Evan Quinlan

Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

Deus Ex Billiards

In Fiction, Short Stories on November 30, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Sunday mornings I go to the pool hall.  My mother calls my cell around noon to talk about how much she enjoyed the service at church.  It breaks her heart that I don’t go.  I tried once to tell her I play billiards to see the universe through God’s eyes but it came out sounding like cheap sarcasm.

The atoms of the universe crowd tightly around a dark, dense center.  All is stillness.  Then, in an instant, all is chaos; matter separates and scatters to the farthest limits of space.  Colored spheres collide with one another, sometimes aligning, sometimes forming patterns that seem too perfect to be the products of random chance.  Indeed.

White is the color of My divine will.

Running the mechanics of the universe is great fun.  I live for it.  But a time comes when all things must end.  One by one, the white strikes each striped or solid mass from the fabric of reality.  Each disappears into the void, unreachable even by My hand, until all that remains is the dark matter; the black hole to which all matter clings in the beginning.

White is the color of everlasting miracles.  White is My avatar.

I call the pocket; I shoot.  Yang strikes yin and the number eight disappears from my view.  I hear it roll away beneath the surface.  Now the table is empty.  I check my right pocket for quarters.  Nothing.  The cue ball and I stare at each other blankly.  Is this God’s fate?  Eternal boredom?  My thigh vibrates.  Ah, yes.  Of course.  God will never be lonely so long as his mother calls him every Sunday.  I reach into my left pocket for the phone… and discover five quarters I’d forgotten I’d received from a faulty vending machine last night.  NO VEND, it had proclaimed.  Splunk, splunk, splunk, splunk, and splunk.

My mother has long since gone to voicemail.  My phone vibrates once, signifying that she has finally finished talking to nobody about church.  I lift from the table a holy shape: the plastic Trinity that has just shaped the form of a new, unborn cosmos waiting before Me.

The game begins again.  It always begins again.

Let there be white.

The Santa Scale

In Drabbles, Fiction, Short Stories on November 17, 2010 at 5:21 pm

A major toy retailer almost made an incredible discovery.

Hidden scales and microphones were installed beneath the chairs of mall Santas in demographically similar locations across the country.  By subtracting the weight of the chair and “Santa,” researchers could calculate the heaviness of each lap-faring child.  Recordings were made of the children’s wish lists.  If any correlations emerged between weight and requested toys, the company could more effectively market to children discretely weighed in their stores.  On the verge of identifying one such trend, an elated research team failed to notice that one mall Santa in Nebraska weighed nothing at all…

Goodnight, Lucky Girl

In Drabbles, Fiction, Short Stories on November 12, 2010 at 8:05 pm

He sat on the bed and leaned close to her.  Her breathing sounded regular.  Gently, he ran his fingers over her hair.  Warm.  Sound asleep; good.   She would need her rest tomorrow.  Quietly he went to her dresser and opened each drawer, scanning the contents.  In the third, the room’s second-hand moonlight disclosed small, glittering objects.  Ah, she was lucky: he’d found what he wanted.  Then tomorrow would indeed be a big day for her.  Police reports.  Press hounding her for details.  At last, the killer had spared another victim; someone to tell a story.  He left with his prize.

Thank you, Erin, for the inspiration.

The Last Ride of the Prince

In Drabbles, Fiction, Short Stories on November 8, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Headlights after headlights after headlights pass; comets in the dark.  Someone next to me is screaming, trying to tear my hands from the wheel but I am lost in a private philosophy lesson.  Today’s topic?  Power and consequence.  The stuff of Machiavelli.  Machiavelli would have known not to pass judgment on someone who wields power, not to “fail” someone who controls the outcome of fate.  They mustn’t be told they “cannot have their drivers’ license” because they “lack discipline.”  Discipline?  It takes discipline to navigate this one-way highway, dear instructor.  Headlights after headlights after headlights.  Which will be the last?

Some Shallow Philosophy

In Drabbles, Non-Fiction on November 8, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Today I ate cows and chickens and pigs, in that order.  I ate wheat and beans and cheese and tomatoes and carrots and beets and syrup and corn and salt and apples.  I ate the Earth (it’s in my belly).  And the Earth is made of rock and dust and space and time and stars that have existed forever, by definition, and it’s all in there, in my stomach right now.  And while I’m rambling, let me just say that you and I once occupied the same exact, infinitely small point in spacetime and it’s nice to see you again.

My Secret Coauthor

In Drabbles, Fiction, Short Stories on November 6, 2010 at 7:14 pm

This week a book made the New York Times Best Seller list.  I’d call it “my book,” but that would feel dishonest.  I wrote the words, yes, but I cannot remember writing the notes from which I worked.  I find outlines—extensive ones—scrawled in my own handwriting on paper scraps or my bedroom wall.  Brilliant stuff.  But among the plot twists and story arcs I find messages:  “Bury it,” one reads.  “Hidden beneath the straw,” says another.  “Pray,” advises a third.   Needless to say, I enjoy the fruits of my royalties from my home and no longer venture into the barn.