Poll

Which 3 stories merit your vote?

Too Young
4 (7%)
Photographic Image
6 (10.5%)
The Day
2 (3.5%)
Nailed For Naught
7 (12.3%)
What an Accident
1 (1.8%)
(Untitled)
5 (8.8%)
Moving On
5 (8.8%)
Exposed
8 (14%)
The Homewrecker
9 (15.8%)
The Gift
5 (8.8%)
Dead Men's Spurs
2 (3.5%)
The Silent Intruder
3 (5.3%)

Total Members Voted: 19

Voting closed: January 23, 2012, 07:20:21 PM

Author Topic: Voting #40 Flash Fiction  (Read 970 times)

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63376
  • So many jobs to do . . .
    • View Profile
Voting #40 Flash Fiction
« on: January 16, 2012, 07:20:21 PM »
Okay voters -- you have 3 votes each to find a winner among these 12 entries which had to include a photograph or photographer in the story and display either action or tension in 500 words or under. Enjoy reading them and please use all three votes. As The entries exceed the capacity of the reply box -- nos 7-12 will be in the box below.


1 Too Young?

"Pregnant? But I'm only fifteen."

 Tears started to roll down my face; I looked for some ray of hope in the doctor's eyes that she may be wrong.

"Yes dear I'm afraid so, is there anyone you would like me to call?"

 If I don't let the words in maybe it would go away. My heart was racing. Tell someone, who? My parents would go mad. No absolutely not my parents, I thought.

"Is it OK if I call them?”

"Yes of course, then after we will have a little chat if you like?"

I could only think of one person to phone, Nelly. Every click of a button on the phone felt like clicking another part of my life away.

Please be in Nel, I don't want to ring anyone else. Please be in, I thought as I listened to the ongoing rings. It seemed to take hours before the click of the receiver being picked up came, and I heard Nelly's voice on the other end.

"Nelly please can you come down the docs? I need you here. I don't want to say over the phone. Will you just come down?"

After putting the phone down, I looked at the doctor still pleading for her eyes to tell me she was wrong.

"Would you like a drink? You have gone awfully pale. I can see you are shaken."

I nodded as I croaked, "Yes please." It did not sound like me, I did not know what I was supposed to do or say. All I could think of was my parents. The doctor came back with a plastic cup, my hand shook violently as she handed it to me. Swallowing the water was like trying to swallow a golf ball. The lump in my throat was refusing to go away, like the tears that were still streaming down my face. A sudden wave of nausea took over; I made a run for the small basin in the corner of the room.

“Ok dear, I think we should wait for your friend to get here, and then we can talk.”

A knock at the door made us both turn and look. The doctor walked to the door and opened it slightly.

“Ah yes do come in.”

There stood Nelly, relief washed over me maybe there was something Nelly could say or do to get me out of this. But as the doctor explained what was happening, Nelly's face dropped and looked at me in disbelief.

“When, how? Oh Melissa what are you going to do?”

I sat in my chair sniffling wanting her to hug me, say it's alright you will be fine; you don't have to do anything we will sort this out. But I knew in my heart that there was nothing she could do. I took my purse out of my bag and pulled out a photograph. It was Nelly's son she had when she was sixteen.

“Ok Mellissa, I'm here like you was for me.”

*****

2 Photographic Image

We used to kid David about his looks. How he never seemed to age, while the rest of us grew fatter, greyer or bald. One of the guys at the gym kidded him once about having a picture in the attic that grew older for him, like in “The Portrait of Dorian Grey.” David had laughed at that along with the rest of us, but that was years ago. He still hadn’t aged.

Most of us worked out at least an hour a day to keep in shape, but not David. He only came to the gym to laugh at us for working so hard. He’d sit there reading his Kindle while we pumped iron and did push-ups. Yet he kept his 30-inch waist and six-pack abs without ever seeming to break a sweat.

“God, you make me sick,” I once told him. “Sitting there just watching us, while we bust our humps. Yet you never seem to gain an ounce. How do you do it?”

He just smiled at me with those perfect teeth of his.

We had all been together since high school. David had been Mr. Popularity and dated Mary Lou Haversom, the prettiest cheerleader in the school. They married right out of college. Most of us, including David, went to State for our undergrad work and, despite the odds, all of us wound up buying homes in the same neighborhood once we were married.

We decided early on to keep ourselves in shape. We each had parents who let themselves go and were now sick or dead. None of that for us. It was kind of an unspoken promise.

“Not going to wind up fat and diabetic if I can help it,” Frank Pearce told us. He was the one that got us all started at the health club. He kept his weight within ten pounds of his high school soccer team weight and had already run in eight marathons. Frank developed coronary heart disease and died of a massive heart attack in July. He was only forty-seven.      

“I swear, he gets younger looking all the time,” Mary Lou said at Frank’s wake. She was looking at David with a dreamy look. “I must be the luckiest woman on the planet.” She shook her head and seemed flustered when she realized how tacky that must sound.

We hardly had time to digest Frank’s sudden passing when our lawyer buddy, William, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. That took us all by surprise and, combined with Frankie’s death, caused most of us to age a lot last summer. Even our wives said so.

All of us, that is, except David. His hair is still thick and brown. There are no lines around his eyes, no little paunch that forms a muffin top over his belt. He doesn’t look any different than he did at State. It bothers me a lot.

I made up my mind yesterday. I’m going to sneak into his attic and look for a picture.

*****

3 The Day

I started my morning as usual with coffee and my calendar, my husband has left for work and our child is still sleeping. The phone rings and my husband’s best friend is on the line saying it’s urgent that we meet for lunch and could I please not tell anyone because he has to tell me something very important.

I try to get him to give me a hint and not leave me in suspense, but he won’t hear of it and tells me to come to the Coffee House at noon. I keep my word and tell no one I’m meeting him and drop my child off at my best friend’s for an hour.

My mind is trying to figure out what can this be when he spots me and tells me to come sit down. I opened my mouth to speak when he took out a picture of me in my bra and panties laying on my bed asleep and I really get scared because I had worn those when we were clubbing.

He calmly stated that he gave me the date rape drug and made love to me and believed our child was his. All I could say was why and he said something about how I moved and the smell of my body drove him crazy and he’s sorry he violated me. I remembered the night my fiancé was called in for an emergency and made him promise to get me home safely.

I looked at him and slapped him so hard my hand was stinging. All I could remember was him telling the love of my life not to marry me because I was too plain and thin and he could do better. I asked him about that comment and he told me how sorry he was for saying it and I had the most beautiful and amazing body he had ever had seen, would I agree to a DNA and I said no.

He started asking me how could I get pregnant when his friend told him I was on birth control and I told him since we lived together for two years we were ready for a family, I came off the pill the month before the wedding. He told me his mother was dying with cancer and he wanted her to know that she had a grandchild and pulled out a picture of his sister and tears ran down my cheeks because I looked at the teen version of my child and knew what he said was true.

We both agreed that with my husband’s temperament, if we wanted to live, we would have to take the secret to our graves. I would meet his mother when they come in town and bring the child because how much can a two year old tell because she has so much love from our families she won’t think it odd if another grandma wants to love her too.

*****

4 -Nailed for Naught-

“Mr. Allen, I’m doctor Hinny, I have your X-rays back from the lab. This is Mr. Foster . . . our . . . maintenance man.”

“What the hell is he doing in here?”

“He’s . . . going to take the nail out of your head.”

“He’s going to what?”

“Please sit down.” Doctor Hinny helped Mr. Allen back up onto the examining table. “Look, the nail entered your forehead precisely between the two hemispheres. As far as we can tell, no damage was done. Luckily, the gun was loaded with stainless steel.”

“So what’s with the janitor?”

“We-ah, we had to borrow his slide-hammer.”

“Gawd, this can’t be happening. I’m supposed to be getting married tomorrow.”

“If we can get the nail out, aside from a massive headache, there shouldn’t be any problem. You will need to take some antibiotics to ward off infection though.”

“Fine, let’s get this over with.”

“Before we do, Mr. Allen, I’ve gotta ask . . . how?”

“We were finishing up this deck on the back of a lawyer’s house. My brother was working underneath. He hollers up asking if I’d like to nail the woman who lived there. I told him, no way, but I’d snapped a few pictures for him. I put my phone back in my pocket, looked up, and there she was . . .” Mr. Allen reached up and touched the spike sticking out of his head. “Truth is, I was just yanking his chain. There weren’t no pictures; was just checking my messages.”

*****

5 What an Accident

Normally I do not bother to read the local newspaper, but this time I did.  My girlfriend was holding the paper in my face stabbing at the picture of me and a blonde I was consoling at a traffic accident.  The picture showed her car smashed like an accordion between two full sized American pickup trucks, one of them was mine.

“What the hell do you think you were doing?” Cindy demanded.

I think Cindy was jealous.  I had to think fast:  “Helping her?”  

“Kissing her was helping her?”

What else could I think of to say in thirty seconds or less?

“You didn’t tell me about this,” she said accusingly glaring at me over the top of the newspaper.

I looked up at her hovering over me; I was trapped on the sofa.  “What was there to talk about?  She left the paint from her car on my rear bumper is all, no damage, at least to the truck.”

I don’t think I was convincing enough.

Diane Greer was the girl’s name.  When the accident occurred the guy with the cell phone was not paying attention to what was in front of him rear ended the other car at 60 miles an hour.  I slowed, Diane was doing something, not paying attention either rear ended me, the truck following rear ended her.  

I tried to put the whole thing out of my mind until a month later at traffic court I learned Diane worked with Cindy.  Small world.

“You’re kidding?”  I looked at Diane surprised.  

She was sitting next to me in court, smiling sweetly at me before court started.

Those of us involved in the accident were in traffic court together, including the guy who started it all with the cell phone pasted to his face.  No wonder Cindy was upset, this girl was the blonde bombshell of the office.

I got home later that day and there was the picture stuck to the refrigerator door with a magnet.  A note scrawled across the picture read:  “Having fun.”  I guess I was in the proverbial dog house for a while.

*****

6 Untitled

When something irreplaceable is taken, you’d do almost anything to get it back. That is, you’d do almost anything to the person who stole it. So when I tell you I killed a man, know first that he was a thief, a peddler of good faith. Perhaps then you’ll admit you’d do the same.

Enala. I am a husband to her. And she. How could I even try to describe a thing so sublime.

That day, we walked most of the afternoon and stopped to rest under a tree. There was an ease in her pose, a sign my shoulder would soon serve as a pillow. The breeze tiptoed around us and stirred the scent of grass, mixed with the piney spice of old tree. I turned to her. A soft-lipped smile, her eyes half-closed, a moment of creation inviting me into its depths. I prepared to fall.

Brightness then pierced my pupils in an interruption so abrupt I was startled to find ground once again beneath me. Once my eyes adjusted, I saw the outline of a man partly concealed in the tall grass. The instant the sun’s glare reflected off the lens, it was clear to me—the man had to die. From the alarm in his eyes, I knew, it was clear to him too.

Like a wildebeest, he ran. And like a lion, I chased. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I am a lion. And I chased.

In desperate strides, he took off over the hill, camera still in hand. I sprinted after him, all the while imagining the horrible things I would do. Men with cameras had come before, and I’d willingly given them everyday charms for their magazines and books. This was different. Enala, the invitation in her smile, the strength in her softness, her unreserved affection. All these moments are mine alone.

The man crawled before me, exhausted. There was no pride in this act of predation. It was for neither survival nor food that I killed him, and because of this, I do not wish for you to keep that image. Know that it was bloody, but more so, know that when the last trace of life was bled, the moment he sought to capture was mine alone once more.

I returned to the shade of the tree to find Enala sleeping. I nuzzled her face, a red smudge left by my bloodied maw.  

She stirred. Another soft nuzzle, and she woke.

A soft-lipped smile. Her eyes half-closed. A moment of surrender I keep only for myself.

*****

« Last Edit: March 26, 2017, 09:10:47 PM by fire-fly »
Ambassador for NI. [without portfolio] 
http://www.lulu.com/shop/mwc/as-the-kettle-wolf-whistled/paperback/product-21544909.html

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63376
  • So many jobs to do . . .
    • View Profile
Sticky: Voting #40 Flash Fiction
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2012, 07:20:56 PM »
7 Moving On

The movers would be there soon, and Melanie knew she couldn’t put it off any longer. Just approaching the bureau caused the flood of grief to well up, gripping her chest and making it hard to breathe. She stifled a sob, but hot tears stung her eyes as she looked into what had been Ryan’s drawer.

In the weeks following the fatal crash if it had been up to her she would have stayed in bed cradling Ryan’s old checkered workshirt, breathing in his scent and crying herself to sleep. But she couldn’t, she had two small boys to consider. She took her mother’s advice and slowly pulled herself together for their sake. She cleaned out his side of the closet and donated his clothes. She sold his motorcycle and his tools. And now she had sold their house, and was moving closer to her parents, to start a new life.

She fingered the gold cufflinks remembering the New Years Eve Party when Ryan had looked so handsome in his Tuxedo, she was jealous whenever she spotted him talking to another woman.

Pulling out his wallet made her smile faintly. How many times had she teased him about the massive leather trifold? That’s a mighty big wallet for someone with so little money.

Set in plastic sleeves were photographs of her, several of the children, even one of his parents when they were young. She flipped through them one by one, his union card, assorted business cards. Towards the back she was surprised to see a photo of a beautiful woman whom she did not recognize. She pulled the photo from the sleeve and flipped it over.

“To Ryan – You take me to heights of passion I never thought possible. I Love You, Cece.”

A folded piece of paper fluttered out of the sleeve when she removed the photo and Melanie retrieved it from the floor. Her hand was shaking violently and she felt light headed. She sat on the bed, unfolded the slip of paper and read:

Dear Ryan,
While you may be willing to leave your marriage, I’m not ready to give up what I have.  I have to think not only of myself, but for the baby as well. How would you support us? You can barely take care of the children you already have. I will deny that the baby is yours, Paul doesn't know and you’ll never prove it. Do not make this any more difficult. IT’S OVER! Do not contact me again. – Cece


She sat in shock until the doorbell sounded. The movers had arrived. Once they started carrying out the furniture and boxes, she returned to the bedroom with a trash bag. Yanking the drawer out she tipped its contents into the bag, flung in the wallet and the rest and forcefully tied it shut.

When the house was empty, she closed the door behind her, heaved the bag into the dumpster and realized she was ready now.

*****

8 Exposed

“Let’s go. He’s dead. Dump the body,” said Scarface.

I feel myself falling, tumbling down the embankment into the water. When your heart stops, people think your brain also stops immediately. It doesn’t. Your brain, if undamaged, continues working for up to 10 minutes. You cannot move or speak, but you can still hear, see and think.

As I begin to float down the river I realise I am soon to die.

I made three mistakes tonight.

I am a reporter for the Evening Echo. Just local stuff, but always dreaming of being a Bernstein or a Woodward. I received a tip about Albanians in the drug and sex trafficking business. Tonight I watched four of the group grab a newly-arrived drug mule from a rival gang, dragging him into an alley and beating him. Then the leader, Scarface, stabbed him and slit his stomach open. His intestines spilling out all over the alley and then two of the others started pulling his stomach apart, searching in the pail lamp glow for the dozen or so condom-covered packages.

I was watching from behind railings in a nearby alley with my camera to my eye. Abhorred at what I was seeing, my first mistake was holding down the shutter release. The constant shutter clicking alerted Scarface. He saw me and suddenly I was running for my life, with three of them in pursuit.

The streets are near the docks. Quiet. Empty. Dark. I run with terror in my heart spurring me on. I’m 300 yards in front but they have split up. Each corner leads to more empty streets. Turning a corner I slow by a letter box and then make mistake number two - I turn into an alley. It’s a dead-end. By the time I turn back they are on me.

They punch and stab me in the chest. I collapse. The streets are silent. I’m done for.

Scarface pushes close and spits in my face, his rancid breath making me gag. With a hand over my mouth they drag me to the river bank. Scarface checks my camera for the memory card. It’s gone. Searching my pockets, Scarface says, “Where is it?”

“Maybe he swallowed it?”

The knife flicks across my throat, burning as it lances.

“Check his throat.”

I feel my blood rush down my chest and air leaving my windpipe.

“Check his stomach.”

Another slash, more fire, and my guts fall to my knees.

Furtive hands search, then, “It’s not there. What’s the bastard done with it?”

“Let’s go. He’s dead. Dump his body,” said Scarface.

My third mistake had been in slowing by the letter box, shoving the memory card in the pre-addressed envelope and posting it. Those few seconds had cost me my life. But as I float away and the final light of my life expires, my last thoughts are, ‘When my editor receives the letter, at least the police will catch them. I always take good, sharp, photos… .’

*****

9 The Homewrecker

They enjoyed each other’s company at the local community college lunchroom during evening class breaks and their conversations and friendship became more intimate as the weeks went by. They had even shared family photographs. At 35, Jim had been married for a decade, had no children, and was hoping his Computer Aided Design class would result in a promotion at work. He’d been steadily employed for fifteen years. His tablemate, Jane, was a single mother of two and was recently divorced.

“I don’t have any evidence, but I’ve just got a feeling my wife is fooling around on me” Jim says.

“Really?” Jane asks, “Don’t we all wonder about our spouses, even a little bit? I try not to be cynical.”

“Yes. It’s just foolishness. I’ve got to put it out of my head.”

They left the conversation there, as both had to get back to class. At their meeting the following week, however, Jim didn’t look good.

“Jim, whatever is the matter?”

“It’s my wife. Several days ago, a package stamped “Confidential” arrived by courier for me at work. The deliveryman would only accept my signature. I signed, rushed back into my office, closed the door, ripped it open, and found 10 color glossy photographs of my wife and her lover in various stages of in flagrante delicto. When I confronted her, she denied everything. When I asked her how the pictures could lie, she replied with nothing but tears. I called my lawyer the next day and moved in with my brother.”

“Oh, Jim, I’m so sorry.”

“Thanks, I’m finding out who my friends really are. I’m glad you’ve been here for me all these weeks.”

“Of course Jim. I’ll be here for you next semester too.”

“Really? Maybe I’ll sign up for the next level CAD class. What class are you taking next semester, Jane?”

“Advanced Photoshop. I’m finishing Intermediate this semester.”

*****

10 The Gift


Marilyn stared at a blank computer screen surrounded by photos of famous authors. She was exhausted after a violent bout of crying.  

Three and a half hours!  She'd been there since Clay tied her to the chair three and a half hours ago.  The binds were snug, but not too tight.  Even now she felt no chafing from the nylon cords.  Still, she was trapped.

"CLAY!"

"Oh, talking to me again?"  He brought her a cup of coffee and he held it to her lips. She sipped.  "What, still nothing?  Not one word?" Clay kissed the top of her head.

"Untie me, Clay."

"Nope.  Told ya.  Five pages.  Just give me five pages and you're free for the day.  Could be a short story or a chapter, I don't care."  He flashed her an exaggerated smile.

"I can't work like this, Clay!"  She held up her bound hands.

"Your fingers are free to type.  I'd undo your wrists, but you'd just try to undo the leg knots again.  Naughty girl.  Look, you're the one who wants to be a writer, but whines about not having the time to writer.  This is a gift - you'll thank me later."

"I'll press chargeslater!"

"Very funny. Clay picked up one of the framed pictures.  "Kurt is watching you, and Ms Atwood. And the others."

"Did you cut all those off the book jackets?  You cut up my books!"

"Don't change the subject.  Marilyn, you've got at least 30 unfinished stories.  Work on one of those."  

"You looked in my file - my personal computer file?"

"I did not."

"You read them." She grimaced.

"They were good.  They're promising.  Get on with it."

Marilyn sniffled.  Her husband's methods were odd, but maybe he was right.
 
"Can I double space?"

*****

11 Dead Men's Spurs

I flicked through the photograph album eyeing the small rectangular black and white pictures as if they were artefacts from another world. Most featured Dad and his pals in Italy and Egypt; groups of men in uniform, standing by Sherman tanks or in front of ruined buildings, berets at a jaunty angle, young, clean-shaven, smiling faces.
 
One particular picture caught my eye: an officer, standing alone in front of a baroque fountain. His chin was thrust out as if he was trying to balance a spoon on the tip. The monocle, I thought, added a racy touch. He looked the kind of man that would fight a dual before breakfast, lead a cavalry charge before lunch, and still be home in time to give his servants a damn good thrashing before dinner was served.

"He was our CO," Dad said. "The day after this picture was taken he was hit by a German shell and his head was blown clean off."

"You don’t seem that bothered," I said.

Dad shrugged. "Lots of people died Son; he was just one of many. The next two CO's were also killed in pretty quick succession. If the war had gone on for another year, they would have probably made me CO." He smiled ruefully and tapped a picture on the facing page. It showed him standing on the Ponte Vecchio with his arm around a very attractive young lady. "Of course the war was not all bad."

I closed the album, not wanting to think about the sticky moments of war. "So, how come so many CO's got killed. Were they not back safe at HQ?" I said changing the subject.

He shook his head. "No. These were Polish officers; death in battle was little more than a trifling inconvenience to men like that."

We sat in silence for a while each with our own thoughts. Then he flashed me that grin of his and asked: "So, still thinking of joining the Army?"

*****

12 The Silent Intruder


The old woman in tattered clothes was sitting quietly in a small hotel room. The only
other occupant of the room, the young man she had come to meet, was not yet aware
of her presence. He was looking intently at a photograph in his hand and smiling contently.

The photograph showed an open space in front of a magnificent cathedral, a well-known spot in the city. One could also see many other things in it; small souvenir shops, pigeons searching for crumbs, tourists walking aimlessly all around the place. It had come out well; capturing the intricate details as well as the festive atmosphere
under a clear sky.

 She rose silently from her seat when she realized that the time to reveal herself had
arrived. She was aware that he wanted her to visit the location in the photograph after
fifteen minutes, and meet as many people as possible. She also knew that it would
never happen and he would probably be heartbroken to see her in this room.  
  
She took three noiseless strides and tapped on his shoulder.

The young man whirled around. He was completely taken aback, particularly after a quick
glance that told him the door was still bolted from inside.

``Who the hell are you? How did you get in?'' he demanded in a hoarse voice.

The old woman chuckled softly, exposing a mouthful of decaying teeth. She enjoyed
watching the transformation that was taking place on the face in front of her;
complete bewilderment giving away to abject fear.

The blinds of the large window of the room were drawn back, and  two men were observing
the room from an apartment right across the street. One of them put down the powerful
binocular he was holding, and remarked, ``It's him all right. He is alone, but I don't like the
look on his face. Somehow, he knows he is facing death.''

``Shall we wait?'' the other man, who was crouching behind a table, asked.

``No need,'' the man with the binocular replied curtly, and then added, ``They still don't
have a blocked clue where the bomb is, and he just needs five seconds with his cell
phone to activate it.  Go ahead if you have a clean shot.''

The trigger of a bolt-action sniper rifle was squeezed, and a long slim bullet began
a brief journey with extreme precision.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2012, 07:34:47 PM by Maimi »
Ambassador for NI. [without portfolio] 
http://www.lulu.com/shop/mwc/as-the-kettle-wolf-whistled/paperback/product-21544909.html