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

 

Short Story (Flash Fiction) Of the Day, Always Smile by Fandango

One of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. One of the Colosseum in Rome. One of a unnamed boulevard in New York City.

—-Fandango, Always Smile

Travelers
Deborah Masters
Audubon Park, New Orleans
(click to enlarge)

 

When you look back there are very few things you regret doing – especially compared to the universe of things you regret not doing.

Read it here:

 Always Smile by Fandango

from This, That, and The Other

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.

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.

Jellyfish In the Sun

“But how can I put a name to what it is that I want? How am I to know that I really don’t want what I want, or that I really don’t want what I don’t want? These are intangibles that the moment you name them their meaning evaporates like jellyfish in the sun.”
Andrei Tarkovsky, Stalker: un film de Andreï Tarkovski

Broken Concrete and Rebar, Dallas, Texas

 

I took a day of PTO today (I am still working, I am essential) to try and heal my knee which I hurt in a fall outside my shower on Sunday. Someone reminded me of RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (Would like to try RICED – with the addition of Drugs… but no luck there) and that sounded good for me. I made a spot where I could stretch out with a flexible ice pack on my knee. To kill the time I watched a movie on my laptop which I had seen over three decades ago – Stalker by Andre Tarkovsky.

Tarkovsky is, as I’m sure you know, an unmitigated genius – a master of idiosyncratic film making.  I’m glad I saw the film again – I noticed a lot that I missed the first time.

One aspect is the Russian technique of adding very deep philosophical soliloquies spouted by characters in the story – the plot becomes a scaffold to present these musings on faith, desire, and humanity. It is like Dostoevsky or Tolstoy where dramatic action illustrates deeper issues.

Here’s an example – the long monologue by the character known only as Writer after he narrowly escaped death in the room of dunes (you’ll have to click through and watch it on YouTube).

Look at this closely… who is he talking to?

And, like all of Tarkovsky’s films… what images! I hadn’t noticed (or remembered) the Wizard of Oz trick of having the day to day life in black and white (or at least de-saturated sepia tones)   and only have the full luscious color spring out in the Zone itself (when you see the film note carefully what other subject is shown in color). The burning rocks on the shore. The room of dunes. The dust devils on the dried up undulating swamp (apparently this scene and others involved carcinogenic chemical wastelands that may have eventually led to the death of the director and others involved in the film). The catalog of items in the long shot through the shallow water. The stalactite festooned tunnel of horror, the meat grinder. The way he films faces….

It is a feast for the eyes as well as the brain.

Let everything that’s been planned come true. Let them believe. And let them have a laugh at their passions. Because what they call passion actually is not some emotional energy, but just the friction between their souls and the outside world. And most important, let them believe in themselves. Let them be helpless like children, because weakness is a great thing, and strength is nothing. When a man is just born, he is weak and flexible. When he dies, he is hard and insensitive. When a tree is growing, it’s tender and pliant. But when it’s dry and hard, it dies. Hardness and strength are death’s companions. Pliancy and weakness are expressions of the freshness of being. Because what has hardened will never win.

Andrei Tarkovsky, Stalker

Just To Nourish Human Loneliness

“Why do people have to be this lonely? What’s the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?”
Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

Footprints and Bike Tracks in thin mud on concrete path, Trinity River Bottoms, Dallas, Texas

There were people here once.

The Swirling

“My soul is a black maelstrom, a great madness spinning about a vacuum, the swirling of a vast ocean around a hole in the void, and in the waters, more like whirlwinds than waters, float images of all I ever saw or heard in the world: houses, faces, books, boxes, snatches of music and fragments of voices, all caught up in a sinister, bottomless whirlpool.”
Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Old photo of the Trinity River in flood stage, Dallas, Texas