Monthly Archives: July 2008

“Baby in a Box”–flash fiction, Difficult People

Baby in a Box



          In some hot house corner of her imagination, in dreams, in reality, weren’t imagined scenes possible memories from another life?

          She shivered. This was something horrid, impossibly possible, the time she had a baby and put It in a box. A yellow brown cardboard box. And the baby, a girl, sweet pea cute, Gerber ad kid with dimpled charm, she closed the top and taped it shut gently; she didn’t look down to see the eyelids, two halves of equal width; sad ending, It slept in a textbook box she found in the bookstore dumpster behind the high school.

          Her parents had looked at the baby and said, we’re too old, we don’t want to raise another child. Sorry, but no, the strain will kill us.

          But I can pretend she’s my younger sister or brother.

          But her mother said, no. Taking on that baby would make her seem weird, an older woman who didn’t know when to quit making babies. There’s a time for everything, her mother said, you’ll have to raise It yourself…or let It go.

          But how? And why?

          There didn’t seem to be a boyfriend, a father stepping forward.

          Then she remembered the little casket at that funeral for their neighbor woman’s baby; her mother had taken her to the church service but not to the burying. Maybe they cremated the dead baby, and its box might be filled with gray powder and there was no memory now of a little daughter or son or sister or brother.

          Finally, she went to get the baby in a box from the abandoned gas station. The baby was fine. No one who waited at the bus stop had noticed a baby in a box. It smiled, It wasn’t hurt, and It shined from the box like a light of pleasure. It cooed. It was a good baby in a box and It was very clean, with bright brown eyes, very clear and thoughtful.

          Most unusual maturity, she realized, and studied the baby lying in its comfortable bed in the box. She was glad now she would never forget her baby’s eyes. Never never…




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“Dr. Sock Monkey”–flash fiction, Difficult People

Dr. Sock Monkey



          Dr. Sock Monkey was a good listener. He said practically nothing during therapy. I didn’t mind of course. I had plenty to say. I liked the sound of my own gritty voice. I just refuse to have a name to tie me down; that way I can roam around the universe and be free.

          Hey, I pay good money, and Dr. Sock Monkey listens, he’s the best in the business. He’s not really a sock monkey, but some kid he worked on years ago got his name a little confused…so he came to therapy and gave him his actual sock monkey. It’s not important if you don’t care about this cute story. Today, sock monkeys of many variations fill the doctor’s office and waiting room. Every patient, so very grateful for the relief of their psychic pain, eventually donates a sock monkey to the good doctor’s collection.

          Once I asked Dr. Sock Monkey what will we all do when he dies?

           He laughed and said perhaps most patients might gain as much value from talking to a doll—a stuffed sock!

          I laughed too but later realized he was trying to divert my anxiety over death and loss, my intensely compressed nervousness, about the personal way Death stalks you…me…us…in the midst of life.

          I wonder why I even look at the news. I can barely breathe, after the images of wretched death (here I will not disgust you with the power of morbid detail).

          Dr. Sock Monkey is very patient with me. He laughs when I tell my stories of horrible diseases and bizarre fatal accidents…natural disasters as “acts of god”…

          That’s what I really get to talk about…the nature of the Good, Bad and Ugly…God as Life and Death (the long arm agency of God…like a gunslinger)…and the vital questions of destiny and free will.

          Dr. Sock Monkey welcomes me to each session every Friday with a friendly “how you feelin,” and I just rear back and spill my quivering guts to a room full of grinning monkeys.

          Takes one to know one, I say, and the good Doctor chuckles.


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“Bones”–flash fiction, Difficult People




          Bones. That’s what they called me. Trombone. Old name. I don’t care.

          Get some education, my Daddy always said. What if’n your lungs and lips they blow out?

           Shit. They mostly never did. Mouth, lips, lungs…bones…blowin’ soft and slow. New Orleans sound, you got it? Uh huh, that’s what I hear when I wake up. Work wid me, brother. Soul. The voices are in your head. Can’t be afraid. Just blow. Stiff upper lip. That’s a joke, okay. I been all round the world. People got the beat everywhere. I’ve found friends in every nook and cranny. You can’t be afraid. Gotta just go…and blow this old horn. Some guy in Japan had all my stuff…professor of mathematics. Said he thought we was soul brothers, another life. I give him a big old hung, you know he cried. Still get letters from his wife…he passed. You get to my age…you been to a lot of funerals. I got a whole funeral thing I do…gets people in the mood. Feel good for the spirit of the deceased. Funny thing ‘bout death, folks get closer the longer they’re gone.

          You know an old black blues horn player, ol’ Bones…what does he know anyway?

          That’s why I blow. That’s the only honesty I got. Words get all slippery, crossing up, get yo butt in a pickle, yep, my repertoire’s ‘bout the same after all these years. I’m holding back on the high notes, cutting a few corners. Got to, breath runs short. When I was young, my Daddy kept warnin’ me I’d get old, run outta breath

          Get yo self an education, son, they can’t take that away from you.

          Daddy was a good man but he was a scared man. Life frightened him. He was afraid to take a chance. Afraid for me and my failure but you know, I feel every night I play that I been blessed, taking that chance don’t scare me—

          …well, it does but I use that fright, to blow the blues right outta my soul, right outta my horn.


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“Happy Valentine”–flash fiction, Difficult People

Happy Valentine



–Listen, he said, don’t push me. I’m pissed off!

–Let’s talk about it, she said.

–Fuck off! I’m sick of being fuckin’ reasonable!

–Okay, okay, let’s change the subject.

–I’m not able to forget assholes. I’m feeling homicidal.

–Whoa! Step back. You’re not blaming me?

–Now I see why they shot the messengers, he said.

–I didn’t ask to bring the news. They took advantage of me.

–Yeah, I can see you’re enjoying seeing me squirm.

–Not so, she said, okay, sure a little. You’re very handsome when you’re angry.

–What? It’s a turn on?

–Yes, frankly, she said, and it’s Love Day.

–What are you doing?

–Taking off my blouse.

–Oh my God, I’m not interested. Oh my God…

–Help me with my bra.

–No! No! I wanna be angry.

–Oh, there it goes…oh that feels better…so free!

–Jesus…oh my! Don’t come closer. I’m warning—

–Oh, that feels good. Bite my nipples gently.

–Mmmm…oh…hey, I’m smothering here…

–I thought you liked big breasts…ohhh….

–Uhmmm…yes, no…hey, I’m trying to be angry.

–Slip off my panties. Help me, baby, show me your anger.

–Dammit, you fiendish messenger, he moaned…oh oh oh…

–Now, baby, she cried, shoot that Valentine, deep, deep into my heart!



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“Ronnie, Ronnie”–flash fiction, Difficult People

Ronnie, Ronnie



          Ronnie took the gun from his glove compartment and stuck it in his belt and zipped up his football jacket. He needed that job and that new bastard sent in from Cincinnati, he didn’t know just how fuckin’ hard he’d tried, getting off the whiskey, getting down to beer, a fuckin’ beer a day. He ached so bad he thought his rib cave would explode and he quit yelling at Sue Ann and kept his promise not to draw back at her…and yeah, he did that. Ronnie, Ronnie, his Mama would say, sitting on the couch, mellow, ten a.m., a cigarette in the ashtray, lipstick and them damned sad sack soaps…some fag with plastic hair cooing in some broad’s ear. “Oh Tiffany, just wait till I finish (fuckin’) architecture school…then we’ll travel…” They never got down to it. Nobody did anything but bullshit. “It’s all fuckin’ bullshit!” Ronnie shouted and slammed the pickup’s door. “Fuck it!” And somebody yelled ‘cross the frozen parking lot in support, “fuckin A!” Ronnie, Ronnie, his mother would say, Whatcha gonna do, baby? Whatcha gonna do?” He strode on, passing through the lobby, nodding, the word hadn’t spread. The bastard was gonna change his mind, Mama, an outside from up on Ohio, don’t know what I’ve suffered, how hard I’ve tried, shitty schools, no father, poor drunk ass mother, evil sister, the whole fuckin’ white trash nightmare and Sue Ann she no better sometimes sipping during the day, high on weed, stumbling round the trailer. Ronnie…Ronnie…I’ll tell ya what I’m gonna do, he said, kicking open the office fuckin’ door…the light blazing into his mind like a violent hangover in day glow…he took point blank aim and howled…!

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