Automatic Story #47

In the beginning of the story a mother and her two children are walking across a moor. We can tell from the scene that they are most likely refuges from some catastrophe and from the moor we can tell that this is most likely England. They are dressed in ragged clothing befitting of the period narrative. They are framed by a cloudless steel gray sky, it is not raining but has been recently and the dewy grasses of the moor have soaked the dress and petticoat of the mother. The children are blank eyed and expressionless. Seen from a respectable distance, one that lingers right at the edge of humanity.

Later on, after the rats have slunk back in from the bowers to begin reclaiming their stake, the mother will pass into a deserted city. She will clutch her children close to her and shield their eyes from the rumble and viscera. She will pass into the blank black eye of a crow and through the door there into something beyond. The children wont know it, but they will be reinvented as ghosts, as shadows flitting in between the threads of the veil. The mother will rock them and curse god for not having invented the love story.


Topic O’ the Day:

What are the minimal elements required for a story to be a story?

At what point does a collection of words become a narrative (narrative in the loosest possible sense)?

Is a narrative required for a story to be a story?

Are definitions helpful or obfuscating?

feel free to leave your opinions in the comments…don’t be shy, I won’t be grading you (perhaps secretly, but you risk no public humiliations here…at least not from me…your wife/husband/partner/children/neighbor/cat may laugh at you, but she was probably going to do that anyway)

The Latest Novel

In The Latest Novel The Character Whose Name is a Vague Biblical Allusion meets Everyman. It is the turbulent 60’s and Everyman is from a well to do Northern Family while The Character Whose Name is a Vague Biblical Allusion is from a poor southern backwater town, but who nonetheless is wise and worldly. They meet at Exclusive West Coast University, and fall in love. They take part in The Struggle, become jaded, have numerous affairs and children, and divorce by the mid-seventies. Soon thereafter Everyman begins taking peyote and hanging out in SouthWestTown, looking to expand his consciousness, to throw off the chains of upbringing, and to seek The Nothingness. The Character Whose Name is a Vague Biblical Allusion moves back home with The Children and starts a school for MinorityGroup . The chapters alternate between perspectives. The Writer includes maps, hand drawings, pictures, and at about the middle of the book, begins to author single sentence chapters that are centered on the page to add a dash of Post-Modernist pastiche. The Character Whose Name is a Vague Biblical Allusion and Everyman struggle to find/make meaning in theirs lives with varied success. Their children grow to resent them both and rebel in various ways. Everyman eventually (after taking a 3 year trip to TibetNapalIndia and converting to ZenBuddhism) moves to Small Northwestern Canadian City and begins selling marijuana to cancer patients. Everyman makes peace with The Character Whose Name is a Vague Biblical Allusion, but not The Children, and dies after being run over by a car. The Character Whose Name is a Vague Biblical Allusion vows to never marry again, but has several long lasting fulfilling affairs with various gentlemen. The TownsPeople come to see her for advice and she becomes a bastion of TheCommunity, and after several unsuccessful tries she pens a novelized version of her life story, which quickly becomes a bestseller and propels her and her hard won homespun wisdom onto the talk show circuit, where she becomes an overnight success and is offered a talk show of her own (which she declines), as well as a lucrative book deal (which she accepts) and lives out her days in SmallEasternCoastalTown surrounded by cats.



After receiving your latest correspondence I immediately began the procedures that you recommended; with mixed results however. Though I must say I do not think that the outcomes were due in anyway to a flaw in your advised system, but rather to the invariable constant of chance. Also the weather here as been strangely apocalyptic which I believe may have influenced the procedures directly, or through me, produced some undesirable fluctuations.

As to the observations you asked that I make I can safely say that they were beneficial to the process. Who knew what strange and wondrous things hide just below the surface? The tip of the iceberg, so to speak, always leads one to the bulk of the matter hidden beneath. If only a process could be devised for simultaneous display of the seen/unseen! This is, I believe, where my talents are best directed going forward, and I plan to– if you desire such a relationship– keep you informed of all my findings.

In closing I would just like to add, that while I believe your process to be the work of genius, I do have a few suggestions for its refinement (if this advice is at all unwelcome, then please accept my apologies, but I do believe that you, like myself, are willing to put ego aside for the sake of the process, and that it is our mutual belief that the process itself will eventually reveal to us all that it seems to promise, and therefore any attempt to refine it–even if in the slightest of degrees– is on the whole a necessary step). I have enclosed the proposals on separate drafts which I hope that you can either add to directly (hence the drafts themselves have been prepared in #4 pencil lead w/mechanical pencil) or if you prefer to construct your own then that is certainly acceptable with me, as I have made copies (of my drafts only, and I have taken the proper security measures, which I will not–again for security reasons– divulge here, but they are commensurate with what you instructed in your original direction). Take care dear friend.








2 draft copies (look in the box. password  follows standard cryptographic formula)

The Baby

Man wakes up goes downstairs and finds a baby in his living room. The baby wants fed, wants to engage the man in conversation. The baby wants the man to get a bigger apartment. The baby smokes cigars and reads People magazine. If the man confronts the baby and asks why it is there, he risks the prospect of scaring it off.  The man is unsure whether he wants this or not.  The man is lonely and would enjoy the company.  Yet he has no idea who this baby is, what its motives are; if it has ill will in its heart.  The man makes a sandwich and shares it with the baby.  Together they watch a television program. Later they go on tour together promoting a line of low-carb high protein foods that can be scavenged from any local restaurant dumpster.  They become rich and famous and buy a gaudy mansion in the Hollywood hills.  They entertain celebrities and hold salons where the great intellectual issues of the day are debated, solved, and put to bed.  It occurs to the man at a certain point that the baby does not have an origin myth, and he sets about on inventing one.  The origin myth begins with a bang, and absence of time, the movement of armies over continents, the shedding of blood, the taking of oaths and swearing of revenge, at some point a talking chicken is introduced to narrate. The story ends with the baby in the living room, and explains nothing.


Jimmy and Ada: A Love Story

            Jimmy Mathis knew his girl had a fine ass.  He let her know it by grabbing her left cheek and squeezing it every chance he got.  Coming out of the shower he grabbed it, walking into the movie theater he grabbed it, and when she bent over to clear the front seat of his black Olds’ 88 he grabbed it.  Ada loved the attention.  She giggled and blushed and coyly brushed his hand away, and gave him a “not here Jimmy” every time, but Jimmy knew better.  Jimmy was an optimist.  He knew all the dark secrets of her body and could name them in the dark one by one.  He counted them like a litany in which her body answered back with a series of lurid calls.

            Ada grew up Amish, but it didn’t take.  She left the farm when Jimmy rolled up to the house asking for directions after a wrong turn out of Silver Creek that took him down that long dirt stretch of Hardscrabble road to Ada. 

There was Ada in her bonnet and best dress and Jimmy all “Yes, Sir” and “No, Sir” and “North?”  When Jimmy spied her, watching shyly from the porch, he knew what she was all about, he saw right past every inch of affectation and custom to the pure thing that pulsed under all that cotton and wool, and he knew he would be the one to conjure it out, to bring it forth into the world of men.

            And it was that look, that moment of exchanged glances that broke the Ordnung and cast Ada out from the Garden of Eden into the bright world of Jimmy.  The doors were shut on her, her name forbidden from speech. When she left all the trees on the farm gave up their leaves and bowed down their branches, and her mother wailed and her father spat, and that was that; Ada became the name that was not named.

            After the wedding Jimmy carried Ada across the threshold into his mothers’ basement, and Ada said it was good, that it would do and she smiled and she kissed Jimmy and Jimmy kissed her.  They lay together for three days and the house moaned and Jimmy’s mother left on account of all the noise, the neighbors stopped up their ears, and dogs barked and barked and fornicated without end until everyone had had enough and they slept. Outside it began to rain, and it rained and rained.  Inside Jimmy and Ada purred and sang, held hands and spoke without speaking.

            Ada got a job in the deli at the Quality Market, while Jimmy did body work for Mr. Bellamy.  After work Ada would wash Jimmy in the tub and Jimmy would rub Ada’s feet, and they talked and laughed and Jimmy made dinner for Ada and Ada played the piano. At night they lay together coupling and uncoupling, writhing in the pleasure of their bodies, until the sky grew red and dawn peaked into the basement window.

            Ada gave birth to twins, and Jimmy saw that it was good, and he was happy.  One girl named Rebecca and one boy named Amos.  Ada suckled them at her breasts while Jimmy sat and smiled and thought how wonderful life is, he stroked Ada’s hair and Ada laughed and blushed and the children grew.  Ada Jimmy Rebecca and Amos moved into a house in the middle of nowhere and Jimmy taught Ada to drive in the fertile fields behind the house, while Rebecca and Amos rode the bus to school, holding hands even though the other children laughed at them.

            Ada planted a garden and Jimmy walked behind her pouring water over the sown seeds and occasionally slapping Ada on the ass while Rebecca and Amos played in the apple trees.  The garden grew and grew and Ada expanded it still.  Greens and roots, flowers and vegetables, fruit trees and flowering trees; which grew tall and surrounded the house until the house disappeared into the foliage and the scent of rhododendron, dogwood, and hawthorn.

            When it came time for Rebecca and Amos to go off into the world Ada and Jimmy threw them an enormous party that the whole town attended.  Jimmy made toasts to Rebecca and Amos, and to Ada and to his love for all three.  There was dancing and drinking and a feast that lasted three days, and when it was over Rebecca and Amos climbed into a carriage and rode off into the world holding hands just as they had done as children, and Ada and Jimmy smiled and waved and stayed at the end of the road until the carriage passed over the horizon, and they stayed a bit longer, until Jimmy squeezed Ada’s ass and Ada giggled and blushed, and Jimmy thought “this is good” and then he said it, and Ada agreed, and they kissed until the moon came up and until the moon went down.  The stars shown brightly down on Ada and Jimmy who were like two shadows in the night becoming one, and the stars saw that it was good and they smiled back.

            They went back into the house and grew fat with age, and the house sagged as did Ada, but Jimmy didn’t mind as he sagged too, and he still lovingly grabbed her ass.  The grass and trees grew and the house disappeared behind them, and soon the town forgot all about Ada and Jimmy.  Amos and Rebecca grew old too and disappeared into the world, still holding hands.  And Ada and Jimmy lay together; Ada forever saying “here, Jimmy, here.”