Tag: Short Story

“The Investigation”

I was reading Cassiodorus’s Through the Looking Glass on Abrupt Climate Change, which is quite a good read, and realized that this was the third time this week that I’d seen that same quote he uses from Humpty Dumpty.

The other two citations, which I have no idea where they are, were both in the context of the Obama/Mcbush mashup this past week. The English language has been sorely abused these last eight years, by politicians and the traditional media, and I expect things will only get worse as the campaign season runs on.

Some years ago I used that same quote from Lewis Carroll as an epigraph to a short story. I’d like to share “The Investigation” with you now, so…

Hop in a barrel and follow me over the fa-a-a-a-alls……


With all of the horrors inflicted upon us-as so well documented here at DD and elsewhere-it’s good to take a mind-break and go somewhere else.

This is a short story I wrote about 12 years ago. It was published in Bricolage, which has about 500 readers, in 2002. It used to be online but has since been taken down (along with everything else from 2001 and thereafter.)

I’ve been thinking about posting this here for quite a while and have finally decided to do so.

I recommend that you have a dictionary at hand or have another browser window opened to an online dictionary. (My brother laughed when I made this same recommendation to him, but later admitted that a “few” of the words were unfamiliar to him.)

I wrote the last sentence of this story first. Originally it had almost 500 words, but for the purposes of the story I edited it down to a mere 365 words. (Bonus points for anyone who can guess why it was originally just under 500 words.)

I hope y’all enjoy reading The Golden Peach as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Little Grey Orb

On Monday morning a little grey orb was floating three feet off the ground in the living-room of Judd Frimp’s apartment.  Judd was late for work at the supermarket and didn’t notice. 

When he got back that evening, sweaty and swearing, it was still there.

“Don’t put bags of groceries on top of watermellons, Judd,” Judd fumed as he came in the door.  “Don’t smash carts into curbs to make a train, Judd.  It knocks the wheels out of alignment, Judd.”  He threw his green “Food Gnome” apron onto the 70’s-plaid couch and stormed to the shower, stripping clothes as he went.  “I’ll knock you out of alignment you fat pig,” he said to his boss, who wasn’t there.

A moment later Judd reappeared from the bathroom, naked, gawking at the orb.  One of his socks had landed on it. 

“Flubuck?” he said.  “Huh?”

The orb was about a half-a-foot in diameter and unblemished . . . aside from the gym sock.  It hovered motionless above the coffee table in the living room.  Judd had bought the coffee table at a Target Superstore and put it together using the stupid little hexagonal tool that came in the box.  He’d hurt three of his fingers in the process.  Stupid hexagonal tool.  Stupid hexagonal Chink tool.

More importantly, though, nothing was holding the orb up.  It hung in mid-air, next to the lamp on the table.

Judd shuffled toward it warily, squinting.  He expected lighting bolts or maybe laser beams to shoot out of the orb and fry him.  He reached and grabbed his sock.  The orb was unperturbed. 

Judd tapped it with his finger.  Tap tap tap.  Nothing.  He tapped harder.  Tap tap tap.  The orb didn’t move at all.  It was as though it were lodged in the oxygen.  Fixed.  Fast.  Frozen.

It was reflective.  Judd saw himself in the orb — a funhouse-mirror skinny self.  Looking at his own eyes, Judd imagined the orb or the Smurfs inside it could see him.  He covered his privates with the sock. 

“Devil’s own business,” he mused.

Phone in kitchen.  Back up slow.  Dial.  Bart. 


“Hey Bart.”

“Yeah?”  Bart sounded groggy.

“You ever see a little grey orb?”


“A orb.”

Waking up some: “The fuck are you talking about?  Is this Frimp?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, fucker,” Judd said.  “Like a ball.”

“Have I ever seen a ball?”


“Well lemme think on that, Frimp.  Yeah, yeah.  I believe so.”

“No shit?  Floating?”

The orb sat in the air, silent, reflecting a Dokken poster on a wood-panel wall.

“You high, Judd?  Get ya some bad shit?”

“No, man, I was gonna ask if you had it in –“

“Yeah, I had it in,” Bart said, mimicking him.  “I been holding it for you all weekend.  You didn’t go buying that shit Harriet sells, did you?”

“Naw, no, Bart.”

“That shit’ll make you see things.”

“No Bart, I’m straight at this exact moment.  Look I’ll be right over.”  Judd hung up.  He got dressed and went over to Bart’s.  He didn’t want to piss off Bart; Bart sold the California shit.


Suzie at work agreed to a date for Friday.  Judd invited her over to his place at nine.  At eight, he sat on the couch, watching television on his thirty-inch flat screen, changing channels.  The orb was still there.

Judd had heaved on the orb, tried to shove it, beat it with a tennis racket, all week long.  The orb never budged.  It was a rock.  A rock floating three-feet off the ground in the living-room of his apartment with wood-paneled walls.  It was a true-to-life bitch, is what it was.

But Suzie was pretty, so Judd sat there and contemplated the matter.  He had to hide the orb from her view, so that when she came over in an hour, she wouldn’t see it.  It was some embarrassing shit, having an orb in your place.

Judd took the lamp on the table and tried to arrange it so that the lamp shade covered the orb.  The lampshade was puke-orange and fairly translucent, but Judd figure it would do if he could arrange it correctly. 

He’d left the TV absently on channel 43, the science Discovery channel.  A guy was speculating on higher-dimensional objects, and what would happen if they protruded into the known universe.  Only three of their many dimensions would be apparent, of course.

Judd messed with the lampshade and the lamp and got it about right — the shade was a bit askew but it covered the orb.  He looked down into the shade from above and he could see the orb there.  Good enough.  He changed the channel to a Friends rerun and drank a beer and smoked some weed.

Suzie came over looking nice in a jean-skirt and sweater and they made out.  But Judd made the mistake of trying to turn on the lamp at one point to help her look for an earring.  This sent the lamp twirling about and cast a weird dancing shadow of the orb onto the walls.

Suzie freaked out and left.  Judd kicked the orb a karate kick and hurt all five of his toes.  He drank himself into a daze and then crashed on his bed at two o’clock in the morning.


When Judd woke up, the little grey orb was gone.  He thanked God loudly and took a numb, hung-over shower.  He went to work at Food Gnome where the boss yelled at him again.

The most amazing thing that ever happened in the history of the world happened in Judd Frimp’s apartment, but he was stupid and so nothing ever came of it.