Good Advice by Michael Grant Smith

The solution is realized in five steps, but for brevity’s sake we’ll skip ahead to Number Five: collect the ransom and leave your hostage blindfolded on an abandoned logging road in southwestern Oregon. Keeping a low profile and not spending too much cash all at once — those don’t qualify for inclusion as Number Six. They’re implied. Let me know how everything works out! I’m glad you asked your question, thanks for calling!

There are mornings I can’t get out of bed to do my talk show. I pull the pillow from between my knees and tell myself, three more minutes, three more minutes, until my bladder becomes feisty and I have to get up to pee. I work twenty hours a day serving my corporate overlords and unfucking the disasters visited upon bewildered victims. Anxiety fills my stomach with turpentine and broken glass. Important and impotent sound almost identical but I assure you they’re quite different.

So, your dog — your best friend and constant companion — has the ability to speak to you? Or rather, he used to talk and now refuses to do so? His making number two in your shoe is inappropriate behavior. Clearly, he’s acting out. Did you change the brand of food he eats or punish him by withholding a favorite toy? Perhaps you’ve married someone? Present each of those examples, one at a time, to your pooch. He’ll point out what offended him and then you can take appropriate action. Don’t forget, nobody loves you the way a dog does. Hey, I enjoyed our conversation today!

The broadcast studio smells like me even when I’m not there. No matter how many hours I spend at the console, I can’t keep up. My listeners call in because they want answers. Some individuals are paralyzed with shame or despair, others put up walls I break down, and all of them end up blubbering. They never blame themselves for life’s problems. You know what? It probably IS someone else’s fault. Lots of losers out there, am I right? I’m here to tell you: we must ignore the mediocrity of others and succeed on our own merits, whether real or imagined.

I don’t think your obstacle is a lack of capital, it’s unfamiliarity with basic science. For example, you propose to use rabbits or guinea pigs in order to research the viability of your self-propelled floating lounge chair invention. Throwing animals and electric motors into swimming pools is a bad idea, and your results will be both unhelpful and cruel. You need much larger test subjects, small critters can’t handle the electricity. Voltage doesn’t kill, amperage does. Anyway, explore some “Discreet Encounters” classified ads and see if folks want to volunteer. Thanks, and good luck!

My ex-wives meet monthly at the neighborhood bowling alley. Those five gals and their new beaus always exceed the minimum food and drink requirement that secures the private room. In the arcade area my kids blow hundreds of dollars of child support money; checks I write due to my decency and a dread of criminal prosecution. I’m too busy to stop by “accidentally” and roll a few balls — I’d rather stalk a hot shower than members of my former family. My progeny sued for and won emancipation from my custody, and I had to send my cat over the Rainbow Bridge because he mauled me whenever I dozed off. I’ve learned I prefer to help strangers instead of someone with whom I’m acquainted…any subsequent disappointment is transient since I’m already thinking about the next question.

If it were my turn to be interviewed, I’d confess I’m happiest when I’m unhappy. So much order there, a system. Discontent is fuel and are we not machines made of flesh and dreams? My tank might run dry and I hope I’ll be able to push myself across the finish line when the time comes. I’d accomplish everything I desire if I could self-replicate, like a human amoeba, but I’m unsure how to be two people if I can barely manage the one I am. Thanks for having me on your show today.

Michael Grant Smith wears sleeveless T-shirts, weather permitting. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Airgonaut, Ghost Parachute, The Cabinet of Heed, Ellipsis Zine, Spelk, Bending Genres, MoonPark Review, and elsewhere. Michael resides in Ohio. He has traveled to Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Cincinnati.