A sampler of MK Alexander’s work. Be warned, each story in this collection ends in death or grievous injury.
George & Martha (urban fiction) A tale about an apartment dwelling couple who has not turned off their TV for thirty years.
Louie’s Balloons (urban fairy tale) What’s lower than a mime? Perhaps a balloon sculptor. Meet Louie who has big plans of his own.
Stray Sod (time travelog) The Irish seem to have lots to say about stray sod, but chiefly: don’t step on it. A whirlwind tour of Ireland in and out of time.
The Barrier (science fiction) A nearby world. A classic sci-fi story with an unexpected twist. Guaranteed.
Spontaneous Combustion (science fiction / horror) In this sci-fi horror, a journal from one hundred years ago prompts the new investigation into a curious phenomena.
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George and Martha. Their TV had been on since 1963, since the day after Jack Ruby shot Oswald right there in front of everybody— everybody but them. George had probably lugged it up the stairs himself, three long hard flights, up to that tiny apartment in Queens. He hadn’t quite hooked it up yet. They were still in love that particular November— and they missed it. Over the years, Martha made up for this particular failing with a vengeance. She took up chain-smoking, and made a solemn vow that she’d never miss another broadcast-of-a-lifetime. Not a moon landing, a televised war, or god forbid, another assassination. Only an accountant could actually figure out how many viewing hours she had racked up since.
We met them six TVs later in 1999. I could only guess that their love, now a kind of cynical affection, had changed over time. What caused that change was largely a matter of conjecture. My theory? It was their mutual immersion in the mundane, a slow erosion of expectations, or the painful measure between intent and deed. My evidence? Only that which came from a nearby open window.
My girlfriend and I moved into the city in late summer. We first met George and Martha in the early fall. Meet isn’t the right word but I’m too lazy to find a better one. When autumn nights first offer up a fresh breeze, pleasant and cooling, most people shut down their air conditioners and open their windows. George and Martha were no exception, nor were we. They introduced themselves one such evening through exactly that: an open window— Martha, really, and with a sharp piercing cackle— her raucous reply to the giant glowing thing. And there was that peculiar odor that wafted in as well: a sweet, sickening disinfectant smell that masked something acrid, and perhaps something onerous.
We came to know George and Martha through a nine inch visor into their existence. Not that we could ever really know them. We could just figure out bits of them, bits of their lives as told through their reactions and responses to, well, that big glowing box. They lived across from our modest bedroom— directly across, from what’s off-handedly called a courtyard. It was anything but— it was a ten by ten shaft, open to the sky. I imagined it clumsily built by architectural trolls long ago, when three-storied railroad flats of jagged brick face were all the rage. A time when the whole idea of privacy was a completely foreign concept.