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More Letters to 52/250 Prompts


by Christian Bell


Dear Animal Behavior:

Am I doing this right?  I had an idea for a story and thought it was a good one but then as I was writing the story I felt that it was like writing with shackles, writing in a cage, if you'll pardon that metaphor since that is something sensitive to you.  I know that you write—do you ever experience this situation, where you're writing and you feel like maybe, just maybe, you could do something more if you didn't go ahead and put this restraint on yourself?  Why restraints, I often wonder?  Why do we do this to ourselves?  There are no awards to be gained by such a thing, no place where our names are forever enshrined.  I know that you write the way people think you might—with abandon, ferocity, and insatiability.  This is one thing of various things I admire about you.  This is why I come back to you time and again for advice.

Sincerely yours,

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Dear Border Town:

How're things down by the, um, border?  I know we don't talk much anymore and for that, I'm sorry.  Anyway, I‘ve been thinking that if there would be a movie version of Border Town, I'd want it to be a western, and I'd want it to star Peter Sellers.  Of course, he'd have to play multiple roles.  He'd be the sheriff who is also the snarling bad guy who's trying to take over the town, the aging gunslinger who's always drinking whiskey at the bar, the bespectacled accountant who hurts his wrists lifting a gun and, in a particularly comedic turn, the wise harlot who carries a parasol and is the town's best billiards player.  Slim Pickens would guest star but unfortunately his character is a mute.  I know this is all silly because Peter Sellers has been dead for some time now (as has Slim Pickens), but they're doing amazing things with CGI these days (do they even call it “CGI” anymore?), and there should not be any restrictions on one's imagination.  Yes, this last point might bring up a sore spot, one of many between us, the accumulation of which is why we don't talk much anymore.

Truly,

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Dear Long Distance:

Yesterday morning, after waking up, I put on the previous day's pants and shirt, went to Dunkin' Donuts for a cruller and coffee.  I thought I would sit in the shop, watch people come in and out at the starts (or in some case, the ends) of their days.  It was only 6:30, the day still like a fog, the gray haze of a sunless day that gave the world a Scottish feel, like marauding armies are waiting to strike.  I have not sat in a Dunkin' Donuts since I was a child.  My dad would drive us to one fifteen miles away from our home and I'd get an orange juice and a strawberry frosted donut and he'd read the paper and drink coffee and give me the rundown on the previous day's baseball games.  I loved those donuts but somewhere along the way they changed the frosting and now it's like eating pink plastic.  Anyway, yesterday's donut shop was depressing.  It was filled with older folks who sat in groups at tables.  Some read newspapers or worked on crosswords.  One man had a severe shrieking cough.  They said nothing to one another, looked at me once or twice.  Looking at them, I couldn't help but feel that they were dropped off here, that there was nothing else for them to do.  People came and went, some their age with two coffees.  If my dad were still alive, I can't imagine he'd be one of these folks.  He'd be one to come and go.  He always had things to do.

I remember when Dad drove home, I'd look out the window from the back seat and count the old Volkswagen Beetles.  Dad would fiddle around with AM radio, settle on songs from the 50s.  I remember one time counting 47 of those cars.  Yesterday, I decided to count them driving home and I saw not one.  I kept driving until I saw one.  It was cherry red and was sitting in a repair shop parking lot.  I smiled, wondered, how many miles does it have, how many stories could it tell?  Then I went home.

All the best,

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Dear Password:

Well, it seems I forgot you again.  I'm locked out, I'm denied access, I'm going to have to make phone calls and maneuver my way through automated menus until I reach a blasé real voice from South Asia.  I would just change it to “Fuck,” because who wouldn't remember that, but in addition to an uppercase letter, I'm going to need at least eight characters, one of which must be a number, and one of which must be a special character.  My alternative was going to be
“Fuckoffanddieyoubrokemyheartcleanedoutmybankaccountnowiamleftwithnothing butdebttweezers&abottleofgenericketchup1”
 but that exceeds 32 characters.  So I'm just going to go with “Bieber4evah!” Yeah, half the world's teenagers are using this for their Twitter accounts, but who would expect a near 40-year-old straight man to use it?

2 Good 2 Be 4 Gotten,

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Dear The Money's Gone:

I am requesting that you stop badgering me.  The money's gone.  I spent it on a sterile Pomeranian and a much too small cage, a film venture that dried up in the south Texas dust, donuts to feed 5,000, a collection of two dozen vintage Volkswagen Beetles, and every conceivable piece of Justin Bieber merchandise available.  It's gone, dude, just like you and me, and it ain't coming back.  Ever.

Yours in poverty,

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