Old timers might go on and on about how great modern day fountain pens are, but all the young guys agree: the vintage fountain pen is the sleekest, smoothest, sexiest writing instrument around.  Face it, a girl loves a guy who's interested in vintage fountain pens.  She can't resist.  She knows she'll never posses him, just as he will never possess a complete collection of all styles and sizes of Parker Vacumatics, or Eversharp Skylines.  But she also knows that if she's with a pen man, she's in for a smooth, comfortable ride.

Here are four very extremely short stories that are so audacious, so extreme, so smooth, they had to have been written with a fountain pen.  A vintage fountain pen. 

 

FOOTBALL
by Andrew Lin


The trio of three Cree warriors brought their canoe out into the wide current that tumbled through the valley. Their lone passenger, a Frenchman named Napoleon Football, looked with dire apprehension at the surging waters below and then ahead where the river seemed to come to a halt far short of where the natural horizon should be.

“We see the waterfall,” said the oldest Cree, reading the look in Napoleon’s eyes. Then he turned forward, dipped his oar in the water and drove the canoe ever faster towards almost certain destruction.

“But—“ said the Frenchman before he was silenced by the old chief. “Do your people lack nerve as well and understanding?” he said, not even turning around this time. “Have patience, and perhaps both will come to you.”

The current alone now carried the men forward. Only the occasional precise and coordinated flicks of their oars were necessary to keep then on the desired path. The edge of the waterfall and the air beyond sped towards them at an alarming rate. Napoleon slouched low in his seat and gripped the sides of the slim vessel in terror. The other men betrayed nothing but a steadfast calm. The rollicking waves, even as they threatened to spill over into the simple vessel, were time and time again thwarted by their deft maneuverings.

A curtain of water fell across Napoleon, drenching him to the skin and shocking him out of his horrified paralysis. “This is madness!” he shouted, but the roar of the rapids dwarfed his voice. He opened his mouth to shout again, but the words choked off in his throat, the old chief had turned around again. He stared at Napoleon, his eyes hard and shocking stark amidst the turmoil surrounding them. He brought his fist up as if to strike Napoleon, who cowered before him, squeezing shut his eyes and turning his face to take the blow.

“I pity the women of France.” Said the Cree, hardly raising his voice to be heard. “Open your eyes and see what men can do.”

Napoleon obeyed the order and the old chief turned back to his crew. They were almost to the edge of the great shelf of cartwheeling water. The river was lost behind them in the thickening mist. “Now!” shouted the chief with all of his voice and as on the three Cree rose to their knees and attacked the water with great sweeping strokes that sent the oars reeling above their heads between each mighty push. The canoe leapt forward.

A series of whooping war cries rose up from the men. Napoleon, his fear left behind in their wake, found himself joining in. “Ah yi yi yi yi yi!” he cried as the water disappeared below. They soared through rushing air, their cries echoing through the canyon long after the canoe and its occupants had smashed to pieces on the jagged rocks beneath the falls.

 

JOURNEY TO THE KING’S ISLAND
by Shek Baker


The gold Oldsmobile sped along the blacktop of King's Island Drive, Doug gripping the gold steering wheel and humming tunelessly while Mallory fiddled with the gold air vent near the side mirror. They'd been on the road since breakfast. Mallory had eaten an Egg McMuffin sandwich; Doug had wolfed down two, with a side of hash browns, and now seemed agitated and aloof.

Mallory felt fine, but for the regret of not ordering a second McMuffin. His stomach growled gently, and he reached out one gleaming gold hand and flipped on the radio, which emitted an unpleasant detuned country music station. Doug and Mallory winced at the sound, for gold men are seldom patient with trivial imperfections.

 

THE DUEL
by Chris Messick


The Fourth Earl of Esterbrook had his opponent, the treacherous Marquis de Scarswood backed up against the cold castle wall. With a deft maneuver, he flipped the Marquis’s rapier from his hand, and humiliated him with the most devastating bon mot ever uttered by anyone ever, either before or since. He savored the look of complete and utter defeat on the Marquis’s face then drove the point of his own sword home. He had foiled the plot against the king, saved the princess, and restored his own family’s fortune.

But for the rest of his life, he could never remember that one amazing thing he’d said to Scarswood right before he did him in. He didn’t know why he couldn’t remember. Maybe it was the adrenaline. Whatever the reason, it ate at him. He seemed always on the point of remembering, but he never could.

He didn't tell anyone about the lost quip, because he decided that claiming he’d said something grand that he couldn’t remember sounded suspicious. Better to just keep silent. He took the secret of the missing witticism to his grave.

Centuries later someone made a blockbuster film of the story of Scarswood’s plot. Esterbrook, having merged with the infinite, was aware of the project, and watched its progress with some interest from beyond the grave. He was (in spirit form, of course) at the film’s gala opening night.

Overall, the picture was good if a little maudlin at times. The actor who played Esterbrook was actually much more handsome then he had been, and he was duly flattered. The film worked its way to the climactic duel. Imagine Esterbrook’s surprise when the actor playing him uttered the exact phrase he had himself used, the one that had been missing all those years. After centuries, the question that had haunted him was finally answered; ironically as he himself haunted a movie theater.

The Ghost of the Fourth Earl of Esterbrook had to admit he was a little disappointed in the line, however. “Get the point, Scarswood?” had seemed much more clever at the time.

 

SAM
by Stephen Levinson


An elephant bleated as the cabin boy dropped a tepid bowl of oatmeal at Sam's feet. "We don't get many humans in the cargo hold," he said before scurrying back to the relative luxury of his own cramped cabin. The ship lunged to the side worryingly while Sam debated whether or not it was worth sending his meal down for a brief visit to his digestive track.

After following every rumor, after bargaining in every backwards souk, this animal-filled cargo hold at the bottom of this rusty boat was absolutely the cheapest way back across the Atlantic and to the little theater in Miami that Sam could find. And Sam was broker than broke.

"Try to learn something new every day," his mother had told him. Today he had learned what elephant shit smelled like, the same thing he'd learned every day for the past two weeks. Sam pulled a flyer out of his pocket. "Sam and The Amazing Robert." He'd worked with some lunatics in his time. However much he questioned this Robert's amazingness, Sam was a pro. Or at least he used to be, and could be again. Once in Athens he'd once been handed a script an hour before curtain rose, in a language he hardly spoke, and deftly squeezed out a standing ovation. A gig was a gig, and Sam was a pro. Whatever the script turned out to be.

Sam closed his eyes and pictured an empty theater in the middle of a desert. No water in sight. No stomach-twisting waves. He braced his gut for the meal he was about to receive, opened his eyes and... it was gone. Whipping his head around, Sam saw the last of his oatmeal disappear into the mouth of the caged elephant behind him. Disappear until sometime later tonight, when it would stink up his dreams.

Like a rooster signaling the morning sun, the elephant bleated. Only it wasn't morning. It was 3 AM, and Sam's only respite from sea sickness was being robbed from him, once again, by this horrible beast.

"Shut up!" screamed Sam.

"He doesn't like the water." Sam was startled to see the cabin boy had entered the hold. "We're docking soon. You need a ride into town? Five dollars."

"No, I'm being picked up by my producer," Sam said, waiving his tattered flyer in the cabin boys face, in a vain attempt to retain some of the dignity that had slipped away during the past two weeks.

Epilogue

The producer did meet him at the dock, as promised. He grabbed Sam's pale white hand and pumped it up and down furiously. "Couldn't be more happy to finally meet you, boy. You get your land legs back in time for the show tonight!" Laughing a hearty laugh, he turned to the massive, farting, bleating elephant. "And I see you've already gotten to know our new Amazing Robert."