2 Fables by Donald Ryan


Baby Boy is a big fan of the hard-boiled eggs. Me, I’m eating a chef salad—the kind where the pile of piled toppings topple the function of the salad. Might as well.  It’s an All-You-Can-Eat buffet, and I’m sitting behind a fucking salad. I put on too many onions and am getting a headache. Baby Boy is on his second hard-boiled egg. Or is it his third? I lost count watching my husband ruminate steak. He says the streak of fat is man cud chewed in memory of the cow. We opted to lose weight, together, as a team. He chose the meat and sweets diet. Me, you guessed it. Skipping our first weigh-in was him giving up in the guise of a collective decision. Baby Boy swallows his third—or fourth—hard-boiled egg. I demand he eat veggies but don’t notice if he does.  My husband haw-haw-haws over half masticated meat. I started drinking too early—in life, this morning. This is my secret. I share it with coffee or Baby Boy’s orange juice. Vodka’s love is universal. Baby Boy swallows down a hiccup of hard-boiled eggs and scurries towards the bathroom. He doesn’t make it, spewing next to an elderly couple. Who knows how many dates these people have been on, alone in each other’s company. So thin. So frail. So disgusted by Baby Boy’s vile hard-boiled bile. My husband and I will never make it to their age of loving lonesomeness. Shit—they’ll be lucky if I can make it over to muster an apology. Baby Boy can’t swallow his sobs. He screams while being screamed at. My husband is furious. But he has no need to be. I’m the one with the salad. 

Always Look On The Bright Side of Life



The neighbor’s dog kept barking. Barking. Barking. And barking, all while being shushed by the browned leaves. Other than that, the day was silent. The sun was out, being toyed with by the clouds. Silver outlining the sky. It was the type of day that people who were destined to meet, met and people that weren’t, don’t. The world felt right. And the air. The sky. And the Heavens. All felt right. All but the neighbor’s dog was synced for great existences, no matter how mundane. Dano was sitting, flipping channels. He couldn’t sleep. And nothing was on. But even the nothing on television was being interrupted by the neighbor’s dog. Barking. Barking. And barking. He checked his watch, already knowing it was far too early to start getting ready for work. A blonde in a snug, pink dress faked a smile into the camera, complimenting the chef who looked like someone’s (kidnapped) grandmother (whose poor, dear soul was being forced to bake on television) before being flipped to a thin, sweaty young gentleman in an unfitted suit acting far too excited about a local high school’s football team Dano didn’t even know existed. Insomniacs who work the night shifts had to deal with the same crap television as the insomniatic dayshifters. The breeze picked up, harshly hushing the neighbor’s dog, but couldn’t maintain its gumption. A perfect degree of heat radiated off the ground, complimenting the day’s briskness and the essence of uncapturable perfection. An aweness unseen. Dano turned off the television.  His reflection on the dark screen stared at him slouched in the chair. Not liking what he saw, he turned the television back on, which disappointed him further. Mute became a happy medium. Now the thrift store fasionista bouncing through the commercial barked. Barked. And barked. The melody was becoming rhythmically wild. Almost furious. Dano pressed the spot where his eyebrows connect and ran his middle finger up his grainy forehead to his hairline. He yawned. His cell phone sat charging next to him. He’d call out of work. This the third time this month. No bother. Days like today were made for staying in, watching television.       

Every Dog Has Its Day



Donald Ryan writes. Hobart, Back Patio, Silent Auctions, Hello America, elsewhere.

“Never Wednesdays” by Donald Ryan


It was 1994 and he was working
at this restaurant outside Shreveport,
Pearl Jam on the box
and a broken wrist.
It was his day off, a day of rest.
Yet he was standing in the kitchen.
Glove stretched over his fat palm.
He should have said no, I’ve got plans,
and the joints he smoked agreed.
It was the extra pain pill popped said yes.
So he dropped baskets and burnt toast
when walked in


Bright painted fucking joy, fucking hi-yuck
rictus kiddies, here’s a balloon twisted gimmick
as if the free kid for every adult meal didn’t bring
the families in in hordes (it didn’t).
There was Streamers.
In all her fearfulness cheerfulness.
In all her fuckery. 

Just get a drink and don’t look up
Just get a drink and don’t look up
Just get a drink and don’t look fuck.
“How are we today?”  We?
Words of terror from a Chelsea grimace
between cheeks painted rum red.
Just forget the drink and don’t piss self.
“Do we know how Kathy’s doing?”
Kathy had cancer.
Streamers came claiming Kathy.
“Kathy.  Fucking fan-tastic.”

The line dead, wag dragon fired,
the fool kept focus on death’s swinging doors.
Fear held no bound as long as he
was on the safest side.
He went home early, on account of
his hand and all—right—
fucked stasis fakes
bravery in composure.

She chose to paint her face;
The sweet southern belle.
“A dissident is here,” he said.

Never Wednesdays.


Donald Ryan’s words have appeared, or are forthcoming in, Cleaver, Fiction Southeast, Hobart, Soft Cartel, Owl Canyon Press’s hackathon anthology, Short Edition’s international story dispensers, and elsewhere. He’s a full-time part-time librarian in the GA Pines. donaldryanswords.com and/or @dryanswords because, you know…