…and Stuff

By Mike Ingles


Oklahoma Roughwagon Review

Los Angeles,  December 28th 

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Thank you for your recent submission, but we are afraid the material you have forwarded is not suitable for our publication. We hope that you will not send other stories in the future. Good luck with your writing and good luck placing this story elsewhere.

Michele Bottomfeeder,

Assistant to the Assistant Editor of Short Stories and Stuff.


Dallas, December 31th 

Dear Michele,

I am sorry my story, “The Bravest Insect” did not meet your high literary standards. In the past three months I have sent you four stories that I felt held a strong message, and would be a benefit to your magazine. Will you take just a few minutes of your valuable time and explain what it is you felt needed punched-up so the story would meet your standards.

Thank you,

Brothel Hemmingway,



Los Angeles, January 3rd

Happy New Year! 

Dear Mr. Hemmingway,

It was not so much the poor writing that made us discount your work; it was the poor story line. We at the OKRR have set certain standards when it comes to content in our magazine. A story about a giant, man-eating insect that communicates with the President of The United States telepathically and who after eating several people including the Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and then explodes into several hundred thousands of tiny insects, foreshadowing civilization’s doom, is not our idea of a story for our publication. We are a very conservative magazine and publish only the truth: that America is the land of the free and the home brave and is never wrong. Please read our banner, “Might Makes Right”.

Yours Righteously,



Dallas, Jan. 3rd 

Dear Michele, (by the way  - why only one ‘l’?)

I have come to the conclusion that you have missed the focal point of my story, “The Bravest Insect”. I noted that your title “Assistant to the Assistant of Stories and Stuff”, implied that the “Assistant to Stories and Stuff” had probably never read my story. Will you do me a huge favor and give a copy of my story to him or her, as it were, they may find more merit in the story than you apparently have.”

Kindest personal regards,



Los Angeles, Jan. 10th 

“Dear Mr. Hemmingway,

Michele has shared with me the e-mails that you have been corresponding. Let me say up front that I share her view that your stories are poorly structured and of little merit. I hope you will soon invest in a dictionary and a thesaurus. You spelling and grammar are preposterous. For your information the plural of goose is not gooses, but geese. I would suggest you try other magazines that share your enthusiasm for gothic renditions and science fiction hocus-pocus. We look to fiction that is well centered and glorifies all that America is.”

Yours in Right Reading,

Justice Conformity,

Assistant to the Editor, Short Stories and Stuff.


Dallas, Jan. 13th 

Dear Justice,

Thanks for the tip on geese. As to why I choose not to use a dictionary, I read somewhere that Chaucer often misspelled, as well as James Joyce. However they both had editors who cared more about the story than the spelling. My mission is to convey the weighty messages my stories reveal. After all, the national spelling bee champ is but thirteen tears old, surely you have someone on staff that can make these modest corrections. As to content, I hope that you will review the stories I have sent you. They are full of secret meanings and stuff. Take the story “The Angel Who Nibbled Caciocavallo Podolico.” Yes, it is quite extraordinary that an angel could take the form of a mouse and live in the White House and give geopolitical advice to the President. But, consider that our President is not exactly a heavyweight when it comes to international matters. Someone must start advising him and soon! It is certainly not going to be Colin Powell, and like a pissed off teenager he won’t listen to his father. Rumsfeld is too busy playing with his Generals and planning the next attack on a Muslim country to be of much help. And Chaney is busy with Haliburton trying to get congress to allow them to cut down Wayne National Forest so they can build pine caskets. Who better than a mouse knows what it is like to always be smaller than the other guys are, whether in stature or intellect. Besides, they can take care of themselves and they can sneak by the Secret Police with no trouble. I note that you are the Assistant to Short Stories and Stuff. Tell me, would you chance giving my material to the real editor? My prose is obviously over your head and needs to be gleaned by someone who can appreciate the subtle allegories and stuff.

Brothel Hemmingway



Los Angles, January 20th

Dear Mr. Hemmingway,

I have reviewed your stories and e-mails and hereby demand that you cease and desist any correspondence to OKRR. The very idea that a man of your low morals and anti-American values would propose that our god-fearing magazine give credence to stories about bugs and rodents and stuff is preposterous. You should be tied to a wagon wheel and beaten. The very thought of you and I living on the same soil sickens me. This is America and no place for your far-flung leftist ideas and hidden sexual innuendoes. You are the reason women like me keep our doors bolted and a 12 gauge slid under our beds.


Harriet Horneier, Editor.


Dallas, January 23rd

Dear Harriet,

I hope you will find that in time my prose grows on you. I must say that I have never been so dressed–down (so to speak) by an editor. I am still a little flushed just reading the emotions that poured out from your letter. I feel ashamed and beaten and deserve any punishment that a strong willed woman of your caliber might administer. I sit here naked to the soul awaiting a positive response from you.  

Brothel Hemingway,



Los Angeles, January 26th

Dear Broth,

Like most men you cannot take no for an answer. I tell you that your stories are not a tight fit for me. We honor America and all things pure and decent. Men like you should be chained and whipped with a leather strap, like the one I have in my suitcase. I suppose there is some merit in even the dingiest of stories and perhaps, if given the time to explore your existentialism, I may be able to help even a louse like you get something through our Assistant to the Assistant of Short Stories and Stuff. But I would never promise publication at OKRR. I am leaving town for a trip to Dallas and if you are in the area, you may want to call me at 555-1212 to discuss this and other personal matters and stuff.





Dallas, February 3rd

Michele Bottomfeader,

Assistant to the Assistant to the Editor of Short Stories and Stuff.  

Dear Michele, enclosed is my latest work entitled, “A Bug in the Works.” It is an allegorical tale about a grasshopper that takes human form and becomes managing editor of a large newspaper. The grasshopper spits oil and the U.S. government tries to mate him with as many females as they can.  Kind of a Kafka meets Ben Bradlee. I was told that I should mention the secret password ‘Leatherspice’ and expect a response within a few days.

Yours in Literature,

Brothel Hemmingway,



Los Angles, February 6th

Dear Broth,

We were all amazed at the beauty and pure American essence we found in “A Bug in the Works” and would love to publish it in the upcoming March issue of OKRR. There is only one change we propose. Would you kindly change mouses to mice?

Yours in good reading for the Homeland,


Assistant to the Assistant to the Editor of Short Stories and Stuff

© Mike Ingles