Category Archives: Flash fiction

#84 The Strange Life He Recalls by William Wren

A man with strange memories lived a few years ago. He may still be alive; I couldn’t say. We haven’t spoken in years and I’ve heard he doesn’t live in Belize anymore. I don’t have a current address.

He was a man who always dressed well. Always wore smart clothes. Fashionable, but not in the day’s fashion. A step to the side of whatever the current trend was.

A fastidious man, his hair was always groomed; face studiously clean-shaven when he didn’t have a beard or mustache. When he had either, it was always crisply trimmed.

Fingers manicured. Toes pedicured. Definitely fastidious.

His eyes held had a look of quiet concern. It seemed something permanent. He wore sunglasses all the time, day and night; cloud or sun.

That look of concern was because of his memory. He remembered all manner of things and all of them were strange. For example, he remembered being a dried wishbone from a Christmas turkey, and he recalled being pulled violently apart. It gave him a shudder to think of it.

He told me once he remembered the fall of the Roman Empire. On his head! How he lived through it, he couldn’t say. I told him that it wasn’t possible. “It makes no sense,” I said.

“You think so?” he replied, leaning toward me, pulling his hair back from his brow. “How do you explain this?” He had a scar on his temple. “Sixteen stitches,” he said, as if that confirmed his claim.

The truth is, real or not, he believed in them. To him, they were true memories.

And so the past became a plague to him not simply because it was gone, existing only as disturbing or nostalgic trivia to bother his daily life, but because it was all weird memory, impossible things, yet fully and vividly and truly remembered.

With these strange memories swimming around in his head, he often drank. And drank a lot. Once he went to a local bar where he met a young woman with a Rubenesque configuration. He walked right up to her. I was there; I saw the whole thing. He told her he’d known her in another life. Intimately.

She punched his lights out. This man with strange memories dropped to his knees and wheezed as she strode away, “You’ve done that to me before!”

She wasn’t listening.

What can a man with strange memories do? He asked himself that question one day as he sat outside on a patio, alone, with journal and pen and sipping a chilled sauvignon blanc. I wasn’t there. He told me this later.

The answer came to him quickly and easily: Write a book, of course! An autobiography.

And that is what the man with strange memories did. He wrote a book. He called it, The Strange Life I Recall. It outsold cell phones. They made a movie of it. They may have changed the title.

He became impossibly wealthy, of course.

He moved to Belize. Said he used to live there back when the Mayans were running the show. There was a good deal of stone work back in those days, he said. But he hadn’t cared much for the mud and the dust.

We were sitting on his balcony in Belize one afternoon. We were sharing a bottle of wine under the glory of the Caribbean sun. He had his sunglasses on, though after the book came out I often saw him without them. Ever since his success, the look of concern was gone from his eyes. I think he’d become comfortable with his strange memories. They’d been woven into the fabric of the man he was, just as his natty appearance had. They defined him.

He said to me as he recalled his earlier stone working days with the Mayans, “If I ever see another cob of corn, I’ll scream.”

I wish I knew if he were still living and if so, where. I’d enjoy sharing a bottle of wine with him again. His memories were always entertaining.

© Copyright 2018 William Wren. All rights reserved.


w-l-wrenWilliam Wren is a writer in New Brunswick, Canada. He has had several stories published previously by the Rose City Sisters. He has one ebook collection of stories on Amazon, Disrupted Lives and Other Commotions. His next ebook will be available soon.

 

#83 The Pallet Thief by Pat Becker

He was of questionable character. That was a widely acknowledged fact. Yet, many would never have suspected that he would pilfer pallets in the darkest hours of the night, from the backs of drugstores, grocery stores, liquor stores being by far his favorite. It was a crime and he was a criminal. But in the dark, he felt free. He was invisible and that gave him a power he never before considered. Continue Reading

#82 Passing Castle Green by Jackie Pugh Kogan

I was nearly to Castle Green when the wind found its way beneath my collar. Off guard because there is never much winter here even in winter, I’d left the apartment without a scarf. No, not off guard. Daydreaming. Be honest. I flipped up the hood on my thin coat.

When I’d first spotted her that hot, bright day last summer, the light intense, rendering shadows sharp, I’d been heading for the bus, as I am now, on my way to the library to shelve books for another eight hours, to waste another day. I could have been painting in good light. No! Honesty, remember? I haven’t had the oils out in more than three years. And today is winter, it’s overcast—light is needed to paint. Head cleared now? Continue Reading

#81 The Move by William Wren

You are in a box. You’ve only a handful of inches to any side—left and right, before and behind.

The world trembles and rumbles. Every so often, it tilts inexplicably.

Faces appear in front of you. Squinting. They are four to five times the size of your own. They coo and murmur. They insert large appendages through slats in the box. Pink appendages. Brown appendages. Appendages knuckled and supple like tree branches, each trying to poke and scratch you.

Voices ask if you’re okay and you want to say, “I’m in a box! How okay can I be?” Instead, you ignore them and hope they go away. Continue Reading

#80 Serious Jewelry by Susan Carrier

When it came to men and dating, Heather had a few mantras. One was, “Every woman should receive at least one piece of serious jewelry from an unserious relationship.”

Her friends knew that her proclamations were 50 percent tongue in cheek and 50 percent bravado. After all, the most serious piece of bling that Heather had ever received was a sequined tree ornament, no doubt procured at an after-Christmas sale.

But that didn’t stop her from hoping, especially after she eyed the impressive diamond collection of Candace, a co-worker with the placid beauty of Gwyneth Paltrow. Candace collected diamonds with the same casual abandon that school boys gather Pokemon cards. When Heather complemented her on a glimmering diamond tennis bracelet, she shrugged, “Oh. This thing? It’s from that stock broker I dated last year.”

When Heather remarked on a diamond necklace, she was equally blasé. “I took the diamonds in a ring from the car dealer I dated and had my jeweler remake it into this.” Continue Reading

#79 Afterthought by Stephen R. Wolcott

When they saw the young, dark-haired man frantically waving his hands from what looked like a small makeshift raft, Mr. and Mrs. Beaumont showed amusement rather than alarm. “Oh, it’s one of those boat people, I think,” said Georgina Beaumont. “How exciting!” Douglas Beaumont concurred, peering intently from the aft deck of the Grand Excelsior ocean liner. Only a handful of passengers occupied this deck, and most of them were busy huddled around the bar. No one else had been staring out to sea. “Ah, yes, I presume the brave soul hopes to paddle to our shores,” he said. “Guess he didn’t get the memo. Poor guy needn’t go to so much trouble.”

In celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary, the Beaumonts had been one of the first to sign up for an exclusive, luxury cruise to Cuba. This, following the U.S. government’s renewed diplomatic ties with the country. What a thrill to embark on such a momentous voyage, they thought. A somewhat safe gamble for the Beaumonts, who came from an affluent Pasadena lineage, shielded from much of society’s ills, and generally accustomed to the finer things in life. Their knowledge of the island’s history was hazy at best. “I can’t wait to light up one those great cigars,” said Douglas. “I believe Gloria Estefan has roots there,” added Georgina. And they were familiar with those ‘boat people’, who risked their lives to escape Castro’s oppressive dictatorship and seek freedom in America.

The figure in the raft drifted off, and so did the Beaumont’s attention, due to raucous shouts at the bar. “A toast! A toast! To ending the embargo!” someone shouted. The tipsy travelers hoisted drinks in the air and roared with approval.

Strolling casually towards the front of the huge liner, they basked in the comfortable ease that a ship like this has offered wealthy passengers for decades. They enjoyed the thrill that comes from a majestic, commanding rush as steel hulls churn through ocean torrents. The misty sweep of salty raw sea air tickled their noses and tingled their flesh. All within safe perimeters. It seemed to match their stature somehow, as if the Beaumonts represented an elite sector of society who samples the real world at a comfortable distance, protected by unseen forces. They drew close to each other, momentarily vulnerable to unbridled and unaccustomed sensuality.

When they reached the large pool area, with his its towering slide, a commotion interrupted the Beaumont’s alluring trance.

“The last time I saw him? I’m not sure,” said a panic-stricken woman to a deck hand. A crowd hovered around her. “All he said was ‘I’m going to grab an inner tube and go wild,” she said. “He’s bit of a daredevil, you see.” The deck hand nodded nervously.

“But he’s not here and I’ve looked everywhere. I mean everywhere!”

“Can you describe him for us,” said the deck hand. “Uh, well, he’s about 5 foot 8 inches, 160 pounds, black hair.”

Georgina faltered a bit, forcing Douglas to grab her elbow. Images of a clock, with hands moving fast, like in an old black and white movie, raced through both their heads.

© Copyright 2015 Stephen R. Wolcott. All rights reserved.

wocottStephen R. Wolcott is an award-winning writer/producer with over 100 television, behind-the-scenes “making of’ and documentary projects to his credit. In addition, he’s interviewed a wide range of celebrities and notable figures, including William Shatner, Richard Gere, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Gary Sinise, Robert Wagner, JPL/NASA scientists, Whoopi Goldberg, and almost every cast member from the Star Trek films and television series. In print, his work as appeared in Emmy Magazine, Now Playing and The Pasadena Weekly. He also enjoys traveling cerebrally to his former Craftsman home in Pasadena’s Bungalow Heaven.

#78 Magpie Girl by Paula Johnson

Her birth certificate read Margaret, her friends called her Maggie, but her mother always called her Magpie Girl.

From earliest childhood, Margaret rescued odd items from secondhand stores, estate sales and even trash bins. As an adult, she had many, many collections of one item each. She was no packrat; her treasures were meticulously clean and artfully displayed. Some might call it clutter, but it was curated clutter, to be sure. Her trove included the following: Continue Reading

#77 A Boy Named Lady by Nils Grevillius

“I don’t typically investigate cases of missing dogs.” Being polite, pleasant even, as I took information from the young woman, an art student.

“My puppy’s name was Lady,” she said through her hand, elbow on a hip. She invited me into her apartment, minimally furnished with Swedish mail-order. A somewhat older male was busy being minimal on the sofa, eyes at half-mast.

“Was Lady spayed?” I scratched at paper.

“Lady was a boy…” Interjected he from the couch. I looked at him. He was reading a newspaper upside down, eyes still to half-mast, and fixed on a location over my shoulder.

Pointing to the faker on the couch, I asked “What is your friend’s name?”

“That’s Lanny! He’s no’ my friend…he’s my lover…” The woman said, accent on ‘love,’ as she hugged herself and bit her lip. “Anyways…” she continued as I observed, “…Lady was gone, gone when I got home from work las’ night.” I decided her inability to completely pronounce words was an affectation, rather than an impediment of speech. Later I would add to this that it was a means of not discussing that which was uncomfortable, or should be hidden from conversation, rather like a writer who over-uses the ellipsis as means of concealing a hidden thesis. Continue Reading

#76 Muddy by Amy Allison

Red showed through the mud. Rose red. Glancing over at me, my big brother, Ben, asked, “Find one, Deb?”

That summer, for the last time, we’d tagged along with the Wallace boys to search the swamps for frogs. Back in the sixties, the swamps were within walking distance of where we lived outside Washington, D.C. We’d trap the frogs in jars and take them home until they deserted us by quickly dying. Sally Wallace, who was a couple years older than me, never came along, but that wasn’t something you’d ask her brothers about.

I shook my head no, I hadn’t found any frogs, and Ben went back to searching a patch of reeds. No one saw me salvage the scrap of cloth, with its pattern of roses, from the mud. And no one saw me wrap it in Kleenex and stuff it in the pocket of my overalls. I always kept Kleenex with me when I was in grade school and got nosebleeds a lot.

I tried to remember what was familiar about those roses as we walked home from the swamps. Only John and Tom Wallace caught any frogs. Their brother, Joey, who was even littler than me, insisted we take them to the swimming pool in my family’s back yard. Joey was crazy to see the frogs swim in it. Continue Reading

#75 The Leave Behind by Stephen R. Wolcott

Before Lewis could speak, the executive lifted a finger and made that ‘shush’ gesture. “Audiences love the edgy stuff,” the executive yelled into his Bluetooth headset. “Taste has nothing to do with it. His last two films killed.”

Pause.

Lewis looked around the office, decked with stark white and grey furnishings, except for some colorful posters of recent, top-grossing films. The one sheets might have been from a parallel universe, Lewis thought. A world he didn’t know, and certainly didn’t care for.

“Alright, we’ll do the bestiality bit off screen and push for a hard PG-13,” the executive shouted. “Then release the unrated version in Blu-Ray.” Continue Reading