Wednesday, March 31, 2010

the lie and how we told it: Junk by Taylor Lewis

by Taylor Lewis

He stood in the doorway and stared inside, listening to the soft tapping of rain on the roof and remembering. In spite of what he was about to do, he still loved the smell of grease and oil. Loved the feeling of holding a wrench. Loved bringing broken objects back to life. He was good at what he did, or at least he thought so. Still, he had no other choice.

He would double-check to make sure he had set up everything correctly. It had to look believable or else they wouldn’t pay and that wouldn’t do. After all, he was now worth more dead than alive and they wouldn’t give his family a dime if it looked like suicide. He knew they would probably think that anyway, since everybody knew about his money troubles. They would know that hardly anybody ever came into his shop anymore. And with the bank getting ready to take his house, a business just about ready to go under, and his wife having already left him, suicide would be the first thing they suspected, which was the reason why he was being so careful. It has to look believable, he kept reminding himself. Besides, the equipment was old. Of course, even though it looked old and worn it was always expertly maintained, but they wouldn’t know that.

He walked slowly past all the machinery, running his callused and leathery hands lovingly over each one. He sighed, and felt bad that they would soon perish by his own hand when it was he who had cared for them for so long. Still, it was necessary.
Spending a few moments looking at each of his tools, with every step his chest slowly filled with both dread and excitement as he carved his way further inside. He felt guilty because of the excitement. Then again, he felt guilty about a lot of things.
At last he reached the back of the room and stopped next to where he kept the welding tanks. The cart that held the oxygen and acetylene used for welding had been sabotaged and if any traces of his handiwork were found, it would appear as though the tank had been dropped and developed a leak.

While the room filled with the highly flammable gas, the rain continued to pelt the roof overhead. Then, an air compressor nearby kicked on.
A violent explosion rocked the building.

Standing on a small rise half a mile away, he watched the explosion through a set of binoculars. Flames ate at the roof and snarled out of the shattered windows. He turned and took a step but looked back at the rising flames again. Then, with all the effort he could muster, he turned and began walking down the hill, toward the rail yard. Soon he would be just another vagrant riding the rails.

He had thought about actually going up in flames along with everything else, but he wasn’t ready to die yet, and he could still be useful. And he would find a way to keep an eye on his family somehow. Maybe someday he could return to them and offer an explanation for what he had done. Or maybe not. He still had to learn how to look at himself in the mirror.
Taylor Lewis lives in Orange County where he "accepts ridiculous amounts of money for toys." Check out his tumblng tumblr, Rust in Pieces

Monday, March 29, 2010

the lie and how we told it: Tiles and Tribulations by Erin Mahoney

This is Erin Mahoney's second entry in the series. She also wrote this one, which served as the introduction to this string of fiction we've been posting. She hand-wrote and scanned the following story and sent it to me late last week. I love it, and I think you will too.

Tiles and Tribulations
by Erin Mahoney
Click on that guy to make it a readable size.

Friday, March 26, 2010

the lie and how we told it: First Knowledge by James Park

First Knowledge
By James Park

The first emotion that DH630-3M felt wasn't love, or happiness, but jealousy. It began when he noticed that DH630-4M and DH630-5M were being installed with full-motion hands while he was left with the ancient pointer. Without knowing what he was feeling, he noticed that his sensors kept following their hands as they tested their range of motion. After he was shut down at night, he would intentionally power back on and replay the recorded video of that afternoon’s testing sessions, silently watching as -4M and -5M picked up small rubber balls, waved to the testers and even reached out for each other.

It got worse when -4M and -5M began disappearing from the lab for days at a time. The testers would return them with low charges and broken joints, but -4M and -5M never seemed to mind. -3M wondered where they went and why he wasn’t taken with them.

Then they were given permanent covers and new sensors. At first, -3M had trouble telling them apart from the testers but their slow, awkward movements soon made it easy to see the difference. But he watched as -4M and -5M observed each other with their new sensors, and he knew why even though the testers left them facing the sockets at night, they would return in the morning to find them facing each other. He watched as they used their new hands to feel their new skins and they used their new skin to feel their hands.

-3M didn’t have new hands, or new skin. His sensors were prototypes and outdated. But his processor was just as fast as the ones in -4M and -5M and his software was upgraded along with theirs. And while he didn’t have a full-motion hand, his pointer had a small laser fixed to its end.
When the testers came in the next morning, they found -5M on the floor, its hands splayed out and in place of its new sensors were two dark, ash-filled craters. -4M was hidden under a dustcover in the corner, facing the wall. They found -3M with multiple blown fuses and a charred stub where its pointer should be. Unable to determine what had happened, the testers blamed the mess on burglars and scrapped DH630-3M. They would have to continue with only the -4M prototype.

Three months later, -4M’s sensors registered movement again as the testers rolled in two new prototypes. DH640-6M and DH640-7M had new skin covering their entire frames and their full-motion hands didn’t require command sequences to begin operation. But -6M’s hand motions seemed strangely familiar to -4M. Its new sensors didn’t match the records in -4M’s memory banks, but the way -6M was found in the morning, facing -7M instead of the socket, tripped a minor alarm inside -4M.

The first emotion that DH630-4M felt had been love. The second emotion was jealousy.
James Park lives and works in San Francisco. Track him down and buy him a beer. You can read his tweets @robocopinator.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

the lie and how we told it: Blue Sunday Bookstore Blues by Jake Kilroy

Blue Sunday Bookstore Blues
by Jake Kilroy
I was moving through the used bookstore as if I were fondling the art of a museum.

The light at the end of the aisle jangled a terrible hum. But, as I swayed towards the end of the aisle, there came the rickety music box voice of a teenage boy. It was a wobbly sound, the forlorn melody of a boy trying to impress a girl. It’s a song that nobody likes to hear, but it’ll be dazzling nobody until the end of mankind.

There, sitting next to a girl, was a boy with an optimistic look that only belongs to somebody without a tender understanding of humiliation.

“I don’t like writing. I like having written,” the boy said.

“Yeah,” drawled the girl sitting next to him, reading a red book.

I faced the walls of books, keeping my eyes away but my ears around.

“I think I just like watching the page numbers go up,” he said.

The girl nodded.

“That's probably what Tolstoy thought,” said the boy, his own throat rattling like a jail key in a jar, “you know, because War And Peace was so long.”


“Have you ever read War And Peace?”


“Me neither."

The girl’s phone rang. She answered it and headed outside. I noticed what book the girl had been reading and I felt close to homesick. The boy fiddled with random books, which, for whatever reason, confirmed to me that he was inexperienced with women.

“Kid, either your head or your heart is going to explode if you keep up with that storm you call affection,” I said, my eyes still roving the books.

“I‘m sorry?”

“I dated that girl years ago. Not her, obviously, but somebody close. And I’ve gathered you’re in love with her.”

“Well, I don't know if it's love.”

“How old are you?”

“Almost 16.”

“It will be.”

“What will be?”

“I don’t know. You tell me,” I said, finally turning to look at him.

He stared emptily at me, which is quite a feat for teenagers, as their heads, if I remember it correctly, are like roomfuls of typewriters.

“I think I’m going to go see if everything’s alright,” he said, moving past me towards the exit.

“She's already found out about Vonnegut, hasn’t she?”

The boy stopped and came back. “Yeah. How did you know that? She's been reading him a lot lately.”

“And what do you read?”

“Whatever my teachers tell me to.”

I shook my head. “That’s not good enough, kid. Pretty soon, that girl’s going to be finishing A Clockwork Orange while you're just starting The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. If you want the intellectual, you can’t be young. You have to be smarter than age.”

“How do I do that?” the boy said asked sincerely.

“You make youth last.”

“I thought you said I can’t be young.”

“You’re only young until you’re old. If you make youth last, there’s no such thing as older.”

“I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about.”

“I know you don’t, but I’m a lot older than you.”

“I thought you said there was no such thing as older.”

“That’s only if you make youth last.”

“You didn’t?”

“No,” I said definitely.

“What happened?”

“Like I told you before, I loved the same girl when I was your age.”


“And I didn’t love her right.”

“I'm sorry to hear that. What went wrong?”

“You don’t get to know.”

“Oh, sorry for prying.”

“Prying? Kid, I've been breaking and entering into your life for the last few minutes. No, I mean you don’t get to know because it'll ruin your chances with that girl outside. All I’m saying is you better tell her how you feel before she discovers Bukowski.”


“Because then it means she’s already read between the lines of Hemingway.”

The girl reappeared and I glided away like a specter, down the aisle, rummaging through the books until I found it. I opened up the copy of A Farewell To Arms I had seen so many times on my night table, on her night table and in the bookstore these last few years.

In an instant, I was sick.

My hands became oil-starved machines, creaking as they moved the pages with something that should’ve resembled grace. I read her name and my name on the title page and what I had written in between. Squeezing my eyes for a moment, I moved with an anguished fury to the counter and finally bought the goddamn thing. The cashier asked me if I was ok. I nodded and stalked back to the teenage boy as if the book was a gun. I shoved it into him and said, “Always believe there’s a future in the present, not a past.”
Jake Kilroy spends most of is time living and working in Orange, CA. He writes poetry. You can find a lot of his poetry, along with some great stories, over at The Cobblestone Address.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

the lie and how we told it: Caligraphy by Kelly Canavan Vargas

by Kelly Canavan Vargas

The worn, leather book strap had been tightened around Isaac's upper arm. He stretched out his left hand and flexed. Stretched and flexed. Stretched and grabbed the catalog in front of him. Carefully, he peeled off the address label. Holding it close to his face he examined the label. It was parchment thin and the sun shone through it. His name and address were hand-written in a long and elegant mix of cursive and printing. As he began to move the label away from his face, he paused when he noticed the faint scent of flowers.

"Is this her perfume?" he wondered aloud. His voice echoing in the empty loft. Slowly getting up, he paced across the wood floors; Planks creaking under his weight, pigeons rustling on the ledge.

"Is this her lotion? The scent of her skin?" He paused his incessant pacing. "Could this be her actual skin?"

"She knew this would help me grow!" he yelled, holding the catalog up with his left hand. Pigeons scattered.

The small "r" at the end of his name spoke to him. Schumacher. It curved upward slightly at the end. It was so hopeful. Isaac paced as he studied it. As he started worrying that the low dip of the "r" would never end, it gently glided up, up, up. It was a roller coaster of a letter. It was manic. He plunged the needle in his arm. The upwards motion of the letter swirled in Isaac's head. In one ear and out the other. Jostled his hair. Entered his bowels and came warmly out of his mouth like vomit. It was vomit.
Kelly Canavan Vargas also participated in the Year in Review series. Check out her blog Ravenous River Horses.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

the lie and how we told it: Untitled by Roby Saavedra

by Roby Saavedra

It was the kind of sports car that could have only existed in the 80’s; not quite boxy, not quite streamlined. The interior was lined with ornamental bells and whistles, which seemed to act as placeholders for utilities that might actually be useful, but had yet to be invented. The atmosphere inside the car was tense and was especially marked by the overwhelming odor of a familiar musk aftershave. As I looked to my right, watching objects whiz past, it struck me that I was actually smelling something, which was unusual -- actually it had never happened before. I noted it mentally, trying my best to seem collected and appropriately aloof.

The driver, most likely sensing something was off, cocked his head to the right and stared at me through his aviator sunglasses, which were actually just one big lens in the shape of sunglasses. After a few moments he turned back to the road, then back at me for a longer period, then back at the road, then back at me even longer. He had on a dark grey scarf which was tucked into a brown leather jacket with its collar popped up, the collar reaching all the way to his pronounced jaw line. He continued his tennis game head movements; back and forth from the road to me to the road to me. I didn’t take the chance to look back at him, instead keeping my eyes on the blur of the outside world through the window, listening to the sound of his leather jacket make the same groan and wrinkle each time he made one of his sharp head twists.

Finally the noises stopped. The match had ended and I was the winner. His gaze fixed on me. My palms sweaty, my mind frantically trying to wash itself of any and all thought processes. The world continued to rush by and I could feel his breath on the left side of my body. He wasn’t moving, I was sure of that. I’d seen him this still before, but wasn’t sure when. Suddenly I wasn’t sure of anything.

Fuck. I lost it. I turned to my left and saw that his sunglasses were gone. His utterly still eyes were paralyzing, blue, and filled with madness. His right hand was gripping the steering wheel, his shoulder at his chin. The musk was gone, replaced by a heaviness which I attributed to his sultry breath. I snapped out of the lock from his eyes and noticed his tongue hanging out of his mouth leaving a trail of spit on his jacket sleeve which dripped down to the gear shifter. I almost laughed when he began to speak.

“Did the smell bother you?” he asked.

“No not really,” I shook my head. At that moment I noticed the scenery outside his window returned to black and white. Fuck.

He began to speak again but all that came out was the sound bite of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion roar and he then proceeded to gnaw on his leather jacket sleeve. I climbed out of the sunroof of the sports car wondering why I would ever choose such a heinous vehicle in the first place and ordered a coffee from the pleasant looking waitress taking our order.

“Well?” the guy sitting directly to my right’s muffled voice asked, “How did it go?”

“Cats, man. Huge ones. And always with people bodies.”

A girl sitting opposite me began to laugh behind her mask. “Fucked up!” she exclaimed.

I took the moment to survey the scene through the two eye-holes in my facemask. There were a lot of Guy Fawks masks throughout the place, more than usual. How unoriginal. The place seemed bigger tonight, I thought, which made me begin to lose myself in the idea of ‘vaster than infinite.’

Suddenly I was jarred out of my spacey moment when the guy next to me got up and began to bid his goodbyes.

“I have a fucking calc test tomorrow, as much as I’d like to keep fucking unattainable women I really ought to get back to reality soon.” And in an instant it was as if he was never even there.

Math test? I thought to myself. They’re getting younger and younger.

“I know,” a person next to me commented, grabbing my shoulder. “If I had this when I was in high school I’d have never graduated.”

My sheets were wet with sweat again and luckily I hadn’t woken up my wife this time.

“Fucking mind readers…” I whispered to myself as I slowly peered over my wife’s shoulder to check for a cat’s head.
Roby Saavedra makes and studies art up in San Francisco. He's a lovely man. Check out his tumbling tumblr: click. Here's where you can check out some of his amazing art: clack.

Monday, March 22, 2010

the lie and how we told it: The Truth by Erin Mahoney

Today starts off a new series here at two hands radio. I've asked a few friends to come down and share a little story with us. Works are completely fiction and there's pretty much only one rule: Keep your stories under 800 words. It should be pretty fun and I'm looking forward to reading all of them. We're gonna run this until I stop getting submissions. If you'd like to submit one, send a story over to me at zuhair.zama [at]
The Truth
by Erin Mahoney

I've never told a lie in my life. I have no interest in falsities. Half-truths never make it fully out of my mouth. I sure hope you believe me. Honest, I do!

I am not a lawyer giving my final arguments, convincing you of my client's innocence. I'm not a doctor telling you your prognosis and what I sincerely think your chances are. I am not selling anything, I don't represent anyone, and I have nothing at all to gain from this.

I know I am not alone and that despite all the fuss about white lies, and innocent deceptions, and all the other garbage people use to excuse themselves for dishonesty – despite all that, there are actually a few folks out there who have taken the same path as me, who retain a golden tongue. I wonder if they are as lonely as I am. If we ever met, I wonder if we'd get along, or if our truths would rattle together incessantly, like the box of dishes in my backseat, until they drove us apart.

I believe that always telling the truth allows me to gauge when others aren't. I am not the dough-eyed picture of naivety so-often depicted in movies and novels, who is so pure she simply cannot conceive of why someone might want to lie to and take advantage of her. I am practical, realistic, and perhaps even a bit cynical. I can read body language, detect facial tics, record idiosyncrasies. I'm a library of telling mannerisms.

I can also tell when someone thinks I'm lying - like you, for instance. You are looking at me like you have some sort of secret knowledge, privately inverting everything I say into what you can believe. I will not argue with you. What is the point?

Living like this is not exactly a choice for me, as I am not that good-hearted. In the past I have tried to cover my tracks with lies, but the mere utterance filled me with such dread I had no choice but to immediately come clean, shaming and embarrassing myself while others would have happily whistled away.

I can tell that you're wondering why I am revealing all of this to you. Frankly, I am not entirely sure. Maybe it's because you seem like the sort of person I can talk to and really open up about myself. Like I said, mine is a lonely existence. Maybe it's because I noticed how awkwardly you were standing here, alone in a room of people, stuffing crackers in your mouth to avoid meaningless conversation.

Truthfully, though, it's because you stink, and the smell was bothering me so much that I just had to be honest with you. You really stink.
This isn't Erin's first post here at two hands radio. If you're interested, check out her Year in Review post she did for our last series.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Breaking Bad

With one episode left before I finish watching season 2 and season 3 beginning tomorrow night I can safely say that Breaking Bad has finally made it into the realm I like to call "My Favorite Shows." It's getting pretty dang close to being part of "My Favorite Anythings Ever," but hasn't quite reached that status yet. Yet.

The cast is phenomenal. Bryan Cranston is fantastic as the high school chem teacher turned 5-star meth chef. Aaron Paul is great as his junkie partner. I am constantly feeling my heartstrings pull every time he smokes a glass ball of meth (is that what it's called?), I just want that asshole to get clean! That sounded...not right. Anyhow. Dean Norris magically has a bigger head than Michael Chiklis, yet is way the eff more loveable (even though his presence as Bryan Cranston's DEA Agent brother-in-law is a definite source of my nervousness, not to mention my rising blood pressure). And of course, Bob Odenkirk's addition to the cast in season 2, as the sketchy, sleaze-ball, attorney is effing grand!

Anyhow. If you're already watching this show, please humbly accept the following "bravo." Bravo! In fact, why don't you take this "huzzah!" as well. Huzzah! If you're not, now's a good time to catch up. You've got a little over 24 hours to watch the 20 episodes that have already aired. Plenty of time.

Season Three of Breaking Bad airs tomorrow night on AMC at 10pm. Or you can find it anytime in the next forever by logging onto your favorite torrent site about an hour or so after the east coast feed.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Just a quick reminder

Sir Catinsuit pleasantly reminds you to stop creating internet memes and start writing really, really short stories

Hey ya, Hey ya, Hey ya, Hey.

Just reminding you that "the lie and how we told it" is starting up next week. Send in your stories! I have a few so far, but not as many as I'd like. We're starting up Monday and we'll be posting up a new story each day till we run out of 'em. Why do I keep calling me "we"? We should stop doing that.

Anyhow, check this post out for all the info and also the....send it in place thing...EMAIL ADDRESS! That you're supposed to send the stories to! We're probably not going to write a story.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

the lie and how we told it

In about three weeks we'll be starting up a new series. Last time we did year in review posts from a variety of different people (read: my friends who weren't too lazy to write something). In that series we learned about how people felt in 2009, what they learned, who was important to them, and all that other boring-ass bullshit. This time around though, we're going to change course.

This time I want to post some short (very short) fiction. Again, I'll serve as editor and possibly post one of my own. Not sure yet. Anyhow. I'd like to start in a few weeks here so if you'd like to participate go ahead and send me a story to zuhair.zama[at] with the subject heading "the lie and how we told it." If I did my job correctly, all you have to do is click on the email link and it should do all that for you.

There aren't really too many parameters to this series aside from these:
•Works need to be, well, fictitious. That would help.
•Please try and keep them short. Ideally they'd be around 1-800 words. That's like a 1 page Maximus (from Ridley Scott's shit-storm of bullshit Gladiator) in Word.
•That's it.
Send them starting now up until I say the series is ending. You've got at least 4 weeks to participate!