Frequent Flashes of Fiction



(For Kate. Good for the goose, good for the gander.)

Since Mr. Ballard had been on Ativan for a while, not to mention Lexapro, Zoloft, Paxil and Wellbutrin, everyone felt uneasy about letting him know that his wife Brenda had been in a disastrous car accident.

It was Chip, Mr. Ballard’s younger brother, who finally texted about it: “Shit. Bro. Sorry 2 tell U, but Brenda was in an accident. Flipped the Explorer off US 1. Fucking American cars! Try not 2 lose Ur shit over this, ok? She’s DOA. Be strong.”

Other men might have taken a while to process this, might have felt disbelief, might have left their gaze drift about in confused aimlessness. Not Mr. Ballard. He understood at once, and pictured the car as a burning hulk by the side of the highway, and Brenda twisted somewhere in that flaming vehicular prison, and the hopeless ambulance ride as the EMTs gave up on the corpse. Mr. Ballard sobbed with sudden, wild abandonment, like he had sobbed at the beginning of Pixar’s “Up,” or at the end of Pixar’s “Finding Nemo,” or throughout most of Pixar’s “Toy Story 3.”

Continue reading “A TALE OF FIVE MINUTES”


(Continued from Part 1)

Leland Granger was a lean man with somewhat aristocratic airs and a graying mustache that curved around a sardonic smile. That smile was on glistening display as he rode into Thirsty Gulch in his chestnut saddlebred, and it extended even further as Granger inspected the outside of Paw Jenkins’ cabin, which, if the strict truth be told, was in need of much repair.

“Cozy little secluded state, Hank! Makes it hard for old friends to track you down.”

“That is one of its many admirable qualities.” Paw Jenkins laughed as he walked down the porch steps to greet the visitor. “Come here, Leland, you son-of-a-snake, and let me shake your double-dealing hand!”

Continue reading “THIS LAND CAN BE QUITE UNFORGIVING (Part 2)”


Paw Jenkins still made some money ranging and bounty hunting on Merokee Plains, but of late he had slowed down and was more into stealing horses and skinning anything unfortunate enough to have fur. This gave him more time to think of Bolo and Mellie, the children he kept on his cabin by Thirsty Gulch. The cabin was all crooked logs that leaned over the ravine just like Paw Jenkins leaned over Mellie and Bolo after a night of gin-guzzling to say:

“Don’t you all cry and moan. That’s how the wolves know to get you.”

Continue reading “THIS LAND CAN BE QUITE UNFORGIVING (Part 1)”


“He applied and was chosen for an unpaid post at the library. He found the place too dusty for his lungs and asked for an ever longer series of sick leaves (…) After he repeatedly failed to report for work, showing up one day a year or less, even his unusually tolerant employers dismissed him, five years after he had first been taken on.” – Alain de Botton, “How Proust Can Change Your Life.”

Francine was merrily whistling “Frere Jacques” and dusting off the backs of the many weighty manuscripts contained within the Bibliotheque Mazarine, (23 Quai de Conti, Paris, France.) She had gone up a very long ladder to pay particular attention to a high shelf containing Madame de Salacieux’s “Les Liasons Excitantes, Tomes I-LXIX,” so naturally she became alarmed when the ladder began to shake.

Continue reading “MARCEL GOES TO WORK”


Nancy said to Frank, “Sweetie, I feel like ice cream. Oooh, mint ice cream! Want to share with me?”

Frank kissed Nancy’s belly bump and said: “Aaaah, I see the cravings are starting. Mint ice cream? Sounds like a trip to the fridge.”

He jumped out of bed, nearly stepping on Pom Pom. The little orange Pomeranian ran busily between Frank’s loafers, intent on making him trip on the way to the kitchen. Frank opened the refrigerator’s door, peered in, frowned. “I don’t see it. We don’t have that.”

Continue reading “CRAVINGS”

Viviana sat on the rocking chair in the living room, holding a Vogue from 1978, Farrah Fawcett beaming aggressively angelical blondness from the cover. That had been the year of Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy and the Vampire of Sacramento, but also there had been “Dallas” and “Grease” and “The Love Boat,” so Viviana though of 1978 fondly. Later, she planned to think of 1985 fondly, and 1982 and 1973 and 1996. There were lots and lots of Vogues blossoming around the rocking chair, a whole garden of Vogues.

But then there were a series of loud knocks at the door so Viviana leapt out of the chair excitedly and dropped the Vogue to the floor. She had some idea who it would be. He’d been gone so long, she could hardly wait for him to come back.

Continue reading “THE GOOD NEWS”

Love is a crazy naked little guy with a bow and arrow. Let me tell you about this date I just had. Her name was Silvia: Syllables worthy of a Muse! A proper woman in a world of petulant bimbos! Although we had previously collided socially, (her, benevolent and friendly; me, smitten but hesitant) it wasn’t until tonight that we met at a restaurant to decide whether romance or friendship or a civil parting handshake awaited us.

Half an hour before the date and there I was at the bathroom mirror with the nervous anticipation of a kid first discovering Drakkar Noir. “You’re rusty! Buck up!” I admonished my shaking reflection. “You can do this! Just let her know that the tender bloom of adoration is upon your heart, and she’ll be all yours!”


We’re all still at the party dancing toward midnight. We think of champagne, how it feels the need to explode in bubbles. We don’t like champagne. What a show off.

We think of our resolutions. More time at the gym. Giving that yoga class another chance. Looking up a soup kitchen in town. No more drinking or, realistically, less drinking. It’s only alcoholics who don’t drink. We’re just going to take it slow. After tonight, of course. Tonight is New Year’s Eve and Gerald is the host. He slides those thin champagne flutes into our hands and says:

“T-minus 5! Everyone! Everyone! Find someone to kiss!”

Continue reading “Eternity Square”

The room was hers and no one else’s, an easily owned room. She could understand its quartet of blue walls, and the blister of a light bulb dangling from the ceiling, and the rainbow-aping clothes prettily scattered all over the floor. The room was comprehensive, and comprehensible.

The window was a whole other animal, (like a small glass cat that had curled up on the far wall, circular and contented.) It had appeared out of nowhere; an ambiguous, unconquerable geometrical territory between the given and the uncertain, between the certain and the endlessly questionable, between

THE IN (she was fine with THE IN)



Continue reading “WINDOW DRESSING”

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