TITLE: Girlfriend Face-Off

My brother Tom had been stringing along his girlfriend of five years, Hannah, and fresh-faced interloper Heather, for too long — and it was all about to catch up with him.

My mother received a call from Heather one day: Had Tom arranged, she wondered, to have someone pick him up from the airport that afternoon? My mom didn’t know, but figured he had it covered. Heather decided to head out to BWI, just to be sure. Can you guess, reader, whether Tom had it covered?

The next call my mom got was a tearful one. After driving two hours, Heather arrived at the gate to find that Tom had indeed arranged a ride home, with Hannah. “What are you doing here?” Hannah spat at Tom’s new “friend.” Heather shakily told my mom that Hannah had suggested both women wait there to surprise my brother, who was innocently approaching not C9, but Hell’s Gate, if you will.

Heather opted not to “put him through that,” and left Hannah to administer the blows while she drove another two hours to drop off my brother’s cellphone, which he had left at her place. She asked my mom to make sure Tom got the phone, and worried that he would be “mad” at her for showing up at the airport unbidden.

EVALUATION: Fans of my brother’s love life will relish this tale of suspense and heartbreak. My mother does an admirable job of conveying the salient dialogue (“He’s my boyfriend, so back off!”) and the perspective of both girlfriends — especially Heather, whose defeated behavior imbues the story with an extra dose of pathos. Missing, however, is a satisfying epilogue. Being limited to Heather’s POV, my mom was unable to relay any details from the scene of my brother’s arrival. And this particular episode does not deliver the explosive conclusion we have all waited for: Hannah did not leave my brother stranded at the airport, or break up with him on the spot; and Heather did not damage any of my brother’s property or give up the ghost and bow out of competition. Their lack of imagination leaves us at loose ends, and prolongs a plot that should have been much, much shorter.

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TITLE: Bozo’s Curse
NARRATOR: my coworker Kate

My coworker Kate was attending a theatrical sound industry function and met a couple who seemed to have jaw deformations and odd speaking voices. She asked another partygoer what was wrong with the pair, and was told: ’Oh, those two? About 10 years ago they were doing voiceover work and had rented space in a building owned by Bozo the Clown. When they defaulted on some payments, Bozo had his son shoot them in the mouth, so they could never work again."

EVALUATION: Now. The authenticity of this story is shaky at best, but it has the makings of a classic urban legend. It provides a revenge of sorts for Bozo, who was humiliated by a snarky kid in another urban legend. Plus, a clown story with gangster/noir overtones is long overdue. But too many questions are left unanswered: What exactly do the victims sound like now? What was the son-of-Bozo’s verbal signature before avenging his father? What voiceovers had the couple done? More color needs to be added before this story can enter the venerable violent-clown-anecdote canon.

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TITLE: Amazing Courtroom Story: The Sequel

Audiences who couldn’t forget Amazing Courtroom Story will thrill at the latest installment, consisting of a brief e-mail update from Pete.

It seems that seeing a criminal jump to his death from a New York City courtroom was just the start of Pete’s panorama of mayhem. He subsequently witnessed two more suicides, bringing the total for the year to three. He offered this macabre relief of Death #2:

“Human bones sound a lot like tree branches when they’re bouncing around underneath a speeding Amtrak Metroliner. Did you know they don’t even clean the trains before pulling into the next station? Ours was covered with blood, I was told, when we arrived in Philadelphia.”

EVALUATION: Oh, the gruesome horror. But Pete is resting on his laurels a bit: Like many sequels, this one resorts to gratuitous violence and skimps on the surrounding plot that made his first story so memorable. There is no mention of the third death — he had, remember, claimed to have seen two more suicides — which makes one wonder whether Pete will try to milk this franchise yet again. He says he is working on a song about the suicides, but then the Dust Brothers said they were writing a score for Fight Club, and look what happened. This trilogy deserves better.

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All friends, family and coworkers of Christina Nunez are invited to offer their stories and anecdotes for later review. McSweeney’s will do its best to verify the facts of each story, but the storytellers will nevertheless be asked to sign a waiver indemnifying the magazine against any and all claims resulting from the telling of the tale.