The Cliché Machine

Posted: January 1, 2011 in Short Stories

The Cliché Machine


My face constructs what I judge to be the correct expression for the moment. Even my body language seems to be spot-on with arms outstretched, enraptured. But I can feel my eyes have a certain unmistakeable deadness in them. Knowing this I pitch my voice to just over grateful.

‘Aw, just what I wanted for Xmas, a cliché machine. A device for washed-up screenplay writers to keep churning the butter. Perfect.’

I take it out of the gaudy crinoline wrapping and see the ‘TRY ME’ button in the bottom left. Feeling like a depressed Alice in Wonderland  I further depress the button and watch as the internal cogs whir. Behind the moulded plastic facade unseen machinery punches dot matrix tape and pukes it out of a faux typewriter wheel,  creating fortune cookie soundbites:

‘Alcoholic cop hunts down the liquor store owner who killed his family.’

‘Society Girl gets mugged going to a club on the bad side of town. Boy from the wrong-side of the tracks saves her and the star-crossed lovers fight a losing battle with the world.’

‘Vietnam vet teacher is plagued by facial similarities between his bamboo cage POW captor and a new student arrived in his class.’

‘Struggling writer goes on naked rampage…’

The ideas keep whizzing out of the machine like a failed Talkshow host on meth.

I get up to fix a drink.

Happy Christmas.


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