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tell o'toole o'flaherty is dead
Jeff Fleischer
Jeff Fleischer is a Chicago-based author, journalist and editor. His fiction has appeared in more than sixty publications including the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal, Shenandoah, the Saturday Evening Post, and So It Goes by the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library.

He is also the author of non-fiction books including Votes of Confidence: A Young Person’s Guide to American Elections, Rockin’ the Boat: 50 Iconic Revolutionaries, The Latest Craze: A Short History of Mass Hysterias, and the upcoming A Hot Mess: How the Climate Crisis is Changing Our World (2021).

Visit his website: jefffleischer.com.

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Fiction

Tell O’Toole O’Flaherty is Dead
(A Christmas Story, of Sorts)

written by Jeff Fleischer

In Tell O’Toole O’Flaherty is Dead, David Silver is spending a solitary Christmas Eve in a neighborhood bar after a recent break-up. There, he encounters a cat and a stranger who asks him to deliver a cryptic message to someone he’s never heard of. This is just the first of many odd things he will experience on a night that becomes increasingly surreal.

Just who the cryptic is for and what it means is the mystery revealed in this enigmatic tale in which our protagonist comes under the sway of some old Celtic magic.

Originally published as “The Cat” in East Bay Review.
© 2016 Jeff Fleischer | Recording © 2020 Rivercliff Books & Media. All rights reserved.

“That it was Christmas Eve was largely immaterial to David since he hung out at the same bar nearly every night anyway. The Ceilidh Moon Bar and Grill was just forty paces from his apartment. The kitchen was usually open until four am, and the tater tots reminded him of the ones his mother fried up when he was a kid

“As the jukebox played Shane and Kirsty singing about the boys of the NYPD choir, David Silver donned his coat and scarf and headed out of the Ceilidh Moon in the early minutes of what had become Christmas Day.”

 

“We can no more own a cat than we can own the wind or the rain. A man can own a dog; that’s as easy as owning a table. Or a horse. A man can even own a donkey, though the beast outlives him more often than not. A cat is different. Don’t you agree?”

“Oh, I almost forgot the most curious part,” David said. “They said that I was supposed to tell O’Toole that O’Flaherty was dead. I don’t even know anybody named O’Toole!”

Q&A with Jeff

Tell us about your story...

It begins with a man sitting alone in a bar when he sees a cat seated across from him. It’s just the first of many odd things he will experience that night.

What was the inspiration for this story?

I started writing this story in a late-night diner during the holiday season several years ago, one night when the heat in my old flat wasn’t working well, and I needed somewhere to work. So that probably inspired the mood/vibe a bit. It began with the image of the cat in the bar, and grew from there.

What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?

I don’t think anything on there would be too surprising. Maybe the number of autographed books by people who ran for president or the sheer number of now-vintage children’s books.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Not really; I tend to just like what I like. I have a soft spot for a lot of things from my childhood for nostalgia reasons, but I don’t think of that as guilty.

What's the best thing that's happend to you recently?

Easily the best thing would be getting engaged over the summer. And having lots of time together in quarantine lockdowns confirm that I picked the right partner.

What's the best smell in the world?

This is a very “writer” answer, but really good coffee being brewed.

Who/What makes you laugh?

I laugh a lot. There are certain line readings in sitcoms/standup that I can hear over and over and still laugh at every time.

Tomorrow I absolutely refuse to...

Go outside without a mask on or violate other COVID protocols. We’re in the midst of a pandemic, and it takes only a tiny fraction more effort than nothing to limit the damage.

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Tell O’Toole O’Flaherty is Dead (A Christmas Story, of Sorts)

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