Espresso Fiction: A Collection of Flash Fiction for the Average Joe by Sabrina Ricci - HTML preview
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Copyright © 2012 by FictionBrigade
This book contains works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, transmitted or distributed in any form or by any means without permission.
“Impressions of Death and the Afterlife” © 2011 by Kaj Anderson-Bauer
“A Flash Look” © 2011 by Roy Buck
“Crow-Boy and the Opposite of Indifference” © 2011 by Brian Cooper
“yOWSa” © 2011 by Jacqueline Delibes
“The Future Is So Gay” © 2012 by Shawn Duyette
“Mending Wall” © 2011 by Richard Helmling
“Unfamiliar Rooms” © 2011 by Walter Holland
“Wanderlust” © 2011 by Danilo Lopez
“Summer Memories” © 2011 by Catherine A. MacKenzie
“Chat” © 2011 by Monica Martinez
“A Vist to the Hen House” © 2011 by Debra Mathis
“The Purple Hat” © 2011 by Melanie McDonald
“No Beards for Mr. Bailey” © 2012 by Peter McKenna
“Whispers in the Night” © 2011 by Melissa Mendelson
“Passing Lane” © 2011 by Brandon Meyers
“Wronged by the Circus, Again” and “Saying Goodbye” © 2011 by Ryan Moll
“Sierra Nevada Reverie” and “Daydreams and Hiking” © 2011 by Shelley Muniz
“In the South of France We Split Hairs” © 2012 by Brittany Newell
“Shrinking Husband” © 2011 by Vincent Rendoni
“There’s Always All That” © 2011 by Allie Rowbottom
“Networking” © 2011 by Jessica Simms
“Not Totally Passive” © 2011 by Louise Farmer Smith
“The Study Date” © 2011 by Simone Stedmon
“Mouth to Mouth” © 2011 by Clare Tascio
“Notes from an Inner City School” © 2011 by Ling E. Teo
“Rainbow Gold” © 2011 by Valerie Tidwell
“Job Interrogation” © 2011 by Lauren Tolbert
“The Heartthrob” © 2011 by Gina Wohsldorf
“Thoughts” © 2011 by Meirav Zehavi
“pressed between leaves” © 2012 by Eleanor Bennett
“Snap Cut” © 2011 by Christopher Hackbarth
“Purple Hat” © 2011 by Sean Lefler
Published by FictionBrigade, LLC.
Cover design by Clare Tascio
978-0-9849834-1-4 (POD ISBN)
Impressions of Death and the Afterlife 6
A Flash Look 8
Crow-Boy and the Opposite of Indifference 9
The Future is So Gay 13
Mending Wall 17
Unfamiliar Rooms 19
The Purple Hat 26
No Beards for Mr. Bailey 30
Whispers in the Night 34
Passing Lane 36
In the South of France We Split Hairs 37
Shrinking Husband 41
There’s Always All That 45
Louise Farmer Smith
Not Totally Passive 48
The Study Date 49
Mouth to Mouth 52
Ling E. Teo
Notes from an Inner City School 54
Rainbow Gold 57
Job Interrogation 58
The Heartthrob 59
pressed between leaves 65
Snap Cut 66
Purple Hat 27
Catherine A. MacKenzie
Summer Memories 68
A Visit to the Hen House 69
Wronged by the Circus, Again, Saying Goodbye 70
Sierra Nevada Reverie, Daydreams and Hiking 71
Impressions of Death and the Afterlife
By Kaj Anderson-Bauer
So let’s say you die. Freak accident let’s
forever.” Pretty soon your arm begins to tire, and
say. It happens all the time. Maybe you have a heart you sort of reach out for the last little bit of eave attack. But no—you deserve better. Maybe it’s
over the front door. Then, before you have much
summer. You are painting your house. You have
awareness of what is going on, you are falling and
lived in this house for years, you and your
twisting backwards down into the sidewalk.
husband—or maybe your wife. You bought the
You don’t feel the impact of the earth. That’s
house years ago, when real estate was cheaper. Now because your neck is broken. You don’t know you you are finally
are dying yet.
All you know
Then you are dead
is that you
off, and it feels
seem to be
good to have
stuck to the
sidewalk. Now you realize that you won’t be
It is one of those days in early summer
getting up again—“I am dying,” you think, and
when yard work still seems like a good idea. The
your brain starts churning wildly. You begin to
new grass is coming up, and there is a warm breeze panic. “Oh my God,” you think, “I am going to blowing. So you buy a few of those big buckets of
die.” But even though your brain is more active in
paint—yellow paint, because you are starting over.
these last moments than it has been in your entire
Starting over? Yes, you think. Today is a new day.
life, to a passerby you would already appear dead.
You pull the ladder out of the garage and
And here it comes. Your mind is like a light bulb
get to work painting your eaves. “Goodbye blue
that flares brilliantly and then quietly burns out.
trim,” you think, “it will all be yellow now. Yellow
Then you are dead. You were thinking something
as you died, but it doesn’t matter anymore.
There’s a lack of continuity between life
Truth is, lots of people die and go on to
and death—physics is different here, for example,
do great things, even with the depression and the
and that’s just one thing. Getting off the ground
haunting memories. Some people are actually hap-
might take you ten years. You might insist that your pier here. Maybe that’s you. Maybe, once you get back is broken for that long. It’s not broken, but it
up off the ground, you will come to realize that
takes most people a few years to adjust. It takes a
painting everything yellow wouldn’t have solved
while to get used to being dead, and in some cases
your problems anyway. You might realize that you
the post-death depression and the haunting memo-
really couldn’t have started over on that summer
ries never go away. The afterlife can be a depressing day, so long ago. You can never start over; you can place, and the adjustment is different for everyone. only keep going.
It might take fifty years before you can even stand
Maybe at a certain point, you will forget everything
up again—it might take five hundred. But then,
about the few years you spent living. How long will
time is different in the afterlife too. Years will go
it take to forget? It’s hard to say. Maybe, one night,
whizzing by before you know it. Five hundred years millions of years from now, you will awake from a is pocket change here.
dream. You will be lying in bed next to the person
But see, that’s the bad news. There are good you love—still asleep beside you. You will look up bits of the afterlife as well. Your memories and
at the ceiling of your house, dark in your bedroom.
your imagination do everything here, so that opens You will hear the refrigerator turn on downstairs, up a lot of possibilities. You can float in the air for
and you will wonder if you
example, and you can breathe underwater. You also
ever really lived at all.
might meet someone here—someone to love. You
might start a family. It happens all the time. People
have built monuments of infinite height and also
infinite smallness. People have written stories so
Kaj Anderson-Bauer writes fake gossip about his friends and
long that they take thousands of years to read—but real letters to Val Kilmer. He has recently published his stories in here we have time to read them. We have time for
Melee Live and Thin Air Magazine . Kaj lives in Arkansas.
A Flash Look
By Roy Buck
Lincoln’s mirrored self a mismatch of two
Lincoln was superstitious, some say an
differing faces. Different shades as the President stood occultist but really he studied a deeper truth hidden in in front of the mirror. One of which was many shades plain sight. Old mirrors holding memories of every lighter, she noted. The death pallor of the Doppel-reflection captured. The president’s wife saw two
ganger’s ghastliness. An action perceived in advance?
separate distinct Lincolns in their chamber’s mirror.
Bilocation, multi-location--when an
Lincoln stated, “That I was to be elected a
individual or object is in two places at the exact
second term of office, and that the paleness of one
same time: glimpsed shadow of themselves in
of the faces was an omen that I should not see life
fringe vision. No chance of reflection in their
through the last term.”
A deeper truth existed beneath the surface of the
A look-a-like labeled harbinger. An omen.
chambered mirror; John Wilkes Booth’s bullet
At times, a ghostly double right by their sides.
exiting the front of Lincoln’s paled head.
A French teacher named Sagee, witnessed
by her 32 students, saw their teacher’s autoscopy
People have said that if Roy Buck
mimic and eat with nothing in her hands.
was a mode of transportation he’d
Sagee was ill. Her doppelganger passed
be an ostrich with a leather saddle.
through her. Her parallel double was vibrant. In
He was raised in Green and Gold
broad daylight, there was the bilocate and it was
country (Wisconsin) before living
motionless while Sagee taught, but the doppelganger
several years in both Missoula,
mimicked writing while the teacher thought.
MT and “da” UP, off Lake
Crow-Boy and the Opposite of Indifference
By Brian Cooper
The people in the mountains have no religion
book that proves the existence of a Monastery on
and the gods walk among them. You can travel
Standing Mountain, and then of a First Village
only a few hours from here and if you have a
Under the Monastery on Standing Mountain and a
guide to trace the winding path, find an unnamed
Second Village Under the Monastery on Standing
village whose every inhabitant is acquainted with
Mountain. And so on. The book is a not a book
the crow-boy, and who offer food to him and his
of history or geography, but a collection of tax
associates. The inhabitants are less than a dozen
records, and implies that the Monastery was built
first and that
and none of the
families large or
Remember to breathe
losses give them
reason to be hostile to outsiders, and sometimes
cultivated small, terraced farms, offered a tax in
reckless in their hostility. But if you bring weap-
the form of grain to the inmates of the monastery.
ons, food, and authority, each in quantities enough
And bred more of their kind. Implausible, but
to compensate for the villagers superior patience,
most of the villagers assent to this story, claiming
guile, and aptitude for suffering, you may be able to also that the Monastery itself was built the week learn something like what’s written here.
after the creation of the world, and that it was
abandoned at the time of the founding of the
The village is unnamed, but if you don’t go up
Empire. According to the tax records however, the
the mountain and instead go to the library in the
oldest people in Third Village should have heard
capital, you can ask the librarian to show you the
stories from their grandfathers about the
Monastery’s construction, and even those in Fourth Still, this is the first time you’ve apprehended his Village should have childhood memories of their
offer. He’d enjoy your help in destroying the world
own to explain the monks’ departure.
as it is, starting and ending with the crumpled huts
of the First Village. Not need, not want. But enjoy.
If you do choose to go up the mountain and visit
And you’ll also enjoy it too in parts, sometimes the
the Monastery— a significant choice given the
thrill of power, sometimes the unthrill of
villagers antipathy toward any persons or beings
powerlessness. Swords. Fire. Croaks the crow-boy.
associated with what they have come to call The
Black Temple— you will find a place that, despite
Remember to breathe. Destroy? Without malice,
its reputation and history, stimulates the evaporation and without mercy. And yet with some other of consciousness that, according to some historians, opposite to indifference.
was the hallmark tenet of the structure’s builders.
It’s more not-there than there. Not only are the
Shouldn’t that be difference? Croaks the crow-boy.
timbers charred nearly to ash and the foundation
stones interpenetrated with mosses, fungi, and all
their inbred cousins, but the roof is composed of
fog and the floor is sketched from fallen leaves and
your soft, shuffling footsteps. Your shadows are
the last standing idol. The place’s not-thereness
welcomes your not-hereness, and if you linger long
enough to stop asking why you came or how much
Brian gave up playing Dungeons & Dragons soon after he
longer you’ll wait, or where you’ll go when you
got married and gave up writing fiction soon after he started
leave, the boy with glossy black hair and the
law school. Today, he has three sons and he works in the
unfortunate nose will at last get your attention.
general counsel’s office of a federal agency. And so, his very
cool and supportive wife says, if he wants to play games and
He’s been here all along and he’s not really quiet.
write stories, who’s going to say that he shouldn’t?
By Jacqueline Delibes
US HIGHWAY 46, New Jersey – Seth Grantberg
has staged a defiant occupation of the garage attached In an attempt to use the bathroom, Mr. Grantberg to his mother’s home in Parsippany, New Jersey. A
repeatedly banged on the door separating the garage
self-described “former Partner at commodities and
and main house, a door apparently bolted from the
derivatives brokerage house MF Global,” Mr.
inside by his mother Carolina Grantberg, 63. From
Grantberg, 42, readily granted an interview. MF
the kitchen, a muffled female voice answered, “You
Global, until recently headed by ex-New Jersey
want to use the amenities? Pay us back for your
Governor Jon Corzine, is currently under federal
education. Thank us for decades of sacrifice. Or
investigation for hundreds of millions of dollars in
clean the bathroom for once since 2008, how’s
Mr. Grantberg, wearing a European-cut suit and
“Excuse me for a moment,” Mr. Grantberg said
vibrant power tie, appeared exhausted as he lay on a
as he raised the garage door and squatted behind
cot in the unheated garage. He noted that his current a hedge. Moments later he returned, zipping his diet includes root vegetables, a jar of Nescafé and
trousers. “A little customer money gets diverted
rain water. The former broker clutched a Cipriani
and now I’ve been cut off,” he said, and then yelled
Wall Street lunch menu to his chest.
towards the kitchen, “I’m pissed.”
An inquiry about why he remains in his mother’s
Asked to define what he’s demonstrating against
garage and the whereabouts of his wife, friends and
and what his specific demands are, Mr. Grantberg
home yielded a glacial silence. After several minutes, pointed to a protest sign painted with the words Mr. Grantberg acknowledged, “They’re gone.”
“A Return to Flowing, Beautiful Excess!” In the
driveway, he marched alone in a circle for hours to
wave the sign at passing vehicles.
She added, “He’ll join us for dinner, like he does
every night. Tonight it’s roast chicken, glazed carrots.
“Let me back in – I’m proud to be part of the
1%,” he shouted at a stray dog.
“Seth is in a time-out at the moment. Of course
Incredibly, Mr. Grantberg claimed to be completely he uses the bathroom.”
unaware of the Occupy Wall Street movement that
has captured worldwide media attention. “Really?” Mrs. Grantberg shouted towards the garage door, He looked away and fanned himself with a pile
“But not when he’s been so disrespectful.”
of stock certificates. “I hope they get what they
Mr. Grantberg vigorously denied each of his mother’s
allegations of misconduct. “We acted perfectly within
“Are you interested in futures by any chance?” said SEC regulations. That’s all I’m permitted to say Mr. Grantberg, looking refreshed by the question.
because of the investigation.” He lit a cigar. “Caveat
“The future?” asked the reporter for clarification.
“Not the future. Futures.”
Carolina Grantberg answered a reporter’s knock at the
main entrance. The living room was decorated with
stylish mid-century furniture accented by cheerful
Jacqueline Delibes writes humor – personal essays, flash fiction
“Did Seth convince you he was a Partner at MF
and short video scripts. Her background includes film editing,
Global?” asked Mrs. Grantberg. “He was fired
film production and marketing. She has a personal interest in
from a secretarial job at a dojo in 2008.”
transformational healing. Find her at www.jacquelinedelibes.com.
The Future Is So Gay
By Shawn Duyette
Michael clung desperately to the memory
He fell and his crushed will would not even
of his best days. His apartment looked much like
outstretch his arms to break the descent. His right
his dorm room even though he graduated in 2026.
shoulder hit the wall and the weight of his distended
Four years later, he stood in what he liked to refer
body easily pushed through the thick sheetrock.
to as his “Snatchelor Pad,” and nearly cried as he
Mikey’s feet slipped and he slid down, decimating
looked at the photos of his college days.
what remained of the wall.
He never even talked to his closest friend
He sobbed violently with his eyes wide open
anymore. Steve, like the rest of the “Duche Pixels,”
and unblinking. Sheetrock dust merged with his tears
grew up, forgot about the band, and even old friends. and created a depressing plaster. He cried himself Since his friends had moved on, gotten great jobs,
into a strange sleep but his eyes remained open.
money, and families, Mike’s decline had been quick
Some hours later he awoke to the sound of his cell
phone. He painfully broke away dried plaster from
The toll drugs and alcohol took on his liver
his dehydrated eyes. Sitting against the wall, partially
turned him into a madman. He was not psychotic
blind, Mikey considered never eating, or drinking, or
and somewhere still had a heart of gold, but years
moving, ever again.
of booze, nicotine, and processed food devoured
Vision reluctantly returned. He looked down
him, turning him mean and angry. His life was a
at his cell phone and saw the only thing that could
rage of heavy energy, attracting bad situations,
have helped him remember what hope felt like: Steve.
people, and occasionally animals, all which appeared
It took Mikey three days to get up the courage
to be out to harm him.
to return Steve’s call. He was excited for the first time in
Friendless, with no money and a bloated liver, years. Nervously feeding on old dried cheese from the Michael, dumbfounded, found that he was crying.
myriad pizza boxes that made up most of his furniture,
he built up enough energy after devouring his card
He did all but show up and take Mike’s tests for
table, ottoman and T.V. stand to make the call. “Steve-
him. Over time, Mike’s gentle bullying made Steve
O! How the hell are ya fucker?”
a bit tougher. Steve realized this, thanked Mike
Steve cringed after the opening line and
internally, and after graduating, thought they would
immediately regretted his decision to contact Mike. part ways. Mostly he was right, but even though he His wife had insisted he at least check to ensure
didn’t call, text, or email, Mike still showed up on
that Mikey was alive.
occasion without notice.
Steve always did what Myra recommended.
This was the longest hiatus yet and Steve
“He might have been an ass the entire time we
coyly admitted to Myra he was worried. She skillfully
knew him in college, but he was our ass,” Myra said. pointed out the moral and spiritual obligation Steve Steve’s mind reeled when Myra suggested
had for his karmic buddy. Though he didn’t believe
he call. In his mind, she was the main reason he
in karma, he believed in his wife. It took him three
didn’t call. “Creepy-eyed Mike,” would leer and
days to build up the courage to call.
mentally undress Myra from his perpetual perch of
“I am ok Mikey, thanks. How are you doing
insobriety. He was the guy who told Steve how hot buddy?” Mikey was stupid by any measure, but was Myra was, and joked that if Steve died, Myra would not inept. He could hear the false concern in Stevie’s be well looked after…in bed.
voice and it was too much. He burst into tears and
Steve felt bad for Mike, but was scared of
him. Steve was always a shy person and freaked
At first, Steve had no idea what sort of joke
out the first day of school when this big mindless
Mike was playing. “C’mon Mike, I called to say hi. Can
idiot approached him and declared as loud as his
you act mature at least once in your life?” The sobbing
booming voice would project to the entire dining
continued and Steve felt his gut drop when he realized
hall, “This little fucking nerd is my new best friend. what was happening. “Mike man, are you ok?”
He’s gonna help me graduate from this hell-hole so
After several minutes…a whimper. “No.”
nobody fuck with him…in fact, don’t even talk to
The next morning, Mike awoke with the
ugliest, most dour look upon his mug. But for the
Years passed and Steve proved Mikey right. first time in years he was happy. He opened the 14
door and went outside to hail a taxi.
“C’mon man, I’m serious.”
Myra came to the room to wake Steve. He
“Fine. I’ll chill, ok? Now let’s get trashed. I’m
lay there awake with his back turned. “Honey, you’ve kidding…fuck. Get that worried look off your face.”
been sleeping a long time.” Steve’s eyes were wide
Before they went out, Steve admonished Mike
and clear as he turned to Myra. He said to her, “Baby, about the city. He told Mike it was not like Boston. San I invited Mike to stay with us for a week or so.”
Francisco had become so populated with aggressive
It took the correct and truthful answers to
lesbian women, the men were threatened and
dozens of questions to convince his wife he was
generally scared to go anywhere alone, and had learned
not mad. After she was satisfied he did the right
to become extremely polite and introspective when in
thing, she congratulated him for his courage, then
public. If so much as a wayward glance landed in the
called her mother to tell her she and the kids were
direction of some groups of women in many parts of
coming to visit.
the city, that man would be beaten and may not return
home. In reality, the women of the city became the
“A fucking six-pack!”
men, and the men like women.
Steve thought he should have some beer for
That night, after drinking too much, the
his friend’s arrival. He genuinely thought that six
two stumbled from the bar. Steve, more inebriated
was too many. But after realizing the advanced state than he intended, forgot entirely where they were of Mikey’s disease, he knew that six was too many.
and the etiquette required for peaceful passage back
“You know, I actually don’t think you
to the Bart station.
should be drinking at all buddy.”
He was laughing and feeling bolstered by
“Don’t buddy me you little bitch! Get me a the presence of his enormous friend when he bottle opener…now! Hahaha, just kidding chump.
Where are we going to party tonight?”
“What the hell are you two going on about?”
“Listen, I flew you here so you could relax
He had seen her and her gang before outside
and be with a friend. Let’s not turn this into a week the Bart station. The last time he did, she was of debauchery.”
pummeling a homeless man who dared asked her for
“Dude, you’re killing my buzz!”
change. The man was hospitalized. Although many
people saw what transpired, no one dared come
they dragged his lifeless body up and over the Bart
forward. If someone did, it was unlikely any of the
railing, and discarded him down three stories into
many lesbians that made up the corrupt police force
the desolate station.
would even make an arrest.
No one ever questioned the fact that some
“Why don’t you two little fuckers hand over drunk was found dead with so many contusions.
your wallets, and get the hell out of here.”
And Steven told no one but Myra.
Mike was outraged but not at the woman;
Shawn Duyette is an
he thought she was cute, even if she was a bitch.
avid yoga practitioner
What pissed him off was Steve. That pussy actually
and the creator/author
handed over his wallet and said thank you.
of MotoYoga. The main
“Steve, what the fuck are you are doing?”
focus of his writing orbits
“Dude, just do what she says.”
around the spheres of
To which she replied, “Yeah dick dude, do
self-help, exercise, health
what she says.”
& wellness, nutrition,
Mike yelled, “Bitch, shut the fuck up before meditation, adventure and spirituality.
I slap you!”
Shawn attended medical school and focused on Chinese,
Mike had done it now. A hundred and
holistic and integrative medicine. While in school, Shawn discovered
one lesbians seemed to come out of nowhere and
a penchant and a gift for massage and bodywork. He continues his
descend upon the two behind a wave of thrown
healing work today with a bent toward experiential enlightenment
bottles and scrap metal.
and strives to assist others to discover their true strengths and
“Just hold down the dork. It’s the fat one
passion through exercise, adventure and creative storytelling.
that called me a bitch.”
Shawn Michael Duyette is an entrepreneurial
Mikey fought hard and knocked down at
minded Sagittarian and a master of many trades. His wife
least seven lesbians with his huge fists. Steve was
calls him a renaissance man. He is an author, yogi, martial
dragged over against a parked car and made to
artist, and he can cook a gourmet meal. Shawn loves the
watch the beating of his “fat-ass friend.”
outdoors and meditation. He is a consummate creative type
After they were done pummeling Mikey,
who loves to invent and improve the world for all.
By Richard Helmling
When I pull up, there’s a crane by my
bailout must not have ever balanced a checkbook,
either. How much debt you have?”
This is out of the ordinary.
“Not too much. We just have a couple
“What’s up, Mitch?” I ask, on account of
his name being Mitch.
“Not your stupid credit cards. How much
“Self-sustaining. Got a tank up top for rain you owe on that Acura, that Toyota, on your collection, too.”
“Shit, I don’t know.”
“You watch the news?”
“Two hundred, at least.”
“You’re not worried about that 2012 thing,
“Now, think brother, the country’s in the hole
“I don’t know if we’ll make it that long.”
about eleven trillion now, and Wall Street and this
entire backward financial system can only live with