Can I Help You?

Paddy McGuinn. Drawing by Harvey Dog

The other day there was a knock on my door.

“Hello, can I help you?” I inquired of the little man with big ears and bad breath.

“I really don’t appreciate what you are doing to me?”

After this very curious statement, the man walked away and left me wondering what had caused him to be so upset. I shrugged and went back to the typewriter.

Knock knock.

I opened the door and saw the same little man standing there. “Can I help you?”, I inquired with a bit of an edge to my voice.

“I know what you’re leading up to and I really must protest.” He turned to leave, but I grabbed his collar and demanded: “What are you talking about?” He shook his collar free and looked at me with a most disturbing smirk. “You know very well what I’m talking about.” He left quickly and vanished down the street.

I scratched my arm and head, shrugged, and went back to the typer.

A little later, inevitably, there was another knock on my door. I rushed to the door with bated breath, ready to conclude this sordid affair. Of course, it was the little man with big ears and sour breath.

“What the hell do you want with me?” I shouted at him.

He sneered at me with surprising toughness – like from an old black & white movie. “You know very well why I’m here. Don’t play dumb with me.”

“I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about or why you’re bothering me.”

“Oh, you don’t know why I’m bothering you,” he replied rather sarcastically.

“No. I really don’t. You must be gravely mistaken.”

“Oh, I’m not mistaken, in fact, I would say you were the one who was mistaken. Maybe one mistake too many. Don’t you recognize me?”

“Well, no, not really…well, this will sound silly, but you remind me of a character from one of my stories.” I laughed hoping he would join me. Rather, he snorted, at least I think it was a snort. I tried to close the door, but he put his foot in to block the door’s closure.

“Listen. Do you want money? I’ll give you whatever I have. Anything. The stereo, the TV, whatever, just please leave me alone.”

“You talk like a writer.”

“Well, I do write in fact. What does that have to do with anything?”

“It has everything to do with it. I’m Paddy McGuinn.”

Paddy McGuinn! That’s the main character in the story I’m writing. Paddy’s a killing torturing son of a bitch!!

“I’m afraid it’s over for you. I want and demand my freedom, and you know the only way I can attain this freedom.” I couldn’t tell if he was asking a question or being rhetorical.

I shrugged. “I can only guess.” I knew.

A sigh…a blast…his freedom attained…my demise complete…I’m in the land of fiction…fiction, reality? Is there a difference?


I wrote a few short stories during my 20’s, and about 100 pages for a (very) incomplete novel. I still plan on revisiting this era in Novel #2 (if I live long enough).

This is one of the (very) short stories. I think it’s alright.

Written: late 1980’s

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