AUGAN ISMIC • by Douglas Pugh

The director cursed under his breath for the fourth time.

“Goddamnit! He’s shaking again.” He turned to his assistant. “Does our star have a problem that I don’t know about? Is he taking something?”

“Not that I know of, seems a straight-talking, straight-shooting guy, I don’t think he’s into drugs or anything.”

“CUT! Okay, get his ass up here, there’s something wrong that needs sorting out, and I’m getting it sorted right here, right now!”

The actor appeared shortly later, wrapped in a silk dressing gown, face lined with stress and bags under his eyes.

“What the hell is going on, Augan? You were shaking like a goddam leaf. That’s the fourteenth take this morning, I’ve had enough!’

“Sorry, Tony, it’s the weed, I’m trying to quit.”


“No, cigarettes. I’m trying to cultivate a more clean-cut image: Augan the organic.”

Tony thought briefly about the Viagra that was diluted into Augan’s drink supply, the plastic surgery and bionics that the studio had invested in to keep Augan at the top of the porn trade.

“You’re a jackass, Augan — do you really think people who watch porn are really into things organic?”

“Well, there was that scene with the carrots…”

“For God’s sake, Augan, just have a smoke, will you, then let’s get it done.”

“Okay, boss.”



“With all the women, the fame and fortune and everything, why did you start smoking in the first place?”

“Stops me masturbating, boss.”

Douglas Pugh lives in Northern Ontario with a logical wife and an insane menagerie. He likes to believe that he fills the gap in the middle. Bleeding words onto a page help with his delusion. When he’s not writing, he’s probably painting or out riding his bike. He writes poetry, short stories and has two thriller novels for which he’s looking for an agent. During 2009 he has been published in The Smoking Poet, Leaf Garden Press, Every Day Poets, Mnemosyne Journal and Short Story Library. He hopes to one day publish at least one book of his words.

Rate this story:
 average 2 stars • 1 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Bob

    That’s one flaccid punch line. One star, well-deserved.

  • C.M. Mar

    Don’t get the title, but the story made me laugh. 🙂

  • C.M. Mar

    So I thought about this story some more, and here’s my advice on the writing, for what it’s worth. Anything that doesn’t add to the punch line should be cut. For in instance: the fact that the star has had plastic surgery and such doesn’t add to the joke. If you wanted to keep the Viagra in the story, you could have the director ask Augan, ‘What’s the matter, Auganie? Too much Viagra?”
    Any useless character, such as the assistant, should be cut. The director and the star can talk directly to each other.
    A more interesting character to add might be Augan’s co-star and her reaction. Also, I thought it might be funny if the star accidentally put on the girl’s robe instead of his own when the director called, ‘Cut.’ Something pink, frilly, and with feathers.
    But I do like the part about a porn star who’s more worried about his lungs than body fluids.

  • Cute, interesting premise. But a little weak to be five-star material.

  • J.C. Towler

    Another old joke attempting to pass as a story. The joke is better.


  • I agree with Bob (#1) and John (#5).

  • Roberta SchulbergGoro

    I think EDF and EDP, both extraordinarily excellent media of learning and presentation at all levels, are being bombarded by people who are searching for a way of putting it out of business.

  • Jen

    I agree with J.C, an old joke and nothing more.

  • Roberta SchulbergGoro –

    I don’t understand what you mean when you say EDF is “being bombarded by people who are searching for a way of putting it out of business.” Are you talking about the stories or the comments?

    They get a lot of stories, I’m sure far more than they need to keep going, and they select according to editorial taste. I disagree with their taste on a number of stories (especially when they reject mine 🙂 ) but they seem to be able to publish a variety of material … and just about everything, some like and some don’t. That’s the way it should be.

    Once in a while the comments get a little out of hand, but on the whole most are reasonable … again based on some liking a particular story and others disliking it.

    So where is this “bombardment”? I just don’t see it.

    (P.S. Although I read EDF every day, I DON’T read EDP and so am not commenting on it.)

  • fishlovesca

    I mean, is this the best EDF can do? Sad …

  • Margie


    This story should not have ever made it on here! There are young minors as well you know, and it makes me furious that your slush readers have so little respect for that fact as to pass this crap through. Tighten up your belt or you are going to get a reputation you don’t want to have in this field. I know that your Mama raised you better tha that! ;(

  • I am sorely flummoxed. If my math is accurate, they receive an average of six stories per day, which means five out of six hit the cutting room floor. So for every thirty they keep, they are throwing away one hundred and fifty.

    That must be some crappy hundred and fifty.

    I haven’t found one redeeming quality to this story other than it seems to be punctuated correctly.

  • Alvin

    Well, all righty then. As writing goes; 3/5. As storytelling goes 2/5. As jokes go; 1/5. On the plus side, the coffee’s pretty good this morning.

  • Robins Fury

    Not a great read for me. Surprised this piece made to the EDF site. I wonder what qualities they saw in it?

  • 5 thumbs up for this piece.
    What a hoot.
    5 *****

  • laura

    well i got a chuckle from the story.
    what i laughed at more was the complaints about what is good and not good fiction and what should and shouldn’t be published on the EDF web site. i didn’t realize that commenting on EDF policy constituted constructive critism for the author.

  • laura

    whoops! were the complaints.

  • laura

    ahhh, criticism.

  • As long as EDF stays on page one on Google under the key words “flash fiction” the editorial staff has nothing to worry about. My little blog is stuck on page three. But I have to admit, I would not have published this story.

  • fishlovesca

    Yeah, I think the problem is that this site appears to be trying to be both. In my opinion, the two should not be combined.

    Either this is a site where work is worthy of publishing, and once published, open for review, that is, criticism and praise.

    Or this is a site where half-baked writing gets posted so others can thoroughly crit the work and see it through further drafts.

    As it stands, the stories often get neither the respect they deserve or the work they may need.

    As for minors reading this, I doubt it. And I really don’t like to see literature censored, particulary when there is a lot worse you can read at the click of a mouse. Let’s not get too excited here.

  • As I have heard it said…

    Bad press is better than no press.

  • I have to agree with fishlovesca (#20) when it comes to not getting worked up over this.

    I’ve said before that, even if I don’t personally care for a story, I can usually understand its broader appeal and why the editors at EDF accepted it for publication. That’s not the case with this particular story, but I’m still completed disinterested in trying to second-guess the editors’ selection process. It’s their site; it’s their choice.

  • Mary B.

    Ditto for Debi (22) and fishlovesca (20). Thought this story was a lame joke, but I’ll still read the story in my inbox tomorrow.

  • J.C. Towler

    Amen to Mary B, Debi and fishlovesca. What the editors choose to print is their purview. In the Forums, they have commented that they do read the comments from readers and use them to help guide what stories they choose. It’s free. Free to read, free to comment on and free to ignore. If you don’t care for the stories, by all means make your case. If you really don’t care for them, EDF is sometimes looking for slush readers. Take a more direct hand in what gets through to the editors.


  • Anne Marie

    Not the best I’ve read, BUT I did read it through to the end… which means there was a bit of a hook in the story. Made me smile which is always a good thing.

  • I thought the first two lines were among the best openings on EDF for a long time. So many s. stories start with a curt, dramatic first sentence. Nice to see a different approach to the opening, and it works well. Shame about the rest of it.

  • fishlovesca

    Gotta say, when I first read this story, I held back on my comments, because I wanted to hear what the men thought. And it is gratifying to me that they did not care for this story as a story.

  • Roberta SchulbergGoro

    I don’t like censorship either, but on some internets there is a pledge to avoid pornography and they cut off connection with providers of fare even less close to it than this story is.
    The danger to the magazine and to the writer could have been avoided with something like “I smoke marijuana because it helps me imagine I can get down to the purtle carpet where the dames really are.” (Purples also dislike censorship, so don’t blame them.)

  • WLC

    The only crime I see here is that of reviews, hiding behind incognito and unknown skill levels themselves, allowed to skewer the work EDF publishers liked enough to print.

    As far as adult content, if one has a problem with such, speak to the publisher.

    Fiction at this word count limit is just what it is, and this piece meets flash criteria with its beginning/middle/end, complication, characterization and dialogue that moves the storyline forward. I was compelled to read to the finish and the unexpected reveal of the mc’s profession pulled a smile. The punch line, a chuckle.

    I felt the fun spirit in which I believe the author intended.