flash fiction


V.24 No.46 | 11/12/2015
/ Wikimedia Commons

Flash Fiction

The House on Silver Avenue

I am going to need another tug off that bottle of Thunderbird if I am going to go down there and rescue one of those kittens said Charlie to the spare but shabby living room of the house on Silver Avenue.

Chauncy was in the room under the stairs which contained a sink, a shower and crapper. He did not hear Charlie talking nonsense about the cats because he was getting ready for his evening shift at the steakhouse. Chauncy was frantically trying to coax chicken fat stains out of his black trousers with a toothbrush and a bottle of Florida Water.

The others were in the first-floor bedroom, across from all of that. They couldn't hear Charlie either. Michael was smoking dirt weed out of a pipe he had carved from an apple, reclining like royalty on the bed while his stunned girlfriend Sherri sat in the corner picking glitter out of her hair and counting Jeffersons. They moved in last week and Charlie knew them about as well as any of the other punk rockers from across the street.

Charlie looked around and realized he was speaking to empty space, chatting with the void. He got up and dragged himself to the kitchen. Tim Lodgeson was in there cooking a chicken in the microwave. He had the whole thing in the oven for ten minutes while the two of them sat around jawing about school. Charlie couldn't make heads or tails of what Lodgeson told him. It was something about forests and capitalism.

When the meat came out it was gray. It had the appearance of plastic. Tim took the bird and skewered it with a big silver serving fork he had taken from the cafeteria last semester, around Thanksgiving. He started gnawing on the chicken as if he had not eaten for a week, like he had conquered a small but vicious dinosaur with teeth and technology.

Charlie excused himself politely, gagged and walked out onto the back porch. He could hear the kittens in the basement mewling for their mother. The hell with the Thunderbird, he thought, I sure would like a new pet cat. Further reasoning that such an outcome would be a pleasant surprise for his girlfriend, he sauntered down the stairs and into the darkness.

He felt his way around for a bit until he could reach out and pull on the chain that turned on the light bulb in the middle of basement. Sure enough, there was a litter of cats in the basement. Their mother was nowhere to be seen. Charlie crept over to snatch up a tiny calico.

An eruption of teeth and fur and hair and blood coincided with that action as the hidden mother pounced. The living fury would not come off him, though he clawed and clawed at it. He retreated and was filled up with a queasy combination of shame and horror. The damn thing finally let up when he got to the door, lunging for the knob and hitting his head on the concrete as he fell toward the yard.

Back inside of the house on Silver Avenue, Michael and Sherri had crept out their room and were watching Hee Haw in the big front room. Chauncy was in the kitchen critiquing Tim's culinary procedures as he attempted to saw a leg off of what was left of the poultry experiment. Chauncy was dressed for work now. He looked like a million bucks and was being awfully careful not to get any schmaltz on his waiter's uniform as he danced around Tim's meaty methodologies.

As the two went on and on about the wonders of microwave cooking and with the mellow sounds of George Jones drifting through the whole place, Charlie entered from the porch. He asked for a wet towel and wondered aloud where his bottle of wine might have gotten to. Saturday night had just begun.

V.24 No.43 | 10/22/2015

Flash Fiction

The Preparations

Youngish, red-haired, but on the surface grizzled, as was common among his folk, Luther scraped up enough feria every month to pay his rent by working odd jobs around the student ghetto. Luther mastered projects like fixing swamp coolers and painting porches. Once in a while he scored a big job, like the time he took care of Royal Eddie, the punk rock pig while the swine's owners were following FIDLAR around on their tour of the Southwest. He got two Benjamins for that gig.

All of that meant he could keep his pantry stocked with Spam and canned beans plus Alpo brand dog food, which his hound dog, Han Solo, craved. The dog would howl hellishly when the stuff was being laid out for din din.

Luther spent his days off sitting in the Frontier Restaurant, looking at the art work, imagining what it might be like to live in the old west. He figured he'd be doing sort of the same thing, except he'd have a horse and would have to heat up his tinned goods with the heat from a campfire. Han Solo would subsist entirely on wild rabbits.

One day, Luther got to looking through the Daily Lobo. That was the name of the college paper in those parts, and man did it have some fancy writing. He really liked the column written by the eccentric classical history professor from back east; that fellow sure knew how to give it to the kooks that ran the place. But what really caught his eye was an advertisement on the back page.

The ad had been placed by a local construction-tool rental company. They were looking for someone to be in charge of maintaining the equipment folks borrowed. Luther knew a hell of a lot about tools. He clipped out the announcement with the scissors in his Swiss Army knife, stuffed the scrap of paper in his front jeans pocket and took the back exit where his old Ford F-100 was waiting. Han Solo was sprawled out, asleep on the wide bench seat.

Luther got the job, did damn fine at it. His boss Ernie was impressed with his attention to detail and seemingly endless knowledge of construction materials. But he did not care for Luther's man bun, skinny jeans or the way he sometimes smelled of burnt rope.

About a year later, Luther took over for Ernie, who moved on to Sausalito to look after a boat. Luther had saved up enough money to rent a house by then, too. He was plumb tired of living between Central and Garfield, so he went driving north of there and stumbled on a big old run down ranch style by Hidden Park. Sure enough there was a for rent sign in front and an oaken swing on the shabby porch, to boot.

The dude that answered the phone was named Mel. He said he wanted 1500 dollars a month, plus a deposit of 1000 Washingtons. He told Luther he liked dogs alright, as long as they didn't shit the house. After a quick meeting the two struck a deal. Luther started hauling his worldly possessions over to his new home.

It was a dark, musty place with a big back bedroom that had a walk-in closet. Smack in the middle of that room within a room was a cellar door that went down to a shallow crawl space. Luther thought it would make a perfect location to start building a secret hideout.

For that mission, Luther got some of his friends to help out. They could pretend they were in an episode of "Doomsday Preppers" or something like that. They'd drink Thunderbird wine, light up and get that burnt rope smell going while listening to this or that version of "Me and My Uncle", or "Sugar Magnolia". They would dig and dig, dragging four by fours and sheets of three quarter inch plywood into and through the house before the summer sun came back early and the authorities caught on.

Soon enough, there was a cavern under the master bedroom. Luther even trained Han Solo to crawl around down there. The walls were lined with cans of Ranch Style beans, rectangular tins of Spam and about a thousand units of Alpo brand dog food. It was wired with electricity too; if you went down there, you could read or jam out or just wait for the coming apocalypse—making sure all the while tools and weapons were properly prepared and organized.

Luther was proud of his creation, so it was a goddamn shame when he got evicted after drunkenly hinting about his secret mission to a neighbor. It turned out the guy next door was a magistrate judge who did not cotton to hearing first hand that a gaggle of hipsters was digging holes and getting ready for the end times right next door. Who the fuck knew what else was going on at that decrepit old house, the judge thought to himself as he dialed up Mel to complain.

Mel sent Luther a letter to let him know the jig was up. Luther waited a couple of days and pulled up stakes. He nailed the door to the hideout shut and drove off toward the setting sun with a truckload of canned goods, bottled water and a hound named after a character from a galaxy far, far away.

Luther thought about being a cowboy again, how the wilderness could be his for the taking. He hoped he could find another place where he could prepare, where he could dig. "Fuck the tool shop" he yelled out the window of the Ford. Maybe Eugene or Arcata, he imagined as the old truck crested a western hill and kept on rolling like the sea; towards its edge.

V.21 No.25 | 6/21/2012

Arts

Daily Flash Fiction no. 5

Beyond What We Can See

A man fell from a building. Until his death, he washed windows high above sidewalks, so that powerful men could see the world better, the same one he saw hanging on a perch; a porch with buckets and squeegees, lowered down skyscrapers in a dense part of this dull city.

The coworkers drank beers in the back of a pick-up. One of them said to the man's brother: "There cannot be a reason for everything, despite what the elders say. Unless it's cause and effect, a force that drives the world, beyond what we can see."

Then they drove to the wife and gave her $200 for the fire she needed to turn him to ash.

V.21 No.24 | 6/14/2012

Arts

Daily Flash Fiction no. 4

Wilson “Jumpstart” Begay

Wilson “Jumpstart” Begay bought a used ’64 Ford pickup when he got back from Nam. Every time he turns off the ignition he has to get a jump start, so he leaves the engine running because so many people laugh at him when he asks for a push. One afternoon while in Gallup he went into a Blake’s, and two men, who had just robbed a 7-11 jumped in and drove to their girlfriend’s apartment. When they all came out, the truck wouldn’t start. Before they could raise the hood, they were surrounded by police. Wilson got out of the squad car and told the officers, “That’s it. Can I have a push before you fellas leave?”

Arts

Daily Flash Fiction no. 3

Bar-B-Q

We found it near the old Chevy Zeke keeps his guns in. He was small, the orange stripes on his belly had turned rusted red. The white crawling stripes were maggots that kept coming like the cat was giving birth.

We tossed it to Bo and Luke, the two dead boys we keep in the backyard. They scare the looters away and Zeke kinda likes it when they slobber on him.

But they wouldn't touch the cat. Just kept staring at it like they was expecting it to come back to life.

Zeke and me watched the sun die with my head on his chest.

"Don't that beat all?" he said.

The Library of Congress / CC BY-SA 2.0

Arts

Daily Flash Fiction no. 2

The Old Truck

He laughed, and then thought it odd to have laughed just then. It was just that now, after everything, it seemed absurd they had been so sad last year when the cat died. He looked across the dry backyard, and laughed again. “That pinche truck, that pinche, red truck.” They had bought it on Valentine’s Day—what, like seventeen years ago?—and they had laughed about buying a red truck on Valentine’s Day. And then he cried, as the yard turned red in the sunset light. This very morning, his wife had been alive, she had seen the sun this very morning. He looked across the yard at the red truck, and he thought about Valentine’s Day.

“The Life of Liz” by Estella Mitchell, age 11
[click to enlarge]

Arts

Flash Fiction marches on

The Alibi’s Flash Fiction issue hit stands today. As promised, here’s the first in a series of entries that didn’t make it to print, but that we loved, nonetheless. Check out the awesome art accompanying Estella Mitchell’s story. The highly imaginative—not to mention eerie—piece reminded me a bit of that scene where Nic Cage reads the kid’s poem in the great Werner Herzog film Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call—New Orleans.

V.20 No.21 |

arts

Office Excavations

This week's offering is about quantity over strangeness. It's not too weird that I found some old Alibi stickers. It's just that there are so many. Like a whole desk drawer full. If you've been wanting an Alibi sticker to adorn your car, notebook or favorite calculator, now you know why you couldn't get one anywhere.

Someone has been hoarding them. "I'll just keep these safely hidden, in reserve for a time when there are no more Alibi stickers on the planet. This desk drawer is the perfect place. Bwaahahaha."

I think I'll include some of these in future prize packs for contests. On that note, have you submitted your Flash Fiction entry yet? The deadline is June 1.

V.19 No.31 |

Books

Flashy

Now that you've had a full day to digest the Flash Fiction winning stories we've published, it's time to give it a whirl yourself!

Comment on our website with your own flash fiction!