About Red Tales

Here's an evolving electronic collection of short prose pieces, with a poem contributed occasionally. Brevity guides. Although sometimes a piece will run to 900 words, most pieces are much shorter. Here one may find erotica, flash fiction, brief observations, and modest improvisations. Another rule is that each piece must have something to do with"red"; at least the word has to appear in each piece functionally. . . . All pieces are numbered and titled, so there's a de facto table of contents running down the rail below, under "Labels" (scroll down a bit). Browse for titles that look interesting, if you like. Thank you for stopping by. Look for some red today, tonight.

"Flaming June," by Frederick Lord Leighton

"Flaming June," by Frederick Lord Leighton

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

65. Mimetic Complications

Yesterday--or was it last year?--she held a mirror up to nature. A lithe branch whipped out of nature and cracked the mirror, which was, however, already useless because of fog and mist.

Then she started to make a list of things and creatures she saw, but a couple of them sent her mind down tangled trails of association until she got stuck in thought.

Subsequently the form of the list intrigued her, so much so that she played with that, ignoring nature.

Then her musings become comparative. She wondered how painters, musicians, real-estate "developers," hunters, actors, bird-watchers, escaped prisoners, and religious zealots would react to the scene before her.

Soon she had a smile on her face, a sack of mirror-shards, an unreadable list, and hunger, so she got back in the red conveyance and headed down the hill of nature.

Friday, March 13, 2009

64. Barbarian At The Gate

I'm a barbarian, and over there's the gate. It is red. Actually, I'm from a small town outside Barbar.

There's an old man having coffee at a table near the gate. He offers. I sit.

"So--what's the gate to?" I ask.

"It's to civilization, of course," he says. "What are you--some kind of barbarian?"

I order coffee and pastry. He talks. "They're in there falling apart--greed, lying, a state-mania for control, horrific weaponry, economic injustice, bovine media, and an odd blend of incompetence and arrogance."

"I'll be darned," I say. "How's it going to turn out, in your opinion?"

"You should know the answer to that already. Don't they teach history anymore in Barbar?"

"You're a Barbarian, too?!" I ask.

"Born and raised," he says. Then we heard shouting from inside the gate.

"They're in there blaming us for their problems. They're using a sophisticated lingo of hate, fear, and xenophobia."

"How trite," I observe. "However, technically, we are Barbarians at the gate."

"You couldn't pay me enough to go in there," he says. I name a figure. "I might reconsider," he says.

"Merely a thought experiment," I say. I pay for us both and leave a robust gratuity. The server comes over, and I ask, "Is there a bookstore around here?" The server looks at us and sneers and says something most barbarous to us. Nonetheless, I let the gratuity lie as it is. The server leaves.

The old man says, "Civility is often a blade that power unsheathes and waves in the air."

"Is that so?" I say. He's not an easy person with whom to converse. We part company, but we both go in directions away from the gate.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

63. For a Landing

The airplane glided over a bay, around which millions of people lived, and light from the low sun turned some water red. On the plane, I thought of the people down there all doing and saying all at once what they say and do, verbal and bodily, base and mysterious, reasoned, instinctual, weird, private, public: all of it, all of them, all at once in a moment, and of course I could only imagine someone imagining it because even one interval of its totality can't be represented. There is no realism big enough to handle reality. The airplane landed.

Monday, March 9, 2009

62. They're Almost Here

Tomorrow the space-ship is landing. Everyone's pretty excited.

The aliens--they prefer to be called the Others, in English at least--purchased Earth, and apparently the deal just went through escrow.

Well, they didn't purchase all of Earth, just what we call real estate, most of which they'll lease back to us on very reasonable terms, I am told.

They're paying for everything with what we call precious metals. Rumor has it they did the equivalent of laughing when they "heard" that phrase.

The Others own such things as gold planets. They vaporize metal and reconstitute it on Earth somehow. If I knew the physics of it, I wouldn't be working here.

They've promised to help humans survive. To that end, they started by deactivating sustantive military weapons, putting spells on politicians (et alia), and giving the atmosphere a good scrub. We'll see if it works. Personally, I have my doubts.

What are we going to do with all that gold?. . . . Their ship, by the way, is alleged to be bright red. We'll see tomorrow. And the Others themselves are as multi-colored as a big box of crayons, according to reports. That, my friends, is pretty cool. Tomorrow, then.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

61. Newspapers in the Red

The newspapers are disappearing. Some are getting thin and blank like fashion models. They report on sports and the city council, then surrender to pages of adverts and coupons. Other papers get sold overnight to petroleum companies, traveling circuses, or no one. They disappear like people the governments kidnap.

Some newspapers are going "online," which in this case seems to be a euphemism. Anyway, going online doesn't quite work. They post the stupid stories, the reporters write blogs instead of news-stories, and you can't spill coffee on the stories, pick them up, and see a brown ring on top of words. Blogging isn't reporting: this just in from the news-desk.

Next, I suppose, will come micro-newspapers--3 inches by 6 inches. The reporters will write in haiku:

Stock market plummets.
White heron flies in local mist.
Janvier is champ.

-- Or: soon will there be nanonewspapers, which you stick in your ear?

I always liked newspapers, even when they missed the big stories and kissed the asses of power. Newspaper feels good in the hands, photos on paper are fun, headlines are less thrilling online, and oh, my, those great newsprint cartoons--like Out Our Way. But this is no time for nostalgia and elegies.

Still, there they go, the newspapers, slipping into accounting's red ink. I think of the reporters, who will have no medium through which to report, predictions of the Online Oracles notwithstanding. I think of people lifting the two rectangles of an open newspaper and putting their faces in the space between rectangles to read, to lose their vision in news.

I recall a riddle from childhood: "What is black and white and red [read] all over?"

"A newspaper."