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Flash Fiction Friday

Flash Fiction Friday: Sign Here, and Here, and Here

by: Andrew Wayne Adams

“I need to eat to be happy. I need to eat souls like yours. I also like cold cuts and ice cubes. I am remorseless.”

That was what the garbage disposal said to Ian on his third night in his new apartment. Two nights before, when he turned on the shower for the first time (he had neglected to check it before signing the lease), ground beef came out.

The tub drained into the apartment below, where a hungry man lived, but Ian ignored that. He called his landlord on a rotary phone, and when he put the receiver to his ear, ground beef came out.

“The cracks in the walls are a map. Have you any porridge to pour down here? Imitation grits?” Fingers reached up through the garbage disposal. Ian turned on the hot water, blistering hot, and hammered at the fingers with a giant spoon. He flicked the switch that worked the garbage disposal, but this only lowered a disco ball in the closet.

The fingers retreated back down the drain, and a mouth took their place. It had two rows of teeth. Ian remembered his landlord, the sole time they met. The man had been chewing bubblegum, the pink rubber strung between two rows of teeth. Ian had signed the lease.

The hungry man was his landlord.

“I must have comfort food,” said the garbage disposal. “My food the comfort of others.” Ian thought you could interpret that in two ways.

Maybe three.

He put a dirty plate over top of the drain.

Going for a beer, he remembered that the refrigerator was full of cake, every cubic inch of space, so that when he opened the door, it was just a wall of cake facing him. A wedding cake, to judge by its frosting.

The dirty plate on top of the drain was dirty with ketchup and soap suds.

Pissed at not having a beer, Ian went to his “office” and dug through his papers on the floor until he found his lease. He combed through it, trying to find some loophole out of this shit.

The lease said: “I agree to live in this shit for one (1) year and not complain. I agree to marry one (1) of your daughters and not complain. I, the undersigned, agree to live the Good Life and never, ever complain.”

He had signed it.

She came up behind him, put the cold beer on his neck playfully. He winced at the chill, and she slid her arm around his shoulders. He took the beer from her and opened it with his teeth, of which he had two rows.

The bottle was full of ground beef.

She said, “How are you?”

He said, “I can’t complain.”

She suggested they shower. In the shower, he soaped her breasts, and the showerhead bled ketchup and cold cuts.

The hungry man in the apartment below screwed his mouth to the ceiling, sucking down what drained from their shower. He ate well—grew huge—filled his apartment, so that when you opened the door, it was just a wall of him facing you. A Lonely man, to judge by his moaning.

________

Andrew Wayne Adams is an Amerikan-Kanadian writer and artist. His first book, Janitor of Planet Analingus, came out in 2012. The above is an excerpt from his new collection I Have No Idea What I’m Doing, which you should buy, and was previously published in Strange Edge Magazine.

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Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


Flash Fiction Friday: Snuff Theatre

by: S.T. Cartledge

Leonard is up all night rehearsing his one-man play. The script in hand is only one page and has only three words on it. The first is big and bold:

MONOLOGUE:

which is promptly followed by

ad lib.

This is his magnum opus. He had put out a press release the day before, calling it a tour-de-force, a truly avant garde theatrical experience.

“Establishing shot, actor’s apartment building, exterior, day. Birds on power lines, singing,” he says. “Cut to actor’s bedroom, filthy, interior, day. Curtains drawn, lights off. Can’t tell if it’s day or night. Close-up of actor’s face, actor is a handsome, straight white male, twenty-four years old. Single. He hasn’t shaved in a few days. His bank account is overdrawn. He is the every man. Downtrodden, underappreciated, frequently misunderstood. He represents the underclass. He really…understands people. And they understand him. He’s been kicked down too many times to count. Here he stands, no friends, no job, no family, at the end of his rope. He has a note prepared,” Leonard pulls an envelope from his coat pocket, “for the authorities to find upon discovering his body. The world will lament the day that Leonard slipped through their fingers.” He sighs heavily.

Audience laughter floods the apartment. “What a crack-up,” an audience member wheezes out through fits of laughter.

“What? No,” he says. “This is not a comedy. This is drama. Theatre. I’ve got my heart on my sleeve here.”

More laughter. He turns in circles, looking for the audience. Someone calls out, “you’re shit!”

“Be quiet, damn you! Have some respect!” He paces the apartment as the laughter rolls on. “I’m producing the world’s first theatrical snuff production. I’ve been planning this for months. Don’t ruin this!”

The laughter builds up to a crescendo and stops immediately with a bang. Leonard stands in the middle of his room with gun drawn, smoke whisping out of the barrel. “Silence!” he roars. He fires into the wall several times more.

“Oooooh,” the audience whispers.

Leonard paces the room in search of the audience. They make shh noises to try to hide their location from him. He points his gun and roams around.

“Warmer,” a single audience member calls out. “Warmer,” he repeats. “Brr…cold. Ice cold.”

Leonard stops and moves back to the warm area.

“Getting warmer.”

Leonard approaches a blank part of the wall to exclamations of “hot, hot!” He taps the wall with the barrel of the gun and hears scurrying within the wall. He fires into the wall.

“Missed us,” the audience chants in unison.

He fires into a different part of the wall, and another and another. Each time the audience calls out that he missed. He screams and throws the gun at the opposite wall, bouncing off it and landing on the bed. It fires the last bullet which passes through his left hand, leaving it somehow completely intact, ricochets off a lamp, bed post, and doorknob, before passing through the window, no shatter, no hole, vanishing into the cool night air without a trace, leaving Leonard wondering if the bullet even existed at all. He touches the spot on his hand where he felt the bullet pass through. He wipes sweat off his brow, and somewhere near the ground, an audience member coughs.

Leonard crouches down on hands and knees and sees the eyes of audience members peering out at him through the electrical socket. He reaches his hand out and the socket shocks him.

“Ow!” he pulls back his hand. “Why did you do that?!” he yells.

“You were shooting at us,” they reply in unison.

“You were ruining my performance,” he says. “I’m not continuing until you agree to behave.”

He stares through the holes in the electrical socket. The audience is silent. A humming sound starts building up from the electrical socket. Lightning cracks, striking from the socket to Leonard’s head.

“Ow, motherf—why did you shock me again?” He leaps up and throws his arms up in frustration. “I wasn’t going to shoot you again.”

Electricity arcs from the socket onto the carpet.

“You are the absolute worst audience I’ve ever had!” He jumps up onto the bed, watching the electricity dancing on the carpet.

The audience laughs. “Dance, monkey,” they say in unison.

“You know what? Fuck this. Show’s over.” He leaps from the bed through the window out into the open air, with twenty stories of nothing beneath him.

Except the twenty stories come up way too fast and feel more like a studio floor just outside the set. He lays on a bed of fake glass, sore from the ache of concrete slapping his body hard. The audience roars with raucous laughter.

“Cut!” the director yells. “Take fifteen while we reset the window and go again from the top. Audience, you were fantastic.” The director is a seven-foot-tall android wearing a black turtleneck and beret. No pants covering its chrome legs and genderless crotch. “Leonard, Leonard, Leonard,” the director walks over to the actor and lifts him effortlessly with one hand. “This is your big scene, the one that’s going to really take you places. Cut the actor-vs-audience schlock and embrace them. Remember the script, Leonard.” The director flicks his hand against a single piece of paper that matches Leonard’s. “This is all about the actor-vs-self. You can do it, I believe in you.”

Leonard brushes broken glass from his clothes then walks off to the prop room. When he comes back, the stage has been reset, the director waiting for him, as is the audience.

“And…action!” the director calls.

Instead of taking the door into the set, Leonard leaps through the newly mended stage window, axe in hand. He roars loud and mighty and the audience screams.

“Cut!” the director calls. “Leonard, what the fuck are you doing?”

Leonard ignores the director and swings his axe at the wall. The audience is freaking out. Electricity sparks wild and erratic from the socket. So much that the carpet catches fire.

“No, Leonard, stop!” the director yells, getting up from his chair to intervene.

Leonard hacks a massive hole in the wall and rips the plaster away with his bare hands. He reaches in. He can hear the audience scurrying through the wall to avoid him. He clutches on to something and rips it out.

A baby turtle.

“Put me down!” it screams.

He tosses it out the window and cuts a bigger hole in the wall, rips giant chunks of it away, exposing hundreds of baby turtles scurrying away from him.

“No!” they scream.

He grabs a handful of turtles and shovels them into his mouth, crunching down on their softened shells. His mouth fills with their blood and guts and screams.

He reaches in for more, but a cold steel arm wraps around his neck, blocking off oxygen to his brain, causing him to choke and spit masticated turtle out onto the set. He loses consciousness at the director’s hand, going limp and sliding to the floor, the room going up in flames around them.

The fire sprinklers come on, and in the smoke and fire and rain, Leonard’s body on the floor begins to move.

He comes to on a completely different set, the skylights burning into his eyes as he lays on his back, moving against his will, as the hundreds of remaining audience turtles carry him away. He turns his head from side to side and sees that this stage is huge. The biggest he’s ever seen. He is in a massive field, with trees that stretch hundreds of meters towards the ceiling, and the horizon is a distant wall he can hardly even see. He tries to get up but can’t. He is entirely at his audience’s mercy.

He can hear birds and crickets and the breeze rustling through trees and flowers and rushing water growing louder. The rustling sound of little turtle feet dragging through grass, and then little turtle feet sliding on stone. An incline. A bridge. They stop in the middle of the bridge, the sound of rushing water at its loudest. And a new sound to the scene.

*snap snap*

He feels sweat rolling down his forehead to his neck. The audience turtles drop him onto the hard stone ground and bustle away.

*snap snap*

He stands up and stares at a full-grown adult snapping audience turtle, as tall as he is and wide and round like a spaceship, surrounded by her darling audience turtle babies. She shuffles forward and snaps at his genitals. He falls over backwards, blood fountaining from his crotch, the hero of this tour-de-force bleeding out and spitting profanities at the mother turtle while the audience laughs the hardest they ever have. The mother chews her meal, blood dribbling down her chin to dry a maroon-brown, darkening the stains that were already there.

Leonard rolls into the river, landing on decomposed flesh, and the mother turtle ambles back across the bridge and starts walking downstream, where the water tastes the most delicious.

________

S.T. Cartledge is a weird fiction author, poet, and book blogger. His books include The Orphanarium, Girl in the Glass Planet, Kaiju Canyon, and Beautiful Madness, amongst others. You can follow him on his blog, facebook, twitter, Instagram, and patreon.

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Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.

 


Flash Fiction Friday: The Sea Slugs

by: Chris Meekings

The man
sailed up to the window.
He was in a coracle
made of a half coconut.
His lips thick with spittle.
His beard was grey and grizzled
long and matted.
Around his neck was hung a bloodied pigeon,
alternate white and red,
with the sign “Albatross” pinned to it.
He wore a bright yellow sou’ester and oil skin
slick with rain and fish guts.
It glinted like ruby suns in custard.
He hailed me
with one hand made of menial things
as I drank my coffee.
I opened the shutter,
clitter-clack.
The air rushed in
filled with the scent of rum,
rotten seaweed and snow.

“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
he cried.
I was taken aback.
I had not known this.
The icebergs outside,
sitting like meringues on deep blueberry curd,
crunched
and the sea
slallop-sloshed
up to the lighthouse’s foot.
Disposable he said?
What to do with this information?
Was it relevant?
I consulted my washing up in the sink.
The spoons thought it was nonsense.
The plate abstained.
The forks thought all information was relevant.
The knives cut my finger.
Blood billowed into the soapy water.

The sailor cried again,
in a voice filled with thunder and love,
“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
How
many years before the mast had he stood?
How
long had he held this piece of knowledge?
Long voyages to the Arctic north.
The tales the sailor could tell.
His words
struck a chord in me.
I looked down at my crossword.
That didn’t fit!
Two across was Tuscaloosa.
The man was obviously an oaf.

He snarled and spat,
“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
Repeated, again and again,
over and over.
A death knell chorus.
It felt like an anchor,
something to hold onto as the world span around me.
Unexpected knowledge,
perplexing and coiling.
Perhaps it was a code?
I shouted back to him,
“Thank you!”
hoping that this was the answering cypher.
Perhaps the tomb would open
and wondrous treasure would be discovered?

His brow creased like a furrowed field.
“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
he insisted, shaking a foot at me.
Frustrated,
“You’re obsessed, man!”
I doubled down.
“It’s the intense cold. It’s got to you!
Rub yourself down with seal fat
and get up against something warm.
It’s what I’d do in your situation.”
He bobbed about
in his coconut coracle,
anger clouded his cheeks.
“I can recommend a good prostitute,”
I offered.
The wind bit and clawed at his face.
Aged, etched lines
of beautiful suffering.
How
much sea had he eaten in his time?
How
many whales had he made love to?
“Are you enjoying this?”
I asked, dipping my tie in the potted lemming.

“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
a howl, an ululation.
I stared down at the telegram
folded unceremoniously
on the kitchen counter,
like a dirty oyster,
filled with a poisonous pearl.
Dear Sir,
Owing to an outbreak
of political apathy,
we cordially invite you to
World War 3.
Signed The Ministry.
I considered its consequences.
Blood and bullets.
Ill-fitting uniforms.
Healthy exercise.
Medals and parades.
“I don’t want to join in,”
I said to the sailor,
“I’ll just keep score.”

“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
he replied.
There was no hope.
Why
wouldn’t he let it go?
Why
was it my responsibility?
The sun stayed where it was,
suspended on the horizon
in fat broken eggshells.
I licked my lips.
This was the very nub of the problem.
Time was obviously wrong.
The washing up had gone rotten.
Old blood, black and
gloomy,
coagulated on the dirty plates.
Where
had it come from?
Who
had bled this blue link to ancestry?

The sailors eyes,
runny and red,
tinged with herring,
cried gloomy tears.
“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
A tremulous cry in
the freezing air,
wiped away by wandering wind,
lost to the elements.
He pushed off with an oar,
scratching brick sounds,
like breaking chopsticks.
The coracle slapped and
bluffed on the dark, icy waves.
I waved a solitary hand,
goodbye.
My friend left,
disappearing to ventures new,
to give his advice to others that might hear.
Alone,
I plunged my hands back into
the icy water of the washing up.
A cooling balm to sooth my
fevered mind.
The sea slug slithered
up my leg,
leaving a sticky trail of mucus.
Salaciously,
it slipped its penis
into the wound on my thigh.

________

Chris Meekings lives in the city of Gloucester in the UK. If you’d ever been to Gloucester you’d understand why he sits inside and makes things up. He’s the author of the bizarro novella Elephant Vice (Eraserhead Press) and the metaphysical fantasy novel Ravens and Writing Desks (Omnium Gatherum). He is still 58 weasels in a trench coat, just looking for love.

________

Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


Flash Fiction Friday: Snow Globe

by: Austin James

Winter mornings like this are the deadliest.

The clouds press against the terrain, casting flat, gray light. Big, fuzzy snowflakes meander towards the ground. The atmosphere is still and quiet as the crystallized air absorbs both breeze and sound. It seems warm, too warm to be winter; chilly on your nose and cheeks, but not freezing like you would expect. Trees are decorated in deep frost; some look like frozen fishbone ribcages. Others, hunkered under the weight, look like crippled hands, the skin drizzling from the bone in hoary waves of frozen froth. Scattered pine trees are like drunken gray-green triangle smears in the fog.

“Is this a dream?” your brain asks. And that’s exactly what Winter wants you to think. “This serene, calm tundra is harmless,” it says. Yet it will not hesitate to take your toes through frostbite, nor freeze your lips to chop-sicles.

Winter mornings like this can be deadlier than the blizzardy yowl or the icy wasteland…at least then you somewhat expect to die.
Punching holes through the knee-deep snow, you track prey that doesn’t leave tracks. If not for the pink trail of blood blots scattered every so often, there would be no tracking to be had.

These woods are tranquil and peaceful, part of Winter’s trap. Visibility is low due to fog and snowfall. It’s easy to lose track of time. You could be wandering around out here for hours before realizing you’re lost, freezing, dying.

The blood stains in the snow are spaced just far enough to keep you on path towards your wounded prey.

Winter takes more than a few souls each year, out here in these very woods. You can’t see the sun, nor the mountains. It may not be coming down hard, but the snow is falling thicker than you realize and even your own tracks are quickly filled in with fresh powder. Which way is town again?

Each pink blemish of blood is a beacon directing your way.

Even the squeaky crunch of your own footsteps is muffled and distorted in the winter air: every noise is faint and fuzzy. It’s details like this that fool your brain into thinking you’re dreaming. We all know that you can’t freeze to death in a dream.

The only way to survive is to focus on the task at hand, the slow and steady pace of trudging through the snow. Focus on the kill, the harvest. It’s too easy to get taken away with the majestic beauty of these woods, and in a wonderland such as this, one step staggered in the wrong direction will surely lead to getting lost, getting frozen, getting dead.

It’s that real. It’s that dangerous.
You see the copper-colored blob in the foggy distance before you hear it, but the sizzling of snowflakes on hot metal wafts in soon after, hissing and spitting like bacon grease in a cast iron skillet. With each step it fades more into view, and you recognize it to be a rocket-powered jetpack, still hot from use, melting the snow it rests in. It’s bumped and bruised from a rough landing and will eventually rust to death before anyone else finds it.

Never mind that—where is the operator?! Were they hurt in the crash? The only thing worse than being lost in these wintery woods is being lost and injured. Something else leaks in from the fog as you gain ground on the jet pack. Not far from the crash site, you see a young girl lying among the cherry slush of bloody snow.

God, no! Are you too late?

You sprint towards her, the weight and suction of the frozen powder weighing down your stride. Hot breath evaporates from her nostrils. She’s alive!

She squirms, weak and whimpering, sounds that disappear behind you as they’re soaked up into the air’s black hole void of silence. All she’s wearing are blood-soaked pajamas—no jacket or coat—and her garlic blonde hair is already frozen. Her bruise-colored eyes barely flicker as you kneel beside her.

“Ssssshhhhhhhh.”

You pinch her mouth closed to damper the cry as you jerk the huntsman’s blade out of her femur where you left it as she rocketed away towards the woods. You wipe the frost from the polyurethane tusks sprouting from her jowls and reach for the hacksaw hanging from your belt. Even on a morning like this, you’d do best to work fast as a search party can’t be far behind.

________

Austin James has caffeine in his blood, gypsy spit in his spinal fluid, and an incredibly lazy pseudonym. His prose and poetry have been published in multiple magazines (such as Pulp Metal Magazine and Bartleby Snopes), as well as a few books and anthologies.

 ________

Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


Flash Fiction Friday: The Creative Game

by: James Burr

The Writer continued to stare at the blank screen, as she had done, frustrated, for the previous two hours. Words refused to flow and her ideas remained stillborn, seemingly loath to join her in the cold and damp of her squalid bedsit. It was then that she remembered a way of triggering creativity, an old Surrealist game, where one would cut the words out of an old newspaper then rearrange them at random, the old words and symbols creating something new and improved.

So she dug out an old copy of the local free newspaper and then with an oversized pair of scissors she set about hacking at the news stories, the tales of new gym openings, charity fun runs or disgraced local Councillors just waiting to be made into something fresh. She then took the words and started rearranging them, creating phrases, then sentences then finally new stories, of a sort.

Eventually she sat back, satisfied with her new tales, some nonsensical but all telling new, unusual but undoubtedly refreshed narratives. But her creative satisfaction was short lived as a night train rattled by, shaking the mouldy windows in their frames, drawing her attention back to her bedsit– the damp patches by the ceiling, the soggy wallpaper held up by Blu-Tack, the cigarette-burnt carpet that fell some six inches short of reaching the skirting boards.

And it was then that she realised that the pedestrian mundanity, the sheer mediocrity of her squalid home could also be improved. So gingerly, with some reticence as she had never attempted this before, she took the scissors and started to hack at her room. Firstly, she cut out the television, Casablanca distorting on its screen, as she peeled it away from the void beneath. Then she cut around the edges of her lamp, the bed, the windows, the door, half of her wardrobe….. She continued to hack and cut and then, satisfied, she started to rearrange the pieces into what she hoped would be a new, refreshed whole. She smiled as Mr Tiddles, with Humphrey Bogart’s face endlessly intoning “Play it again….play it again….play it again….” slinked from his litter tray. The top half of her bed now looked out onto the street as rain pelted upwards against the panes, and the door apparently lead up either somewhere into the attic or out into whatever was now outside. One bedroom lamp was embedded in her bedroom wall where the window had once been, the other window replaced by the base of her wardrobe, a plastic fern lying sideways along its top edge, like a hat.

The Writer glanced around her bedsit, content with her new, collage creation.

It was then that she saw her podgy thighs, untoned despite hours of jogging, her pot belly, flabby and round despite the yoga. She paused for a moment, irritated that the unyielding nature of her body should upset the creative harmony of her new work before remembering that her body too could be a work of art, an expression of creativity, if she so willed it.

So she reached for the scissors and started hacking at herself, cutting and slicing, in this last creative game and final act of self improvement.

________

Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton while serving as the US vice president. James Burr is the author of the collection Ugly Stories for Beautiful People and is currently putting the finishing touches to his second collection, State of the Nation, and a work of non-fiction which will, he is sure, make him richer than his wildest dreams. When not deluding himself about future success, he can be found at: http://www.james-burr.co.uk/.

________

Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


Flash Fiction Friday: Mama’s Boy

by: John Wayne Comunale

“Maybe this isn’t the best time to mention this,” I said just before squeezing the trigger, “but I’m your brother.”

I know he heard me too. I could see the weight of my flippant confession smack his flat forehead and reverberate recognition through his eyes in the brief moment just before the bullet ripped his head apart. The wound opened the back of his head wide and exploded out with the sweetest tasting strawberry jam. It was the same strawberry jam our mother made for us, although separately since neither of us could know the other existed.

For quite some time, mother was successful in keeping up this charade, and while she was always able to keep my brother in the dark, I had figured it out quite some time ago. The thought of having to share mother with someone, especially someone I couldn’t see or interact with in any way, drove me insane with rage. I didn’t realize how intense my wrath could be until after the first incident. The fact that I didn’t even feel bad about it made me realize it wouldn’t stop until he was dead. I had to kill this unknown being bound to me by blood along with anyone who got in the way.

Including her.

Including mother.

The first incident I had no memory of, but it was told back to me with vivid details via eyewitness accounts. Mother had just gone, and I knew she was going to him. She was going to feed him the strawberry jam. She was going to dote on him now. The last thing I remembered was a heightened feeling of anger that rose from my feet to quickly overtake me. That’s when I stopped remembering. That’s where I went blank.

Apparently I was inconsolable.

Apparently I swelled with strength.

Apparently I killed them all.

Mother came home and found us all like this, and she knew the jig was up. Like a boulder hanging by a thread, it was only a matter of time before I snapped and destroyed everything she’d worked so hard to build. She didn’t try to reason with me because I was far beyond the point of reason. I didn’t care about mother’s work or the importance thereof. I just cared about finding this secret brother of mine and destroying him.

I cared so much about killing him that when I killed her, when I killed mother, I didn’t even care. It wasn’t about her anymore. It was about him.

Finding him wasn’t hard since I was led by an unknown force desperately driving me to succeed. Hacking my way through those who surrounded him was just as easy and forgettable as the others. He was confused and cried out for mother with fear in his voice. I delighted in knowing his cries were in vain. He looked like a puny, extra-needy and helpless version of myself. He was despicable and I felt no remorse for what I did, and I still don’t.

________

John Wayne Comunale lives in the land of purple drank known as Houston, Texas. He is a writer for the comedic collective MicroSatan and contributes creative non-fiction for the theatrical art group, BooTown. When he’s not doing that, he tours with the punk rock disaster: johnwayneisdead. He is the author of The Porn Star Retirement Plan, Charge Land, and Aunt Poster as well as writer/illustrator of the comic-zine: The Afterlife Adventures of johnwayneisdead. You can listen to his podcasts hereJohn Wayne is an American actor who died in 1979.

________

Submit your bizarro flash fiction at FlashFictionFridaySubmissions@gmail.com.


Flash Fiction Friday: The Thinking Man’s Bicycle

by: Chris Meekings

It is barely coin o’clock in the morning,
and the bourbon has only just taken the taste of Pepsodent from my mouth
when she walks into my office.
She’s glass and alabaster,
with curves in all the right places,
liquorice nice.
She walks across the room, her heels clicking like a cricket on death row.
I listen.
She tells me she has a problem.
I tell her it will cost her a pretty penny,
She pulls out an ugly penny and I take that instead.
Beggars can’t be choosers, especially with the price of flutes these days.
She says her name is Gia,
which should have told me everything I needed to know about the case,
but I was broke and she was in trouble
and I’m a sucker for a dame.
I offer her a chair.
I pour a drink
even though the sun has barely spat over the horizon.
I try to split my face to hide who I am,
but it doesn’t come off,
and I end up looking like a game-show host with too much time on his hands.
I take out a ruler,
and crack it in two.
I put one half in my bourbon and stir.
Mmmmm, length.
She tells me her husband has vanished,
and her brother is in Sing Sing for a stretch
so she’s turned to me for help.
Lucky me.
Equations danced around her head,
and my abacus strikes attention.
I take her case,
and put it in the closet.
I tell her I’ll be in touch.
I’m a good guy to have around
when the chips go down and the tables go up.
A real white knight.
You shouldn’t drink hard on an empty stomach.
The bar is the kind of dive that charges you extra when the lights go down.
I go to the wood, and order a drink.
It comes with a shovel full of dirt, owl pellets and napkin to wipe the blood away.
I dip my other half of ruler in it,
and survey the scene.
The bar is dark and wearing sunglasses.
Midgets flit from table to table,
asking for green wine and molasses.
Nobody has any.
I crack an egg on the bar.
It sizzles to fried
sunny-side-up.
None of this makes the boot polish blacker,
so I ask some questions.
“How did you get here?”
“Which way to Amarillo?”
“Do you know where the Falcon is?”
The Nazis in the corner “Seig Heil”,
but no one else pays attention.
Outside the bicycle bell rings,
and De Bergerac sniffs the glue.
Of course, someone’s in the know.
I swallow my finger nails,
and wait patiently
for the case to unfold.
It doesn’t take long,
Gia knows who’s to blame,
I rip off my moustache and trench coat,
No one can say I didn’t try to get out.
The fire licks up the side of bar in salacious wafts,
and the bicycle bell rings again,
but the patrons pay it no mind.
They staple down the fire to stop it spreading.
I pull out my revolver
and point it at the drink.
It’s always the ones you suspect the least who hurt you the most.
The bourbon tries to make a break for it,
but my gun sings, and the bourbon has to listen.
It’s transfixed by the music,
distracted, it falls from the bar.
Clatter-tinkle on the floor.
Thank god, I’m wearing my galoshes.
The bicycle bell rings once more,
and I make notes on Mahatma Gandhi’s treatises.
Thank god, it was only a thinking man’s bicycle.

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Chris Meekings lives in the city of Gloucester in the UK. If you’d ever been to Gloucester you’d understand why he sits inside and makes things up. He’s the author of the bizarro novella Elephant Vice (Eraserhead Press) and the metaphysical fantasy novel Ravens and Writing Desks (Omnium Gatherum). He is still 58 weasels in a trench coat, just looking for love.

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