Saturday, January 30, 2016

Flash Fiction by Thomas Elson


He, the font of wisdom, nobody listened to.  He, the center of attention, who was ignored.

She the religious person without compassion.  She, the honest person, who lied.

They, who married without like or love.  They, who married without name or adherence.  They, who wanted no one different to marry.

Surprised no one when they began to kill each other.

Thomas Elson has spent extensive time throughout the country.  From California to North Carolina, and Louisiana to Washington--including off road destination, he writes of imagines lives who fall with neither safety net nor safe person to catch them.  His most recent short stories have been published in the United States and United Kingdom.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Flash Fiction by David Daniel

Elizabethan Dry Cleaning

My old man never went past the tenth grade, but he once gave me a piece of advice that, for all my university education, I've been turning over in my mind ever since.  He owned a dry cleaners, the one that I own now, and back when I was a fresh-minted college grad (B.A. English) I had the idea the he needed to raise the profile of his business, which lay on the tattered hem of the old industrial city where I grew up.

"It's a dry cleaners, for Pete's sake, what do I need an image?" he groused--he was an irritable man, especially with me.  "If the clothes come back clean, people are happy.  If they don't, I'm outta business."

"But you could attract a more affluent clientele," I said.

"Cleaning is a local thing.  People aren't going to travel far."

"You might be surprised.  You could draw them by using a catch phrase."

"A catch phrase."

"Kind of a like a verbal logo.  Think about it.  If say Coca-Cola, what comes to mind?"

"Taking rust off a chrome bumper."

"But a phrase--in the ads."

"Coke . . . it's the real thing."

"Exactly.  You think of the one and immediately the other comes.  How about Greyhound?"

"Um . . . leave the driving to us."

"See?  So my idea is 'Able Cleaners--out, out, damned spot."

He looked at me blankly.

"It's from Macbeth," I said.

He shook his head in wonder and walked away.  I went after him.  "What?  It's Lady Macbeth talking about her guilty soul.  And there's no copyright issues.  It's be a good business move."

He walked back to his little office in the rear.  "The last business move I made was the first, calling it Able, put it right in the beginning of the yellow pages.  Only nobody uses yellow pages anymore, so what does it matter."

"But, Pop, think about it.  Shakespeare."

He parked his hands on his hips.  "Okay, Mister College Degree.  One thing they obviously didn't teach you but you've gotta learn--not just in this racket, but in life--you don't succeed by making someone feel stupid.  What are you, gonna offer a special on starching Elizabethan collars?  Pressing cod pieces?"

The old man surprised me.  "That's funny," I said, impressed.

"Let me give you an example, a perfectly good example.  Back in whenever, when Gore and Bush were running for president--"

"The election the Supreme Court stole."

"Forget that.  Listen.  There was a debate, early on, and someone asked, "What's your favorite book?  A softball, Bush says, I dunno, Winnie the Pooh or whatever, something simple.  Gore, he says, The Red and the Black."

"Stendhal.  You know that one, Pop?"

"I didn't quit school because I'm stupid.  I had to go to work.  My point is, I never heard of the damn book, and most voters probably didn't either.  I looked it up later.  And it wasn't even written by an American.  I said to myself right then, the election is lost.  The Supreme Court only cooked up a reason.  But back to before," he went on.

"The average Joe or Jane that comes in here with their shirts and dresses doesn't know Shakespeare.  They're not gonna get it about 'damn spots' so I say to them, 'It's Shakespeare,' mimicking me, 'It's Lady Macbeth.' They're gonna feel stupid, and they might decide to go to Star Cleaners, where the people working there don't care crap about that stuff and aren't worried about a clean soul the way they are about a clean shirt collar.  No, forget the catch phrases and logos and slick business moves.  Run at honest game, give people what they want, you'll do okay."

The old man was right, God rest him.  Now I run Able Cleaners, with two locations, and we do a very good business; and when I want Shakespeare, I go to the theater.

David Daniel has published more than 100 short stories, most recently in the anthology Insanity Tales.  His novel, The Heaven Stone, won the St. Martin Press/Private Eye Writers of America award for best first mystery.  He lives in Massachusetts, where he teaches at an inner city charter high school.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Flash Fiction by Jay Frankston

The Good Old Days

I remember a time when the sun was warm and pleasant on my face and I laid on the beach without fear of cancer for the thinness of the Ozone layer.  I remember a time when we wheeled our baby carriage to the supermarket and left it outside on the sidewalk, baby and baby carriage while we shopped for groceries.

I remember a time when the cop on the beat was called by his first name and we felt secure and protected when he was around.  I remember a time when we knew our neighbors and got together on the roof of the apartment house on hot summer nights to talk or play cards.

I remember a time when France was France and Italy was Italy and McDonalds and Coca Cola wasn't plastered all over the world.  I remember a time when a logging truck hauled a log one single log big as a house.

I remember a time when not every second word was fuck or shit or asshole.  I remember a time when the music wasn't deafening, when we danced cheek to cheek, when there were things we wanted before we got them, when we believed in God and Santa Claus, when ice cream parlors were like social clubs.

And don't tell me I'm being nostalgic and those weren't the good old days.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Flash Fiction from Valerie Brundage

What Happens at Work

I wasn't aware of any internal company strife, but when the head of operations invited us for an emergency HR meeting, I couldn't say no.

Ms. Parker had us meet at the Rustler across the street in the mall.  Chet, Brad and Joanna were all there and we sat in the back corner away from the dancers, over martinis.  The place wasn't very full.

But it was getting louder--alcohol had a way of doing that.  Ms. Parker said Joanna had complained we'd been taking advantage of her in the hallway outside the copier.  Chet denied it but he'd trapped me once or twice there, too.  I knew the truth.

The tapas and the second round came.  Brad was loud.  You could tell he'd already started when it got close to quitting time.

This was supposed to be a safe-place non-judgmental meeting.  I had my other shoes and Chet and me danced when the strippers started.

Brad had heard rumblings about a new overtime policy.  Ms. Parker promised the boardroom machinations wouldn't affect us on the lower levels.

Then Joanna joined us on the dance floor.  One of the strippers was sweating and he sprayed sweat on my shoulder--it was pink and I realized it was mixed with the bodypaint he had on his skin.  Brad yelled at Ms. Parker and she threatened him with suspension.

Dessert was cancelled.

We had to get back to work.  It was, after all, almost lunchtime.

Valerie Brundage began writing about her secret desires and repressed fantasies after the divorce.  Turns out if she had lived them out earlier, none of that previous noise might have happened.  Her novel, "365," will be released this summer by Extasy Books.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Flash Fiction by David Macpherson

Watch Shop

It was the fourth watch shop window we stopped at as we headed to the movie.  My brother always paused to look at the antique watches.  "See that one, that's art deco design, that has the best workings."  Each window was filled with old watches that I doubted worked.  The windows were designed to be like a chocolate sampler box filled with surprise and precision.  "That one," he said, "I need to check that one out."

"We're going to be late.  Mom said you would take me to the movie.  That means the whole movie."  We were heading downtown to a revival house that was playing George Pal's The Time Machine.  I had only seen it on our black and white TV when it aired late at night on Channel Nine's Million Dollar Movie.  I couldn't wait to see what the Morlocks really looked like, all big and full of Technicolor.

"We're not late, and you've already seen it.  You know how it goes.  I really need to check out this watch."  We went in and the place was tight and crowded.  Only a handful of people could get into the shop at any moment.  We were the only customers in there, but the guy behind the counter just kept working on some tiny springs coming from a rectangular watch.

After a minute of standing there looking at the man, my brother said, "Excuse me, but I saw the Elgin in the window.  The one with the two tone case."

The man looked up and his eyes were small, pushed back way into skull.  "Yes, the Elgin, it has the original band, little staining."

"I know, it's amazing.  I was hoping to look at it.  Check it out.  She how much it is."

The man looked at my brother, at his sneakers and blue jeans.  He looked at me, bouncing with anxiety.  "Yes.  It is a lovely watch."  He returned his head to the watch he was working on.

We waited another two minutes and fifteen seconds.  Then another thirty three seconds.  The man kept working on the watch.  "I want to look at the Elgin, please."  Another twenty eight seconds.  "Just because I don't look decked out, I can still be a customer."

Another two minutes and eleven seconds went by and I began hearing the tiny whirs and clicks of the watches surrounding me.  "I can wait here all day,"  my brother said.

I looked up at him.  "But the movie."

My brother didn't look at me.  He just waited.  His standing tall stance quavered and became unsteady.  The man behind the counter leaned back and yawned.

In my mind, I began to play the beginning of the movie we were not watching.  The lead actor announced to the other men that he had invented a machine that will allow him to travel in time.  The men did not believe him.  I saw it in beautiful color and swelling orchestration, though I still heard the thousand tick tick ticks of all things denied us.  We were still at the watch shop.  We were always at the watch shop.  Time stopped.  Time always does that.

David Macpherson is a writer from Massachusetts.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Flash Fiction by C. Angelo Caci

The Fly and I

He keeps buzzing the window, been doing it all morning and I've been sitting here watching, waiting, wanting out--for it, I mean.  The window is open just below him and by just a few inches, just a few inches beyond its visioin is all.  It's where he entered from!  Why does he not see it?  It just follows the same discourse, pattern, hour after hour, left to right, across the top of the window, drops down an inch or so, back up a few more inches, across, then down, up, across, then down again, up, until he reaches the far side then it skims along the top again, back to the far left, the beginning--repeat, across, down, up, across . . . I'm tired of watching, feel sick, sick and fucking tired of watching and I just want to put it out of its misery, but I feel stuck, unable to leave this alone, caught between hoping it'll get the impetus to go beyond its imaginary boundary, or just ending it altogether with one quick benevolent swipe so that I can at lease leave here and get on with something more productive . . . yet knowing I won't.

C. Angelo Caci has been published in many venues, both eBooks and print.  He lives and works in Santa Barbara, California.  Website:

Monday, January 11, 2016

Flash Fiction by Carroll Ann Susco


When I dance, my body floats up, and I soft shoe on vapor, twirl in the air, drop like rain, drip by drip, and up again.  Tink tink tink go the small cymbals on my hands.  My hips follow the wind, this way and that, around the room.  To watch me is not to see me as beautiful, but to see the unfathomable moving through us.  My stepfather is king.  My stepfather said I could have anything I wanted.  I could have the sun, the moon, the stars.  Because I dance on clouds.  I tell myself it is not his lust.  The way my hips sway, the jewel in my navel moving in time with his pulse.

I have never had a choice before, power.  And so, I asked my mother what to wish for:  to live forever, to eat Baklava and not gain weight, to fly around the world, seeing there is all to see, and flying back again.

She shouldn't have asked what she did of me. She shouldn't have asked.  She knew what she was doing to me.  What I thought, if the new god is real, I'm damned to burn forever.  If the new god is real  And I am afraid.  Afraid he is.  Guilt eats at me.  That never happened with the other gods.  I can no longer trust my mother.  I beg forgiveness from the new god and his followers.  Their eyes are like swords.  I have done a terrible thing, and bath after bath I do not feel baptized.

I dance, letting veil after veil drop.  My tears smear my makeup, but that is part of the dance.  My black eyes drip down my face down onto my chest down to my feet that only want to move because to stay immobile means to let the guilt eat me.  So I spin, trip, fall to the ground, push myself back up.  Too much wine now.

My mother is a hard woman to please, and with her glares and arched eyebrows, I learned to try.  Or else.  She sits on the throne next to my stepfather, her rings casting prism on the room's walls.  I look at Herod.  She arches her eyebrows.  I look away.  Then back.  She frowns at me.

Now I know it is because I am young, and she is not.  I know it is because Herod wants me and not her.  My mother would kill me to take my place.  And so given the opportunity, she did.  The new god would not forgive such an insult.  Our enemies . . .

All I wanted was love.  Not too much to ask.  A lot to ask.  So I said, "What should I request, mother?"

I give you me, my present, my wish, anything you choose.

She relished the question, the power, licking her lips, sipping her wine.  And then she smiled.  Such an ugly smile with upturned lips and saliva dripping.  She pleased Herod and killed me with one stroke.  Leaning toward me, she sank her eyes into me like claws.  She said, with eyes burned open," ask for the head of John the Baptist."

And I did.

Carroll Ann Susco holds an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh and has numerous publications, including The Sun Magazine.  She lives and writes in Alexandria, VA.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Flash Fiction by C. Angelo Caci


It flops upon the deck, so desperately trying to gulp air, just to feel that cool, cool, sea water once again flowing through its gills.  To extract a breath . . . even if just for the moment, just one more time . . . just a breath . . . a breath of air . . . one breath of oxygen, of life, from water.  But there is no water, only air . . . just air.

Fish cringes at the sight of the hand, the hand which feeds it--and that's it, the hand, that of its captor as he grasps its tail, lifts, lifts high--fish flying--the purist blue of a sky in the background, the sun shimmering, gracing its sleek body in a shroud of gold glitter . . . then the hand that feeds and destroys, smashes its head upon the gunwale.  The fish convulses momentarily.  It is then stilled, as if composed.  Its tail--the flag of surrender--slowly relaxes until it falls flat against the cockpit flooring.  Fish cringes from the violence . . . then sniffs the remains.  Squeamish, she backs off, her mouth moving as if in articulation of . . . then she relaxes, or rather relinquishes to . . . She looks to Merv, desperate, confused, drops her tail and slowly retreats to the cabin below, step by step, careful.  She'll share later in the bounty, when the sweet scent of its death permeates the air as its filleted torso roasts upon the grill.  Fire changes everything.

C. Angelo Caci has been published in many venues, both eBooks and print.  He lives and works in Santa Barbara, California.  Website:

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Flash Fiction by A.J. Huffman

Following Her Footsteps

He had come to the beach to dig his own grave. 

It was early Monday morning, or late Sunday night depending on your perspective, and  the sun was still sleeping somewhere below the horizon line.  The seagulls ignored the fact he was overdressed for both the weather and the location as he wandered the edges of the waves. 

His shoes were getting soaked, but he did not notice.  His body was on autopilot, heading for the spot just above lifeguard station 22. 

Even at his zombie pace, he reached the rocks in no time.  He immediately fell to his knees, began digging with a child’s plastic shovel. 

By the time the sun opened its golden eye, his suit was soaked with sweat and salt water.  His unkempt hair fell in his eyes, but did not deter him from task.  Deeper and deeper he dug.  

When he had managed a hole about two feet deep, he stopped, removed his jacket.  He sat down in the hole as if it were a welcoming recliner, smiling for the first time in a year.  Slowly he began pushing the removed sand over his legs.  He leaned back, continued covering his chest.  When he could cover himself no further, he tucked his arms to his chest, still clinging to the tiny yellow toy. 

As he lay there, waiting for the tide to claim him, he remembered his daughter’s hands releasing that same handle before taking off into the water without warning.  She had been seven and so sure of her ability to navigate the waves that she ignored her father’s warnings. 

He had only taken his eyes off her for a moment, but a moment was all it took.  A small wave knocked her off balance.  The following wave took her breath.  The undertow had her before either of them could do anything. 

The lifeguard had been nowhere to be seen, probably off flirting with bikini-clad teenagers, while he rushed into the waves, desperately searching for a glimpse of her hand or hair.  He saw neither.

Her body had washed up hours later, miles down the beach.  He knew this unforgiving beach would not hesitate to claim him as well. 

They found him hours later, still half-buried.  His face bloated from salty submersion, his hands still locked around the plastic shovel.

A.J. Huffman has published twelve solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses.  Her new poetry collections, Another Blood Jet (Eldritch Press), A Few Bullets Short of Home (mgv2>publishing), Butchery of the Innocent (Scars Publications), Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink) and A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press) are now available from their respective publishers and  She is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2400 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, and Kritya.  She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Flash Fiction by M.J. Iuppa

Strange Looks

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall--I'm fed up with imitations.  I
will not look into your eyes this morning and be satisfied
with a summary of misgivings.  You big baby.  Don't start.
I could spoil you with a There, there, it's another day, darlin'
but perfection doesn't come without practice.  You have
to get messy now.  You have to say it with your eyes.  I will
never leave you.  Even if I turn my back on you, I will be
right back.  You can count on it.  Don't give me that face.  I'm
too busy.  I can't do this anymore.

M.J. Iuppa lives on Red Rooster Farm near the shores of Lake Ontario.  Most recent poems, lyric essays and fictions have appeared in the follow journals:  Poppy Road Review, Black Poppy Review, Digging to the Roots, 2015 Calendar, Ealain, Poetry Pacific Review, Grey Sparrow Press, Snow Jewel Anthology, 100 Word Story, Avocet, Eunoia Review, Festival Writer, Silver Birch Press, Where I Live Anthology, Turtle Island Quarterly, Wild Quarterly, Boyne Berries Magazine (Ireland), The Lake (U.K.), Punchnel's; forthcoming in Camrock Review, Tar River Poetry, Corvus Review, Clementine Poetry, Postcard Poetry & Prose, among others.  She is the Writer-in-Residence and Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program at St. John Fisher College.  You can follow her musings on art, writing and sustainability on mjiuppa.blogspot.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Flash Fiction by Daniel Clausen


He saw Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind back when things like two-dollar movies theaters still existed.  He drove up to the movie theater in his beat-up clunker and went to see it two weeks after Rachel broke up with him.

He was going to Boston for school on a scholarship.  He wanted her to wait for him in South Florida.  Wait till he was set up and reading Chaucer and the first chapter of his novel was finished, the one he had been working on since sophomore year of high school.

As he watched the movie, not really funny, even though it had Jim Carrey in it, he thought about how dissimilar they were.  her with her spider tattoos and her dark lip gloss.  Her smoking habit.  The way she tried to intimidate others with her callous stares.

In the end, though, she was just a girl.  In the most diminutive way you can mean "she's just a girl," she was just a girl.

She worked two jobs and competed with her two older brothers for her parents' love.  In the end, it was her friend who had confessed to him that she "liked" him, as if they were still in middle school.

Other girls in their school were pregnant or had kids.  He spent most of his time at the community college.  He barely even took high school classes.  Most of his friends were grown up or growing up, but Rachel seemed like she was still a girl.

Right then in the movie Jim Carrey is with Kate Winslet's character in the bookstore, and she says to Jim Carrey's character, "Remember me.  Try your best.  I know you can."  The scene is a touching one because we know that the effort will be fleeting.

James had never particularly been shy, but Rachel put off scary vibes.  The kind of scary vibes that would almost negate her hotness.  Almost.

So when he had approached her for the first time in the lunchroom, he'd been a little surprised when he noticed how nervous she was.  Yes, she was a girl trying to pass herself off as something she wasn't.  For the first two weeks they dated, he had trouble even comprehending why she had bothered with the tattoos or the cigarettes.  She could have been some straight-laced preppy school girl or a future librarian.

They'd hardly said complete sentences to each other for a week.  So finally he said, "I don't get it.  Why the punk rock, the lip ring, and the tattoos?"

"Why not?" she tried to sound cool, but it wasn't working.  "I have to express who I am."

"And who are you?"

He watches Jim Carrey on the beach.  His memory of Kate Winslet is almost completely erased.  He truly looks like a man who's about to lose everything.

It's the same look Rachel had when he told her he was going away for school.  He didn't understand why she looked that way or why she believed that she wasn't the type of person who could one day meet him there.

She told him many things.  About work and money.  About the unfairness of the world.  And it occurred to him that she was a girl trying to cover herself up.

She yells at him aggressively.  Talks a lot about what a shit he is and how the school will eventually change him.

He actually hopes this is true.  That's the point, right?  Why else would he go?

He wants to say one more thing, but he doesn't know how to say it.

The movie ends exactly the way it should.  I won't spoil the ending.

When James leaves the theater he calls Rachel up.  She must be at work because she doesn't answer.

He leaves a message on her answering machine.

He says, "I'll never understand why exactly you decided to date me.  But I'll say this, you're not the Rachel you show to others.  Your true self is a person only I've ever seen.  It comes from a place more real than your tattoos or nose rings.  When you grow up and find the person I fell in love with, come find me in Boston.  I might not be someplace you've ever heard of.  When you feel panicked like you can't go forward, think about what drew you to me in the first place.  Think about that.  Don't hide from that feeling.  Just go, get on a bus or a plane, and find me.  I'll always be closer than you think."

Daniel Clausen has wanted to be a writer since elementary school.  His work has been published in Slipstream Magazine, Spindrift, Leading Edge, and Zygote in My Coffee, among other websites and journals.  His short fiction collection "Reejecttion" is free for everone on Issuu.