Those Nine Cards

I must stop lamenting that love is not in the cards for me. Well there are fifty-one others, aren’t there? And I have not been dealt such a bad hand otherwise.

Life could be a game of Crazy Eights. So love would be like the Queen of Spades, pick up five, the all-powerful game changer. Or perhaps more like all four eights, the power to change the course, the direction. Or like the Jacks, cancelling out someone else’s turn, freezing the other player. Or perhaps love is like all these combined.

That’s nine cards!

But still there are forty-three others. The other player can still win, even if they have only happened upon aces and twos in their cache. Like myself, seemingly or perhaps. Anyway, at the end of the deck it all gets shuffled and replayed and it’s really anyone’s game until it’s absolutely over, isn’t it?

Well I am starting to think he can only lay down with me when he is drunk. I know this trick but until now it has always been me at the winning end of the bargain. Not the poor sod who jumps. But if I just quit worrying about those nine cards, I think I would enjoy the match quite a lot more. And in this way there really is no need to lament.

And anyway it has happened more than once that I’ve been down to my last card while the other player still had loads in hand and my victory was sure and then it didn’t come to pass and I lost. But also, the other player won. So there’s the bit about time and chance.

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Funny. I didn’t mention writing.

Draw. Smoke. Sip wine. Read. Wash a dish or whatever. Repeat. The new step to the cycle is the drawing. Well I am no artist and I know I am supposed to practice and I paid all this money to take not one but two courses. Glutton for punishment. Impulsive times two. So I thought I should practice.

So I came home from work last night and saw my pristine new sketchbook there on the table with my cool new pencil case and knew that inside were my 8B, 6B, 4B, 2B, HB, F, 2H, 4H, 6H pencils that had cost me nearly twenty dollars. Twenty dollars for pencils! I collect them off the hallway floors at school for free, don’t I? But these were special and it was my little kit.

So I sat down and drew something. Exactly what was in front of me: the bookshelves and the plant and the sign “Swim between the flags” and the vase of dried roses. And it turned out just fine. Not horrible. So I felt good.

So today I had that positive residue still over me and over the spot on the table where I have been leaving my sketchbook and pencil case kit. So I thought I would practice again. Well sometimes you just have a boy on your mind and so that was what or whom I wanted to draw. And it turned out just fine. Not too horrible at all.

And so I did what all normal people do these days and I posted my mediocre accomplishment on Facebook. And then a friend whom is really so far an acquaintance commented: Hey, draw me! And I thought I would because I was on a roll. And I drew him and it was awful.

Anyway I sent him the thing but I did not post it publicly. So I learned that my roll is one drawing per day. Or maybe I learned that I draw things much better to which I have an emotional attachment. Or maybe I learned that when I draw semi-well that it is just a fluke like that painting I painted a few years ago which inspired me to buy an easel and paints and I painted several shitty paintings before giving up and all my art supplies away. Or maybe I learned that I am just learning and that sometimes I will draw okay drawings and sometimes I won’t. That’s it.

Eight o’clock and the last straggling rays of daylight scuffle out. They warn you. Hey. Night is coming. Brace yourself. Chapter three of The Sun Also Rises. Half a pack of cigarettes. Half a bottle of wine. And that same, stupid boy on my mind. Smoke. Sip wine. Read. Repeat.

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Becoming More Human

It’s like I’m rubbing my nose in it. The sitting on my ass, the eating fast food as I drive, the not going for a run, the not going to the gym. Part of it is that it’s my last chance to act like a stupid asshole. But it’s also that since I have come up with the brilliant idea of incorporating exercise into my lifestyle, making it a function of my life and not an additional task, I can’t bear to just go for a run for the sake of running and not for arriving at a destination I need to get to, a mode of transportation.

The Wendy’s chili is simply my crack. I’ve given up the fight.

It’s like I’ve been saying these last few weeks leading up to my big lifestyle change: we pay to have the ease and convenience of a car. Then we pay again to go to a gym and do mundane repetitious “fake work” to burn the calories we saved by driving our fat asses around everywhere.

Growing up, we didn’t have a car, so I can fathom not having one. Approaching this life-changing endeavour of getting rid of my car, I have had friends say: I can’t fathom not owning a car. Well if you can’t fathom not owning a car then you are way too far removed from your own humanity! We weren’t born in cars, I love to break it to you. (Slightly off topic, but this is as annoying and akin to people who say: I cannot function without my morning coffee. If you cannot function without a coffee, perhaps you simply need to sleep more or, conversely, to get more exercise. And I have more than once made the joke that soon babies in North America are going to be born with little Starbucks coffee cups attached to their poor fetus hands. You go to Starbucks every morning because monkey see, monkey do and because of the inundation of Starbucks coffee shops and because of forgetting to think and because we live in a nation of zombies or robots, the walking incarnations and regurgitations of our eyeballs’ every resting place also known as advertisements. But I digress.)

Of course I can still go for a run to clear my head or because I simply want to but not because I have to or need to.

I have always had a strong aversion to the word should.

Anyhoo. Six days left as an automobile owner. Impatient, excited and deliciously scared as hell!

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Snapshot 01

It had been a lovely evening.

“Good night.”

“Good night.”

A peck.

But on the lips.

“I don’t know what we’re doing.”

“I don’t know either.”

– I can’t see it at all anymore. I don’t know what’s good or where I’m failing. It has to simmer on its own awhile. — (Hemingway)

Funny how the art, the lyrics, are always uncannily relevant.


Sometimes there are just poetic moments.

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Flash-fiction 01: Birth

Her name was Chrissy Lee. She was twenty-nine years old and she worked at an office downtown. An office that handled the sales of office supplies, which she thought was ironic and funny in a disdainful sort of way. Paperwork. Administration. A life’s calling fulfilled. She had a title (Executive Administrative Assistant) and a business card (stating same) and that was something and not just some waitressing job. Although she always did say that waitressing had been the most fulfilling job she’d ever had because in an apocalypse type of situation people would still seek to eat, drink and socialize but they wouldn’t need to buy paper clips, would they? So there she was. In some generic office at the corner of Yonge and Eglinton. She was miserable.

What she really wanted to do was write.

This was mostly a secret desire as she had no journalism degree, no experience, nothing ever published, nothing even submitted and rejected. Yes even a rejection letter would be a huge step forward for Chrissy Lee. She had a prolific blog but she kept it a secret from most of her friends and family. She felt her writing wouldn’t be honest if she knew they were reading. So she only shared its existence with strangers and far-removed acquaintances. When she wasn’t typing up a sales bill or calling in an order, you could always find Chrissy Lee writing one thing or another: composing and posting quips and quibbles and short pieces of fiction or poems. The only thing that gave her any real trouble, oddly, was writing in the third person. For some reason, that was tough. So was finding the time to sit down and focus and write something good. Something she could even consider offering up for rejection. She always did say that you can read on the side but you can’t write on the side. So it was a matter of time.

And of gumption.

It was a Saturday morning and it was the warmest it had been in a long while. Spring was finally starting to flirt and tease. So Chrissy Lee jumped on her bicycle. With no particular destination in mind, she rode and she rode, south then east then south then east. It was a panicked, crazed, desperate kind of ride and the longer it went, the more wild and invigorating it became. Therapeutic. Finally when her head was cleared Chrissy Lee pulled over. She locked up her bike to some random pole on Queen East and walked into the first open business she stumbled upon.

The Queen’s Head.

“My mother was a singer in the 1940’s and she told me: When you’re on the stage, you sing.” The singer said or slurred to the crowd. And then sing he did. A voice perfected by profuse packs of Pall Malls and pint after pint. Hollow and drawling and real as fuck. And Chrissy Lee believed every sad song he sang with a voice like that. A hands down voice and a stand-up bass. It was beat up and beautiful and he plucked it and pounded and picked it so pretty. Add a beautiful bosomy blonde on drums and a sexy and stoic stray cat on guitar and the three made a real rockabilly reverie.

Now here was something she could write about.

Now she always did say that she didn’t believe in fate or destiny or even talent, for that matter, but somehow Chrissy Lee had ended up here in this little coin perdu where there wasn’t a hole puncher or a collating machine or a skinny no foam latte with x amount of syrup pumps at x degrees and seemingly where a bit of goddamned humanity had managed to survive. No line-ups or gimmicks but dart boards and Guinness and double bourbons lined up and drained quickly by a welcoming and authentic cast of characters she immediately warmed to. And they to her.

It was crisp and grey and warm and Spring really was coming.

Then the band’s second set began and the slap and the blues and the twang and the hooves and the place blew up. Chrissy Lee sat straight in her seat and was taken aback by the thundering gallop of the music. Her foot tapped and the mundaneness of her job and the duplicity of her neighbourhood and the cowering of her dreams was forgotten and replaced like some sort of down South black magic spell had been cast. It was the music. It was the authenticity.

This was what had been missing.

With each song the crowd grew slowly more drunk but in that good old-fashioned country way that seemed right and romantic. It was giddy up and hee haw and some serious bets at the races. A lively shoe-stomping number ended and the crowd erupted into loving and adoring applause. And there was something about the way that singer so very humbly nodded his head and tipped his cowboy hat and nervously winked his lips to the right and even cut a curtsy as he thanked the crowd that made him incredibly endearing. “I’m just a drunk from the mountains,” he told the crowd.

Spring was here and thirty was near and after the show Chrissy Lee hopped back on her bike. “I’ll be back!” They played every Saturday afternoon as if something so great so human so raw so blatant was absurdly commonplace. And the ride home was an excited, crazed, inspired and revitalized kind of ride and the longer it went, the more wild and invigorating it became. It was the music. It was the authenticity. It was the simplicity and beauty of riding a bike. It was suddenly and beautifully being ready to say she.

Her name was Chrissy Lee and she was scared and that was the best and most raw and most human feeling in the world. She always did say that fear made you feel alive and it meant something wonderful was going to happen.


Flash Fiction (100 – 1 000 words) : This is the type of short story you would expectt o find in a glossy magazine, often used to fill one page of quick romance (or quick humour, in men’s mags). Very popular, quick and easy to write, and easier to sell!

© 2002 Lee Masterson,

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Micro-fiction 11: Heaven

It’s a little dream but it’s real and wonderful. She gets rid of everything and moves into a room above The Dominion. She even gets rid of her cell phone. She tells everyone the plan and they agree not to worry. She brings a second-hand desk, bedframe and a new mattress. She decides that every day will be the same: get up, write all day, then go downstairs and get stupidly drunk. There would have to be a laptop, too. And in the end she would have something. Something unique and authentic and perfect. For now, she has the dream.

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Micro-fiction 10: Death from above

Let’s plan a murder, shall we? It starts with an old-fashioned ride. Out of town, you and I, in a car, not so far. I am the passenger and you make the drive. Imagine. It’s lovely. Off to your family and me off to mine. My thoughts wild, childish, adrift to your subject all day. I dream of a bed where we both lay. And on the time passes this way. This way all day until the night. You place your naked hand upon my clothed rib cage. And just like this I die. I couldn’t bear to say only.

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