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May 1, 2011 Fiction

Free Advice

Matt Leibel

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Do not open your story by talking about the weather. Do not exceed the posted speed limits. Do not accept packages from strangers. Do not make any sudden movements. Do not interfere in an ongoing investigation. Do not feed the alpacas. Do not send cash. Do not take this the wrong way. Do not give in to temptation. Do not boast if you can't back it up. Do not trust anyone over forty. Do not apply directly to the skin. Do not take more than two tablets every twenty-four hours. Do not break glass except in case of emergency. Do not block the driveway. Do not overinflate tires. Do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions at all. Do not jump the gun. Do not walk into their trap. Do not drop the ball. Do not assume that you know what's best for everybody else. Do not count your chickens. Do not put the Lord your God to the test. Do not mistake my kindness for weakness. Do not go gently into that good night. Do not speak unless spoken to. Do not play the fool here. Do not mess with success. Do not leave me high and dry. Do not shit where you eat. Do not pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. Do not end a sentence with a preposition. Do not forget to water the plants. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. Do not bend. Do not think too hard. Do not touch the artwork. Do not lean outside the car. Do not assemble without a permit. Do not forget to remove your shoes before entering. Do not push the green button. Do not park in the red zone. Do not stand in front of the dotted yellow line. Do not miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity. Do not accept imitations. Do not bite the hand that feeds you. Do not mess with Texas. Do not judge others lest you yourself be judged. Do not run in the hallways. Do not stop fighting for what you believe in. Do not beat yourself up over this. Do not drink the Kool-Aid. Do not answer a question with another question. Do not shoot the messenger. Do not even joke about that. Do not forget all the folks who helped you get where you are today. Do not call this number ever again. Do not repeat the mistakes of the past. Do not betray your principles. Do not believe the hype. Do not talk back to your mother. Do not dawdle. Do not lolligag. Do not stare, it's not polite. Do not swim for at least an hour after eating. Do not enter the restricted area without proper authorization. Do not touch the electric third rail. Do not question my authority. Do not try this at home. Do not taunt the monkeys. Do not underestimate the power of a smile. Do not negotiate with terrorists. Do not cross your legs like that. Do not forget April 27th is Secretaries Day! Do not believe everything you hear. Do not allow your emotions to get the best of you. Do not fear the Reaper. Do not adjust your television set. Do not hog the spotlight. Do not leave gas pumps unattended. Do not smoke in the lavatories. Do not open until Christmas morning. Do not plan on being home before midnight. Do not write a story as a series of negative commands. Do not tell me you didn't see that coming. Do not make the same mistake twice. Do not shut down without saving all work. Do not wear loose clothing while operating this machine. Do not lose hope. Do not give up. Do not mince words. Do not let your mouth write a check your ass can't cash. Do not pee in the shower. Do not blink or you might miss something. Do not encourage the bastards. Do not quit your day job. Do not forget to tip your waitresses. Do not say I didn't warn you. Do not reply to this automated message. Do not ruin this for me. Do not resuscitate. Do not leave without saying goodbye.

image: Valerie Molloy