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Reginald Blisterkunst, Ph.D.
Among the Remembered Saints: My Life and Subsequent Death
Pluto Wars

Greg Chandler
"Bee's Tree"
"Local Folk"
"Roland's Feast"
"Pond Story "

Doug Childers
"The Baptism"

Gene Cox
The Sunset Lounge

Clarke Crutchfield
"The Break-In"
"The Canceled Party"
"The Imaginary Bullet"

Jason DeBoer
"The Execution of the Sun"

Deanna Francis Mason
"The Daguerreian Marvel"

Dennis Must

Charlie Onion
"Love Among the Jellyfish"
Pluto Wars
"Feast of the Manfestation"

Chris Orlet
"Romantic Comedy"

Daniel Rosenblum
"A Full Donkey"

Deanna Frances Mason
"The Daguerreian Marvel"

Andrew L. Wilson
"Fat Cake and Double Talk"


Romantic Comedy
Chris Orlet

Constance Chatterley finds the guy next door creepy. When they pass on the dark stairs, Meursault nods his head curtly and says nothing. A bag of groceries in his arms, he slinks back into his dark, dank apartment like a snake into its hole. And yet judging from the number of women—young, rather stylish women—that come and go from his dingy apartment, the old lecher must have something going for him.

Tonight there are odd sounds coming from his room. Sounds resembling someone drowning a sack of cats. Connie tosses aside her romance novel and storms out into the hallway and pounds on Meursault's door. The sounds cease, but Connie continues to knock. "I know you're in there, Monsieur. The whole neighborhood knows you're in there."


"I shall speak to the landlord." Connie storms back to her room, slamming the door behind her. She stands in the center of her sitting room, fuming. What a life, she thinks. And to think, just a few years ago I was Lady Chatterley, possessor of a fine home, a household of servants, diamonds, furs, motor cars. And now...this. A lousy apartment in a rotten suburb of Paris surrounded by cutthroats, perverts and creeps like Meursault. She pours herself another glass of wine, her fourth or fifth. Well, its my own fault, she thinks. Abandoning my husband for a low-life gamekeeper. Just the thought of that two-timing bastard John Thomas makes her blood boil.

"Oh, God, I wish I were dead," she moans.


Meursault removes a telegram from his shirt pocket and opens it in the dim light of the hallway. "Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow," the paper reads. Meursault folds the telegram and shoves it back into his shirt pocket and retrieves his mail, bills mostly. He starts up the pitch-black stairway and nearly collides with his neighbor, Madame Chatterling, or Chatterby or something like that.

"Oh, my goodness!" she says. "You startled me, Monsieur."

"Beg your pardon, Madame." Meursault thinks, Nothing worse than a ridiculous English woman who puts on airs. But that's the English for you.

She says, "You should be more careful. You nearly trampled me to death." Then, "I really must speak to the landlord about the lack of proper lighting in this building."

Nearly trampled her to death? So much easier to strangle her like a cat. He lets her pass.

"Good night, Monsieur Meursault."

"Bon Soir, Madame."

Meursault trudges up to his room, looks in the empty refrigerator, uncorks a bottle of Bordeaux. Tomorrow my mother's funeral, he thinks. Going to be a hot one.


The landlord visits Connie. He is a disgusting old man, with rotten gums and a parrot's voice, a voice loud enough for the whole building to hear. "You are three months behind in your rent, Madame," he says. "You will have to pay me now or out you go."

"But I haven't it right now. Can't you give me a few more days? Please?"

"I'm afraid not. But, perhaps, there is one other way," he says, leering.

"Never," Connie says, repulsed.

Meursault appears on the landing in his pajamas, holding a mug of coffee. Black pajamas. Black coffee. "How much does Madame owe?"

The landlord snickers. "Four hundred francs."

"Will you take a personal check?"

Connie says, "Oh, no, Monsieur. I cannot allow it."

"Suit yourself," Meursault says, and returns to his door.

The landlord says, "That was stupid. I want you out by tomorrow noon."

"Creep," she mutters under her breath.


Connie finishes the bottle of pinot noir, primps herself in the mirror and grabs an unopened bottle. She staggers out into the hall and raps on Meursault's door. After a few minutes of silence, Meursault comes to the door in robe and slippers.

"Yes, Madame?"

Connie leans on the doorjamb in a futile attempt to look seductive. "Hi," she breathes, hitching up her skirt a bit to reveal a pasty white thigh. A wave of nausea washes over Meursault. Behind her an old man and an old dog stand at the top of the landing. The dog refuses to budge. "Could you open this for me? I have misplaced my screw." She giggles stupidly.

Meursault frowns. "A moment," he says. Meursault takes the bottle and retreats for his corkscrew. He momentarily considers plunging the corkscrew into her eye and giving it a little twist. But the feeling passes. Then returns. Then passes. He returns with the open bottle and two glasses. Might as well invite her in, he thinks. I'm up now.

Twenty minutes later, Connie and Meursault are in bed, he sleepy, she in a conversational mood. "You are a strange bird, Monsieur Meursault," Connie says. "I don't quite get you. You seem so...dark and mysterious."

"Tired," Meursault says.

"A penny for your thoughts?"

Here we go with the twenty questions, Meursault thinks. "I'm afraid they're not very interesting," he says.

"Oh, come on," she says.

"I was thinking about how we can never feel at home in the world because we yearn for order, clarity, meaning and eternal life, while the world is chaotic, obscure and indifferent and offers only suffering and death."

"How romantic."

"You asked."

"That's what you were thinking? You're lying in bed beside a comely, voluptuous woman and you're thinking about chaos and death? Boy, I must be really off tonight."

"Don't take it personal, Madame."

"You know, Meursault, when I first moved here I used to think you were a creep. When I'd pass you in the dark hallway, and you'd never say anything, just stare straight ahead wearing those dark glasses, even in the dark hallway. You always looked so...so creepy. But I also used to think that you were kind of handsome, in a dark and mysterious way. But it turns out I was right all along. You are a creep."

Meursault reaches for a pack of cigarettes and puts two in his mouth. "I don't know this word creep," he says.

"My husband is a creep. John Thomas is a creep. I seem to have this thing for creeps. Every man I've ever known, including my own father, and that goes for my brother too. My brother used to do unspeakable things to animals."

Meursault thinks, Let her talk. Tomorrow I will attend my mother's funeral. It will be hot. I do not relish it, but life is like that. Like one long funeral. Like a woman who just goes on and on about nothing. Exactly that. But integrity and dignity require us to face and accept our lot and to find purely human solutions to our plight. Solutions like letting a woman ramble on and on after sex. Anyway, it doesn't matter. But she is getting tiresome. Soon I will ask her to leave. I will tell her I have to get up early. She will be offended, but who cares? Maybe then she won't come knocking on my door at night.

"You are so mysterious, Meursault. I do not even know your first name."

"Blackie," Meursault says, passing her one of the lighted cigarettes. "Call me Blackie."



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