Dirty Spatula Fiction
By Brian Polk
Art By Jonny DeStefano
Published Issue 088, April 2021
Look for the phrase “Dirty Spatula” strategically placed in each story.
The Sticky Spot on the Floor Grew Last Night
“The sticky spot on the kitchen floor sure seems like it grew exponentially last night,” I told my roommate when he awoke at 2 p.m.
He didn’t respond with anything resembling language, but he did grunt and rub his eyes, which was his way of saying he understood what I had just told him.
It became immediately apparent the spot had spread when I went to get my breakfast this morning (which usually consists of dry toast and a shot of Pepto). Ordinarily I would walk at the edge of the kitchen near the refrigerator in order to avoid getting stuck. But much to my surprise and chagrin, my usual pathway offered me no protection as my right sock stuck to the floor with such determination that it came off my foot. I tried to pry it loose with a dirty spatula, but I was short on results.
Once my roommate adjusted to consciousness, we took an inventory of everything the thriving spot has claimed so far, and the list was impressive: my sock, a used tea bag, at least four bottle caps, what appears to be Taco Bell lettuce, one chopstick, a lid to someone’s chapstick, and a dirty spatula.
“Do you think maybe we should clean the floor?” I asked, apparently rhetorically because my roommate did not answer.
Dear Insomnia, why Can’t you Also Keep me up in the Daytime?
Listen, insomnia, we both know we’re not friends. You’re too demanding, too time consuming. You keep me up for hours as I stare at the ceiling, read, or watch the same dumb sitcoms in an attempt to loosen your steadfast grip on my brain. And yet for all of your nighttime determination, you sure are a grade-A wiener when it comes to keeping me up in the daytime, aren’t you? At work, I get sluggish, unfocused, and unmotivated thanks to your nighttime successes. But if there ever was a time for you to shine and actually help, it would be between the hours of 9-6. Of course, you give up the second I punch in and don’t visit me again until 10 o’clock at night, when you arrive into my brain with a metaphoric two liter bottle of Jolt Cola and a reel of my most embarrassing moments that you play on repeat. As I write this at three in the afternoon — while feeling so, so tired, no thanks to you — I know you’re planning a midnight party full of boredom and self-recrimination. (Or maybe you’ll hound me into cleaning the dirty spatula that I left in the sink because I was too tired to finish the dishes after dinner.) But you know how sometimes you let me sleep for a couple of hours before taking advantage of my 2 a.m. trips to the bathroom and wrecking my sleep for the rest of the night? Could tonight possibly be one of those nights? I have a big day tomorrow. Ha ha, who am I kidding? I’ll see you here soon.
What’s Your Daily Record of Saying to Yourself, “I’m Done With This Shit?”
Mine is six. But within the last 24 hours I said it seven times. Here’s a quick breakdown of today’s I’m-done-with-this-shits (for maximum effectiveness, say the words “I’m done with this shit” after each entry and have yourself a nice little cry at the end) …
- I awoke to discover that I did not magically get rich while sleeping.
- Why the fuck did my roommate leave a sock and a dirty spatula stuck to the floor.
- And why doesn’t anyone else clean around here?
- I regretted catching the bus knowing full well it was going to take me to work.
- Customers: even the good ones kind of suck.
- Making dinner? Why do we need to eat so many times a day?
- Remembering I get to do all this shit again tomorrow.
“Why Don’t You Try Being More Positive?”
Claire, my ex-partner asked me this when we met for coffee a few days ago. “You’re such a downer, like a dirty spatula.”
“Why don’t you try being more negative?” I retorted, not mentioning her swing-and-a-miss of a simile. She scoffed, so I continued, “No seriously, how come it’s always the pessimistic people who are told to lighten up? That’s bullshit. Why don’t you darken down?”
As she stared at me, I could almost hear her inner monologue telling her she made the right decision when she broke off our engagement two weeks after I gave her the ring. He’s unfit for marriage, this voice was saying. How could anyone go so far out of their way to make themselves so miserable? What does he have to show for it, aside from unhappiness, resentment and self-inflicted pain?
After remaining motionless for several moments as the narration of her thoughts assassinated my character, she finally just said, “You really shouldn’t make yourself so unloveable.”
“Okay,” I said in a high-pitched voice without missing a beat. “That was some pretty pessimistic advice. It’s good to see that at least you’re trying to darken down a bit. No one likes an optimist, you know?”
She mouthed “fuck you” as she gathered her things and left. And at that moment, I vowed that this would be the last time I ever let an optimist bring me down.
In my Dream Last Night I had a Surreal Conversation With an Animatronic Goat
“Fields of oat milk desires want to force smiles upon evil-doers,” I said to the animatronic goat.
“Your soul yearns for better air conditioning and at least one regret,” it replied.
“Yes, but how many dog years are you hiding under that bed?”
“I don’t, but do you disco?”
“Let’s cut the shit, mister, that’s five rubies per non-split pistachio shell!” I said, letting him know I was done with all the bullshit.
“Egad, then it’s curtains for you, dear one. Perhaps, but shag carpeting?” he asked as he began to levitate.
“They’re forming in a straight line. They’re going through a tight wind. The kids are losing their minds. The blitzkrieg bop!”
“Only bad people let Bed Bath & Beyond coupons expire.”
“You dirty spatula!”
“That’s the last time I make you listen to the Grateful Dead before bed!”
“I’ve watched three seasons of The Great British Baking Show and I still don’t know what English pudding is!” (This is true.)
“Feast upon more Pringles if you’d like.”
“But don’t let me forget to check on that washer/dryer set,” I pleaded.
And with that, the animatronic goat appeared to nod. Then he levitated slowly back to his home planet after promising to return those overdue movies to a universe that still has video stores. Maybe I’ll see it again one day.
Brian Polk is a Denver-based writer, publisher of The Yellow Rake, and drummer for Joy Subtraction and Simulators. He’s the author of Placement of Character and Turning Failure into Ideology. He likes writing, muck raking, yellow journalism, zines not blogs, cheap booze and punk rock.
Jonny DeStefano is the co-owner and co-founder of Birdy Magazine. He is also the founder of the comedy activist space Deer Pile. His favorite color is red, he loves shark attacks, hockey and upright bass.