He met her at a party. She was so outstanding, many guys were chasing after her; while he was so normal, nobody paid attention to him. At the end of the party, he invited her to have coffee with him. She was surprised, but being polite, she promised.

 They sat in a nice coffee shop. He was too nervous to say anything. She felt uncomfortable. She thought, “Please let me go home.” Suddenly, he asked the waiter “Would you please give me some salt? I’d like to put it in my coffee.”

Everybody stared at him…so strange! His face turned red but, still, he put the salt in his coffee and drank it. She asked him curiously “Why do you have this habit?” He replied, “When I was a little boy, I was living near the sea. I like playing in the sea. I could feel the taste of the sea, just like the taste of the salty coffee. Now, every time I have the salty coffee, I always think of my childhood, think of my hometown. I miss my hometown so much, I miss my parents who are still living there.” While saying that, tears filled his eyes. She was deeply touched.

That’s his true feeling from the bottom of his heart. A man who can tell out his homesickness, he must be a man who loves home, cares about home, has responsibility of home. Then she also started to speak, spoke about her far away hometown, her childhood, her family. That was a really nice talk; also, a beautiful beginning of their story.

They continued to date. She found that actually he was a man who met all her demands; he had tolerance, was kind-hearted, warm, careful, He was such a good person, but she almost missed him! Thanks to his salty coffee!


Then the story was just like every beautiful love story…the princess married the prince, then they were living the happy life….

And, every time she made coffee for him, she put some salt in the coffee, as she knew that’s the way he liked it. After forty years, he passed away. He left her a letter which said, “My dearest, please forgive me, forgive my whole life lie. This was the only lie I said to you–the salty coffee. Remember the first time we dated? I was so nervous at that time, actually, I wanted some sugar, but I said salt and it was hard for me to change, so I just went ahead. I never thought that could be the start of our communication!

I tried to tell you the truth many times in my life, but I was too afraid to do that as I have promised not to lie to you for anything. Now I’m dying. I am afraid of nothing, so I can tell you the truth:  I don’t like the salty coffee. What a strange bad taste, but I have had the salty coffee for my whole life! Since I knew you, I never feel sorry for anything I do for you. Having you with me is my biggest happiness for my whole life. If I can live for a second time, still want to know you and have you for my whole life, even though I have to drink the salty coffee again.” Her tears made the letter totally wet.

One day, someone asked her, “What’s the taste of salty coffee?” “It’s sweet,” she replied.

[Kiran Kumar Roy is a freelance writer. His touching, salty coffee story first appeared in INTERESTING STORIES.]




[James Merritt lives in Maryland. He is a teacher, actor and writer of short fiction. His writing can be seen in “Interesting Stories” and a collection has been published by CreateSpace and can be seen at Amazon.com. We are delighted to have introduced James Merritt to a worldwide audience. This collection is a look at death from the macabre perspective.]


James Merritt



Eyes, eyes everywhere watching me. Even as I sleep. No where safe from their prying sight; as long as I am stuck in this meat. The long dead missing me, waiting for my sleep, when once more I will join the eyes that pierce, and shriek.

Eyes in the fields watching me; where most only see ears of corn, fields of eyes from their graves, in my truck, draining me, making me feel weak. Eyes in my head, they call hallucinations, green, brown, blue, and sometimes red. Eyes of the dead watching me. Perhaps they are only in my head.



Fred was a mutt born in a litter of twelve. He was brown and had no remarkable features, except for a single white spot in the shape of Texas on his rump. Born in a shelter, he did not know true human kindness. At the age of six weeks he was adopted by George’s parents.

George and Fred were born at the exact same time, on the exact same day. From the time George’s parents brought Fred home they were inseparable. George had Asperger’s and no discerning marks, except a birthmark matching Fred’s on his butt. Due to George’s social handicap his mom home-schooled him. Fred was George’s one friend, companion. They spent every second together. Fred even followed George in the bathroom and sat perplexed at the human’s daily baths and the strange seat he sat on and marked his territory.

On their eleventh birthday Fred ran off after a bitch. Her owner had treats! Fred loved treats and though he loved George, he did not comprehend the fact that running away would be so permanent.

George longed for Fred…crying constantly and inconsolable for weeks. He stopped eating and his parents took him to doctors, shrinks doing everything they could, but George had simply given up.

One day while George was being pushed in his new wheelchair through the park, looking half-dead, George saw Fred. He saw a future where they could be back together, spending the rest of their lives laughing and playing. So George called to Fred, but Fred refused to come, as he now had a mate, puppies of his own and a new owner with better treats.

George changed that day. He darkened. Out of anger and resentment he swore revenge on every dog owner. He began to eat again, but only foods he disliked. He would live, but he chose to never let himself be happy again. His parents were both relieved and saddened at their only child’s new outlook. Glad that he would survive, but saddened that he never smiled or laughed again.

George grew up to be a dog catcher, sometime snatching dogs from people’s yards–making sure the world felt his pain, and spreading the darkness forth on the world.

On George’s 45th birthday, shriveled and old from despair he decided to end his life. Many believe this would cause him eternal damnation, but instead he found himself in a dog park with Fred. There they are to this day, and forevermore will stay.



The fly found its soul mate from its previous life and buzzed around his head. Landing on the human, sharing his coffee, lightly caressing his hand.

The fly was driving the man nuts! It was buzzing around his head, landing on his coffee cup, and crawling up and down his arm.

The man picked up the bright green tool of death and swatted the fly, not quite killing it with the first blow. Realizing only after the first attack of his loves true form. So he hit it again and again destroying his love in hopes of it coming back in a more pleasant form. Perhaps they could be together in another life. Huzzah! One less fly in the world.



Poor Geoff was such a fool he believed what they taught in school. He worked hard every day and never once played. One step he took in front of the other, something he learned from his father and mother. Always expecting the ground to catch him each step he would take. After twenty years accounting, never missing a day, his boss told him he must take a vacation. So Geoff, always following the rules, went away to Rehobeth Beach to stay for one night and one day. The very first night on a walk down the shore, after the clerk called him a bore, he took a step as people are wont to do, always assuming the earth beneath their feet will catch them. The sand fleas chewed his legs. His 599th step would be his last on that fateful May day. He was swallowed up, right up to his chin. The earth seemed to laugh. The fates knew he could not swim. The waves crashed closer as the tide came in. He didn’t care as he knew he could not win. He didn’t call out or even struggle as there was no way out of his trouble. The first wave hit him and went right up his nose, soaking his face, but not his buried clothes. The second wave hit and he coughed and sputtered.  The ocean was soon above his head and that was the end of gullible Geoff.  

(c) 2017, James Merritt






On the far side of the multiverse, near the living lava balloons and the carrot water bottle world, on the far side of another galaxy on the edge of space with positive matter lies a black and white world quite like our own. The aliens are controlled by the rich. Starvation, disease, and planetary warming is killing off the people of Sparklevania. Within the city lies two separate warring species, the worshipers of GOLD, and the worshipers of PURPLE. They bombard each other with glitter day and night. Drive by glittering, ruining their otherwise black and white world.

In the center of it all lives an earthling who escaped our universe for their’s. Shawn despised glitter so much that he decided to leave the human race completely for the all-male world, but he didn’t expect to be stranded on THIS world. Everyday he awakened, ate, talked to men from both sects on his communication device and then cleaned the sparkles from his surroundings–vacuuming them up so that his black and white plants could thrive.

He lived out his life loving and being loved by many, and having even more lovers. As Shawn aged he fought more and more for peace. He designed great machines to bring more colors to the world, and by the time he died, the rainbow spectrum existed on their world. On his death bed glitter bombs were launched and everyone suffocated from the beautiful sparkles they unleashed.

After this, peace reigned for 300 years before war once again broke out.



Little Jane Sanders is a wonderful witch. She was born with grey hair, marble white skin, and freckles covered her nose. Her eyes split into threes: red, blue, and green. She needed not friends, as the ghosts, spirits and animals would speak to her. At school she would often find herself in trouble when she saved the frogs from being dissected and turned her teacher into a toad for a week to teach him a lesson. Once, she had her ghost friend Seymour possess the gelatin in the lunch room so everyone’s jello danced away from the children’s forks.

Of course being human they all denied and refused to see the magic happening all around them. The other children refused to play on the playground with Little Jane Sanders and her spider pals, who discussed with her the best ways to catch flies. On Sundays when other boys and girls would go to Sunday school, Little Jane Sanders would study her herbs and potions, learning how to heal and help those who mistreated and mistrusted her. many of them would die younger than they should have as they refused to accept her help.

Little Jane’s Guardian was Mr. Guiermo, a most grotesque funeral home director who was secretly a poltergeist with magical powers to hold a corporeal form. He would feed off the grief of the living, making them lose their grief whether they wanted to hold onto it or not.

Guiermo took Little Jane in as an infant when, after her mother’s funeral, she was deserted. Oh, actually, her family brought her to the funeral but forgot her because they wanted to hurry home to watch television. They meant to go back for her but just never did.

Little Jane’s homeroom teacher, Mrs. Bea Elgavitch, was half blind and three-quarters deaf; so when her lights flickered, her desks walked around and the boys and girls hair would stand on end, changing to blue and green. Of course when they went home their parents would never believe their audacious tales. They spanked their children, put them early and hungry to bed, after which they would call Mr. Guiermo to complain. He would feed on their grief and anger and soon they would only have their happy feelings left, forgetting why they had called in the first place.

Little Jane Sanders was a brilliant child, and I cannot wait to share with you more about her. Be wary, though, that you not mistreat or feel ill of her because he or she who mocks a witch, treats them as if they and their magics are fiction, or treats them as a lesser person for their beliefs will be accursed.

Such people have been known to find themselves without a voice to spread their poison!



His mother told him since he was young that he was unlovable. In college he sought therapy and found love for himself. Finishing college, and his dreams, he sought love in a woman’s arms. Sadly, he chose wrongly. He got a step-daughter a wife, and a shitload of debt all in the name of love.

When his step-daughter grew up she got married, took her step-father’s money and treated him like garbage…as did her mother.

Tired of heartache and pain, he sought a companion he could never love…a woman named Juliet who was one of the most ghastly humans alive with a height of 4’10”, a weight of 414 lbs, and an eyebrow that reached across her forehead and around her mouth. He remarried and lived in a cabin with her writing for the rest of his days. Neither loved each other; neither ever felt pain again.

[James Merritt is a companion, raconteur, writer and teacher who lives in Maryland. He has a vivid imagination and is a master at short, short fiction, crafting stories often highlighted with the macabre.  Merritt’s well-received work has appeared several times in our webzine.]




SHORT FICTION by James Merritt

SHORT FICTION by James Merritt

[James Merritt is a master of short fiction.  He is especially talented at weaving a story from almost any subject–from horror to humor.  Following are four stories we think you’ll enjoy–or, at least get a “kick” out of!]


With each balloon that popped, his future died a little more. His dreams of hearing, changing, and expressing the world through music ending with each dart thrown. With the air escaping a million unknown futures falling behind him. Once he was a young child whose mother daily forced him to practice singing, violin, and piano.

When he turned twelve, he found his talents multiplying daily. On the same day his mother discovered heroin.

By fourteen, he simply had to escape the destruction of what was left of his home. He ran off to a carnival and worked, thinking he would only stay until he was old enough to escape as an adult. Working the balloon pop station for four years destroyed his hearing–ending what was the great hope of humanity. He had had the potential to put all other musicians past and present to shame. Potential to save humanity from war through the purest beauty in the universe. Now, humanity would be lost–the world’s destruction due to a balloon pop.



The fly found its soulmate from its previous life and buzzed around his head. Landing on the human, he shared his coffee, lightly caressed his hand.

The fly was driving the man nuts! It was buzzing around his head, landing on his coffee cup, and crawling up and down his arm.

The man picked up the bright green tool of death and swatted the fly, not quite killing it with the first blow–realizing only after the first attack of his loves true form. So, he hit it again and again, destroying his love in hopes of it coming back in a more pleasant form. Perhaps they could be together in another life.

Huzzah! One less fly in the world.



Well below the deepest hidden basement of the forgotten Smithsonian lies a cavern filled with artifacts from distant galaxies–hidden there by those who do not want mankind to know of alien life.

In the darkest corner of the dusty cavern, lit by a single bulb, on a stand sits a pair of beautifully engraved leather shoes. Swirling over the old skin are flowers carved, mixed with maps of the infinite universe. These shoes outshine the most beautiful ever created.

The shoes found their way here after the death of their creator. The majestic shoes were created by an alien named Herschel. Herschel came from a distant world of creatures that look very much like me and you. A major difference is, in his world, each individual spends their life on a singular project–perfecting it to mastery. Herschel had traveled the stars in search of his medium–to create his life’s majesty. He crash landed on a roof in New York City and spent his short lifetime in the same building; although long for his species of five earth years. During this time he only befriended one person–an old Jewish leather worker named Takhash. Takhash taught Herschel his skill.

At the end of Herschel’s life, he presented the shoes to Takhash who discovered, unlike humans, Herschel and his people had hooves instead of feet. As Herschel had only seen people with shoes on, he assumed they were just a strange earth-style. Due to this, his one-of- a-kind shoes insides were made for a hoof. 

The next day, Takhash found Herschel dead outside his door. When he called the police, men in black came and took the body and shoes away. After being studied, the shoes were hidden away from humanity. The glorious work of Hershel’s existence were never against seen by the living, but by spiders and dust mites. When the earth’s end came in the final moments, the spirits of the earth sought out the most beautiful sights. The earth itself paused its shakes and volcanoes for a moment in awe of a pair of beautiful, intricately-designed shoes.



He woke screaming from his nightmare, and realizing it was only a dream, got out of bed. He went to his kitchen–being extra quiet so the monsters did not hear him. The giant flying monster killed his mom, and his father was shot and killed, leaving him alone in the high rise with all of his noisy neighbors. He grabbed a handful of nuts and found a comfortable seat while he chewed his morning dinner.

All of a sudden his house shook, and he knew it was the end when he heard timber as the terrorist monsters toppled the high rise, not even giving warning to evacuate. As he tumbled and fell to the ground, the smash of his home hitting the ground was deafening. Hobbling outside on his broken leg he looked up at the monsters just in time to see the forest descend on the beasts.

The flying monsters attacked their eyes while spiders bit any uncovered skin. He crawled up a leg of the thing and bit it where its legs came together. The thing let out a piercing scream as a bear came in and clawed out its throat. When other forests lost their spirit protectors they became fearful of the two-legged monsters. Not this forest, for the creatures in it were trained to kill. When left alone, they only killed each other for meat, but when a man-beast entered they never left alive. The entire crew of monsters were dead within minutes, their bodies devoured within two days and their metal buried with berry bushes planted on top.

Next time you need a tree, ask its inhabitants first. Make sure to give thirty days notice of eviction; otherwise, your nuts may become chips!

[James Merritt lives in Maryland. He is a teacher, entrepreneur, story-teller and writer. We are pleased to have published several of James’s stories in Columnist with a View, so you can search the Archives for other short-shorts. He has published a small collection which is available on Amazon.com.]



DANCE OF THE PAST (short fiction) by Paul Merritt

DANCE OF THE PAST (short fiction) by Paul Merritt

The man sat in his old truck listening to songs from the Roarin’ Twenties; remembering the days, long ago, when he would put on a suit and go down to the dance hall.

The dance hall was always overwhelming–with fresh flowers, shimmering lights and colorful ribbons and bows. Live bands were playing and servicemen on leave would be dancing with a bevy of beautiful women. He, too, danced with the loveliest women, however, he longed instead to dance with his best friend Jeff. It was a secret he would take to his grave.

Jeff was in the service. Unfortunately, he died in a boating accident shortly after that night both men had visited the dance hall. A pointless accident the fates allowed, to keep the man from his true love. In time, his friend grew old and died, too. Alone. Except for one nurse at the old folks’ home, no one remembered him. And, quickly, he faded from her memory as well.

The fates are fickle, however, and sent the man back to earth once again as a human. He had no memory of his past life; that is, until one evening while sitting in his truck, he heard “Blue Moon” playing on the radio and it all came flooding back into his memory–the good, the bad, and the ugly. Down to the last night–at the dance hall–the ugly wallpaper with a flower painting on the wall. And the smell–a strong scent of urine.

How he longed for Jeff. Now, in his new life, at least he could be himself, openly, and find a man. Maybe a sailor to slow dance with to the music from his past life so long ago. 




What is normal? A body of water untouched by the wind; no waves without or within? A parrot whose feathers are a single shade of grey? A cloudy, overcast day? What is normal? Why can’t it be me? Weird, freak, strange and that is just what friends and family call me. What is normal? A luminescent bulb lit room? A poster of a cat hanging by its claws? Counting brush strokes while looking at a mirror on the wall? “Normal”–a setting on appliances, so simple to be. Why is it so unattainable, because I am wild and free. I strive for normality. I always fall short–like falling in a dream, I open my mouth but cannot scream. What is normal? The rules you all follow? A distant memory; alien to me? Normal a far reaching star of which light I shall never see. So I shall try again tomorrow to simply accept me.

NATURE’S CHILD (short fiction) by Paul Merritt

NATURE’S CHILD (short fiction) by Paul Merritt

Lefty was a scrawny boy with thick, square glasses, green hair and green eyes. In kindergarten he was mocked as his arm hair was also green and he started to appear more plant than boy.


In his free time he would escape out of his yard. His parents put up a fence to keep him in, and the bullies out. Other parents encouraged the bullying by calling him a freak and worse even calling on the town counsel to evict Lefty and his parents from town. By thirteen Lefty got laser eye surgery as his present from his folks so the kids would not pick on him. At 16 he got laser hair removal, but no matter how many treatments he got his hair returned green as ever. He tried dying it only for it to come back deeper green the next day, followed by a week of migraines.

By twenty-two, Lefty was in a premier university studying genetics to solve his problem when he discovered he was not human at all. He had more connection to the mint plant than his parents.


Confused by this news he went to the people who raised him. Turns out he was the child of Mother Earth, a last envoy to human kind to change their ways before she wiped them from her surface. Knowing this, he went to tell the world. No one would listen so he grew angry and one day, after many years, he planted himself by the redwoods of California and sprouted a fungi from his head. The spores killed off humanity and spread Lefty’s children around the world… replacing humanity with walking, talking beautiful plants!