vic fortezza
3 min readSep 12, 2023

Here’s a Twilight-Zone-type story I recently banged out. It’s a few minutes read:
Upon waking, as he had each morning for months, Peter Fina suffered disappointment. The bloating had not been dispelled by flatulence as he slept. He was a medical mystery. All the tests had turned up nothing. His weight remained the same, 170. One doctor suggested a shrink.
Can it be all in your head? he thought, flabbergasted. It didn’t seem possible. He imagined himself a balloon ready to pop. He’d stopped dating, fearful his system would suddenly unlock. How would he live that down?
As he prepared his liquid breakfast, he fought the temptation to turn on the TV or radio. He hadn’t had solid food in weeks, which probably explained the headaches. He’d stopped taking vitamins, as they exacerbated his discomfort.
He caved, pointing the remote control at the large screen Sony. The doom and gloom was immediate: storms, wildfires, political rancor, murder, overdoses, theft, illegal border crossing, etc.. How he hated it, although not as much as not knowing what was happening around America and the world. Besides, much of it was so damn fascinating.
Sipping a smoothie, he sat at his computer. Stories about horrific crimes against children, some pepetrated even by parents, had him thinking WTF?!
He fled to Facebook. To his relief, there weren’t many political rants on his feed. A former co-worker had posted “Live and Let Live.” Peter denied the urge to type: “Tell them that!” He’d trained himself not to get into arguments on social media, to scroll past the most partisan views. He hated having stuff shoved down his throat and wondered if it were the cause of his bloat. He didn’t care what consenting adults did in private, but he didn’t understand why it required his approval.
Another thing that rankled was the new terms constantly being introduced, a steady, overwhelming diet threatening to make his head explode: cisgender, gender-fluid, non-binary, transgender, ghosting, migrants, BLM, ESG — Environmental Social Governance; DEI — Diversity Equity Inclusion; NIL — Name Image Likeness; EV; climate change; global warming; el nino; la ninaa fangoul already! And the misuse of pronouns was enough to drive him (them) batty. A retired community college English teacher, it seemed to negate his entire career.
Suddenly a rumbling began in his gut. At first he was hopeful. Soon he was alarmed, as the vibration moved throughout his being, even his brain.
Feeling the quaking, neighbors opened apartment doors and peered along the hall. The explosion rocked the building. Blood seeped under the door of B-12 and onto the tiled floor.
Cops entered the flat from the fire escape, a window opened fully to the pleasant autumn day. No one had ever seen the likes of it. Human remains were splattered everywhere, the walls of the living room a kind of abstract art. CSI was unable to find a cause. Some dubbed it spontaneous combustion, although there was no fire.

Certain to rankle environmental zealots, headline from “Boeing’s execs refuse to relocate, instead taking private jets to work: report.” What a world.

Photo from of a Tokyo side street. No significance, I just like it:

Nice return for the floating book shop on this gorgeous day. My thanks to the gentleman who bought the massive The Keto Diet: The Complete Guide to a High-Fat Diet by Leanne Vogel, and to the woman who purchased two books in Russian; and to my Constant Benefactress, who selected Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts; and to the Frenchman, who chose Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut and Digging for the Truth, non-fiction on Archaeology by Josh Bernstein; and to Herbie, who took home 7th Avenue by Norman Bogner. Special thanks to the young woman who took a chance on my Close to the Edge, which is now sold out. There was a long gap between personal sales.

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vic fortezza

I was born in Brooklyn in 1950 to Sicilian immigrants. I’ve had more than 50 short stories published world wide. I have 13 books in print.