Cool Thing #8

Okay, does this qualify as conceited if I include my short story as a Cool Thing? It’s for the sake of organization damn it! Anyways, I wrote this story for a creative writing class of mine and think it could make an interesting short film, or if expanded a full length feature.  Would love to know everyones brutally honest thoughts, and suggestions would also be greatly appreciated.


The Speed Readers

“You should probably give me that piece of celery.” He spoke to the beautiful girl sitting next to him, pointing to the piece of celery she had just pulled out of her Caesar.  She was the kind of girl you’d write a sonnet about, or at least a word.  She wore a funky hat, a black blazer with a white t shirt underneath, and black tights.

“Because it’s going to make me more attracted to you?” She replied. “Or wait, because it’s going to make your load fuller?”

“Well yes actually…how did you know that?”

“I read it.  Did you know Casanova made sure to have a healthy serving of celery every day?” She asked.

“Yes, I did… You know I think we have read the same book.”

“I can guarantee it,” she said.  The woman handed the man the stick of celery and moved in close, he ate it.  “I’m Kirsten.”

“I’m Tom, it’s a pleasure.”  Tom took a sip of his club soda, leaned back in his chair, and looked around the bar.  The salsa dancing made him smile. He leaned in towards the woman, “You know I just don’t know what it is about you…it’s like you remind me of someone.”


“You’re like Fitzgerald’s Daisy.” Tom said with a smile, a smile that said this moment was important.  Kirsten looked down into her drink, her cheeks turned red.  She turned her head to look at the timeless dance floor, what year was this?

“Do you dance?” She asked.

“I dance.” Tom replied.

Kirsten finished her Caesar, stood up, and took Tom’s hand.

“Let’s dance.”

The two got to the dance floor, waited for the right moment to enter the song, and started to salsa.  Tom took the lead, twirling Kirsten at just the right moments.  The figures danced like they spoke, in unison.  Kirsten looked into Tom’s eyes as if she noticed it too.

“You know, I think we have read the same book.” Tom said to her with a smile.  She bit her lip as if holding back a bombshell of a secret, or a kiss.

“So what brings you here Tom?” she asked him.  Tom thought about the question for a moment, always maintaining his contribution to the dance.

“Well where else am I supposed to go?  Why not right here?”

“Yeah. Why not?” she said quietly.

For a few moments the couple danced without looking at each other, without speaking to each other, quite possibly without breathing.

“I need the noise,” Tom said. “I need the action, I need the distraction.”

“The action huh? Why do you need the distraction?” she asked.

“I’ve run out of things to read Kirsten.”

“And the plot thickens.” She said with a smirk.

“I used to be an alcoholic, but then I found something worse,” He said, staring into her eyes.  Maybe even through her eyes, into true meaning.

“You have huh? Now what would that be?” she asked.

“Well let’s just say that I’m well read.”


Only ten years earlier Tom Gallagher was a successful PR consultant.  He had a wonderful wife, a beautiful little boy, and the dream house.  He was also an alcoholic.  Luckily, the support system his family provided helped him to surpass the terrible disease, “Alcohol will not ruin our family!” Tom used to proclaim, and it didn’t.

“Why don’t you take up reading?” Tom’s wife Mindy suggested. “What harm could possibly come from that?” What harm indeed…

First Tom lost his job, he was reading Plutonius’s The Satyricon.

“Look Tom, I like you man, I really do, but what the hell is with all the reading?  Two weeks of this shit now man.  You haven’t gotten anything done, you haven’t come to any meetings, this is crazy-bus man.” said his boss, Jim.  Tom, meanwhile, didn’t seem to notice Jim was standing in his office at all.  “Damn it Tom, get the fuck out of here.”  Tom closed his book, with a smile of relief.

“Finished” he said.  Tom looked up, startled to see his boss.  “Shit Jim, you scared me.  What’s shaking?”

“Tom you’re fired, pack up your things and get out of here.”

Tom lost his family shortly after.  It was Christmas and he was reading Ulysses.

“Daddy, Daddy, look at me! I look like a scarecrow!” said sweet little Billy Gallagher.  He was running around the Christmas tree wearing his mother’s brand new purse over his head. It was zipped.  Tom didn’t notice, he was sitting in his favourite chair reading the epic.  Little Billy Gallagher caught on to his father’s inattention and sat down on the couch with what one could only imagine to be a sad look on his face.  Slowly his body fell on its side.   The look on Mindy’s face as she came down the stairs and saw little Billy Gallagher lying on the couch with her new purse zipped over his head was one of pure incredulousness.

“Jesus Christ Billy!” Mindy screamed as she hit the foot of the stairs.  Sweet little Billy didn’t move.  Mindy bolted over to his relatively lifeless body, pulled off the purse, and screamed for him to wake up.  Meanwhile Tom took a sip of his tea and flipped the page.  He was almost finished Ulysses. “Billy wake up damn it! Wake up!”  As Mindy prepared to give resuscitation of one form or another, sweet little Billy’s eyes opened, a smile forming across his face.

“I was a scarecrow mum!” he said quietly.  Enraged, Mindy walked over to Tom.

“God damn it Tom! What the hell is the matter with you? Your son could have killed himself, he was unconscious for Christ sake, and what the fuck are you doing? You’re reading!” As Mindy finished, Tom closed his book with that same smile of relief.

“Finished” He said.  “Shit Mindy, you scared me, what’s shaking?” He asked.


“What are you laughing at?” Tom asked Kirsten, whose eyes were full of tears.  The two were still dancing.

“Tom we are so similar it’s not even funny.” Her laugh turned to a tone resembling menace, but slightly less evil.

“We are, huh? How do you mean?” Tom asked.

The live band started playing a cover of Mason Williams’s Classical Gas.  The dancing reaches a brisk, heated pace.

“It’s not a coincidence how we met earlier.” Kirsten said trying to stretch her voice over the suddenly deafening roar of dance steps and music.

“I can’t hear you!” Tom said, pointing to his right ear.

“It’s not a coincidence!” She yelled, “I followed you here!”

“You what?”

“You heard me Tom, I followed you here.”

“Well why the hell did you do that?” Tom asked.

“Let’s just finish this dance, huh? I happen to love this song.” Kirsten said.

Kirsten and Tom continued their dance; it resembled a brisk tango now more than anything.  Their intensity heated up, it was as though Tom’s complete and utter confusion guided the dance into areas that only confusion could find.  The eyes of the other couples on the dance floor started to sneak glances at them.  All the while Tom’s eyes were staring into Kirsten.

Classical Gas finished and Tom took Kirsten by the hand, leading her outside.  Under the light of a street lamp Kirsten lit a cigarette.  She looked like Daisy.

“Tom, you’ve read a lot haven’t you?”

“I think that’s an understatement.” He said.

“I think it is too.  I’ve read it all too, Tom…everything.” Kirsten took Tom’s right hand and held it between hers. “I think you need to meet my friends.”  Kirsten looked down the sidewalk; a small group of people were heading in their direction.  Four people, maybe five.

“Why?” He asked quietly, softly, as he followed her eyes to the small group down the side walk.

“We have all run out of things to read, Tom.”


About Tim Horn

I have recently acquired a degree in Film Studies at the University of Manitoba and am now enrolled in the Creative Communications program at Red River College. Film, Literature, Music, Comic Books, and Video Games. These are the things that feed my brain and keep me sane.
This entry was posted in Books, Fiction, Short Stories and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Cool Thing #8

  1. RedHarmony says:

    Oh sweet, I love these continuing group stories. Now for the exciting sophomore installation;

    “What do you mean you’ve run out of things to read?!” Bellowed Tom, clenching his fists. He was beginning to feel the effects of his tonic water, rage quickly forming within him at the sound of the girl’s nonsensical remark. “Nobody could have possibly have read everything”.

    “It’s true” answered someone from the approaching crowd “After New Moon there’s nothing. Nothing but emptiness and want for more”.

    They were together now in the alley, Tom, Kirsten, and five dark figures. The five gazed helplessly at Tom as a child might stare up at his rescuers from a well. They needed Tom, but for what??

    “What, you mean that Twilight series?!” Roared Tom, no longer able to control the volume of his voice against the rising influence of the tonic water. “There’s way better stuff than that out there, and plenty of it!” Tom chuckled to himself briefly before realizing his sober companions didn’t seem to share in his levity.

    “No” Declared one of the figures sharply. “We don’t want anything else, we want more Twilight”. The figure shifted towards Tom and Kirsten, crossing his arms authoritatively.

    Tensions rose as the demanding figure stared into Tom, who returned his stare, adding to it the kind of confused anger common to disorientated drunks. For what seemed like minutes, the figure stood silently but assertively while Tom grew angrier and attempted to keep his balance.

    “There’s no need for this kind of posturing, Earl” Kirsten chided “Tom ‘s really good at books. I’m sure he’ll help us.”

    “Really good at books?!” Thought Tom, thinking he may have made a slight mis-attribution as to her relative intelligence. “What am I doing out here with these people?” Tom drunkenly turned away from the group, eager to get back to his tonic vice back inside the bar and away from their predicament of poor taste.

    “Not so fast, you drunk!” a hand grabbed Tom’s arm and pulled him back. Earl wasn’t taking no for an answer. “You’re going to write us some more teen vampire fiction and you’re going to do it well!”

    Earl had crossed the line. To bring him out here under the false pretense of hooking up with Kirsten was one thing, but to physically grab him? And his taste in “literature” was even more offensive than his actions. To try to push, and with such force, such simpleton trash on Tom’s refined palate. The Indignity! No More!

    Tom swung around with his unrestrained arm, surprising Earl and striking a solid blow to his neck. Earl stumbled back, aghast at the developments and temporarily unable to breathe. The other four figures took flight in a flurry Tom couldn’t follow in his disorientated state and were soon out of his awareness.

    “Why!?” Kirsten pleaded “We’re just trying to enjoy reading.” She was tearing up now, obviously affected by the brutal sight of Tom’s aggression on her kin. Tom thought of apologizing, maybe the drink had gotten the better of him, maybe something could still be salvaged of this evening. No, he thought, he’d already gone this far. He owed it to himself, to articulate readers everywhere, to finish this.

    “Enjoy this!” Shouted Tom as his fist connected with her slender jaw. Unlike Earl’s somewhat punch-resistant physique, Kirsten crumpled beneath Tom’s savage assault, falling to the broken concrete floor below.

    Earl, now wide-eyed with realization of what was taking place attempted to flee. Unlike the four however, there was only one Earl.

    Stay tuned for the next exciting episode! Robots! Wizards! An inspiring rags to riches tale!

  2. homer says:

    I quit reading the second part after a few paragraphs, but as for your part, Tim: very intriguing; Tom Gallagher’s so smooth, I always want to follow his adventures. It came to my realization that the word Gallagher is close to the word Gallivant which is a synonym for the word Cruise. Must be a coincidence.

    Keep writing!

  3. Speegle says:

    I particularly enjoyed the second part. Clever use of surprise twists and an brilliant play upon the first installment. I’m interested to read more of the misadventures of Tom and the Twilight literate elite. Will they ever get what their thirsting after?

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