Monthly Archives: January 2009

“Papa”–Flash Fiction, Difficult People.




          The wound. The fear of the wound. Quiver. Recover. Forever afraid. Don’t talk about it.

          Who’s there?

          Running water. Pipes complain. Lonely essential job. Bottom rung. Good attitude.

          Urbane indifference. Seen it all. No attitude necessary.

          The trolley ran here once. Over there a man was crushed by a team of horses. Fire engine. No charges.

          The dead man…ribs crushed…massive head trauma—back due on taxes. Life a mess of debts and addictions. I’m very sorry. The city sent a letter of sorrow, the bank took her house and her furniture, she moved to her sister’s and they fought from Day 2.

          The two children, a boy and a girl, were small. They wanted Papa and cried when mother and auntie fought.

          Then they moved again, to an apartment a friend of her brother knew about. The landlord was sympathetic. He sat in her kitchen and drank gin over ice and seltzer. He was a bachelor, a runaround. He let the rent go until they had an argument about him walking around in his undershirt and shorts.

          Hot as the Sahara in here, he shouted. And the kids started to whimper and beg for their Papa. So the landlord got dressed and took them to the cemetery in his new car and he showed them the grave and the kids stopped crying and got big eyes of wonder and on the way home they stood in the backseat and pressed their tiny fingers into the landlord’s shoulders and that’s the day they remember getting a new Papa.



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“Picture of Hell”–flash fiction, Difficult People

Picture of Hell



          Let me give you a picture of Hell.

          Imagine the most degraded living conditions. Filth and confinement. Well, it wasn’t that. No, more like a Heaven. It was open and airy, the streets were broad, the people bustling, and nary a shackle. How can Mr. Positive be so Negative? How can a man with sufficient income, a paid holiday, a new car, a pleasant domicile with a tree-shaded view of the river, how indeed can such a soul, citizen, by product of our best education al efforts…I say, how can this soul be in a living Hell?

          One word: Jealousy.

          Plain simple, a nightmare of green jealousy, just one of many alternate snaking roads to Hell. Yes, Mr. Positive was thinking his wife was in love with another man…a detestable creature at her work, the one they called “Boss”, a man who exercised power over her, her salary, and consequently, their income—

          When Mr. P. sat in his air-conditioned Zephyr sports mobile…the latest style in the affluent suburbs, Tchaikovsky lively in the hepa-filtered air, his finger fiddling with the temp controls, doors locked and under the shade of a dusty wretched copse of locust trees… he squinted at the cheap hollow-core door…red…of the Sleepy Bear Motor Motel…He stared on until almost dinnertime with stroke trauma intensity, then saw his wife emerge and slip away to her car.

          Mr. P in Hell…a filter of blood streaming down the windows, homicide in his heart and gut, he waited for his victim and patience rewarded, saw Miss Q, the shapely cube mate of his wife slink from the motel…

          My God! The beast…a ménage à trois! Mr. P fought back the images of the two naked female bodies adorning the right and left sides of the Boss’ hairy ugliness.

          So Mr. P waited…and waited…and late night darkness fell but no one further emerged from the Sleepy Bear Motor Motel…no one was caught in the claws of Mr. P’s stunned, newly developing picture of Hell…



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“Fireside Chat”–flash fiction, Difficult People

Fireside Chat



          Dr. Sock Monkey eased back and got that distant look. Quiet as a mountain range…just there. He nodded. Okay. Start.

          I refocused on the end of the room where the painting of the flowers in a mountain meadow opened out into the real world of a window…and beyond icicles hanging off the eaves, big stalactites, my god, if they dropped just right.

          Dr. Sock Monkey cleared his throat. Let’s pick up from last time. The furnace metaphor.

          Ah yes, thank you. Yes, I got going with that image…yes, the universe…the world…humans writ large in society, down to you…me…furnaces, requiring fuel. First, the central image of fire. The universe is an indescribable fire, explosion, yes…then look at the sun, a great ball of nuclear fusion, more fire, and untouchable and bring it on down to the blue marble …at the core…a liquid fiery center that spews up through vents. Okay, it’s working now. Man way back invents fire…rather, steals it from Mother Nature. Why? The sky gods toss fire bolts to earth and sometimes there’s fire left. They grab up burning limbs of trees. They keep the fire going. Woe to the man or woman who loses the fire. Even by then fire has burned someone; maybe even they have burned up a bad someone found creeping round the camp. The stranger…cut loose by his own people. They cook him. They eat him. They gain his power. Fire does that, the god’s gift for transforming the animal world to cultural food. Writ large we have the fire in war…cannons, bombs, Hitler’s ovens…and our time the MAD strategy. We’re all living in an apocalyptic furnace scenario awaiting the push of a button. Cosmic recycling.

          Dr. Sock Monkey cleared his throat and glanced at the clock on the wall. Let’s continue our “fireside chat” next time.



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