Quibble spends the day imagining what he might do, if he had the opportunity. He scolds himself that most of the things he dreams would not blend well with his neighbors – self-serving efforts, carnal escapades, unjustified revenge, domination. But he reminds himself that he has conjured fine missions as well. The evil are simply more vivid. In any case, he does not have the opportunity. He is sitting by his kitchen window, an unfilled cup in his hand, dishes – which could be from dinner or breakfast or even belonging to someone else – luxuriating on the table beside him. There is a small black bird hopping across Quibble’s backyard. In two or three hops the bird will make it to the flowerbed. What might the bird be searching for there? Perhaps it is only going towards the flowerbed by accident.
He brings in the theory, spreads it flat along the table. His colleagues lean forward to examine it. Each seems to inspect a different codicil, disparate postulates. Some trace where of one seeps into the inspection of another. The owner of the theory listens for the most heated debates, moves to those colleagues to interject reasons, explanations. More and more, they look down at the theory, look up at its owner. They cannot disconnect the science from the man. As the room slowly quietens, the man rolls up his theory and moves uncertain to the door. It has been locked.
They have caged all the fortune tellers. Some new ordinance. Passed in the flat of an unexpected afternoon, unforeseen. They are at the soccer field, stacked five high. To get to fortune tellers above the first row, one has to rent a rolling ladder, roll it into place, and climb up for a consultation. You could yell, but everyone would know your future. Quibble writes his questions, wraps the paper around a pole and passes it up to his fortune teller. He asks if he should patent this process, but the mystic says it is too late, everyone has seen.
There is a posh club on the eighteenth floor of the building where Quibble works. The club has its own elevator directly to the eighteenth floor. Some workers from lower floors would take this elevator, use the stairwell to walk to work. To stop this, stairwell doors are locked from the inside. Club members park in an exclusive section of the building lot; still, most spread their cars across two spaces to foil damage to the expensive vehicles. Quibble pays a dollar to club kitchen staff who, on their breaks, jump on members’ cars to set off their car alarms.
He brings out his ghost and shows it to his future wife’s mother. The budding in-law says, it looks just like you – however with so plain a ghost can you provide for my daughter? He goes home alone. For a week he works on the ghost, adding limbs, a horrifying grimace, teaching it to make warfare out of ambient electricity. He returns to his future wife’s mother and rolls out his ghost. She says I cannot believe this ghost – this ghost is an imposter. The nuptials are set. His future wife looks senselessly enchanting. Man, woman and ghost leave together.
Ken’s four collections of brief fictions, and four collections of poetry, can be located at Amazon and most online booksellers. He spent 33 years in information systems management, is married to a world record holding female power lifter, and has a family of several cats and betta fish. Individual works have appeared in “Café Irreal”, “Analog”, “Danse Macabre”, “The Cincinnati Review”, and several hundred other places.