It’s 6:17. The party began promptly at 6:00. It’s been four years since Todd’s seen them, but he knows they didn’t wait. His father is nothing if not punctual.

He’d forgotten to buy a birthday gift for his stepbrother. That’s not why he’s late, but it is the reason he will now be even more late, as he exits the Golden State Freeway for the nearest strip mall.

Would the boy understand that Todd had needed to pull over at the rest stop outside Chowchilla and weep? That his hands shook so badly he could no longer grip the wheel. “It’s time you get over it, Todd,” his father would say. “Face your demons.”

The sun is setting over Turlock as he pulls into the Safeway parking lot and steps out of the car. The reek of tired manure and late September tillage fills the air; off to his left the Diablo Range crouches, the beautiful hues of red and orange a reminder of the pastel walls in the room where Todd spent nine years of his life.

He makes his way to the back of the store where the children’s games and close-out lawn furniture is stocked. Todd doesn’t know what to buy a normal thirteen-year-old; at that age he’d been chained to the floor of a gaily-colored cell in the basement of retail sales executive Robert McDowell’s house, a few miles from where Todd now stands.

Read the rest (at Page 168): http://nebula.wsimg.com/0f74dda9a5db15d1e03984883c29713c?AccessKeyId=3C22B84D674D5BA7A77D&disposition=0&alloworigin=1 (more…)

Dancing in the Void

April 21, 2017

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.

Read the rest: https://everydayfiction.com/dancing-in-the-void-by-kip-hanson/

shoe shine box

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.

Read the rest: https://flashfictionmagazine.com/blog/2017/02/23/anne-frank-shoeshine-boy/

Assembling the Black

February 14, 2017

vault door

It’s Christmas Eve and Mom’s into her fourth eggnog before she starts ragging on Ray about his new tattoo. “I hope that fucker’s not real,” she says. “Ugliest thing I ever seen.”

She’d gone holiday shopping at the dollar store again this year. The confusing odor of burnt Italian meatballs mingled with the balsam reek of clearance aisle candles wafts in from the dining room. Hanukah giftwrap litters the floor, its myriad Stars of David lay trampled beneath the feet of us indifferent gentiles.

“Just grow your hair back, Ray. I don’t want to look at it no more.” She hiccoughs, and pours herself another. “What idiot tattoos a door on the side of his head, anyway?”

Her plastic tree, unfettered now of several candy canes and its support of hastily wrapped gifts, lurches suddenly to the right. A bulb hits the ground and shatters. The dog and I are the only ones who notice.

Ray smiles and nods, then leans down to give her a kiss before leaving. “Merry Christmas, Ma. Nice seeing you.”

Read the rest: http://typehousemagazine.com/th/content/TypehouseMagazineIssue11May2017.pdf

Losing Clint Eastwood

February 2, 2017


Nighties, sweatpants, and mismatched socks fly from the dresser in a polyester storm. She runs to the closet, shoves aside dusty his and hers towels, pulls down winter coats as though she’s urgent to get warm. For the third time in an hour, she opens the plastic tub of Christmas decorations; another ornament shatters, the garland is by now a tight knot of synthetic green. Damn it.

A sudden thought intrudes. Yes, that’s it, and skins her knee on the nightstand as she turns. A spatter of blood follows her to the bed. Her arms grope madly beneath the big four-poster, but she encounters nothing more than Bill’s abandoned paperbacks and a lazy heap of photographs, shoved there after the divorce. Where the hell was it?

It was only last week that she’d stood before the display case, the eyes of the store owner running from her ass to her tits and down again. “I want that one,” she said at last.

“A .45 cal? Are you…”

Her best Dirty Harry voice cut him off. “Make my day,” she said, laughing nervously.

He shrugged. “Whatever you want lady,” and took her credit card and ID. Ten minutes later, he handed her a heavy paper bag.

“I want to try it. Where can I go?”

After the range, she stopped at Home Depot for a fireproof safe. She wrestled it into the garage and bolted it to the wall beneath Bill’s workbench. Finished, she stacked her purchases inside, setting the combination with numbers Bill would never guess…

Read the rest: http://www.indianavoicejournal.com/2017/02/flash-fiction-by-kip-hanson-losing.html

The Other Side of Pepper

December 14, 2016

There’s a dog in the street. A cocker spaniel, I think. His head is flat and a tire track runs down the middle of his back. When Marilyn and I were first married, we rescued a cocker spaniel from the shelter. It was one of those “bring us closer together” things. I spent forty-five bucks for the dog and then another hundred to get him fixed. To thank me for saving his life, he pissed on the rug. Marilyn’s always been into rescuing things. She’s the queen of lost causes.

The dog’s bright red tag says My Name is Pepper – Call Jenny, and a phone number covered in blood. Pepper’s hind legs point south and his front legs point north. He crossed against the light and now his furry body looks like a black and white S.

There’s a homeless guy standing by the dog, a stack of newspapers at his feet.  He’s a bearded Danny DeVito, but thin and grimy, selling the news for beer money. DeVito weeps dirty tears. He regrets not stopping Pepper when he had the chance.

Read the rest: https://everydayfiction.com/the-other-side-of-pepper-by-kip-hanson/

Fat Vlad

October 28, 2016


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/

Towers of Grass and Clay

October 26, 2016


Li Tsai stood beside the groundship and studied the ruins of the ancient city. She’d learned in school that the inhabitants of that unhappy place called it Denver, in honor of some forgotten politician. Today those people were naught but dust and troubled memories, she thought, shifting her glance towards the new city standing alongside the bones of the old: Deng Xiaoping, city of the people.

It was a fitting name. Deng Xiaoping was home to the largest undertaking in the history of man, one which would free humankind forever. Li Tsai thought the city’s long-dead namesake would be proud.

“Li, come,” called Fang Shen. “Chiang waits.”

She scowled, ignoring him, and turned instead to view her child, for that’s how she’d begun to consider it. The official name was Shenzhen United Development Project 54. The people simply called it SUD54, or sometimes just the Stairway. Li Tsai cared naught for their names. She’d worked thirty-seven years to get there:  SUD54 was hers.

She knew she must be careful. Her possessiveness was traitorous, if not outright dangerous. If Elder Chiang perceived her thoughts, he’d boot her down to material handler grade, or worse. “No, Li,” he would tell her. “SUD54 belongs to the people. To think otherwise is arrogance.”

“Please, Li,” insisted Fang. “We’ll be late for the review.”

And yet, staring at it now, she knew that the family of distant buildings, the dark spire in the center—massive even from this distance—was the only progeny she would ever create. She would gladly give her life to see it finished. Glaring darkly at Feng, she entered the groundcar, hoping she wouldn’t have to.

Read the rest: https://literallystories2014.com/2016/10/26/towers-of-grass-and-clay-by-kip-hanson/

When you Sleep

October 11, 2016


The police report is dated June 17, six months ago yesterday. It was Friday night, and school was out. Tim and I were in my Dad’s car, cruising around the lake, on the far side of the tunnel where it crosses under the parkway. That’s where I killed her.

I wasn’t high. Tim was smoking a joint, and maybe I’d had a hit, but I was fine to drive. The problem was Tim: he kept messing with the car stereo, even after I warned him off. So I smacked him. Just a little whack on the side of the head and all hell broke loose. He got up in my face, yelling at me, and then WHAM, I saw a flash of color on the passenger side and the wheels thumped, like when you take a speed bump too fast.

I slammed on the brakes. Across the street, there was a woman in her front yard, screaming. Her mouth formed a big O, and I nudged Tim to look. We both laughed, she looked so funny standing there, like her hair was on fire.

Read the rest: http://blackpetalsks.tripod.com/yellowmamaarchives/id429.html

Son of a Circus Clown

October 11, 2016

big top

My father loves children. Everybody knows that, even the Elephant Man, and Helga the Armless Wonder. He loves their sticky smell, their laughter and limitless potential. One night after too many beers, the Great Zambini said that my father must have been a nursemaid in a past life, or perhaps a pediatrician. In this life however, the one we currently inhabit, he is Binky the Clown.

Binky loves the circus too, but not as he does the boys and girls who come to see him here, to cheer his name and laugh at his foolish antics. And he loves his little car. It hurts his back something fierce, but still, he lives for the applause of the crowd as he climbs impossibly forth three times a day from within the car’s cramped interior. That car is my father’s five minutes.

Read the rest: http://blackpetalsks.tripod.com/yellowmamaarchives/id429.html

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