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Friday, May 7, 2021

Story-A-Day: The Ear

Here is my story for 5/5/21. The prompt was to write about something you lost. It recalled for me one of my favorite stories by Nikolai Gogol. He wrote The Nose somewhere near the year 1835 about an official in St. Petersberg whose nose leaves his face to join society by itself. You can buy it HERE

I hope I did him justice in my satire. This is one I may polish and put somewhere else someday. Mine is titled: 

THE EAR by Jerry Harwood


Joe Smith did not realize until he got out of the shower that his ear was gone. He looked around the room, only to find no trace of his left ear. Nor was there blood or any sign of wrongdoing. It was as if his ear had just decided it had enough of living in a cramped, third floor apartment and went for a walk.


On a lark, Joe lifted the blinds and looked at the street below. To his surprise, his ear was there, buying a bagel from the corner market. Joe reached on the counter for his wallet and saw it was missing. The ear had apparently asconded with his ID and money as well.


Joe dressed quickly and placed a toboggan on his head to avoid inquiry. Then he descended the steps. The elevator had been broken since he moved in and the government appointed landlord showed little signs of help. Exiting the building, he approached the corner market and spke with the cashier.


“Sir, did you see an – um – ear come thorugh here?”


“Why, yes indeed, I did. A few minutes ago. Bought a bagel and two packs of Marlboro Reds. Asked for a beer, but I’m not allowed to sell it before noon on a Sunday, you know. Peculiar fellow. Was humming a tune. Didn’t recognize it at first. Then realized I had seen it on a commercial. One of them politician commercials where they show their family and such.”


“Thank you, sir. That is very helpful as that is actually the last thing my ear and I watched yesterday before going to bed.”


“Yes sir, big rally today in town center. I saw it on the news as well.”


Joe thanked the cashier but declined to buyt anything since he had no money. It was a brisk day and threatening to rain. Joe considered going back to his apartment and collect a heavier jacket and gloves. However, he decided his light rainjacket would have to do. He made his way toward the city center.


As he topped the hill to the city, a group of angry protesters waved handwritten posters. As he passed they yelled at him, calling him names such as “killer” and “murderer.” Joe was confused, because he could not remember killing anyone. One gentleman in the crowd was an ear. Excited Joe approached him. “Sir, I do believe you are my ear,” he said.


“Your ear? Why never! That is racist to think I would ever be your ear? Indeed!”

Joe saw the ear’s tone was a darker shade and apologized. “I am deeply sorry my good sir. Honest mistake, I promise. However, have you seen any other ears walk by this day?”


“Why yes, a group of ears just descended the hill not twenty minutes ago. Headed to the rally, I suppose. Listen to that wicked man spout his venom.”


Joe started to ask what man and what he said that was so horrible, but the ear seemed to have no further interest in discussing the issue. Instead he again began chanting that Joe was a murderer. Without any reason to consider, Joe decided his best bet was to continue downward.


At the bottom of the hill a huge crowd had gathered. Joe bumped into another rman.


“Excuse me, sir. I didn’t hear you coming up beside me,” Joe said.


“Oh, perhaps it is my fault, young sir,” said the elderly man. “You see, most peculiar. This morning I awoke and my ear was gone. Had a terrible time getting around. Followed it here.”


“I as well,” Joe stated, glad to have someone in the same predicament.


As he looked around he noticed all the men and women standing on the outskirts of the event were either missing an ear or were, like Joe, wearing some form of head covering over their ears. Joe pressed through the crowd to the center. As he did, he realized he was surrounded less and less by people and more and more by ears.


Most were smoking ciggarrettes and many were raising hip flasks in joy. Joe finally found his own ear.


“Where did you go?”


“Oh, hello Joe. Why here, of course. To hear the man speak.”


“Yes, yes. I know here, but why? Why would you leave me?”


“You just seemed so sound asleep and I hated to wake you. And the melody of his voice was so very soothing. Listen, every word is just pure nectar.”


Joe lifted the tobagan so his remaining ear could better hear. The man on the podium screamed and ranted. He talked of taxes. They were too high for those in front of him and too low for others. There were too many guns and cops but not enough of either. There were people who were hungry and could not get help  but also people who needed to get jobs and take care of their own problems. There needed to be more spending but also less. There needed to be a return to the good old days but also an announcement that those days were racist and evil. He declared that the environment must be saved and that it was already beyond saving. He declared that all lived in the best country of the world even though it was a disgrace and horrible place to be.


Joe’s head began to hurt, but his ear simply waved and cheered. It was as if it was hypnotized to the ranting, guttural screaming of the podium man. Joe tried to persuade his ear with logic, “You know that ears are to be on one’s head, not out running about?”


“Why no, I now have my own voting card. Human oppression has ended. We now are the voting block that decides the future!”


“Well then, could we go elsewhere? Perhaps even hear another speaker? One who has different views, like about ears being independent?”


“Oh no! I have turned my ear deaf to all but this man. He alone is the truth and all others are false media. I must stay true!”


Finally, Joe tried to pull his ear away physically. Two other ears came and declared he was being an oppressive dictator. One screamed, “His ear, his choice! Stop telling him what to do!”


Joe sighed, “But he is MY ear!”


His ear did not respond. Rather it moved up closer to the front where it could cheer for the next occupant of the podium.


Sad, Joe made his way back home, aware that the world would be a bit quieter for him. He met up with the elderly man who had a similar experience. Together they altered course to a small cafĂ© where the drank coffee and watched as ears of others made their way to the man on the podium and his victorious message of triumph. 

  I did Story-A-Day for the first time last year during the pandemic. It was a great distraction while working from home and trying not to go stir crazy. It also, as it turns out, was an excellent tool for learning to write better. I learned how to make writing a part of my everyday life. I learned the value of friends and writing groups (particularly Jim and Calvin who participated with me from my local writing group). And I learned the value of prompts. I came up with a handful of decent stories, but I walked away with great material for my WIP's side characters, plot twists, and insights how to craft a better yarn.

I would encourage you to join us if you are a writer or an aspiring writer. I hope this year to post a story or two on my blog for your perusal. Throw a comment on it if you like where it s going. Remember, the challenge is to crank out a first draft in one day, so sometimes they need a good bit of spit and polish!

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