Flash Fiction

"A Duodene of Bird Notes"

Morguefile.com/Matthew Hull

She was busy stuffing her clothes, jewelry, books and records into the big straw bag she carried with her everywhere. She was getting ready to go back to wherever she went every morning as the sun climbed up into the sky and the earth turned around and around.

Scrape, scrape, scrape, went the sound of the razor against Charlie’s face. It was summertime. The Ford dealership was doing fine. No one seemed to give a bird’s beak whether he came in hung over. He could flutter into the showroom with eyes like a raven has; everything would still be okay.

Sandy sang out from the bedroom. She couldn't find her keys and was cussing like a mechanic does when that one important bolt just won't come off. Charlie lit on the bed roughly and goose down went flying everywhere.

He wiped the Barbasol from his face and smoothed out the mess. Charlie said to go outside and have a look-see. Sure enough, the keys were dangling from the door.

Sandy waltzed back in, shot Charlie a dirty look and took off. She was clutching her bag in one hand and a pair of maryjanes in the other. The door banged shut, but she would phone him later.

Charllie looked around the room, gave his dog Dutchess a pat on the head and walked over to the kitchen. He poured a cup of coffee, smoked a Pall Mall and admired the bright light filling up the place.

The phone rang just after midnight. An hour later, Charlie could hear Sandy’s truck chugging up the hill to Ridgecrest. The only other sounds were from nightjars or from the trains coming and going at the station by the Alavardo.

Charlie and Sandy got drunk and listened to the records she brought over. And then they did it together; sweetly swooping through the red wine and white sheets as if the world around them were just a shiny bead at the bottom of a deep pool. In between rounds, she talked about the movies she'd seen at the Sunshine and told about the books she had been reading.

Charlie didn't know much about any of those books or movies, but he sure liked to listen to Sandy talk. She had a voice like a bird; it was made from feathers and bones, eggshells and promises.

Dutchess barked. Charlie realized he was late for work. He rose, and checked the door before he left for the day. “It's locked, I shook it,” he half-whistled as he wandered down to Nob Hill.

On the way to the shop Charlie saw two hawks, a roadrunner and at least ten sparrows. Those were hopeful signs he mused; he hoped like hell he'd sell a car that day. It was the Friday before the Fourth of July. Charlie was damned if there wasn't some patriotic eagle out there he couldn't talk into a Ford.