flash fiction

The Idea Thief (Flash Fiction #30)

“Hello my name is Mr. Damion,” the man on the front step said, reaching out his hand.

Thomas shook it, reluctantly, then wiped his hands off on the grimy towel hanging from his belt loop. Thomas could tell Mr. Damian was from out of town – the top hat, the slim mustache and not a wrinkle in his dress shirt. No, the visitor was not from the Northeast, much less New Jersey and Thomas had no time for visitors regardless of where they were visiting from. “Yes, how can I…” Thomas began.

Mr. Damion slowly drifted from Thomas’ view. His eyes glazed over and he felt a fleeting presence lifting him, tho his feet stood firm. Seconds ticked passed and Thomas felt light, then heavy, then light again. He blinked and noticed a man in front of him, grinning.

Thomas blinked again and suddenly felt nauseous. “Can I help you?” Thomas asked, wondering how long he had been standing there.

“I have all I need, thank you,” the gentleman responded, giving a slight bow, and turning back toward the hard clay of Christie Street.

The mid-day air blew across Thomas’ face as he watched the stranger disappear. He walked in, closed the door, and stood in the parlor and scratched his head.

“Oh well,” he said and walked slowly back to his lab. Sitting on his desk, as if waiting to be picked up, was a glass container. Under it, a book. He knew it was his handwriting and sketches, but it was jumbled in his mind. He picked up the container and caressed it. It felt like his, something he owned, but it’s purpose was not clear. Waiting, gazing, he hoped for some understanding.

When none came he shrugged, took the bulb and the book, and placed them in the crate labeled ‘Discarded Inventions.’ After the lid closed shut, he looked around the room, arms folded, wondering what project he should tackle next.

NOTE: I have been tinkering with the idea for a MG novel about an ‘idea thief’ and wanted to take a crack at it. Please feel free to share any thoughts or ideas!

Reluctant Goodbye (Flash Fiction #29)

As soon as the light on my dash came on, all I could hear were my mother’s words from yesterday echoing in my head…

”Do you have enough gas in your tank? You don’t want to run out of gas on the way to bury your father, do you?”

I laughed. But as my 92′ Buick choked over to the side of the road, I realized that one phrase summed up my life…Do you have enough gas in your tank?

“Well you’ll be in the car with me, so if I do run out, you can help me push,” I responded, trying to keep the moment light.

She slowly lowered her coffee cup and smacked her lips. “Why in the world would I want to go to my ex-husband’s funeral? I haven’t talked to that man in probably ten years. Sorry honey, you’ll need to go alone.”

And so I was…alone. Steering out of the way of the funeral procession. Up ahead, the local police escort slowly slipped away from me.

Of course I forgot to get gas in the car. Maybe in some deep psycho analysis of things, I did it intentionally. I knew I was supposed to want to go to my father’s funeral, but in all honesty the man was not a good father, or really a good person for that matter. But everyone said I would want closure, that I needed the opportunity to say goodbye. Fate seemed to be saying the opposite as the air conditioner coughed it’s last cool breath and the car officially died.

Out the window to my left, my Uncle Mike’s car passed, full of family. My nephew Jimmy’s face pressed against the window as Mike’s wife gave me a ‘what are you doing look’.  Of course, Mike didn’t slow down. Neither did his sister Tammy and her family as they drove by.

Who finally stopped?  The guy driving the hearse.

He rolled the passenger window down, the black drivers hat perfectly placed on his bald head. In the two seconds I hesitated, the line of cars behind him came a complete stand still. I finally rolled my window down.

“Looks like you could use a lift?” he said with a grin. How could he not grin?

“That’s an understatement,” I replied. Something inside told me I was going to be riding to my father’s funeral in the same car that carried his dead body. There was no need to fight it. Providence.

I grabbed my jacket off the seat next to me before the driver said, “Hop in. I’ll give you a lift.”

I plopped down in the impeccably clean, extended Lincoln. It didn’t feel like a car that carried death – shiny upholstery, glistening chrome, it even smelled nice – but I was certainly uncomfortable.

“Don’t worry,” the driver said, ascending quietly to the proper processional speed of 25 miles per hour. “You’d be surprised how often something like this happens.”

I laughed, trying to make sense of it, but I didn’t believe him. It didn’t matter. My father used to say all the time, ‘Over my dead body.’

I could officially take him up on his word.

Sandy Foundation

NOTE: In honor of leaving for vacation today, I thought a beach themed story was apropos!

—–


“Ronnie, slow down,” Teresa yelled out. All of her girlfriends online said she was going to love Manner Beach. The beautiful water. The great shopping. The exciting night life. And most importantly…

The guys!

Teresa had recently graduated high school and saved for this special trip. To treat herself.  It had been everything all her friends said it would be.

Her feet fumbled through the sand as she caught up to her companion. They had met two hours ago at one of the piers. They talked, he bought her drinks and the night seemed to stand still.

“I know a great spot on the other side of the dune,” Ronnie said. Tall. Muscular. Not overly handsome, but good looking. More than anything he had a great personality. He reeled her in with his easy going manner and ability to not hog the conversation.

“I just finished my first year at college.  I’m down here with some friends hoping to meet somebody special,” he had said, his eyes twinkling.  A college man…her mother would kill her.

Teresa got over the dune to find Ronnie with his shirt off and a beach towel nestled on the sand. She stopped, sinking slightly. The wind caught her hair and she moved it out of the way. The waves crashed, the stars were high, and the clamor of the crowd was muffled slightly by the tall, sporadic grass.

They were alone.

Heart pounding, she slowly walked over to him. She had never done anything like this before. Sure, she had boyfriends in high school…two to be exact. But it wasn’t overly serious. She knew them, their families…it was innocent, teenage stuff.

This!  This was forbidden, spur of the moment, emotion. The only thing she knew about Ronnie was standing in front of her.  That’s all she needed to know.

He reached out his hand as she got close. She took it and gently laughed, a warm feeling running up her spine. “I’m glad we met tonight,” he said, quietly, honestly. “I would like to get to know you more, if that’s okay?”

“I think I’m okay with that,” she said, leaning in to him. He pulled her close, put his arms around her, resting on the small of her back. They kissed. Slow, deliberate, exciting.

I can’t believe this is happening. Nobody will EVER believe me!

Ronnie gently bent toward the towel and Teresa followed. Her head gently landed on the cloth, the warm sand forming around her. Ronnie kept his balance, one hand next to her cheek and the other elbow on the towel.

They stopped kissing briefly. He paused to look at her and she held his gaze.

Maybe he thinks I won’t go through with it. Maybe he is changing his mind.

“I’m okay with this. It’s what I want,” she said softly.

Ronnie smiled and straddled her. He gently grabbed both of her hands, sliding his fingers between hers. He moved her arms behind her head. “I was hoping you would say that,” he replied. “It makes it easier.”

Wow…those eyes!

She held his gaze, waiting for him to act. But he sat there, staring at her. His eyes began to change. “I’m sorry,” he said, his voice deeper.

About what?

She cocked her head slightly, trying to still smile, as his grip on her hands intensified, holding them tight against the sand. His smiled faded and was replaced with an uninterested look, a grim look. She watched in horror, her pulse rising, as his eyes turned from sea blue to savage red. Not just his eyes, the entire socket, started to glow with an unearthly brightness.

What are you doing? Let me go!

The words were present, but no sound came out of her mouth. She tried to scream, but her open lips did not impart her plea for help. As his eyes continued to intensify, she felt a pounding presence in the back of her neck, running over her scalp. She was sinking. Literally sinking into the pulsating sand that was now covering her arms and ankles.

Tears welled in her fright stricken eyes as the sand started to fill her mouth.

Please stop! Please! Her eyes pleading, choking.  The guy she knew as Ronnie was in a trance, watching her slowly fall beneath the sand. She could not hear anything, only the pounding in her head and the sand filling her ears, her nose, every portion of her body.

Finally, blackness, and she was gone.

Ronnie’s eyes slowly changed back to normal as the last corner of the beach towel made it’s way under. With some amount of effort, he pried his hands and legs out from the sand. Standing, he turned his head to the side, his neck cracking. The expression on his face returned to the easy-going, laid back, interesting guy he had been earlier.

Taking a deep breath, he set off jogging over the dune, back toward the crowd.

Technical Difficulties

NOTE: In lieu of my problems with Blogger lately (which is finally fixed), I figured this was appropriate.

—-

Thank you for using ‘Glogle Boggler’ support chat.  Please type your first name in the space below and the Boggler site you have a question about and press ‘ENTER’.  A support representative will be with you shortly…

ME: Chris…http://bestseller4ever.boggler.com

WELCOME CHRIS, PLEASE HOLD WHILE…ROBERT…IS LOGGING ON TO OFFER ASSISTANCE…

ROBERT: Thank you for using support chat, Chris.  How can I be of service to you today?

ME: I haven’t been to my blog in over a month and when I went today, it was all messed up and the text and pictures were wrong.  I haven’t changed anything recently and wanted to know if there is something I need to do to fix it or if it’s a problem on your end?

ROBERT: Certainly, I can help you with that.  If I understand you correctly, you are having a problem with your Boggler account?

ME: Uh…yeah, that’s why we’re chatting.  Can you check on your end to see what is wrong?

ROBERT: One moment while I pull up your website…

[4 minutes later]

ME: Hey, Robert…you there.

[2 minutes later]

ME: Hello?!?

ROBERT: Thank you for your patience, Chris.  If you could please verify a working email address for our records.

ME: chris@buymybooksprettyplease.com

[3 minutes later]

ME: Did you find anything?

[6 minutes later]

ROBERT: Thank you for your patience, Chris.  That email matches our records. Could you please also verify a working phone number in case a representative needs to talk to you directly?

ME: 804-777-6666

[4 minutes later]

ME: I don’t mean to be rude, but I only have a certain amount of time remaining.  Can you please help me with my website problem?  If not, is there a number I can call.

[2 minutes later]

ROBERT: Thank you for your patience, Chris.  That phone number matches our records. Please hold while I connect you to a live customer service representative.  They will be able to better assist you with your account.

ME: What!?!  I’m talking to you live.  Are you kidding me!!!!

You have been pre-qualified by ROBERT (Robotic Online Boggler Evaluation Resource Technology) to have a genuine Boggler service problem.  

PLEASE HOLD WHILE WE CONNECT YOU TO…BOB…WHO WILL ASSIST YOU FURTHER.  YOUR WAIT TIME IS…72 MINUTES. 

Sticky Situation

“Where did you get that candy bar?” Danielle asked her five year old son, Thomas.

Thomas looked up from his car seat, chocolate lining his lips, and slowly placed his hand with the wrapper behind his back.  He did not answer.

Danielle stood in the opening of the van door, the sun beating down and the groceries getting warm.  A drop of sweat ran down her cheek.  “I asked you where did you get that candy from?”

“It’s mine.  I found it,” Thomas said, wide eyed.  His grip on the candy tightened as it started to squish in his hands.

“You found it?  Right!  Come on,” Danielle said, picking him up and putting him on the pavement.  Thomas held on to the candy tight in between sobs and screams.

As the automatic doors opened, the realization set in for Thomas: he wouldn’t get to finish his candy bar.  With his mother dragging him to the customer service desk, he was able to cram the last bit of chocolaty goodness into his mouth.

Danielle found a manager sitting behind the counter.  Thomas’ hands and face were covered in chocolate.

“May I…help you,” the man said, reluctantly, noticing the messy boy.

Flipping the hair out of her face and still trying to hold on to Thomas, she said, “I am so sorry, but while I was shopping my son took a candy bar without paying for it.  I am really so sorry.”

The manager looked down at Thomas, covered in goo, and then back to Danielle.  “Well that is very honest of you.  I am sure the young man meant no harm.”

Danielle ignored the manager and prodded Thomas, “Thomas, you look at the manager and tell him you’re sorry.”

Thomas put his best frown on for the man behind the counter, though he didn’t feel bad for taking the candy. “I’m sorry,” he said meekly.

The manager smiled and beamed at Thomas,  “Thank you so much young man.  I imagine little ones take things all the time, but it’s not often anymore they come back to apologize.  You are a very good little man.”

Thomas’ demeanor changed at the praise.  It felt like he had done the right thing in taking the candy, at least that’s how the man made him feel.

“How much do I owe you?” Danielle asked.

“Don’t worry about it,” the man replied.  “I’ll take care of it.”

“That’s very kind of you, thank you,” Danielle said, grabbing Thomas again and heading for the restroom to clean him up.

Once inside, she lowered the diaper changing station and sat him on it.  “Don’ touch anything, you’re a mess.”
She got some paper towels and ran them under the water.  She turned back around and saw Thomas sitting happily on the changing station, taking a bite of another candy bar.

Mouth agape, she searched for words, but none came.  Thomas took another bite and smiled, saying with a mouth full of sweetness, “When I finish, can I go say sorry again?”

Danielle sighed and started cleaning up her little boy.

Check the Box

Henry wiped his palms on his jeans a couple of times to clear the sweat.  He slid the paper from off his desk and held it in his lap while the teacher was still teaching.  It was secret.  Very secret.

The better part of a week had been spent ditching cartoon time, basketball with his friends, and even a trip to the ice cream store when he brought home good grades at the end of first semester.  Being in the third grade, it was his first time getting real grades – which were all good – but it didn’t matter.  Henry only had two things on his mind recently.

Valentines day.

Jennifer Markson.

The time had come.  Sure, he had brought the mandatory cards and treats for all the other students in class, but he had a special surprise for Jennifer.  In a matter of minutes it would be time for lunch.  He had it all planned.

“Okay everybody, put your books inside your desk and go to your cubby and get your lunch bags,” the teacher said.  There was a flurry of activity.  Henry tried to remain calm.

He walked slow, maneuvering to be the last to leave the class.  Holding his lunch sack, Henry watched as the class lined up for the door.

“If you are the last one out Henry, be sure to turn the light out and close the door,” the teacher said.

Perfect.

Pacing himself past Jennifer’s desk, he slipped the note inside; not too far in where she couldn’t see it.  Taking a deep breath, he turned off the light and closed the door.

Thirty minutes later from the back of the line in the hallway, he watched everyone hustle into class, still rambunctious from the lunchroom chatter.  He failed to spot Jennifer, who was towards the front of the line and had already gone back into the room.  As much as he wanted to watch her open it, he would be too embarrassed.  It was better if he lingered behind to give her time to find it.

Once inside, he made his way to his desk, head down.  Why was his heart pounding?

“Okay everyone,” the teacher started, “get your books back out and open back to the same page.”

Henry reached inside for his book.  When he pulled it out a piece of paper fell to the floor.  It looked just like his note to Jennifer.  Maybe he waited outside too long.  Maybe she already found his note, read it, replied, and stuck it back in his desk.

He wiped his palms on his jeans, again, slowly opened the note, started to read and then…stopped.  Confused, he looked down at the note again:

Henry,
 
Will u be my valentine?
 
Check the box…
 
YES ___    No___
 
Luv, Jennifer


It must have been a joke.  One of his friends must have seen him writing his note to Jennifer and was playing a prank.

He took a breath and slowly turned to look at Jennifer.  She was looking right at him, holding his note.   Henry couldn’t breath.

Finally, she smiled the smile he had grown to love and nodded her head, then giggled a little.  Henry felt like he would explode.  She then pointed to him, or at the note he was holding, and seemed to want a response.   She had left the note for him.

Henry looked away, back toward the front of the room, and gave a quick nod, blushing.

Surreal

I am fairly certain mirrors are supposed to reflect reality.  But mine must be broken.  It’s been broken for a while now.  Every morning I see the same thing – fiction, fantasy, pretend…whatever you want to call it.  I haven’t seen anything resembling reality since…

“Hurry up,” comes the loud voice through the speaker above me.

I close my eyes to try and find some peace – anything resembling peace – but it never comes.

I turn, looking over my shoulder, right into the camera on the wall.  It stares back, lifeless.

Cold.

One day, I will know the truth.

One day, I will fight back.

One day, it will all make sense…again.

“Thirty seconds,” the voice says, impatient.

I reach my hand – or what used to be my hand – to the side of the mirror.  My metal finger presses the button on the wall, which starts to blink.  I take a step closer onto the round, painted circle on the floor, closing my eyes.  I think my eyes are real.  They told me they are real.

A tiny beeping begins and I feel the pinchers (what I call them) coming in around me, wrapping and covering, pulling and twisting, all at lightning speed.  I forget where I am for a moment, trying to remember the time I was not inhuman, when I did not need some type of skin to feel human.

Beep-beep.

I open my eyes and see me, or what’s supposed to be me.  Maybe the only reason I give in and don’t fight – why I let them do this to me day in and day out – is because it does help me feel real.  I know it’s not, but looks can be deceiving.

My looks also only last for the day.  Long enough to let them study and probe, prod and evaluate.  Then I am brought back here, de-skinned, powered down and rested for the night.  Do I even need rest?

“Time to go,” the voice calls.

One last look in the mirror and I know it’s only a matter time before I grow impatient.  Only a matter of time before I decide to make my own reality.