Mini Stories

A lot of the writing that I do is long term, like a seven volume fantasy series, The Lost Sisters Saga. It won’t see the light of day for years. That is extraordinarily unfulfilling for me as a writer. I like to put things out there on a regular basis, touch people’s lives, get some feedback. When someone tells me that something I wrote made them laugh out loud, that is the best feeling I could ever imagine. To write something that produces an emotional reaction in someone! There is no more powerful drug for me than that.

I also am an observer of life. I am drawn to the comical, the irreverent, the ironic, the subversive. I like the tiny dramas that play out all around me each day, if only I open my senses to be aware of them. And then my imagination takes over. A dead raccoon on the side of the road becomes a mob hit. A constellation in the winter sky sparks a rant about the sneaky deceptiveness of stars. A routine workout at the track leads to thoughts on the cycle of life.

So I write mini-stories and publish them on social media. They are sometimes witty, sometimes profound, often profane (and parents – not for the kiddos!). They let me practice writing. And they let the creatures in my head come pouring out onto the page, where I can share their ferocious beauty with the world.

Robot and Ghost

Robot and Ghost
A Mini-Story by Jerry Gidner
(c) 2017 Aardvarks Are Wee, LLC
October 7, 2017
Revised 11/19/2017

I went to the track to walk and run today. When I got there, a young guy was running. Maybe 30 years younger than me. Shirt off, running laps. The guy was all muscle. Not big, just pretty ripped and near zero body fat. He was running fast and smooth. And he just kept going. Lap after lap after lap. He didn’t look left or right, just looked straight ahead. Everything about him said young and energetic and blooming. He was like a robot. It was a pleasure to watch him glide along.

A little bit later, an older guy shows up. Maybe ten or 15 years older than me. Well worn tee shirt, started jogging. The guy was bent with time. He was stout. His right shoulder and hip were several inches lower than his left, like a beer keg bashed in on one side. He was shuffling along. But he kept going for several laps. He didn’t look left or right, just looked straight ahead. Everything about him said old and stiff and fading. He was like a ghost. It was painful to watch him stumble along.

How I hated that young man. He reminded me of myself decades ago, when I could run and run and run for miles. When I was strong and floated above the track. A me that faded away years ago.

And how I admired him. So young and strong and a whole life before him. So beautiful to watch.

How I hated that old man. He was my future. More years of gravity and its perpetual tug, more laps around the track; more laps around the sun; and I could be him. A future that is coming all too fast.

And how I admired him. He was stiff and obviously in pain, but there he was, at the track, racing time and still winning, at least for today.

Keep running, Robot. Keep running, Ghost. See you around the next curve.

Starlight Is A Lying Sack of Shit

By Jerry Gidner
December 10, 2016
© 2016 Aardvarks Are Wee, LLC

One of the bad things about Bella’s recent surgery is that we can’t let her run, so she has to be on a leash every time she goes out. With a human holding the other end of the leash. So at 8:30 tonight, I shrugged into my coat and shoes, and took Bella around the block, for the 5th or 6th time today. Once I got out, it was pleasant. Crisply cold, the moon a few days shy of full. As Bella sniffed, I gazed at a clear black sky. The branches of a small stand of trees, newly bare, jutted into the night, bathed in moon glow. Still and peaceful, but somehow ominous. I imagined zombie fingers emerging from a freshly dug grave. Beyond the trees, Orion and his belt lay sideways in the sky. Lazy prick! I looked at the three stars of the belt, one of the first things I learned to recognize in the sky, and wondered. They seem perfectly aligned and of a similar brightness. Not so. Alnitak, on the left is 817 light-years from earth; Alnilan, in the center is 1340, and Mintaka, on the right is 916. Since a light year is 6 trillion miles, that means light from Mintaka has already traveled 3,138 trillion miles before it even reaches Alnitak and the two light beams travel to my eyes together. It reminded me that in astrophysics, as in life, not much is at is seems. Bella walked on, and so did I. As we rounded the corner for home, we were enveloped in the comforting stink of smoke from a neighbor’s wood fire. We trudged up the stairs, into the house, and out of the cold.

Who Goes There

By Jerry Gidner
February 21, 2017
© 2017 Aardvarks Are Wee, LLC

I am hanging out in downtown DC while my daughter and her friends are at Escape The Room. I am walking past a restaurant, a coffee in one hand, a croissant in the other. The restaurant is below grade, so the diners are below me as I amble past, going nowhere, killing time.

A little girl, maybe 3, head a mess of curls, has detached herself from a table where a whole herd of similar creatures is sitting. She is kneeling on the window sill and sticking her tongue out, I imagine at her reflection.

I walk by, and turn my head toward her. As our eyes meet, I stick my tongue out.

She displays the tiniest, wariest of smiles, part way between “who is this freakish, bearded Gigantor and do I need to fear him,” and surprise at her own power: “I made a grown up stick out his tongue.”

I could see the conflict between the two in her eyes. Good or Evil? Friend or foe? The eternal questions. It’s practice for life, kid, and the answers are not always clear. So ponder that daily for the next 75 years.


By Jerry Gidner
May 14, 2017
© 2017 Aardvarks Are Wee, LLC

I took the dogs for the morning walk today. They were both, shall we say … prolific, both scoring very high on the International Poop Per Pound (IP3) standard. So I spent many minutes wrestling all of this – output – into a series of poop bags. There was a lot. I mean, I could have used a wheelbarrow to cart this load home.

Much to my surprise, when I got home, I no longer had the bag! A rogue, neon green bag of dog shit was loose on the pristine streets of north Arlington. That’s like The Hulk crashing a Barbie tea party!

So I put the dogs inside and retraced my steps, hoping beyond hope to find the errant crap sack before it metamorphosed into something even more horrendous, and began to eat small dogs and children, or perhaps ran for public office.

Halfway through the loop, I spotted it, lying on the sidewalk, licking up worms and ants, oozing it’s way toward a driveway, and beginning to gather strength to launch the Dogpoopocalypse.

I recovered the bag before it could begin its March of Destruction. I almost needed to sling it over my shoulder to carry the thing. But then I realized that I was walking home with an enormous bag of dog shit. And no dogs.

Did I mention it was neon green? Not exactly a Cloak of Invisibility! What do you say to passersby when you have dog shit but no dogs?

Say nothing and avert your eyes, hoping they don’t make the connection? (Man wakes up at 3 a.m. and shakes his wife awake: “Marge, that guy we saw today? He had a bag of dog poop, but no dogs!” Marge: *Gasps* Man: “Get dressed, Marge. I’m calling the police!”)

Say nothing, but give a cheesy grin and a wink? (Man waits until they turn the corner, then: “Marge, did you see that guy? He had a beard and a big nose. Plus, what do you think he had in that bag? Dog shit? I think not. I think he’s a terrorist and he’s going to blow something up. Possibly the Starbucks. I’m calling the police.” Marge: *Gasps*)

Shove it in your pocket and hope for the best?
(Little girl: “Mommy, that man is wearing ratty sweatpants and a Michigan State sweatshirt. Is he homeless?”
Mom: “I don’t know, Sweetie, but remember we try to be kind to everyone.”

Little girl: “But he smells like poop.”
Mom, dragging the girl away, “I know, Sweetie. I know. Look, there’s Duck Donuts.”
Little girl: “Yay! Do they have poop donuts?”
Mom: *Gasps*)

These various scenarios flashed through my mind as I slunk home, dogless, but with the scent of their output warping the space-time continuum behind me. I hoisted the bag into the trash can and, for good measure, stabbed it in the heart with a pitchfork.

As I reached the safety of the house, I locked the doors behind me.

Assholes of the Universe

By Jerry Gidner
February 23, 2017
© 2017 Aardvarks Are Wee, LLC

I recently saw a picture of stars in an article about astronomy.

It showed glowing objects that look like stars, but are not. They are actually black holes, or actually, gases heating up as they approach black holes, if I understand the science.

This photo made me think: What’s in there? What is actually behind a black hole. Is it just a dead end of dense gravity? Two wormholes diverged in a universe, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and now I’m flat and dead? Is that the deal?

Is it Heaven? The similarities between religion and advanced astrophysics are pretty small in my estimation, so who knows.

Or is it a different universe? Worlds beyond imagining, connected to ours by these tiny pinholes. The concept is amazing and mind boggling. My questions about this are as boundless as the universe itself. What creatures live there? And do they have puppies? Do they eat puppies? And what do they think about human taxidermy?

I finally had to put black holes in a context that I could understand: essentially they are the assholes of the universe. The waste disposal system of the cosmos, and we use the universes beyond them as our celestial sewer system.

I was happy with that explanation until I thought about the gas clouds – on this side of the black holes – and had one last thought:

What if black holes are not our assholes pointing out, but someone else’s pointing in?


A mini-story by Jerry Gidner
December 10, 2016
© 2016 Aardvarks Are Wee, LLC

I am on my way to the Home Depot, and stopped at a light. I look in my rear view mirror.

The woman behind me has a slash of red for a mouth, thin and severe. She is chewing gum. I have seen billy goats that are more dignified. She is texting. I look to the left. The man beside me has a magnificent nose. Bigger than mine. Strangely round. I imagine he can smell what I ate yesterday with that thing. He is also texting. I look in front of me. The man driving the van in front of me is not texting. He has enormous, gleaming, white teeth. I can see them in his rear view mirror. His face is washed out in the light, and it looks like a disembodied mouth, like a skeleton is driving the car. Hanging from his rear view mirror is a crystal. As it swings gently back and forth in the slanting sunshine, a prism jumps back and forth across his dashboard. The light turns green and we go our separate ways.

Night Whispers

By Jerry Gidner
December 29, 2016
© 2016 Aardvarks Are Wee, LLC

“Is it going to rain?” my wife asked me last evening, massaging an achey knee.

“I don’t know,” I replied. I am on vacation until the New Year. I don’t know what day it is, what time it is, what year it is, or what town I am in. And don’t care. Showers? Some things are best left undisclosed.

So I haven’t checked the weather. I look out the window before I go out. House across the street still there? Yep. No hurricanes or tornadoes then. Good to go. Do locusts crunch under my feet on the sidewalk, or chew my face off with their little blood-stained teeth when I do venture out? No? The plagues must be holding off until later, then, and a light jacket will suffice.

But early this morning, cozy in bed, the wet splatter of fat drops on my window woke me. My first sleepy thought was, “that explains the knee.” The second was how damned noisy it is in our room at night.

I heard a soft cry. A muffled sob. Instantly awake, my Ninja Warrior Dad instincts kicked in. Was it one of my girls? I ran through the mental check list of daily events and possible traumas. I could not think of anything that would make someone cry by themselves in the deep of night.

Now propped up on one elbow, ears set to “bat” mode, I listened intently. I heard it again, from the floor by the foot of the bed. Bella! A random dreaming dog chirp masquerading as a human cry of nighttime despair. The hums continued for a bit, mixed with the wet flop of a furry jowl powered by deep breaths, room-shattering sighs, and the scritch-scritch-scritch as twitchy claws trace furrows in my rug.

An octave or two higher, the rapid snores of Beau, the smaller dog, fill the space between my wife and me. Tonight, for once, they are not accompanied by farts. Not his anyway.

Then Luna the Cat chimes in. She stumbles her way on top of me like a drunken mountain climber, my hip her alpine meadow. Her early morning meows for food rival Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. In volume, if not in talent.

My phone beeps with an incoming text from a friend half-way around the world. Down the hall, a bed creaks as a kid rolls over. My wife breathes softly beside me.

Just a normal, noisy night. I turn on my side, the blankets whispering as I pull them over my shoulder. As I sink into sleep, the cold drum of rain on the window is the last thing I hear.

Missing Pieces

By Jerry Gidner
January 2, 2017
© 2017 Aardvarks Are Wee, LLC

I love jigsaw puzzles and my daughter gave me one for Christmas. It was made from a photo and is titled, The Edge of the World,” The name seems apt. The image shows a town built down the face of a cliff, just above an ocean. The houses are crammed together and colorful; pinks and reds and yellows. The balcony railings are a white contrast. You wouldn’t think the green shutters would match that palette, but somehow they do. The whole town looks solid and precarious at the same time.

Below the town, there is a steep drop off, maybe a couple hundred feet, straight down, that ends in the ocean. The ocean is midnight blue. And choppy. It looks treacherous, but a ramp cuts down the cliff face from the left, and many boats are anchored there, tied to shore by unseen lines.

As I put it together, piece by piece, I became puzzled (see what I did there?). Where is this town, I wondered. I studied it for clues. It’s not American. Far too quaint for that. And it lacked the ornate grace I associated with Asian architecture. Europe or South America, I decided.

The next question that came to mind was, who are the people. Because the more I looked at, the less it became a puzzle and the more it became a snapshot into people’s lives.

Almost every house has a small balcony attached. And they have little, white plastic tables and chairs, the kind I used to have myself. What conversations happened at those tables, I wondered. What meals planned, what budgets balanced, what schedules coordinated? Were pregnancies announced there? I imagine a fashionable woman, dressed in white linen, a contrast to her skin, which is the color of cinnamon, her long hair as black as night, and her smile made angelic by the slanting rays of the sun setting over the sea as she tells her husband about their growing family.

Were affairs confessed to, and divorces begun? Deaths grieved? My mind churns up images of the same woman, face a mask of sadness, tears blown into the air by dark ocean winds howling up the cliff. Did a parent die? Did her bastard husband cheat on her with the woman from the next balcony over?

There are real people in the photo, too. Do they know that somewhere on a different continent, I poured their image out of a box and assembled it on my dining room table? There is a family on one balcony, arrayed in a row, watching the horizon. An old bent woman on another. I imagine she has lived there her whole life, and I wonder what her skin smells like, after 80 years marinated by the salty wind.

Down in the town there is a small square. On one side is a market, lined with colorful flowers. On the other is an outdoor bar, with people lined up on stools. I think they are tourists. I conjure up Dr. and Mrs. Geoffrey Bottingham, on holiday from London. He is overweight and has heartburn and she is a tiny thing, worried about the kids they left with Nana back at home. Nana drinks more than she should and passes out early some nights. Mrs. Bottingham hates her husband, and thinks if he would lose 100 pounds and stop smoking she might let him fuck her more often. She doesn’t say “fucking” of course. She was raised better than that. She just imagines some vague, nameless, animalistic act, anxiously twists her bar napkin until it tears into shreds, and wishes the ocean didn’t smell so much like the fish market back home.

At the bottom of the ramp, a person of indeterminant gender , but who I think is a male, wears a green T shirt above, and displays chunky white thighs below. What is he waiting for? A tourist boat? A shipment of cocaine? A boatload of whores from a nearby town? The person doesn’t look like my vision of a criminal mastermind. He looks like he should be living in his parents basement and hacking defense systems, but you never know. The bottom of a ramp at the edge of the world is an odd place to be sitting, so I assigned ill intent to his presence there.

As I finished the puzzle, I had many questions and, sadly, no answers. This story, like much of life, has too many missing pieces and we have to make it up as we go along.

It’s a Mall, Mall World

By Jerry Gidner
January 29, 2017
© 2017 Aardvarks Are Wee, LLC

I don’t go to malls much, but had to run out to Tyson’s Mall in Northern Virginia this morning. Great people watching. What I noticed were people of every skin color. A whole goddamned rainbow of skin, from pink to yellow to brown to black. All of it beautiful. And the accents! Everyone I talked to or overheard had an accent or other language. From Africa. The Caribbean. Europe. South America. The sing song lilt I came to love while I was studying in India. There was no drama. No hate. No one caring about the moms in head scarves pushing strollers. Or who looked like what. Or who sounded like what. Just people of the world going about their business, on a Sunday morning in America. And that, right there, is our greatest strength. I saw it this morning, at Tysons Mall, in Virginia.

The Hit

By Jerry Gidner
December 13, 2016
(c) 2016 Aardvarks Are Wee, LLC

For the past 2 days, on the way to work, I have driven by a raccoon carcass, somewhat the worse for wear, a couple feet from a storm drain on Lee Highway. Slow traffic gave me time to ponder this. The logical explanation is that the raccoon came out of the storm drain and got hit by a car. That story is, shall we say, too pedestrian for my tastes. I prefer to think it was a mob hit by a rival raccoon street gang. I think it happened like this:

Rocco the Raccoon sniffs the air, and lumbers slowly out of the storm drain.

“Hey, Rocco? Youse going somewheres?”

Rocco looks up, startled, nose atwitch.

“Hey, Stench and Frankie. This is Bandit territory. Youse better get back across the road. That’s where you Ringtails belong.”

“Is that so?” says Stench.

“You know it is, you stinky son of a bitch,” says Rocco, growling low in his throat.

“Well,’ Stench replied, snarling, “we seen youse in Ringtail territory, eating out of the dumpster at the Marriott. A hotdog!”

“A hotdog,” said Frankie, puffing up his tail.

“Shaddup, Frankie,” said Stench, smacking him on the nose.

“What if I was,” replied Rocco, standing up on his hind legs. “Whats it to youse?”

“That’s our territory, and Thief wants us to give you a big message about it.”

“Big message,” echoed Frankie.

“Shaddup, Frankie,” said Stench, smacking him again.

Rocco chuckled. It wasn’t pleasant. He covered his crotch with one paw. “And I got your big message right here. So piss off.”

Suddenly Stench leaped forward. There was a flash of teeth, a gush of blood, and a small squeal. It was over. Rocco lay dead on Lee Highway.

“Come on, Frankie,” said Stench, waddling across the road.

“Hey, Stench, ya think we could get a hotdog?” Frankie asked.

“Shaddup, Frankie,” said Stench. They slipped into a storm drain and were gone