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Taipei: Big spiders, no drinking water, and lots of Taiwan Beer... Give me 10 reviews and I'll post pictures of the actual spiders ;)
[557 words]
Popular Fiction
John Karl
Short story writer with great appreciation for Ellen, Ernest, Kurt, and... Micro-Fiction.
[September 2001]
Eurojazz (Short Stories) Stuck in Italy, partying, and then some... [650 words] [Popular Fiction]
God Bless The President (Short Stories) Confrontation with knife wielding drunk in Oregon bar... did not have to be this way. [584 words] [Popular Fiction]
On Orcas Island (Short Stories) Yuppie vacation to local resort... [269 words] [Popular Fiction]
White Church (Short Stories) A passing of innocence and the expectation of one's future. [349 words] [Literary Fiction]
John Karl

    We were going to Heyman's house. He lived alone in the Taiwan country side close to the ocean about an hour north of Taipei. This was my first time out of the city and the air smelled good. I was with Bird and Tough Guy. Bird chose his English name from the great jazz musician Charlie Parker. Bird loved jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock. Tough Guy did too but he didn't speak any English: Bird told me.

    Heyman's house was old and made of concrete with no running water. There was a well outside. The inside was modest. The front room contained a small Buddha shrine, a modern hi-fi stereo system, a large Fender music amplifier, and numerous guitars. There was a small couch along one wall and a chair by the door where I sat. I noticed a brown spider the size of my hand on the wall adjacent to me and asked if it was real. Bird assured me it was and told me it was poisonous only when it bites which didn't make me feel too comfortable.

    They gave me slippers to wear down the cold damp hallway since we left our shoes outside. There were two small bedrooms on the right leading to the kitchen. The first consisted of a bed shrouded with mosquito net and the second contained a bare mattress and television on the floor. The kitchen had an old brick stove with empty Taiwan Beer cans lying on top. There was another spider, bigger than the one in the front room, moving slowly in a ceiling corner, spinning some web.

Heyman put on a CD and I placed my beer on the Buddha shrine and picked up one of the guitars for a closer look. Bird politely moved my beer to a small table beside the stereo and I felt stupid for being ignorant and disrespectful. Tough Guy pulled out a bottle of gin and we all did a shot. We drank more beer while Heyman played DJ showing off his extensive CD collection. Music and booze bridged our communication gap with Bird interjecting fragmented translation when needed.

    Heyman was a fanatical Doors fan, and had once attempted suicide a few years back as a tribute to Jim Morrison's well-known obsession with death. Bird told me Heyman was crazy, but "not really" crazy he would add with a laugh. Heyman lived on handouts from his parents with some side money from teaching guitar. He was a vegetarian and with his garden out back did not need much to get by. I suspected his only expenses were beer and guitar strings. I sort of admired him.

    All of us were half drunk when Heyman handed me a guitar. I was reluctant at first but they wanted to hear some of my music. I played five or six songs I'd written with everyone howling along like horny dogs.

   By three in the morning, the beer was gone, Tough Guy's gin was emptied, and Bird suggested it was time to go. I got up to leave and saw the spider that had been on the wall next to me all evening was gone. I checked my shoes outside before putting them back on while saying goodbye to Heyman as he jumped on his motorcycle for a beer run.



"Review #1: Nicely done." -- The Advisor.
"Review #2: Is the beer there specifically called "Taiwan Beer" or did you just accidentally capitalize a beer that is from Taiwan?" -- The Advisor.
"Review #3: 'Give me 10 reviews' Numbers that aren't dates or times usually look better to people when they are spelled out, but it isn't necessarily wrong. " -- The Advisor.
"Review #4: Taipei sounds a lot like Mexico, where the water is so unfit they've turned to beer and tequila (is that how you spell that?) as their primary source of drinking." -- The Advisor.
"Review #5: Your lead character knows people with names kind of like I do: Weasel, Eat Em Up, Dude and Tom Collins." -- The Advisor.
"Review #6: I wasn't aware that you actually could post pictures on this site, shows what I know." -- The Advisor.
"Review #7: 'country side' should be one word." -- The Advisor.
"Review #8: It's a common mistake to capitalize certain words such as "CD" and "VCR", but if you're spelling them out would you ever dare say "Compact Disc" or "Video Cassette Recorder"... I hope not." -- The Advisor.
"Review #9: "DJ" is also grammatically incorrect, since we never say: "I'm listening to the local Disc Jockey on the radio." Words like this don't need to be capitalized since they don't name anyone or anything." -- Review #9.
"Review #10: Usually I climb all over people for telling an "incidental story" (one with no plot, usually based upon a real-life incident). But since you never claimed it was a story, I won't do that to you. I actually liked this incident, and you have a God-given right to tell it if you want to." -- The Advisor.
"That's ten reviews. Now, where are those pictures?" -- The Advisor.
"1. Thanks. 2. Really the name. 3. Not part of the story. 4. No, we like beer. 5. Who cares; this is a comment not a review. 6. n/a 7. Implementation dependent. 8. These are called acronymns (i.e. not words) 9. See response above (and an English 101 class) 10. Published on this site as "Popular Fiction"." -- J. K..
"Well John, you might be happy to know, that I the illustrious Advisor, followed your advice and did indeed go to an English 101 class as you suggested. It turns out the words such as television, compact disc, and video cassette recorder are capitalized when turned into acronymns; TV, CD, and VCR respectively. But then again you already knew that. No one however can explain to me why they get capitalized from small words when they become acronymns, but I guess that's just the beauty of our American language, huh? So I relent to you, and the Advisor apologizes for his error. By the way, how is number six not relevant? You did say you would post pictures of spiders if you received ten reviews. Although, not all ten are technically reviews, they still are ten. I know that years back you could post pictures on this site, but I had believed it was a function they'd since taken down. But perhaps there was a trick in what you said, and you have posted the pictures after receiving ten reviews... just not here. I'm curious as hell to know where though. Also I was wondering about the term "implementation dependent." I am not a complete literary dunce, but I have never heard its use before; please enlighten me. I do know however that I am correct about "countryside." Try typing the following into a grammar checker, "We took a trip out to the countryside. The country side was beautiful." As always, just trying to help, not trying to get into a fight.--The Advisor " -- JA St.George.
"OK, OK, I know, I'm asking for too much. I just wanted to see those spiders that's all. I'll just go away quietly.(He holds back a sniffle and tear).--The Advisor" -- JA St.George.
"for god's sake show the guy the spiders" -- jerry.


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© 1997 John Karl
September 2001

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