He wasn’t the kind of person to give explanations, so for instance if you found him sitting on the bench he thought of as his and asked him what he was up to he’d just say he was sitting there on his bench, as though there had been some doubt that he was, when really all you meant was how had he been doing or how did he feel on that particular day, but he didn’t like the little existential pleasantries of everyday life and—since he was a man against explanations—it wasn’t very easy getting an explanatory answer out of him, although it wasn’t as if you wanted one in the first place, because it was bigger than explanation, this opposition of his, way bigger—it was like a skyward-leaping vine of objections that shot up out of his head and tangled in the air, a bit like a beanstalk, in fact, and if you were willing to pull a Jack and climb up to the surrogate heaven where the ogre of his antipathies hung out, you’d have to confront the monster and steal his magic harp and then hustle the hell back down the beanstalk of his objections and jump onto the ground next to him and play that harp or—more strictly speaking—get that little stringed sucker to entertain The Great Negation sat there on his bench and hope that what the old singing harp belted out would render this whole paranormal confabulation worthwhile by soothing the howling wolf in him, at least to the point that he could actually get beyond all the stuff that was obviously driving him nuts (which, good luck) and if you weren’t in a beanstalk-shimmying mood you could certainly forget having any not so much meaningful as just get you down the street satisfactory interaction, and in a weird way it was in the putative you’s interest not to feel like climbing because then that very you could just proceed not to give a shit about the inner convolutions of our hero on the bench and go right ahead and make small talk and leave it Lethely at that, which itself wasn’t exactly a crime against humanity codified in the tables of the law engraved on the hopefully not too clogged and God forbid pulpy ventricles of the human heart, so the secret was to run into him when you were in what you could call a really good bad mood or a really indifferent good one or—even better still—one that could best be characterized as a complete absence of one.
Mark Crimmins’s fiction was nominated for a 2015 Pushcart Prize, a 2015 Best of the Net Award, and a 2015 Silver Pen Writers Association Write Well Award. His short stories have been published in Confrontation, Cha, Split Rock Review, Penmen Review, Trainless Magazine, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Kyoto Journal, Prick of the Spindle, Microliterature, Eclectica, The Cortland Review, Tampa Review, ellipsis…, Columbia Journal, Queen’s Quarterly, Apalachee Review, Del Sol Review, and Chicago Quarterly Review. His flash fictions and microfictions have been published in Happy, White Rabbit, theNewerYork, Eunoia Review, Flash Frontier, Portland Review, Pif Magazine, Gravel, Eastlit, Restless Magazine, Atticus Review, Apocrypha and Abstractions, DOGZPLOT, and Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine. He lives in China, where he teaches English at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen.