A few months ago, I tried an idea on Facebook: write a story with my friends, one line at a time. It’s kind of like crowdsourcing creativity within your own circle of pals. The idea is based off of an improv game we played years ago in ComedySportz called “Story.”
I tossed out the title of a story last week, “The False Love of the Vending Machine Poet.” Thirteen people contributed to this tale. There were Kit-Kats, plimsoles, strippers, janitors, Beevis, alligators and lederhosen. I jumped in at the end to provide an ending.
Thanks to: Fritz, Susan, Bill, John, S.J., Dave, Steve, Howard, Wendy, Kevin, Chee Chee and Mary. Well done. Each paragraph below is one of their entries. Spelling and grammar amnesty has been activated. Enjoy.
“The False Love of the Vending Machine Poet”
Of course, there’s Anderson Wallis, snackaholic with a penchant for peanut M&Ms.
Despondent, Anderson cried out to no one at all, “Alas! Alas! I’m on my ass. The vendor looked the other way. The vendor did me betray. Instead of savoring a glistening peanut, here I sit on my butt.
“He, he, he. He said butt” said Beevis as he passed by.
Above the hoi polloi, Anderson ignored passing comments, instead focusing on a solution to his tragedy.
Power Chord. The Vending Machine Poet danced. Bright lights and confetti swirling through the air. The solution to his tragedy must be somewhere.
“Make mine a double,” barked a lanky teenager, all hips, elbows, and unkempt hair.
The sultry accountant, Jan Severson slunk past at that moment She whispered to Anderson: “Six word novel: No more peanuts. Try Kit-Kat.
Anderson replied aghast, “How dare you say that! Kit Kat is my sister’s stripper name!”
“Stripper!? I barely know her!” remarked the teen, obviously both out of his element and well into his fourth double of the evening.
“He, he, he. They said stripper”, Beevis chuckled in his cube.
Barely above the hoi polloi, in fact, barely standing after the fourth double, Anderson slurred, “Kit Kat? Is that my sister–or my mother?” Every bone in his body turned to gel, Anderson melted onto the floor–out cold.
Gus, the old janitor shuffled by, looked at Anderson as he lay in a heap in front of the vending machine, still clutching a KitKat bar, and mumbled, “Damn kids and their drugs.”
In the shadows, a twentysomething with a disc in the lobe of each ear stifled his need to sneeze.
A half-empty pack of Luckys slipped out of the torn pocket of his leather jacket and spilled its contents on his plimsoles.
He retrieved the cigarettes, placed one between his lips with a mirthless smile and scruffing Anderson by the collar, dragged him across the linoleum.
And that’s when he saw the alligator.
It was a stuffed alligator with a ripped seam. Brought back by Anderson during his youthful adventures into the vending machine jungle. There are machines that sell just about anything. Actually, the stuffed alligator machine wasn’t really all that successful….lots of left over gators in the warehouse. There was a knock on the door.
Anderson opens the door, unaware of how his life will forever be changed by the simple turn of a door knob – a brilliantly polished brass door knob, actually…wonderful ceramic paisley patterns embedded in a most peculiar design, almost cool to the touch…digressing – ”Helmut?!? You said you were in Berlin?!’, Anderson blurts (a brief memory … See Moreof a lederhosen-clad evening in Prague – or was it Minsk? – flashed through his mind). ‘Ja…eet ees me…Helmut”. His mind racing, Anderson waves Helmut in silently knowing there is much work to be done.
The door closed behind him, Helmut is greeted in Spanish by Herr Fritz Grutzner, “Buenos dias Helmut. You esta late.” Clicking the heels of his ebony boots, Anderson said, “It is all my fault, Commandant Grutzner. There were rumors of vending machine operators in the vicinity.” (The endearing, enduring memory of that night with Helmut iin Prague, … See Moreor Minsk, inspired a new boldness in him.)
Raising one eyebrow and smiling in his menacing way, Grutzner said–rhetorically, it was really an order–“It is time to Tango. Bring in the musicians!”
All the while, the receptionist, seated nearly, never even looked up from his copy of Hobby Farm magazine.
He couldn’t stop thinking of cute little Frau Guttzmeinger whom he wished to marry just as soon as she graduated from Ashenwurtzen Tech.
But suddenly the receptionist DID stop thinking of comely little Frau Guttzmeinger, as his attention swung from his baser instincts to the one true passion of his life: grammar. And he realized that the story in which he existed had tilted out of the past tense into the present tense and back into the past tense again. It was too much for him. … See MoreHe pulled a bottle of Tanqueray from his desk drawer and poured a finger or three, and let his mind wander to the pluperfect, and the fact that he was overqualified for this job.
One month later, with Kit Kat chocolate smears on his fingertips, Anderson sat down to plunk out a few lines on his old strawberry iMac. It was a poem about the choice millions of people face at vending machines every day – E7 or A3 or D11? “Helmut,” Anderson asked. “What’s a synonym for ‘snack’?” Helmut paused, suggesting to his long-lost brother: “Munchable.”
With that, Anderson added the final line to the only poem he’d ever written, now the only poem he’d never finished. “Despite doubling the doubles, and stuffing the gators, I deliver buffets of options, like dehydrated potaters; alas, the only love I have is that I am the humble messenger of the munchable.”
Anderson exhaled. “Thank you Helmut.”