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Three Short Shorts by Bryson Newhart



The Employment History of a Young Man

At an appropriate age, a young man decided to design a shrimp car that would drive with the grace of shrimp, and because he liked computers, to become a fish programmer. Primarily interested in flying fish, however, he quickly changed his mind to bird conducting, a demanding occupation in which a conductor waves a stick from the ground to guide birds. He did this for a while, and sometimes conducted zebra, but he felt that he was not quite suited to the work and decided to return to the city, the place where his egg was hatched. He immediately regretted the decision, for he soon ended up in a factory where he was forced to sort sugar from salt, and to stuff the tiny piles into packets. To earn extra cash, he spent his evenings as a hanging plant. One winter he financed a new undershirt as a goose bump on the Statue of Liberty, but eventually he became a spare tire, the most spineless employment of all, and rolled to the desert to spend his final days as a cactus that would bloom only once and die.


An Unlikely Escape from Questions

People that I don't know are riding on my shifting furniture, cast adrift in my childhood bedroom on an ocean of inquisitive sunlight. Just how long have we been here, I wonder? "Shhh," says the dust in my ears. "Wait for the dark to ask questions." Light crashes through the walls, inquiring about my sheets, and from the closet I can hear a discussion, something shady about an anchor with no rope, its flukes partly eaten by seaworms. "Soon the room will fill with water," says a woman, gliding by on my desk. "Would you mind throwing me out the window?" We rise over hills of water. "I am dirty enough to form an island," she says. We grow thinner as the light grows faint. A man proposes that an iceberg weighs twenty million tons, claiming that he ate one for breakfast. Someone else says that this is absurd, breakfast does not exist. Apparently Antarctica is approaching. "If an iceberg weighed that much," says an X ray, surprising us with the shape of our bones, "how could it stand in the water? Besides which, who would ever build such a ludicrous flotation device?" But apparently they had. The next morning I saw them escaping on it, an iceberg floating into the sky. "Perhaps they will put the sun out," I thought. "I might start asking some questions."


Roman Gladiators

When I think of Roman gladiators as I'm falling asleep each night, I picture them fighting in the streets of Brooklyn, their stomachs in rebellion against meatballs and the prospect of bedtime. I empathize with these gladiators, for to be gladsome would be excellent but tough. One might enter a pastry shop and dismember a small child and his pet dolphin, a task that would be excellent but hard. Personally I would bake them into a pie and wheel it down the sidewalk. I would ignore my hunger and deliver it to their human and dolphin parents alert in their rooftop estate, high above the snoozing city. I might move in with my sword and sleep there.



Bryson Newhart's writing can be found in Pindeldyboz, 3rd bed, The American Journal of Print, Both Magazine, Insurance Magazine, and on the websites Eyeshot, Elimae, Casajp, Dezmin, and Pindeldyboz.


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