An Alan Smithee Joint

An Alan Smithee Joint
Ryan Everett Felton

                As press junkets go, this one was just anemic, Val thought. She’d been to smart phone video game tournaments, e-zine release parties, hell – even a Brad Garrett book signing with higher attendances. Judging by the other half-dozen reporters’ attire and appearance, she figured she could’ve gotten into the lobby without her freshly-minted Press Badge.

                It hung prominently around her neck all the same, dangling lamely, its cheap laminate never really catching the light.

                “Val Harris?”

                A PA or agent or somesuch – more glasses than face – leaned out of the door to the conference room. “Ms. Harris, we’re ready for you.”
Val nodded and stood, tucking a pencil behind her ear and smiling at the cluster of sad-sack bloggers who didn’t even have Press Badges.

                At the door, Val squeezed past the PA or whatever, who stood unmoving with her mouth open just long enough for it to get weird before snapping out of it and saying, “Very good!” She showed Val to her seat and hugged a clipboard to her chest. “He’ll be right along,” she said. “Just snuck away for a little fresh air.” And she pantomimed puffing a cigarette.

                “That’s fine,” Val said. “I won’t need long.” Continue reading “An Alan Smithee Joint”

A Routine

A Routine
Ryan Everett Felton


          I shift the car from park to drive the requisite number of times. I count along in my head, as the ritual demands.

          Then I lick my lips seven times and back out of the driveway. It is 7:00 in the morning when I leave for another day at the office, and I will time my arrival so that the digits on the other side of the o’clock colon can be divided by the magic number. I do this every day.
          I do this to protect the world from certain catastrophe, and you’re welcome. Continue reading “A Routine”



Ryan Everett Felton

“We are symbols, and inhabit symbols.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mother was an eccentric, yes, but for the first time in my adult life I can say without a doubt that she was perfectly sane.
The day we laid her to rest (that’s such a funny thing to say, isn’t it? “Laid to rest.”) I would have still told you she’d lived and died a madwoman. And you’d have agreed, if you’d seen her in that casket, brittle fingers clasping perfumed stationery to her powdered chest – and that bizarre symbol of hers scrawled in splotchy Indian ink on the page. It was to be buried with her, at her dying request.
Everyone else either ignored it or didn’t notice it there. I couldn’t look away, perhaps glad of another focal point besides her face. It was the same strange character I’d seen countless times. Her letter, she called it, and when I squinted and shunted disbelief I could imagine it some lost relic of a bygone alphabet. Continue reading “Correspondence”

Her Perplexed Words

Her Perplexed Words
Ryan Everett Felton

            After a long day at the library, sweet old Ms. Goodson was somewhat dismayed to find her front door obstructed by a stray sphinx, curled up and napping on her welcome mat.
            “Oh, wonderful,” she said. Hitching her purse up her shoulder, she lifted a dainty foot and prodded at the creature’s feline torso. “Go on, now,” she said. “Shoo, shoo!”
            The sleeping beast purred and rolled over, using one feathered wing to cover its humanoid face. With a wide padded paw it batted at Ms. Goodson’s loafer half-heartedly.
            “Go on, get,” said the librarian. There was a bottle of wine and a Frasier DVD box set waiting for her inside. Continue reading “Her Perplexed Words”

The Humble Derby

The Humble Derby

Ryan Everett Felton

          Tammy Reuben’s cowboy hat was too big for her head, but to her mind this had a slimming effect and so she kept it on – although it impeded her vision while exploring the fairgrounds. Half-blinded, she bumped into a dozen folks on her way to the event tents. So friendly were the denizens of Humble that both parties apologized in each instance, usually to the point of profusion.
“‘Scuse me. Sorry!” she said, knocking a man’s plate of funnel cake out of his hand. He echoed her sentiment, but by then she was pushing through the ensuing powdered sugar cloud. She crossed into a large candy-striped tent and edged her way to the front of a small mob. It was hot, a scorching Texas summer morning, and none present could deny their contribution to the stink of the tent interior. Waist-high metal fencing cordoned off the center of the space, where a wooden mini-maze had been erected. Above this set-up flapped a banner with the spray-painted message:
          13th ANNUAL HUMBLE DERBY
           (Armadillo Races)
Continue reading “The Humble Derby”