Tag Archives: Arman Safa

“At Ken’s Expense” – Fiction by Arman Safa

Don Quixote and the Windmills - Salvador Dali, 1945
Don Quixote and the Windmills – Salvador Dali, 1945

From our Spring 2015 issue, “At Ken’s Expense” is Arman Safa‘s metafictional short story-length novel about Arman writing a novel at Ken’s expense.

{ X }

{ chapter 1 }


“Damn it,” muttered Ken to himself.

Having the last word was becoming increasingly problematic. When he wanted it, the last word evaded him. And when he sought out the perfect seven word opening sentence to his second novel, the last word confounded him still.

It was February the third, a typical and unremarkable occasion, and the eight inches of expected snow was a surprise to no one. Still, at 6pm, the bookstore was extraordinarily empty. And quiet. Just Ken’s fingers tapping on the keyboard in the back office and some aesthetically inappropriate Irish music Arman had put on behind the register.

“Damn it,” muttered Ken, audibly. Arman smiled. Though unable to see Ken, he amused himself with an image of Ken hunched over the keyboard, face aglow, pulling his hair.

“Am I cruel?” he thought. “Can boredom and the certainty of an excruciatingly slow evening turn the butter knife of my heart into a sharpened blade?”

Impressed with his pretentious eloquence and swagger of tongue, Arman decided that, if nothing else, he should be the one writing a story. And in that moment, he knew that the perfect first sentence would, in fact, be eight words long.

Distracted, and desiring a bit of amusement before committing himself to writing an entire story, Arman stepped into the back office. He saw Ken at the computer reading a news article.

“What do you want to eat tonight, Ken?” he asked.

“I don’t know.”

“How’s your novel coming along, Ken?” And before letting Ken respond, he added confrontationally and with more than a touch of perplexing irony, “I’m going to write one as well. In fact, I’ve already started. And I’ve even written more words than you.”

“Well,” said Ken. “I’m doing some editing. And it’s easier for you because I’m your main character.”

Arman was more than a bit perturbed by Ken’s brash display of egoism.

“I had ramen for lunch earlier,” Ken continued, “and it was awful.”

And it was. 

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Starring Wm. Samuel Bradford, Vajra Chandrasekera, Juliet Cook, Sagnik Datta, Ariel Dawn, Robin Wyatt Dunn, j/j hastain, Rebecca Havens, Anna Lea Jancewicz, Sally J. Johnson, Ian Kappos, Damien Krsteski, Rachna Kulshrestha, Jasper Lo, Danielle Perry, Arman Safa, Bud Smith, Kailey Tedesco, and Jasmyne Womack