This is July 2012's collection of Short Stories written by the Austin Short Stories group.
There were 4 short stories submitted for the month of July.
Story #1 - "Untitled"
Story #2 - "Untitled"
Story #3 - "Untitled"
Story #4 - "Lovebirds"
There are 14 possible writers:
Please post your guess for each story's writers in the "Austin Short Stories" Facebook Group.
Story #1 Submitted Jul 12, 2012 at 12:25 PM
One night in the 1970s, perhaps a Friday, a woman in a wheelchair rolled into the neighborhood
pinball arcade. Witnesses recall her not uttering a single word. She was there simply to play.
Sometimes kids would try and start small talk with her, but she only sat waiting until the machine
Soon people started to take notice. A crowd was gathering. This event would be remembered
for decades. Machine after machine, she beat every recorded high score for that establishment.
Hours later, she silently left the venue leaving the small crowd in awe.
When the owner returned to close the place, he saw everyone in shock. Asking what
happening, numerous people described the woman in great detail. The owner himself was now
silent. "What? Do you know her?" asked one patron.
"That's Betsy!" said the owner.
"Who's Betsy?" numerous mumbles echoed the crowd.
"That girl I met in a subway and fell in love with... She's been dead for ten years!" the owner,
Joey Tribbiani, said in a quiet voice.
Story #2 Submitted Jul 19, 2012 at 1:52 PM
Ahhh, summer time in Austin. The one good thing about Austin in the summer is that the
college crowd mostly goes back home. The one bad thing about Austin in the summer is the
heat and humidity. And with the heat and humidity comes CRICKETS! Now, I don't know about
you, but the cricket situation has begun to drive me crazy. It's not the noise per se, but just their
mere presence. Everywhere you go, they are there, like the suppressive heat. They are not
limited to the great outdoors, either, as they find their way into anything and everything. They
visit me at my desk at work, and I find `em in my abode occasionally. Damn bugs! I hear tell
they are considered a sign of good luck in Japan or China or some such far off place... well they
can have `em!! Some times when I am outside at work, I notice some birds snacking on them.
I watch the birds, and feed the birds every now and then, as they intrigue me. Did you know
that birds are related to dinosaurs? If you look into a birds eye, it literally seems as though you
might be looking back a million years, as they do have that cold, predatorial, rapacious look
to them. Birds are crazy, and sometimes I am reminded of that Alfred Hitchcock movie "The
Birds".... Especially when I go to the Walmart by my folks house and they literally "swarm" in
massive flocks. Wow, the racket they make and the sheer number of them is kind of impressive!
And, now that I think about it, I have been feeding a lot of these damn birds at my work and I
think they owe me.... I need to figure a way to get them to team up with me to enact revenge on
these stinkin' crickets!
Story #3 Submitted Jul 21, 2012 at 5:49 PM
No, that is my name
Swooped the falcon as he shat
Baked with Austin heat
Story #4 Submitted Jul 30, 2012 at 12:54 PM
The door to the rooftop flies open. SLAM! A lithe, bespectacled, raven-haired girl shoots out of
the dark stairway. She stops to look around.
It's raining. Hard. She's instantly drenched. Visibility is low, but she can still tell that the power is
out all across campus. It's not just this building. This is a good thing.
Panicked and out of breath, she looks back at the stairway. Not a chance. She can hear the
footsteps getting louder and see the flashlights dancing around below. They're not far behind.
The rain is torrential. The wind is howling. She can barely see five feet in front of her now. This
could work to her advantage. She scours the rooftop for a fire escape, a ladder, even a place
to hide. Nothing. She runs to the edge and looks down. It's a sixty or seventy feet drop onto
unforgiving concrete in every direction.
The flashlights have made it to rooftop. Two guns are drawn and pointed at her. They're held
by shadows. One is tall and thin. The other short and heavier set. Both with the unmistakable
silhouettes of the campus police's caps upon their heads.
"FREEZE!" exclaims the larger, portly man. He's gasping for air. He can barely get his next
words out. "There's no escape. <GASP> Just stay where you are <GASP>." The man gulps
down another breath and motions for his partner to approach the girl.
In that instant, the girl notices the building behind the one she's on is roughly the same height.
Can she make that jump? "It works in the movies," she mutters to herself. It's possible. Very
possible. Her head snaps back to the men that are slowly approaching her. They won't shoot.
Will they? It doesn't matter. No time to think.
She runs towards the adjacent building's roof. Fast.
The men are caught off guard. They lower their weapons and try to cut her off.
She's rapidly approaching the edge. Too late to back out. She's committed.
She attempts to plant her right foot on the edge, but the rain and darkness have ironically
worked against her. Blinded by the sheet of water on her glasses, she's miscalculated her step.
She's slipped. She's not going to make it.
"Ms. Palmer? Ms. Palmer!" exclaims a tall, handsome, middle-aged man in a cheap brown suit.
Mary jumps to attention. "Y-yes?"
"Ms. Palmer, we're waiting," the man continues in a sweet, yet sardonic tone.
"Waiting?" Mary asks perplexed.
The entire class chuckles.
"Pipe down," the professor commands sternly. He looks back at Mary. "Yes, Ms. Palmer.
Waiting for you to tell us all about Falco tinnunculus... the common kestrel?"
Mary blinks and opens her mouth to speak when...
The class begins to shuffle about.
"Alright class, remember, your reports on the birds of Europe and their migratory habits (and
penchant for coconuts, he mutters wryly) is due next Monday. So don't party too hard this
The professor turns his attention back to Mary, who's still a bit dazed.
"And Mary, please stay after class for a moment. I'd like to speak with you."
Mary collects her books and packs up her backpack. She slowly walks towards Professor
Ventura's desk. She's mortified. She's afraid he will ask her what she was daydreaming about.
She'd have to lie. She couldn't possibly tell him the truth, that she'd been fantasizing about him.
Staring into his deep blue eyes, running her fingers through his disheveled peppered gray hair,
laying on a red and white checkered cloth on a Summer picnic.
She shakes her head slightly and manages to collect herself before arriving at his desk. "Yes,
professor?" she asks.
"Mary, you seemed to have lost focus," he begins. "I know we just started the semester, and
I know you have a passion for birds, but you have to pay attention. The first exam is fast
approaching. And for the last couple of classes, it seems like your mind has been elsewhere.
I'd hate to see someone with so much passion for ornithology do so poorly in my class. Besides,
what would Jack think of me if I let his little girl fail under my tutelage?"
Mary doesn't like to talk about her father. It makes her uncomfortable, but she nods politely.
Professor Ventura pauses for a moment. Pensive.
"Tell you what. You live over on Cypress, right?"
Mary smiles and nods.
"Yes. I've seen you pass right by my house on your way to school. How would you like to come
over to my place some time? I could show you my personal collection of videos and pictures of
some of the birds I've studied in the wild. Perhaps it'll renew your spark for the subject."
"Okay!" Mary says enthusiastically.
"In fact, are you free tonight? I don't have any plans," says the professor with raised eyebrows
and a smile.
"Sure!" Mary boasts. She's immediately looks down, a little embarrassed by her awkward
Professor Ventura scribbles his address on a piece of paper and hands it to Mary.
Mary takes the paper, but she doesn't need it. She's memorized it. She knows exactly where the
"Let's say... around 9 o'clock?" says the professor as he looks over his glasses at Mary.
Mary silently nods . It takes all her concentration not to let herself grin from ear to ear. She
scurries out the door and audibly giggles down the hall.
Mary knocks at the large, ornate wooden door.
"Come in! The door's open!" yells Professor Ventura from a distance.
Mary cautiously opens the door. She cannot believe she's about to enter *Professor Ventura's*
personal residence. She's fantasized about what it looked like inside so many times. She
imagined that it was full of books and exotic birds. But what she found was rather mundane. No
birds cackling in the background. And as she maneuvered through the hallway, she found no
large library with a smoking chair in it. This was a normal house.
"I'm in the kitchen pouring myself a glass of wine. Would you like some?" asked the professor
from across the house.
"No, thank you. I'm fine." Mary yelled back. Her eyes are still scanning every inch of the house.
As Mary makes it into the living room, the professor comes through the swinging kitchen door
with two half-full glasses in one hand and a bottle of red wine in another.
"Oh, c'mon! Join me!" he says.
"But I'm not 21 yet." Mary retorts.
"Oh, that's OK. We won't tell anyone. Besides you're not driving, right? You're just down a few
streets from here. What's the harm?"
"Oh, okay," Mary states as she takes her glass of wine.
For the next hour or so, they go over photographs, notes and videos of the professor's rare
bird safaris. The professor is enthusiastic and passionate about his work. Mary is smitten by
the professor. The professor had hoped to re-energize her passion for birds, but she couldn't
care less about birds at this moment. She cannot focus on the photos or the notes. She cannot
concentrate on the videos of the mating rituals of an African bird she's already forgotten the
name of. She cannot stop staring into the his eyes... even when he's not looking at her.
As Professor Ventura looks intently for a video file on his computer, Mary asks casually, "So
where is your wife, Professor?"
"Well, Mary," Professor Ventura nervously chuckles, "That's kind of a sore subject. You see, she
left me 2 weeks ago."
"Oh, I'm sorry" Mary says with a touch of schadenfreude.
"Ah. It's OK. It's been a long time coming. She deserves better anyway. She says that I was
never home. Always at conferences, teaching or on safari. I never made time for her. It's better
this way." It was obvious that the professor was trying to convince himself.
This was too much. Mary could no longer control herself. There would be no better time. It had
to be now. Right now.
With his hand still on the mouse, Mary puts her hand over his. She guides his hand to the file for
which he'd been looking.
"Here it is professor. Isn't this what you've been looking for all this time?" Mary says softly.
It was a stupid line. Did she really just say that?
Neither one of them are looking at the computer monitor. They are staring into each other's
eyes. Mary's cautiousness has melted away. The wine and the news of the professor's wife
leaving have empowered her.
The professor has no chance.
Weeks have passed. Mary could not be happier.
Mary takes her seat Monday morning. Chipper. Bubbly. Glowing. She makes sure no one is
looking and blows the professor a kiss. He simply smiles.
The professor had been away the entire weekend at a conference in Boston and had gotten in
late last night. Mary could not wait to see him this morning.
The class dragged on. She watched the second hand on the wall clock get slower and slower. It
almost seemed like it was standing still at times.
She wanted to embrace him, kiss him, feel him.
She once loved birds, now she only loved him.
"Thank god!" Mary mutters to herself.
She purposefully waits for the classroom to empty before approaching his desk with a big smile
upon her face.
As she nears, she notices the professor's demeanor seems... strange. He was very professional
during the lecture, sure, he always is. That was expected. He has to feign disinterest in her
while class is in session because their love is forbidden. No winks. No nods. No inside jokes
during lecture that would only make her chuckle.
But this was different. Her classmates were gone. They were alone. This is where they'd
embrace and passionately kiss. This is the part where he tells her how much he missed her and
that he couldn't wait for class to end. But instead, he just stood there. Distant. Cold.
"Mary, we need to talk," he began.
Mary could not have imagined worse words to hear. Her smiled melted away.
"A-about what?" Mary could barely speak.
"I'm sorry Mary. I didn't plan this. You know I didn't plan this..." the professor stumbles for the
right words, but they don't exist.
"We... we can't see each other anymore. I'm sorry."
Mary's eyes begin to water.
"It's just. It's just that.... Well, my wife..."
"Your wife!?" Mary finally and tearfully interjects. "You're wife what, John!?"
"She. Well, she visited me in Boston."
Mary is still trying to hold back her tears.
Professor Ventura wrings his hands nervously.
Then, suddenly, her hurt turns into hate.
"She *visited* you in Boston? What? She just happened to be in the area?!"
"Actually, yes. You see, her sister lives there and..."
"And nothing!" Mary exclaims. "I don't give a damn about her sister, or your wife!"
"Now, Mary calm down. I didn't plan this! I never dreamed..."
Growing wistful and tearful again, Mary interrupts him.
"Well, I did, John! I dreamed about this. This was *my* dream, John. Does that matter? Do you
care at all about what I want? Was I just some stupid little slut that you used while you were
"I bet this isn't even your first time, is it John?"
"Now, wait a minute, there," John interjects.
Mary's now enraged.
"Shut up! I'm talking now. You're supposed to be the mature one. You're supposed to be the
one that knows better. But look at us now. You didn't care about me or my grades. Inviting me
over while your wife was gone. Offering me wine. You wanted to seduce me all along, didn't
Professor Ventura stares blankly back at Mary.
"You were just too chicken shit to do anything about it. My Dad's been dead for five years now,
and you're still afraid of him. You're still afraid of him! He's dead, John!"
"You're father was a great man, Mary. Please don't speak badly of him. If it wasn't for him, I
wouldn't be here. He was my mentor. He taught me everything I know about birds," pleaded
"Oh, who gives a damn about birds! Shut up about those God damned, stupid birds! You want
me, John! Admit it! You LOVE me, John! You always have. Since I was a little girl!"
Professor Ventura is shocked.
"I could have gone to any school I wanted, but I came here. Why? Because of you, John. I'm
here because of you, and you want me."
"Mary, you've got it all wrong. This was all a mistake. I didn't mean for this to happen. I swear it!"
Mary screams. It's a shrill, prolonged shriek.
"Alright, now, don't get excited!" exclaims the professor.
Mary now has a crazed look upon her face.
"Don't get excited? Don't get EXCITED!?" exclaims Mary. "Oh, John, you haven't seen excited
yet. Not by a long shot. I'm going to hit you where it hurts."
"Mary! Mary, don't you do anything you'll regret. You leave my wife out of this!"
"Don't worry, John. This has got nothing to do with your wife. I'm going to take away your one
and only true love forever."
Mary storms out.