Thank you for allowing me to submit my short story “Zed’s Crisis” for possible inclusion in Forlorn Magazine’s themed issue The Buds of Spring, to be published online this April or May. You may recall that I, Nash Briggs, previously submitted a story called “Zed’s Decision” for your themed issue The Cusp of Winter back in September, and that you rejected it for reasons never made clear to me. Be that as it may, rest assured that “Zed’s Crisis” is a completely different story from “Zed’s Decision,” in that the work has been thoroughly revised and proofread all over again.
Your submission guidelines urge me to mention that I have added $3 to the “tip jar” on the submission page, which entitles me to a decision on publication no later than six weeks from the date of submission, plus editorial feedback. I will hold you to all of that.
Your guidelines also ask for a 50-word third-person bio, any relevant publication history, and the address of my Paypal account in case my story is accepted and I am entitled to the $10 payment from your generous coffers. All that is easy. My bio should read: Nash Briggs is a hard-working, hard-writing man who works and writes. I have no publication history, and my PayPal account, if I have one, is the same as my email account, for all I know.
Your guidelines also require that I mention any trigger and content warnings my story contains, and since to be honest there’s a lot to mention here, let’s get started. There are, though I’ve kept them to an absolute minimum out of consideration for my readers, references to racism, homophobia, sexism, classism, child molestation, animal cruelty including bestiality, rape, and bloodletting including decapitation. Why these particular topics should bring on attacks of hypersensitivity in people is beyond my ken, but there you have the worst of my offenses.
There may also be whiffs of antisemitism and Nazism, though these last two are perhaps more in the mind of the beholder than objectively present in the writing. Still, some members of my writers’ critique group, leftists and non-Aryans as you might expect, insist they are there, so I’ll mention them.
All the other triggers I listed, racism, sexism, and homophobia and so on, are certainly in the story, but there’s a reason for that. “Zed’s Crisis” is about a man from eastern Columbus, Ohio, who lives with his wife and dog not far from the campus of Ohio State University, within walking distance of a football stadium and a large medical treatment center. He’s resided in this cauldron since his birth, and at age 72, he knows a thing or two about living a decent and honorable life, and about breaking the law and instigating civil unrest when he needs to. He doesn’t hesitate to crack some skulls when the situation calls for it. Sure, his neighbors say he’s depraved and ignorant, but some of the things he has to say about affirmative action and gay marriage make good sense and deserve a hearing. Same goes for his views on animal rights and women’s suffrage.
I’d say it would pay to listen carefully to all his other controversial beliefs too, except maybe his nod to Nazism, but that one is just Zed being Zed. If you read all 800 words of my submission, which as you’ll note falls under the category of flash fiction and shouldn’t take long to digest, you’ll see that these triggers define Zed, that they fill him out as a person, and that without them his character falls flat.
The guidelines also ask for a brief synopsis of the story, but I don’t want to give away a whole lot of the plot. I think I’ve said enough already, and I’d prefer that you savor the story and be surprised. Let me just add that when Zed kills all those people and sets the dog on fire, he’s completely justified. There: any more than that and I’d give away the store.
Thanks for reading my work, and I hope to hear from you soon.
Michael Fowler is a sometime humor writer who can’t shake the jokes.
image: MM Kaufman