanity. We attempt to search the ego precisely for the cure for what is ailing us. My toothpaste (Mentine with Liquid Jesus™) is about that search. We fall, repeatedly, then through my toothpaste you can at last secure your deliverance.

(Note: Four out of five dentists suggest Liquid Jesus for their depressed patients.)


The husband popped his head out of the dark pantry and asked of his wife “where’s the bread?”

“There is no bread,” she replied. “We have no money for bread.”

“But how can that be? Look around us. Wealth everywhere. A leather sofa here, a swimming pool there, berber carpet everywhere. What  have you done with the bread?”

“You don’t make enough money to allow me to live in the style to which I deserve to become accustomed. So how can you expect me to buy bread?”

“I’ll starve if you don’t give me some bread.”

“Husbands do not live by bread alone,” she said. Then she retrieved a knife from the cupboard and motioned for her husband to place his hand on a scarred wooden cutting board.

“Are you crazy?” he asked. “It’ll hurt!”


Shrugging, the husband relented and she cut off his right hand.

“Why, that didn’t hurt at all,” the husband said. “Like cutting your hair or finger nails.”

“That’s because you are already dead,” she explained, then handed him his severed hand on an orange Fiesta platter. “Eat this.”

“Mmmm,” he grunted. “Tastes just like bread. Or maybe chicken.”

“Yes, and you should try the wine!” The wife hoisted a small glass of red covertly retrieved from the oozing stump of her husband’s wrist. “A rather disappointing rioja with delusions of mystical revelations.”

“Now you’ve gone too far!” the husband roared. “It’s one thing to say I don’t make enough money, but quite another to make sport of my religion. There’s no call for religious persecution. Why do you want to make me suffer?”

“Because it is only through suffering that we can find our redemption.” Then she dug out a set of kebob skewers from the back of a drawer and nailed her husband to the pantry door, bread crumbs and wine spilling from his stigmata.

Over the husband’s head, the wife tacked a recipe card upon which she’d written “King of the Losers, signed wife.” She dotted the “ i” in wife with a smiley-faced heart.


Behind the men's room door, they filmed her on the tiled floor, covered in black lace and gametes. The cameramen and grips watched blankly. Unmoved. But I was caught up in the scene, trying to forget my horror over the mechanics of the triple-letter genre, gamely asking the proper questions of motivation for my lovely, doomed creation: What was this timely, terrible thing Robin must do that was apparently the same as that for which she revealed such disgust -- an emotion represented by a filth-encrusted toothbrush flushed down a swirling toilet bowl -- in her parentheical notions expressed in Scene Number 34? Ah yes. Foreshadowing.

The story board shows she is to walk back to the good "oh boy" Ed room, where he gets to enjoy the point. They set up the lighting, then it's time for "action." It was good that so much of her was hidden by the togas, which was their idea of subtlety and met with my literary pretensions to legitimacy. I could not have stood to watch otherwise. See, she was looking so well done, a meal that might have been for me, the screenwriter, her creator -- a lucky guy who would fall into his cranial/genital fantasies even while analyzing pertinent ways to ensure that no tragedy was stockpiled, that every hidden notion was exposed for the story's good. She was my literary creation. But, of course, I did not create her for me. She was the film toy, not my own true love.

Oh, but still I worried! Scary plot points cushioned the angry love with sweetened violence, a special effect done with real pins and fake smoke and mirrors so we could make it look like she was being stabbed while serving her soft mouth to the tour bus, eventually swept away in a river of teeth, a raging current of broken incisors, saliva, blood and other bodily emissions. Very symbolic. Then I watched the result.

Titled "Wildly Roman," this leering, all-for-the-better world wrapped in kinky cinematography and grape leaves supplies for viewers a passionate, violent love lunch where sensual busloads of soldiers who divine her forbidden hair roll through the sound stage and plumbing, unforgettably terrifying as they destroy the purity of my own sweet creation. Don't I feel good now?

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