Saturday, December 21, 2013

Alas! The End is nigh!

I apologize for missing my post last weekend. I have a good excuse, though. Really. I was moving. Days of packing, three days to move and clean the old place, and still unpacking and stowing all my stuff, not to mention thigh muscles the consistency of raw hamburger from uncountable trips up those 21 steps to my new apartment, each one including boxes or other containers with my stuff in them, and with George Carlin's monologue about all our stuff running through my head. But, 'tis done now...well, all but a bit of unpacking and I'm in no rush to do that. I have no one to impress. I know I'm a slob and I've grown used to it.

Finally, though, comes the day when the last period is placed on this year's Flash Fiction Challenge. I'm pleased and honored to have seen so many wonderful stories. It took courage to rise to the challenge, but you did it. I congratulate and salute you. Now, just because the "official" challenge has ended doesn't mean you must stop writing these tiny tales. Nope, far from it. You are invited to keep on sending as many of your stories as you wish...and I promise to publish every one, provided it meets the original criteria for length and actually being a complete story. You're not required to write more, mind, but just in case some vagabond muse comes whispering her intrigues in your ear, you are welcome to tell the tale here.

This final (official) story, then, comes from Indiana's own Tracey Howard. And, oh, such a tragic tale of mystery it is, too. So, grab your favorite beverage, turn the lights down a bit, relax, and enter Tracey's world.

Another Saturday Gone
©2013, Tracey Howard 

Sitting at the bar, nursing my bad attitude and watching my housemate try to get something started with some guy he’d just met.  I heaved a heavy sigh—another Saturday night shot down.
“Hey, Baby, buy me a drink?”  A soft voice at my shoulder brought my attention back from the couples gyrating on the nearby dance floor.
Grabbing my pack of cigarettes, I pull one out and watch the smoke curl as I light it up. 
“Now, why would I do that?”
Turning towards the speaker, I am caught up in the greenest eyes I have ever seen, topped off by an unruly mop of curly auburn hair.
“Well, if not a drink then how about a light?”  She slides closer to me as I spark the lighter once again.
Cupping my hands, she looks deeply into my eyes with a warm smile and bends to the small flame.  I catch the slightest tease of her perfume as she sits back to lean on my shoulder.
“Sorry.  I’m not your type.”
There’s a magnetic sway in her hips as she walks away and I find I am wondering, just what is her type?
Dave Keith

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Man and a Cop

Yann Bergaud has the pleasure of living in Paris. That, alone, is enough to make most people drool in envy, but Paris is unique. Oh, it has the same issues as any other place - cold winters, arrogant public officials - but still seems almost paradisiacal to so many. Yann here tells of an incident he actually witnessed that helps point out at attitude that is quintessentially French. Enjoy.

Weighted Words
©2013, Yann Bergaud

As I was strolling in Paris this morning, I saw some police officers checking the weights of trucks. Six trucks were stopped, awaiting inspection by the few officers present.
As I walked by, I heard this interchange between an officer and one of the truck drivers:
“Sir! You see the left rear axle’s weight is 1500 kg and the right is 1200 kg. With the front axle, the total weight exceeds the 3500 kg limit, so is illegal,” the officer said.
“Oh, no, officer. Not at all,” the driver responded.

“No? I don’t want to hear your excuses. There’s no discussion.”


“So, if you agree with the figures, you are breaking the law and I must fine you.”

“Bloody hell! NO!”

“What? Do you not recognize you’re breaking the law?”

“Of course not!”

“Can you tell me why?”

“Because it not my fuc**** truck!”

“What? Why didn’t you tell me that before I filled out the paperwork?”

“Because you wouldn’t let me say a single word!”

“Sir, don’t be disrespectful. I could arrest you for insulting me!”

I walked on and never knew if the officer was able to fine the driver for something “valid.”

Friday, November 22, 2013

Another heart-warmer from Tracey

Here's another warm and loving story from Tracey Howard. I'm personally glad she decided to answer my challenge. Although not a "pro" yet, she writes wonderful tales of family and home. Here's her latest:

Meeting Gram
©2013, Tracey Howard

"Ready for this?" I ask my daughter as we enter the nursing home.  She’s looking pale and nervous.
"I need to use the restroom." she tells me quietly.

Nodding, I step into the small dining room, and spot Gram right away. I put my hand on her shoulder, and try to smile brightly.

"Hi, Gram!"
"Hello!" she smiles back at me. "Who are you?"

"It’s  Tracey, Gram," I tell her as I sit down.
"Tracey? The real Tracey?"

"Yes, Ma’am."

She looks me over for a moment. How'd you get so...well, so wide?"

She slaps her hand over her mouth. "I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that out loud!"
"It’s okay, Gram. I don’t mind."

She smiles at me vacantly.  I look around and spot my daughter walking in, her head down and her hands in her pockets.  She stops at the table and smiles at Gram.

"Oh, my!" Gram's face lights up with a flirtatious smile.  "And who is this pretty boy? I really like your curly hair and beautiful blue eyes." 
"That’s Amanda, Gram,” I tell her, trying not to laugh.

"Amanda? You're little Amanda?"

"Yes, Ma’am.”
"Wow!  Did you grow up and out!"

She looks at me, "And who are you?"

Friday, November 15, 2013

The old magnetic pull

Once again, we are honored by Patsy Middleton with 200 words exploring new beginnings from old endings. Read on, and ponder.

Encounter on a Train

© 2013, Patsy Middleton

 The train pulled in to the platform and she looked up at the station sign.

Good, she thought, five more stops—and she continued reading.

Someone sat next to her. She didn’t have to look up. She knew it was him, her ex-fiancé.

Would he say something? Should she say something?

The old magnetic pull was there and her heart began to quicken. 

He was looking at her. She could feel it.

She stared at the words on the page and they danced in front of her eyes.

She should say hello, at least, she thought.

No, he should say hello. He was such a stickler for manners—that was why they had split up: her lack of knowledge of his cultural protocol. But if he had really loved her, that wouldn’t have mattered. She had seen the years ahead: she always treading on eggshells, trying not to displease him. He always finding fault.

No, she was right not to marry him. 

He had been so hurt. His sister said he cried. She had felt numb.

The journey between stations lasted an age.

The train slowed, stopped. He got out.

Had it really been him or had she imagined it?


Friday, November 8, 2013

Legionnaires, Senators, and goats. Oh, my!

Barnaby Wilde has honored us again with this only slightly insane tale in verse form. Not only is he well within the 200-word limit for this challenge, he has made his story even more difficult for himself by doing so in verse - and rhyming verse, at that. My only question is if this story is, indeed, fictional...or autobiographical.

Toga party
©2013, Barnaby Wilde

‘Fancy Dress essential,’ the invitation said.
The Theme was printed just above the ‘Fifty quid a head.’
‘Admission is restricted to those in masquerade.’
(Please ensure that cheques are crossed and monies promptly paid).
Now despite the allegations that a nasty few purport,
I deny that I have ever been the party pooper sort.
I phoned around for ages to locate the right disguise,
And it was no easy matter finding something in my size.
I realised my error much too late to make retreat,
Though awareness had been dawning as I walked in from the street.
I could see into the ballroom as we shuffled into line,
To be announced at the reception and collect our glass of wine.
There were ministers and councillors and minor screen celebs
Dressed as legionnaires and senators, centurions and plebs.
Magistrates and chancellors cocooned in double sheets,
Impersonating emperors, with sandals on their feet.
The flunkey looked me up and down as I removed my cloak,
And did a sort of double take before at last he spoke.
‘My Lords and Ladies,’ he began, then loudly cleared his throat,
‘The Dyslexian Ambassador, … accoutred as a goat.’

Top that! I dares ya!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Just when you thought you were safe!

One of the brave souls who responded to my challenge asked if she were limited to just one entry. No. You are perfectly free to enter as many times as you'd like - or as you dare. So, the gauntlet is tossed again.

Elizabeth Rowan Keith offers this second story for you, and as a lagniappe, a photo to relate it to. Photos aren't necessary, so if you are thinking of sending another story, don't worry about art. Just the story will do nicely. Now, read and enjoy Elizabeth's wee story of childhood wishes.

At the End of a Rainbow
©2013, Elizabeth Rowan Keith

My parents talked of a pot of gold that could be found at the end of a rainbow.  I’ve never known how hard they believed in that pot of gold, or how much they expected to find it.  For a while, I think they did wish and believe. 

Whenever a rainbow seemed near enough, they would frantically drive, their children in the back seat, to where they thought the rainbow ended.  The rainbow had always faded before we arrived.  But chase it they did, fostering excitement and hope for food, clothes, and new toys across the back seat. 

My parents would exit the car where they thought the rainbow had likely ended to look for whatever treasure might be there.  We children were set about to search our own bit of ground.

We did our best to find the treasure.  Surely we had arrived quickly enough to prevent someone else from taking first.  To not find it was so cruel.  We were failures.

Looking back, it was silly to expect for a pot of gold to be there to end our poverty.  How very much I wish our parents had, instead, taught us to enjoy the beauty of a rainbow.

Monday, October 28, 2013

All Good things Must End

We all knew this time would come. We had ourselves psyched up for it even though a kernel within us hoped for a reprieve. That, however, never happened, so we're here at the inevitable conclusion.

I am happy to present, as the denouement of 2013's Flash Fiction Challenge, a tale by a relatively new author who also happens to be another Brit - Londoner, to be precise. Patsy Middleton is hard at work on a novel that spans the Georgian, Regency, and Victorian eras in English history. She was kind enough to pull off that long enough to write this tale about a vase. I think you'll enjoy it.

Even though there are no more entries to my challenge, it will remain open until 15 December, so feel free to send more of these not-so-easy to write stories...if you dare.

The Sèvres Vase
©2013 by Patsy Middleton 

He walks into his library where she kneels, sobbing, and something pulls him forward. A tear-stained face turns. She stands. She wears servant’s clothes.

“I broke a Sèvres Vase. My father owned one. They will turn me away.”

Face buried in hands, she cries.

“They will not.”

“It is irreplaceable. The Master will be furious.”

“He will not.”

“Do you know him?”


“Who are you?”

“Who asks?” How does she know the rarity of Sèvres?

“I must not tell.”

“Who is your father?”

Her tears fall, her head bows. With pity and curiosity, he lifts her chin.

”Sir William Surtees. He is dead.”

He understands, takes her hands, “I see.”

“You knew him?”

“At one time. He was my father’s friend. An unfortunate accident.”

“I found him.”

“Oh, God, poor child!”

Her sobs recommence.

He embraces her, caresses her hair. Her crying stops. He kisses her forehead. She kisses his cheek. Their faces are close; their lips meet in a gentle, warm, compassionate, caring kiss.

He moves away. “Forgive me.”

“It was to comfort me.”

Another silent embrace. A rare, eternal moment; being in each other’s being.

They part. She stands. He keeps her hands.

“What is your name?” He needs to know.


Now she can move on.
So, like Patsy's heroine, Charlotte, we can now move on. I've greatly enjoyed this challenge; so much so, that I am cooking up another for after the first of the year. Stay tuned.