Three days before Christmas, Mary slipped in the shower and cracked her head on the soap dish. I found her a half hour later. The water was long cold and her skin had turned purplish, like an overripe plum. Her speech was gone, and she gave me one of her impatient looks: what took you so long? I wrapped her in her favorite plaid blanket, then carried her to the car and drove to the emergency room. After all the tests, they told me it was brain cancer, four to six months to live. That was seven months ago.
Tag Archives: flash fiction
So he cleaned the car. Big deal. People do it every day. There’d been empty polish tins clanking around under the front seat all week with used brushes and stiff, smelly shine cloths riding shotgun. It was driving him nuts. Every time he climbed out, there were leopard spots of shoeshine on his hands, stained bristles like cactus thorns hitchhiking on the cuff of his pants.
He didn’t have a chance of finding a job, not with smears of Kiwi black on his dress tie.
When she found out, his daughter was livid. “Why did you clean his car?”
“Um…because it was dirty?”
She threw her hands up. “He said you think he’s a slob.”
“How does Artie know what I think? Is he a mind reader?”
“Dad! Don’t call him Artie. He hates that. His name is Artemus.”
What a name. Artemus Frank. Liz must be rolling in her grave: their daughter married a shoeshine boy.
Vladimir loves vampires. Ever since the night spent huddled on the couch, peering from beneath a blanket while watching Blood of Dracula on his mother’s little black and white television, he’s been hooked.
He faked the flu during grade school to stay home and watch Dark Shadows. Barnabas Collins was the greatest. As a teen he cheered when the Night Stalker repeatedly bested the Chicago PD, and scoffed at the hapless reporter Kolchak. During the nineties he wore out multiple VHS copies of Salem’s Lot and The Lost Boys; today he owns boxed Blu-Ray sets of The Vampire Diaries.
Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, Peter Tonkin — he’s read them all. The walls of his house are covered with paintings and woodcut drawings of draugar, moroi, ramangi, and pijavicae. A Lestat shower curtain hangs in Vlad’s bath, a Nosferatu statue lurks above the fireplace.
Vlad even keeps a wooden stake in his nightstand, but knows in his heart he can never bring himself to use it.
His father named him Vladimir, not in recognition of the most famous vampire of all, Vlad the Impaler, but for the pianist Vladimir Horowitz, whom his father had once seen at Carnegie Hall.
Read the rest: https://everydayfiction.com/fat-vlad-by-kip-hanson/
It was the stupid commercial that finally pushed her over the edge. The hot office broad, up on her desk like a pole dancer, and those goofy executive types leering at her. Be more attractive to your employers, it said, and I laughed.
Rachel jumped up off the couch and took a few jerky steps toward the kitchen. I thought at first she was going for more snacks. Then she turned on me, hair flying around her head in a pale yellow storm.
“You goddamned men. You’re all the same.”
I didn’t stand a chance. “Rach…it was just a commercial. What’s the big deal?” Is this another one of your rape things? I almost said.
“If you’d been with me that night, instead of out drinking with your fucking football buddies, it never would have happened.”
I could only stare up at her, my mouth stopped up tight, my hands making these little butterfly motions. Was she broken for good?
Seeing that yet another apology wasn’t forthcoming, she stomped off to the bedroom, her slight form refusing to lend an ounce of floor-pounding credence to her anger. I heard the bath water, and then the snick of the lock. Looked like I was sleeping on the couch again.
Yesterday my wife caught me with a picture of her best friend Liz. It was the one of her at the Christmas party, wearing the skimpy red dress and the reindeer antlers. It’s my favorite photo.
So I’m standing there, the photo of Liz propped against the bottle of expensive hand cream Jen always buys, and she busts through the bathroom door like it’s the last toilet on earth.
“Jesus, Jen. Ever heard of knocking?”
She takes one look at the photo and starts bawling. “That was my favorite picture of her,” she says. I try to explain, telling her that even though I’ve been seeing Liz for five years, nearly as long as Jen and I’ve been married, it’s not what she thinks.
She doesn’t buy it. “Bastard,” she says, and runs for the car keys.
My belt buckle scrapes across the kitchen floor as I follow her. She tries to jam her shoes on but the laces have knotted. As I reach to help she pushes me away, furious. “Pull up your pants, pervert.”
I want to tell her she looks like Patty Duke when she’s mad. “I love you, Jennifer,” I plead.
She opens the door to leave and I offer up a last ditch cliché. “She doesn’t mean anything,” I say. But we both know that’s a lie. Liz means everything to me.
Read the rest: http://www.redfez.net/fiction/492
There were thirty-seven boxes in all. Stavros had counted them. His daughter’s blocky handwriting covered the side of each one: BOOKS, PHOTOS, JEWELRY in fat, felt-tipped marker, like incomplete tic-tac-toes.
Four boxes marked ATTIC. He’d get to those later. This one said SUMMER CLOTHES. Summer clothes, winter clothes, clothes for every season, not to mention an entire box devoted to swimsuits and three to shoes. How does one teenage girl collect so much?
“Jeannie, get in here.” No answer. He could hear her out there, pacing the kitchen as she yakked on that pissing cell phone. Why wouldn’t she come help? If she wanted to move out so badly, she could damned well participate.
He’d told her to stack them in the garage, and warned against more than four to a pile. Yet here they were, stuffed into the hallway in leaning towers six and seven high. And why had she packed so early, for God’s sake? They’d squeezed past them all week. For days now he’d listened to her shuffle boxes and tear away tape as she searched for some prematurely packed necessity.
Three weeks ago, I bought a new barbeque grill. It’s one of those big stainless steel jobs, with three burners, a flush-mount auxiliary burner, and 10,000 BTU. That was right before I burned off my facial hair. I’m not talking about a flash of heat and a quick curl of the eyelashes here. I leaned down to push the starter…click, click, click, and WHOOSH! It was like Ground Zero at the Trinity nuclear test site. My neighbor Jim laughed so hard he fell off the picnic table. What a jerk.
I’ve been learning to grill since I got married. I’d be happy eating casseroles and TV dinners, but Marie is in love with grilled meat. Ribs, chicken, brisket—you name it. Once she even made me grill the Thanksgiving turkey. That was the year we had Chinese takeout, after I got her to agree the bird was beyond salvage.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind cooking for her. But I’d rather do it indoors, where it’s safe. Grilling is dangerous. Charcoal briquettes are chock full of toxic chemicals. Those long-handled cooking implements? You could put an eye out with the fork Marie bought for my birthday last year. And everyone knows that grilled meat causes cancer. I tell her these things and she rolls her eyes, then hands me a platter of raw cow meat.
“Get outside. I’m hungry.”
Read the rest: http://www.clevermag.com/essays2/barbecue.htm
The day Billy Hamilton drowned at the New Highland Public Swimming Pool, it was hot. It had been hot for weeks, even for West Texas in June. The weather was a tick on a tired dog, heavy and bloated. Afternoon tornadoes square-danced across the dusty horizon like fierce lovers; thunderstorms crackled in at sunset and setup to stay the night. By morning, the storms were long gone, leaving a few downed power lines and wind-shorn trees, but never a drop of rain. It was hot.
That’s why Billy was at the pool. Of course—every kid in New Highland was there that day, except for the losers like Keith Mackenbrook, sentenced to summer school for failing math and art. Who flunks art class? Or Scooter Jones and the rest of the football jocks—busy tackling colorful burlap dummies, and running sweaty laps round the dirt patch the town called an athletic field.
Read the rest at Foundling Review: http://www.foundlingreview.com/Oct2012Issue1Hanson.html
Tired and dirty, Jimbo sat in the center of an empty kitchen, determined to drink until he felt normal again. Empty cans of Miller Lite surrounded the legs of the folding chair on which he was perched, a chair more accustomed to the vagaries of family gatherings and picnics at the lake than hard ceramic tile.
Wrapped around him was the cold blanket of plaster, wood, and tile where he’d spent most of his forties and fifties. The floor creaked and the doors squeaked; the roof leaked when it rained. The furnace belched out occasional but alarming gouts of foul- smelling smoke. And yet, one-hundred and thirty-seven payments more and it would have been his. His and Melissa’s.
Read the rest at Eunoia Review: http://eunoiareview.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/leaving-the-keys/
I enter this airport, this city where nobody lives, suburb of nothing, a specious, spacious, cynical gateway with walls of steel and glass, a pass-through place pulsing with fragile, firefly lives and echoes of the droning voices of salesmen and consultants, bankers and real-estate experts and seminar-attendees who carry complex solutions to nothing.
A highly-paid, arm-waving, finger-pointing businessman cuts before me, failing to notice anyone with skin darker than his as he gesticulates his carefully rehearsed bullet points and negotiates his fifth big deal of the month via Bluetooth headset, until much later tonight he’ll call his family from a hotel room in Orlando or LA or Philly for their previously scheduled Skype videoconference.
Read the rest at Clockwise Cat: http://clockwisecat.blogspot.com/2011/07/jihad-satire-by-kip-hinson.html