Short fiction from Paul Beckman


Mirsky turned fifty-five on his first ever business trip and now was pulling into his garage at home. Expecting a warm and loving reception from his wife Elaine he became instantly depressed when he noticed her car was missing from the garage.

Mirsky had the non-enviable ability to become instantly depressed for almost any reason, good or bad.

He pulled his suitcase from the trunk and it dawned on him—a surprise birthday party was awaiting him. Of course, he thought. How could I have been so dumb?

He smoothed his hair, straightened his jacket and practiced surprise faces for when he opened the door. Mirsky mind-counted twenty-three couples and a few singles that Elaine just had to invite to his party. He was excited as he turned the door knob to enter the kitchen.

The silence was deafening. He flicked on the kitchen light and saw a note on the counter.

Went to the movies, see you soon. LE.”

Dejected, he lugged his bag into the bedroom and saw there were candles set around the room, a bottle of champagne sitting in ice and another note. “Make yourself comfortable, birthday boy—see you after the movie. Oh, yeah. Turn on the VCR. LE.”

Mirsky showered, opened the champagne and poured himself a glass, got into bed in his altogether and turned on the TV and VCR.

One by one his friends wished him a happy birthday and then as a group they sang Happy Birthday. They were in his house having a party.

The TV flickered and the party was gone and he watched a close-up of Helen, the woman he met on his business trip. Then he watched them drinking at the bar and then having dinner and finally them making out on the way to his room.

Mirsky heard Elaine’s car pull into the garage and he grabbed the remote, turned the TV off and pulled the covers over his head thinking, “But it’s my birthday”.