A blog for all bookish things

Archive for the ‘Flash Fiction’ Category

Flash Fiction Friday: Re-post Part 4

Beacon for the Metaphorical Penis: Part 4

It had been several weeks and still Dee was jobless. Her best friend, Layla, was convinced Dee was doing something wrong. The other day, when Dee dropped by her house for a visit, the two friends were standing in the kitchen as Layla leaned against the counter, beer in hand, grilling Dee.

“You complain about not finding a job, but are you really looking? Because there are jobs out there. I know a guy who works with Steve. He’s a teacher, looking for an aide.”

Dee knew who she was talking about. Well, sort of. She’d never met the drama teacher, Mr. Collins, but she’d heard about him plenty. Layla had asked about setting Dee up with the guy.

“I want a job like the one I used to have. In publishing.” Dee tipped her beer glass up, downing the last few gulps.

Layla waved her hand dismissively at Dee. “I’m trying to help. Not set you up. Although, if I were single….” She didn’t finish, but changed the subject. “I want you to come out with me tonight.”

“Where?”

Layla opened the refrigerator. Pulling out two more bottles of Blue Moon she answered in a deep, television narrator-type voice. “Jimmy’s Pizza is proudly hosting The Corporate Games.”

Dee laughed. “What?”

Layla popped the top off the first bottle and began refilling her friends glass. “Steve and I got invited to the school’s annual game night. Basically, it’s a bunch of high school staffers acting like teenagers. They separate the staff into teams of three or four and all of them have to play Guitar Hero.”

Dee laughed again. “No. I’m not doing that.”

Layla shook her head. “I don’t expect you to. I’m not doing it either. But it’s a chance to hang out and eat free pizza, courtesy Los Angeles Unified. And we get to watch all the teachers make fools of themselves.”

Dee thought about it while sipping at her beer.

“Alright. I’ll go,” she consented, with one condition. “But just to watch.”

Jimmy’s Pizza was not easy to find. Even Google was getting it wrong. The kind voice of the GPS kept telling Dee to go into a Denny’s parking lot. She drove around the block a few times before finally spotting the small, short sign half-hidden by an overgrown Oleander shrub. Apparently, Jimmy was quite confident in his pizza making capabilities and didn’t need to worry about minor things like foot traffic and street visibility. The place was small, with low ceilings and was located right behind the Denny’s restaurant.

The front door opened into the alley. The parking was non-existent. The outside lights were flickering and Dee was sure she saw a group of teenagers drinking at the corner.

The pizza had better be worth it. Dee thought, stealing into a compact space on the corner across from the restaurant.

When Dee opened the front door, there was row after row of long family-style tables in a long room. The center of the long room, was a tall projector and screen. And a Playstation. Dee noted a small group of people in brightly colored punk-rock wigs fiddling around with wires and instrument shaped controllers as she got in line to place her order.

Just before her turn at the window, Dee heard her name being called. It was Layla. She was waving from the end of a long table across the room, near the bar. Dee could see Layla pointing to a large pizza in the middle of her table.

The pizza is free, Dee remembered and set off for the table.

The two friends stuffed their faces and people-watched as the semi-empty restaurant filled up. Dee caught echoes of conversations from all over the room. It seemed every teacher from nearly every high school in the area was present. There were History teachers discussing their political affiliations, several English teachers talking about Romeo and Juliet—which film version they preferred to show once the class was done reading the play—and several other conversations which had nothing at all to do with school or work. The one Dee honed in on was taking place behind her. It was the voices of two men standing nearby. Their hushed tones indicated they were having a private conversation, but rather than deterring Dee’s interest, it piqued.

“… and I can’t figure out why.”

“Wait. You mean she left? Like, for good?”

A pregnant pause had Dee holding her breath, wondering if the responder had nodded his head—yes, or shook it—no.

 “When?”

“Three weeks ago.”

So it was a yes. Someone—a woman—left one of the men who were standing behind her.

“She must have said something—gave some indication. Wives don’t just leave without a reason.”

Dee’s heart thrummed wildly. His marriage ended? How devastating. She shouldn’t be listening. She knew that. But she couldn’t stop herself. Obscene curiosity was one of her many flaws. Hearing other peoples stories made her want to write her own. She lived for that inspiration.

“She did. Give a reason.” The tone of this stranger’s voice was so soft, so poignant, it made her bones ache.

“Are you going to tell me what it was?” The second man asked, obviously just as nosey as Dee herself—only difference being, he had a right to be. He was the one being confided in.

“No.” Sort of.

There was some mumbling, some shuffling and Dee realized that the pair behind her was moving. As she turned her head, she noticed that she’d been leaning far over; an unconscious effort to hear the strangers conversing.

She was the reason they were leaving.

Lifting her gaze, Dee only saw their backs. Even so, she noted that one of the men was clearly older than the other—having thinning grey hair. And the younger man had longer hair, probably down to his shoulders, she assumed but couldn’t be sure since it was pulled back into a low ponytail.

And then Dee had a sudden hunch that she knew that long-haired stranger, een though she’d never seen his face.

#FlashFiction Repost Part 3

tumblr_ls5fia1oC71qgdbito1_500

A Beacon for the Metaphorical Penis

3.
Dee often felt sorry for people that had to sit beside her in traffic. She liked her coffee strong and her music loud. She also liked to sing along and would often nod unashamedly at the unfortunates stuck beside her as they rolled up their car windows.
She loved her little Jetta. The sound system came stock with the car which was, by far, the nicest and most dependable model she ever owned. It was also her first brand new car. She’d made the down payment with last years’ Christmas bonus from her former employer.
Stopped at one of LA’s many traffic lights, Dee sang at top of her lungs, idly wondering how delinquent her payments could get before the dealership sent out the repo-men.
It was still Friday and with her clothes smelling Tide-fresh, Dee felt invigorated on her way to the local grocery store.
As she drifted through the crowded parking lot, a compact space near the front of the store opened up. Dee hooked the wheel left and snagged it. On her way inside, she noted the spot was also close to two Basket Return stalls and smiled at the small stroke of luck.
Inside the store, Dee pushed her cart, feeling dazed by the ridiculous amount of devilish makeup and costumes that cluttered the stores usually neat aisles. But it wasn’t long before her drifting gaze came to stop on the enormous display of Halloween candies.
No, she told herself and moved on.
Dee didn’t need much. Just odds and ends and she was running low on Cup ‘O’ Noodles. She didn’t need candy. There were never trick-or-treaters in her building.
Standing in the slow check-out line, Dee stared at her microwave food products. She was going to get high cholesterol if she didn’t start eating better. And she wanted sugar. Badly. But it made her lazy and Dee had too much to do. As the conveyor belt rolled forward, her sugar craving grew ravenous. Turning to her right, Dee searched the small display of candy bars. They had Reeses. Well, the holiday version shaped like pumpkins.
Dee turned to the check-out clerk mindlessly swiping her items. “Excuse me. Do you have the regular peanut butter cups?”
“There should be a box of them on the third shelf.” The girl gestured to the very spot where the pumpkin shaped confections rested.
Dee smiled. “I don’t mean the jack-o-lanterns. I’m looking for the standard, round cups.”
The clerk’s forehead crumpled. Dee was not surprised. No one understood her aversion.
“I need the flat, even cups. Those lumpy pumpkin things don’t taste the same. The mound-shape throws off the chocolate to peanut butter ratio.” Dee didn’t indulge her sugar addiction as often as she used to. When she did, though, she had to get what she wanted or the splurge was pointless.
All her items were scanned. And still, the check-out girl just stared at her. “I don’t understand. Aren’t they the same chocolate and peanut butter?”
Dee could see that the line behind her had doubled in size. “Yes. They are.” She dug into her wallet. “But they don’t taste the same. I need even distribution. The peanut butter in the holiday shape is too thick. I prefer the regular cups. Do you have any of those?”
Dee noticed more than a few wry smiles on the faces of surrounding customers. Every time she explained this eccentricity of hers, people shook their heads as if it were unbelievable. It wasn’t as if she was asking the Reeses’ company to separate the peanut butter and chocolate, she simply wanted some consistency.
The checker shook her head and took Dee’s payment. “If you don’t see them over there, then we don’t have them. Sorry.”
Dee pushed her basket out to the parking lot, still craving sugar. Her car cheerily chirped when she pressed the key fob. If Dee hadn’t been so hangry, she might have smiled.
After placing her bags in the car, Dee found herself in the middle of another conundrum. Her car was in the exact middle space between two basket returns. And Dee could not decide which one was closest.

anigif_optimized-9837-1426626676-7          3ca4646c16893fb567132bd1075052f4

This is a Larry David moment, Dee thought, laughing to herself. It was the type of simple issue that the brilliant writer Larry David — co-creator of Seinfeld which birthed the terms ‘close-talker’, ‘man-hands,’ and ‘chat-and-cut,’ — might write about. The type of silly social awkwardness that made Dee laugh her ass off. She was tempted to take the time to count the steps between the car and return stall.
“This one’s closer.”
Dee turned in the direction of the voice and was dumbstruck. Parked just beside her Jetta, was a king cab pickup; white with barrels of paint and ladders strewn in the back. There was a man standing behind it. He looked to be Dee’s age, with soft brown hair that hung smoothly to the tops of his shoulders and big blue eyes.
“What?” Dee managed to ask, taken aback by the striking masculinity staring back at her.
“This cart return,” he pointed to the right, “is closer than that one.” He shook his head almost like he was embarrassed and Dee nearly fainted.
Damn. He was pretty. Masculine, but beautiful. Like Brad Pitt in Thelma and Louise pretty.
He was Jared Leto pretty.
And he was talking to Dee.
“I’m sorry. It’s just… you looked like you couldn’t decide. I figured since most people don’t bother to return the baskets in the first place, that you were probably looking for the most efficient way—” He shut his mouth and walked towards her, reaching.
Dee’s heart sputtered to a stop and picked up again, double-time as Mister Gorgeous came within striking distance. Then he was inches away, passing a hand in front of her. Dee took a deep breath. Oh, he smelled better than he looked.
How the hell is that possible?
“I’ll just take this for you.” He smiled. And she stopped breathing. “You have a nice day.”
She watched him walk through the parking lot, taking her empty basket with him into the store

Part 2: #flashfiction re-post

wpid-img_20150424_075431.jpg

2.
A Beacon for the Metaphorical Penis

Beacon might have been the wrong word. A magnet was what Dee considered herself, but men of the wrong kind were an enticement to her. They exuded the pull or lure, an attraction that seemed to trip Dee up every single time. It was as if she was drawn to the jerks against her will, pulled in as if by a magnetic field she had no control over. So she was not a beacon because it was the wrong word—she did not draw them in. She was not the puller, but the pullee. Dickheads were the magnet and she was just the metallic dust they collected.
Dee scowled at the thoughts she was having. There were at least ten other items on her list of problems that she should be concerned about first thing in the morning. Nine of which would drop off her list when she found a job. But her mind kept going back to her blog, pondering the title.
Single cup coffee makers are for light-weights, Dee thought, as she placed the paper filter in the top basket of her twelve-cup coffee-maker and filled it with three round scoops of freshly ground beans. She inhaled deeply, taking in the wonderful scent. Her mind woke up a little more, anticipating the imminent caffeine rush.
She showered while the coffee brewed and didn’t let herself think about anything except what she was doing in the moment. There were too many things she had to get done and if she thought about them in the shower, she’d forget to write them down later.
Clean and freshly dressed, Dee poured herself a large mug of coffee with milk and sat at the cold metal table on her third-floor apartment patio. As always, she kept her laptop to jot down ideas and the days to-do list. She looked over the edge of her mug, sipping and watching employed neighbors scramble into the parking lot and leave for work.
Lucky bastards.
It was barely seven a.m., and Dee had no job to go to, but she still kept her routine of waking early and dressing for the day. She wanted to be ready to go on the off-chance that someone called her for a last minute interview.
The job hunt was not going well. Dee felt as if full-time employment in her chosen field was nearing extinction. There were jobs for writers out there, but they were elusive and hard to catch wind of. Usually by the time she’d heard of an opening, it was already filled. For all her striving over the last three months, all she had to show for it was a dwindling savings account and a growing stack of bills.
Being independent, living in Los Angeles, and building a career in writing had always been Dees dream. But dreaming of doing something was not the same as actually doing it. Dee expected it to be hard, still it was a lot tougher than she expected.
Dee felt herself unwillingly pointed down that reclusive path—the way of the starving artist. The unread writer; that’s what she would be if she didn’t start pursuing work outside her favored spectrum. That feeling was what made her start the blog. It was her way to vent about the frustration she faced in her personal and professional life.
After a breakfast of cup of noodles, Dee took two five dollar bills from her remaining twenty-five dollar food allotment, and headed downstairs to the apartments laundry room with her full hamper and laptop.
Dee had appliance-rich friends who offered the free use of their facilities whenever she needed it, but none of them were home at eight in the morning and she didn’t want to impose. Using someone elses’ washer and dryer was an imposition, no matter what her friends said. Laundry took time. Dee had the soiled clothes and the free hours needed to babysit the machines as they worked. She could live on noodles for the rest of the week, but she had to have clean, non-smelly clothes. The only thing anybody wanted to do with a stinky person was to hold their breath and step away.
Besides, Dee didn’t really want to sit at a friend’s house. The apartment laundry room would give her privacy. Her companions knew how much unemployment bothered her, so they didn’t ask, but their spouses did. And Dee couldn’t endure another awkward silence after she answered, “Nope. Still looking,” to the innocent inquiry of her job status.
Finding a job. Jobs are something given and taken away. They are never lost or found.
The laundry room was in the back of the ground floor of the apartment building. It was the last door at the end of the main hallway, where other corridors crossed and branched off to front doors. It was near the epicenter of the drama. Where most of the younger, single people lived. They were cheaper and almost always occupied. After work hours and on weekends many of the first-floor residents would mingle in the sitting area just outside the laundry room, talking about their busy lives, their education and future prospects. They were sickeningly optimistic.
But it was Friday morning and the valuable, contributing members of society were not home. Dee was content to listen to the gentle swish of machines while taking advantage of the buildings’ free wifi.
She faced many problems for sure. And there was no end in sight. But Dee was an optimist, even when she wasn’t. And she would use the empty time wisely, to her advantage.
She would write.

#FlashFiction Even though it’s not Friday

Hello, fellow bloggers and faithful readers!

I’ve had my head buried in school books and am putting the final touches on my latest book (which I am SO ridiculously behind on) that I literally have zero time to blog.

tumblr_ls5fia1oC71qgdbito1_500

But I don’t want to leave anybody hanging, or make you all think that I forgot about my readers the same way I forgot all about this flash fiction thing I started doing last year.

Truly, I came across it on my Wattpad page and was like, “When did I write this!?”

15sWe

So, I reread it. A fell in like with it all over again, and decided it was worth sharing here. Again.

(there’s a smidge of strong language, so reader beware)


1
A Beacon for the Metaphorical Penis.

“A what?” Layla stared at the laptop and shook her head. “I don’t get it. Sorry, Dee.”
Dee sighed, letting her shoulders drop. “I couldn’t call it ‘Dick Magnet.’ No one would want to read it.”
Layla laughed. “Or everyone would.”
“For all the wrong reasons.”
“Okay. So what’s it’s supposed to be about?”
Dee sighed again. It was about everything in her life turning out wrong. It was about being thirty-one and still single. It was about still losing her job after all the crap she put up with to keep it. Like unpaid overtime; they wanted the work done, but they didn’t want her to charge them for it—and she was stupid enough to believe her selfish boss would remember her dedication when the next editing position opened up.
“Generally, it’s about how independent, intelligent women in this age have no taste in men.”
“So it’s a biography.” Layla’s face was dead-pan.
Dee was the one laughing now. She should have known better than to try and fool her best friend. “Yes. But no. It’s an idea I’ve had for a long time, now I’m finally putting it to paper. Metaphorically, since it’s digital.” She shrugged, crossing her arms.
“It sounds good, but since when did you become a blogger?”
“I’m out of book ideas.” Dee plopped on the short sofa beside her friend and grabbed the laptop—saving and closing the document file.
“So…Dick Magnet? Are you going to feed the stereotypes about men wanting nothing more than to get into a womans pants?”
“You mean tell it like it is? Yes.”
Layla rolled her eyes. She wasn’t as cynical as her lifelong friend. But she had no reason to be. She married the man who took her virginity a month after high school graduation. And amazingly, they were still married. And happy. They still had sex. Regularly.
Dee shook off the image. “Not all of us are lucky enough to find a guy like your Steve.”
“Luck had nothing to do with it. Love is an investment, Dee. The wedding is like a down payment that gets you the house. But marriage is what you live in. It takes time to repaint and remodel. It’s a lot of work.”
Dee’s eyes nearly crossed. How many times had she heard this metaphor? Ten, twenty, a hundred-thousand times?
“Alright-awright. I get it. The secret is in real-estate research.”
“Metaphorically.”


Dee didn’t like the name she chose for her new, fabulous website. Yeah, it was only to keep her busy as she searched for another job. It was a part-time thing. A hobby. There were millions of bloggers out there, but none of them—at least the ones Dee came across—were filling the gap between what you learn and applying that knowledge in everyday life and situations.
For instance, Dee now knew, from past experience that it was important to see your potential date in a well-lit space before agreeing to any outings. The typically soft lighting of a night club does not lend itself to inspection. To search, to make absolutely sure there was no slightly lighter strip of skin on the left ring finger.
She learned this one night—well several nights after—a few fuzzy navels and a screwdriver, compliments a la Asshole. The haze of alcohol eased her into accepting his phone number scribbled on a napkin. The man had paid for two of her four drinks that night and she was reduced to thinking that somehow indebted her. But all he wanted was the chance at a phone call. And Dee was not going to call. But he hadn’t demanded Dee’s phone number. He’d left it up to her to make the next move.
And in that simple act of letting her think she was in a higher position made her fall.
The high-point of the first date was the conversation and the sweet, boyish peck on the cheek that followed. Boy, did he reel her in. Slowly, like a fat, stupid tuna. He let her thrash about on the baited hook like one of the giant marlin her father used to catch when he took her deep sea fishing.
The second date was where Dee learned her lesson. It was right after she let him talk her into seeing a terrible movie. A major motion picture, expected to be a box office block-buster.
Well, it was shit. Dee knew it would be. She rarely agreed with film critics and never agreed with pop-culture’s ideas of ‘good’ on anything. Film or otherwise. Except maybe Green Mile and Forrest Gump, but that was more a Tom Hanks anomaly.
Neither one really watched the movie, but they made good use of the dark. They were all over eachother. Dee was going to take him to her apartment. As the two left the theater, walking hand in hand, it happened.
A beautiful woman with bright strawberry curls was blocking their path on the crowded sidewalk. Asshole threw her hand away and stuttered something to the woman. Dee was confused at first. But then she took in the womans tired, hurt expression, her thin arms that held an impossibly tiny infant, and her slightly doughy middle. Then the womans thin hand and the large stone that rested over her fourth finger.
Automatically, Dee checked her dates’ fingers. Low and behold—there was a thin, slightly lighter line around his ring finger.
Dee did the only thing she could think of; listened and watched the screaming match. The poor woman cried at the unfairness; it wasn’t her fault she had to wait six weeks to have sex. She’d just had his baby! And her husband of less than two years was an unfaithful bastard!
Bastard was right. Who the hell was he to make Dee the slut, to turn her into the other woman?
Dee’s knee swung up into his groin before she had a chance to think it through. “There! Now he can’t have sex either!”
She charged through the watching crowd on her way home to meet her second dates for that evening, Ben and Jerry.
It was a tough lesson. But one Dee was glad to have learned. Thanks to that experience, she could relay the importance of good lighting at a first meeting.


635939429028651305-747438658_storyteller

You are welcome, World.

Rivera–out.

cropped-wpid-img_20150516_142017.jpg

Panster Flash Fiction

I’m flying by the seat of my pants with this whole writing thing. Always trying to do fifteen things at once. Work, cook, clean, parent, write, craft and mold, market, sell books . . . it’s gets really tough to work in the time to write a piece of flash fiction that I feel has been edited well enough to post here on my blog.

So, today, in effort to change this pattern on no-blogging-until-it’s-perfect, I am going to free-write a piece of flash fiction that has been parked on my brain for some time now.

I’ve got no title for it, but here goes . . .

^ ^ ^ ^

My eyes are level with the tip of his boot.

I can see the black rubber sole, make it out with perfect detail from my place on the linoleum floor. There’s a brown slash running up on side and a deeper black circle like he stomped out a cigarette before storming into the house and over me.

“This is what I get,” I tell myself. This is what happens when you try.

I’m just going to lay here now. Trying time is over. I’m going to let him shake his fist and call me names, say things about me that aren’t true. Let him roll like thunder until he’s done.

I have to. I can’t change his mind.

So when he tells me that I don’t love him because I don’t have dinner waiting for him on the table the second he walked in the door–four and a half hours after he called and said he was on his way home–I won’t remind him that the food needed to be refrigerated. I fried fish for him. It’s his favorite. It’s best when it’s hot and crispy. I won’t explain to him how I waited for him to call, to tell me he was on his way before dropping it into the fryer so it would be fresh and perfect for him when he got here. I won’t tell him how the fish got cold and mushy as we both waited for him, worried that he may have gotten into an accident.

As he rages on about how I’m getting fat and how he’s starving to death, I won’t tell him his plate is in waiting for him and how easy it would be for me to pop it in the microwave. Because he’ll say I’m too lazy to cook and smash the plate on the floor. Or my head. Right now, he could hit both targets without any effort.

No, I won’t say a word. He’ll just have to find the saran wrap covered plate in the refrigerator

No. I’ll just lie here, staring at the tip of his worn leather work boot and drop my hands. Because I can’t try anymore. Not tonight. It’s too much.

Tomorrow, I know he will be sorry. Tomorrow he will love me again. He’ll bring me flowers and tell me it won’t happen ever again. He’ll kiss my bruises and I will let him.

“Why?” I ask myself.

“Because that’s what I always do.” My inner voice answers.

It’s what my mother and grandmother did. I watched them both go through it for years. Still, I don’t know how I’m supposed to keep going. Where I’m supposed to find the strength. How will I keep living in fear of his mood swings? I have for the past 5 years, 3 months and 11 days.

5 years, 3 months and 12 days ago, my world began shrinking and I didn’t even notice. I thought it was cute that he wanted to know where I was at all times. I liked that he threw fists at other boys when they looked at me.

Soon enough, his direction changed, shifted to me. Somewhere along the line, this all became my fault. And I’ll be honest, I had done things to provoke him. I knew I had to stop, to change my ways because I loved him and that is what you do when you love someone. You change for them.

First, I quit running track because he didn’t like my teammates. Then, school. My senior year, half-way through, it was over. I had to take my GED because teachers kept asking why my grades were slipping. My friends thought I was suddenly forgetful and clumsy, but not my counselor. She’d look at me funny, asking why I was wearing sweats and long sleeves when it was ninety degrees out.

5 years, 3 months and 12 days ago, I could count on one hand the number of times I’d been hit. Three. My daddy always took out my punishments on my mother. Once, I tried to stop him. He hit me three times all along my back. The pain . . . oh, God, the pain of those 3 strokes. I never got between them again.

Here on the kitchen floor, in the house he gave me, in the clothes he bought me, under the roof he shored for me, I realize that this, right now, this is my whole world. Him and these boots. There is no one to step in for me, either.

And that’s fine, because I wouldn’t wish this on anybody else.

Finally, his boots turns away. Footsteps in retreat echo and cut off as he leaves the kitchen for the living room.

I have to move slow. Feel for the aches as I get up off the floor. I mean to start cleaning, but I need to sit down first. Rest a minute.

Both of my cheeks feel hot and too large. One of my hands comes away streaked with red. My nose is bleeding. My other hand holds blue blotches in the same pattern of his boot tread.

That’s when I hear the banging at the front door and a string of curses. Red and blue lights are flashing through the sheer curtains of the front window.

All I can do is sit and watch. The relief that courses through me when I see that dark uniform busting through my front door and taking him away–

Someone heard me? Someone stepped in for me?

Flash Fiction Update!

A Beacon for the Metaphorical Penis is a serial flash fiction thingy I’m writing. In Case you’re interested in catching up or catching on:

Part 1      Part 2      Part 3

Beacon for the Metaphorical Penis

Part 4

It had been several weeks and still Dee was jobless. Her best friend, Layla, was convinced Dee was doing something wrong. The other day, when Dee dropped by her house for a visit, the two friends were standing in the kitchen as Layla leaned against the counter, trying and failing comfort her.
Beer in hand, Layla explained: “You complain about not finding a job, but are you really looking? There are jobs out there. I know a guy who works with Steve. He’s a teacher, looking for an aide.”
Dee knew who she was talking about. Well, sort of. She’d never met the drama teacher, Mr. Collins, but she’d heard about him plenty. Layla had asked about setting Dee up with the guy.
“I want a job like the one I used to have. In publishing.” Dee tipped her beer glass up, downing the last few gulps.
Layla waved her hand dismissively. “I’m trying to help. Not set you up. Although, if I were single….” She didn’t finish, but changed the subject. “I want you to come out with me tonight.”
“Where?”
Layla opened the refrigerator. Pulling out two more bottles of Blue Moon she answered in a deep, television narrator-type voice. “Jimmy’s Pizza is proudly hosting The Corporate Games.”
Dee laughed. “What?”
Layla popped the top off the first bottle and began refilling her friends glass. “Steve and I got invited to the school’s annual game night. Basically, it’s a bunch of high school staffers acting like teenagers. They separate the staff into teams of three or four and all of them have to play Guitar Hero.”
Dee laughed again. “No. I’m not doing that.”
Layla shook her head. “I don’t expect you to. I’m not doing it either. But it’s a chance to hang out and eat free pizza, courtesy Los Angeles Unified. And we get to watch all the teachers make fools of themselves.”
Dee thought about it while sipping at her beer.
“Alright. I’ll go,” she consented, with one condition. “But just to watch.”

Jimmy’s Pizza was not easy to find. Even Google was getting it wrong. The kind voice of the GPS kept telling Dee to go into a Denny’s parking lot. She drove around the block a few times before finally spotting the small, short sign half-hidden by an overgrown Oleander shrub. Apparently, Jimmy was quite confident in his pizza making capabilities and didn’t need to worry about minor things like foot traffic and street visibility. The place was small, with low ceilings and was located right behind the Denny’s restaurant.
The front door opened into the alley. The parking was non-existent. The outside lights were flickering and Dee was sure she saw a group of teenagers drinking at the corner.
The pizza had better be worth it. Dee thought, stealing into a compact space on the corner across from the restaurant.
When Dee opened the front door, there was row after row of long family-style tables in a long room. The center of the long room, was a tall projector and screen. And a Playstation. Dee noted a small group of people in brightly colored punk-rock wigs fiddling around with wires and instrument shaped controllers as she got in line to place her order.
Just before her turn at the window, Dee heard her name being called. It was Layla. She was waving from the end of a long table across the room, near the bar. Dee could see Layla pointing to a large pizza in the middle of her table.
The pizza is free, Dee remembered and set off for the table.
The two friends stuffed their faces and people-watched as the semi-empty restaurant filled up. Dee caught echoes of conversations from all over the room. It seemed every teacher from nearly every high school in the area was present. There were History teachers discussing their political affiliations, several English teachers talking about Romeo and Juliet—which film version they preferred to show once the class was done reading the play—and several other conversations which had nothing at all to do with school or work. The one Dee honed in on was taking place behind her. It was the voices of two men standing nearby. Their hushed tones indicated they were having a private conversation, but rather than deterring Dee’s interest, it piqued.
“… and I can’t figure out why.”
“Wait. You mean she left? Like, for good?”
A pregnant pause had Dee holding her breath, wondering if the responder had nodded his head—yes, or shook it—no.
“When?”
“Three weeks ago.”
So it was a yes. Someone—a woman—left one of the men who were standing behind her.
“She must have said something—gave some indication. Wives don’t just leave without a reason.”
Dee’s heart thrummed wildly. His marriage ended? How devastating. She shouldn’t be listening. She knew that. But she couldn’t stop herself. Obscene curiosity was one of her many flaws. Hearing other peoples stories made her want to write her own. She lived for that inspiration.
“She did. Give a reason.” The tone of this stranger’s voice was so soft, so poignant, it made her bones ache.
“Are you going to tell me what it was?” The second man asked, obviously just as nosey as Dee herself—only difference being, he had a right to be. He was the one being confided in.
“No.” Sort of.
There was some mumbling, some shuffling and Dee realized that the pair behind her was moving. As she turned her head, she noticed that she’d been leaning far over; an unconscious effort to hear the strangers conversing.
She was the reason they were leaving.
Lifting her gaze, Dee only saw their backs. Even so, she noted that one of the men was clearly older than the other—having thinning grey hair. And the younger man had longer hair, probably down to his shoulders, she assumed but couldn’t be sure since it was pulled back into a low ponytail.

Flash Fiction Friday: Chapter 3

Friday starts with an F. So does Fiction. So why not make this Flash Fiction a Friday thing?

It’s time for the third installment of my flash fiction serial. If you need a refresher, part 2 is here and if you’re totally new to the blog, WELCOME!!! And you can find part 1 here.

Enjoy!

——————————————————————————————

Title TextA Beacon for the Metaphorical Penis

3.
Dee often felt sorry for people that had to sit beside her in traffic. She liked her coffee strong and her music loud. She also liked to sing along and would often nod unashamedly at the unfortunates stuck beside her as they rolled up the car windows.
She loved her little Jetta. The sound system came stock with the car, which was, by far, the nicest and most dependable model she ever owned. It was also her first brand new car. She’d made the down payment with last years’ Christmas bonus from her former employer.
Stopped at one of LA’s many traffic lights, Dee sang at top of her lungs, idly wondering how delinquent her payments could get before the dealership sent out the repo-men.
It was still Friday and with her clothes smelling Tide-fresh, Dee felt invigorated on her way to the local grocery store.
As she drifted through the crowded parking lot, a compact space near the front of the store opened up. Dee hooked the wheel left and snagged it. On her way inside, she noted the spot was also close to two Basket Return stalls and smiled at the small stroke of luck.
Inside the store, Dee pushed her cart, feeling dazed by the ridiculous amount of devilish makeup and costumes that cluttered the stores usually neat aisles. But it wasn’t long before her drifting gaze came to stop on the enormous display of Halloween candies.
No, she told herself and moved on.
Dee didn’t need much. Just odds and ends and she was running low on Cup ‘O’ Noodles. She didn’t need the candy. There were never trick-or-treaters in her building.
Standing in the slow check-out line, Dee stared at her microwave food products. She was going to get fat if she didn’t learn to start eating better. And she wanted sugar. Badly. But it made her lazy and Dee had too much to do. As the conveyor belt rolled forward, her sugar craving became ravenous. Turning to her right, Dee searched the small display of candy bars. They had Reeses. Well, the holiday version shaped like pumpkins.
Dee turned to the girl mindlessly swiping her items. “Excuse me. Do you have the regular peanut butter cups?”
The girls blank look disappeared. “There should be a box of them on the third shelf.” The girl gestured to the very spot where the pumpkin shaped confections rested.
Dee smiled. “I don’t want the jack-o-lanterns. I need the standard, round cups.”
The clerks forehead crumpled. Dee was not surprised. No one understood her aversion.
“I need the flat, even cups. Those lumpy pumpkin things don’t taste the same. The mound-shape throws off the chocolate to peanut butter ratio.” Dee didn’t often indulge in her sugar addiction, but when she did, she had to do it right.
All her items were scanned. And still the check-out girl just stared at her. “I don’t understand. Aren’t they just chocolate and peanut butter?”
Dee could see that the line behind her had doubled in size. “Yes. They are.” She dug into her wallet. “But they don’t taste the same. I need even distribution. The peanut butter in the holiday shape is too thick. I prefer the regular cups. Do you have any of those?”
Dee noticed more than a few wry smiles on the faces surrounding customers. Every time she explained this eccentricity of hers, people shook their heads as if it were unbelievable. It wasn’t as if she was asking the Reeses’ company to separate the peanut butter and chocolate, she simply wanted some consistency.
The checker shook her head and took Dee’s payment. “If you don’t see them over there, then probably not. Sorry.”
Dee pushed her basket out to the parking lot, still craving sugar. Her car cheerily chirped when she pressed the key fob. If Dee hadn’t been so hangry, she might have smiled.
After placing her bags in the car, Dee found herself in the middle of another conundrum. Her car was in the exact middle space between two basket returns. And Dee could not decide which one was closest.
It was a Larry David moment, Dee thought, laughing to herself. It was the type of simple issue that the brilliant writer and comedian, Larry David, might write about. The type of silliness that made Dee laugh her as off. She was tempted to take the time to count the steps between the car and return stall.
“This one’s closer.”
Dee turned in the direction of the voice and was dumbstruck. Parked just beside her Jetta, was a king cab pickup; white with barrels of paint and ladders strewn in the back. There was a man standing behind it. He looked to be Dee’s age, with soft brown hair that hung smoothly to the tops of his shoulders and big blue eyes.
“What?” Dee managed to ask, taken aback by the striking masculinity that stared back at her.
“This cart return,” he pointed to the right, “is closer than that one.” He shook his head almost like he was embarrassed and Dee nearly fainted.
Damn. He was pretty. Masculine, but beautiful. Like Brad Pitt in Thelma and Louise pretty.
He was Jared Leto pretty.
And he was talking to Dee.
“I’m sorry. It’s just…you looked like you couldn’t decide and I figured since most people don’t bother to return the baskets in the first place, that you were probably looking for the most efficient way—” He shut his mouth and walked towards her, reaching.
Dee’s heart sputtered to a stop and picked up again, double-time as Mister Gorgeous came within striking distance. Then he was inches away, passing a hand in front of her. Dee took a deep breath. Oh, he smelled better than he looked.
How the hell is that possible?
“I’ll just take this for you.” He smiled. And she stopped breathing. “You have a nice day.”
She watched him walk through the parking lot, taking her basket with him into the store.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: