Thursday, May 30, 2013

Stories # 54, # 55, & # 56: "No-Pants Murphy," "The Other Shoe Drops," & "Unlucky In Love"

I am feeling particularly creative today. Enjoy this triple dose of short fiction...if you dare.  ~  JH


Every good nickname has a great story behind it. Murphy's is no exception.

One morning, as he was making his way from his apartment to his office, Murphy was astounded to find that he had neglected to put on his pants. He'd noticed a slight chill in the air and found it strange, since the sun was already bearing down intensely.

What he wore in lieu of trousers was worth the price of admission, were there a charge to be seen in public. Murphy had bought the SpongeBob SquarePants boxer shorts on a whim several months previous, thinking that the sight of them might elicit a chuckle or two from his otherwise emotionless wife. They'd failed to do so.

As licensed underwear often are, the shorts had been overpriced, and he felt compelled to get some wear out of them despite the failure of their intended use.

On this particular morning, Murphy had been in quite a rush, having overslept by forty-five minutes, which was unusual for him. He'd remembered to grab his coffee before heading out the door. He'd even remembered to bring his briefcase. Unfortunately, he did not remember his pants.

That morning, the kids at the corner waiting for the school bus had laughed at him a little harder than they usually did. He assumed it was because he'd also forgotten to shave and was looking more than a bit stubbly.

The man at the newspaper stand, who would have been afforded a full glimpse of Murphy's pantslessness, had apparently pretended not to notice. Either that, or Murphy was somehow not the man's most memorable patron thus far.

Murphy was half a block from his office when he realized his mistake. Not being a man of great shamefulness, he decided to carry on and suffer the probable ridicule of his colleagues.

They did not disappoint. Much mirth abounded in the office that day. A coworker who'd secretly had a crush on Murphy had promptly fainted at the sight of him, and she'd required a small dose of oxygen to properly recover.

It was Stewart who came up with "No-Pants." Murphy didn't think the nickname was particularly inventive or even very catchy, but it was apt and well-liked enough by all that it stuck.

Murphy never forgot his pants again after that day. He did, however, leave them off on purpose from time to time in order to justify the continued use of the "No-Pants" affectation. The reaction was always the same – unbridled laughter by most and the need for oxygen by one.

Such was the life of a man called Murphy.


"Vincent, thank you for taking my call. I've been trying to touch base with you..."

"No problem, Norris. I needed to talk to you, too. What's on your mind?"

"Well, I have some ideas for the fall project that I wanted to run by you. Do you have a few minutes?"

"Actually, that's exactly what I wanted to talk to you about."


"Uh-huh. Norris, the thing is...we're thinking about making Rick the project manager this fall."

"What? Vincent, what are you talking about? I've been the project manager for the past four years now. Why would you give it to Rick?"

"Well, Norris, the fact of the matter is, we've been noticing a few things about you of late that don't line up with our standards of excellence."

"You mean I'm not doing good work?"

"No, you are, you are, Norris. It's just that, well, some of the things you've been talking about lately are...well, a little out of bounds."

"What did I say, Vincent?"

"It's not what you said. It's more what you wrote."

"You mean in the company newsletter? If you mean that Joke of the Week from the January edition, that's ridiculous, Vincent. I mean, it was a joke."

"It wasn't your Joke of the Week column. Although that one didn't set too well with the bigwigs, they were able to overlook it as a one-time-only miscue. It's...well, it's your blog that's got us squirming in our seats, Norris."

"My personal blog?"

"That's the one. You've been posting a lot of questionable material of late, and frankly, we're a little concerned that you're falling off a bit."

"You all are concerned about what I'm writing on my personal blog on my own time? What gives, Vincent?"

"Well, it's like this, Norris. Everything you do or say, especially in public, reflects on us as a company. You may work here 40 hours a week, but you represent us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year."

"Vincent, I don't get it. What did I post on my blog that you're uncomfortable with?"

"Well, lots of things, Norris. But, in particular, the music."

"I post all kinds of music on my blog. What's the big deal?"

"That's just it. You post all kinds of music. As you well know, our company has always been known to favor a specific kind of music, and the kind of garbage you're putting up there is not it!"

"Vincent, this is ridiculous! You're telling me that you're pulling me off the fall project because I like a different kind of music than you and the head honchos do?"

"You're missing my point, Norris. It's not that you like a certain kind of music that's contrary to our preferences; it's that you talk about it publicly. That's the issue here."

"Well, what would you have me do, Vincent? Lie about what I listen to, figure out what it is that you and the bigwigs want to hear and post that, or stop writing my blog altogether?"

"Norris, I can't tell you what to do or not to do on your own time. That's your choice. But it's my job to remind you that your choices have consequences. What you choose is up to you, but there is always a price to pay."

"Thanks for the reminder, Vincent. I'm getting out of here."

"I'm sorry if I've offended you in any way."

"Sure you are, Vincent."

"Oh, Norris...didn't you say you had some ideas you wanted to run by me?"

"What's the point now?"

"Well, Rick doesn't have a whole lot of experience as project manager, you know. And you do. So if there's anything we might be able to pass along to him, I'm sure he would appreciate it."

"I'm sure he would, Vincent. But you can't have it both ways."


" Good luck on the fall project."



It's happened again. The latest love of her life has proven to be less than worthy of her affection. Another broken engagement. Another broken heart. Another all-night crying session.

It's happened before. The first time was years ago. It was just as well. She wasn't ready for forever then. Maybe she still isn't. She doesn't know anymore.

Just when a guy seems perfect, the veneer starts chipping away and she sees him for what he really is. Flawed. Hopelessly so. She knows she deserves the best, and nothing else will do. She's worth it.

It will happen again. She's sure of it. She's destined for love, for a lifetime, for forever. But she hasn't found Mr. Right just yet. He's out there. Somewhere. She knows it.

Every so often, she wonders if she is the problem. She wonders if it's not the guy that's dropping the ball, but she who has the slippery fingers. Then she looks in the mirror, and knows she is mistaken.

Any man who isn't willing (or able) to accept her as she is – a flawless specimen of righteous femininity – is unworthy to be her soulmate.

Until such a man finally appears, she will do what she does best. Drown her sorrows in herself, reveling in her own perfection. And wonder why that will never be enough.

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