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by Marina Rubin

He stood on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland, a young man of thirty or thirty-five, in this town already middle-aged. He had a train of earrings in his eyebrows, nostrils and lips, a bushy beard, a shaved head and a rusted chain around his neck that could have come from a fighting dog, or someone's bicycle. A Gothic hobo. He was holding a large cardboard sign, Shitty Advice $1.

“Give it to me," I said.

“Pay up first," he grunted.

“Come on, I just landed, I don't have any local currency.”

“Where did you come from?” he asked.

“New York.”

“That's still in America and they pay with dollars, too.”

“Oh shucks,” I hissed, fumbling through my bag, “here is a quarter for you and another quarter, two dimes, one nickel, oh a marble. Will that work?”

“Keep looking,” he commanded.

I fished out a handful of pennies and trickled them into his palm.

“Alright,starlet, what do you want to know? Will you be famous, will you be rich, is there an Oscar in your future?” he recited like Simon Says.

“Just because I arrived in LA doesn’t make me some actress-wanna-be. I am a writer.”

“Same shit,” he chuckled rubbing clumpy sunscreen on his face that looked like homemade oatmeal. “What’s your question?”

“Oh, you know,” I stared dreamily into the distance. “This love thing…what the hell?”


The way he said love, rolling the ‘l’ and prolonging the ‘o’ like a yawn, made it seem like I asked about some mystical, out-of-this-world occurrence, Jupiter descending upon us, traveling at a speed of a million miles per second, a giant plate looming over the horizon then splashing into some kid's aquarium, as diminutive and smooth as a glass marble.

“Love, pfff.”

"Yes love. Should I look for it?” I asked. “Make it my God when I find it and carry it around like a flag, or should I give it up completely, like sugar?”

"Hmm," he tapped his forehead with his fingers as if he was playing the piano.

“Well?” I held my breath.

“Run away with me…and become my street wife.”

“What? That's terrible advice.”

He shrugged his shoulders and pointed to his sign Shitty Advice $1, a proud vendor on the street of stars and handprints, a businessman who always stands by the quality of his product.