The Mad Man

ed. note–“The Mad Man” is a Hemingway-esque melodramedy with a twist of TB. The story incorporates 15 random words and phrases chosen by The Daily Wit and appearing in the post previous to this one as well as on TDW’s page. The story with 15 randoms is a post modernistic writing technique now coming into vogue heavily influenced by the uncertainty in today’s world, the search for meaning, the shedding of cynicism and the frenetic pace of a new lost generation of rapidly aging gen-x’ers. The Daily Wit is the patriarch of this new, frightening roller coaster school of writing and the best known master of the genre. And now, without further ado, I give you,

The Mad Man

The old man was almost out of toothpicks. For a week now he’d been sitting on this mountain thinking of nothing but revenge. The anger radiated and even the local bears must’ve been intimidated because they kept their distance. He looked in his knapsack–some called it a manpurse–the one he thought of as his ticket to success if he ever tried to get on Let’s Make a Deal. Glue. He stared blankly into the fading sun. After a few moments he shrugged his shoulders as if the decision had been made for him, picked up his Elmer’s and sniffed. He tried again, inhaling deeply. Nothing. “Dang,”, he muttered aloud. “I sure wish I had one more fifth of Jack Daniels“, but the campfire was surrounded by nothing but empty bottles, gum wrappers, chewed toothpicks and spent sunflower seeds.

Neptune! Get over here boy.” The dog sauntered lazily, but obedient toward his master. The old man watched his friend walk over and laughed about the day he found him long ago, barking fiercely in the African desert at a tarantula that was innocently moving about its business. The dog was scared out of its mind, but not enough to leap into the certain safety of the oasis at his back. The old man understood, so he saved the dog and he never could teach the dog to swim and they became friends but the dog had still not forgiven him for the ironic name now on his collar.

The anger subsided a little bit more as the old man continued to rummage around in his pack. A lot of memories were in that pack. Beneath the double bubble he felt a tin can and grinned. “It’ll do.” He thought back to that African summer when he’d heard about micro-lending for the first time. He’d lent a hundred U.S. dollars to a local who was starting a mail order Ugandan coffee selling business. He never did get the money back and he never would, and he knew it. But he received each year on May 29 a tin can full of the shittiest coffee he’d ever known, and the thought of that made the grin spread a little wider, though in his eyes the fire still burned. He looked at the label. Torquemada. It seems another lender had sent the Ugandan 150 bucks and wanted the coffee named after the Grand Inquisitor under Ferdinand and Isabella. “Damn anti-Semites”, he spat, and the anger welled up again. He was out of the sugar packets hoarded weeks ago from Cracker Barrel, so he opened a piece of gum and began to chew. You couldn’t drink this Ugandan crap without sweetener of some sort. As the minutes passed and the stars began to rise, he found himself ignoring the coffee and thinking about the immediate problem of where to find booze this night and putting off for a few minutes his plans for revenge, blowing bubbles, one after the other, popping them loudly and enjoying the echo hurtling across the canyon below.

His mind wandered. “Damn dubious 12 step programs. All they do is let some college sport preach at people while they sit around staring blankly at one another; a vacant lot, the whole bunch of ’em.” The old man loved a bad pun. He shivered as he thought about those 6 hours last year when they tried to make him give up the whiskey. “Much like radioactive isotopes,” he considered, “the programs can do as much harm as good if not handled properly.” He wished someone had been there to see that he was not all about anger and booze and chewing gum, but so much more on the inside. “Bastards can’t pigeonhole me,” he sneered.

“Neptune, I’m too easily distracted”, he said. “I’ve got a revenge to get on with.” The dog barked once, and they both listened for the echo.

He opened up his laptop and clicked the link to the Mad Dawg/Rebel Yell political page and started to type.

About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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18 Responses to The Mad Man

  1. Samsmama says:

    Cracker Barrel? I about died! Too funny.

    What a great story! And why does “don’t pigeonhole me” make me laugh so hard?


  2. Samsmama says:


    Damn, that pisses me off.

  3. Now I see why you had to take some time to leave a comment on my story. This is awesome, but I don’t want to simply say, “This is awesome,” so I’m going to collect my thoughts and come back.

    But, this is awesome.

  4. Zeek says:

    Hey Wit, do you think that it’ awesome?


  5. Harmony says:

    Ugh..I sent in my story this morning, and I definitely wish I hadn’t now. I am way irked about the Ugandan coffee…as I decided it to be a more lustrous coffee than you made it to be. Yikes!!

    I loved that the “mad man” took a try at sniffer glue, if it was Elmer’s at least he gave it a go. “A vacant lot, the whole bunch of ’em” ~ Sheer genius!

    Great story TB, loved it from beginning to end.

  6. irvineredd says:

    That’s good stuff, TB!

  7. Awesome question, Zeek.

    Harmony, your story is great (for Zeek–it’s plain awesome) and I’m going to post it in about an hour unless you direct otherwise.

  8. My friends you are too kind and what is worse, you encourage.

    Harmony has weighed in. She went a whole nuther route and its excellent. See her story here:

    In case you didn’t know, her blog is to the right, the cleverly named “(After Life of the Party)”

  9. Harmony says:

    Wow..did you have as hard of a time with reading my first comment that I just did? LOL, my brain thinks too fast for my fingers I guess. I will learn to proofread someday.

    I love the imagery in this post, staring blankly into a fading sun..haven’t we all done that? I can see him very clearly blowing bubbles like a mad man taking great joy in hearing the crackling and disturbed feedback of his disinterest.

  10. Madd Dawg says:

    Very nice work Harmony and TB—you are both truly twisted and creative individuals.

    If anyone else enjoyed reading what TB and Harmony did with these 15 random words, then you absolutely must go to The Daily Wit’s site and see what he comes up with for 15 random phrases as submitted by his audience–he is truly the master of this domain. TB, can you link DW’s “The Story” from June 2?


    I’m still laughing about the butt bandits joke.

  12. SM went non-fiction with the story–its really funny standing alone, but if you keep up with her weekend updates it works on whole different level.

    Another classic.

    And as an enticement for you perverts who are turning my adventure novel hopes into a romance rag and for Smily she talks about her ass, so if you weren’t sure about clicking the link below, I’m sure you will now. (Sorry for sending more degenerates your way SM)

  13. Jessie Lou says:

    I’ve got to make time to read this I see from the comments alone.

  14. Ok, I started laughing at the Let’s Make A Deal joke and didn’t stop until the end. At which point, I started laughing some more. We need to start another list next week.

    MD, I’ll take a compliment from you any day, my friend.

  15. A major part of the fun of this whole thing is reading which way people take the story. Here are links to three more excellent takes on the 15 words challenge.

    the stoneskin story introduces the exclamation “Neptune’s Bathtub!” which I now intend to use in my everyday life without further attribution.

    this one has naked girls

  16. jessica o says:

    BAH! MacGuffins kill me! WHAT is the revenge????

    Great take. Delicious imgery. Very arid and Hemingway-esque.

  17. jessica o says:

    I shall pick this apart like Indian Camp and Hills Like White Elephants. It will not defeat me.

  18. JessO has weighed in on the story and its a two-parter, to be completed I am assuming with the next set of random words recently selected by The Daily Wit. Here’s here link:

    JLou, I saw where you made a submission for the next list so I’m expecting your story in the next week or so!

    Jess, regarding the picking apart of the story, I refer you to something I once heard James Joyce said about his classic (they say) and indecipherable (to me) work Ulysses: that there were so many puzzles and inside jokes and hidden meanings that future scholars would be twisted in knots trying to see it all.

    And the biggest and most obvious joke of all is the self comparison to Hemingway, upon who’s style I occasionally try to mimic, for he is my favorite of all authors, and I admire him and I have not read him in too long and I would like to have a drink with him and see if I could ever get him to appreciate my wit, but we would probably part as enemies after too many drinks but would forgive one another for that is who we are.

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