Short Story Of the Day (flash fiction), The Convenient Straw Hole by Bill Chance

It was one of those days when it’s a minute away from snowing. And there’s this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it, right? And this bag was just… dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. That’s the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid ever. Video’s a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember…I need to remember. Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t take it…and my heart is going to cave in.

—- Alan Ball, from American Beauty

Campsite, Lake Ray Roberts, Texas

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#24). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.


The Convenient Straw Hole

The dreams were just there a split second ago. But they fly away too fast to even get a glimpse, let alone remember. I wake slowly, painfully. Getting old is not for the weak of heart. For a minute I struggle to remember where I am. I open my eyes and look around.

The early morning sun wanders down through the pin oaks – still green but looking like they are thinking about turning. The canvas windows are unzipped and the cool breeze filters through – the children are making too much noise and it makes it hard for me to go back to sleep. “Let’s wake Frank up!” one calls out.

“No, let him sleep – he had a long day yesterday,” I say.

I hear a sound outside, gurgling and bubbling… what is it? It is water running? No, it’s too crispy sounding for that.

“Is that bacon frying?” I ask.

“Yes,” My wife says.

“Do we have any bread? Lettuce? Is that tomato still hanging around? Do you know what I’m thinking?”

“Yeah, it’s a big tomato. Do you want some orange juice?”

“That sounds good.”

She unzips the door and hands me a little cold waxed cardboard box of Tropicana Pure Premium, Made from Fresh Oranges – Not From Concentrate.

On the top it says “Convenient Straw Hole!” With an exclamation point. The straw is stuck to the side of the box and cunningly designed – it’s actually two-piece, with an inner, ordinary translucent plastic straw and an outer sheath that telescopes so you can reach the bottom of the box. You pull the two parts until they lock together full length. I imagine a gaggle of industrial packaging engineers sitting in a conference room projecting a PowerPoint of the straw configuration in front of some executive that has to approve the design.

The Convenient Straw Hole! is hard to find, it’s only a little curved dent in the cardboard, but the end of the two-piece straw is cut at a violent angle and cuts through the box with ease.

What will they think of next in this best of all possible worlds?

Super Bowl Sliders

The Super Bowl has become one of the biggest holidays of the year in the states. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t an official government edict, that it has no religious status – not even some ancient pagan ancestor, or that it is usually a pretty crappy football game that only people in the two cities involved really cares about. It is a reason to go to someone’s house, gather ’round the big screen, and eat yourself into oblivion.

This year we were invited over and told to bring sliders of our own design. At first, I was not too excited. I am not a football fan (college basketball is my sport of choice – I went to Kansas and my son goes to Duke) and I didn’t relish a wasted day of boring sports and overindulgence. I started to think about things and try to make the best of it. There was some serious cooking skills at this place (professional caterers, graduates of chef school, people from Louisiana) and I decided to go for it and make an effort at putting together some original sliders.

If you don’t know, sliders are small hamburgers, originally from the White Castle chain. They have gone beyond those simple (but good) tiny versions of the All American Burger. Recently, I have been to a couple of food trucks – Easy Slider and The Butcher’s Son for example – that raised the bar on the creativity of sliderdom.

So I sat down with a sheet of notebook paper and worked out three different versions of sliders – two fairly pedestrian ones and one that was a bit more exotic.

First, BLT sliders. Simple – bacon, lettuce, and tomato on a roll with a little mayo. Easy and foolproof.

Then, for a second slider, I went for a Blu Cheese slider. Sliced sausage with blu cheese coleslaw and blu cheese crumbles on top.

Finally, with a little trepidation I designed a Korean slider. Pork Bar-b-que with caramelized kimchi. Soy sauce and Sriacha on the bun for a spicy kick. I still had a bunch of kimchi left over from my trip to Super H Mart. I ground some up in a food processor and sauteed it with some brown sugar (caramelized kimchi).

So I made a trip to the store and then set up an assembly line on the kitchen counter. The nice thing about sliders is that you can make a boatload of ’em without too many raw materials. There isn’t much in each little thing.

So we headed over and I lugged my trays of sliders into the house. The BLT and Blu Cheese were fine cold, but I heated the Korean sliders up in the oven. The first two disappeared immediately. I didn’t even get to try any myself, they were gone as soon as I set them out. The Korean sliders weren’t such a big hit. They were too spicy for most folks’ taste – but the more adventuresome eaters seemed to like them. I thought they were good – but I’m used to kimchi and spicy stuff.

I guess I had a good time, though we stayed too long and I ate way too much. I remember looking at a plate where I had stuck a few jalepeno peppers wrapped in bacon and thought, “I should not eat these. I’m already full and if I do it will make me sick.” I did and they did.

There was some point in the game where I think the announcer said, “And on that play Brady had no choice except to eat the football.” I know how he felt. I felt like I had eaten a football.

It even killed the next day. I walked around in a haze, dehydrated and worn out from the effort of digesting all that food.

So I swear I will never do that again. I’ll have to read this again to remind myself before next year’s Superbowl.

BLT Slider

Blu Cheese slider

Korean slider - bar-b-que, kimchi, and sriacha

Slider assembly line

One nice thing about sliders - they are easy to transport

 Thunder Burger

More Food Trucks

Hawaiian Ham and Cheese Sliders

Barbecue Sliders with Coleslaw

Sweet potato mushroom sliders—a huge thumb’s up

Homemade Meatball Sliders

Bangkok Burger Feature: Sliders (Mini Burgers)

duck shredded & sandwiched

Five Under 5: Meatball Sliders

Whiskey BBQ Sliders with Jalepenos

Turkey Burger Sliders

Sliders

Turkey Bacon Sliders

White Castle

Island Sliders

New Product: Gardein’s Ultimate Sliders

Oven Baked Burger Sliders

Bison Sliders w/ Crinkle Fries

Hot Pepper BBQ Pork Sliders

Pulled Pork Sliders w/ Homemade French Fries

The Best Sliders

Spicy Whiskey BBQ Sliders (by PW)