“Love Letter” by Nigel Macarthur, London, England:
The hour has come when I
can tell you what I think of you. How much I love you, I mean.
I long to touch your
alabaster skin. Alabaster, that is, apart from the tattoo of Ronald
Reagan. Undergoing his autopsy.
Your eyes are the
purest…Well, for a comparison of your eyes with various gemstones,
please see Schedule B of this love letter.
I love you more than I
love the Internal Revenue Service or the government. When I think of
you, my heart grows fuller than a drunk’s bladder the moment
before he wets himself. Every hour without you seems longer than the
president’s list of excuses for whatever blunder it is this week,
and emptier than a supertanker a few hours after it has run aground
on the rocky shore of a nature reserve.
Could I forget our first
date? We watched the sun go down over the county penal farm as we
walked along the road after the car had broken down. That night will
be etched forever in my memory. The stars. The moon. The strip show
at that roadhouse. I was breathless with excitement. At your
presence, I mean. Or maybe it was the stripper. Or the cigarette
We walked on home and the
constellations drifted gently above that cop who nearly became the
arresting officer, although I still don’t think I was that
drunk! I saw you to your door and waited while you closed it and
your mother drew the four locks and seven bolts she only ever seemed
to use when I was outside.
Our second date
was…well, I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you at first. Your hair
was a blonde waterfall. On that occasion, anyway. The following
week, it was different.
Our courtship was
perfect. Apart from that hit contract your mother took out on me.
However, she finally withdrew it, so all ended well.
I remember the night I
proposed to you. At least, I remember it now. It was all kind
of hazy next morning, but luckily you reminded me. I’ll never
forget your mother’s strained expression as you did so.
Presumably, she had been afraid the opportunity would slip by and be
The honeymoon was a
dream. I could have danced the night away with you on that marble
dance floor in the hotel ballroom. However, I decided to watch NFL
football on the hotel sports channel instead. Yes, the honeymoon was
lovely. You mother and two brothers also seemed to enjoy it,
although we finally managed to get a little time to ourselves late
that night on the beach.
Our lovemaking on that
beach was frenetic, passionate and was interrupted only by the Navy
SEALs amphibious landing exercise.
Then, as soon as it was
time to go home, I realized immediately that I’d married into a
generous family. Your mother was always promising to fund you,
should you decide to divorce me. How I laughed, all the more so when
she spent all the flight home reading that book of murder methods.
I can’t forget the
warmth of your smile. It wasn’t me you were smiling at. It was the
bodybuilder next door, but I still remember its warmth and
tenderness. You light up my evenings with your laughter, rich and
full. You laugh freely, whenever I take my clothes off.
However, you aren’t
just a pretty face. You also appreciate wisdom, as you show when you
tell your mother (so very often) that she was right, and that you
realize now you shouldn’t have. I don’t know what it refers to,
but it’s good that you see her wisdom.
It was also she, wasn’t
it, who suggested you going into business by organizing those
underwear sales parties? I’m not so sure that she meant men’s
underwear, but you seem to prefer to do that, holding those parties
whenever you have time.
So much of your time
seems to be taken up these days with watching that film with Julia
Roberts. Let me tell you, darling, you look every bit as nice as she
does, and there is no need to spend so much time wistfully staring
at her in The Runaway Bride.
I will be able to look
into your eyes again as soon as I manage to convince the parole
people here that it was your mother who planted the evidence that
got me sent here to prison.
98.3% of my love,
“Origami Hullabaloo” by Christopher Hivner, Dallastown, PA
I once took a class in
specialized origami. This wasn’t making birds or butterflies out
of construction paper. Our paper was sized by the hectare. It took
17 people to fold our lifesize alien spacecraft and various
The class was started by
Mr. Yushi, a 61-year-old Japanese immigrant who came to America for
a delicate nose hair removal operation and stayed 22 years, working
as a teacher and part-time Slinky repairman. Then, he got deported.
So, in the middle of the year, we got a substitute.
When I walked into class
that night, I was so surprised, you could have knocked me over with
a 20-ton industrial crane. It was my long-lost identical twin
Larry and I were born on
the same day in 1980. We looked exactly alike and were as close as
brothers until tenth grade. By then, my growth spurts were over, but
Larry shot up nine inches in one year. One of his hands could engulf
my head and his feet when he walked looked like waste barges
chugging down the Susquehanna River. His voice dropped to an octave
only earthworms could hear by absorbing the vibrations. We drifted
apart and I hadn’t seen Larry for eight years.
“Larry, is that you?”
“Cousin!” he bellowed
back, swallowing me into his amoeba-like body. “Where have you
“I’m not hard to
“My number is in the
“I still live above the
garage of my parents’ house.”
“I haven’t left this
town for even a day.”
“Okay, well, we found
each other again. That’s the important thing.”
“I guess you’re
right, Larry. But why did you stop talking to me in high school?”
“Well, I was better
“You were still short
and had a high-pitched voice.”
“Yes, like that.
Anyway, I had grown tall and proud with a bass voice. I have huge
hands and feet and you know what that means.”
“That you’re a
“See, you were always
“I can’t believe I
was glad to see you again.”
“I can’t believe
you’re in this class. As if you could understand an art form as
demure as origami.”
“I can outdo you,
“Oh, yeah? You’re
The battle lines were
drawn. To help me, I bribed eight class members with bottles of cold
Yoohoo and raspberry cordials. Larry took the remaining ten by
hitting them repeatedly with a jagged stick. We worked feverishly,
folding our massive sheets of paper. One of my team was trapped by a
sharp corner and stabbed in the leg. I tried to convince him to stay
with promises of glory and minimal insurance coverage, but he passed
out from blood loss before I got to the amortized deductions.
I sent Mrs.
Pradawatowidboto over to spy on Larry. She reported back at having
seen a man in period clothing and when she described the outfit, I
knew what Larry was up to. I quickly shifted gears from my original
idea of the fat Elvis.
It was near midnight when
we finished. Everyone was exhausted and covered in bloody paper
cuts. Larry’s team walked their construction over confidently,
pulling the cover off with a flourish. It was Edward III, King of
England from 1327-1377. He stood majestically. A chain mail hood
covered his head and he wore an ankle-length brocade tunic. His
right hand rested on a lobed pommel sword. It was gorgeous and I had
to give Larry his due. But I also knew that I had guessed correctly.
Larry’s love of English
history, especially the kings, had betrayed him. I pulled my drape
off and Larry gasped. I had guessed correctly which king was
Larry’s favorite and had constructed the perfect foil: an 18-foot
rat infected with the plague.
“No!” Larry shouted
but it was too late. We pushed my rat over and it attacked Edward.
The gallant king doubled over and collapsed. Larry threw himself on
Edward, his tall, proud body wracked with bass-voiced sobs. In my
heart, I wanted to go over and console Larry, but I knew he was too
full of himself to accept my sympathy.
Besides, when I turned my
back, the rat escaped and attacked the class. Six were already dead
and for some reason had turned into zombies. So, we all had