photo by Brittnay LaMeau
A pair of fine flash jabs are here for your enjoyment.
The first is from Seana Graham. Seana Graham is a book reviewer and blogger living in Santa Cruz,California. She writes short stories and longer fiction when she can fit
them in. Her most recent story "The Rival" was published by the online
FlashFlood Journal on this year's National Flash-Flood Fiction Day in
The second comes from Morgan Boyd. Also from Santa Cruz, California. He lives there with his wife and two cats. He enjoys reading and writing crime fiction and spending time outdoors.
Enjoy the reads and leave our two guests some feedback.
Black and White and Red All Over
by Seana Graham
Flores the doorman led George over to show him where the accident had
happened. There was glass on the floor and a viscous clotted red substance
oozing out all over. George blanched.
“Hombre!” Flores said, clasping his shoulder. “It’s not what you think.
It’s jelly.” He bent over to read a scrap of label still clinging to the
jar. “Red currant.”
“I know what it is,” George said. “I hate the stuff.”
“Well, hate it all you want, but get it out of here before someone else
complains.” Flores glanced toward the entrance and then rushed back to
greet one of the residents.
It wasn’t just the jelly, though, George thought. It was the black and
white floor, the shattered glass. It was like one of those reenactments
you saw on television—the scene of the crime.
When they were teenagers, George and his pal Eddie used to meet up in the
evening, pick some stranger out and follow them. When they started, it was
just for laughs. Once they’d followed a rich guy and stolen his umbrella
while he was preoccupied with a phone call. Another time they’d followed a
young mother with too many kids and swooped up a package she’d dropped
without even noticing. At first it was fun, but after awhile it was just
Eddie was the best at picking out the old and vulnerable. At first it was
just bums—some derelict would buy a bottle of cheap booze at a bodega and
they’d follow him to wherever he settled down to drink it. Roll him when
he passed out. It was easy, but barely worth their time, or that’s how
Eddie saw it.
It was George who noticed that it wasn’t just the bums but the elderly who
also shopped at the little corner markets. He wondered at their lives,
holed up in those warrenlike apartments and only scurrying out now and
then to get a loaf of bread, a bottle of milk, some canned soup. Pathetic,
yes, but pathetic didn’t necessarily mean poor. Sure, some were just
living from one Social Security check to the next, but a few would have
some real money on them. One old lady had a roll of bills wedged in the
bottom of her purse. George tried not to think how it might be her life
savings, but Eddie only laughed. How could anyone be such a damn fool as
to carry around so much cash?
One night as they were scoping out a corner grocery, they saw a little old
man bundled up in an enormous coat walk in. Eddie had keen eyes and nudged
George when the old guy paid. “That’s the one,” he said.
George didn’t like it somehow, even from the beginning. But he’d picked a
lousy target the night before, an old lady who was sprier than they
thought and who’d chased them down the street hurling abuse, so he had to
go along with it.
They were relieved to find that the guy lived in a building with no
doorman. There was just a small ugly foyer with black and white tile and a
further door you had to have a key to, which is what the man was
struggling with when they’d come up on him from behind. Eddie shoved him
forward into the door, a technique he’d developed or maybe seen on some TV
show. He was proud of it. This time, though, the old man was pushed into
his own shopping bag, which burst, spilling its contents on the floor. A
jar exploded against the ground and a shard flew up, puncturing the old
man’s neck. He looked at them with alarmed and yet still somehow docile
eyes (George would never forget their meekness) and then slid slowly to
the floor. George knelt down to help him, which was when he saw the label
on the jar. Boyer’s Red Currant Jelly.
“Are you some kind of freakin’ idiot?” Eddie screamed. “Come on!” And so
they’d run out into the street and left the guy. They never did find out
what happened to him. Didn’t dare.
George swept the glass up and began to swab the floor. The jelly was all
gone now but the floor still pooled with red tinged water.
Some stains never really do come out, he thought, and sighed as he wrung
out the mop before dipping it again into the bucket of now slightly dirty
Enology (The Study Of Wine)
By Morgan Boyd
Every minute or so, the tiny apartment filled with screams from the nearby rollercoaster. Raymond came in the front door, and set a bottle of wine down on a cluttered coffee table.
“Rothschild, 2009,” he said, reading the label.
“Where’d you get that?” George asked with a Coors Light in his hand as the bass from a car stereo down the street vibrated the walls. “You heard from Henry? We ain’t supposed to leave until we get word.”
“I ain’t heard from Henry. My sister texted me, and said her piece of shit husband Steve was beating on her. I went over there to straighten him out, gave him a new perspective on how to treat a woman. After he came around to my point of view, I took this bottle off his hands as compensation for my troubles.”
“You show him what for? Slap him around?”
“When I got there, Steve was standing in the front yard wearing a gi all ganked out on yayo. When I came at him, he tried some karate bullshit, but I smashed his nose. We ended up inside. He landed a few punches, but it was just a matter of time before I got my hands on him, and made him apologized to my sister. Apologies are important to me. They show a level of humility that I can respect. I recommend the lit match near the eyeball technique. I find it gets results.”
“I like to show guys a picture of their moms. You don’t have to say much. They get onboard real quick. That’s how I get results.”
“I don’t like bringing the moms into it. I can’t respect that. This place got a corkscrew?” Raymond asked as a series of rising sirens warned of some nearby peril.
“To each his own,” George said, staring at his phone. “Try the drawer in the kitchen. Google says this Rothchild is worth seven thousand dollars.”
“Steve’s lucky he’s wealthy, and can afford to beat on my sister,” Raymond said, coming back with the corkscrew. “Let’s see what rich people wine tastes like.”
Raymond uncorked the wine, and almost chugged it straight from the bottle.
“Hold up,” George said. “You’re supposed to let it breath, pour it in a glass, swirl it around, sip but don’t swallow, taste the aromatic flavors, and spit it out. Didn’t Henry teach you nothing? He loves that shit.”
“Nah, we never talked grapes. This place got glasses?” Raymond said, setting the bottle on the coffee table before walking back to the kitchen to investigate.
George grabbed the bottle, and put it to his nose. It smelled disgusting. All wine smelled like garbage to George. Henry had taught him a thing or two about vino, but it still tasted like trash to George. He stared at the label, sipping his Coors Light, and wondering how something so stupid could cost so much? On the bottom left hand corner of the label, George noticed something faintly written in pencil. He looked closer, and saw a name.
“Hey Raymond,” George asked, standing up and pulling out his gun. “Remember that job we did using the chainsaw haircut technique?”
“Sure, the hippy,” Raymond said, holding a plastic cup in each hand. “We got results.”
“Back then you told me you didn’t have a sister,” George said as a car horn honked out on the street.