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Short Stories

Application to The Bachelor

Rafi Abramowitz

I’ve never seen The Bachelor. Why spend my precious time experiencing the difficulties of an impossibly handsome man choose between impossibly pretty woman, when I can simply get rejected by them in real life? Because that would lead to negative body images, that's why. Watching models cry is far better for my self esteem.

So why am I volunteering? Because this is America, goddammit! Home of high divorce rates and quick solutions to complicated problems. What type of sucker would I be to eat correctly, spend six hours a week at the gym doing squats behind farting housewives, ditch the mindless T.V. for books and culture, when I can sit in front of the couch all day and watch other people experience the excitement? I’ll tell you what kind of sucker I would be - the kind that actually cares about myself. What a loser! But that’s not what you’re looking for, is it? A smart guy with good qualities? You want hulking men and busty women who are too dumb to hold conversations; words get in the way of the good stuff. And by good stuff, I mean "fall in love", by which I really mean "fuck then divorce at the end of the season." This is America after all. Holla!

So. My qualifications. My love life is like my fleshlight - I don't have one. Too real? Sorry, I know how your show avoids actual emotions. Let me try again: I go on dates and have fun times. Better?

On a happier note, I now have braces. “Come on, Rafi. Women love braces!” First of all, stop talking to me. Second of all, I’m not in the seventh grade anymore. I’m a grown hairy assed man. It's a cute ass, too. Firm, like a ripped chinchilla. I also have a trimmed beard that has the complexion of burnt chocolate chips, my eyes are blue like berries, and my berries are blue like the sky. Get it? It was a good joke, but it’s not true. My eyes are hazel, like nuts. And my nuts are … Well, they’re still blue. (If I was slamming muff on the reg don’t you think I’d have better things to do than apply to a dating show?)

What else? I think Hillary Clinton would make a better actress than a president, since she’s somehow convinced all of us that she’s human. I’m an Orthodox Jew (I know, my nose is really small). My toenails look like moldy cheese (and not the good kind). I like dogs, which is why I’ve dated a few in the past. That’s not very nice, I know, but I honestly don’t care because I’ve dated so many girls (no I haven’t) that you have no way of knowing to which out of the baker’s dozen (five) girlfriends I’m referring.

So. What happens now network man? Or are you a woman? Are you single? If you are, and you’re under the age of 30 or know a dark closet where I can pretend that you are, hit me up. You have my information. Who knows? Maybe we can save ourselves the trouble of standing in a circle and get right to the messy divorce?

That’s all for now.


The King's Memory

Rafi Abramowitz

My eyes darted to the ceiling. I expected to see the taught velvety fabric of my four-poster as I lay beside my wife, or perhaps the vastness of the heavens as I warmed my aging body with the dying embers of a campfire. Yet I felt no warmth from either female or flame, and, as my eyes adjusted to the semi-darkness, I found myself staring at hewn stone, curved and dreary, rising upwards into a cupola. The room was awash in a weak pale glow that spread equally to all corners - the moon was full, and all torches were extinguished.

Was I still dreaming? I know that I had just been elsewhere, perhaps in both time and space, and someone had been in trouble. As to whom or why or where - I could no longer tell. The churning knot in my stomach, however, told me it was urgent, and I was suddenly enveloped in a shadow of despair.

I sat up, pushing down against the cold stone, exerting as much force as my gnarled hands would allow. My back felt like it was being stabbed by hundreds of tiny daggers, every muscle and sinew burning. I felt a sudden rush of pity for Caesar - at least during his final moments, anyway. Pushing myself backwards, I made contact with a wooden door and leaned up against it in order to wipe the drool from my cracked lips, work the stiffness from my wrinkled neck, and take a deep breath. I coughed.

Something was rotting.

Turning around I sniffed the door: ceder, and very old. It smelled of death, but not of decay. Or, perhaps, it didn’t smell of death at all; perhaps I simply associated it with mortality as it was the preferred material for coffins, of which I had seen my fair share. In this particular example, though, was it keeping death in, or out? The metal handle would not budge. Was it locked, or have I gotten that weak? I called for my bedtime servant, whatever his name, but the sound went unanswered. It eventually died into a whisper deep within the caverns of my parched throat.

I redirected my gaze forward and was greeted by a window framing rolls of clouds, moonlit and smoke-grey. If the moon was full, as I had assumed, it was currently concealed. Five iron bars guarded the outside - you couldn’t have your king falling to his death. I was reminded of a poem taught to those facing battle for the first time: “For King and Queen the brave shall rise, but fall, they might, as death’s great prize.” I tried to say the poem aloud, but was doubled over with a fit of guttural coughing that left me lightheaded. There was no pitcher of water, not a flagon of mead - only empty space to my left, and straw to my right. And an overflowing bucket of shit in the middle. Why hadn’t that been cleaned?

I rolled onto my hip - the pain could wait - and forced myself onto my bare feet. Hobbling over to the window, a warm spring breeze soothed my windburned face and ruffled the few silvery wisps of hair left from my once famous curls of golden locks. The starry sky was twinkling unusually brightly - millions of stars and planets and galaxies, each with their own problems. Somewhere, far in the cosmos, there might be another king trapped in his aging body, bothered by a dream that he too could not remember. Perhaps those men had better recall, or longer life spans.

Underneath the canopy of stars and glimmering moon, the city-state of Venkos was partly obscured in the misty darkness. In daytime, the entirety of my kingdom could be seen from this very window - miles of hamlets zig-zagging in a maze across the horizon, a veritable ocean of the poor and destitute. Peasants and simpletons, but hard workers and loyal. I try to reach out to the them from time to time to show them I haven’t forgotten about them - but I’ve been forgetting. Though I can’t remember why, I know that the broken images remaining from my dream contain the answer.

My arthritic fingers wrapped around the wrought iron bars of my window. It felt like the handle of my sword - or how it had felt when I could wield such a thing. I had been decades younger the last time I had fought. The scavengers had come from the east, sailing across the Impassable Sea in swarms of black ships so numerous, they appeared as a swarm of locusts. I had acted quickly. Within hours, every fighting man was armored and in position, guarding their families, their homes, and their ways of life. Me? I was where the King should be - in front, down on the beach on horseback. It gave my men pride to see me fit, even if I wasn’t.

I had been an even younger man - though exactly how old I cannot say- when that had happened. My father was keen that I learn the lay of the land that would, one day, be mine. This was the final journey. We passed the sprawling Doughbread hills of lush grass that shimmered a thousand shades of green in the blowing wind, beyond the Hunter’s Forest of pine and oak and weeping willows that brushed your hair as you rode by, tracing the deep-blue Pinebelly River upstream as it wound its way across the acres of farmland and meadows where the shores were shallower, allowing the woodlarks to sing while bathing. Eventually, two hundred leagues beyond the keep of my family’s castle, the land gave way to the deadly snow-capped Frosted Fingers, the mountain range that marks the edge of civilization.

My home.

From the empty cell in the highest tower of Devonlion Castle, where dethroned kings once awaited their deaths, the Frosted Fingers rose like the bony hands of a massive demon piercing through the dungeon of hell. I remember a chill of terror lurking within my heart as the mountain drew nearer, nothing but open land between me and the supposed cursed foothills, where those who lay their limbs on its base would forever be destined with ill-fortune. My father had made me memorize the lore of the mountain so that I gain respect for its immensity. When I finally arrived at the base, however, that fear and all the stories that came with it, had vanished. I could see only a wide, smooth climb that was neither scary nor cursed; I knew the former from experience, and the latter through smell. A cheerful scent of pine and earth and running water caused by the snow melting filled the warm, spring air. No supernatural evil had ever happened here.

Without a moment more hesitation, I spurred my horse and began to ascend as quickly as possible, so that no one could ever claim that the Prince had been frightened. My father called for me to stop, but I could not at the time remember why. I raced up the slope, the thumping of my steed crushing the loose pebbles. As quickly as I had ascended, I was falling - the mountainside crumbled, and I came down with it. The fall that ensued spread across the kingdom like an invading army. The prince had two broken legs and killed his pony, and may never walk or ride again.

But I had walked and I had ridden. I needed to prove I could. As my father stood over me that day on the hill, wiping away my muddied tears as I was lifted onto a makeshift wyn, he told me that one could survive one lapse of judgement. Not two. I never told him that I hadn’t chosen to ignore his warnings, for being foolish was preferable in a ruler to a weak mind. Little did I know how weak mine would get.

That memory, now so clear, was for a time lost to me. Thirty some years later, as I sat unassisted atop my horse, moonlight sparkling off of my brandished sword, all that raced through my mind was how to defeat the approaching horde, not the treaty we had agreed to sign. My mistake cost half of my father’s great kingdom. Fifty thousand men died, twice that wounded. Women were raped. Crops and cattle burned. And all that, too, would be lost to me like a steam rising from breath on a cold day.

Until now.

I sighed and moved away from the window; the past is not a healthy place to dwell, even though I may never remember to return. I looked for my bed once again, hoping to find that I had simply missed it during my previous search through the dark room, but was brought to a halt - the heavy pine door was ajar, basking the room in a crimson light the color of fresh blood. A squat friar stood taut in the doorway, silhouetted by the twinkling of a freshly-lit torch that was carried by someone just outside my scope of view. “It is time,” he said. And I suddenly remembered who had been in trouble in my dream.

Except, it had been no dream at all.

A shiver that had been building since I stood up, the kind that chilled your bones, was gone. The whistling of the wind was extinguished; in fact, all feeling was. All that accompanied me at the moment was a sudden flooding back of memory and time. I nodded steadily, and allowed myself to be led from the room. I was determined to show my people that, despite all I had once forgotten, and all the foolish mistakes I had unwittingly made, their king would at least remember to hold his head high until the very end.  

An Ode to the Rejected

Rafi Abramowitz

There goes another beautiful dame,
Who rejects me due to my lack of game,
Abandoning me, I drown in shame,
One after another-it’s all the same,
Is it possible my genes are to blame?
My features diminish - I’m feeling plain,
No amount of food can freeze the pain,
If I don’t get laid soon, I’ll go insane!

Yet, it’s possible I have this all wrong…

Maybe there’s no need to go insane.
Could my be skewed by pain?
For perhaps it’s her that is feeling plain.
And seeing as she has no one to blame
For always dressing and thinking the same,
Filling her to the brim with unshakable shame,
Leading her to play “hard to get” games,
Making her just another beautiful dame.

Epic Poem

Rafi Abramowitz

Many eons and decades ago, before you or I,

Stood dragon; warlocks; and heroes willing to die,
Not only for treasure, for they also had a hand
In warding off evil away from their precious land.
Demons ruled the afterlife, for that’s where most were headed,
As the victims of Lucifer’s game were beaten down and shredded.

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My Voice and I

Rafi Abramowitz

My voice and I are organically connected
It’s sounds makes me elated
It keeps me coming back for more
Even if no one else adores
My voice and I
Cannot be denied
Our camaraderie is as true as can be
Like the one five three
Have created harmony
Throughout the course of history
You see?

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