Tag Archives: flash fiction

January 5th, 2004 #writing #fiction #flashfiction

January 5th, 2004

            The night after LSU won the National Championship, he was still partying in the Quarter on Royal Street. He had come from a bar on Bourbon—sometimes it seemed that all the bars were on Bourbon, though of course that wasn’t true—and was trying to find his way back to Dauphine, where Melanie was supposed to be taking photos for her article. He was drunk and had to piss, the nine Miller Lights in his belly trying hard to dribble down his leg. He needed a bathroom, an alley, anything. But there on Royal, he saw nothing but shops, all of them now closed. He spat


            and turned around, and that was when the fist came out of nowhere and caught him between the eyes. A bolt of pain shot through his head, white light exploding behind his eyelids, and he sprawled on his back, legs in the air. He turned his head and vomited, his eyes still closed against the pain. Someone above him said

            Ah, shit

            and then a hand jabbed into his front pants pocket, ripping out his keys. He heard them jingle as they landed in the gutter. Someone grabbed him by the shirt and yanked him upward and over, then pushed him down on his face. His nose cracked on the concrete, the pain like an electrical fire in his face, and he passed out. When he awoke, only seconds later, someone was cursing and shouting

            Yeah I got the wallet, but the motherfucker pissed on me

            and he realized that they were talking about him, the warmth spreading outward from his crotch. Someone kicked him in the ribs and he moaned, turning over just enough to see shoes, scuffed white Nikes with worn soles, the swoosh on the left one flapping back and forth like a flap of torn skin. He wondered if Royal Street was empty save for him and his attackers, or if someone might be watching, snapping pictures perhaps, possibly shooting the footage on cell phone. Perhaps tomorrow he would see his own mugging on the Internet. Somewhere a few blocks over Melanie was snapping photos of dimly-lit architecture, unaware that piss was pooling underneath his thigh and that his own blood was running down his throat like sips of fetid water.

January 4th, 2004–flash fiction #writing #fiction

January 4th, 2004

            She opened her mailbox and found the latest letter from Sweepstakes forAmerica, promising that she really, really, really, really had made it to the final rounds for the Grand Prize of fifteen million dollars. The raised, bold print on the envelope impressed her with a promise that she could feel under the pads of her fingers as she carried the mail upstairs to her three-room apartment. The calligraphy marked this letter as different from the light bill, the Victoria’s Secret bill, the advertisement for the nearby body shop’s oil change and lube for only $59.95, extra for some import models. She opened her door and went inside, shivering, the apartment nearly as cold as the weather outside. She dropped the mail on her couch and ran to the thermostat. The temperature was set at seventy degrees, yet she could see her exhalations. She stood on her tiptoes and stretched her hand up to the vent, hoping to feel warm air. She felt nothing.

            She turned back to the couch, eyeing the pile of mail. She could see perhaps two inches of the light bill, peeking from under the Sweepstakes letter. She stared at it for perhaps a full minute before walking over to the couch and sitting down beside the mail, her weight causing the pile to shift. The envelopes slid toward her. She felt the Sweepstakes letter poke her thigh. The light bill was now fully visible, the envelope plain white, the postmark nondescript, the print on the envelope plain and unimportant.

January 3, 2004–flash fiction #writing

January 3, 2004

            This morning I got up early and ate a bowl of Total, not realizing how lucky I was to have made such a decision without the benefit of foresight or research. Not ten minutes after finishing the last bite and drinking down the milk—a habit I’ve kept from childhood—I saw this commercial on TV about how many bowls of other cereal would equal the nutritional benefits of one bowl of Total. I’d have to consume three bowls of Grape-Nuts and more All Bran than you’d ever want to eat in your life.

             Realizing how much time, effort, stomach cramps, and bowel movements the makers of Total had saved me, I decided to phone the home office and thank them. I called their 1-800 number and followed the instructions on the automated menus; I listened to some sort of what I suppose you’d call music, though it sounded more like Mozart by way of the Armpit, Mississippi Glee Club. I finally connected with Judy, a customer service operator.

            I told her that I was calling to thank the General Mills Corporation for the valuable services they had performed in my honor. I told her that I couldn’t imagine eating three or four bowls (I had forgotten which) of Grape-Nuts, which taste like artificially produced hay, and that I was very happy with their method of providing so much daily nutrition. I finished my speech by assuring her that I would buy Total as long as they continued to produce it at high levels of quality and consumer commitment.

            Judy hung up on me. I stood in my kitchen, still tasting milk and small particles of Total underneath my tongue. The empty bowl gleamed dully under the phosphorescent light.

January 2, 2004 #writing #flashfiction

As I’m posting some of my existing short-short work (still avoiding writing new short-short work for the moment), I’ve been going out of order, so I’m afraid I may be repeating myself. If I’ve done this one before and have overlooked it, sorry about that. It’s based on our late cat Judas, though it’s really a fictionalization.

January 2, 2004

            I decided to vacuum because of the cat litter scattered all over the bedroom. Our cat has never learned to operate her litter box. She climbs in and out indelicately, tromping through her own piss, dragging litter out between her fuzzy cat toes. I hate it. It would be like dipping my hand in the toilet and flinging water all over the house. It’s not only unsanitary; it’s just plain rude.

            But then our cat has never had any manners. She likes to sit on your chest in the middle of the night, just when you’ve drifted into the deepest of sleeps, the kind that brings dreams of the pasts you’ve lived through and the futures you hope to see. The sweet images of a former lover disintegrate, fade, and you open your eyes to see a ten pound cat staring in your face, her claws prickling your chest.

            Last night, for the fifth night in a row, she ruined a great dream. She leapt onto the bed and landed squarely on my crotch. I cried out and sat up, instinctively throwing her off the bed. She landed on all fours near the closet, gave me her best go to hell look, and padded away to conduct some other cat business. I discovered this morning that she had ripped the duvet when I shoved her away, three neat holes gaping up at me where her paws had been. I can’t explain why she failed to rip four holes. Perhaps she thought it would be in poor taste.

            So today I vacuum her litter, her shit nuggets, probably her fur as well. I do so with aching balls. I do so with my torn duvet smiling at me like a jack-o-lantern. The litter crashes against the insides of my vacuum like gravel against the undercarriage of a car. From the hall the cat watches me, suspicious, and washes her ears.

January 6th, 2004 #flashfiction #writing

January 6th, 2004

            You stopped walking long enough to tie your shoe and in that moment everything changed. The cessation of your quick and determined pace allowed your pulse to slow down, almost imperceptibly. Because of the fatigue poisons coursing through your body, you took longer than you normally would to make a knot. As you hunched over, the other pedestrians swerved around you, some almost unconsciously, none giving you more than the most cursory of glances. They had other places to be and only so much time to get there, after all. You did not look at them; you were staring at your shoe, thinking of nothing in particular. The stream of slacks and blue jeans and skirts pocketed you against the wall. And so when the first shot rang out and the first person fell, their brains and their blood marking the wall in abstract patterns of finality, you were hidden, safe, saved not by the jogging you had done every daybut by an untied shoelace that might have remained fast on any other morning.

January 15th, 2004–flash fiction

I don’t think I’ve posted this one before. Sorry if I have. Coming soon–a nonfiction meditation on foul language.

January 15th, 2004

     Another new phone book arrived on the stoop today. That makes three this year. I can’t see much difference in them. One seems to be the usual directory that we’ve been getting every year of my life; the other two seem like commercials. They’ve got corporate logos on the covers, like something handed to you on a tour, along with your key chain and your letterhead notepad.

     I’m using the first two as doorstops. I needed a way to keep my bedroom door from closing at night, because it swings shut on its own, prohibiting the cat from reaching her litter box. I’ve got another one on the bathroom floor, because that door won’t stay open, either, and it gets too hot in there when I’m showering. Once I stepped out of the tub and saw that the cat had somehow gotten onto the counter. She was staring at the fogged-up mirror, as if looking for the image of herself that had always been there before. While I watched, she reached out and brushed the mirror with her paw, wiping away part of the steam. The clear spot looked like a comma without a sentence to punctuate.

     Sometimes she sits on the phone book in my bedroom. Her tail curls up around the edge. It’s as if she’s sheltering it from something, perhaps from disappearing into the mist like the cat in the mirror.

February 23rd, 2004 #flashfiction #writing #fiction

Sorry for the lack of updates over the last week. I’ve been finishing up the spring semester. Now I’ve got a lot of revising to do, so it may be another week or so before I can write a new column here. In the meantime, here’s another old flash piece I’ve got in my files. I’ll post something new ASAP–hopefully in a couple of days at most.

February 23rd, 2004

     The rapper was shouting something about bitches and bullets, but we couldn’t hear him. The bass was crushing us, driving us against the wall, like the heartbeat of some angry, insane god. Someone near us was pulling out a Gat, but none of us cared. We were all holding our ears, driving our palms into our temples. I felt that something inside me was tearing loose, was being driven out of its hole and into the dark of the club. I saw the flash of the muzzle, watched the gun jump in his hand, but I heard nothing but bass, the backbeat of someone’s death.

February 5th, 2004–Flash Fiction #fiction #writing

February 5th, 2004

     The most frightening part of the trip occurred when they ducked into an Asian grocery store and she saw him steal four packages of soba noodles. He plucked them off the shelf and stuffed them into the inner pocket of his coat in one smooth, practiced motion, and she realized that he had done this before, God only knew how many times. The soba noodles were on sale, four packages for one dollar and forty-nine cents, and she knew for a fact that he had over six hundred dollars in cash tucked into his wallet, alongside three major credit cards.

     He refused to look at her as they left the store. As they turned onto the sidewalk, he broke into a walk that tried to evolve into a trot. She had to scurry around other pedestrians to keep up with him. That night when he cooked the noodles for her, they tasted bland in her mouth, as if all the flavor had come off in his coat pocket.

February 27th, 2004–flash fiction #fiction #writing

February 27th, 2004

     The phone rang at three AM and I knew it had to be trouble. The moon was full and shining through my window; I could see a deep layer of frost on the ground, like the world had been cast in silver. The frigid house enveloped me. I picked up the receiver and mumbled
     and shivered twice, hard, almost dropping the phone. It felt like ice against my face. I halfway expected it to rip away a layer of skin when I pulled it away. The moonlight stabbed into the room, pooling on the floor like blood. From the phone a ghostly voice said
     Is this the morgue?
     and I said
     No. You must have the wrong number
     and the voice said
     Huh. I could have sworn this was the morgue.
     I hung up and rubbed my eyes, feeling the grains of sleep jab into my skin like knives. The house was colder than ever. I wondered who had died and why it had to happen on a frosty night at three AM, when death seemed no more than an ordinary nuisance.  

Mardi Gras Flash Fiction #fiction #writing

You say you want some apocalypse? Here’s a glimpse of a personal vision…    

     The French Quarter was a human junkyard, bodies piled on top of bodies, throbbing and writhing with music no one could really hear and would pay no attention to anyway, the movement less rhythmic than sexual, a collective thrust between the legs of the city. The man pressing against my back gurgled, about to vomit, and I knew it would splatter onto my head and run down the back of my shirt, but I was helpless to get away, to move at all save for the almost-gentle back and forth wahhh-wahhh of the crowd. The woman to my right was topless, her breasts too rigid in the chaos to be real. Beads hung from her neck and both ears, her dead-fish eyes glazed over. I watched as a hand snaked around her waist and began pinching her right nipple. She did not notice. For all I knew she was dead. In the thronging masses she would have had no room to fall.