BY RON THOMPSON
Today’s offering is the second in the series, and comprises five independent 100-word stories touching on the simultaneous callowness and boundless possibility of youth. Each story previously appeared on Exquisite Corpse’s blogsite. Copyright held by the author.
CARL’S HYPOTHESIS was that there were two types of woman. Type Ones were hairy legged. They could not be bothered to shave or use Veet. Aesthetics meant nothing to them. These women, he said, were not interested in men, at least ones with cojones. He then declaimed eloquently on his Type Twos. Over a night of student drinking, he pontificated endlessly on his bifurcation theory, insisting that the state of a woman’s legs spoke volumes. Windows on possibility, he said; and the double doors.
And yet, for all his Linnaean groupings, Carl did not seem to know any women himself.
Once, the firm held an off-site “retreat,” and six of us junior associates got to go along. It entailed a great deal of Laphroaig and Barolo as well as a few token workshops to make the booze deductible as a business expense. In one session, a consultant administered a personality test. Five of us scored as extreme Alphas. We found that hilarious and yapped and argued over who was whose bitch. The sixth associate did not join in. He was not an Alpha but a laidback Delta; he was laid off before Christmas. Dog eat dog, that was our ethos.
She was maybe 21, a pretty girl in a tutu. The program said she would perform a piece by Balanchine. She posed like a figurine, arms extended, waiting for the music. And when it began she moved flawlessly, effortlessly; she floated across the stage, mezmerizing, a beam of purity. At the end she stood to acknowledge applause, and suddenly the audience saw her beneath the mask of her performance. Her chest heaved, the muscles of her neck were corded. Her smile was strained, and perspiration glowed upon her brow.
The moment passed, she seized control, and was once again perfection.
Romulus and Remus
“We’ll build the first subdivision over there,” Romulus said, indicating the Palatine Hill.
“It’d be better over there,” Remus suggested. He’d always liked the way the morning light illuminated the slopes of the Aventine. Knowing his brother’s commercial bias, he added, “We can get three thousand a square foot for a view like that. There’s water up—”
“I have to take this.” Romulus accepted a scroll from a sweaty messenger, frowned and dictated a reply. Only then did Remus learn his brother had already chosen a name for the development.
I always get the hind teat, Remus thought bitterly.
Kiss (Inspired by a Hockey Riot)
Among the flash mob goons, the rampaging vandals, the jerseyed hooligans rocking cars, smashing glass, posing in front of conflagrations — I saw you fall. You landed heavily, your bag flew from your arms. Your pretty legs were scraped, your hair flew askew. I kneeled before you, raised you in my arms and murmured “It’s okay” into your ear. You looked at me through tears and then — I kissed you. Your eyes widened in surprise. You smiled. We kissed again. I smoothed your russet hair, stood reluctantly — and ran, taking with me the Gucci bag you’d snatched from a shattered window.