My Curious Reading: In and Out of Conservatism

Many, if not most, acts are prompted by their environment (pressured, permissive, insular, cooperative, anti-social…), and by the spirit of the times, whether or not the actor is fully conscious of this. I had been thinking of the Tylenol killer, of creating an intuitively correct character; thinking, that if you could, as a writer of […]

Short story: Are You Alienated (final)

“Within reason,” Minta said. “I don’t know,” Torbay told her, “that anything I’ve uncovered is very unreasonable at this point.  It’s curious, or sad, in a way, how benign it has all become.  But, of course, the elder Emmett did great harm in his day.” “Then why were you so discouraging?” “I was not discouraging,” […]

Short story: Are You Alienated (forty-third)

Minta remembered Valerie sending links about the St. Petersburg trip.  Ordinarily, her mother-in-law was more of a beach cabin vacationer.  Quentin, who would not fly, was at least willing to drive.  Occasionally.  Minta had not seen the trip as beyond coincidence—she’d had no context for it.  She did now. “John,” she said, “you can’t tell […]

Short story: Are You Alienated (forty-second)

Minta walked quietly beside Emmett, following Torbay along the familiar way which led to the river.  Now the concrete was patterned in salty halos, rimmed with white.  Emmett, having meditatively taken several sips of coffee, said, “Art understands his position.  Do you have any notion, Minta, of how to delete Quentin’s content from your computer?” […]

Short story: Are You Alienated (forty-first)

“Do you mind,” Minta asked, “if I pick up a coffee?”  An aluminum trailer bed that had been fitted with a pink-painted, home-crafted wooden shed, sat where it touched the edge of the no-parking zone, its cinder-block prop placed with great care. “We are in no hurry,” Torbay said.  He stood aside, but Emmett joined […]

Short story: Are You Alienated (fortieth)

“A salt shaker,” Art had told her, his myopic eyes studying the microwave control panel, “a waffle iron.” “As though,” Quentin added, “someone needed this thing for the first time in history, but instead of nineteenth century technology, they had no limits…” “And so,” she said, “Art and Quentin are closet billionaires?” “That would be […]

Short story: Are You Alienated (thirty-ninth)

She was alerted, both by the sympathy and by the cryptic remark. She could not have guessed whether Torbay, like Emmett, tended to make such statements and leave them hanging—for Emmett himself had arrived. This time, he wore glasses: the lenses rimless, the earpieces made of some spectacular high-tech metal that reflected light at certain […]

Short story: Are You Alienated (thirty-eighth)

“How are you?  I was a little worried,” Minta fumbled her phone. She then positioned it, achieving something approaching eye contact. “Really,” he seemed to be his old self, “are we exchanging pleasantries?  Where would you like to meet?  I might come to your house.  I’m curious to know Quentin.” “No. That would be a bad […]

Short story: Are You Alienated (thirty-seventh)

In her drive, she saw Art’s electric car.  Art was nominally Quentin’s boss, the CEO of their company.  But they were too soul-matey—the two of them—for such distinctions.  She found them sprawled, wearing their virtual reality gear, Quentin in the recliner, and Art on the sofa.  Minta was glad, of course that Quentin had evolved […]

Short story: Are You Alienated (thirty-sixth)

Minta felt relieved.  This concern of Cammie’s she could easily dispel.  “Honey, the only thing he said to me, was that you had taken a leave of absence.” “No!” Cammie, meeting Minta’s startled eyes, became self-conscious.  She hunched over the table, and peered sideways at the cashier, who gave her a friendly nod.  “No,” she […]