So far on Coreysbook I have posted only brief previews of the short stories collected in my new ebook The Madness of Art: Short Stories. Now I’ve decided to go ahead and let you read a larger preview of the longest story in the collection titled Beyond His Means. Today I’ll let you read the first portion of the story, and sometime very soon the next (possibly tomorrow). If you decide you can’t wait and simply want to read the story in its entirety, the book can be purchased on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com, for $6.99. If the price sounds too steep for a book you’ve never heard of, then consider participating in my new promotional deal by liking my page for The Madness of Art: Short Stories on Facebook. If I can get 25 people to like my FB page, I’ll lower the price of my book from $6.99 to $3 for 3 days.
Speaking of short stories, I’m still looking for help on my short story experiment.
Okay, so here’s the first part of the preview. Check back soon for more.
Beyond His Means
Tromping through the sludge of stray hairs, phlegm and unnameable gunk caught in the sink drain came a steady van of ants, followed closely by their comrades all in tight ranks as they marched in a line from the alabaster bowl to the marble surface before crawling down the dullish wood cupboards to eventually follow the grout paths along the bathroom floor, pellucid with dew now because Kathy was taking a long shower, one of the few luxuries she allowed herself.
Harold, Kathy’s lover, watched the ants move along with a sort of blithe fascination. He didn’t rise to quash them under thumb, or fetch the pesticide, or flood the sink to reduce their numbers; his clemency though didn’t owe to a new-age sense of the supremacy of being, or old fashioned pantheism, or self-righteous vegetarianism. The reason why he didn’t in the smallest way obstruct their progress was because at least the bugs were doing something–he hadn’t the slightest knowledge as to what, but he could be sure it was something. For that, he admired them. Admired their industriousness of course, but also their sense of oneness, as if when they returned to their hill and their tunnels, they didn’t recede into their own damp holes and complain to the missis about work.
Work. His work was art, and because of that, he could boast that he was never unemployed. Harold wasn’t often paid either, but he chose to tactfully withhold that information.
Kathy, who was coming out of the shower, knew perfectly well her boyfriend wasn’t good with money, but abided his prodigal nature because she figured money itself wasn’t good, and that to be bad with money, in the longview of the soul mingling in eternity, was a good thing. Most of his foibles and eccentricities she chose not to scrutinize: that’s what it means to love an artist. So, in this state of high-mindedness, she got out of the shower, saw the ants, saw Harold studying them intently, and she decided to tip-toe by and not disturb the apprentice at work.
The ants’ arrival on the scene was hardly and unforeseeable event. The dismal economic season brought them a few human boarders as well. She could never say for sure how many people were living in the house at one time, as the boarders invited their friends and their friends’ friends. They were all strangers to her, and even Harold, who changed more than most Greek gods, was fast on his way to becoming a stranger. To them, she was something of a maid. Daily, Kathy contended with meat left to spoil on counters, clothes mouldering in the hall, and cobwebs slung across windows like banners advertising blowout sales.
To punctuate the day’s lifeless silence, Kathy turned the TV as she set about dressing and tidying up their room. On the screen there flashed a reality show about heiresses shopping for posh European dresses at Manhattan boutiques, wagging their credit cards and braying in dressing rooms like show horses in stalls. Kathy went to change the station but Harold bade her leave it.
“Why?” she asked. “Why should we care to see these millionaires flaunt their money while we’ve got none to our name?”
“Because it’s always important to see how the other half lives. It gives one humility.”
“You’ve been reading too much philosophy. Plus, you’re barely watching it, so why not change it?”
“It completes the scene,” he said wryly. His quick sketch featured the ants, the vapid heiresses on screen, and his love fresh and clean in a dripping towel.
Go to Part 2.
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