"The best souvenir is a fond memory," she said, absently thinking about her collection of carved coconut banks, and wishing she were home safely with it.


The bartender's tales of his glass eye, his volatile snake collection, and his dexterity with a broken Corona bottle entertained very few of his patrons.


"I don't think I remember," she said, "but I bet I can fake it."


They danced together, the bear and the man, until the man's spear cut in.


To balance his face, he required a delicate arrangement of props that included a felt slouch hat with bright feathers springing from its upturned brim.


"I'm sorry, but we sell only CFLs now." The shop owner waited for a response, but the customer said nothing, his mouth pinched, his eyes low, and desperation creased boldly across his forehead. "Maybe," the shop owner continued, "maybe I have something for you in the back."


The ancient bird statue had particular significance to the villagers, especially for those who worked in the nearby bird statue manufacturing plant.


He denied that they played such games, so Meghan dusted off the box, and jogged his memory.


The vendor counted the twenties, folded them in half, and nodded. The kid, grinning, carried the mixer off like it was his newlywed. The next day the vendor unfolded the newspaper and stopped. The kid's picture was on the front page under the headline "Beware the Sound Thief."


She pored through the book again, but she still couldn't find the "I'm tired. You lose." rule that her grandmother frequently invoked.


After losing his favorite shirt to a mysterious curse, he crossed the globe in search of its scattered components.


Although his father provided subtle prods of encouragement, Richie was unlikely to pursue a career as a mob surgeon.


He read the rejection letter again, aloud this time. "Your application was original, but we feel you did little more than combine popular trends."


Despite a qualified resume, the new chef spent most of his brief tenure liberating entrees and throwing all of the cooking utensils into a nearby lake.


Her summer tour of the 48 contiguous was plagued with obstacles.


Despite repeated orders to quit, the man continued to throw corn dogs into its open mouth. "He loves them," the man argued.


His car was very similar to the other cars in the parking lot, save for a few informal characteristics.


Each week, the steady, groomed hands of experienced doctors would mold him into something presentable.


He made up his mind; he would depart by biplane at once.


She yelled at him, and when her voice was hoarse, she just pointed, violently, incredulously, at his face. He looked at her wild stance, her threatening jab, and with no other recourse, he pulled his oversized foam cowboy hat down so it hid his eyes.


Creditors surrounded the warehouse, and with bullhorns they laid out their demands: complete surrender of property. The warehouse owner, helpless with rage, began ejecting his inventory from the highest window. Most shattered on impact; a precious few landed safely by dancing down the branches of a nearby tree.


Hallucinations were common side effects, but they were rarely more threatening than your average wild cat surprise.


In his retirement, he had an established morning routine: 5am rise, rolled oats, two mile bicycle ride, glass of Metamucil, his One A Day, shooting his crossbow at the various things in his yard, three fingers of bourbon, kickboxing "class", yelling at people from his roof, combing his beard, mid-morning nap.


"It's not bad, really. If you consider where some of us are, in sewers or lurking in caves still undiscovered, it's really not bad. Haunting an old woman's lapel is more of a challenge for the experienced than anything else. Not everyone can do it. It's really not bad. Really, it's really not bad."


He had no recollection of what he endorsed; his arm would extend from a knot of sheets on his bed and sign whatever was placed before him.


During the day, she would draw the shades, and pretend it was the night.


Bringing together the room was an arrow that pointed to the window, drawing the viewer's eye with it, and carrying the eye through the window and far away from the insufficiently furnished studio apartment.


Displaying that wide-eyed enthusiasm that so many people find irresistible, Daniel was an ace at the career fair.


In a time inconceivable to modern thinkers, in the snake nest of the previous generation, hidden away from their workweek, and bathed in the radio's waves, they spent their Friday nights.


There was a flash, and the sky was ablaze. The ground erupted in seas of molten earth, and a swift wind stripped the trees bare. The survivors were few and resilient.


On their triumphant return to the surface, Poseidon and Amphitrite were pleased to meet the finest emissaries of our modern world: an old floating refrigerator and a barking dog adrift on a foam mattress.


The judge stared into his corrupt eyes. "Listen," she said in a low rumble, "you may notice there's no bailiff in this courtroom. Right now, there's only you and me. You, me, and behind the bench is the Honorable Discreditor. 65 pounds. Solid oak. It seeks out the truth. So, please, repeat what you just said to the court."


The vendor was persuasive, the price was right, and the cage exchanged hands. The customer placed it in his backyard and filled it with firewood. On clear nights, he'd look at it through his window, sitting there among all the dead leaves. One day there'll be a gorilla in there, he'd think.


With his parents away, Christopher was bound only by his own caprice, but he found the most enjoyment in his father's hatbox, his mother's scarf drawer, and his grandfather's priceless sled display case.


Once the right ventricle was visible, the surgeon paused to recall the various medical illustrations he reviewed in preparation for this procedure. On this patient, he could not immediately locate the recoil spring or the hammer-strut pin, so he decided to improvise.


The Baron was not the best skier; his technique lacked a finesse that could make the sport beautiful to an observer. That said, he was powerful, and the only press photographer he would allow on the slopes was his nana.


The cavalry arrived unprepared.


The husks cracked, and this year's crop emerged ripe and flapping. Instantly, the flock took to the sky in a storm of sightless, colliding winged grains. The farmers gave chase, but this corn was engineered for its speed, and it soon disappeared over the western horizon.


She had a cool demeanor, but her mind was elsewhere.


To match the ferociousness of his clientele, Charlie donned an outfit he savagely titled "The Bee Devil."


The man's car rested at the crest of a hill, and he gazed out over the miles of traffic before him. Each car was shimmering that hazy afternoon, and when his eyes unfocused, he saw the world as a blanket of clicking beetles. There was nothing for him to do but consider how insignificant all those people were.


Shelley's evenings were spent catering to the incessant wailing of her beloved toddler. One night, on a whim, she took the sobbing child to the old chest in the attic, and showed him her "previous" children whose lives froze when they cried one tear too many. Later, Shelley quietly cleared a shelf for her imminent Good Parenting Award.


At least Earth has TV.

Imagine the adventure you'll have on a desolate and rocky landscape void of oxygen and teeming with complete social isolation. If you're bored, admire the full moon, which gives you a distant view of the very lifeless rock on which you currently stand.


Gender Identities.

To flee the spotlight and realize the quiet wedding of a true June bride, the cover girl would need a disguise.


Today, Rhythmic Monkey is a more enterprising character. No more bow tie. No more drum. He wears glasses. He has a job and a house. He plays golf. Sure, under his garage he may have a drum dungeon, filled with so many rainbow drums and yellow bow ties, but that's his business, and it would be very unfortunate for you if that got out.


Plus, his face is really hard to draw.

By hiding Peter Falk's face, Columbo becomes so much more. He's you and me. He's your cat, or a mailbox, or that one memory you have. Don't you see? Columbo is all.


Early legends state that upon meeting the Frost King, you can trade kind words and a friendly demeanor for fine clothes and jewels. Greet the King with an unpleasant voice or expression, and he presents you with a frost lesson, which is usually an interpretative dance or informative rap about respecting adults.


When scientists discovered white lions in the 1920s, their telegrams reached a world deep in artistic stagnation:


He would arrive at dusk, and his horse would glow with a light that reflected the summer sky.


Mike was pleasantly surprised when a random tuning of radio stations mystically summoned his grandfather's smiling visage into the room with him. The reunion quickly turned sour when his grandfather, once a man of short temper, attacked the city with his vast and unpredictable ghost powers.


"As an art dealer, I almost feel like this is insider trading, but I'd like to get you in on the ground floor of this burgeoning movement. It's called exquisitism, characterized mostly by portraits of slobbering clown demons. Put simply: instant heirlooms that you'll pass down to your grandchildren."


An Inscription for Jerry,

You're an aspiring young man, and your natural curiosity will be a boon to you and your studies. Keep it up, kid, and you'll go places. Also, your mom and I are getting a divorce.



No scythe today?

The cat appeared, visible to the man in his last exhale of smoke. "Well, no bags to pack," the man joked, standing from his chair. The man joined the cat, and the two watched his cigarette fade to a weak smolder on the armrest.


He never sleeps.

Using lawn ornaments that are threatening or intimidating is a cordial way of telling would-be guests to "go away."


Her eyes showed no reluctance.

She dropped the brake, her foot met the pedal, and the van was off. Her speed increased, the sunlight dimmed, and the world stepped back. It was just her now, alone and ripping through the center of the blank unknown.


And dinosaurs fight astronauts.

Time is less an expanding spiral and more a choppy sea on which the ships of different times sail. There are conflicts when ships cross paths, changing what once was or will be, and sea snakes lurk under the whitecaps, waiting for history to forget you.


Sailor's delight.

The man taught the boy to make the net and season the broth; it was up to the boy to catch the gulls.



His life spilled out into the streets in violent uproars.


The rampant garbage and unswept sidewalks bred rats of ever-increasing size. Traps were no match; poison was impotent. The city had no choice but to turn to them, and they swept the streets with a lust for blood and terror previously unseen. After the rats, they turned on us, and so we left, and the city was theirs.


Get comfortable.

When hunting orioles, the best method of approach is often the element of surprise.


Not for use with cats.

I've always hoped for a houseguest who solves all my problems with his unfamiliar logic and soft key piano theme.


Of all the mistakes in her life, her relationship with him was the ugliest.


Your exhaust, it's custom?

"I'd like to sell this to you, but I just don't trust you. Have you ever been in a police chase or a drift racing competition? What's the knob on your shifter? Is it a glowing skull? I don't think I can sell this to you if it's not a glowing skull."


The laughing undead.

If you're ever afraid of something trivial, you should find comfort in the fact that there are much scarier things in the world right now.


They seem legitimate.

These are good, but the best decoy is a mannequin of an old man who seems to have briefly turned his back on his loaf of bread.


For the Union.

On his peaceful deathbed, Abraham recalled his most cherished achievements: the Emancipation Proclamation, the Lincoln-Hoover Dam, Nazi-hunting on horseback, the outer space rescue of Laika from Sputnik 2.


Ah, escape.

For the clown hobo, daydreams of haunted castles featured fewer ghosts than his life on streets riddled with prostitution and drug abuse.


After we grew bored of the flashing lights and cosmic atmosphere, future alley owners traced the path of public opinion with Murder Bowl, electronically painting the pins with the grotesque faces of our least favorite people. The booming music of the 1980s would remain because everybody still likes to dance.


Corn Cob Piglets was a close second.

"I invented the name 'Corn Cob Shorties,' which was the hard part. Everything else was just digging the worms out of repurposed pig feed."


The new pog.

"For example, if you bring in two small guns, you can trade for one large gun. Or, if you bring in three large guns and two canned food items for charity, you can trade for an anti-satellite missile. It's that easy."


Handle carefully.

It's comforting to know that the spirit and meticulous accuracy of John James Audubon live on in the naturalist painters of today.


Finally awake.

"I want to live forever in the nightmares of my television audience; when you make my bust, please adjust my eyes accordingly."


Or maybe both?

When Earth scientists planned the Moon colony, they decided that the Sea of Ingenuity was the perfect location for either a monument to humankind's greatness or the Moon's first space garbage landfill.


Apply medianly.

The navy has elaborate rituals for sailors who cross the equator for the first time. The belt industry has elaborate rituals for belt makers who make their first MegaBelt, which is commonly a braided rope of writhing serpents.


Terror comes from above.

The Sun has many faces in the folklore of the world's different cultures.


She captured her eye.

Anna knew nothing but love for her grandmother, and she would profess this vividly on the canvas.


The neon lights of the funeral home were a sad sight for Carl, who was hoping he found a bar. "Is this a sign?" he asked himself. "Of course it is, look at the letters," he replied. "No, a sign to stop drinking," he replied in turn. Carl, who had been drunkenly talking to himself for some time, agreed that he probably had enough signs as it was.


My lucky day.

A free pass to play a carnival game? Well, I've heard some of these games are crooked, but I trust your face, sir, and I'm fond of your vest and long goatee. Hey, wasn't I wearing shoes before? Shoes similar to the ones on the prize shelf over there?


Tom's Anachronism

Old Tom the Barber smiled and nodded as his customer described what she wanted. People always thought they knew what they wanted. Tom didn't make a business giving people what they wanted. He gave people what they needed, and what they needed was a good hi-top fade.


What day is today?

The train platform was empty save for a quiet howl of wind. After minutes of waiting and no sign of the train, he trekked to work. It was still early, and the streets were bare. He saw no one on the way. No one in the city? Is that possible?


Now with more buttons.

"How do you greet a noble warrior struck down in the chaos of a day at work? Well, it doesn't take an All Father to know he'll be reaching for a couple of these: Odin Smokes. Oh, and hold on to your eyes, Hägar, these'll only cost you a nickel."


The kind gesture opened her heart in a way similar to a scientist opening a crate of yellow parasite spiders.


Duck Haunt.

There was something different about these ducks. Was it the way they seemed to pull themselves through the air by their outstretched necks? Was it their glowing eyes or their fangs or that some of them were just flying skeletons? She spent her childhood wondering.


Acoustic Lepidoptery.

"In the hands of the inexperienced, it will unleash the fears of the living, the darkness of one's heart, the soulless depths of the unresolved. It was given to me by an elderly Cajun healer. He got it last year from the Guitar Center on Halsted. Sixty bucks."



The turkey knew style, and the other animals admired this. When the turkey taped a pocket knife to his face, the other animals could only gawk in vacant awe. The pig would try to reproduce this effect, but his sad attempt only achieved him a sadder nickname.


Mr. L.:

We noticed a few inaccuracies in your recent memoir, and we were wondering if you would be available to discuss them with us. A prompt reply is appreciated.

North to the Future,
Alaska Board of Tourism


Your calling.

We might not know your name, but the world will silently thank you when we sit down with your new recipe. Don't think you can just add pineapples, either; we've seen that already.



At least the archaeologists of future civilizations will know how creepy and menacing today's children are/were.


Just tell me your price.

If we could, and I'm not saying we could, capture the combined laughter of Elvira and Cyndi Lauper, would society still be interested in space travel and going to the gym? Or would we finally be satisfied?


Heart of Glass

Eight years spent at Jake's Community Glass Blowing Institute, Studio, & Theater. For her glassertation, she needed to create something beautiful and moving, something to show her parents this is how she was meant to live.



Shirtless, Mickey serenaded the box with his unplugged electric guitar. To celebrate his complete set, he would drink one can. He would do so as a tribute, and because one open can would not devalue such an attractive collection.


Can I tear something up when I yell at you? In my mind, that seems to be a very persuasive move, especially if I tear up a map of the world.


On The Median

"Listen, don't get mad at me; I'm trying my best. It's tough for me to figure this one out. What if I say 'good' and then your bike crashes into a ravine or a dog bites out your eyes? This is serious. Ask again later."


Unapproved Uses Include

"What I want is a solid marble statue that greets our customers with a gesture of warmth and hospitality, like, I don't know, an extended hand or an open chair. Also, I only want to spend thirty bucks."


Soft Eyes

At some point the Gray Wolf stopped whimpering about its shrinking habitat and 300,000 year history, it got its head in the game, and it started looking out for what really matters: America's pickup trucks.


Turn Right

On the list of people I'd listen to for directions, Masked Jimmy ranks fairly low.


I once met a pair of stray dogs while passing through a town just devastated by a tornado. I gave one dog a slice of bread from my lunch, or maybe my friend gave it her slice of bread; I can't remember that part exactly. Regardless, the dog took the bread gingerly and buried it quickly, because you see, my friend, it's a tough world out there.



There's always that brief moment before my mind recognizes Cyrillic. During that moment, I'm pretty sure the shopkeeper is a swearing comic strip character.


You are not alive, sir.

If you were alive, I don't think you'd wear such an outlandish sombrero for the Cinco de Mayo sale. You seem classier than that.


At some point, my creativity became a dusty parking lot, sleeping there quietly under hapless lights in front of an abandoned grocery store, and one day these cards showed up like a traveling carnival, a shitty one, maybe, where all the rides were broken, and the carnival folk unfriendly, and the prizes sad imitations. But it's something.


, I'm Tony Abraham.

Let's all read a new card every day.