TANGENTS

 A short collection of short stories

by Bri Hand

To New York City -

you beautiful merciless woman.

© 2013 by Bri Hand

rvabri@gmail.com


Table of Contents

  1. Curious Yin & The World

  1. Love in the New Age

  1. Four probable reasons why we found a fucking shark

in the woods this morning

  1. I’m fine

  1. Her name was Regina

  1. Washer and dryer stage an intervention on a reality        TV show.

- 1 -

 

Curious Yin & The World


Yin is walking down the street when he spots a paper bag on the corner right next to one of those perforated metal garbage cans made during the Nixon era. Most other people avoid paper bags on street corners especially in or around New York City but Yin is a curious boy a very curious boy indeed who for example stuck his finger not once but twice into an electrical socket when he was a kid because in seven-year-old Yin’s words “I didn’t get to really feel it the first time.”

So back to where we were.

Yin is walking down the street and spots the paper bag so he picks it up walks to the nearest tree after all it’s a hot July day and New York City is for the curious but certainly not for the weak so Yin’s sweating under the shade of a tree armpit stains and all and yes he finally opens up the bag finds

the whole world tucked neatly into the soft paper folds of a paper lunch sack.

“Curious, very curious indeed,” says Yin out loud to the tree.

So our man Yin pulls out the world with his right hand gently so gently looks at the mountains oceans cities “oh my,” says Yin ducks his head and the world under his shirt “look at those cities at night,” then gets his left eye up real close like-his-eye-lashes-cause-a-tsunami-that-wipes-out-the-entire-

continent-of-South-America-close when he spots the house he grew up in on Bernard Street.

“Wonderful,” says Yin, “simply wonderful.”

Then Yin puts the world gently so gently back into the paper sack walks by

a thrift store on North 11th and Wythe  - yeah I think that’s the one - wanders in and around debates for a while between a pair of lightly used brown wingtips in size 10 or a jacket - you know the sort of jacket with those patch things where the elbows go - then walks up to the cash register trades the world for the jacket plus a few more bucks.

“I think I’ll go get some ice cream now,” says Yin puts on the jacket walks out the door on this hot July day curiously, so curiously.

- 2 -

Love in the New Age


Our hero goes by the name of Thomas Waits. Yeah that’s a pretty cruel way to start a story - give the hero a name he doesn’t even own without some kid or mom or grandma or smartass customer at the hardware store finding out his name and then asking if he’s related to Tom Waits. Or wait is he, like, Tom Waits himself but in disguise?!!!  And our modern day hero Thomas Waits says back no I’m THOMAS Waits. Like there’s a big fucking difference.

So our man in shining armor if shining armor were jeans, a dirty white v-neck with Cheetos fingerprint smears and an orange Dolphins cap is standing in the frozen food section, aisle number nine, and he’s got a basket with Pringles, Tropicana and Cheez-Its in one hand. He’s staring absentmindedly at the Hungry Man dinners wondering why Judy dumped him two weeks ago and if they got any grilled cheese in this section when he notices the face of a woman poised between the Hungry Man Breakfast for Dinner Dinner and Hungry Man Surf and Turf.

Red lips, black eyelashes, pale white frosted skin with a hint of blue on high cheekbones.

Holy shit, says Thomas Waits as he leans in to see if there’s maybe an Orange Chicken Hungry Man somewhere in there next to her breasts.

Holy motherfucking shit.

Holy motherfucking shit indeed says a handwritten note addressed to Sir Thomas Waits and stuck to the front of the Hungry Man Orange Chicken Dinner (With Collectors Spork!).

Our man the modern day fairy tale hero Thomas Waits nearly puts his ass through the glass doors on the other side of the aisle right into the Baskin Robbins double fudge ice cream and rainbow sherbert.

Fine sir, please flip this box over for further details, reads our champion of champion on the bottom of the note as he picks himself up.

Dear fine sir -

We have been waiting for centuries for this time and place to come into existence. You see, your great great great great great great grandfather was a man among men who was predestined to kiss this woman (also a lover of orange goods) and cure her of her condition. But alas, destiny never followed through, until now.

It is only with the grace and mercy of time and fate combined with the celestial lining of the stars and planets that your kiss may bring our Frozen Beauty back from a land of sleepless dreamless rest into fluorescent-lit-consciousness and the indomitably breathing and non-catatonic and handsomely handsome of the moving mouth and lips state.

Huh? Says Thomas Waits out loud scratching his head looking up.

Kiss me and I’ll wake up says the big lettered note stuck on a box of Hungry Man Chicken Drumsticks (With Jello Gelatin Pop!) pointing to Frozen Beauty’s face.

Our hero of heroes now considers his choices.

Mac n’cheese. Or Orange Chicken.  Or Sleeping Frozen Beauty.

Definitely Orange Chicken.  Or maybe Mac n’cheese.

Or maybe Orange Chicken AND Sleeping Beauty?

But I do like Jello Gelatin Pops.

Thomas Waits opens the door.

A moment centuries in the making starts to stutter and tilt into existence.

Our man Tom’s face gets real close to Sleeping Beauty’s.

Then he peers around her head and grabs the Mac N’Cheese Big Boy Hungry Man XXL Edition.

I like my women orange, too, says and shrugs Thomas Waits to the Frozen Beauty.

And with that, our hero among heroes, our hero in a lineage of would-be could-be heroes, walks away towards aisle 8. He thought he just spotted a woman the color of Sunkist (save for her hairline slash bikini line) in the

I can’t believe it’s not butter, butter section.

There’s a Post-it stuck to the back of the Mac N’Cheese in Thomas Waits’ orange basket.

It says in orange, Fuck you.

Four probable reasons why we found a fucking shark in the woods this morning


  1. The sharks of Oarweed Cove decided to sacrifice a virgin shark to the shark gods to celebrate the upcoming beach season (little known fact - the shark gods are actually named Larry and Bob and cohabitate in the backwoods of New Hampshire in a little red house with white trim) and the virgin shark was forced in the wee hours of the night after much ceremonial circling and dorsal fin flapping to swim onto land until the virgin shark could swim no longer and the shark gods were appeased.

  1. The local boys decided that cow-tipping was so, like, yesterday and drove an hour to the closest salt-water inlet and waded into the waters and used their truck headlights as spotlights and their friend Billy as bait (they never did really much like Billy and you have to admit Billy did have an admirably delicate bone structure and didn't know how to swim which made him really a beautiful piece of bait) and finally after a little while pulled a shark out of the water (which only required Billy losing his left arm up to his elbow) and then drove back to the local boys' hangout with the shark in the truck bed until they got bored or tired or whichever came first with it and dumped the shark in the woods along with Billy because they had better things to do like go back to tipping cows (which they now realized wasn't quite SO yesterday) or sleep.

  1. The shark actually suffered from a debilitating sleep-walking disease, the kind of disease that probably irritated the hell out of his shark-wife because sometimes this shark would wake up in the middle of the night and pull out boxes and decorate the living room in Christmas decorations and then go back to sleep and everyone would wake up to the ugliest Christmas couch they'd ever seen in July except this time the shark didn't just decorate the couch.

  1. The sharks thoroughly disagreed with the way Discovery Channel was portraying them in this so called "shark week" because the sharks had indeed worked really quite hard to acquire their fearsome/murderous/mysterious reputations and the Discovery Channel was really quite fucking it up by letting people in on the sharks' secrets and all that good stuff so they sent their top shark assassin in order to find this leader of the Discovery Channel and put a final end to him and this highly-defamatory "shark week" but the shark assassin must have taken a wrong turn and got lost in the woods because New Hampshire woods are really quite disorienting even for a shark.

- 4 -

 

I’m fine.*

*Play this song as you read along.


You wake up.

The kind of wake up where you’re not sure where you are who you are what you did last night what your name is who your momma is.

All you see are empty bottles of Jameson Pepsi Vicodin cracked open split empty like the shells of peanuts next to you fuzzy as the world comes in to focus.

Shit you think.

Shit thinks the woman sees you awake leans meanly in the doorway.

Get your stuff get outta here she says her arms crossing her chest her eyes crossing her nose.

Shit that ugly you think I will get my stuff get outta here then you lean forward get up head feels like it’s gonna split apart just like those peanut shells spill your brains onto the beige carpet floor.

Shit you say.

You grab for your pants what you think is your pants probably is your pants your right hand reaches for the hurt.

Shit I’m bleeding.

No shit says the woman leaning meanly in the doorway you were somethin’ last night somethin’ I ain’t never wanna see a-gain.

You look at your pointer middle ring fingers painted with blood ask for something to wrap your side with before you pull on the shirt the snakeskin boots that are probably yours big enough to be yours from under the peg-legged coffee table.

Fuck you she says thats my shirt you give up on the idea of shirts altogether sit on the couch pull the boots on your feet.

Robert you say remember your name pull up your pants slowly zip the zipper cause you don’t have no boxers on.

So the motherfucker’s gotta name she says.

Samson you say as you touch the belt buckle brainfog clears a little more the name of the Bronco you rode at the Littleton Rodeo in 1992 where you compressed two vertebrae in your spine but hot damn it was worth it to see your daddy so proud smilin at you for the first time you could ever remember.

She says who the fuck is Samson or is that your real name?

You look over at the coffee table the crushed vicodin pills the line of powder still waitin’ for someone’s nostrils to come along - like the way you see them movie stars in them movies do - put one nostril to it and hoove up then you feel the pain the real pain in your side for the first time your eyes widen big.

She follows your eyes to the coffee table then points says see that there you awful son-of-a-bitch to one of those small kitchen knives you’d use to peel an apple while sitting on a porch swing in the late afternoons with your kids because yeah am-ne-siac fucker you have two little girls Becca and Sammy two and seven who love their apples cut into perfect little pieces with no skin as they swing on the porch swing and kick their feet with those perfect little doily socks back and forth back and forth.

That’s the knife that cut you-son-of-a-bitch that’s the knife that’s gonna kill you if don’t get your tight little ass outta here right now.

Your eyes are working better your basic brain is kicking in.

You get the hell up don’t even care where you live where you’re from all you want is to bolt out that door as far as your broken body will carry you. You hope your brain can forget all this too.

Fuck me you say as you make towards the door see his car pull in up the driveway remember last night late bills raised voices slammed doors little girls crying your red Chevy truck wailing the bar her tits the truck the drugs her bed her body headlights through the window a man his wife you doing to her what he can never do ‘cept in front of a gay mag she says to his face the brawl the knife the superman drug power the headlights fading back into otherness the taste of victory and pussy.

Fuck she whispers he brought his boys as you both run for the back door.

You hit your shin hard on the bird bath hard enough to sober your dumb-ass up real good use it to superman leap over the bushes into the neighbor’s yard you hear the safety click off from a shotgun on the other side of the bushes.

You run like you’re Usain fucking Bolt like your sponsored by Adidas because Adidas sponsors coward white men runnin’ through backyards who smoke two packs of cigarettes a day fuck other men’s wives then you trip fall into a pool hide under the inflatable alligator as he walks by makes his way to the next yard.

You get out soaking wet half-dead half-alive you’re not really sure about anything anymore walk out of the backyard into the street walk what feels like centuries slow down when you see a gas station feel the pull of nicotine.

The teenager at the cash register sees you walk in shirtless soaked bloodied faded Levis grey leather snakeskin boots all lean and trim but the kind of lean and trim that isn’t born out of vanity so much as hard life and hard lessons.

Sees you ask for a pack of Marlboros, reach for the wallet from your back pocket realize your wallet isn’t there look up eyes afire with God or Satan the teenager ain’t sure which but he’s no dumb boy hands over the smokes and pack of matches anyhow.

You okay? asks the boy.

I’m fine you say walk out the door stop light a cigarette breathe deep.

I’m fine you think exhale smoke start walking towards home towards Becca and Bobby this has to be the right direction.

I’m fine.

- 5 -

 

Her name was Regina


me: yooooooo

Lauren: oh hey girl :)

Sent at 3:02 PM on Monday

me: how was last night?

Lauren: pretty mellow, just stayed in

how about you?

me: I went on a date

Lauren: oh nice. another online date?

me: nah not really

Lauren: meet her at a bar or something?

me: Well no she came out of my head

Sent at 3:07 PM on Monday

Lauren: sorry I am making brussel sprouts

Lauren: Wait what?

me: Well yeah

I had this really massive headache yesterday

I mean REALLY MASSIVE

Lauren: shit man im sorry

me: yeah

ha and so i took some advil and that

didn’t do anything

Lauren: wait where does the girl come in?

me: and so i went to lie down in the dark for a bit

and then my forehead literally SPLITS OPEN and

out steps this girl

Lauren: holy fuck dude

that’s some serious fucked up shit

me: i know

Lauren: hold on two secs

i need to put this pot on the stove

me: ok

Sent at 3:12 PM on Monday

Lauren: OK SO A GIRL LITERALLY STEPS OUT

OF YOUR HEAD

me: yup

Lauren: AND THEN WHAT HAPPENS

me: She was actually pretty considerate

I mean, she stepped out then right away

found the drawer with the bandaids

and neosporin in the bathroom then came

and put my forehead back together

Lauren: woah

me: then she walks in the kitchen

and the weird thing is, she already knows

where everything is

Lauren: wtf

me: yeah, like, she goes for the tea kettle and

fills it up with water then turns on the stove

me: then she pulls out the peppermint tea from

the left corner cabinet

Lauren: that’s your fave!

me: YEAH

and she pulls out two mugs without having to open

eight million cabinets to figure out where they are first

Lauren: whoa

me: and when the water is ready she pours 2 cups

then walks back hands me the tea with two cubes

of sugar and we start to talk

Lauren: holy shit this is so fucking weird

wait you’re sure you weren’t on drugs or shrooms

or something yesterday?

me: no def not

Lauren: ok so continue

me: Her name was Regina

I had been dreaming her up in the back of my head

for the past couple of months

Lauren: :-o

me: yeah she told me so

she told me she had been this sort of person

percolating in the back of my brain for so long

and in greater and greater detail

Lauren: like your idea of the perfect woman

me: exactly

me: and she had been coming to life so vividly

in my brain, to the point that

she finally literally came to life and stepped out

Lauren: that is fucking incredible how did you do that

me: ha not sure

Sent at 3:24 PM on Monday

Lauren: Zeus almighty

Ok so aside from the sheer insanity of this

what’s Regina’s deal?

me: well we had tea, and

she told me how she came about

and then she asked me if she could

borrow some clothes and if I’d like to go see

a performance this evening because she had been

looking around and found a really great

Swan Lake production

Lauren: woah, and like, she’s your type?

me: yeah w blue eyes, brown hair and a great butt

Lauren: hahahahaha interesting

me: Regina looked great in my clothes

Lauren: B-)

me: ok so she goes into my closet and gets some

clothes, then she takes me out to the ballet

Lauren: holy fuck man

that’s some classy shit no girl has done for you before

me: i know

and it turns out she loves ballet too

Lauren: yeah, well, I guess that makes sense

she did literally come from your brain

so you go to the ballet

then what

me: we go out to drinks and she tells me

all about herself

Lauren: mother of god I just burned

my brussel sprouts

me: i mean, she just came out of my head

and my head isn’t an ATM machine,

so i buy all the drinks

Lauren: naturally

me: turns out we both love black licorice

and logic games

Lauren: she sounds perfect for you

is it possible to both burn brussels sprouts

while simultaneously nuking them to hell

me: nah I don’t think so

Lauren: well i just did it

me: at one point on the date,

she even told me I looked better in person

than in my head

Lauren: oh man that’s a new one

me: and then we’re both buzzed because

WE HAVE THE SAME ALCOHOL TOLERANCE

and walk to the subway

Lauren: ok then what

me: I took her home

Lauren: you took Regina hom

Lauren: *home

Sent at 3:28 PM on Monday

me: well, she didn’t have anywhere else to go she

had just come out of my head five hours ago

Lauren: true

me: so i took her home, and one thing leads

to another and we’re fooling around in bed

Lauren: wait wait wait

you slept with her on the first date

after she came out of your head?

me: and suddenly i start to realize

as im doing things to this girl

this girl isn’t some perfect dream girl combo pack

of all the girls I’ve been on dates with

or seen on TV before

Lauren: omg i think i know where this is going

me: she’s me

Lauren: holy mother of god

me: and I’m fucking me

Lauren: what

holy shit

me: and fucking me is soooooooo boring

Lauren: bahahahahahhahahahahah

hahahaahhahahahaha

ahahahahahahahahaha

me: and get this, so we stopped, but it was Regina

who put a stop to it first

Lauren: like, i am dying here

with the perversity of this

like, my old lady neighbor is banging

on the ceiling

me: she gets up real quick

like we literally have this epiphany

at the same exact moment

Lauren: really

me: she takes some money from my wallet

and a roller suitcase of some of my clothes

and then she walks out the front door

Lauren: ???????

me: yeah, and when she’s about to step

out the door like literally,

as she is mid-stride over the threshold she stops

turns around

looks at me and says

“I hope you find what you are looking for”

and closes the door

Lauren: damn

me: i mean, i dunno

Lauren: what an exit

i mean, not even you is good enough for you

me:  :-/

Lauren: you kinda deserve that

Sent at 3:45 PM on Monday

Lauren: so what should I order from

Seamless for dinner?

Sent at 5:22 PM on Monday

- 6 -

 

Washer and dryer stage an intervention on a reality tv show.*

*Click on the x’s to activate the comment box dialogue. 

(It’s cool. Just give it a try.)


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The End. Yup. Truly. Maybe you’re like, Thank God that’s over. But hey, you know what? You read through the whole thing. That’s pretty special. I mean, who has the attention span for that sort of thing these days. Special thanks goes to you for reading all the way through and then discovering this hidden message, Roseanne Overton, that really big dog always parked in front of Blue Bottle Coffee, my mom (hey Mom!), and of course, New York City. If you’re interested in reading more of my stuff, awesome. If you’re not interested in reading more of my stuff, why the fuck did you make it this far. Anyway, I hope you have a great morning/day/night and please share this google doc publication if you’re in that particular sort of sharing mood.  ---  Bri Hand  ---