Fiction Week: The Ernie Bedlam Stories | Bleader

Fiction Week: The Ernie Bedlam Stories


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Editor's note: Craig Champlin submitted a number of shorts for our annual Pure Fiction issue, writing "Pick any of them. What I’d really like is to run 'The Ernie Bedlam Stories' weekly. I have a lot of them and people seem to really like them." We'll run five of the Ernie stories here on the Bleader this week. Here's the fifth and final one.


Ernie felt like the Jack Nicholson character in the movie The Shining. The empty pages of his composition book mocked him. He needed inspiration. He had a deadline to meet.

He reread Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski. This left him thirsty and lusting for pasty blonde bar floozies. He reread Catcher in the Rye, which inspired him to search furiously through his closet for his old hunting hat. He reread Hamlet. This merely couched him in deep melancholy and provoked bad thoughts about his deceased mother.

He reread Gone With the Wind, which frankly left him not giving a damn about even writing the great American novel. He reread Helter Skelter and ended up humming endless Beatle songs and carving crucifixes on the foreheads of his daughter’s Barbie dolls.

He reread Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea which inspired him to gorge himself on fish-and-chips and go to the video store and rent Jaws I and Jaws II. He reread Moby Dick. This convinced him, “Why look for the whale, when the whale is his own reflection in the mirror?” He reread Crime and Punishment. This led Ernie to walk aimlessly around the apartment with a broomstick draped across his shoulders, wearing only a loincloth.

He reread Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and spent the entire day trying to screw in a lightbulb. He reread Vincent Van Gogh’s biography, Lust for Life, which prompted him to cut off the ears of his daughter’s Beanie Babies and play outside with an Etch-a-Sketch in a driving snowstorm.

He reread Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine and got violently ill after drinking an entire bottle of cooking sherry. He read Shirley MacLaine’s biography, which left him convinced he’d authored Beowulf in a past life. Exhausted, he pretended to read James Joyce’s Ulysses, and passed out on the couch in a stream of unconsciousness. 

PS, I didn’t underline the book titles because my typing skills suck and my wife doesn’t like me a whole lot today. English majors please forgive me.
PPS The wife has now fixed the problem. Still not sure I like him much today. —LC

Click here to read the rest of "The Ernie Bedlam Stories."

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