Write a story about Klaus Trofobia and Win the Drawing
The contest closes Monday March 28, 2011
The story you write should be a "Flash Fiction" which is a complete story in one thousand or fewer words. Please post the story in the comment section, you will have to provide your name and an email address in order to be qualified to win or you can e-mail me at email@example.com with your info. There is a problem with how many characters can post (only about 4,000) so if you cannot post it. E-mail it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Go to my website for more contests: http://www.kenney-mencher.com/
Winning flash fiction stories will be integrated in with an exhibit in San Francisco at ArtHaus Gallery (April 8th for the reception).
The show is called:
Renovated Reputations: Paintings and Fiction inspired by Vintage Portrait Photographs
The exhibit will include a series of 20-40 paintings and mixed media works ranging in size from 8”x10” to 18”x24” framed with thrift store and vintage frames. In addition to the exhibited works ArtHaus is publishing catalogs signed by me and as many of the authors as possible.
Catalogs/books will consist of image of the painting with the text of the “flash story” surrounding the image. If I can get the authors to come to a book signing/party, authors would sign their pages for some of the printed stuff.
We're going to have a photobooth for the show for participants to play with and vintage costumes.
Of course I'll send the authors free copies of the catalogs. I will announce the winners the day after the closing deadline for the competition. I'm planning on doing one flash fiction competition a week every Monday from now until April.
(If the conditions in the side bar are not to your liking, I'm totally flexible. Send me a contract that you like and I will mail it back to you. I just don't want to chase people for signatures when I publish the catalog!)
- Go to my website for more contests: http://www.kenney-mencher.com/
This came in by e-mail:
Klaus Trofobia – Like Lichtenstein by Gigi DeVault
“I used to be a celebrity. Drew comics every day. Superheros were my stock and trade.”
“And dames. Lots of dames of every kind. Always crying or kissing. Or kissing and crying.”
“People love to see dames all wrought up over some superhero they think they love.”
“For awhile there, I let people up here in my loft.”
“This here is where I do the color fill. With screens and perforated metal.”
“You need regularly spaced holes to make the patterns even. I tried drilling the holes once myself, but they never came out right.”
“That made me mad.”
“That was when they said things about me.”
“So I don’t let people up here anymore.”
“Yes sir and yes ma’am. That was when the paper let me go.”
“For awhile, I did some freelance.”
“They said, ‘Creatives can work wherever and whenever they want.’ So that’s what I
became. A creative.”
“Watch this. You see how I make the lines for shading?”
“It’s easy for me. It’s the only thing that’s easy for me, now.”
“So I just keep drawing.”
“Drawing is better than television. The story goes how I want it to go.”
“Drawing is better than down there. In the street.”
“I know you don’t agree. You want to be down there is the street right now, don’t you?”
“Nobody has got any loyalty left anymore.”
“’Cept me. I’m loyal as can be…to my Lichtensteins.”
“Are you thirsty? Here you go. And here’s a little something to eat – a treat just for you.”
“I drew you the other day. Where did I put it?”
“Ah. Here you are. Don’t you look cute?”
“I made your eyes brown because they are. But I could have made them blue.”
“See the dame I drew in this cell? Blue eyes. And this one? Look right here. See?”
“Dogs don’t usually have blue eyes. Some do, though. But not you.”
“Not the way I drew you today.”
This came in by e-mail:
By Anthony Galica
- K. Trofobia
Klaus was a genius. But, Klaus had also been broken by this world. Was it a woman? A friend? Humanity? None of us can really say, as we weren’t around then. Some who knew him before he unraveled would say that he ultimately locked himself away, but others would beg to differ.
For my part in this, Klaus made me. Hell, he made all of us. None of us would be who we are if it weren't for him. He was a kind and straightforward man, and despite not knowing us, he treated us with respect. His imagination was vivid in ways that are hard for most people to conceive. You see, Klaus was one of those CEO types who also runs the Board of Directors. But, Klaus’ piece of the pie was shrinking. He’d been giving more and more of it away, little by little. He’d always ultimately be in charge, but he was being edged out and would be left to exercise his control from behind the scenes. Some felt this was ok; some felt that he wasn’t up to the task any longer, including myself.
He had loved once, but he’d never really loved at all, preferring to keep to himself. Sometimes, Klaus would just retire himself and write. Usually about himself, and often in the third person. But not really. That’s how his imagination worked. It was contradictory on itself, but at the same time it wasn’t. It didn’t allow him to cut through his own lies and deceit. For example, he was often of clean language, but lately (and more than once) he’s been guilty of offering the mailman a large “fuck you” for sleeping with his wife. More and more, little “episodes” like this would creep out. Klaus had gone too far, had given up too much. And now he was cracking – I mean, he’d already cracked according to some, but this was different. This was much more dangerous. We’re all at risk because of it. Some of us knew a takeover was going to happen sooner or later, and now it’s basically imminent.
For the most part, Klaus doesn’t really even know about us and what we do behind his back. Despite that, most of us know him very well. Myself, I have the largest piece of the pie after Klaus, and I was the first one he brought on to help out. I’m basically next in line in a place where the only way to go up is to take over. And, naturally, we’ve all been planning a takeover for some time now. Well, most of us have been, anyway. Personally, my real intentions are to take Klaus’ slice of the pie, along with everyone else’s. I think it’s clear that if we maintain a situation where everyone has their own piece of the pie, it isn’t going to work out.
Some of the others are probably suspicious about my plans, but for the most part, there isn’t much they can do. Klaus is the only one that can really stop me, but, while he has his own suspicions, he no longer cares. Besides, it’s no longer in his best interests to stop me.
The battle for Klaus Trofobia ends tonight._________________________________________________________________
This came in by e-mail:
Klaus Trofobia by Debbie Weiss
“Klaus, honey, your supper is ready. Come on downstairs.” Klaus was in his room in front of his computer, his favorite spot. He was studying the local news clips from the surrounding area. He had his big book of maps at his desk and was searching for local crime scenes. Klaus loved crime and intrigue. He had a huge scanner radio similar to the ones the police used. Klaus read up on the police lingo and soon was able to decipher the different codes. “Honey, your stew is getting cold.” Shouted his mother from downstairs. “Yeah yeah.” Klaus muttered to himself. “Not hungry.” He whispered.
His mother did not understand him at all. He was in his late thirties, he still lived at home, was a very shy and quiet young man. He stayed in his room all the time until his mother forced him to get a job. So he finally did and applied for the bagger job at the neighborhood “Buy All” market. Klaus wore his navy blue slacks which his mother still ironed for him. He felt comfortable in his brown scuffed loafers since he had to stand for his entire eight hour shift. He wore a starched white collar shirt and a red and white striped apron. The final touch, a name badge which he proudly wore. That was his uniform during the day. He was thought of as mild mannered Klaus.
On Friday nights, it was a different story. He would turn into Mr. Kevin the Magnificent. When he noticed the last light go off from his mother’s bedroom down the hall, he would begin. He would crawl out of his second story bedroom window. He had a sturdy rope hanging from the tall oak tree outside the window. He would reel in the rope with a fishing pole and shimmy down the wall with his feet like he was Spider Man, one of his favorite hero’s. Klaus was infatuated with Superhero’s. He had hung his favorite comic strip characters all over his wall. He wanted to be like the man in the fancy suit that got the bad guys and got the girls but he was so shy. So instead he went to the “Wear It from me” thrift store and created his own costume. He wore a one piece yellow jumpsuit which made him look like a cross between Elvis and Liberace. He had on black rubber boots and a silver cape. Not exactly like the suave man in the comic strip but he had gotten everything for $5.00. To complete his ensemble, he bought a black face mask that resembled the Long Rangers and a tight white swim cap to cover up his full head of hair. He would jump onto his old Schwin bike and head out to fight crime.
One night while out on patrol, Klaus dressed as Mr. Kevin, wondered into the convenience store next to the gas station. He wanted some gum. A friend of his named Mitch worked there. But Klaus’s costume was so convincing, not even his friend knew it was him. As he entered the store, Klaus saw a young punk teenager holding a gun on Mitch. Klaus tapped the teen on the shoulder and when the teen turned around to see who was tapping at him; Klaus immediately went into a full Karate stance. The kid took one look at Klaus in his bright yellow uniform and said, “Hey buddy if you don’t get outta here, I’m going to kick your ass.” Klaus stood as still as a statue, not even a flinch.
The teen started to laugh so hard that Mitch grabbed a bottle of booze and knocked the kid out. White Mitch was calling the police; Klaus threw down a dollar and twenty nine cents for his spearmint gum and ran out the door. Mitch had trouble explaining what happened when the police got there. “No really, the guy in the yellow jumpsuit.” The police knew of some costumed stranger but had not ever seen him. Klaus rescued cats from trees, dogs from abusive owners; he found a bracelet from a missing girl in some tall weeds one day while riding his bike and that led police to locating here. Klaus knew he did good work. But he was too frightened to let anyone know it was him.
Klaus finally turned off his computer and headed down to dinner, to his cold stew. His mother handed him an envelope. It was hand written on the outside with just the letter K in yellow. Klaus opened the envelope as he slurped down the stew. I know who you are and thank-you was all the note said. Then Klaus noticed a drawing inside the envelope. It was of him in his costume and mask. It looked just like a comic strip drawing. Klaus smiled as he finished his dinner. He got up quickly. “No dessert?” His mother asked. “Not now.” Said Klaus, as he ran up the stairs to his room. He got out a thump tack and placed the drawing next to the Mr. Travers comic strip. The newest super hero, he smiled to himself. It’s me.
This came in by e-mail:
By Royce A Ratterman
“Hello, Mr. Klaus,” greeted Sun Lee as she sat the neighborly gentleman at his preferred window table. After all, he had a ‘thing’ about being cooped up in a side booth or one of the tables in the rear of the restaurant. “You like eat same as yesterday?”
“Yes, Miss Lee. That will be fine.”
He didn’t particularly dislike being referred to as ‘Mr. Klaus’ as opposed to ‘Mr. Trofobia’. In fact, he rather enjoyed it.
Living in a rented room on the second floor of the building next door had its advantages. His neighborhood, known as the Castro, was created in the late eighteen hundreds and named after the prominent Californian José Castro, but that didn’t impress Klaus that much. What really impressed him was the plethora of little boutiques and restaurants in the area as well as the short walk to the Church Street Muni Metro station. He was a practical man.
“Man say to give you this, Mr. Klaus,” said Miss Lee, as she handed her favorite customer a white envelope.”
“This is addressed to the shop next door that’s below where I live,” he perplexingly responded. “What man?”
“Oh, he leave already, Mr. Klaus. I don’t know him. Never see before I think. Very old. He say it for you – you must open, only you.”
“Thank you, Miss Lee.”
She replied, “Ok by me, Mr. Klaus,” briskly walking off, presumably to retrieve her patron’s meal.
Klaus contemplated whether or not to open the envelope. He could simply inform the addressee that it was an error if the contents were in fact for the shop itself. It wouldn’t be a lie. He was told that the mysterious envelope was for him. And . . . it was hand delivered to him personally.
He quickly tore open the envelope . . .
The envelope contained a comic book excerpt. Something involving a man, Mr. Travers, who received some phone calls concerning an elevator repair, two women and a ‘Mr. Denton’ chap. He had once known an old priest named Denton from the neighborhood parish. The priest had lived in the area since it was referred to as ‘Little Scandinavia’ back in the 1910s to 1920s, but he knew nobody else by that name.
The waitress approached her customer and informed him, “Food come soon, Mr. Klaus. Man who gave me letter also say wait five minutes and give you fortune cookie. Here you go. Sorry I make you wait for food.”
“No problem, Miss Lee. No problem at all.”
“Man say it very important. I get food for you now.”
“Thank you, Miss Lee.”
He broke open the fortune cookie and read its contents, “A bold and dashing adventure is in your future within the year”. Over and over he read and studied its message. “What does this have to do with the cartoon story?” he pondered. “What does all of this have to do with me?”
He took another look at the envelope and noticed ‘Attn! Sam’ written on its bottom left corner. “Who’s Sam?” he wondered.
He also wondered if the shop below his rental room was suffering economic turmoil. Every time he passed the store and gazed into the window he saw a different type of merchandize for sale. But one constant remained . . . the same elderly man always stood behind the counter beckoning for him to enter. The store was no longer a hip smoke shop. Instead, he saw televisions for sale with an ad sign that read, ‘Color Television – The Future Is Here!’; one day flowers with special arrangements ‘Made To Order’ adorned the boutique; even old antique radios filled the shop one time. Radios that looked as new as the day they were made. Something was drawing him to the establishment, a strange yearning, a calling. This compelling and insatiable curiosity began to plague him.
On four separate occasions at 2:37 AM he was awakened by pestering phone calls asking for a “Mr. Travers”. He assumed it must be some sort of evil joke or silly prank that someone was playing on him.
He felt life was closing in on him and he needed to escape its confining grasp. He desired that ‘dashing adventure’ he was promised in the fortune cookie he had received at the neighboring restaurant months earlier.
One morning Klaus made a bold decision as he peered into the shop on the street level of his building of residence. He was curious. He was curious about the store and its ever-changing merchandize. He was curious about the mysterious letter he had carried with him for many months. He was curious about the elderly man who stood behind the counter always beckoning for him to enter. “Could this be . . . ?”
He entered the store . . . “Sam?”
~ ~ ~
Restaurant proprietor, Sun Lee, always wondered what had happened to her favorite customer, ‘Mr. Klaus’. A young fellow named ‘Sam’ resided in the room above the shop on the second floor that was the former abode of a man named ‘Klaus’. Neighbors and regular patrons in the area said that the very, very old man behind the counter of the ‘Twilight Zone’ specialty shop located at 237 Church Street in the Castro District, “Looks vaguely familiar, doesn’t he?”
~ ~ ~
A few years later the bell’s chime rang as the store’s door opened once again at 237 Church Street. A young man entered the establishment with a letter in his hand. He explained to the elderly man behind the counter that he was a new resident upstairs and had received the letter during his meal at the restaurant next door. “It contains a comic book page. I also received a fortune cookie with it.” He stretched out the envelope and showed the old man what was written on its bottom left corner: ‘Attn! Klaus’.
“Are you Klaus?” he questioned.
The elderly man simply smiled . . .
This next story is by Patrick Nelson. It's too long to consider it flash fiction (2,000 words) but I'm posting it. I just love his writing, but, the other entries that are 1,000 words or less will be qualified to win the drawing.
Back in the day, some people dropped acid like they were droppin a dime to call their woman. The one day Klause tried it, he saw shit in his veins. Not shit like excrement, shit like words telling him not to do acid again. Well, at least it was a clear message. That’s how Klause and I met: it was the summer of ’72 in Frisco and we were at a mutual acquaintance’s house and the three of us just got a bunch of Chinese from a place by the park and some frescas and were getting ready to get high and go through a pile of comics we had pooled together. I was a grown man, but I loved my comics still. You can tell my man Klause was not too sure about the tabs, but he was too far in now to back down and end up looking like a punk ass bitch. Isn’t that some shit? A mutherfucker would rather get fucked up on some shit that may fuck his mind up for life rather than look like a chicken shit. Dumb mutherfucker, I thought. I usually didn’t hang out with white dudes. Let’s just say it ain’t in my circle of reality. I was around them all day in class, but hanging out droppin acid was very different story. But, my man Grin said this dude Klause was some shit and real cool. Also, I really didn’t think it would be a good idea to tell this dude I wasn't hip with white folks right on the tip of his trip. He might freak. I said whatever. I had the day off and I needed to get the fuck away from my pregnant fiancee and her two kids (and yes, her fetus was mine too). I was looking forward to reading some comics that were different than my old lady’s kids’. They read the dumbest shit: vampires and zombies... That's right, I'm a connoisseur. I needed a total release from the law books I had to pretty much memorize. I digress, so here I am sitting with this dude Klause getting fucked up and he just starts in with this nutty-as-squirrel-shit scenario about the words saying shit to him. He wouldn’t say exactly what, just that it was like his subconscious mind was “spelling it out for him” about his life. “That must be some good shit, Grin.” I turned and said to my friend. “Man, this shit belongs to white boy here.” Grin grinned at me. I don’t need to tell you why he was named Grin when you see him: coke bottle glasses, dark ass skin and when he smiled, the motherfucker’s face was half teeth, white as pearls. “Yeah, my ex had left a bunch of stuff at my house and some of it was these.” Klause said as he tossed me a square of folded up foil. I opened it and found dozens of tiny, round, brown, hard candies stuck to a piece of parchment paper. I looked up under a furrowed brow. “Is this the acid you’re trippin on?” I asked Klause. “Yeah" he replied with a faraway look. "It must really be some good shit," I said "because this is fucking root beer candy dots, brother."
Me and Grin fell out. Literally. I was rolling on the floor for at least twenty minutes. I needed that shit. I hadn't laughed hard like that for a long ass time. Klause didn't think it was that funny: "Wha! What's with the fucking shit I'm seeing, then? Oh man! I'm losing it!" I asked him real quick; "Slick, did you smoke any of Grin's shit? Cause that shit's good and sometimes it can hit you H-A-R-D."
I think that's when I knew Klause and I where gonna be friends. He was like a grown man with a child's mind. He wasn't retarded or that kind of shit. He was just out there needing help, y'know?
After a while, Grin got up and went to work. He told us we could hang, but when his old lady came home, we had to go. Klause and I ran out of food at about 6 pm and then comics around 7 so he asked if I wanted to go get some pasta. "I know a great place down by the market." We smoked a little more and took some to go. Grin wouldn't mind. I get him back all the time.
I got to know a lot about Klause that night and he about me. Trippy shit. He told me all about his life and his family. He came from old bay money and his father never approved of anything he did: college, the family business or being gay. All that shit. He said he just stopped trying to live up to his pop's standards. Just like that. He still had some property from his family and he used that to make ends meet. I asked him how he knew Grin, he told me he bought weed from him but when he found out Grin had his own painting company, so he hired him to work on his properties.
I had never met a man that was so easy to talk to, to unload shit on like a therapist or something. He knew just what to say to get me to open up. I told him some bad shit I went through that I hadn't told no fucking body. Especially a gay white man. He wasn't the really nancy type gay. He was just a dude, I guess. But white people tended to make stereotypical judgements about me too just cause I was black. Sure I smoked dope and all did all kinds of shit other people did, but I worked my ass off all week to relax a little. I deserved it. Fuck it.
I didn't really trust a white man till I met him. To be honest, I never really had a reason to. It’s no big secret that black folks have plenty of reasons to be suspicious. Even nowadays, but back then racism was still smoldering in the backyard of everyone’s mind like garbage they tried to burn. The civil rights movement had tried hard to put this garbage fire out, but the best all those hard working folks and the government could do was smother it a little. It still smoked and stunk under the wet blanket the laws gave us. Klause was aware of all this but he had this way of seeming as if those things did not apply to him. Not that he was about, just more like outside of it.
He listened to my rants about that attentively. I told him he should have been a therapist or some shit and he said he had studied but found that he didn't have the heart to listen to everybody and try to help them. He said it was hard on him when he couldn’t help someone.
The pasta was just as advertised: some of the best red sauce I'd ever had. Over the years, Klause and I met there for many dinners and long talks. When I passed the bar years later, he let me set up my practice in one of his buildings on Castro. The rent was almost nothing which helped me get a good start.
Those where some of the best years of my life. We got to hang out every day for a while because he ran a head shop in the same building. We had both stopped smoking a lot of weed and our work was becoming more intense, but we still had a good time whenever we got together. Years passed and we kept growin up and growing old. Klause met a real nice guy and they moved into a loft at one of the old city buildings he started buying up. My wife and I got married finally, had one more kid and settled down in a house further out. I was even offered a partner position at a firm closer to the center of the machine and moved my office there.
Klause was one of the first to get HIV. His lover had given it to him. Guess men are dogs no matter what: his old man was fucking around on him like anybody else's. Klause ended up being what they call a "carrier", which means with treatment, he could live a semi normal life and not have it turn into full blown AIDS. That is if you could call normal having a dying lover who cheated on you and he gave you the same disease and you may die from it too unless you are very careful. Yeah, normal. Years later Klause's old man died and left him within his darkest days. I feared for him every time I saw him. He was smaller and more like a ghost day by day. There was a long stretch when I had to go see him and bring him food that my wife made. He would eat a little to be polite, but he was as down as a man can get. After a while it started to piss me off. I know I am a selfish fucker about it, but I wasn't ready to lose my friend yet. He was the selfish one. I came to see him for what I told myself would be the last time. I let myself in and turned off his tv. I placed the package I brought with me on the coffee table I turned and took in the death chamber. His blinds were drawn down and so was he. He stared at me and finally said "what?"
"You know what, motherfucker! You gonna finish yourself off or what?"
He stirred in his recliner and finally showed a little life: he stiffened up a little. That was fine with me. Getting pissed is better that no emotion at all. I added for a little spice: "I got a pistol in my car if you're wanting to do it fast..."
He scowled at me and spit out "I was wondering how long it would be before you gave up on me too. Why do you care, anyway? I got nothing to give anymore, man!" He looked pitiful and on the verge of tears.
"Oh, no! Don't try that shit on me, mutherfucker!" I was getting even more pissed. "Either you're going to the end or you're gonna end it now. You ain't gonna drag this shit out and try to make me and you both feel worse. Get your fucking shit in line or step out." I tried not to be preachy, but goddamn! "I'm tired of being the only one who gives a fuck about you especially if you don't" I added for weight.
"Man, you got a funny way of showing you care" he showed a little light in his eyes and a wry smile hinted its arrival at the corner of his mouth. Finally. "You know me better than most people, Klause. Better than my wife, I bet" I said. "You know I ain't a man that fucks around. I say what needs to be said and fuck the results. In that vein, I can't keep caring about you and seeing you like this no more. I ain't got no more sorrow in me for you. But I got plenty of joy. You wanna come back to us or you wanna waste it? That's the speech. I'm done."
He was enjoying the uncomfortable situation that I was in. He knew I hardly ever exposed myself to this kind of situation. A minute or two passed.
"Open the blinds for me, mister sensitive" was his reply finally. "You should've been a therapist yourself."
I walked over and drew them up one by one checking over my shoulder at him. He was slowly straightening himself up and coming back to life a little. I walked over to the coffee table and untied the string around the butcher paper wrapped package. I opened it to reveal a stack of comics, a bag of weed and some rootbeer candy specks on the paper roll. I saw the final sign that Klause was gonna be OK: a grin to rival old Grin hisself spread across his face and stayed. "You got any food?" I asked.
"Nope" Klause said. "Guess we could get some pasta delivered."
I was gonna leave the package with K either way: with us blowing it out or as a memorial for my friend.
Klause passed on this past week. He never gave in to AIDS, but luckily he didn’t see the stroke coming. He was put to rest over in the Columbarium. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to say about him, but the truth works fine most times. We didn’t really fall into the standard friend molds, but he was the unlikeliest and one of the best friends I ever had. God rest his soul.