Seven Short Shorts
A special treat this week for all you Orbit visitors: Seven short shorts by Champion Mojo Storyteller Joe R. Lansdale! Read 'em all at once, or savor one a day until next week! Enjoy!
Lewis ate the feast before him with enthusiasm, and when he finished, they came for him. He felt excited and thrilled.
It was his coronation.
The little country of Novania was making him its King.
He couldn't understand why he deserved such an honor, and it had all happened so fast. After he killed the dragon, he couldn't believe his luck.
Well, of course, the dragon was the reason.
But the dragon had been no problem.
Guns take care of dragons easily.
And, of course, he had rescued the princess.
They took him down the long hall and through the green door and into the coronation room and led him to his throne. He sat down gently and they placed the hood over his face and the crown on his head.
He noticed he couldn't lift his arms, but thought little of it. He was quite tired.
He said, "I will be kind to my subjects."
* * *
"He thinks he's being crowned a king," said the Warden. "Been talking about it all week. He's lost his nut. It's the way he's dealing with things. Thinks the guy he killed, guy messing with his wife, was a dragon. Thinks the wife was a princess he saved, not some slut. Ain't that something? Thinks he's in some country he made up, that he's getting crowned. Turned it all into a fairy tale."
"He's smiling," said the reporter.
"Not when they throw the juice. He won't smile then."
"He'll never know, will he?"
"Not as far gone as he is. Lucky bastard."
* * *
And when they pulled the switch, Lewis felt a surge of what he thought was enthusiasm at having been crowned; in an electric fast instant he wondered when they would remove the hood, if it was part of some ancient custom.
Then his brain was fried.
The warden was wrong though.
Even after they threw the juice, he was smiling beneath the hood, but it wasn't pretty. He showed all his teeth all the way up to the burnt and smoking gums.
"Coronation" appeared here for the first time. It is available in The King and Other Stories, published in 2005. "Coronation" © 2003 Joe R. Lansdale.
Seymore, looking in his closet for his shotgun, accidentally let the door slam closed behind him.
He wheeled. Panicked. Beat on the door and screamed. No one answered, because he lived alone.
Seymore hated tight places. He couldn't even stand tight clothes. A wristwatch drove him wild. And now here he was, in a small closet, in the dark. He beat on the door and yelled some more, but still nothing changed.
He sat in a corner of the closet, the clothes draping about him like a ghost.
Beneath the crack in the door he saw day change to night and back again. He grew hungry. He threw himself at the door. No good. Solid oak and thick.
He sat down and cried.
Four days went by.
He found the shotgun he had been looking for.
It was loaded. He put it under his chin and fired.
Neighbors, hearing the shot, came looking for him.
They found him in the closet.
Too bad he hadn't tried the knob.
It wasn't locked.
"The Closet" appeared here for the first time. It is available in The King and Other Stories, published in 2005. "The Closet" © 2003 Joe R. Lansdale.
Millard laughed as he walked and said he was being followed by a private eye.
Turned out the eye was quite public and easy to see as he pulled it down the street on a string, and from time to time called it by his wife's name.
"Private Eye" appeared here for the first time. It is available in The King and Other Stories, published in 2005. "Private Eye" © 2003 Joe R. Lansdale.
Passed out drunk at a frat campout, Jason awoke naked to find that he was lying by a snake in the grass.
He lay still for a while, but the snake remained. Careful not to move too fast, Jason got hold of a stone near his hand and came down hard on the little snake.
It wasn't a snake.
His frat brothers call him stumpy, so Jason prefers to pee alone.
"Snake" appeared here for the first time. It is available in The King and Other Stories, published in 2005. "Snake" © 2003 Joe R. Lansdale.
Terry and the Hat
Terry bought a hat right after a fight with a street tough, and it fit him to a tee, but when the swelling went down, the hat was too big.
He tried to find another like it that fit, but alas, it was the last of its kind. He asked his cousin if he had any idea how he could make it fit, but his cousin didn't have any suggestions.
Terry thought it over, came up with an idea. He picked fights and let himself take head licks, but it was never the same. Swelling in the wrong places.
He tried a hammer to his own head and this worked better.
After suffering severe brain damage, being forced to live in a chair in front of the TV, his cousin suggested stuffing the lining of the hat with paper.
By then, however, Terry didn't know he had a hat.
"Terry and the Hat" appeared here for the first time. It is available in The King and Other Stories, published in 2005. "Terry and the Hat" © 2003 Joe R. Lansdale.
Trapped in a car wreck for a week on the side of a snowy highway with nothing but a dull knife, Jason ate his last meal. Or next to last. But with both legs and one arm gone, he found it hard to cut off any more parts, and thought, if rescued, he might need the head and torso.
But the munchies struck late that night, and he used the knife, and when he was halfway finished eating his own liver, he died.
And, of course, a rescue truck showed up.
"The Munchies" appeared here for the first time. It is available in The King and Other Stories, published in 2005. "The Munchies" © 2003 Joe R. Lansdale.
After the War
On the day after the war, only two people survived. On the second day after the war, one of the Siamese twins died.
"After the War" appeared here for the first time. It is available in The King and Other Stories, published in 2005. "After the War" © 2003 Joe R. Lansdale.
Hitch up your wagons and journey back this way Thursday, March 12, for more Mojo excitement!