Category Archives: short stories

Why Do You Want to Work Here? Writing Micro-Memoir

The Writer online magazine had a Micro-Memoir contest a while back. The idea was to write a 200 word memoir inspired by an object that holds meaning for you. I was too late to enter the contest, but I wrote one anyway. You might want to try this writing exercise. The article was written by Beth Ann Fennelly, who was inspired by a workshop on writing short fiction taught by Leslie Jamison. You can read about it here:

https://www.writermag.com/2017/07/06/micro-memoir-contest/

The object I chose to write about? A job application. The old fashioned paper kind, not the ones you fill out online. And I made mine a combo of fiction/nonfiction, so it’s not exactly a memoir.

Why Do You Want to Work Here?

Copyright © 

2017  by Sara Jacobelli

I filled out my first job application when I was nine. Mom brought home two, in case I messed up the first one.

“Mr. Cappizotto grabbed me in the elevator today.” She lit a Lucky Strike.

“Ole Onion Breath.  You gonna tell Poppy?”

“Jake’ll kill him and go to prison.” She opened the refrigerator and stared at the scant contents. “Grab a can of tuna and the opener. Fill this out. For the dry cleaners.”

The application reminded me of a giant blinking eye. Who are you? Are you good enough to work here? Name, phone number, address. “What job did you have before Levitt’s Store?”

“Waitress. White’s Diner.” She opened the can, slopped tuna in a bowl.

I completed the application, using that Big Imagination everyone said I had. She got the job. A few weeks later Poppy got fired from the restaurant for punching a customer. He brought me a stack of applications and I filled them out, ignoring my homework, listening to the radio. My brother Nicky handed me his application for a cashier’s job at Food Fair. I made them all sound like glowing job prospects.  I learned the power of the written word.

*****

 

 

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Rafael with the Green Eyes

This flash fiction piece was inspired by a writing prompt from the online journal, Typishly. Start your story with the first sentence, “She lived in a dented silver trailer.”

And, it’s freezing here in New Orleans, I watched a Law and Order SVU Baby it’s Cold Outside Marathon, and I’m procrastinating on some of my other writing projects. 

Check out Typishly, you might want to try some of their writing prompts:

http://typishly.com/

Fiction Copyright © 2017 by Sara Jacobelli

Rafael with the Green Eyes

She lived in a dented silver trailer. Mom found the trailer for rent in the classifieds section of the free weekly paper. Insisted Bernice move in. The rent was cheap; Bernice’s SSI checks would cover the rent and utilities. Food stamps would take care of groceries. I paid her cable and internet bill. Figured the TV and computer would calm her down.  Mom was happy with her cats and her shaggy dog and her library books and her volunteer work and didn’t want Bernice living with her. Bernice with her temper. Her odd ways. Smoking and staring at the wall.

It was my sisterly duty to visit once a week, bring her Chinese for lunch. Bernice never liked going to restaurants, rooms full of people made her nervous.

She had the TV on with the sound off and sat typing furiously on her laptop. She was wearing her purple bathrobe.  I plopped the cartons of food on the cluttered kitchen table.

“You hungry?”

She lit a cigarette. “I gotta finish this. He answered my tweet.”

“Who? What?”

“Rafael. From the TV show. The one with the green eyes.”

“Bernice. You do know those famous people don’t answer their own tweets? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all that crap. They pay people to do that. Secretaries or college students, interns. They don’t answer the five million tweets they get from lovesick fans.” I rooted around in the kitchen, looking for clean plates. “You taking your meds?”

She kept typing. “Not true. He answered me. I think I’ll visit him.” She stopped typing and took a deep breath. She closed her eyes. She was counting.  One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. Some trick one of her counselors taught her.

“Just fucking eat something. Do you want the chopsticks or the fork?”

She stubbed out her cigarette, grabbed a dirty fork from the sink and ate her Kung Pao Shrimp straight from the carton.  “I’m going to Los Angeles. To meet him, in person. We have.” She closed her eyes for a few seconds. “We have a connection.”

“Right. A connection with some guy on TV, who’s playing a CHARACTER, he’s ACTING. You’re going to LA with no money—to stalk some poor fucking guy. And get arrested. Remember the LAST TIME you thought you had a fucking connection with someone?”

She grabbed the remote and turned the sound on. “You have to go now. The Law and Order marathon is starting.

“That’s the guy? The one who plays the DA?”

“His name’s Rafael.” Bernice closed her eyes. Counting again. “He answered my tweet. We. Have. A. Connection.”

“Yeah. Sure.”

She opened her eyes, ran her fingers through her hair. She still had that thick shiny red hair, red with natural blonde highlights. When we were kids, she was the pretty one. The smart one. The best speller. The best singer. The best swimmer. The fastest runner. I used to kneel by my bed at night, praying that one day, everyone would like me more than Bernice. When we started high school she changed. Something happened.

I touched her hair. I was the only one who could still touch her. “I don’t think you should go to Los Angeles. I think you should leave this man alone. This man has his own life. Just leave him alone. OK? Bernie? Agreed?”

“I’ll talk to you during the commercial.”

“I gotta admit. He’s kinda cute.”

“Isn’t he? That voice. And those eyes. Those green eyes.”

*****

 

 

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Big Ruby’s Gasoline Heaven

 

My short story, “Big Ruby’s Gasoline Heaven” has been published in Scarlet Leaf Review, an online literary magazine based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Check it out, leave a comment.

Go to www,scarletleafreview.com, Select January 2018, Select Short Stories,

Select Sara Jacobelli

https://www.scarletleafreview.com/short-stories9/category/sara-jacobelli

 

 

 

******

Photo Credit: Pixabay Copyright-free images. “Motel,” by pacoruiz64. https://pixabay.com/en/motel-vintage-retro-light-hotel-2299643/

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One-Sentence Stories: An Anthology of Stories Written in a Single Sentence

Author/Editor Val Dumond is putting together a second book of One-Sentence Stories. Book One is available on Amazon.com as a print or ebook, or you can buy a copy directly from me. (I have a few author copies).

https://tinyurl.com/ybhqnvvs

I have two stories in the first book and two stories in the second book. If you are interested in submitting to Book Two, here are the editor’s guidelines:  (The Deadline is January 31st, 2018).

CHALLENGE TO WRITERS

When the novel writing slows down to a dead stop, take a few minutes and word-doodle. You heard me — but do it by telling a story in one v-e-r-y long sentence, which is a kind of word-doodle. It’s fun, it’s diverting, it’s FREE.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Muddy Puddle Press is seeking submissions from writers of one-sentence stories for Book #2, One-Sentence Stories to be published in the spring (2018). Guidelines are minimal, and all stories will be vetted to ensure they are followed.

•     Submissions are to be more than 200 words and fewer than 2000. Limit two (2) per author.      Each must tell a story (fact, fiction, funny, serious, on any subject as long as it is your story.        Submit stories to muddypuddle@live.com.

•     Do not use vulgar or crude language. (An occasional “drat” or even

“damn” may be acceptable.)

•     Do not use periods or semi-colons. Do not use excessive dashes.

•     Each author of an accepted story will receive a complimentary copy.

•     Rights to each story remain with the author, who has permission to re-publish it.

Authors may request permission to re-publish stories of other authors.

•     The book will be copyrighted by Muddy Puddle Press, with royalties going to the publisher.

Royalties of more than $2000 will go to support a writers group.

•     Authors will have the right to buy extra copies of the book at an author discount.

•     Deadline is midnight, January 31, 2018, with publication in Spring 2018.

There is NO $$$ cost to you other than your time and effort. PLUS — you’ll receive a complimentary copy of the book and have an opportunity to suggest ideas for it.

Do you know how to construct a sentence? Will you dare to reject your English teacher’s advice about run-on sentences? Can you fine-tune your story to follow the guidelines outlined here?

Try it! And have fun!

You’ll return to your novel relaxed, energized, inspired, and ready to move ahead.

 

Val Dumond

 

More clues & examples

at www.valdumond.com

Muddy Puddle Press

P O Box 97124

Lakewood WA 98497

muddypuddle@live.com

 

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Nine Dead Dope Dealers and Other Stories is available on Amazon!

This is a collection of four stories  I wrote about San Francisco in the 1980s.  I’ve set up a free give-away for five days, from December 25th to December 29th, so go ahead and read and review. After that it’s $2.99 to read.  (And don’t be afraid to be honest in your reviews, I can take it!)  The story, “Nine Dead Dope Dealers” earned an Honorable Mention in the Mystery/Crime category 2016 Writers Digest Popular Fiction Contest.  (Just sayin!) (And hopefully it will be a paperback soon!) Dealing, Nine Dead Dope Dealers, The Disappearance of Cookie Bob, and Half Moon Bay are all copyrighted by the author. Sara Jacobelli Copyright© 2017 Saratoga Street Press. New Orleans, Louisiana. United States.

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Hear my stories on WRBH Radio 88.3 FM!

I’m reading three pieces: short stories/flash fiction, on WRBH Radio. This is a new weekly program called Figure of Speech. It features local authors reading their work—or the work of writers who have inspired them.  The stories I chose to read are all stories I wrote that were inspired by my experiences in the French Quarter in the late 70s, early 80s. (And they are fiction, fiction, I say fiction!)

It’s on FM radio, 88.3.

http://www.wrbh.org/

First airing is Saturday, December 9th, 3:00-3:30 pm.

An encore airing is on Monday, December 11th, 9:00-9:30 pm.

I can also send you the link so you can listen at your leisure!

If you are not in New Orleans, you can listen to this station through the internet.

WRBH is a radio station dedicated to people who are blind, visually impaired or literary impaired. However, a lot of sighted people listen to it as well: They offer many interesting programs, including book reviews, the newspaper, fiction and nonfiction books.

Photo Credit: “Radio-Vintage,” Pixabay Copyright-free images.

https://pixabay.com/en/radio-vintage-ancient-rustico-wood-2967677/

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The Rooms on Rampart

Fiction © Copyright 2017  by Sara Jacobelli

New Orleans

Late 1970s

The Rooms didn’t have a name, just a hand-lettered sign, “Rooms.” Other weekly rooms on the street had names: “Uncle Mike’s Place” “Sunset Inn” “OK Corral.”  The Rooms on Rampart had rules.  Guy who ran the place, Pete, wouldn’t rent to women, insisted one man to a room. He made signs on cardboard and posted them in the lobby and hallways. No cooking in the room. No booze. No drugs. No fighting. No guns. No knives. No sneaking broads up to your room. I done enough time, I know how to follow the rules and mind my business.

Rooms were eighteen bucks a week, head down the hall.  Soon as they got there, Shorty and Dave broke the rules: Dave rented the room and snuck Shorty in. They’d only have to pay nine bucks a week, long as they dodged Old Pete. Pete had this way about him, reminded me of an old giant snapping turtle I saw at a roadside stand out in Kraemer.  When he talked, he bobbed his head, sniveled, cleared his throat.  Had this window in his door so he could stick his turtle head out, see what was going on.

Pete had the best spot in the building: one-bedroom, kitchenette, and a TV. He got all that for collecting the rents, kicking out deadbeats, breaking up fights, enforcing the rules. Shorty and Dave were jealous of Pete’s sweetheart deal. I met these two sitting on the front stoop smoking.

Shorty said he was from Chicago, spent his life riding the rails. Dave said he was from Bakersfield. Shorty was short of course, and skinny, clothes too big, shifty dark eyes, pock-marked face.  About forty but looked sixty. Dave was younger, taller, bright green eyes, reddish-brown hair, freckles. Shorty looked like a hobo. Dave at first glance could pass for a regular working guy. You looked twice, you could tell by his raggedy teeth and sallow skin and the desperate look in his eyes that he was a man on the edge. Type that would follow around the Manson Family.  Shorty drank MD-2020 but Dave scored speed whenever he could. Both claimed to have done hard time. Both were full of shit. I been in the joint and I can pick up right away, by the way a man walks and moves, the way his eyes take in his surroundings, I can tell whose done hard time and who’s talking outta his ass.

“Where you taking the bus to fella?”

“The fuck you care?”

“Don’t gotta get surly with me, Mac. Just making conversation.  They call me Shorty. You know what churches give out free food?”

“Right down the block by St. Jude. I don’t bother with it. Pete don’t like cooking in the rooms.”

Shorty smoked his hand-rolled Bugler. “This here’s Dave, my running partner.”

Dave ignored me and picked up an almost-new cigarette he found on the sidewalk. “Bus stop’s the best place for these here.” He held up the cigarette like it was a diamond ring. “People drop em when their bus comes.” He giggled. “Hey, you notice you never see no baby pigeons? You see growed ones all over the place, you see dead ones, but you never see no God-Damned baby pigeons?”

My bus came.  We get a lot of strange ones in the Rooms but these two gave me the creeps.

***

Shorty and Dave brought a girl upstairs, a big-eyed teen-aged speed freak with scraggly black hair and Olive Oyl eyes.

“Old Pete ain’t gonna want her up here.”

“Fuck Pete.” Shorty was the boss. Dave grinned his evil grin.

Olive Oyl leaned against Shorty. “You said you had some shit.”

“She OD’s, the cops come. Nobody wants cops here.”

“Whyn’t you mind your own business, Mac?”

I shut the door to my room. I could hear Shorty talking and Dave and the girl giggling. Then they shut up. I figured Dave and Olive Oyl were shooting speed, Shorty was drinking Mad Dog. A radio blared Mama got a squeeze box she wears on her chest, and when Daddy gets home he never gets no rest. Sounded like Dave was screwing Olive Oyl; the mattress squeaked and they banged against the headboard. There was a framed picture on the wall of a sailboat on a blue-green sea. I looked at the painting before I fell asleep, dreaming I was on that boat on that sea. My room was much better than sleeping in abandoned buildings or the Ozaman Inn.  I was hoping for a steady gig in the Quarter mopping floors or washing dishes.  Life was doing me pretty good and I didn’t want them bastards to ruin it.  There’s guys in this town desperate enough they’ll kill somebody for a hundred bucks.

Old Pete said he had nothing but his Routine and he loved his Routine like a man loves his woman. Coffee, cigarettes, newspaper. Lunch at the Clover Grill or the Tally-Ho. The track. Back home to the TV. We had some drunks in the Rooms.  Whiners. Deadbeats. Not much trouble. Once in a while a lonely old guy would die in his room and Pete always said the same thing. “Well, you never know. You never know.”

We didn’t have much trouble til those two showed up. Shorty and Dave.

Shorty and Dave wouldn’t shut up about Pete’s apartment.  Kept hatching up ways to get rid of him, take over his job. I kinda liked Pete. Had this fridge in the hallway, stocked it with popsicles in the summer, then gripe that everyone stole them. But he kept stocking the fridge with more popsicles.  Me and the other roomers, Lucky Dog Daigle and  flower-vendor Moonbeam, we raided that fridge. A popsicle tasted just right on sweltering summer nights, specially when you couldn’t scrape up enough quarters and nickels for a sno-ball or a Dixie beer.

“Could put poison in his coffee cup. Just move into his crib, collect the rents. Have us a good ole time.” Shorty picked his nose, inspected the booger, wiped it on his dirty jeans.

Dave pointed a bony finger at me. “That one there’s listening.”

I brushed past them and opened the heavy front door.

“Hey Mac!”

I turned around. “Did I tell you the story bout the time they sent me to the loony bin up in De-troit, on accounta I kilt a man?” Dave took his knife out of his pocket and flicked the blade open and shut, open and shut, glared at me with his Charly Manson eyes.

“Pete’s all right. Let’s you pay rent a day or two late.  These rooms are two bucks cheaper than Mike’s next door. I don’t got no problems with Pete.”

Shorty rolled his Bugler, leaned against the stair rail. “Don’t seem fair he’s got that place with the windows and the TV.  You come in on our plan.” He nodded in the direction of Pete’s door. “We’d collect the dough, split it three ways. No telling what he’s got, we could pawn.”

******

Old Pete died in his sleep three days after winning twelve hundred bucks in the Trifecta.  I moved into Pete’s apartment. I collect the rents, send the California landlord a money order every month. Never told him I raised it from eighteen smackers to twenty-two.

I got rid of Shorty and Dave, with a grand left over. Wash dishes two days a week, spend the rest of the week at the track during the season. When the track’s closed I play bourre’ and knock rummy over by Johnny White’s. Waitresses at the Clover Grill and the Tally-Ho pour my coffee soon’s I walk in the door. Might treat myself to dinner at the Steak Pit on Bourbon Street and drinks at the Bastille on Toulouse. I’m gonna ask out that cute waitress with the nice ass that waits for the bus in front of the Rooms. Take her to the movies over by Canal Street.

Old Pete. Good Luck and Bad Luck in the same week. That’s life for you.

I put the sailboat painting on the wall in my new bedroom.  You need a room to rent, you come see me. I kept Pete’s signs up. Just make sure you follow the rules.

 

 

***************

Song Lyrics: “Squeeze Box.” The Who. 1975, https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/who/squeezebox.html

 

Picture Credits:

Rooms sign: “Greek Islands Rooms.” Dreamstime Stock Photos:  https://tinyurl.com/y9rr8yvx

“Sailboat Painting” by Jennifer Branch: https://jenniferbranch.com/PaintingWatercolor/Art-Tutorials/Sailboat-Painting-Tutorial.html

 

 

 

 

 

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