Short Story Of the Day, A Boom in the Morning by Bill Chance

Everybody had to get up early and was scurrying around the house making plans for the day – who would go where, what they would do, and what they could skip.

—-Bill Chance, A Boom in the Morning

NASA Photo

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 (#22). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.


A Boom in the Morning

Space isn’t remote at all. It’s only an hour’s drive away if your car could go straight upwards.

—-Sir Fred Hoyle

Hank knew it was going to be a busy, crazy day, and very warm for the first of February. His son had three soccer games and two basketball games. His daughter had art lessons and a basketball game. His car was in the shop. A typical insane Saturday in 2003 in a suburb east of Dallas.

Everybody had to get up early and was scurrying around the house making plans – who would go where, what they would do, and what they could skip.

He was looking for his wife’s keys when the house shook – some sort of boom. Even though the ground seemed to shudder for a split second it wasn’t really that loud, not much louder than the usual background rumbling vibrations from the three big freeways that surrounded their neighborhood. He was so preoccupied that he put it immediately out of mind. “What was that?” his wife Sara asked, “Was that a sonic boom?” If she hadn’t said that, he wouldn’t have remembered anything about the sound.

Sara drove him to her mother’s apartment and he borrowed her car (they had tried to figure out a way to get through the day with only one vehicle but couldn’t quite work it out). He drove home, picked up Elizabeth, their daughter, stopped by the bank to get money, left her at her art lesson (she took two one-hour lessons each Saturday, from nine to eleven AM), and drove down to Starbucks for a couple rare hours of relaxation.

Hank hadn’t been sitting very long when his cell phone rang.

“Did you hear about the shuttle,” an unknown voice said on the other end.

“What?”

“Oh, I think I punched the wrong number,” the voice said, and hung up.

A minute later it rang again; it was Sara, calling from the soccer fields.

“Did you hear about the shuttle?” she asked. He hadn’t been near a TV or live radio all day (He and Elizabeth had been listening to her favorite electronic dance station in the car – it’s only a tape playing on the radio, no DJ or news) and had no idea.

“Hang up, I’ll use something new, the Internet news feed on my Nextel cell phone to figure out what was up and call you back,” Hank said.

He punched into CNN from his phone and read on the tiny screen about the explosion and about the debris falling to the east, on Nacogdoches. Then he read about the sound, the explosion that could be heard.

He felt a sudden, terrible shock as he remembered what his wife had said an hour earlier and was sickened when he realized what it meant.

That was the boom… it was the shuttle blowing up over their heads.

He thought about the rest of the day, how busy they were going to be. Should they cancel anything? Was this going to change things? It had happened only a few miles over their heads.

No, no, nothing. For them, nothing would change. Hank continued to sip his coffee. Soon, he was thinking about his daughter’s afternoon basketball game, and if they had a chance of winning… not that he really cared.

Short Story Of the Day, Neiman’s (part 2) by Bill Chance

“No, I’m fine… I’ll catch the next train.” As she said this she became aware that drops of blood were running down from her shoulder and dripping off her elbow.

—-Bill Chance, Neiman’s

(click to enlarge)

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 (#6). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.

Read Part 1 Here


Neiman’s (part 2)

“Never mind my name, and that package seems very heavy for a cabbage.”

Apple realized how much effort she was putting into cradling the severed head in the crook of her arm, trying to cover up as much as she could with the remains of the shopping bag.

“Umm it’s very dense, a lot of flavor.”

“Why is it wrapped like that?”

“Valuable, Neiman’s… their Christmas catalog…”

“In Chinese newspapers?”

“It’s exotic, it’s imported.”

“Ma’am, I’m afraid you’re hurt.”

“No, I’m fine… I’ll catch the next train.” As she said this she became aware that drops of blood were running down from her shoulder and dripping off her elbow.

“You’ll have to come with us, come down and make a statement.”

Apple’s mind was drowning in a flood of panic when a sudden noise… a sharp crack echoing down the tunnel… caused all three to turn. With the corner of her eye she saw the homeless guy from the train slide something dark back into his loose-fitting trousers. She looked at him and he gave her a quick wink before he slid behind a tiled column and disappeared.

It was one of Gallo’s men, the homeless-looking guy. Apple didn’t know if she felt relief or horror.

The two cops were suddenly standing by the shopping bag thief and were yelling into their radios. The kid had slumped completely over and a large, dark stain was quickly spreading out from his now-lifeless body.

Apple smelt the ozone of a train pulling in behind her and felt the rush of cool air as the doors opened. She stared straight at the cops who weren’t looking at her at all as she stepped backward into the train, still holding the paper-covered head cradled in the crook of her arm. The door whisked shut and she was gone.

 


This bit of text is mostly from a glob of NaNoWriMo I did (I won that year) several years ago – I don’t think I have posted any of it before. I’m going to rewrite and rework some of it into something a little more self-contained. We’ll see.

Short Story Of the Day, Neiman’s (part 1) by Bill Chance

Which one?… The schoolgirl with her headphones? The businessman with his crossword?… The workman in his grimy t-shirt? Some filthy homeless looking guy was staring right at her.

—-Bill Chance, Neiman’s

DART train at the Plaza of the Americas (click to enlarge)

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 (#5). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.


Neiman’s

“A severed head in a shopping bag weighs a lot more than I thought it would,” Apple said to herself. She had lugged the Neiman Marcus bag from Gallo’s limousine to the train and the weight surprised her. She could feel rivulets of sweat pouring across every inch of her skin as the train moved out of the station and the standing riders lurched. Apple jerked as a stray foot bumped against the bag.

“They can’t see it – they don’t know – all I have to do is make the delivery and I’m done,” she repeated over and over – a mantra to calm her shattered nerves. As the train shuddered through each stop she scanned the faces of the other passengers, wondering which ones were members of Gallo’s crew making sure the package is delivered on time. Which one?… The schoolgirl with her headphones? The businessman with his crossword?… The workman in his grimy t-shirt? Some filthy homeless looking guy was staring right at her.

The train accelerated into a tunnel, rocking randomly back and forth, while dim lights flashed past the windows. Apple could still feel the oppressive weight of the horror in the bag against her ankle, and moved a fraction away from it. She was beginning to think she might survive – only three more stops – and the train pulled into the murky concrete cavern of an underground station. As the doors whipped open Abbey saw a kid with a burr haircut, nose ring, and some sort of open sore on the left side of his chin stand up and walk quickly down the aisle. As he passed Apple he dipped and in a quick and fluid motion grabbed the shopping bag and leaped out the door.

Apple didn’t even think as she shoved herself from her seat and grabbed the edge of the closing train doors, forcing them back open, and hurling herself out and down the platform toward the fleeing kid. The shopping bag was swinging wildly in his hand and it slowed him down. It wasn’t very far before Apple hit him like a linebacker – every inch of her muscles straining against the kid – wrapping him up as they tumbled hard to the concrete platform. She looked up to see the kid bent over, on his knees, making little “woof… woof” noises. Apple had skidded across the rough floor – one leg of her slacks was shredded up to her thigh and a patch of blood was soaking through her shirt at the shoulder. She ignored her pain in a panic, scanning around for the bag. It was only a few feet away, torn, with the round contents half rolled out – wrapped in newspaper with a grid pattern of reinforced strapping tape holding it together. She crawled to the package, gathered it in her arms and stood up, only to come face to face with two blue uniformed transit cops.

“Jeez lady… good tackle,” said one.

“It’s alright now, I have my package back,” she said, “I’ll just get going.”

“Just a minute, ma’am, what do you have in that package,” said the other one. He spoke in a serious businesslike monotone. Apple looked at his name tag which said, “Friday.” “Oh, great,” she mumbled to herself.

“Um, it’s a cabbage,” she said.

“You came out of that train and tackled a guy for a cabbage?” asked Friday.

“Come on Joe,” said the other cop, “Don’t give her such a hard time.”

“You’re name is Joe Friday?” asked Apple. “Besides, it’s a valuable cabbage… see,” she pointed to the torn shopping bag, “it’s from Neiman’s.”

 


This bit of text is mostly from a glob of NaNoWriMo I did (I won that year) several years ago – I don’t think I have posted any of it before. I’m going to rewrite and rework some of it into something a little more self-contained. We’ll see.

Short Story (Flash Fiction) Of the Day, Pumpkins by Francine Prose

Actually, she is beheaded, her body thrown from the car and decapitated with such force that the head sails through the air and lands in a pile of pumpkins spilled out onto the road.

—-Francine Prose, Pumpkins

Reflecting Pool, City Hall, Dallas, Texas

In surfing around the internet and trying to learn/get inspiration on some flash fiction – I keep reading about the story Pumpkins, by Francine Prose. No wonder. It is crackerjack.

Read it here (Googledocs PDF):

Pumpkins by Francine Prose

Short Story (Flash Fiction) Of the Day, Helicopter by Nicholas L. Sweeney

Overhead, Danny heard a sound like a hundred horses galloping in unison. The craft had looked like a stray gout of orange flame rising into the sky. The white blades of its propeller carved a halo over its head. The ice cream slipped, forgotten, from Danny’s hand. The cone crunched beneath his sneaker.

—-Nicholas L. Sweeney, Helicopter

Helicopter, Downtown Dallas, Texas

I shot the helicopter reflected in a building in downtown after riding my bike to visit a new park, Pacific Plaza, in downtown. It was lifting what looked like roofing materials to the top of another skyscraper.

I looked around for a flash fiction about a helicopter, and found this one… it’s pretty good.

 

Read it here:

Helicopter by Nicholas L. Sweeney

from Flash Fiction Magazine

 

Get the Most Not the Lesser

“So generation after generation of men in love with pain and passivity serve out their time in the Zone, silent, redolent of faded sperm, terrified of dying, desperately addicted to the comforts others sell them, however useless, ugly or shallow, willing to have life defined for them by men whose only talent is for death.”
Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

Fabrication Yard, Dallas, Texas

Short Story (Flash Fiction) Of the Day, Something That Can Never be Held by Cathy Ulrich

You are on the run. You are in love.

—-Cathy Ulrich, Something That Can Never Be Held

Bonnie Parker's Gravesite

Bonnie Parker’s Gravesite

Bonnie and Clyde are from Dallas. Across the city you see spots that call back to their infamous history. I have visited the gravesites of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.  It is a story that will forever be told and retold, the truth wavering in the background, changing as widely variable points of view shift in and out of focus. Today we have a bit of flash fiction inspired by an old photograph.

Read (or listen to)  it here:

Something That Can Never be Held by Cathy Ulrich

from FlashBack Fiction

Cathy Ulrich Twitter

Grave of Clyde Barrow and his brother, Buck.

We Can Only Scratch Away

“The worse the country, the more tortured it is by water and wind, the more broken and carved, the more it attracts fossil hunters, who depend on the planet to open itself to us. We can only scratch away at what natural forces have brought to the surface.”
Jack Horner, How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction Doesn’t Have to Be Forever

Spring Creek, Garland, Texas

The bicycle bones are exposed yet slowly sinking into the muck along the flowing creek. Like a fossil from the recent explosion of eighteen thousand dockless shared rentals the bright yellow steel attests to the (possibly) well-intentioned  insanity that swept suddenly then faded even faster. No mastodon skeleton could be a better representative of the once-swarming extinct than this pile of tattered metal.

Reborn

“We die a little every day and by degrees we’re reborn into different men, older men in the same clothes, with the same scars.”
Mark Lawrence, King of Thorns

Birth II, by Arthur Williams, Dallas, Texas

Over the years, I’ve written about the sculpture that used to sit near the Lover’s Lane DART station – 2013, Egg – then 2019, A First Crack Reaching , and finally 2019, Birth II,

I found the sculpture referenced in a book I have on Texas sculpture and discovered it was called Birth II and was by a man named Arthur Williams.

The area is being extensively redone, and the sculpture disappeared – I wrote about that too Earthly and Mechanical Paraphernalia

I figured that was it – all she wrote.

But in the last few days I have been getting comments on my Birth II blog post. The sculptor’s son messaged me to say his father was retired from sculpting and teaching after losing his studio and work in hurricane Katrina, but was still alive and doing well. That was cool

And then I received a message from a representative from the University Crossing Public Improvement District. The sculpture had been donated to the district, and is being restored. “It’s planned to be placed behind The Highland Hotel at the base of the Mockingbird bridge here in Dallas.”

There is a little piece of green space along the bike trail – I hope that is where it is placed.

That is so cool. I hope to be able to go down the the ribbon cutting.

Mockingbird Pedestrian Bridge

Blue Angels

You must drink. I’m not paying for your art.

—-Kiepert, The Blue Angel

The Blue Angels flew over Dallas in honor of the COVID-19 first responders.

I was at work and pretty much everyone filed out into the parking lot to watch them fly over – wearing our surgical masks and staying six feet apart from each other.

They were over in a few seconds. I had brought my camera and snapped a few photos – though I have friends that were, say, downtown, and took much better pictures of the jets against the towering crystal skyscrapers. Still, I raised my camera and shot – something doesn’t really happen unless you have a photo of it.

 

The Blue Angels over my work parking lot.

The Blue Angels over my work parking lot turning with smoke.

The Blue Angels turning toward downtown Dallas.