Weird story start #3

Greg flicked a lintball off the arm of his sweater and watched it follow a perfect arc into his coffee cup where it floated, serenely mocking him. “Piece of shit,” he said.

Helen quietly pulled his cup towards her and pushed her own, lint-free cup in front of him. She touched the lint ball and it stuck to the tip of her finger. She peered at it and said, “You know, this may be the perfect lint-ball!”

“Sorry to get it wet,” Greg said, taking a sip from his new cup. “You must be getting close to having a complete collection.”

“You mean, for the gallery showing?” Helen asked. “I think this one will do it. It’s exactly what I needed! Once it dries, of course.”

What, me worry?

I’m a worrier. My mom is a worrier, and frankly, I blame her for my worrierness. (Thanks, Mom.) I remember one night when I was maybe five, Mom saw what was probably just some kids smoking cigarettes behind a neighbor’s house. She was all freaked out because she saw them lighting matches, and all I really remember was cowering by Mom as I imagined the whole neighborhood being set on fire.

Match being lit

Fire -- it doesn't have to be scary

As an adult, I’ve noticed a sad sort of creativity to my worries. When I took voice lessons for a short time, my teacher had her students perform at an open mic. At a rehearsal we had the week before the performance, all us nervous newbies were taking turns singing our songs. One of my fellows tried to put things in perspective and said, “What’s the worse that could happen?” I said, “We could be so nervous that we lock our knees (a no-no I remember being harped on in high school marching band), pass out and fall forward, impaling ourselves on the microphone stand.”

Once I was early for an appointment and I sat in my car, reading as I waited. My shoes were uncomfortable, so I untied the shoelaces to loosen them up. Then it dawned on my how dangerous that was because, if there was an earthquake, and I had to jump out of the car to run for cover, I might trip on the shoelaces, knock myself unconscious on the blacktop, and be squashed beneath a lightpole knocked over during the quake.

Heartburn becomes a heart attack; a headache becomes a tumor.

It could become a sort of game. I’m writing this post now, and what’s the worst that could happen?

I spill my coffee on the keyboard (a tragedy in itself because, y’know, it’s a waste of coffee) and jump up to quickly get a towel before it ruins my expensive gaming keyboard… I trip over a cat and fall on the floor, hard. The downstairs neighbor gets pissed, comes upstairs and pounds at my door. I’m a little groggy from the fall, so I answer the door and the neighbor punches me in the face. The cats attack him, claw out his eyes and hideously disfigure him. Not wanting the cats to be taken away and put down, I am left with no choice but to kill the neighbor, cut him up and discard his remains, living with the guilt for the rest of my life.

Or… I spill coffee on the keyboard and, by a one in a bazillion fluke, it sends a perfect sequence of electrical signals to my computer, writing the ultimate virus and somehow sending it to every email address that has ever existed — past, present and future — thus disseminating an accidental piece of code that ends up bringing all the world’s computer systems to their knees. Chaos ensues.

Or…

Starbucks I

Where are you from
man with an accent?
hot places
of palm trees and sand
while here I sit
inside the familiar coffee shop
with army-colored walls
and blood on the ceiling
from all those
caffeine-exploded
hyper-brains
wondering about a stranger’s accent