My stock response, when someone asks me if I write fiction or non-fiction, is something like, “Well I hope it’s non-fiction.” Fiction eludes me, and I marvel at and respect those who tackle it — we have several talented and successful fiction writers right here in Humboldt County.

My problem with fiction is this: I’ll have what I (a legend in my own mind) think of as a brilliant start. Sometimes it’s just a sentence, other times a paragraph or two, or a few lines of dialog. Then, perhaps 100 words in, I’ll run out of steam.

L. Ron Hubbard, the champ. Photo: Public domain, via Wikimedia.

100 words! Here’s what real writers output, daily.

  • Anne (Interview with a Vampire) Rice: 3,000 words
  • Michael (Jurassic Park) Crichton: 10,000 words
  • Ernest Hemingway: 500 words (but what words!)
  • Stephen King: 2,000 words
  • L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, published 1084 works (250 fiction) in his lifetime, making him the world’s most prolific writer according to Guinness.

Making my efforts look a bit silly. But I have a column to write, so here are some recent efforts for you to waste the next five minutes on. Or not. As I say, I don’t do fiction.

Gods Barber

Over the millennia, Julce’s drinking problem got worse and worse. Every hundred thousand years or so, he’d try to quit, but sobriety never took, and he was the only one God trusted with his beard, so he kept his job despite his addiction. It all came to a head the day Junior (as the angels insisted on calling Him) arrived, ascending in a cloud of glory, seraphim and cherubim ushering Him up through the clouds. And oh my, was he a mess! He’d never washed up after His messy demise — hands and feet were particularly disgusting — and His hair was still matted with blood from the thorns. It fell to Julce to clean him up…

…who was having a particularly bad day, having stumbled on a jar of fermented manna the previous evening.


“Excuse me, but aren’t you the the guy in that movie?”

I gave her an enigmatic smile.

“My God! You are! I loved it, especially the scenes with, um, Jennifer?”

“She was a lot of fun to work with,” I said, trying to sound discreet.

“Would you mind terribly if I got a selfie with you?”

Up close, she smelled of jasmine.

“Look, I know it’s crazy, but…”

“It’s OK, I’m traveling incognito. Even my agent doesn’t know I’m here. Dinner?”

She gave a little whinny.

I love being the guy who looks like the guy in that movie.

Nine of Hearts

When I was an aspiring magician, I barely missed a single show of Harry’s. Afterwards, I’d tell him how I thought he did it, figuring out almost all of his illusions. I begged for more.

“Buy a deck of cards, pick one and put it in your pocket.”

We met the following night: “Nine of hearts.”

“How…?” I spluttered.

He put his finger on the side of his nose. “Shtum.”

Yesterday I visited him, a frail old man in his hospital bed.

“Harry, I’ve been going crazy for 40 years. How did you do it?”

He smiled. “I guessed.”

Three False Starts

“Time to wake up,” she thought, “This dream’s been going on for far too long.” But…


“It’s going to be another long night,” said the waiter at the all-night coffee shop. He glanced over at the foursome in the corner of the restaurant. I looked at the black-leather clad gaggle of teens, not seeing anything out of the ordinary, until I realized…


Something about the envelope made me anxious. No return address, just my name and address scrawled in purple ink. How did they know my first name? Everyone here knows me by my middle name, yet here it was, “Philip Barry Evans,” large as life. I tore open the envelope…