Category Archives: Flash

The Third Stack

March 9, 2013

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.

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Finals Week

March 4, 2013

Darius Fletcher woke from a dream of Elvis Presley in a leotard. Don’t be cruel, sang the
King of Rock and Roll. Lisa’s ringtone. The blue glow of the cable box said 3:55 AM. Why
was she calling?

Fletcher gently slid his arm from beneath the mass of blonde hair lying next to
him. Mary Beth was a light sleeper. He picked up his cell phone and padded out to the
living room.

“Hello?” Light from the Starbuck’s sign across the street filtered in through the
blinds, painting the apartment’s shag an ugly fluorescent green. It reminded him of St
Patrick’s day.

“Good morning, sleepy head.”

A dark chasm of dread open at the sound of her voice. “Lisa. What’s wrong?” She was halfway across the country, at the University of Chicago. “Why are you calling?”

A sharp squeal of laughter. “Oh, no! Did I wake you? Gosh darn it, I forgot about
the time change thing again.”

“What’s wrong?” he repeated.

She emitted a huff of impatience at the question, like a miniature freight train. The little engine that could. “Nothing’s wrong, Honey. It’s just that…well, I have some good news, and I have a little bad news.”

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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.”

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Until the Road Ends

September 9, 2011

When I was eighteen, I bought a 67’ Chevelle for five hundred bucks from a guy at work who was looking for some quick cash to score a pound of bitching Columbian.

My buddy Paul and I towed the car back to the apartment building and worked on it every weekend, tearing it down into a greasy mountain of parts and hopeful that we could put it all back together again, but better, faster – bolting on a wicked intake manifold and roaring headers and lifters that went tick-tick-tick, a thirsty 4-barrel and a screaming cam, and fat sticky tires wrapped around mag wheels that glittered in the summer sun.

Read the rest at Six Sentences

The Last Carol

July 7, 2011

My brother is a real baby sometimes. I can understand the kid’s only nine, but…okay, it’s like this. It was two days before Christmas. He’d been bugging me since breakfast, saying it was Christmas Eve-Eve. And that night, we were sitting around the tree: arranging the presents, hanging tinsel, stringing the lights. Mom and Dad and Kyle and me. Of course, Dad had come home late – another executive advertising meeting, he claimed – so Mom was a little bitchy. He told her if she didn’t like it, she could always get a job of her own. She shut up after that.

But there we were, and it was okay for a while. Listening to Christmas carols. Drinking hot apple cider with those little cinnamon sticks. Dad was slurping away at some eggnog. Normally I don’t go in for all this family stuff. I would rather have been in my room listening to some of my own music. Reading Harry Potter, playing Call of Duty, whatever. But I admit it was sort of festive. And then the whole deal with Kyle started.

Read the rest at Full of Crow

Margaret’s Daughter

May 26, 2011

The first storm of the summer rolled in as Karen walked home from her day job, waiting tables at the corner bar for two bucks an hour plus tips. From her right hand dangled a plastic grocery bag containing a jar of peanut butter, a partially smashed loaf of bread, two packs of smokes, and a pint of Jack Daniels. She was still two blocks from her door when the rain started in earnest.

With her dress clinging to her wet skin like an unwanted lover, she splashed down the sidewalk. She jammed the key into the lock and stepped into the tiny apartment where she lived alone, with her son. The smell of stale cigarettes and tired dust greeted her at the door. Slipping off her shoes, she kicked them across the kitchen and proceeded to pour two fingers of Jack into a dirty glass. She stared out the window at the rain slanting across the parking lot, and poured two more.

Read the rest at Every Day Fiction:

HIroshima’s Children

March 23, 2011

Albert Einstein woke from a dream of dogs ripping at his flesh. With the moon’s ghostly photons streaming through the blinds, he sat in his bed and rubbed his legs. He looked at the faded picture of Roosevelt on the nightstand, his Nobel Peace Prize, and thought about the children of Hiroshima: in the late summer heat, with the sound of the aircraft droning overhead, did they look to their kimonoed mothers and ask why? He told himself Bohr would have signed the letter to Roosevelt anyway. But still, he wondered if it hurt, in that last moment before they burned.

Posted at 101 Words Thinking about a rewrite


December 25, 2010

We were way behind schedule. Dancer and Prancer had started my morning off by breaking into the stores of magic corn, and had been laying down some serious reindeer games all day long; poor Rudolph was near tears. And of course, I’d told the team to go easy with the carbs on Christmas Eve, but did they listen? No. Now I was flying over suburban Minneapolis, stuck behind a team of flatulent reindeer while trying to find little Susie’s house. Good God, how much worse could it get?

In the back seat, Jingle and Jangle were starting on their forty-first rendition of Silent Night; I was ready to push them both out of the sled. I turned around to unleash a mighty can of whoop-ass on their elvish butts and accidentally flew through the jet-wash of a Minneapolis-St. Paul bound red-eye. We spun around three times, turned turtle, and by the time I got us right-side up there were toys, candy, and reindeer shit flying everywhere.

Read the rest at Every Day Fiction

A New Life

September 20, 2010

I was waiting in the beauty shop for my wife to be done with her cut and color when it hit me. Maybe it was the simpy crooning of the GooGoo Dolls coming from overhead, or the dog-eared copy of Vogue I’d by then scanned three times for lingerie ads. Or maybe it’s just that I was two days from Monday and dreading another week of the nine-to-five bullshit. It didn’t matter – sitting in that damned uncomfortable chair, my hemorrhoids burning like a son of a bitch, I finally realized what I want to do with my life.

I would become a hairdresser.

Read the rest at Every Day Fiction

Beneath the Trojans

August 14, 2010

There’s a train track runs through the place. It slices diagonally across the entrance, past the old stone arch then down around the back where the mausoleum sits brooding. Every four hours or so the Union Pacific roars on through with its loads of grain or Japanese cars or durable goods but this bothers no one; to be honest, nobody in the park really gives a shit when the U.P. comes or where it’s going. On either side of the track lie lumpy borders of snow-covered ice, frozen and melted and frozen again until the bums that prowl the grave-sites can walk high above the rails, a crunchy sidewalk to nowhere. And off the track a ways in the sprawling port-wine shaped field of dirty white with its granite markers and blowing flower stalks sits an occasional pile of dirt next to a man-sized hole, waiting patiently for someone to come fill it back up again. On really cold nights, the dirt freezes up hard enough that in the morning the tractor stalls embarrassingly and they have to pay the bums a couple bucks to help chip the dirt loose so they can cover the poor schmuck lying quietly below.

After nineteen attempts, my first piece in Bartleby Snopes. It was later nominated it for a Pushcart Prize. You gotta keep trying. Read the rest here:

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