A Published Story, July 2009

This paves a pivotal role in the story.

It just occurred to me that I haven’t put up a link to a story that I actually had published last year. (That’s right kids, if Aaron can do it, so can you!)

“Rocks and Hot Dogs” was a story workshopped in one of my Writing Fiction classes that, a couple of edits later, I blindly submitted to a magazine called Danse Macabre. About a week or so later, I got an e-mail in my inbox that told me that they would publish my story. You can find it here. Hopefully I’ll be able to have more posts with this header in the near future, but, well, that’s up to the editors of websites, isn’t it?

Anyway, here’s the first paragraph to whet your appetite:

Douglas Roth hadn’t written a decent word in over three months. Pages and pages of overly dramatic narration, self-serious commentaries on the human condition, concerned paragraphs dealing with failed relationships and various types of cancer were easy: Everyone on the planet Earth at one point or another suffers from an existential funk or has the extreme misfortune to experience or know someone who is diagnosed with a terrible disease—that’s why his four stories from the past three months had been snatched up almost immediately after he put them in their envelopes. Douglas, though, had always strived to write about something Rare. These Rare things came in a flash of inspiration, usually in disjointed phrases that made no sense and took either a tremendous amount of coffee, tremendous lack of sleep, or tremendous amount of booze to make sense of. Generally, these Rare things were nonsense or had no relevance to anything going on in the modern world and were thus called trite or nonsensical by literatis, but Douglas loved each of them like children and was continuously surprised when someone came up to him in a bar expounding a theory about one of his stories. It seemed that his readers were much, much more intelligent than he was.


This happened to me on that fateful day.

If you’ve ever sat in a university coffee shop during an exam period, then you know that they are prime examples of how land, and space, is not a God-given right.

For example: at the University of Tennessee’s Hodge’s Library, the Starbucks is the go-to place for meeting up with study groups. And, since humans are social animals, study groups may be defined as, “A group of ten people, two of whom are doing any sort of work, crammed around a very small table.” The Starbucks on campus had two types of seating: typical Starbucks tables–the small sorts of thing where even two people feel crammed together–and these incredibly comfortable leather recliners.

For the individual studier–like me–the two leather recliners were the best thing on the planet Earth. They had the feeling of being at home, but with all the environs of a sort of place where, if you weren’t doing any work, you’d feel guilty. (That, of course, didn’t stop me from people watching around 75% of the time I managed to snag a chair and their glorious ottoman counterparts.) More importantly, they were one of the few places where you could feel comfortable grabbing a cat nap in the library.

And, by and large, the people at Hodge’s kept to the rule that the recliners were to be used by one or two people at the most, but, from time to time, you’d get groups who came in and completely ignored this unwritten etiquette. From what I could tell, they were usually business students. No judgment there; I’m just making an observation. They’d trickle in, intent on working on their presentations for whatever Business Admin class that week, and then, slowly, spreading like a cancer, take over the leather recliners.

One day, as I sat in Hodges, working on an assignment for a literature class, the group trickled in and, rather than doing anything about it, I wrote this passive aggressive piece of short fiction.

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