Following that paper trail.

Image Copyright: HBO, NBCUniversal. (Fair Use.)

“Holly has to go back to Colorado. I’m going with her. I’m leaving,” Michael said, the office sprinklers of Dunder Mifflin raining down on him, his employees, and his new fiancée.

The excitement was immediately stifled. The candles were extinguished. A stunned silence fell over the employees as they shuffled back from the annex.

Pam phoned the fire department to cancel any trucks they may have sent. The rest of the office took notice, astonished to finally witness her actually doing something useful as Office Manager.

A stranger with dark, tired eyes and messy hair charged through the door.

“Sorry…


He kept smiling, but I could see the abject panic in those big white eyes.

Image Copyright: Newsday. (Fair Use.)

His usual hangouts are at baseball stadiums, car dealership openings, and other headroom-heavy haunts, so I was surprised when I saw Mr. Met out on Long Island, sauntering up to my hotel lobby, a pep in his step, seemingly unaware that on this particular September Saturday the Mets were twenty-four games out of relevancy. Bold, I thought, that he opted for the revolving door, his handler brazenly leading the charge, but — oh no — the compartment was too small for one adult and one anthropomorphic baseball. The motorized door kept chugged along, wedging the top of Mr. Met’s bobbling…


For any impressive painting, the first thing that’s always asked is: “How many nudes?”

This art is pretty good, but mine will be better and will have more nudes. Photo by Ágatha Depiné on Unsplash

This will be the greatest painting of all time. After its debut, when people ask each other what their favorite painting is, they will always qualify their question with: “Besides Justin’s, of course.”

For any impressive painting, the first thing that’s always asked is: “How many nudes?” I assure you, there will be enough nudes. Not a gratuitous amount of nudes, but — to be clear — no viewer would look upon my painting and say: “Yo, duder, where are the nudes?”

They will be both tasteful and provocative, the nudes, and while gazing into my painting’s silken face it…


Image Copyright: NPR. (Fair Use.)

One minute we were in sweatpants, flopped together on the couch, musing about how we both viscerally abhor every single judge on Chopped, and the next minute an exploratory hand and probing toe primed the pot of passion and our sprawled selves constricted into a hot, spitty knot.

Clothes were ripped off without regard for elastic longevity and the TV was turned off right before the contestants started dripping sweat into their sauces. “Wait,” she said, collapsing onto me, “can you put on some music or something?” She didn’t elaborate — she didn’t have to — we both knew my…


Photo by omarabascal on Unsplash

Who can say for certain what the burly, wedding-ring-toting, there-with-his-teenage-son guy was thinking or fantasizing. Maybe I’m naïve, but — like I’ve since repeated, Dad — I think he was just feeling good, cruising the Meat Department, saw the package of steaks in our cart, and felt like sending along a jolly, “Nice beef you got there, partner.”

I’ll agree it’s odd to comment on other shoppers’ carts, even if the contents are particularly handsome, but it’s far more deviant to seek romance within the chilly, visceral Costco meat-scape. …


Kimmy Williams on Unsplash

My son is tugging on my sleeve, yet I’ve resigned myself to the ground. Peripheral noise quiets and cool sweat starts to pool. The stalks loom, laughing and rustling as I struggle and thrash. Mortified, my son orders his classmates to look away. The corn knows it has almost won.

You volunteer to chaperone a field trip and you think it’s going to be all “You’re my favorite parent” this and “Here’s my single mom’s number” that. Instead, though, here I am, and my now-stained backseat is still just that, despite having told Kyle S. …


Photo Credit: Cathal Mac an Bheatha

Excuse me, yeah; no, don’t worry, I’m not someone who talks to their seat-mates. Heads up, though, in a second I’ll be huffing a lot into this chemical-soaked rag. It’s fine. Ignore it and don’t worry about me the rest of the flight. I’ll be asleep/suspended-between-life-and-death shortly.

Sorry, did you not hear me, or did you just not want to listen? I’m very opposed to jabber, having sat next to too many chatterboxes and their long, unsolicited personal stories and ailment listings. My gracious little spiel here isn’t intended to open a nag-heavy dialogue. …


Always the third Sunday in June. Always two to five.

Ten minutes from now I’ll be there, my twelfth consecutive year. I’ll materialize at the exit-less park in the same spot by Pavilion 8.

Always clear skies. Always sixty-eight with a slight breeze.

I’m the original. I’m certain because the first two picnics were lonely. More terrifying than lonely, but, still, I think I’m entitled to complain. …


Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

Filled with new knowledge and zipped into our gear, we were finally up next. “Excuse me,” I asked the operator at the indoor skydiving place, “I have a ticklish question.” My voice tittered. I may have started to curl a lock of my hair around one finger as I spoke through a soft, sheepish grin. The guy and his natural frown lines, however, didn’t look up from his levers and his magazine. Instead, he pointed to a sign posted not two feet from him that said, “Absolutely No Hot Pockets.”

I pressed. He said it wouldn’t make a difference if…

Justin Gawel

An adult baby living in Northern Michigan — @justingawel / www.justingawel.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store