Short Story Of the Day (flash fiction) – The Start of a Beautiful Friendship by Bill Chance

“Of All The Gin Joints In All The Towns In All The World, She Walks Into Mine.”
― Rick, Casablanca

 

The Bartender and a Regular, Molly’s, Decatur Street, French Quarter, New Orleans

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 (#90) Almost There! 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 Start of a Beautiful Friendship

Russell never thought, never in a million years, that he could be thrown in jail for pissing on the side of a building. At home, you can pee wherever you want – it is a God-given right. He was no more than a block down the street from the bar when he realized he had forgotten to use the bathroom before he left. There was an unlit alley and he ducked in. He was admiring the patterns of oblique shadow the streetlights made on the rough brick when he noticed the blue and red flashing lights mixed in with the yellowish streetlight.

Just when he broke out into a grin at the interplay of colors and shapes he felt a rough hand on his shoulder.

Russell jumped a bit at the voice yelling in his ear, “Well, now, look who’s going to jail tonight.”

His arms were pulled back and he felt the cold steel click around his wrists.

“Shit, son, you ain’t even zipped up,” the unseen voice said. “Now, don’t you piss on me or I’ll crack your damn head.”

He felt his hands released and as soon as he brought them forward and fixed his pants he was shoved forward. His hand came up to catch himself from falling, his palms against the uneven wall. Boots pushed his feet apart.

Strong hands moved down his sides and between his legs, and finally slid his wallet out of his back pocket.

——————–

The concrete pallet had no mattress and the jailhouse orange coveralls were thin so Russell wasn’t really asleep when the noise outside the cell snapped his eyes open. Two huge deputies were dragging a man down the corridor towards the cell. He was wearing a once-whitish suit, covered in thin blue lines – now stained with blood and at least one other substance. The man looked exhausted and one eye was swollen almost shut but he still heaved and wiggled against the thick arms that restrained him.

The two deputies tossed him against a wall where he gathered himself erect and began the useless task of trying to smooth the countless deep wrinkles out of his suit. One deputy turned and began to work the lock on the cell door while the other kept facing the man in the suit.

“Gentlemen, “ the man in the suit began to talk in a surprisingly clear, steady, and controlled voice. “I do not stand to be treated like this. You should know that, not only am I an attorney, I am a member of the New York bar.”

The guard facing the man did not say a thing but gave a sharp shrug of his shoulder and a heavy telescoping rod shot down from his hand about the length of his forearm. At the end of the rod was a small but mean looking black sphere.

The man in the suit said, “Ahhhh,” but before a complete word could form the guard raised the extended truncheon and began wailing away at the man in the suit. His arm moved like a piston while the rod whistled through the air landing on the man with a sickening wet thud. Russell noticed the man had the presence of mind to cover his good eye with both hands and to turn and curl to present the smallest target. Russell had the feeling that this wasn’t the first time he had been beaten.

Russell guessed that swinging a heavy club like that was hard work and within a minute the guard stopped, bent over with his hands on his knees and breathing hard. He caught his breath and asked his partner, “Do you want a go at him, Hubert?”

“Naw, I got my licks in when we picked him up. I got a bottle in my locker, lets drop him here and grab a quick snort.”

They grabbed the man and attempted to throw him into the cell but somehow, he resisted enough to stand and walk through the cell door on his own volition. It shut with a metal clang and the two guards left without a backwards glance.

“They didn’t put you in a jail jumpsuit,” Russell said.

“No they did not,” the man said with a bit of pride in his voice, “That, my friend, is the source of the disagreement I had with those two apes back there. As you see, I’m still wearing my seersucker, and that I won that argument.”

Russell thought that was a definition of the word, “won,” that he had not ever heard before.

“How did you get here from New York?”

“Oh, I’m not really from New York. I was born and raised less than three miles from this very hoosegow. I only said I was from New York to impress those dimwitted thugs back there.”

“Now,” Russell said, “I’m just a country kid, but if I sat up all night thinking of saying something that would guarantee I got a bad beating in here, I don’t think I could do any better than telling them I was a New York lawyer.”

The man went on as if Russell hadn’t said a thing. “Now friend, I am an attorney… or at least I was. The state bar did not take too kindly… and over-reacted to – a trivial incident involving a real estate loan and the District Attorney’s niece. My present plans, however, do include, when they come to fruition, the reinstatement of my lawyerly license.”

“I don’t see how getting beat up in jail is going to help you get your license back,” Russell said. “Oh, and I’m Russell and I guess I’m pleased to meet you.”

The man seemed to think for a minute before giving up his name. “Jameson P. Samuel, at your service, but you can call me Jim.”

Short Story Of the Day (Flash Fiction), Storage by Bill Chance

“Sylvia was driving and I didn’t realize how drunk she was and how icy the roads were. She slid around the corners, whooping and laughing like a crazy person. It scared the shit out of me but Sylvia thought it was funny.”

—-Bill Chance, Storage

Mural, Deep Ellum
Dallas, 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 (#9). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

A flash fiction bit I wrote from a prompt from the book The 4 A.M. Breakthrough. I’ll put the prompt after the story. You don’t have to read the prompt if you don’t want to.

Thanks for reading.


Storage

All five of us were laying on Sarah’s huge bed watching Game of Thrones – she has a great big plasma television on the wall in her bedroom and an HBO subscription. It was actually very innocent, comfortable, and fun until Alice started kissing Sarah. She has a girlfriend and can’t go around making out with anybody she wants. It ruined the whole evening. I gave her a kick and pushed the two of them apart, giving both a piece of my mind. They laughed at me, even though they stopped sucking face. It interrupted the whole thing… it upset me so much I missed Arya killing some dude… they said she stuck Needle slowly right up through his neck. I wanted to see that. They wouldn’t even run it back for me. So selfish, so self absorbed.

Then, well, Alice was in the back seat, half passed out. She was still pissed off at me about the kissing Sarah thing from Game of Thrones night. Sylvia was driving and I didn’t realize how drunk she was. She slid around the corners, whooping and laughing like a crazy person. It scared the shit out of me but Sylvia thought it was funny. When we arrived home she said, “Big deal.. we’re here OK aren’t we? All’s well that ends well, that’s what I say.” What an idiot.

I swear that Alice and Sylvia are out to get me. I see them talking to each other, quietly, when they think I’m not watching. We all decided to go swimming and those two chose the spot – some lake out in the country. When we got there, I fished my suit out of my bag and they all laughed at me. We walked down and the place was full of naked people. They all stripped down and jumped in. It was disgusting. I wore my suit and everybody stared at me – stared at ME. They were the naked ones, but they made me feel like I was the one that had something to be ashamed of. Alice, Sylvia and Sarah all knew that I can’t stand people to see me naked. Joyce drove us down there but maybe she didn’t know. It was so humiliating, I get shivers thinking about it.

With those three all trying to destroy me I thought at least I had Joyce on my side. It gave me comfort. She has always been a good friend. So I called her up and tried to get her to take my side against the others, but she told me I was crazy. “Gwen, you have gone BATSHIT CRAZY!” was exactly what she said. I slammed down the phone and cried for an hour. That whole group has it in for me. My birthday is coming up and they haven’t even mentioned it. They know it’s my birthday and they are ignoring it. It is awful… I need new friends. I’m going to just ghost them, I swear.

So it was my birthday and that bunch of bitches completely ignored me. Joyce came by the house and didn’t even mention what day it was. All she wanted to do was get me to go shopping with her and I told her to go to hell. She laughed and absolutely made me go. On the way she said she had to stop at Sarah’s and I hit the roof. I said I’d wait in the car, happily, but she would have none of that. She practically dragged me out of the car and into the apartment. Right when we went through the door everybody jumped out and yelled, “Surprise! Surprise!” It was a party for my birthday. My friends are the best.


From The 4 A.M. Breakthrough

Writing Prompt:

Paragraphs As Containers

Write five paragraphs of narrative about one individual who has decided to stop spending so much time with a gang of friends. Each paragraph should be about an isolated problem of this larger issue. All five paragraphs should have overlapping characters, but you do not have to follow one character all the way through the five paragraphs. Think of the paragraphs as tiny stories in and of themselves. Separate each paragraph by a space.

This is a question of Story VS. Storage. Paragraphs are boxes into which we put information. Let each new paragraph in your writing signal another set of thoughts and ideas.

 

Looking At Her Phone in the Dark

“I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”
—- Albert Einstein

There is something special about standing around in the middle of the night and talking with a bunch of your best friends. To stand around with them in front of a beautiful art museum is extra special.

So special, in fact, that it is something that you would have to text to a bunch of people… people that aren’t there.

“This is the whole point of technology. It creates an appetite for immortality on the one hand. It threatens universal extinction on the other. Technology is lust removed from nature. – Murray (WN 285)”
—- Don DeLillo, White Noise Critical: Text and Criticism

A group of friends in front of the Dallas Museum of Art, night, long exposure

A group of friends in front of the Dallas Museum of Art, night, long exposure

“This was before voice mail, recorded phone messages you can’t escape. Life was easier then. You just didn’t pick up the phone.”
― Joyce Carol Oates, Beasts

I used to work a little closer to where I lived. Sometimes, I would go home for lunch… but not very often. One day, while I was home, the phone rang. This was before caller ID – back in the days when people would actually answer their phones. It was, however, after the invention and installation of the answering machine….

…do you remember when these had little tapes in them? Once, I left for a long business trip and when I returned I had a large collection of very interesting phone messages left from a number of my friends and even a couple of cool ones from strangers. I liked these so much I replaced the tape with a fresh one and carried the old one around with me for a year or so. Sometimes I’d listen to it for fun. I know that sounds stupid – but I wish I had that tape now, thirty years later. I’d love to hear it again.

…at any rate, back to the story. I was home, the phone rang, I picked it up. It was a friend. She said, “Oh, I didn’t think anyone would be home. I called to leave a message.”

“I’m home making a sandwich. But it’s ok,” I said. “I’ll hang up and you can call back and leave a message.”

So I did. And she did.

When the phone rang my hand quivered over the receiver. I was torn on whether I should pick it up (as a joke, you know) or to let it ring and let her leave her message. I decided the joke was too stupid (strange, I know – I don’t usually pass up an opportunity for a stupid joke). As the machine picked up, I walked out the door, left for work, and let her leave her message in private.

I never listened to it.

Under the Sculpture

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”
― Edgar Allan Poe, Eleonora

In front of the Dallas Museum of Art, night, long exposure

In front of the Dallas Museum of Art, night, long exposure (click to enlarge)

The sculpture is Ave, by Mark di Suvero – the same sculptor that did the Proverb piece not too far away.

“The sky grew darker, painted blue on blue, one stroke at a time, into deeper and deeper shades of night.”
― Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance

They say you are not to touch the works of art. But I always used to see kids using the sloping steel structure – the one painted bright red in the middle of the preternatural green grass sward in front of the museum – as a slide. I don’t see that any more – security must be better.

But still I think of a slide when I see it – I think of the time we used a wax paper cup to lubricate an old, rusty piece of playground equipment down at the end of the block when I was ten years old. It became so smooth and frictionless…

The feeling of rocketing down that perilous slippery slope was intoxicating and frightening. The exhilaration was accelerated by the knowledge that we had figured it out and done it ourselves. We felt we were the only children in the world to understand the secret effects of rubbing wax paper cups on smooth steel.

A father came to fetch his kids and we boasted of how fast it was. Fathers were competitive then and he said it couldn’t be that fast because were were only little kids and we didn’t know what we were talking about.

It told him to try it. With a wry, dismissive grin he hauled his creaking, awkward bulk up the ladder much too small for him (I remember him as being oh so old, though now, of course, he would have been maybe thirty years younger than I am now) and sat bumbling down, unsure suddenly of the whole endeavor, giant feet reaching down the smooth steel – I remember a sudden, last look of doubt, almost panic flickering like a shadow across his expression… but fathers were stubborn then and there could be no turning back, no chickening out in front of his children and all their friends.

So he pushed off.

And you know what happened. I remember he shot off the end of that slide like a watermelon seed squeezed between your thumb and index finger on a hot summer afternoon.

That weekend his oldest kid told me he had to go to the hospital because he broke his coccyx.

Five Friends

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
― Albert Camus

Klyde Warren Park, Dallas, Texas

“Is it possible, in the final analysis, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another?
We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close can we come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?”
― Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

five_friends

(click for a larger version on Flickr)

“Don’t flatter yourself that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. The nearer you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact and courtesy become. Except in cases of necessity, which are rare, leave your friend to learn unpleasant things from his enemies; they are ready enough to tell them.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.