All For Now

One hundred posts in six years is a pretty poor showing in Blogoland. All the same, I'm very happy with what happened here. I started An Oddment of Sandwiches as a place to put a few scattered sentences that didn't fit anywhere else. At some point I found myself actually writing stories, something I did not see coming despite having always intended to. Characters popped up again to suggest new stories for themselves. Two have even made a good argument for getting their own novels. It's a wonderfully strange process.

Even so, all things end, and this blog is now closed for new stories.

There will be at least one more post announcing where you can get a copy of a collection of "short and even shorter fiction," which will include the fruit of labors begun here as well as brand new stories. The collection will be available "later this year" as both an ebook and a paperback. Cost will be reasonable, I promise.

Big thanks to XO, emaw, Nick, and everyone else who took this stuff seriously. You will never know how much it means to me.

Meanwhile, captions continue over at The Odd Sandwich. (Don't be a Tumblr hater stranger, Nick.)

Questions? Leave them in the comments or contact me through leeingalls.com.


Temporary Crown

Melody was on her way back from the dentist when the guy from Building Management came around to remind everyone about the evacuation exercise.

“Aw-righty then folks,” he said through his mustache, “we’re going to start in about ten minutes. Once again, follow your team leaders to the designated...” and at this point no one was listening anymore, and everybody knew it.

Afterward Rajesh stopped by Melody’s cube, something he did throughout the day. He asked Garrett, her cube mate, if Melody knew about the fire drill.

“I think so?” said Garrett, with as much certainty as he said anything, which wasn't much.

“She should be done by now, don’t you think?”


As they spoke Garrett’s right eye darted between his monitor and his phone.

“Did she say whether she would be coming back after her appointment?”


“OK,” Rajesh said, and walked back to his desk. Talking to Garrett always made him feel like punching Garrett.

When Melody got back to the building, she went straight to the women's restroom on the mezzanine level. It was smaller and out-of-the-way, and particularly in the late afternoon it provided a haven from the pressure cooker up on the ninth floor. Because it was connected to the restaurant on the ground floor, a fancy place with cloth napkins, it had nicer smelling soap and higher quality paper towels. And unlike the bathrooms on the ninth floor, you rarely heard anyone crying in the next stall.

Melody leaned toward the mirror to check for swelling and dried spit, setting off the automatic faucet in the process. She washed her hands and stuck a finger in her mouth and pulled her cheek aside to get a better look. Today had just been the prep work for the once and future crown on her lower left second molar, yet the temporary crown looked like a legitimate tooth.

“Way to go, little guy,” she said as clearly as her half-numbed tongue would let her.

She ran her hands under the water and dried them. She wondered how long she could get by on a temporary crown. She wondered if she would be able to pay for the crown by the time the bill came. She wondered if they repossessed dental work. She moved to a stall and had just sat down when the first alarm went off.

Image: Twin Rivers Bathroom by talented flickr user Svadilfari, used under a Creative Commons licence


So Is Yours

Stephanie slapped him. He braced for it, puckering his mouth on the slap side.

- Dammit, Brian! You're giving the whole thing away. Everybody is going to know it's coming. 

- Sorry. Are you sure you have to slap me? It's not in the script.

- It was your idea, Spielberg.

- Yeah, but you're slapping hard.

- Sorry, but your character is a jerk.

- So is yours.

- So why are they in love?

- I don't know.

- My sister Marcy and her boyfriend are totally like this.

- Even the slapping?

- I don't think so. Maybe. Marcy was a big slapper when we were little.

- Were your family's ancestral lands on the line?

- No, stupid.

- Can we practice kiss now?

- How about one more slap?

Image above: "Center Stage" by talented flickr user sigma, used under a Creative Commons license.


Take A Swig, Newley

[Excerpt of interview with BG, conducted at Denver Field Office.]

Agent: So, why was Tim upset?

BG: He was freaked about it being too soon. He’s like pacing around the living room, waving his arms, you know, talking loud. Gary lets him go on for a while and finally just says, “Calm yourself, Newley.”

Agent: Newley?

BG: What? Oh, yeah. Newley is what Gary called Tim sometimes, when he was mad at him. Tim was usually El Segundo when Gary liked him, but one time Gary saw this guy named Newley on YouTube, one of those old videos with the people singing in front of a big curtain. This Newley guy has big eyes and a funny mouth and sang all loud and funny and afterward Gary says he looks like Tim, and we all laughed. Even Tim laughed, except you could tell Tim didn’t really think it was funny. He hated it. Dave called Tim Newley once and Tim cuffed him, made his nose bleed.

Agent: Did anyone else have a nickname?

BG: Yeah, we all had names that Gary called us, names from videos mostly. Dave was Wild Thing. Hamid was La Forge. I was Willis. Gary said we had to use them when we were on missions.

Agent: Did Gary also have a name for missions?

BG: Yeah, on missions he was Mr. Phelps.

Agent: OK, so let’s get back to what you were saying about Tim being upset.

BG: Yeah, so Gary calls him Newley, Tim looked mad, like he does when Gary talks to him like that, but he stopped talking. So Gary passes the bottle to him and says, “Take a swig, Newley.” That’s what we did once something was settled. And Tim takes a swig and hands it to me and I pretend that there’s a hair or something on it so I can wipe it without seeming like I don’t want anybody’s germs before I take a swig myself. But nobody was looking at me anyway. Nobody ever does. I let it splash against my mouth but I didn’t let any go in my mouth. It tastes awful. Then I passed it to Dave.

Agent: What happened then?

BG: Then Gary gets out of the lazy boy and reties the belt on his bathrobe and says, “We thank Brother Newley here for his wisdom,” but he says the last word really mean and he does this kind of bow to Tim. Then he says, “And that concludes the panel discussion portion of our program. We leave in an hour.” Then he took the bottle and walked back to the bedroom. Tim told us to start loading the guns in the van.

Image above: It's true... by talented Flickr user james_michael_hill, used under a Creative Commons license.


The Reverend Al Bovee

At a school east of town, Reverend Al taught the youth
About Biblical stories and Biblical truth.
From “In the beginning,” on past Habakkuk,
The Reverend knew every last verse of each book.
His diction was stately, his cadence was sure
As with tented fingers he'd parse the scripture.
There were hairs 'cross his head, there were books on his shelf.
The Reverend Al Bovee was pleased with himself.

The pride of the Reverend Al Bovee’s garage
Was a dark green sedan manufactured by Dodge.
This six-cylinder chariot ran like a top.
The wheels made it turn, the brakes made it stop.
It carried him swiftly to the church that he served,
It got decent mileage, was not known to swerve.
It was such a delight that he’d just let it pass when
Boys would snicker and ask, “Reverend Al, how’s your Aspen?”


Wise Men

"And those three over there are the Wise Men."

Grandpa Joe chuckled and called to his wife.

"Did you hear that, Ma? Those three stars are the Wise Men."

"Aren't they?" A crinkle of worry appeared on the little boy's forehead.

"Oh, you bet they are! It's just that Grandma never got a chance to study up on all this when she was your age, so I wanted to make sure she heard."

The boy asked whether Grandma went to school and Grandpa said sure she did.

"But it was different where she went to school, over in the Ozarks. The school was just a cave up in the hills and all the kids wore animal fur to keep warm."


"Yep, and they had shoes made out of potatoes. And you had to travel in packs to make sure the wolves didn't eat you up!"

"Uh-uh!" the boy squealed and toppled over laughing.

Grandma came out on the back porch carrying the boy's little sister. Freshly bathed, the girl's eyes were closed, lips tight around her binky.

"Don't get him all riled up before bed."

"Oh, come on, Ma. It's summer."

They all sat and listened to the crickets chirp. The boy asked if they could talk to his mom and dad again on the computer.

"It's about four in the morning over there now," said Grandpa. "Your folks need their rest."

Grandma got up to take the little girl back inside.

"Don’t stay out too long, Joe. The bugs are starting to bite."

Image: Evenings On The Porch, by talented Flickr user Lizard10979, used under a Creative Commons license.


A Bower Quiet

Reynolds lowered himself into the hammock with a deftness that belied his girth. Dropping his right shoulder he was suddenly belly up, swinging wildly a moment then settling into a comforting sway, the nylon chords groaning in sympathy with the hardware that attached it to the metal frame. His nephew Jared dithered at the back door.

Behold the conquering oaf, thought Reynolds, casting his eyes into the canopy of oak leaves.

Jared hauled a chair off the porch, one of the Adirondacks Marion spent so much time in near the end. He barked a shin in the process and was puffing by the time he sat down, only to stand up sharply and remove the sheaf of papers he had folded once lengthwise and put in his back pocket.

-I'm sure gonna miss her, Uncle Reynolds.

Reynolds said nothing but continued to swing, aware that this left Jared uncertain where to go next. Jared sat awhile with a worried forehead, smoothing the crease he’d made down the center of the pages. After a while, he offered to fetch a glass of iced tea from the kitchen.

-Help yourself, Reynolds said. I'm fine.

-Sure I can't get you anything?

Reynolds rocked a while and Jared waited, clearly uncertain whether to ask again, or to sit back, or just go on into the house and look for that iced tea. The boy did look thirsty. But instead he sat. Eventually Reynolds spoke.

-If you go in the house, bring me that bottle of sour mash on the counter and a jelly jar. You still abstemious?

Jared sat up straight.

-Yes, I am, Uncle Reynolds.

-Well, then. Don't bother bringing a glass for yourself.

Image: Home Tree by talented flickr user Jason A. Samfield, used under a Creative Commons license.