by Richard Kostelanetz

Though it was only our first date she let me know that hidden in her clothing was at least one pistol.

He wouldn't speak to anyone, whether female or male, unless he knew in advance that he would be regarded among the major cultural figures of the age.

What a shock it was to discover that my father's body in the casket still felt warm.

Two congenitally abstinent women discover over tea they have contracted the same disease that is customarily sexually transmitted.

I awoke to the sensation of orange juice coming up my nose.

After an hour of not finding my way I realized I had been traveling in a perfect circle.

The amulet he gave me, supposedly in lieu of an engagement ring, looked like something that might explode.

I've published one poem and only one poem for every decade of my life.

The opening pages of the “diary” she gave me when we married were filled with indecipherable scrawl.

Never before did I write a short story that someone else regarded as publishable.

Camped in my father-in-law's backyard was a regiment of underpaid soldiers.

Most of my time nowadays is spent reading and writing about my reading.

My new pet was conjured by two genetic engineers trying to develop a hardier tomato.

Ideally I would like each sentence of this story to epitomize the grammar of a different language.

Present at my conception, my father was at the time of my birth “engaged elsewhere,” as he said.

The stars in the sky appeared to be spelling my name.

I returned home to find that I had been missing for a dozen years and, moreover, been declared dead a decade ago.

Once my face appeared as a “lost person” on a national television program, people identified me under at least seventeen different names.

Out of the statue's mouth came a gusher of blood.

The age of the animal before him he estimated to be between one thousand years and two.

I was struck down by a block of ice rolling up a hill.

May I introduce you to my personal robot whom you may calI “Robbie.”

The secret necessary for changing your life, let me tell you, is buried in your left front pocket.

Now that I arrived in the strange country to which I had been sent I discovered that my instructions failed to include any provision for returning home.

Every few hours I must take some pill to preserve the illusion of stability.

If being stupid were only a crime, I would have been incarcerated for my own safety many years ago.

I couldn't tell immediately if the young man who presented himself unexpectedly at my front door was really my son, as he claimed, or an impostor.


Individual entries on Richard Kostelanetz appear in Contemporary Poets, Contemporary Novelists, Postmodern Fiction, Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, A Reader's Guide to Twentieth-Century Writers, the Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature, Webster's Dictionary of American Authors, and Encyclopedia Britannica, among other selective directories. His "Openings/Complete (Shorter) Stories" appeared in Issue 12 of The Cafe Irreal. The openings presented here were, consistent with the author's stipulations, chosen from a larger selection by the editors.