Like many people, I grew up reading Stephen King. Then I went to college where my literature professors pooh-poohed the Master of the Macabre. Still, I hold King in high regard because he was a part of my adolescence as much as Journey and Jordache Jeans were. Now, I’m older. I rarely listen to Journey, and I no longer wear Jordache Jeans. I am a writer which explains my aversion to fashion as well as bands that should have retired long ago. One difficulty in being a writer, at least for me, is that there just isn’t enough time to get down on paper all the stories that create a tempest in my head 24-7-365. So, I’m starting lists. The following is one such list: eight short stories inspired by Stephen King that I intend to write one day.
1. The Thing In the Basement: A tale concerning a man named Dale Cobb who returns to his elderly parents’ home to find an old bicycle behind the furnace. Dale’s parents are hoarders. They have kept all of his belongings, including the old bicycle upon which a much younger Dale nearly killed himself several times. After reliving four such near-death episodes in flashback, the adult Dale takes the bicycle out for a ride. Since it’s a King-inspired story, it will, inevitably, be Dale’s last bike ride.
2. Floor 666: High-powered art dealer Roland Joyce finally leases the office space he’s always wanted, but he’s not the only tenant on his floor. Across the hall from Joyce’s practice is an export firm: INRI, LTD. Joyce thinks he knows who runs the mysterious export firm, and he’s not about to be upstaged by the Jewish carpenter across the hall.
3. Bareback Tough Guys: The afterlife is hard, even for literary greats Ernest Hemingway and Norman Mailer. This is a tale about what happens when bitter men let love lead the way. This one will be a tough sell, what with all the ensuing depravity borne from pent-up frustrations.
4. Clean-Up in Aisle 9: Did I mention the man-love tryst between Hemingway and Mailer in the afterlife takes place inside a supermarket at night? Well, it does. Linoleum, as it turns out, is a natural stimulant for the dead. This tale would be Part II of Bareback Tough Guys. Each morning Randy Wentzer, the supermarket manager, gets to work early to find a mysterious substance in aisle 9. Naturally, he blames his lethargic overnight shift employees for the ectoplasmic bio-hazard.
5. Luck Be A Lizard Tonight: Joe Flagstaff, a degenerate gambler, meets a mysterious woman who gives him an invite to a high-stakes card game. When Flagstaff arrives at the address the woman gave him, he soon discovers that the players are all out of this world. No one plays for money. What’s at stake is Flagstaff worthless life, and one of the aliens at the table has taken a particular shine to the human player.
6. Balls to the Wall: German heavy metal stars Eisen Hog visit an old castle in Bavaria for a photo shoot only to find a ghostly festival in-progress. Before the night is over, Eisen Hog members must dance the Schuhplattler or face an eternity among the castle’s ghostly inhabitants. Sharing in a rich tradition of folk dance would seem an honor, but not for these metal heads. They couldn’t slap their own shoes if their lives depended on it.
7. Southie-pocalypse: An army facility is compromised by home-grown terrorists. In the wake of the attack, a manufactured virus seeps from its damaged container and spreads across country. Before long, even the most well-articulated, intelligent people turn into wicked igits.
8. A Prickly Pear: A fruit vendor unwittingly sells an exotic fruit rumored to contain natural aphrodisiacs that is grown on land that was once a potter’s field where the criminally insane were buried. Before long, customers discover that the pears shoot poisonous darts into their mouths. Hilarity ensues.