A few months ago I published a Kindle-only short story entitled "Communicate." It's a short story in dialogue only. The characters are the same as in my novel Meeting Dennis Wilson, and, in fact, this is a mini-sequel to that book: a transcript of a phone call between 16-year-old Brian and his best friend Margo. Margo's on vacation in Canada, and Brian calls her to discuss his Saturday night date with his girlfriend Christy, who (he thought) was going to go all the way with him a month earlier, but... another Saturday night, and nothing has happened between them.
And Brian thinks it's all his fault.
For the next week (until April 15), I'll give away a free e-copy of this story (in either mobi or PDF format) to anyone who emails me requesting it. Just say you saw this post on my Skyrock blog and I'll send it off to you. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'll pick ONE person from the people who request this story and print a hard copy of it, sign it, and mail it to you.
Then you can sell it on eBay when I'm famous. ;)
Meanwhile, here's an excerpt. Hope you like it. Let me know what you think, as always. :) m
from COMMUNICATE: A short story in dialogue by Max Harrick Shenk
Brian: ...It's like I said: I just feel like I want to know what to do with Christy all the time.
Margo: Well, I don't think you ever will, Bri. You know? Because people don't communicate. You know what everyone's favorite word is? I realized this a couple days ago. “Nothing.” Think about it. “What's wrong?” “Nothing.” “What are you thinking?” “Nothing.” “What were you gonna say?” “Nothing.” Seriously. And I mean... it's not just you and Christy... or me and Scotty. Think of your parents-- think of my mom and dad. They don't even speak the same language most of the time. Dad doesn't really speak French... he gets some of it... Mom gets more English than he does French, but still... he's always... “What'd she say, little girl? What'd your mom say?” And then her: “Qu'est-ce que ta pere a dit?” You know?
B: What's that?
M: “What did your dad say?”
M: But what I'm saying is, they can't communicate or know what the other is thinking sometimes and they're married. Over dumb stuff. Birthday stuff. I was with Dad at the chemist's in Westport--
M: Drug store. They call it a chemist's up here. Sorry.
But he's... you know... “you think your mom'll like this card?” with the English ones. And then picking out French ones: “This one's pretty. What's this one say?” And I said, “Condolences on the death of your dog.” “Oh. Well, what about this one. 'Bonne fete'... that's 'happy birthday,' right?” “Dad... that's for a three-year-old. You see all those threes on it?” “Oh.” And then Mom is stubborn like me. She just gets him French ones: “He will learn to read dat.” And so he opens them and nods like he gets it, but then he comes up to me later: “What's that say, little girl?” And all that's just over a birthday card! Think of the big things they must get stuck on. Bills, raising me and John-Paul... romantic stuff. I mean, they have Joy Of Sex in English, so Dad can read it... I don't know what Mom does. Maybe she does just lie there...
B: Well, it has diagrams, right?
M: Yeah, like... pencil drawings.
B: You know, you were gonna give that to me before you went to Canada.
M: Not “give.” Lend.
M: Well, I forgot. But you know... it's up by Mom and Dad's bed. Just... you know... when you take in the mail next time, just go up and get it.
B: No way.
M: Why not? It's right by their bed.
B: Margo, I'm not gonna sneak up--
M: --it's not “sneaking.” You have the key--
B: --I'm not gonna go in their room and dig around for that book.
M: First of all, you wouldn't have to “dig”... it's right out by their bed. And second of all, they wouldn't care.
B: I bet...
M: Brian... Mom would be, like, “Oh, tres bien,” and Dad would just be glad it's you wanting to get it for Christy and not Scotty or some boy wanting to try it out on me. You know?
B: --I'm not gonna do that.
What? “Although” what?
M: Well... you know... the one you should get, the book, is Our Bodies, Ourselves.
B: What, is that another sex guide?
M: No, it's not a "sex guide." It's got some sex stuff in it, but mainly it's about girls' bodies. Girls... well, women.
B: Why would I wanna read that?
M: Oh, yeah... you're absolutely right. Why would you wanna read some book about women's bodies and how they work?
B: O.K., O.K....
M: Yeesh. Christy's a girl, Bri. A woman. And a lot of what you're getting confused about is kind of about how her body works. She doesn't like certain things because her body doesn't work like that. It's like that whole thing with red balls...
B: Blue balls.
M: Whatever. But remember how... I never believed Scotty when he'd whine about how it hurt... but then when you said you got the same thing, I knew it wasn't just him, but it was guys, boys, based on how your bodies are. And a lot of this stuff with Christy is just about knowing how to handle the merchandise. So maybe if you knew more about how girls' bodies worked, maybe that'd help...
from COMMUNICATE, a short-story-in-dialogue, available for Kindle here: