Archive for flash fiction

CHANCE MEETING

Posted in writing with tags , , , , , on March 3, 2013 by kimmy

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After I plied her with a few cocktails, she was less reticent.  “I remember when I first saw him,” said she, looking at the surf. “It was the autumn of my senior year in high school.  He and his bandmates were setting up equipment in the auditorium”

“It felt odd having strangers in our private stomping grounds.  The theater department was where I spent most of my days.  It helped defray the unbearable drama at home.   If I wasn’t rehearsing, I was hanging out in the fire escape, smoking and commiserating with fellow refugees.

“But that day was different, as many were that particular year.  The end of my high school tour of duty was coming and I really didn’t know what awaited me afterward.  Or what I wanted, for that matter.

“So it was fitting that he appear that afternoon, like a portend of things to come, smelling of strange foreign places and trailing an energy that made my scalp tingle.  I was, as usual, killing time and lung cells in the fire escape away from the prying eyes of the department head, when the door swung open and he walked in.  I jumped, thinking I’d been busted and jumped again when I realized it was him.

“I couldn’t speak to him.  I couldn’t be my normal glib self.  Nor could I look him in the eye.  It was too dangerous, more so for me, because I was afraid of my own reaction if I dared.  In a seconds-long exchange, I recognized him.  I was certain I knew him before, but couldn’t remember from where.

“Of course, I didn’t understand any of this until years later, but in that moment I only felt awkward and desperate to conceal the shouting in my head which I was sure he could hear.  He tried to catch my eye, which I refused to meet, and to engage me in small talk.  I pretended not to hear, but he wasn’t dissuaded.  After several rebuffs, he asked me point-blank why I answered every question with a question.

“What could I say?  It wasn’t as if I could tell him that I felt clawed from within, as if something beyond my control was struggling to be freed.  It was enticing and terrifying, like a really fine rollercoaster, one with a resonant voice that reminded me of the drone of a bagpipe echoing over the moor.

“Maybe it was the romantic in me.  Maybe I had reread Brontë novels one too many times.  But I was curiously torn between wanting to lock myself in a dimly lit room with him, and wanting to get as far away as possible from him.  But since I was only seventeen and the former wasn’t an option, I left before embarrassing myself any further.

“I tried not to think about him during the months that followed, but it was difficult.  A door had opened and I couldn’t close it again, no matter how I tried.  The pursuits which contented me before seemed tedious.  I lost patience with the status quo and began to think in real terms of what my future as an adult might look like.  I realized that prior to our chance meeting, I hadn’t really planned anything and the oversight disturbed me.  My friends and family acted as if nothing had changed.  As much as I wanted to find fault and project my woes onto them, I couldn’t.  The sudden wake-up call had been for me, not them.

“It was during the weeks of these deep reflections that I met him again.  His band was playing at the senior prom and I had grudgingly agreed to go with my then-boyfriend who had, not surprisingly, become unbearably predictable in the interim.  I saw my mysterious friend from across the room and knew I was in serious trouble.  I tried to shrink from view and limit my dancing, but he knew I was there.  During a break, he approached me from behind and took my arm.  His fingers burned my skin.

“’Don’t I know you?’ he asked.

“I turned to him, but looked at the floor.  The heat was clawing at me again.  I nodded briefly and hurried away.  Some acknowledgments require more than assent.  They burn you alive.”

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JIMMY THE WONDERSTUD

Posted in writing with tags , , , , , on December 31, 2012 by kimmy

leisure-suits (2)

It was after work on a Friday.  I had a ticket to a play and was savoring a martini before curtain when I heard an angry woman vent behind me.

“Wonder is right,” she sniffed.  “It’s a wonder he hasn’t been killed by a jealous husband.”

I turned in the direction of her voice.  Across the crowded room was a fifty-something man dressed in work clothes and boots.  He had a smile like a shark.

“If you only knew how many women he’s slept with, you’d be disgusted… or amazed.”

The only thing that amazed me at the moment was how any woman could have found him appealing.   He was engrossed in conversation with a petite middle-aged blonde with big tits and a beer gut.  The blonde giggled like a teen before taking a swig from a bottle of Bud.

“You only say that because he dumped you.”

“Whaddya mean?  I dumped him, remember?”

“Oh, so you admit to having a fling with him…”

“Well… uh..,”

I heard the slurp of cocktails behind me.  As nonchalantly as I could, I peeped over my own martini to witness the argument.  Two equally frumpy women stared each other down from both ends of the hors d’oeuvres table.  I looked away.  The cheese puffs could wait.

Another perfectly good evening ruined by Jimmy the Wonderstud.  It seemed he was making the rounds that autumn, sending the area housewives into frenzies with his prowess and their husbands into murderous rages.

“… I thought as much!  You don’t want to end up like Tammy, do you?  Her husband is still in Lake County lockup because he can’t make bail.”

“Mike doesn’t know anything about it.”

“He will, if Jimmy posts another sex tape on youtube.”

“I never let Jimmy video us!”

“Yeah, right… just like all the others.”

I tried not to picture the slob across the room in flagrante delicto, but morbid images of shark’s teeth and stretchmarks kept popping up.  I signaled the waitress for another drink.

James “Jimmy” Von Der Stude was a local celebrity, equal parts Lothario and slacker, with a reputation forged during the early days of disco when he cut quite the figure on the dance floor in his leisure suits and an even bigger one off the floor when he was out of them.  A product of strict Dutch upbringing, he rebelled against his parents and partook of all the excess that era offered, including time in federal prison on drug charges.  None of which seemed to dim his appeal with the opposite sex, who allegedly supported him and his nefarious activities for decades.

“You sound a little bitter.  Jealous?”

“Me?  Of course not!  I’m not the one giving him money.”

“Who said I gave him money?”

“All those ATM receipts, that’s who!”

In spite of his notoriety, I had never seen him firsthand until that night. My girlfriends who had had encounters with him would swoon with the memory, but I never believed their tales.  Disco boys seldom made good lovers. But even if their exaggerations were true, it was difficult to reconcile today’s disheveled man with the smooth operator of days past.  I watched him as he steadied the blonde’s drunken swaying and plucked a hotel keycard from her hand.  The shark would be feeding tonight.

“And so what?  After the pleasure he gave me last night, I’d be willing to give him my last nickel!”

“You better ante up more than that if you want to get the jump on Bernice!  She just left with him.”

With that, the ladies watched as Jimmy exited with his evening meal.  I heard the sharp clink of glass as their drinks hit the table and they squared off again.

“If you hadn’t distracted me, I’d be going home with him right now!”

“As if he’d have you…again!  That man never comes back for seconds.”

I paid my bill and left.  I saw a skinny college student waiting near the will-call window and handed him my ticket.   Watching a play now seemed redundant.  I had enough drama for the night.

LONE TREE ENTRANCE

Posted in writing with tags , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2011 by kimmy

It was the big tree that caught my eye.  Sitting in the middle of nowhere, easy to spot on the flat prairie, but in full leaf like an invitation.

So I accepted.

I turned off the county road and drove the rutted lane to the top of the rise, turned off the engine and surveyed my domain:  Corn on the left, soybeans on the right and a huge sky above them both.

I sat down, resting against the trunk and looked up into the green canopy.  How many others had done the same?  Or did they pass it by, hurrying down the road without a second thought.

It was during this reverie that I heard it for the first time.  Funny how I hadn’t noticed it before.  Humming.  And it seemed to be coming from the tree.

I jumped, thinking a beehive nearby, but closer inspection revealed none.  I circled the tree more slowly, alert to any change in the sound’s strange timbre and found myself reaching toward old graffiti cut into the bark:

                                                “H.D.   1887”

No sooner had my finger traced the last number when the ground gave way and I dropped into a brick-lined tunnel that angled downward and shot me a good 500 yards from where I had stood.  I rolled to a stop in front of a wooden door, painted red like a barn.

Maybe I should have turned around and crawled back through the tunnel.  Maybe I should have asked myself how I could see the color of the door without any ambient light.  Maybe I should have wondered why anyone would build such a structure.  I should have done any of these, but I didn’t.  I just couldn’t resist taking a peek behind the door.

So I looked.

Clearly I wasn’t devoured by monsters because I lived to tell my tale.  But what I saw… and what I did once I stepped across the threshold, I’m not at liberty to discuss.  What I can tell you is this:  If you drive the isolated stretch on County Road 9 and spot the lone tree, ignore its invitation.

AN UNSCHEDULED REWRITE

Posted in writing with tags , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2011 by kimmy

She winds her hands in his hair, long argent strands curling around her fingers .  The smell of tobacco and mint drifts from his lips.  What are you thinking about, he asks.  Don’t you know?   Strange how the sea cannot fathom the heart.

“CUT!!”  The director threw the script to the floor.  “What kind of dreck is this?” he bellowed.  “Get me the screenwriter!” 

His assistant scuttled to the door, making frantic motions with his arm until a slumped shouldered woman with tired eyes appeared and lowered it to his side.

“You called for me, Chief?”  She shuffled across the soundstage and pulled a battered laptop from her satchel.

“You call this passion?” he said, kicking the script her way.  “How can I make the audience pant when you don’t give me any heat?  Jesse!!” 

The assistant crept out from behind him.  “Gimme one of your Vicodin; I got a migraine”.  He swiped the pill from the assistant’s trembling hand, and washed it down with the last dregs of coffee in his mug. 

“Listen up, people, we got 6 hours to pull this together or we don’t make deadline!  And you two…” he said, glaring at the actors on the set bed, “at least try to look like you’re interested.  You’re actors for chrissakes…”

The writer raised the lid and began typing…

She rakes her fingers through his hair, long silken hanks that brush her face and curtain them off from the rest of the world.  She inhales deeply before looking into his eyes, searching for meaning within still tidal pools.  What are you thinking about, he whispers.  How much I love you.

“CUT!!!  No, no, NO!!  Not rom-com cornball bullshit!”

Again the script flew through the air and the hapless assistant scuttled to find the writer.  “If I had a bigger budget, I could have hired someone with talent, who knows what I want!  But, noooo… I’m stuck with a literature geek from Hyde Park! JESSE!!”

Jesse sprinted to his side. “Get on the phone and track down that writer from Vivid.”

“But, sir,” squeaked Jesse, iPhone in hand, “he writes porn.”  

“I don’t care if he’s a goddamn porn writer, at least he can write heat!!” The director leaned back into his chair and mumbled under his breath. “… two SAG nominations and now this… If that woman doesn’t torpedo my career, I don’t know what will.”

The writer stepped forward from the group standing paralyzed off-set.  They watched silently as she padded up to the director and opened her computer. 

“You sent for me, Chief?”

He turned with some effort to face her.   “Did I or did I not tell you that this is not a film for women?” asked he through clenched teeth.  “I don’t care about the psyche of this character, or any like her.  This is a man’s film.  It’s not even important that she thinks at all, only that she’s ready to go.  Got it?”

“Got it, Chief.”  

The director dismissed her with a wave and called for a twenty minute break.  The set was immediately abandoned as cast and crew fled outside to smoke and worry.   The writer sat quietly in the silence, recollecting her memories and tapping them onto the keyboard…

She twines her fingers through his hair, still damp from the shower.  He’ll need another one before she sends him home, damper still with sweat and longing.    What are you thinking about, he growls. There’s an off-shore storm roiling in his eyes.  How much I want you.

“Cut!  Print!”  The director’s shoulders sagged, but there was a trace of smile across his thin lips.  “There!” he said contentedly.   “Now was that so hard to do?

The writer shrugged and closed her computer.  Harder than you’ll ever know.

THE PERILS OF SUZANNE

Posted in writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2011 by kimmy

When last I spoke to her, she was planning a ski trip with her new boyfriend, a 20 year-old college student that she had met at a store-front art gallery.  I wasn’t all that surprised when she called this morning at 2am, begging me to meet her at an all-night diner.

“If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have bothered,” she sobbed, burying her head in the crook of her arm.  She looked up suddenly with swollen red eyes.  “And if you tell anyone and I mean anyone you saw me like this, I’ll deny everything!”

 “So what happened?” I asked, partially guessing the truth.  If I knew Suzanne, it probably involved love gone wrong.

 “He left me for his wife.”

“He’s married?  I didn’t think he lived in Kentucky.”

“Not Josh, you idiot, his father.” 

“You got involved with the son AND the father?”  This was new holy ground, even for her.

“Not at the same time, Kimmy,” she whimpered.  “ Peter just sort of happened.”

 “Peter?  His name is Peter?  Why not Dick?” 

“If you only knew how he made me feel…”  She looked off into the distance, eyes suddenly unfocused.  “I felt alive for the first time in my life.” 

“You said that about his son, remember?” 

“No, no,” she said, eyes refocusing.  “He was just a kid, an amusement to fill my lonely days.”  She heaved a sigh and crumpled into the seat. “And now my loneliness has no bounds.”

I rolled my eyes.  As a businesswoman, she really missed her calling.  She would have been better off on the stage.  “Don’t you think you’re overdramatizing the matter, Suzanne?  He’ll be forgotten in a week.”

“You’ve never been supportive of me,” she snapped, drawing herself up. “I’m pouring out my heart and you dismiss me!”

“If that’s the case,” I said dryly,  “why am I sitting in Denny’s at 3 o’clock in the morning?  I could be at home, dreaming about George Clooney.” 

“I should have called one of my real friends,” she muttered.  “They’d understand my pain.” 

“You don’t have any other friends, Suzi. They all got tired of the late-night emergencies.”

“ … someone with real heart, who knows the wretchedness of my being….”

“If you don’t stop right now, you and your wretched self will be sitting alone.”

 She shifted back on topic without taking a breath.  “…he told me that he loved me… that he wanted to have kids with me…” 

“Kids?!  Are you kidding me?  You’re 52!” 

“I should’ve had my eggs harvested before I switched over to Cobra,” she said, wandering off again. “They don’t cover fertility treatments.” 

“Yeah, I can see you as a mom.”

“Oh, can you?” she asked breathlessly.

 “The first time the kid pukes on your Coach bag, you’ll be handing him off to a nanny like a football.”

She frowned.  “I planned on being a hands-on mom.  I’d never hire help.” 

“How could you?  You already have a stylist, personal trainer and chef on payroll.” 

“But, now… now, it’s over!” she wailed, “and he’s gone back to that cow.” 

“Perhaps it’s best,” I said. “No doubt the entire family will need counseling after you plowed your way through them.”

“She doesn’t even love him, Kimmy!  She sleeps on the sofa with the dog.”

“Maybe he snores?” 

“She smokes like a chimney and has an ass like a Mack truck,” she sneered, lighting up a Winston. “At least I go to the gym…”   

“But what about Josh, the snowboarder?”  I asked, digging for the real story.  “I don’t suppose he warmed to the idea of you banging his father.” 

“What?”  She seemed distracted. “Oh, him.  You’re right, I should blame that little twirp!  I wouldn’t have even looked at Peter if it hadn’t been Joshie’s doing.”

“He hooked you up?”  This really was sordid.

“No, he just had too many Jager shots that night and passed out.  I went downstairs and there he was… Peter all alone and desperate for company.”

“So while your teenage boyfriend was sleeping off the booze, you seduced his father?” 

“Seduce?  Kimmy, why do you have to cheapen everything?  It was love…” 

“Wait a minute, let me get a visual here… the kid’s asleep, you’re canoodling with his father and the wife, where was she?”

“In New York with their terrier.”  She sighed again.   “Everything was perfect:  the moon, the snow, the bearskin rug in front of the fire…” 

“…the alienation of affection…”

“Before I knew it, we were pledging undying love.” 

“Was that before or after his wife came back?” 

“It wasn’t like that,” she said indignantly.  “Well, not exactly like that …”   

“What was it like… exactly?” 

She squirmed a bit. “Well, Joshie must have seen us because he called his mother  and she had her fat ass on a red-eye within an hour.”  She frowned and stubbed out her cigarette.  “You just can’t trust young people nowadays…”

ROOM 115

Posted in writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2011 by kimmy

Stop pounding on the wall, damn it!  I’ll get out of here when I’m good and ready.  Besides, I paid for this room and I’ll do what I want in it.

Jesus, you never get privacy anywhere, do you?  I wouldn’t have had to move into this hole if I found it at home, now would I?  Yeah, well, what’s waiting there, except more questions and faces hounding me. I can’t get anything done while they’re staring and asking stupid things.  Why can’t everyone just leave me alone?

And that goes double for you, whoever you are behind that wall!  If I hear you banging one more time, I’ll punch through myself and teach you a lesson.  Can’t you see that genius is at work?  Morons.  They wouldn’t know art if it slapped them in the face. 

Doesn’t matter.  I’ll just stay here with my friends and we’ll convene with the gods until I fall asleep with the needle in my arm and when I wake up, everything will be changed and I won’t have to explain where I’ve been and who I’ve been with.  And I’ll float on a white cloud of euphoria that will take me to places I’ve only dreamt about and my arrival will signal a new dimension of expression which will be hailed as revolutionary and daring and all the kids will want to emulate me and download my stuff and I’ll become as famous and wealthy as I’ve imagined.  Only it’s real and not just a notion that lies untapped at the bottom of my potential.

Because I’m not just latent talent waiting undiscovered and unappreciated.  When I speak, the angels weep and beg me to continue.  And why should I stop?  I have every right to stand up and say what I feel, even though most of it I buried a long time ago.  I got my pride, you know.  And people depend on me, and I can’t let them down…

What are you talking about?  I’m not running away, I’m running toward.  Running toward that thing which gives me reason to live.  That perfect tone, that unmatched harmonic which only I can hear and bring to the toneless.  This isn’t escapism, you hayseed, this is ART!  And it’s the only reason I exist, to act as channel and funnel its brilliance into crude medium where even the blind can see.  So, don’t bother me with your mundane requests and hysterical demands, because I know what I’m doing.  I can control myself.  The only intervention I require is that of public laud.

And they will come.  Droves and droves of adoring people, throwing their money and themselves at my feet, calling out my name in the collective voice of thousands and I’ll know that I’ve achieved what I’ve planned in this dreary little room.  I’ll be vindicated at last and set upon Mount Olympus while the rest of you scratch your heads.

So, stop nagging and get out! And take all the rest of your small-mindedness with you.  I’m being called to a higher purpose and will commune using whatever vehicle I find and won’t be hampered by the needs of the body.  It’s nothing compared to the glories which I see in my head.

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!”