as·sim·i·late (əˈsiməˌlāt), v.t. [ASSIMILATED (-id), ASSIMILATING], [<L. assimilatus, pp. of assimilare < ad-, to + similare, to make similar to < similes, like],  1. to take up and make part of itself or oneself; absorb and incorporate; digest: as, the body assimilates food.  2. to incorporate or liken.  3. to make life or alike; cause to resemble (with to): as, assimilate the final sound of a prefix to the initial sound of a word.  v.i.  1. to become like or alike.  2. to become absorbed and incorporated: as, minority groups often assimilate  by intermarriage.

For our first week of flash fiction february, the dictionary project  features a flash fiction piece by writer Timothy C. Dyke. Enjoy!



After the Spooging

How much latitude are you going to give me? How specific do you need me to get when it comes to describing the mechanics of the fantastical elements? This is a surreal adventure. How completely must I convince you of the viability of this story’s reality? A part of Tennessee Williams comes to me as spiritual entity.

At one point this was going to be a nostalgia narrative about A Streetcar Named Desire. I’m 51 years old, and thirteen of my crucial lifetime experiences have involved A Streetcar Named Desire. Quick example: Two days before he beat me up in the basement of New England boarding school, Jamie Chesterson told our AP English teacher that Blanche Dubois was a slut.

Consider that I have been intending to write an A Streetcar Named Desire narrative for a couple of decades now. Do you believe in the collective unconscious? Can you imagine other writers who have been inspired by A Streetcar Named Desire? We all have heard this expression: “I just want to put this out there.”  So imagine that enough people put their Tennessee Williams intentions “out there.” Where exactly would that be? I’m just going to go ahead and say that The Figurative Penis of Tennessee Williams stays, for the time being, in my hard-drive.

Please don’t think I am trying to be off-putting. This could really happen. A collective intention to create a story inspired by Tennessee Williams manifests as some certain kind of writing energy. In the National Hockey League, when a team wins the championship, each member of that team gets to spend personal, one-on-one time with the Stanley Cup. The trophy itself goes on the road right after the playoffs. A guy in Alberta might drive the ceremonial vessel around for a day in the back of his Durango. I think the Stanley Cup has its own personal assistant. Imagine that this is also how it works for the part of Tennessee Williams that manifests as a certain kind of writing energy. Imagine that those who have earned the energy, share the energy.

I really wanted to acquire the figurative heart or the figurative brain of Tennessee Williams, just for a day, but I got his penis. I saw it in my hard-drive. At first I thought it was this thing I downloaded at night, but this obscene and virtual entity was witty, and it wore a hat. The Figurative Penis of Tennessee Williams spooged all over some documents on my desktop. I had been working on a story about a baseball player who loses his ability to see other men naked without weeping. The Figurative Penis of Tennessee Williams loved this story. Literally. After the spooging, the story rebirthed itself as something darker. The baseball player marries his psychologist who sends him to Mexico for an exotic series of therapies. The baseball player falls in love with a donkey cart driver who loves him back. The two men have sex on top of a bed of scorpions. They die. The jilted psychologist drinks bourbon, masturbates, and then drives off a cliff. My story is so much better now.

The Figurative Penis of Tennessee Williams wants to know what happens outside my hard drive in the world I call “real life.” I tell him not much. He doesn’t seem to believe me.  The Figurative Penis of Tennessee Williams asks me to write a story about The Figurative Penis of Tennessee Williams. He commands me to write the scene where he escapes my hard drive and goes rogue. I finish the narrative: “After the Spooging.”

The Figurative Penis of Tennessee Williams hitches a ride with some graduate students to New Orleans for Jazz Fest. He ditches the grad students to cruise the French Quarter, then the Garden District, Elysian Fields. The Figurative Penis of Tennessee Williams has not been to New Orleans for such a long time. Things have changed after all these years. The Figurative Penis of Tennessee Williams feels like an outsider, a stranger in a strange land. It takes him forever to find a good cigarillo. Eventually he discovers communities to probe. He introduces himself as Dick from Tennessee. He manages to assimilate.


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Timothy C. Dyke has published fiction in Santa Monica Review in 2008 and 2011. He was chosen as a semi-finalist for the Sentence Book Award for his manuscript of prose poems, Only Stories About Skin in 2011. His story “No Look Back” appears in Don’t Look Now: “Hawaiian Legends Made New,” a 2011 anthology, published by Watermark Books of Honolulu. A text/image collaboration with Noah Saterstrom, “Mound and Minds are Bumps,” will appear in The Spirit of Black Mountain College, a book project published by Lorimer Press in 2012. He has work forthcoming in Drunken Boat and Kugelmass. He currently lives in Tucson where he is writing a novel and pursuing an MFA degree in fiction writing at the University of Arizona.

1 Comment

Filed under flash fiction february

One response to “as·sim·i·late

  1. Martha

    Hi Tim, I always enjoy your writing. Enjoy Tucson – is Mt. Lemon still nice or all turistifiado?
    Be well!

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