Robert Laughlin 

Men at Work #98


Burt, an exterminator


I’ll make it a riddle: what’s worse than serving road kill to a trucker? Answer: what Lana did on our last wedding anniversary. She made me take her to a pishy-poshy, avant-garde restaurant with no menus; you eat what they feel like cooking. Got it figured already? The first course was some kind of black bugs, floured and fried. I told Lana she had a loose eyelash, and spread out my white napkin before she was halfway to the ladies’ room. When she returned, I was up to HOW ABOUT A DIVO, spelled out with black bugs.

                              Fireflies | Delores Peffley

                              Fireflies | Delores Peffley

Men at Work #59

Curtis, a composer


I have three world premieres this month, and my health will allow me to attend just the one that’s being performed here in town. It’s a piano concerto I wrote thirty-three years ago; the other two are a symphony I wrote twenty-nine years ago and a string quartet I wrote forty-one years ago. Does anything take longer to achieve than overnight success?




ROBERT LAUGHLIN lives in Chico, California, and received his BA at California State University, Sacramento. He plans to collect his "Men at Work" stories in one volume at a later date. Apart from the "Men at Work" series, Mr. Laughlin has published 100 short stories, two of which are "storySouth Million Writers Award Notable Stories." His website is at: