Four Short Short Stories

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Four Short short stories
The Christmas Safety Suit
The man who lived in a Tent
I Was A Green Man
The Death of Abbey
Total words 2700



The Man Who Lived in a Tent.

J matson heininger



Felix Strathburn had a fine automobile, a beautiful wife, an estate of stone and slate, limestone and marble with infinite rooms and a wing of brick extending smaller and east that attempted to suggest the mansion’s age and heritage, a British palace of the 16th century added to over the centuries—Even though this grand home was of  the 1930’s,  and existed in New Jersey.  In front of Doric columns, a limestone facade, exposed drain pipes, gable after gable and miles of fenestration was, of course, the garden—one that rolled out from a stone and terracotta veranda, open and arched below, you know the sort,  English with  Paladian arches, a hodgepodge of grandeur. 


But not this garden, which was more-- this was straight from Merchant Ivory, with sculpted hedges, a maze, a large stone summer house of stone and still more Doric columns in the distance, and a fountain centered in a pool that extended into a stream with lilies and a small stone bridge—the garden acreage also including, permanent arrangements of flowers designed to grow and cycle through out summer.  Beach and Ash and Hickory bordered twenty acres of these rolling flats, scattered her and there, grown tall and wide in the eighty years since their planting.


Felix Srathburn also owned a tent, a small one of yellow and black, suitable for backpacking, for hauling up a rocky slope, designed for instant assembly at the edge of a cold deep lake, at the base of a mountain glacier— A nylon tent of solitude.


Every day Felix went to work, brokered big deals, collected get out of jail free cards, ate lunch, and then went home to his fine estate with his perfect wife and children.  At night after everyone was a sleep he would leave his wife alone in their great bed, walk the veranda, and look out into the night bordering his garden, he would smoke one cigar, have just one more brandy and then climb up stairs, and stairs, and stairs, until he reached a central attic beneath a centered cupola.  Here, he kept his tent.  He would then disrobe to nothing, crawl into the tent, zip up the flap, and finally feel safe, the first time that day, until the next morning, when he would return to his beautiful wife in his perfect bed, rise to kiss his perfect children, eat a perfect breakfast, then enter his perfect black limousine, along with his well tailored chauffer, and go to work to broker big deals, and again collect another get out of jail free card.


This was his routine, day in, day out… except for Sundays and the Holidays, which he could not escape.  Until one day when he climbed to the top of his many stairs and then lept and tumbled, down, and down, and down, breaking his neck to lie twisted and imperfect surrounded by his perfect wife and perfect children who wept perfect tears.







It was the 20th of December 2035, and dam cold.  Yes, the West was hot, the East was underwater and would have no snow for Christmas, but in Galahad Michigan it was cold, dam cold.  Why, who knows, something to do with global warming the experts said, a change in the jet stream brought on by the melting north, and the cooling Atlantic Ocean, the end of the Gulf Stream current.  This brought on by too much heat—And ironically, an effect that might summon the next ice age, early… No one knew of course; after all it was the weather. 


Harmon’s wife Janet, had just poured coffee, his daughters were making up stories on the hologram, and his son…where was he?


“What’s the noise,” he said to Janet, “that howling.”

“It’s Junior,” she said, “the new extreme version.”

  Daryl, his name was Daryl, his son Daryl Harmon II, or junior. 

“What’s he doing, why the screaming.” 

“He’s extreme,” she said.  “He’s jumping off the roof then climbing up and jumping off again.It’s the safety suit.He’s figured out.  It bounces.”


At that moment, after another howl, Harmon turns to the window, Junior bouncing once, then twice, then a third time towards the hoverer path.  A permanently inflated brown bag of arms and feet with only a nose exposed.  Then he hears a siren, and another bag of boy bounces by. 

“Who’s that?”

“Timmy from next door,” she says.“His suit is newer.  It has a siren when it impacts.”

“It was nicer in the days of helmets,” says Daryl, “A lot quieter.” 

“That’s progress dear, progress, remember the government banned helmets for children under a hundred pounds, twelve years of age mandatory, years ago… now they must wear the suits when they’re outside.” 

“Tough to ride a bike,” he says.

“When was the last time you saw a kid on a bike?  Cannot ride a bike in a suit.” 

“I saw one two weeks ago before the snow, and then too, a kid just out walking just the other day, in just his jacket, pants.” 

“Oh, right,” she says.“The new nonsuits, you cannot see them, feel them.  But those are really expensive, for the rich.Normal kids must bounce about…Daryl wants one of those for Xmas.  But  a nonsuit, we can’t afford one.Cost almost as much as a small Hoverer. 

“As much as that?”  … Well, no way.  We can’t afford that.” 

“That’s what I told Daryl, but it’s all he wants for Christmas. And they are nicer, you

can do more in them.. you can have your normal shape, kids can sled and ski, play

tennis, like we could when we were young… these knew nonsuits are like an invisible

protective egg.. never there, unless you need them, and then the kid just bounces, and

a siren goes off.  Like the siren Tommy’s suit has, but with out any bulky suit.” 


“Do those bounce too ?”

“I think so,” she says, “but invisible.” 

“Hmm….So that’s what I saw… wondered what it was.  I saw some kid levitated. bouncing above the hoverer path just yesterday… took half a block, and then suddenly he was walking, running again.”


“Where were you to see that,” says Janet?

“Russian Hills, just off Oligarch Way…”

“Yeah, the rich folks live there.  What were you doing there?”

“Deliverin  some Merry Mood… that new Christmas drug… along with a stuffed  Santa, and some plastic icons..  That and a 3D stabilizer.They don’t allow drone delivery in Russian Hills.  Only reason I have work, places like Russian Hills.  The rich folks are scared of drones.  They ban them.”

“That’s a good thing, work.”

“It’s how I still get to deliver in the old brown Hoverer.  Deliverin the old fashioned way.. house to house, and door to door.Human to robot usually, once in a while a real person will answer the door.  But the robot gave me a tip, more than that old Russian does when he answers. He just lectures about opportunity.  Wish we could afford a suit for Junior, but hell I’d have to sell a Kidney.. I’m keeping the extra one for a rainy day.  Who makes them?” 

“The knew ones are made in China, everything expensive, hi tech…”

“I know,” he says, “China.”

“Everything comes from China unless it’s junk and then it comes from Mexico.” 


Harmon nods and stares into his coffee, as if looking for tea leaves, answers.  The USA.  He was lucky to have a job, one of the last delivery jobs around, for the rich who usually banned the driverless rigs, afraid of bombs in their neighborhoods.Otherwise, like he had reminded Janet… “it was all drones, robots and  drone  Hoverers…” If  you were not a banker a lawyer, a judge, a crooked cop or in fast food, forget it.  Yep he was lucky, a dieing breed—And he still had both Kidneys.Most of his friends, most men his age, had sold theirs usually by their late twenties to pay off student loans.  Some rich fellow or lady somewhere in the world always needed a Kidney.  That useless tech school he had attended would have been happy to arrange it.  Part of their student services, but he had declined.  And yep, he had a lot to be thankful for.  He was lucky, fortunate, blessed even…to have held on, not many common people, middle class people, had an extra Kidney at thirty-five. 

Like the saying said, Life’s a Kidney, or that song by Buffalo Smith “All I want for Christmas is my Kidney back, because I drank my dollars up on whiskey, and now my last one’s goin bad.”Fa La La, he thought.Oh well at least his kids had suits, some kids with out em never got to see the stars at night, never were allowed  to leave a building,  to leave the house except to get on the school hoverer through the safety slide.Trapped inside for childhood, for safety.A kid, a light weight kid.Anything under a hundred pounds--kids included, anything  not chained down anywhere near the hoverer paths, and swoosh—that  was that.  The reason for the suit mandate for kids and thereason so many little women got fat, so they didn’t need suits for protection, other wise it might be swoosh for them too.  Janet, she was fat.  The rich, they still had skinny wives, but everyone else, blimps, or behemoths, Brunhildas.  Every one of his friends wives…Fatties!

Harmon thinks, he never wanted a fatty…nicer before the  Humerers came…back when there were cars and gasoline, and only accidents, not swooshings. 

He supposed he could sacrifice, sell the Kidney for his kid’s Christmas… he didn’t drink, he didn’t smoke, he didn’t do anything.  He might never need the back up.


A kid should be able to run about, climb trees, swim, ski, sled, play unencumbered by a giant bag.  What good was life if you were trapped by safety.

Then he started humming… ‘All I want for Christmas is my Kidney back’






My life changed dramatically in 2093.  This was the day I was sentenced—for the rest of my natural existence I would be Green, transformed, my pigment forever changed.  Forever after I would be known as a financial criminal, Stage 4, one who had ruined the lives of at least 10,000, and for this I would be repigmented, from white to green.

And as a Green Man, where ever life carried me I would be known as a slickster, a sharpie, a conman, or an insider trader, a pyramid master… any one of the crimes that might carry the sentence of—Forever Green.

Not long after this it came to me that, as in many events, this might be an asset or a liability.  I could live in the shadowed jungles.  I might be pelted with rotten fruits.  I might be harassed, stoned, flogged and beaten and frequently arrested, but I might also be redeemed.  Redemption, as any thoughtful man knows, has been a primary human theme for thousands of years.  Realizing, and preferring redemption to a constant harassment, that might possibly result in death, I chose to write a book, a memoir describing my travails, my pain, my path and journey to Greenness.Titled: The Follies of a Green Man, it was written as a guide of hope and resolve, a lesson for others who might stray and also be sentenced Green, and also as a cautionary tale for those not Green.  With this books publication, my awareness grew to realize I might become richer than my wildest dreams, by becoming a self-help guru…  this becoming obvious as the revenues poured in from my next two books—Forever Green, my second, and my third, A Green Man Finds his Way.


Since these I have published many more. Today I lecture at Universities through out the Ivy League, I have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  I have been called an example, “a hero of redemption”, as the President put it.  All this success from running a boiler room in my now distant past, and from being sentenced Forever Green.


Today, fifty years on, I am of modern middle age, eighty three to be exact.  I have a forth wife who is now Green.  I paid for her repigmentation as she was previously Magenta, the color of the Prostitute.Our three children are brown and beige.  I hope they will never become Green in the way I did.  I hope they go the private re-pigmentation route and have a private Greening when they reach 18.But I know that should they become con men or hedge fund manipulators, crooked Captains of Industry, or drug entrepreneurs, and also ruin the lives of thousands, millions.  Should they too be sentenced Green, it will be the result of their genes, and unnecessary, as I have made enough.  There exist trusts for generations. 


 Today, to be Green carries the highest status, and the richest Greens live, as we do, on an Island, one of many joined in an archipelago.  We have become the most affluent society in the world.  The greatest irony of all—To be Green today, fifty years later.  To be Green now approaches royalty, and every one flocks to financial crime like the millions of passenger pigeons that once dominated the skies of America.  Today to be a Green is the highest calling, and everyone strives for repigmentation if they can afford it, unless they are poor and cunning enough, wise enough, to be sentenced Forever Green.




J.  Matson  Heininger



She had been feeling poorly for day, weeks, so long that Abby could not remember waking without aches and pains, and a throbbing pounding head.  Every day a chore, to stand and move and dress—to leave the house for work.  So long that misery had become reality.  It was almost like she had forgotten what good felt like, what it felt to have light feet, a clear mind, felt like skipping, or singing.  It had all become such a slog until that slog had become reality.

But like every week day for months now, she was out the door and walking to the bus her head busy with her texts and messages, even an occasional letter sized email which she ignored, too long for her little phone’s screen.  She preferred the new calligraphy of language.  The symbols of satisfaction, smiles and images, smiley face, a frown and three dots…images meaning little or nothing, that allowed her to imagine more.  In effect when she saw these on her screen she was making up her life, her self, but they did not keep her from the pain, this constant malaise of body that today caused her to weave along the sidewalk … now and then to stomp and bump, to founder and cough, staring,  gazing into her minds eye’s past, almost running into trees.

Then it happened, she could not breath, she was on the ground and gasping, grabbing her phone and texting, looking for the right app, as others around her began to notice taking their faces from their tiny screens.  She watched her life leaving as first one then another took her picture, her writhing on the ground.  No one helped her, her last memories those of shouting, voices repeating “does anyone have the app for the hospital?” 


She died alone on the edge of the street, not one soul touched her, but they all had lots of pictures.







Submitted: December 16, 2014

© Copyright 2021 Deeplly Imbedded. All rights reserved.

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