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The Short Form

“Bar Joke, Arizona”

Sam Allingham


Under cover of darkness the conversations get lower and less animated.  Stories emerge from the chatter.  Eyes grow damp, as the alcohol pulls secrets and failures out of everybody’s wobbly mouths.

“I remember I was lying in bed once,” a giant moth says, his diaphanous wings glowing in the light of the ceiling lamp. “With my wife. ‘You’re a one trick pony,’ she told me. ‘It’s always a cycle with you, one joke over and over again, a bad ride that never ends.’”

The moth has a small, buzzing voice, like someone over a bad long-distance connection saying words nobody wants to hear.  It shakes a little from too much crème de menthe.

“All I could think of,” the moth says, “was her spinning slowly in a Ferris wheel in the middle of an empty county fair, stuck in a seat with a guy like me, who didn’t have much to say.  That was the night she left me for a man who sells funny T-shirts over the internet.  They can travel whenever they want, she tells me.  They’re globetrotters now.”

We read it in One Story: Issue #97.