Eight Plots in Search of an Author
by William Michaelian

And then Pete told me if I didnít have the stomach for it, I didnít have to stay and watch. Like Iíve never seen anyone roughed up before. So I stayed. Go ahead, I said. Do what you have to do. And Pete proceeded to beat the tar out of none other than Big Mike, undisputed king of the used car underworld. Before dumping him in the alley, Pete wrapped an old muffler around Big Mikeís neck. Nice touch, I said. Now everyone will get the message. Pete grinned. You know what, kid? he said. I like you. Tell you what. Why donít you stick around, shine my shoes for a few weeks. Weíll see what happens. Iím not shining anyoneís shoes, I said. But I will stick around. This was too much for old Pete. When he heard that, he laughed his head off, then draped his bloody arm over my shoulder. Okay, kid, he said. Have it your way.

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Okay, so this washed up rock and roll legend turns up at his best friendís house. When the friend opens the door, the legend staggers in and says, I need a hit, man. Hearing this, the friend hands him a freshly lit marijuana cigarette and says, Cool. Here you go, dude. But the rock legend doesnít take it. Instead, he says, No, man. I need a hit. Like a song. And then he collapses on the floor. So while the guy is passed out, his friend goes in and writes a song. It takes him about ten minutes. Heís playing it on his guitar and singing when the legend comes to and starts listening. The thing is, itís a darn good song, maybe even a classic. Sensing a big comeback, the legend sneaks up on his friend and hits him over the head. For good measure, he kills him. A week later, the song, Guilty as Charged, is number one on the charts.

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Being snowed in was bad enough. But being snowed in with a demented poodle, he needed every ounce of his strength to survive. Every day, the poodle put on an apron and opened another can of beans. That was all they had: beans. The cabin was full of them. Pork and beans, chili with beans, black beans, pinto beans, red beans, and garbanzos. Are you sure garbanzos are beans? he asked the poodle one morning when they were eating breakfast. Sure Iím sure, the poodle said. What kind of person do you think I am? And so he ate the garbanzos. Later, they were washing dishes. I think Iím pregnant, the poodle confided. Pregnant? he said. How can that be? Youíre not even a female. So thatís what you think of me, the poodle howled. And so he apologized. What could he do? There were several months of winter left.

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A butterfly landed on a giantís nose. Good morning, it said. Isnít this a fine day? The giant, who had been up all night working on his taxes, said, It would be, if I could balance these books. Eager to be of help, the butterfly fluttered down to the table. Youíre missing quite a few deductions, it said. Tell me. How many children do you have? Thirty-eight, the giant said. The butterfly was astonished. Well, there you are right there, it said, punching several numbers on the giantís calculator. The government owes you money already. The giant was pleased. Now, the butterfly said. Did you make money this year, or lose money? The giant said he lost money. I always do, he said. Iím a lousy businessman. But he wasnít stupid. When the butterfly gave him the bill for its services, he smashed it, then mailed off his refund form.

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The writer sat alone in his study, wrestling with his dreams. He looked at the calendar, and was amazed at how quickly another year had passed. His plan to write a best selling novel had backfired. Instead, he remained in poverty, and his manuscript gathered dust. One by one, he thought of the many editors who had rejected his book. Some of them had been extremely rude, telling him things like, Your manuscript would be good for lining a bird cage, and, Help save the world, give up writing. This was his reward for slaving away, and for telling a story that needed to be told. He knew he had something of value. What he didnít know was how to bring it to the rest of the world. He wasnít a publicist. He was a writer. Just a stupid, boring writer. He took a deep breath. He started to write.

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His invention worked. The new contraption could make his coffee, brush his teeth, polish his wifeís car, and write an opera. It was fantastic. He looked around his basement workshop, beaming with pride. But when he went upstairs to tell his family the good news, he discovered they had all been killed by a freak tornado. Depressed, he went back to the basement. Donít feel bad, his new invention said. With me around, youíll have a new family in no time. Really? he said. Well, you can do everything else. I guess I shouldnít be surprised. That afternoon, the invention made a few calls and arranged for them to double-date. Awhile later, the doorbell rang. He went to the door and said hello to two of the most gorgeous blonds heíd ever seen. Where are you girls from? he said. Nowhere, they answered. Weíre androids.

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It was nine to seven, with six seconds remaining. The Dripping Mud Hens had the ball, and were finally within field goal distance. Sensing a disaster, the coach of the Drooling Bandits called a timeout. Listen, you mugs, he said. Iíve got a lot of money on this game. So hereís what weíre gonna do. When they snap the ball, I want you to tackle the referee, the line judge, and the umpire. You got that? But coach, one of the defensive linemen said, wonít that make us lose the game? The coach smiled, then pulled out a pistol and shot the lineman. Okay, he said. Any more questions? Uh, yeah, another guy said. Whoís gonna take Larryís spot? The coach smiled, then shot the other player. The timeout ended. Both teams resumed the field. The Bandits cheated, but the Mud Hens lost anyway for having too many men on the field.

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Why does everyone hate me? Iím not a bad person. I always do what Iím told. When the country says Go to war, I go to war. When it says Buy more stuff, I buy stuff like crazy. Iím a darn good consumer. I have four cars, three boats, eight TVs, and twelve computers. My kids have braces, even though they have straight teeth, and my wife spends nine thousand dollars a year on cosmetics. What else can I do? Just the other day, I

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William Michaelianís newest releases are two poetry collections, Winter Poems and Another Song I Know, published in paperback by Cosmopsis Books in San Francisco. His short stories, poems, and drawings have appeared in many literary magazines and newspapers. His novel,
A Listening Thing, is published here in its first complete online edition. For information on Michaelianís other books and links to this siteís other sections, please go to the Main Page or visit Flippantly Answered Questions.

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