Essays and Short Stories


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This is a Joke  (Based on a true Story)









What You Don’t Know About Cory Smuthers

Whenever I get a little extra money I usually make a stop at Muldoon’s for a good hot meal.  Muldoon’s is a family owned Irish Pub and Eatery on Rangeline Road in Carmel, Indiana.  Now that I just received a paycheck I decide to stop for a visit.
I pull the heavy door of Muldoon’s and let myself into the smell of beer and pork tenderloins.  As I walk in the door, I can see that the pub side, on the right, is full and the restaurant side, on the left, is almost empty.  This attendance is to be expected on a Tuesday afternoon.  I stand waiting patiently next to the “wait to be seated” sign and look toward the motley group of people in the pub.  Sitting at the bar are three men all in their thirties, all wearing suits.  They seem to be looking into their glasses of alcohol for answers to their questions.  There’s Darla.
                “Hey Craig, just you today?”
                “Yep, is Cory here?”
                “Yeah, but he’s on break right now.”
Darla seats me in my usual booth, right below the “Kiss me I’m Irish” sign.  While I’m sitting there thinking about nothing in particular, Cory arrives to wait on the family in the neighboring booth.  “I can’t decide what to drink,” the mother of the family says in a whining voice.  “I’ll have water. No. Lemonade…I don’t know.”
She’s going to get it.
                “Come on lady, I don’t have all night,” Cory fires back in his usual sarcastic manner.
                “I’ll have the water.” The mother finally seems satisfied with her decision.
                Cory glances at me and a huge grin appears on his face.
                “Well if it isn’t Craig.  Hide the mayonnaise, Craig’s here!”  He is referring to the night I ate the plate of mayonnaise on the five dollar bet.  I wish he would quit reminding me.
                “Hello Cory how’s business?”
                “Fine for the owners, But too much work for me.  You want the usual?”

“You know it.”  The usual for me is the breaded tenderloin sandwich with fries and O’Doul’s.  I have never ordered anything else.
            Cory leaves with my order and I look up to the television in the corner of the room.   Always tuned to ESPN the television screen is filled with a bowling tournament.  The program  holds me interest for a minute or two, but I soon turn my head to the neighboring customers.  Across from me is a young couple sharing an Irish Pizza.  They see engulfed  in a conversation that grows loud now and then.  In the booth behind them is a mother with three children,  all well behaved.
            “Here’s your drink,  is there anything else, my master?”  His voice drips with sarcasm.
            “Just my tenderloin and make sure it’s not all breading this time.”
            “Your wish is my command.”
            “Hey Cory, hold on.  Do you like working here?”
            “Only when your not here.”
            “Well I really need the money, so I don’t think about liking it or not.”
            “Where have you worked before?”
             “I used to be a teacher in Ohio.  I was fired because I drink too much.”  His eyes stared in to the distance as he remembered.
             “Do you still drink too much?” I hoped not to upset him.
             “I’ve tried to stop, but I don’t want to.  It’s hard to stop something you enjoy.”
            “I understand.”
            “ I should have quit when I was fired, but it got worse after that.”
            “What happened?” Maybe I was going too far.
            “Well my wife divorced me and took our daughter.”  I can’t  believe  he is telling me all of this.
            “How old is your daughter?”
            “She’ll be seven next month.  I get to see her every Sunday.  She lives with her mother in Anderson.  Listen, I have other tables kid.”
            “Right, thanks.”
            Cory walked off to tend to his other four tables.  Karen brought my food and check.  Cory did not come back to my table the rest of the night.  I don’t like to think this, but he was avoiding me.  Quietly I finished my meal and left a healthy tip for Cory.  He showed me that even the most seemingly well-adjusted people have secrets and problems. 
            We never know what cards life will deal us.  How much we are responsible for our own destiny, and how much is fate.  I hope he makes it


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Our World

In a world not much like our own, a gentle rain comes down on a young boy.  The boy, not older than a few years, is standing on a hill surrounded by green.  The color envelopes him as it covers the hills, trees, and grass.  The smell of  spring overwhelms the boy as he tries to catch the rain in his hands.  He becomes frustrated as it seeps through his interlocked fingers.

                Losing interest, he sits down to enjoy the soft feel of rain on his pale skin.  The boy thinks about what his mother had told him and begins to cry.  His tears melt into the rain drops as they slide down his cheeks.  Earlier, his mother had told him of his father’s death.  Before his father had left, he promised the boy he would be home soon to take care of him.  The boy realized this would never come true and couldn’t hold back the tears.  His mother also told him that they were going to have to sell the house to have enough money to survive.

                After wallowing in his sadness, the boy began to trek toward the town.  The boy walked into the only toy store and buys a toy gun with the last of his small allowance.  While standing outside the toy store, the boy puts his mothers stocking over his head.  With the toy  gun in hand, he rushes into a neighboring store, an  arts and crafts store.  The owner behind the counter is facing away from the boy as instructions to produce the money from the safe are shouted.  The owner slowly grips the small caliber pistol from its drawer in front of him.  The boy reminds him that he wants the money quickly and threatens to shoot.  With one swift motion the store owner turns and fires, piercing the boy through the heart.  The store owner becomes hysterical as he recognizes the robber as a young boy with a toy gun in hand.  Authorities soon arrive and cart the boy away.

                Maybe this world is like our own.

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This is a Joke

I can t believe I turn five today! I feel that I have grown more mature almost overnight. Sitting on the couch this Saturday afternoon, I wait impatiently to leave for my birthday party. The sun is shining though the front windows onto my body causing a bead of sweat to trickle down my head. It seems to hang on my ear lobe for an eternity. Finally, it falls in slow motion onto my shirt.  A small dark spot appears on my shirt where it landed. I glance outside to the bright afternoon of late September.  The peculiar thing about September is the way it looks like June, but feels like November.

While I wait, I decide to practice tying my shoes.  I just learned how last month after a week of demonstration by my father.  My mother says its time to go,  and I jump from the house into the waiting car.  Bruce Springsteen plays on the radio as I imagine opening my presents.  I hope someone will give me a dictionary, yet after the party I will most likely be the owner of a huge pile of worthless plastic toys.

I walk into the door at McDonald’s and see all of my friends playing on the slides and various other equipment intended to entertain children of my age.  As I walk out to the playground, everyone wishes me a happy birthday, except Billy.  Billy, why did I invite him anyway?  I decide to join in on the fun and ride my favorite slide.  Bang!  I think I just hit my head on something.  My head really hurts so I start crying uncontrollably.  It feels as if it’s swelled up three time its normal size.  My Grandpa rushes over to me with the speed of an Olympic sprinter.  My mother is choking on a chicken nugget.  She must be terribly frightened by the severity of my injuries.  Her face is turning as blue as a Louisiana harmonica player who just lost his dog.  I think she’s dead.  My Grandma clutches my mother in her arms.

“Nooooo!’  Her cry echoes off the glass walls as she dies, apparently of a heart attack.

Oh, no.  I can’t believe Grandma is dead too.  My Grandpa, still hunched over me, sees Grandma and screams.

“I can’t live without my wife!” He’s cutting his wrist with a plastic spork.

“No Grandpa! It’s gonna be alright.”

He lies down next to his wife and prepares for death.

Suddenly I realize all that remains of my family is my dad, my little brother, and me.  I can hear the howl of the ambulances outside.  It’s about time.  My father and I jump into the ambulance with the rest of my family already strapped onto stretchers.  We are driving at an incredible rate as the ambulance leaps into the air, thanks to a pothole.  The doors fly open and my dad falls out.

“My God!”  A car just ran over him.  I guess it’s just me now.  I never did get to open my presents.

Whenever I tell my brother this story, he never believes me.





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