Archive for the flash fiction Category

SHOOTOUT AT THE ESTROGEN CORRAL

Posted in flash fiction, writing with tags , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2011 by kimmy

“I’m giving ya ten seconds to get through that door before I kick yer ass!”

Bitchfight!  The occupants of the surrounding tables cleared out in a hurry.  If you’ve never witnessed two grown women duke it out in a bar, then you’re missing quite the show.

The men, accustomed to fisticuffs, gathered around to watch.  They jostled for position, smiling and laughing, fully expecting their night’s worth of serious entertainment.  Ladies not involved in the dispute moved to the other side of the room.  They knew that cat fights are seldom restricted to only two combatants.  Without warning, it could inflame bystanders and turn into a total hair-pulling, nail-scratching, bra-ripping extravaganza.

The opponents sized up each other.  Fighter 1 in the blue trunks was a scuzzy blonde who had seen too many years and too many shots.  She slammed back another before stripping off her work jacket, flexing scrawny arms covered with faded tattoos.  Fighter 2 in the red trunks was a ratty brunette with sagging cleavage and glitter jeans stretched to their limit over a massive backend.  She was so loaded that she failed to notice that a jokester had tucked a bar straw into her buttcrack.

Scuzzy, the mouthier of the two, took her stance.  “I shoulda done this ages ago,” said she, cracking her knuckles.  “Yer just a uppity bitch who’s getting what’s comin’ to her!”

Ratgirl puffed out her chest.  Her breasts flapped like empty wineskins.  “When I’m done with you, I’ll teach your posse a lesson, too!” she boasted,  nodding to a snarling group of middle-aged women hovering nearby.

The posse jeered, screaming out epithets and boozy threats.  Scuzzy looked over shoulder briefly at them before righting her wobbly legs.  She grinned broadly at her plump adversary and removed her dentures, handing them off to an aide.

“Let’s see what you got,” said Ratgirl, inviting her forward.  “Unless you just plan on throwing them there teeth at me.”

Scuzzy took an unsteady swing.  It spun her completely around and she punched a bar stool instead.  It, and she, clattered to the ground.  The drunken posse matrons sprang into action, not to aid their champion on the floor, but to take her place en masse in the ring.

As predicted, all hell broke loose as hair went flying and acrylic nails drew blood.  Shrieks and moans, slaps and curses, each one louder and more colorful than the next, were flung from the human ball of intertwined limbs and handbags.  The male spectators cheered them on with whistles and fistpumps, especially when the bras came off and thongs shot across the room like rubberbands.  No matter how gruesome the sight -varicose veins, greying bikini lines and lumpy rolls of cellulite – their eyes stayed glued to the melèe.

“Break it up!” cried the bouncer, a mountain of a man with a bald head and numerous piercings.  The crowd groaned in refusal and closed ranks around the fighters, forcing Mountain Man to bust a few heads before getting close enough to the fray to douse the ladies with a bucket of ice water.

They squealed in horror, quickly pulling away and dabbing at the remnants of their clothing.  “I have to dry-clean this sweater, you asshole!” spat one of the bloodied women.  “What a cretin!”

MAD, BAD AND DANGEROUS TO KNOW

Posted in flash fiction, writing with tags , , on February 6, 2011 by kimmy

“So what are you saying, that he was some kind of libertine?”

She smiled.  It seemed a little feral.  “I don’t think he’d describe himself as such.”

“Why not?  You did.”

“He wouldn’t know what the word meant.”

She crossed her legs and leaned back into the chair.  It wasn’t a weary movement but a wary one, rather like a panther ready to strike.  Her eyes slowly swept the room before resting on her companion,  a mousy blonde clad in non-descript clothes.  The blonde seemed a perfect foil. 

The mouse conceded defeat without uttering a word.  She hung her head and fumbled with a notebook.  “If you’ll just… uh… describe the events as they took place… um…”

Catwoman blinked slowly and nodded.  “No doubt your readers will find it amusing.”  Her shoulders twitched almost imperceptibly.  “The misfortune of others often is.”

Mousy sniffed the air.  “So, you were hurt in some way?”

“Me?  No.”  The smile grew broader, revealing sharp white teeth.  “Just another adventure, really.”

“But you were involved, right?  I mean,  uh, you were there?”

“Of course,” she purred.  “I witnessed it all.”

The mouse jotted notes onto the pad without looking down.  “There were some differing accounts.”

“I’m not surprised.  Everyone wants to be heard.”

“So, there were others involved.”

The cat yawned.  “It wouldn’t be a story without them.”

As the mouse dutifully transcribed, the tale unfolded.  Catwoman was working for a conglomerate in Singapore when she met a fellow who played violin for the Melbourne Symphony.  The orchestra was in the last week of a grueling four-month tour of southeast Asia and its members were anxious to return home.  He was shopping in Lucky Plaza looking for a souvenir for his wife when he saw the cat peer into the shop window before slinking down the corridor.

He turned on his heel and pursued her, leaving behind a flustered salesman and a pile of costly gems.  He trailed her through the maze of mall shoppers to a tea shop where he introduced himself and invited her to the last concert, gallantly producing a pair of tickets to that evening’s performance.  She slipped them into her purse with an ambiguous smile, one which neither accepted nor declined the invitation.

She attended that night, and the next morning he resigned from the company and moved into her spacious apartment.  He ignored the subsequent calls and pleas from his wife and family, opting for an idyllic life with a woman who didn’t seem to care that he abandoned both social obligation and work ethic.  He spent his days in idleness, content to wait at home while she hunted corporate prey and to take the choicest pieces for himself.  Sometimes he frequented the brothels in Geylang while she was away, indulging in pleasures with minors of both sexes.  Other times he drank or gambled to excess, raging and slapping his feline companion if his losses were great; petting and spoiling her with expensive gifts if they were not.

Silent and obliging, her behavior never wavered.  She shared her largesse and endured his demands wordlessly until one day while shopping for another bauble with his winnings, he spied the shapely figure of a young French woman and followed her into a tea shop.  Despite all her frantic calls and attempts to track him down, Catwoman never heard from him again. 

She burned his clothes, books and violin on a pyre near the sea, saying goodbye in the only way left to her.  As she turned to leave, she noticed the lights from adjacent bonfires and heard their attendants’ cries.

“… and I realized there were others, many others, who had shared my fate.”

Mousy looked up from her scratchings, unsure whether or not to believe her.  “That’s a lot of ground for one man to cover.  Maybe those women were on the beach for different reasons?” she asked hopefully.

“Yes, for many reasons,” said the cat, “but the warning to those still at sea was the same.”

TAKING THE STAND

Posted in fiction, flash fiction, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2010 by kimmy

 

If you had the opportunity to hear the whole truth and nothing but the truth about yourself, would you take it?  What if you were denied the right to answer the charges? 

Angie knows all about sanctuary when none is given.  She moved in with her mother-in-law last April after her husband died unexpectedly and left her penniless.  She didn’t intend to stay permanently, but the economic downturn made job hunting all the harder and she had no choice but to rely on the mercy of a woman whom wasn’t known for it.

She put all her possessions in storage and lived in a corner of the guest room.  Given the somewhat formal nature of their relationship, she tried to minimize her impact on the household by keeping a low profile and staying away as much as possible from the mistress of the house.

For that house was not hers and she was reminded of it daily.  Despite paying a good monthly rent, she never felt comfortable using any part of the house save the corner she occupied.  And when her part-time job folded, she was obliged to work from home… an unhappy fix, but one that was forced by necessity.

The arrangement lasted only a few months.  Angie moved out and drove cross-country to Chicago where I met her for coffee on Black Friday.  The Starbucks was packed with shoppers, but we found a table near the window where she spilled her guts and wept.

“She told me I’m a terrible disappointment to her,” she snuffled.  “I infringed on her and I feel awful.”

She wiped her eyes with a blue and white hankie.  An sweet old-fashioned touch fitting for a woman who was completely out of sync with the workings of the modern world.  “Did you apologize?” I asked, knowing full well the answer.

“Of course!  But I had the distinct feeling that she was actually enjoying my discomfort.  She didn’t relax until I started crying.  I think that gratified her.”

I smiled and patted her hand.  “Oh honey, what you don’t know about the failings of human nature is a lot.”

She looked up at me with bloodshot eyes.  “Kimmy, please.   She’s a good woman at heart.”

“No, Angie.  You are a good woman at heart.  She’s an opportunist.”

“That’s a little harsh, don’t you think?  I mean, she’s only recently lost her son…”

“… who  happened to be your husband!  All the more reason to cling to each other, not to act out.”

“Stop judging, Kimmy!  You don’t even know her.”

I nodded.  It was, after all, the least I could do for her.  Yet I wondered why she felt compelled to defend someone who had shown her so little kindness.

“She has been kind; she took me in.”

“She didn’t take you in like a stray kitten, Angie.  You paid her.  You have rights.”

She stopped for a moment and puzzled the idea.  It probably hadn’t occurred to her that she had the ability to lead her life as she saw fit.

“Look, Angie,” I said, leaning in, “you are an adult, not a child.  There’s no need to cower before people who refuse to see you as such.  They are the ones with the problem, not you.”

“But I do have problems.  I’m a mess!  She told me so.”

“No.  She found fault with you for being an independent woman.  You made decisions without consulting her, decisions which impacted her life very little, but her ego a whole lot more.”

Angie looked at me curiously.  “Have I really been behaving like a child?

I smiled, thinking about my own encounters with such people.  “Not anymore than the next person.  But even the worst criminal has a right to defend himself.  You had none.”

Angie smiled back at me.  “I wonder what the verdict would be if I had the chance to exercise that right…” 

We both laughed.  “That’s why it’s so seldom given.”

KALEIDOSCOPE

Posted in fiction, flash fiction, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2010 by kimmy

“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel like this.”

She twirled around and flopped into a chair.  I wasn’t sure what to say.  What can one say after hearing the complete contents of a life?

“You don’t seem surprised.”  She lit a cigarette and exhaled.  The smoke shot out of her nose like a comet.  “Don’t you have anything to say?”

I really didn’t.  Speaking seemed out of context, like someone clapping before the end of a movement.  I shrugged and waved to our waitress.  Another drink was a better idea.

She deflated a bit and sank into the cushions.  “I thought that you, out of all the people I know, would be quick with a smartass remark.  You kinda disappoint me.”

That was the first time I was criticized for keeping mum.  “Well, if you insist,” I said, removing the swizzle stick from my glass.  It looked like a little sword.  “I have a hard time believing any of that bullshit.  You only think you’re oppressed.  No one really cares what you do… or have done for that matter.” 

She smiled and took another drag.  I wondered if she cared about the tar building up on her porcelain veneers.  “That’s more like it,” she sneered.  “I thought you mighta lost your touch.”

I sighed.  She was determined to pick a fight, so I decided to give her one.  “The only thing that’s touched is your mind.  Have you lost it?”

“Who could blame me if I had?  It’s not like you’ve been very supportive…”

“If support requires mindless encouragement and participation in meaningless activities, then you’re right.  I’ve been shamefully absent.”

“This means something to me,” she said, trying to keep her voice modulated.  She stubbed out the cigarette and picked up her drink with a claw.  “You know, you could think of someone else besides yourself!,” she hissed, tapping the glass with a red talon.

She understood me so little, that I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  “That might be difficult,” I said, playing along.  What would I gain if I tried to explain myself? It was so much easier not to challenge her thinking. 

The ruse worked.  “You’re the most self-absorbed person I know,” she said, visibly relieved.  “You ought to consider the feelings of others sometimes.”

Reducing the impact of others’ feelings was actually my biggest hurdle.  Funny how as my alleged friend, she was so quick to forget it.  I realized suddenly that we had nothing more to say to each other.

“I’ll remember that,” I said, quickly bowing out of the match.  I didn’t care if she thought ill of me.  It was only artificial opinion anyway.  No matter how many times I spun the tube, she’d never see me as I am.  I would be endlessly refracted by the lens of her own perception.

CREATURE FROM THE PMS LAGOON

Posted in flash fiction, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2010 by kimmy

Monsters live among us.  I saw one in Walgreen’s yesterday, not surprisingly in the feminine hygiene aisle, ripping her husband to shreds.  Why he didn’t flee for his life was a mystery.  Instead, he stood in resignation while his bride morphed from benign pudginess into a screeching harpy with long claws and shark’s teeth.

I watched in horror as she swiped at him, leaving the flesh of his arm torn and hanging in dripping bits.  She stuffed the bloody skin and muscle into her cavernous mouth, and the sound of those razor teeth grinding the mass into pulp made my hair stand on end.

She swallowed it down and went back for more, tearing off his arm and gnawing the bone.   He only winced, asking her in the politest voice if she wanted any Midol.

The creature shook her head and tossed the now-bare bone to the floor.  She tore open his chest and punched a hole through the ribs.  I heard them breaking one by one.   Blood cascaded to the floor and sluiced down the aisle, engulfing the other shoppers.  She reached past the broken ribs and pulled out his heart, giving it a lick with her slimy black tongue before biting into it like a peach.

“Take me to Dairy Queen,” she said, blood running in rivulets between her teeth.  “I gotta have a double fudge Oreo blizzard.”

SNAKEBITTEN

Posted in flash fiction, love, social commentary, writing with tags , , , , , , , on June 15, 2010 by kimmy

“You probably won’t believe me, but I loved a man once,” she said, taking a delicate sip of coffee.  She held the cup thoughtfully for a moment before replacing it on the table.  “A ne’er-do-well with hypnotic eyes and a poetic soul.”

“Aren’t they all?”  Disinterest was harder to affect than I thought.

“Poetic?  No.  It’s a rare man who gives himself to art,” she said with a sad smile.  “The price is too high.”

I listened, trying to appear nonchalant.  The truth was she talked so infrequently about her personal life that curiosity was getting the best of me.  I felt like a gaper. 

“Uh… price?”  What could be more glorious than sacrificing one’s self on the altar of creative expression?

“It’s a jealous mistress, you know,” she said with a nod.  “Doesn’t leave much for a real one.”

“I guess you’re speaking from experience,” I said, stating the obvious.  Suddenly I felt a stab of panic.  Would she take offense and clam up? 

“Yes,” she said, looking me straight in the eye. “It was hard-won.”

Green eyes.  I had assumed they were blue.  But then again, they were usually shaded by dark lenses.  “What happened to him?” I asked, hoping she’d turn down the high beams and stare off into the distance again.

She didn’t.  “He pursued me relentlessly,” she answered, boring two holes into my brain.   “And then one day, quite abruptly, he disappeared forever.”

I slid to the edge of my chair, half-expecting the story to take a mysterious turn.  There were so many odd rumors circulating about her that if he had actually dematerialized, I wouldn’t have been surprised.   “He left town?”

The question seemed to surprise her.  “No, he’s still here,” she said quietly, ” in the same house he’s lived in for years.”

I felt a little disappointed.  Maybe this was no strange abduction tale after all.  “But you said he was gone.”

She smiled serenely.  “He is gone.”

I wasn’t accustomed to being stymied.  “But that doesn’t make any sense.”

“Love seldom makes sense,” she laughed.  “It will take you beyond yourself.  Whether you can maintain the expansion is the challenge.”

“I’m guessing he didn’t.”

She shook her head.  “No, he didn’t, but I’m content to have it so.”

I thought perhaps she really did merit those odd rumors.  “Most people might grieve instead.”

“Most would rather mourn all experience than celebrate it,” she said, leaning forward.

“Loss of love doesn’t inspire celebration,” I said, thinking about my own brushes with it.

“Then you’ve missed the whole point,” she said slowly.  “Love isn’t ours to possess, but only to give away.  Be happy that it bit you at all.”

PERRENIAL YOUTH

Posted in flash fiction, writing with tags , , , , , , on April 2, 2010 by kimmy

Like Mercury, he took flight and she didn’t see him for years.  The time passed placidly in the interim, although there were occasions when memories would rise unbidden and seize her with longing.  She put those items carefully aside.  It seemed unwise to reflect on something which belonged to the ether.

Nor did she confide in anyone; there was no one who would truly understand.  Over time, she began to question herself.  She wondered if she had been hasty and allowed her imagination too much free reign.  It was simpler than acknowledging the truth.

So she was surprised one afternoon when he telephoned.  She had relegated him to the island of lost souls and expected never to hear of him again.  His voice, sharp and abrupt, was a shock to her.

“Kathleen, it’s David.  Call me.”

Her scalp began to sting with heat.  She replayed the message twice before dialing his number.

If he was happy to hear from her, he hid it well.  His words, all jumbled and running together, were barked out hurriedly as if he had a tremendous amount of things to say in a limited time.  He never could get his mouth to match the speed of his brain.

She smiled as she listened, not to the words but to the meaning beneath them.  “Slow down, David!  It sounds like you’re about to blow a gasket. . .”

He laughed, that sweet hearty laugh he used so seldomly.  “This is me, relaxed!”

He hadn’t changed at all.  He was still the brash young man she had known years ago, bursting with news and brusque questions. 

It was only after the call ended that she realized its portend.  Alarmed, she threw down the phone and blotted her sweaty palm on the sleeve of her jacket.  She didn’t have to accept the tidings from the messenger of the gods.  She could just wipe them off and pretend they were lost in translation.