Fortune Cookie Friday

Flash Fiction Friday (Formerly Fortune Cookie) – 25 september 2015

The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it.

“I don’t want to have to pay for this.”

“You won’t.”

“You mean I won’t have to pay, or I won’t regret it?”

“Both?” She looks at me lightly, then tips her head to the side and squints slightly, staring at me through her lashes. In this light her eyes look almost crimson. “We won’t do anything you don’t want to do.”

“I’m not afraid of that.”

“Then what are you afraid of, us doing something you want? Afraid of what that might be?”

“Maybe. I don’t know, I just don’t want this to come around to bite me on the ass.”

“Yeah. I got that. What do you want me to do about it? Promise nothing will happen? Promise I won’t let you go too far? Kind of takes the fun out of the whole thing, doesn’t it?”

“I could be disbarred.”

She snorts. “If lawyers were disbarred for… intimate contact with parties other than their spouses you’d be the only one left. And even so, wouldn’t it be better to join your peers at that point?”

She smiles that closed mouth, toothless smile. Christ.

“Christ. You twist me up, you know that.”

“I do.”

“You enjoy it.”

She just smiles.

“So… how do we… start.”

“You act like a school boy. Like a thirteen year old virgin.”

“This is my first time—“

“Oh shut up.”

“For this, I mean, for doing something like this. Obviously it’s not my first time.”

“Well, you could undress me. Or I could undress you.”

There’s a pause, too short for me to know if I’m supposed to do anything. She doesn’t move, so neither do I.

“I could stand behind you, you could pretend it’s the doctor’s office.”

“Very funny.”

“Turn your head and cough?”

I step toward her.

“No? Not up for playing doctor?”

“Not today,” I mouth.

She give me her one sided grin and the first sign of teeth pop out from the corner of her mouth.

“So… what do you want?”

“Big case tomorrow.”

“Mm.”

“I’m going to lose. I have no idea what the prosecution is planning, no—“

Her smile sours and her lips close, briefly, before a fainter, less playful one returns. This is her bargaining face.

“And what can I do for it?”

“I’d love to know, to be able to know what they’re planning, what their arguments are going to build on.”

“Ah, I see.”

“Know their thoughts, or—“

“Read their minds?”

I let the question hang as a means of answer. She re-buttons the top of her blouse, has already straightened her skirt. I didn’t even see her do it.

“A quart.”

“Christ, that much?”

“Yeah, well, I have to give half back, don’t I?”

Take off your shirt. No stains for the missus.”

I can tell she’s disappointed, and when her teeth first punch in, I worry that she’s going to take it out on my neck. But then the pain eases, and before long she’s slipping her wrist into my mouth.

“You’ve got a day, maybe thirty-six hours. After that, you have to win the case on your own.”

After a pause, “And don’t call me next week. I think we need a break.”

With that, she’s out the window.


Happy almost the month of Halloween.

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Fortune Cookie Flash Fiction – 10 september 2015

The acceptance of others always denotes a rejection of self. The substitution of foreign wants for personal desire, the whole self subducting, sinking under the lighter beings, buoying them up to reach as the self sinks.

He held the noose tightly, considering absentmindedly the lack of give inherent in jute cord.

He held the knot as he would his favorite endangered animal, the little Least Weasel, like he had when he was a child at the zoo. All of his love and compassion for something precious and rare nearly, but not quite, overwhelming fear brought about by natural instincts and sharp teeth.

This is what he wanted. He repeated it to himself to make sure.

Maybe there’d been a lost love, unfaithfulness or betrayal, there usually was. Suicide never much springs without impetus, but whatever the reason, that’s never the whole of it. One bad day doesn’t break you. A tree toppled in a snow storm had a moment a snowflake shy of collapse. To blame the final flake is to excuse the million before it, to discount the frailty of the frozen sapped limbs.

It wasn’t fair, he said, thinking both of the analogy and himself.

He didn’t want to do this, he wanted to have done this, to somehow do it and then stand back and watch the reactions, like when he’d pretend to be asleep to know that his parents would check on him as a child, to know that even when he wasn’t watching he was loved and cared for, but after a time, even parents tired of testing.

He hadn’t called his mother. It seemed better not to, he’d called so many times before, hoping to be talked down, that now it felt cheap. Like a cry for attention.

His father would have told him to do it. His father would have said if he really wanted to do it, then he should shut up and do it, not keep crying about it. If he’d stayed on the line though, his father’s anger would have grudgingly faded away and turned to a sympathetic, indulgent kind of disdain. He’d of course prefer his only son didn’t kill himself, and of course he still loved him, and of course he hadn’t meant it, he was just tired and this had been a long year for everyone. The school hadn’t been cheap, not that he was blaming him, but finances had been difficult. His nerves were frayed.

Who he’d really wanted to call was Karen, but that would have spoiled the point. It had to be a shock, a surprise, or else this was just stupid. She had to see it and freak out and care, and finally believe him for all the things he said. But if he called, it would go to voicemail, or worse, the number wouldn’t connect.

For the first step, he was flying. For a long instant he was weightless before something bit into his neck with a celery snap, the weasel going limp in a big cat’s mouth.


This is not the story I meant to write, but I lost my train of thought midway and the whole thing switched from being a piece of mine to feeling like I was playing the tale end of a game of mad-libs.  I don’t know where the story had been going originally, but I think it would have been deeper.

Distraction has been an issue for me lately, I haven’t been able to focus myself on any task long enough to complete it.  I blame lack of sleep and my still undefined schedule.  I hope my concentration will improve as both issues resolve.

I plan to have another fiction up tomorrow, preferable after a good night’s rest.  On top of that, I’ve got an article soon to go up on Magazine1785.  I hope you’ll read both.

Fortune Cookie Flash Fiction Friday – 28 august 2015

No job is so simple that it cannot be done wrong.

My hands smell of mint I trimmed to keep in the hip pockets of my cargo shorts I had to retrieve from the hamper.  They’re not washed.  I know I sweated into them enough to wet the fronts, I’d meant to wash them today, they’re my only pair and it’s going to be hot.  I was so tired last night, I didn’t forget I just… I just couldn’t get out of bed.

They smell all right.  Alive, but not foul.  Human smell, neither good nor bad.  The mint doesn’t come through as much as I’d like.  I should have torn open the pouch of cedar shavings at the bottom of the closet and stuffed those in, too.  I don’t use the hip pockets for anything but my keys, my knife, and my hands, anyway.  I wouldn’t be spilling chips all over the floor, even if I’d thought of it.  I wish the mint smelled more.

I hate being late, I really hate it.  The alarm, then the missing keys, then finding my wallet, then, and then, and on, and finally the pants.  Have to pick one.  Litany sounds worse than a single good excuse.  Traffic usually works, even riding a bike.

Fucking DUI.

I hate this feeling.  Having so much time to get somewhere and knowing the whole time you’re going to be late.  It’s an hour ride.  I have to be there at nine.  It’s ten of eight now.  So hard not to think I have an hour and ten minutes left at home.  Hour and nine.

“Evaluation tomorrow, Frank. Don’t be late.”

Like usual, he meant; tomorrow it matters.  Maybe it’d’ve been better if it had seemed to matter all along.  Now I felt like I had to get up early.

I don’t know if there’s going to be someone higher up or if today it just has to be official.

They don’t know I lost my license, I couldn’t keep the job if they knew.  Just two more weeks, more than half way through.  I guess the park isn’t private property, so it’s technically illegal when I drive the truck.

I can fix anything they’ve got.  I can build a trail as good as anyone.  I knew half the trees, knew them personally from coming as a kid, before I even started working, and I can’t manage a fucking ten minute drive.

When there’s a need, when I have to do something, I can make it out of nothing, I can adapt.  Grocery store too far? Vegetable garden, chicken coop.  License pulled for six weeks? Bicycle, strong legs.  Heat stopped working? Firewood and extra layers.

But then there’s the times when I’m supposed to self motivate and I sit at home getting stoned on bad beer staring at a screen full of stolen internet.  Why is just doing shit so hard?

I’d be really good in a zombie apocalypse.  I’d be the guy outfitting everybody.  Doing the food, filtering the water.  But when there’s no pressure I’m just… stalled.


Frank the park ranger and I share a problem with motivation.  I’m smart enough not to drink and drive, though.

Frank is the sort of catch all schlub I write frequently.  I sympathize with his sort of sense of entrapment.  The trick or the trouble, is getting his motivations across when 1) one wishes to avoid ad nauseam litanies of exposition, 2) his motivations are so similar to my own as for me to feel I needn’t explain them as I already know my own problems and mistake them for the character’s, and 3) then differentiating the character’s issues from my own without losing my grip on them.

I’m a firm believer nearly ever person in a piece of fiction is some reflection of the author.

That isn’t to say that each character is somehow a facet directly traceable to psyche of the author, but with any art what makes it good or bad is the directing process the creator’s mind puts accepted data through.  His or her spin on his or her experiences.

Sometimes a character is lifted straight from something observed, from a friend or an overheard conversation, but even then, when they’re translated into fiction the motivations for their utterance are up to the author.

Anyway, there’s no resolution to my line of thought, just something which I’ve been considering.

Happy reading and writing.