3 A. M. MAGAZINE welcomes the submission of short-shorts of less than 200 words.

by Michael Petrie

One spring morning, while cleaning out the attic, Mrs. Wiggins discovered her husband's inflatable sheep.

The box was printed in some foreign language (Mrs. Wiggins suspected it was Swedish) but there was a drawing of a sheep with a silly grin on its face on the side of the box so there was little doubt in her mind. She wondered how long he had had it. Then she wondered what it would look like inflated.

Mr. Wiggins was still at the office, so she used the footpump from the garage, and once she had found the right nozzle to fit it she pumped it up with no trouble at all. The plastic squeaked under her fingers as she picked it up and looked into its face. The smile was unconvincing. There was an orifice at the other end which looked too tight to be comfortable. She poked three fingers into it and the plastic yielded and stretched. She imagined her husband standing behind the sheep, gripping its flanks, his bony hips and thin hairy buttocks pumping away. Now she knew how he'd been spending his time while she was at the Whist Club. "And him a man in his fifties, too," she said to herself.

Before he got back from the office, she had let the air out of the sheep, packed it back into its box and replaced it in the attic. Then she went down into the kitchen to start preparing her husband's evening meal.

By the time Mr. Wiggins parked his car on the drive and walked in the front door, the meal was almost burnt. "You're late, dear," said Mrs. Wiggins as she helped him out of his coat.

"Sorry, Agnes," he said. "I got a puncture on the way home and had to change the wheel."

"Never mind, dear. I've fixed your favourite for dinner tonight; you got back just in time."

"Lamb chops?" he asked, and smacked his lips.

Half an hour later, Mr. Wiggins pushed his plate away and leaned back in his chair. "That was delicious, Agnes," he said, patting his stomach.

Mrs. Wiggins picked up the plate and took it to the sink. As she passed him, Mr. Wiggins reached out and put his hand on her waist.

"Why don't you leave the washing-up till later, dear?" he said. "Your home cooking has made me frisky. Do you want to go upstairs for half an hour?"

Mrs. Wiggins put the plate in the sink.

"Baaa," she said.

Michael Petrie was born in Edinburgh (Scotland) in 1965. He now lives in Milton Keynes ("one of the most boring places on Earth") where he is co-writing the script of a low-budget film entitled Sprawl. Michael is also completing a PhD thesis on theoretical nuclear physics : he often asserts that he has no future plans to hold the world to nuclear ransom. His penless name is Michael Russell, but (as they say) names have been changed to protect the innocent.

by Guillaume Destot

Not so dignified in her greyish tutu, leaning against a pillar of the cathedral, she yelled at a passer-by. He stopped. As he took in her grimy dishevelled catlike head, he recognised in her glazed eyeballs the signature of cheap booze hurriedly gulped down, and disastrous amateur ballets, where the dancers trod on the Prima Ballerina's toes. "New York, New York," she croaked, grinning in a haze. He walked on.

Guillaume Destot , 24, is a member of the neo-hydropathe group. He teaches English at the Sorbonne in Paris and spends far too much time in record shops instead of working on his thesis. "I feel guilty" is his motto. Guillaume is in charge of the Are & Be section here at 3 a.m. Magazine .

by Chris Fields

How can animals tell the difference between one another for purposes of finding the right dog to have pups with? We humans, at least to my eyes anyway, look very different. We have different hair and skin colour, different facial and eye shapes, a variety of hair styles from big to none, we all have different heights and muscle tones, and we all dress differently unless we are a pope. We're attracted to all these differences that make us unique. Attraction, sex, marriage, relationships - it's all based on the differences.

So my question is how the hell does a Chihuahua pick out another Chihuahua to pursue, or are they more indiscriminate in their selection process? If a butt sniff is a measure of the attraction and relationship process, where the heck is that species headed in the greater scheme of things?

Just imagine for a moment if humans were like dogs, and we pursued our partners, our relationships, and our soul mates based on a dog's courtship process. Say I'm a Chihuahua. I meet another one down the block one day while I'm hanging out at my favourite fire hydrant lifting my leg and letting loose with my graffiti scent just to let others know I'm around and that I'm very big yes indeedy. I see a fine lookin' 12", bug-eyed, ground scrapin' brown lovely lass that looks exactly like me saunter nearer to the hydrant to check me out. Our beady little eyes meet, our noses run a little more in anticipation of the moment when we disturb the sexually tense air around our little excited, vibrating bodies. My tail wags a little and I leer with my eyes for a moment then look away. Her tail wags a little as she responds with movement towards me. The glorious moment we've both been waiting for arrives as our bodies collide in the heat of the moment. She licks my face, and I smell her bum. We know we are going to be together forever. If only human relationships were so easy.

Chris Fields is an oxymoron - a bureaucrat with a sense of humour. He's over-educated (two degrees), and an urban planner and economic developer by training and profession. However, in the dark of the night, when all the birds are silent, he's busy writing odd observations in an even-numbered world. Other pastimes include photography (he gets the head in the pictures now). .

by Andrew Gallix

It's a well-known fact that the human body is 61% water. Just as well seeing as dehydration is already beckoning. By my reckoning, the bloke in front of me weighs approximately seventy kilos which means that forty-six kilos of perfectly good water are swashing inside him like nobody's business. Gallons of the stuff. 'DRINK ME,' he's beckoning by my reckoning.

I have a sudden urge to pinch his conk thus forcing him to open his gob thus enabling me to pop a few tea bags down the hatch. To see how he fares as a brewer, like. Might even be able to throw in an egg or two for good measure. Certainly looks the hard-boiled City type : H.P. debts, squash, the odd wank over a picture of Posh Spice or David Beckham, a little light gardening. The usual activities of a cultured gentleman in the middle of the road of his life.

Coaxing him into putting hand on hip and pretending he's a pinstriped teapot may prove a little tricky though, even if there's a youthful, amniotic fluidity about him. Between you and me, I suspect he's one of those whom the gods love, this geyser geezer, because he seems to be growing younger with every springy step he takes. In which case it must be Beckham. He's Beckhaming by my reckoning. All the same, I doubt very much whether he would cross the line between ludic and ludicrous, not willingly at least, and certainly not in public. Besides, persuading strangers, albeit perfect ones, to help me lift him up and pour him out would pose insuperable problems. Shame really, when you think of it, he's the ideal short-and-stout shape, plus it would be a giggle. I mean, you gotta laugh : it's a funny old world, innit.

I walk on, Best Drink of the Day still in front of me. I have not quite ruled out the idea of going up to him and going "One lump or two?" as a gallant last stand or just for the sheer hell of it. I walk on chewing on the matter. Having chewed on the matter thoroughly until the matter has lost all flavour and no longer really matters at all, I walk on. I spit it out and walk on, Scuppered Cuppa still in front of me. With hope in my heart, I walk on.

I stop, stoop, do up my shoelaces. From this vantage point, I can still see Stunted Stunt stirring his pinstriped stumps. All I can see are these two piston-engined stumps working away like anything as if he was working out on a treadmill. With work on his mind, he careers past the dry cleaner's and disappears round the corner, a slip of a man slipping away. I imagine him being swallowed up into the bowels of the city and spewed up the other end.

Mind the gap.

Stand clear of the doors, please.

Abandon all hope ye who enter here.

Might as well do a stint of overtime crouching, methinks. I pretend to do up my done-up shoelaces eyes cast skirtwards all the while. There will be sunny spells, heavy at times, blares a car radio. I get up feeling thoroughly refreshed. A butterfly flutters by. You gotta smile : it's a sunny old world, innit. I walk on.

Andrew Gallix is Assistant Editor at 3 a.m. Magazine .

by Guillaume Destot

We covered our chests in ashes
And danced like bloodthirsty baboons
Grotesque dark dances bristling with laughter,
To the tune of our tears and panting.
We carved grandiose silly words in the subdued humming
Of Indignant Civilisation
Like children who carve their dreams
Onto sticky mash food.
We could not and would not,
Under whatever pretext,
Justify ourselves.

But objections crept up
To colonise our territories.
It was so easy;
We kept our frontiers so carelessly,
Such poor administrators of
Our nonsense were we,
And so liberally did we
Waste our breath our health our days,
And all those things you can't store up
For bitter winters (they stab you with ice stalactites.)
Dusk came only too soon and
Had colours it used not to have.
We were stupefied.

by Jane Tieman

Walking into a McDonald's I stroll up to the cashier and order a large water, a grilled chicken Caesar salad, and a yogurt. The cashier hands me my meal with a big smile on her face, says "thank you," and hands me my Spork.

Aaaahhhhh. The Spork. What a useful invention. This eating utensil can stab into lettuce dripping in dressing and scoop up every last melting drop of a vanilla yogurt with chocolate chips and hot, melty butterscotch syrup on it. Those fine fast-food diners can eat with ease by being able to chow down on grilled chicken salads and dive into ice cream without having to separately take time to unwrap a fork for a salad while the chicken is cooling and then a spoon for an ice cream while it is melting into oblivion.

Not only is a Spork faster than a fork and spoon, the Spork is saving plastic. Instead of making millions of plastic forks and spoons, millions of plastic wrappers to cover the forks and spoons separately, and millions of napkins to go with the forks and spoons separately, save nature and use a Spork. The Spork is much easier to recycle with its plastic wrap and paper napkin than to have to throw out the fork, wrapper, and napkin and then the spoon, wrapper, and napkin. "If one is not a part of the solution, then they are part of the problem," (anon.) so save nature and use a Spork.

The Smithsonian is the perfect place for the original Spork to be located because of the utility offered by this unique implement. General McArthur's invention (invented with help from the U.S. army) belongs right next to the sticky note and paperweight. Just imagine children and adults walking through the museum aweing at the brilliance of the Spork. Think of tourists from Europe and Asia passing by and snapping pictures with their cheap, Wal-Mart brand throwaway cameras of the exhibit of the Spork, which is so lovingly propped up on a silver platter once used by Martha Washington. Imagine what the first day would be like, with newspaper and television reporters and their cameramen flashing pictures worthy of Life Magazine's Picture of the Week and trying to get their story in print and on film first. What a day it would be!

Sporks are the coolest invention. It has two-in-one qualities (fork and spoon) and is more environmentally conscious with its aforementioned two-in-one qualities. Yep. The Spork definitely belongs in the Smithsonian.

Jane Tieman is 16. She plays viola and piano and wants to get a PhD in music performance. Her favourite composer is Mussorgsky. She loves Tarot cards, coffee (which she drinks with a spork, of course) and travelling (Ireland, France, Switzerland, Germany this summer).

by Andrew Gallix

The Gallic garçon was loitering without intent in the doorway. He eventually poodled my way at a snail's pace, taking a long drag on his Gauloise. 'You're the waiter, right?' He nodded sheepishly. 'Well, you're wrong there, mate. I'm the waiter : I've been waiting for Godot knows how long now blah blah blah.'



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