July Writing Challenge: Day 14: Three Suits and a Joke

Howdy all. Welcome back. Today I found a fun little exercise I had never heard of before and decided to give it a whirl. It was called “Three Suits and a Joke”, and the basic premise is….exactly what it sounds like. There are three people wearing suits, telling a joke. You describe the people, visually at least, based only on their suits and how they react to the joke. I kind of took it a step further and let each suit tell it’s own joke. I didn’t really try for much beyond the scope of the exercise today, but I still had fun writing it.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy.

Three Suits and Their Jokes
By E W Morrow
Word Count: 770

You open the door and slip inside. Even though it’s night outside it takes your eyes a few seconds to adjust to the gloom. This isn’t the kind of bar that hangs up neon signs or puts the game on the tube. It’s a hole in the wall that people crawl into when they want to get drunk. But tonight the place is packed, or at least as packed as this place can get, and it takes you a moment to catch the bartender’s eye and signal the usual. Then you slink off to an empty booth and settle in to watch the festivities.

There’s three suits sitting at the bar. It sounds like the start of a joke, but from what you can tell you already missed the start of this joke, and a whole lot more before.

“….and so the bartender, he…” the first suit says, gesturing with his high ball full of whiskey and laughing before the joke is finished. “…he says…Hey, c’mon Sal, help me out here. You gotta know this one.” He gestures to the bartender with a ragged sleeve. The colors on the thick wool are faded and the fabric hangs loose. Definitely second hand. Maybe third or fourth. You wonder if it belonged to a father, or maybe a brother, but decide that genetics can’t account for that much deviation. The suit doesn’t seem to mind though. What it lacks in filler it makes up in volume. He laughs again as Sal ignores him.

“Okay, fine,” the faded suit says. “So….where was I? Oh, right. So the bartender says ‘Hey buddy, why the long face?’!” Laughter thunders from the depths of the faded suit. The other suit’s grin and chuckle politely. “Okay, you’re turn.”

The second suit holds up a finger. It’s a big finger. The martini glass in his other hand is dwarfed as he takes a delicate sip and you wonder how he manages it without breaking it but he does. This suit is tight and crisp, all straight lines and hard edges, which is an impressive feet on such a large frame. The fabric glistens as the suit moves to put his drink back on the bar.

“Okay,” the shiny suit rumbles. “I gots one.” There are several seconds of silence as the suit sits and contemplates. Then, “Back during the Cold War, the Gov’ment made a computer, right? Real smart. And this general, he goes up to it and he says, ‘Will the United States or Russia win the Cold War.” Kay? And so, the computer says….no, wait…yeah, the computer says ‘Yes!’.” There is another long pause. “And so the general, he says, ‘Yes what?’. Right? And, so, the computer, it says to the general ‘Yes sir!’.”

Another pause. Fabric glistens as the suit expands, sleeves outstretched, shoulders shrugging as it looks to see if the other suits will laugh.

“Oh!” cries the faded suit. He roars and slaps the bar several times. “Good one!” By now he’s almost out of his stool.

The shiny suit bobs up and down with proud chuckles of his own. “Yes sir!” he says again, this time throwing in a mock salute. The faded suit roars anew. Several minutes pass and your drink finally comes. The suits all get a refills of their own as the laughter dies down.

“Okay, come on,” says the faded suit doggedly, “it’s your turn, and no more passes. Give us a real good one.”

The last suit is the grimmest of the group. Dark and unremarkable. In fact, if the other suits hadn’t been there, you almost wouldn’t have noticed him at all. It’s not too big, not to small. It isn’t quite black, just a charcoal gray with a dark shirt. You have no trouble believing it’s the kind of suit someone would buy to not be noticed in. He looks at the other suits and sighs. With one hand he takes a sip of beer and with the other he pulls out a cell phone. It’s a small phone. An old one. Easy to carry in the pocket of an unremarkable suit. He flips it open and presses a few buttons.

“What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy?” he reads solemnly. The other suits shrug. “I don’t know, and I don’t care.” He flicks the phone closed as punctuation.

The faded suit looks at the shiny suit, and the shiny suit looks back. Something passes between them and they groan loudly. The faded suit starts to thunder, and the shiny suit giggles deeply. You shake your head and turn your attention back to your drink.

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