Monday, February 25, 2008

Mandelbaum the Astrologer

[Another bit of quirky flash fiction—284 words.]

At forty-two, Izzy Mandelbaum spent his days pouring over zodiacal charts, correlating his findings with eclipses and conjunctions and planetary alignments. He sometimes gazed into tea leaves for extra inspiration. He even wore a tall, conical hat emblazoned with moons and stars—with Pisces, Capricorn, Libra—plus his lucky two-dollar bill and various political campaign buttons. He could afford to endlessly gaze into the heavens after inheriting a family fortune built on the manufacture of feather dusters. It was on a warm April evening when Izzy gazed at his detailed star maps and leaned back in his chair, eyes wide with disbelief. He was horrified to learn that Jupiter’s position relative to Orion meant that he had died five years earlier.

“If I am dead, I shall go forth from my apartment and walk the streets until I gradually dissolve into the ether of the cosmos,” he mumbled. “The universe will surely correct its mistake.”

On his second day of aimless wandering, Izzy entered the Museum of Natural History and stared at the beautiful young woman reflecting on the Cretaceous period. She was a vision of soft skin and dark, shiny hair more lustrous than the Pleiades. Izzy approached her and made small talk. He was powerless as he stood in the gravitational field of this newly discovered star.

That night, Izzy and his star woman danced and laughed and drank wine. He kissed her hair and lips as she nibbled Izzy’s ear and stroked his cheek. Somewhere in the solar system, Jupiter edged away from Orion by a few degrees, not daring to spoil the resurrection of Izzy Mandelbaum. Sometimes, celestial mechanics has a heart.

Picture: Public Doman


Charles Gramlich said...

Funny and poignant at the same time. Well done.

Lana Gramlich said...

Very sweet. I'm beginning to think you may be somewhat of a hopeless romantic.

Janice Thomson said...

This is a delightful story William, and as 'Charles' said, it is both funny and poignant at the same time.

Sandy Carlson said...

Oh, I liked that a whole lot. Your gentle humor and your keen intelligence combine with a romantic sensibility to paint a portrait of synchronicity. Good on ya, Billy. Thanks for making my night.

And thanks for your kind and very welcome comments on my blog.

Rob Hopcott said...

Hi Billy, It's always good to see excellent flash fiction.

I'll be back for more and I've put a link to you from my flash fiction blog.

Hope it helps :-)

Shameless said...

Oh, that gave me nice goose bumps! The universe moving for Izzy. I love it. :-)

Billy said...

Thanks, Charles. Flash fiction is a good exercise in itself in clearing away the superfluous. Not that I always succeed :)

Lana, I guess some of my poems have that bent. Others seem to be about the down-and-out or God. Go figure -:)

Thank you, Janice. I worry that these are too quirky sometimes, but I enjoy them. Forces me to be concise, as I told Charles.

Sandy, synchronicity creeps into quite a bit of my writing. Glad you liked this one :)

Rob, thanks for stopping by. I'll be paying you a visit. Thanks for the lin :)

Seamus, I thought the universe owed Izzy a little something. Thanks for reading :)

Lane said...

I love this. Quirky and fun.
The stars were kind to Izzy:-)

Julie at Virtual Voyage said...

Interesting to see how Flash fiction is constructed....!

Minx said...

Well, that makes a change - the universe is usually conspiring against us.
I like the simplicity of this 'snap' - lesser novels have come from such ideas.

Rob Hopcott said...

Billy, thanks for stopping by at my flash fiction blog and your kind words.

'Saying goodbye hurts' is one of my favorites :-)

Here's a random thought.

When you write something that you think is quite good, do you find it daunting to start again - almost as if you have scaled the mountain and now need to find a higher one or not climb at all?

On the other hand, when I write something that I really think is a bit below par, and it is sitting there as the first post people see when they get to the site, I'm desperate to write something better to push the unsatisfactory one further down the list.

Hey, ho, just random thoughts on a Wednesday morning with the sun streaming through the window and Bach playing on Sky Arts.

Ooops! Just remembered this is your blog - I'd better shut up :-)

Billy said...

Lane, ironically many agents seek out quirky (which I am fond of, as you can tell) and then reject the material for being too quirky and not marketable. I think I have a post about that somewhere below. Agents are very frustrating.

Minx, well yes, I think we need to turn the universe or world or whatever upside down to get a proper viewpoint. Mankind knocked the world and logical thinking off its axis a long time ago. THanks for stopping by.

Rob, if I write something that I think is good, my mind usually stays in gear. Of course I'm human and I have posted things that I hope would slide down pretty quickly LOL.

Sarah Hina said...

Oh, I adored this! Talk about star-crossing lovers! :)

Beautiful, whimsical piece, Billy. Just wonderful.

Billy said...

Sarah, all of these pieces are a bit whimsical and far-fetched and tend to have happy endings ... but I like 'em that way -:)

cargwaps said...

Haha. Jupiter and Orion indeed! This one made me smile. :)

Billy said...

Carwgwaps, the universe isn't such as bad place after all -:)

Jo said...

Today of all days I really appreciate this. Lovely.

Billy said...

Jo, glad you enjoyed it! Have a wonderful day!