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January 25, 2017

Short in Stature Man by Mark Lee | Flash Fiction | #thesideshow

A grayed, county lobby received a man, short-in-stature. The short-in-stature man shuffled past an endless line, half-heartedly trying to greet those lined in by barrier straps. Indignant faces would soften at the sight of his frail gait. Eventually, the short-in-stature man made it to the reception desk and stepped in front of the next in line presenting himself to the civil servant. The short-in-stature Regional Administrative Officer’s lips parted in a practiced smile that upon seeing the civil servant quickly gave way to one meek and apologetic. His gaping mouth unveiled an abbreviated line of large teeth. They were yellow, with spots of gold, complementing the circus yellow of the banner draped diagonally across his chest.
His mouth opened and the mouth waited for words from the short-in-stature man. When his words surfaced, they warbled and hummed, syllables leaving his lips before the next syllable arrived. Punctuated by sudden guffaws that burst from a hollow cavity in his chest, words shuffled out more demonstration than conversation.
The Assistant to the Officer of the Grand Administrative District’s Licensing Division rushed forward with a warm smile to receive the short-in-stature Regional Administrative Officer. Listening with her eyes, she politely hid her confusion. Nodding with gratitude, she completed his dependent clauses and pieced together his phrases. Her name was Lynne Kim.

I dream of writing. Writing words about my life, my gone life and my to come life. Writing words about my broken childhood gone and abusive relationships to come. I dream of writing about how I write and all the writing I will do.
I dream of turning into a writer. A writer signing my books at a book signing event. Asking a fan her name, I would sign it with flair, with style, with gratitude. A grateful writer I would be. If I had the time.
When I received the grant from the Regional Administrative District’s newly created The Domestic Artist Financial Support Program for the Beautification of Great Korea, I had the time. My stipend allowed me to sit in cafes with my Regional Administrative District subsidized Moleskine notebook and my Regional Administrative District subsidized Parker Premier Ballpoint Pen Deluxe Black and order hand drip Kenya AA with my subsidized coffee card and think about writing.
The grant gave me time for inspiration. When it came, I wrote lots of words. Word after word, many, many words. Writing was free.
Often inspiration did not come. Then I called friends and spoke words about writing words. I talked about becoming a writer and how close I was if I could just get a little inspiration. Do you have any interesting ideas? What do you guys like to read? Like a good writer would do, I asked for feedback. But they were no good, useless friends.
Sitting in my office at the Grand Administrative District’s Licensing Division, I feel like I lost something. When the Regional Administrative Officer came to me and asked me to be the Head Figure Representative for The Domestic Artist Financial Support Program for the Beautification of Great Korea, I welcomed the opportunity to represent the writing community.
But there were no book signings, I was still working on my first novel. There were no book fairs. No writing contests, no journals. Ko Un didn’t make an appearance.
There was a lot of paperwork. Filling out Form 5233a, 9237 and 792d, in that sequence, then presenting them to the Officer of the Grand Administrative District’s Licensing Division, at which point the Officer would rub the bald of his head and toss the forms back to me scolding me for using improper, inappropriate words. After consulting the Regional Administrative District Legal Dictionary for the right words, I would present them once more, at which point the Officer would sign them, and I would wait for the Regional Administrative Officer’s monthly visit. Thirteen more months and the funds for the Grand Library for the Celebration of Domestic Artists would be granted and I could go back to my dreaming of writing words.

The three of us walked side by side, separated by just enough distance to show that it was the two of them, and me. Holding hands, they laughed and giggled. Even their speech slurred together. One of them was short-in-stature and clutched a thin, worn briefcase, and a papery plastic shopping bag printed with a red rooster. The short-in-stature man kept crowing about his find. How well it carried his paperwork. At home, he would store it alongside his other plastic bags.
They rounded the corner, recounting the events of the past two years. The short-in-stature man patted the bald of his partner’s head, congratulating him for a job well done. It had been no mean feat to convince the National Assembly to sign off on the new library. Domestic Artist what was it? Great idea, that’s what!
When they spotted the drinking tent, they shuffled rapidly to the only free table. I waited beside the entrance, in the shadow cast by the door. The red rooster popped out his head and followed the man down the alley and into the bathroom. The man turned on the light. I turned it off.

About the Author:
Mark Lee is a South Korean writer who grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and made a living in San Francisco. He has published a variety of chapbooks and short pieces here and there.