Category Archives: Flash Fiction Friday

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6-Mar-2020

Grandma’s Dirty Little Secrets Unleashed!

Peter looked at the house, now sitting in the middle of the highway, and shook his head. “I had no idea this area had floods like this.”

The haggard sheriff sighed. “We had two others come off their foundation, but this is the only one that moved more than a few feet.”

Peter looked at the familiar wrap-around porch where he and his sister had played all sorts of games during the summers in their youth, and marveled that the swinging bench was still attached to the now leaning overhang.

“I am really sorry I had to call with this news,” the sheriff said.

“It’s not like she was young,” Peter said. He’d been here just a few months before, and had been shocked that his grandmother had finally started losing her mind. She’d been sharp as a tack two months before that, but over Christmas she’d kept asking about her receipt for Stupid Stan’s hand. Peter had spent the whole time trying to figure out what she was talking about, but in the end he’d left sure that the next time he saw her he would be putting her into a home.

Not looking at her broken home sitting in the highway in the middle of nowhere Washington state.

“We found her pretty quick. She didn’t suffer.”

Peter had read the report. She’d died in her sleep as her bed had crashed into the wall and broken her neck. He’d checked the history of the area, and found that this particular section of the county had huge floods once ever couple of decades. Nothing in his wildest dreams could have prepared him for this.

“We figured someone should go through her belongings before we moved the house,” the sheriff said.

“I was surprised you left it for so long.”

The sheriff shoved his hands into his jacket pockets. “She was a respected member of the community, and we had plenty of offers, but I thought you should probably go through it all first.”

Peter sighed and took off his suit coat. His sister would be here in the morning, but he figured he should get started. “I’ll get my wagon.”

The stairs creaked beneath Peter’s designer shoes. He eyed the still damp wood with suspicion. “Don’t collapse on me,” he muttered as he crossed the threshold and pulled the folding wagon inside.

Even five feet of water and a relocation hadn’t completely removed his grandmother’s love of Cuban cigars. A vice she’d enjoyed for as long as Peter could remember.

All of the furniture in the living room hugged the wall to his right, as if a giant hand had swept it there to get it out of the way. A few pieces were antiques. He’d let his sister take care of those. He was more interested in personal mementos, so he picked through the furniture and opened the drawers under that tables.

He smiled when he saw the hoard of dollar store coloring books she’d always kept in one of them. Her personal address book along with an envelope full of cash was in another.

She always had been paranoid. He’d probably find cash throughout the whole house.

Peter searched through the wreckage, leaving her bedroom until last. By the time he got there the wagon was almost full. He took a deep breath, again smelling the hint of cigars, and moved inside.

The bed was indeed against the wrong wall. Peter walked toward the nightstand. A board bowed beneath his weight, and he jumped back, eyeing it.

Then he noticed it wasn’t seated properly.

“A loose floorboard? Seriously?” Peter squat down and pried it up.

To his surprise, he found a shoe box wrapped in a plastic bag inside. He gingerly lifted it out and placed it on the nightstand. The bag crinkled as he removed the box, surprised it had gotten through the flood unscathed. The top of the box came away with a hiss, and Peter frowned.

“An anthropology textbook?” he pulled it out and gently opened the front cover.

He blinked.

The inside had been cut out so a smaller leather-bound book could nestle there. He removed that book and stared at it.

The words “Memoir of a Mob Cashier” had been scrawled into the brown leather.

Peter frowned and opened the first page. His grandmother’s neat writing greeted him.

“My name is Dorothy Costello, and I was a cashier for my father for thirty years.”

Costello? His grandmother’s last name was Wicker. He kept reading.

“Inside you will find an accurate accounting off all of the transactions I was responsible for. Most of the people in this book have been dead for a long time. Perhaps their stories are ready to be told.”

Peter turned the page again. A hand written receipt had been taped onto the right side of the page. Next to it his grandmother’s writing continued.

“This is the first receipt I ever wrote. I was fifteen years old. You can see it’s in Italian. This man, Piero Russo, had robbed my grandfather of six bottles of valuable wine. When my grandfather’s men found him, they dragged him back and cut off his hands. This is the receipt for the transaction. I gave one copy to Piero, and he kept it on him at all times, so he could tell the others that he’d paid his debt.”

Peter stared down at the paper.

There had always been rumors that his mother’s family had been in the mob at one point, but nothing like this.

He quickly flipped through a few more entries, until he found one without a receipt. The top of the page read, “Stupid Stan.”

Peter put a hand over his mouth. “Holy sh…”

***

Okay I fudged a couple of things, but overall I’m pretty happy with it!

Genre – Cashier Memoir

Character – Dorothy, 87 year old mob leader whose father was an actual Italian mobster

Setting – A house floating away in a storm/flood

Random Object – An anthropology textbook


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28-Feb-2020

I get to write about a dojo! It’s like fate knows me. 🙂

Lekan stopped in his tracks, his claws digging into the dirt in front of the studio. “Come on, dad, don’t make me do this.”

Lekan’s father, Lars, looked over his shoulder and snorted. “No son of mine is going to be afraid of some wussy chipmunk.”

Lekan shivered as he remembered the creatures long teeth and tiny, but deadly, claws. He did his best not to look scared. “He just startled me. I’m okay.”

Lars turned and came to stand nose to nose with his son. Lekan’s tail twitched as his dad glared. “You will do as I say.”

“Yes, sir,” Lekan said in a small voice.

“Now follow me.”

A fox from across the path sniggered, and Lars shot him a withering gaze. The fox shrunk back, just as most animals should from a lynx.

Any lynx but Lekan.

His father’s fur rippled as he pushed his way through the small hole and into the studio.

Lekan followed, his tail between his legs and his head lowered. Why had it come to this? Just because he’d freaked out when a chipmunk had jumped on his face and tried to claw his eyes out. Anyone would be freaked out by that. Even these stupid rabbits.

“Welcome,” a deep, raspy voice said.

Lars let out a grunt.

The scent of unwashed animals, matted fur and strangely sugar filled the air. Lekan risked a glance up.

He’d never been in a dojo before. He’d expected a bunch of rabbits armed to the teeth with things besides their teeth, sitting around waiting to murder anyone who got too close.

That was the thing with rabbits, you rarely faced just one, and they were tough.

These guys were supposed to be the toughest.

Instead of bloodthirsty troops, Lekan found several adult rabbits and a pawful of kits spread evenly across the packed, dirt floor. The kits—baby rabbits were about the cutest thing ever, and they made Lekan hungry—were practicing what looked like jabbing moves with their paws. Lekan flinched as he thought about one of those coming toward his eyes.

“I am Master Buck. What can I do for you today?” The largest male rabbit approached, and spoke to Lekan’s father.

“My son needs some training.”

“I see.” The rabbit’s eyes turned to Lekan. He studied the young lynx for long enough to make Lekan uncomfortable, before turning back to his father. “What kind of training?”

Lars let out a little growl. Every ear in the dojo turned toward the older lynx, and several of the adults tensed. One of the kits cowered. “He’s afraid of chipmunks.”

Master Buck blinked, obviously waiting for more.

Lekan slunk away a bit as his father let out an irritated snort. “He’s a lynx. He needs to understand that he is tougher than a chipmunk. I will not have my son be a coward.”

“Ah.” Master Buck moved past Lars and came toward Lekan. With his eyes down, Lekan didn’t see the rabbit until his fuzzy feet came into view. “Young lynx, do you wish to be trained?”

Lekan lowered his head ever more. This was the most humiliating moment of his entire life.

“I see.” Master Buck moved away.

“I can get you whatever you want. This place is supposed to be the best. You will train him.”

“Why don’t the two of you watch class, and we can talk after?” Master Buck moved away, as if Lars had already given his answer.

“Sit,” Lars growled.

Lekan did as he was told and settled onto his haunches. His eyes moved back to the kits as they lined up in front of a wide cylinder. It was a piece of human garbage with a picture of nuts and some brown and white stuff on the outside. Someone had filled it with dirt and the kits each turned their back sides toward it and kicked.

Thump.

Lekan didn’t want to be kicked by one of those kits.

Thump.

The adults were even louder.

“You see, their children aren’t afraid,” Lars muttered.

“I know, father.”

They watched as the kits were put through a series of attack scenarios. Lekan’s eyes kept going wider and wider, and he couldn’t stop them. By the time the class was over, he was breathing hard.

Master Buck bowed to the kits and then came over to the two lynx. “Are you still interested in having us train him?”

Lars nodded.

“Good. We have a New Year’s special still going. Come into my burrow and we can discuss payment.”

One of the bigger kits sneered at Lekan.

Lekan followed his father, resigned to his fate as the only lynx in history that had to go to the rabbits to get tough.

Today may have been the most humiliating day in his young life, but he knew there were plenty more to come.

***

If you’ve seen the original Watership Down, then you know how terrifying rabbits can be!

Genre : Supernatural Rabbits

Character: Lynx with a Fear of Chipmunks

Setting: A Dojo on New Year’s

Random Object:  Carton of Rocky Road Ice Cream


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21-Feb-2020

How Exactly Does a Centaur go Undercover??

I forced my expression to stay neutral as the Sabom clomped back and forth across the front of the dojo. The four rows of students in front of me stood at perfect attention. No one moved. No one breathed.

“I have heard some very disturbing news from yet another dojo.” His dark eyes matched the severe way he pulled his hair back. They met mine, but slid away without lingering. He almost got to the wall before turning around and walking back. “Sabom Nikius’ arrived at his dojo this morning and found that all of his practice pads had been replaced by sacks of flour. They didn’t find out until they started their kicking drills.”

No one sniggered.

In a room full of hyper-competitive centaurs, someone always sniggered. If not snorted. Yet silence hung around me heavier than a bag of rocks on my shoulders.

“No one has been able to catch the perpetrators.” Sabom Apostion stopped and stared hard at his front row. “If any of you know anything, you need to tell me.”

Again, no one twitched.

This had to be the place.

These students had to be responsible for all of the antics leading up to the tournament the next day.

Sabom Apostion waited. And waited.

I hadn’t been involved and I was getting uncomfortable.

My jaw started to ache from clenching my teeth so hard, and I was grateful when Sabom Apostion finally sighed and turned away.

“Twenty laps outside, then all of your kicking drills. Twice.”

“Yes Sabom!” the class answered in unison as they bowed.

I joined the rest as we lined up to go out the door. Being the lowest rank, I went last.

All the better to watch.

Sure enough, several of the mid-ranking students exchanged knowing glances as soon as Sabom Apostion wasn’t in their line of sight.

These had to be the guys playing all of the practical jokes. I watched them as we began to canter around the yard.

The flour sacks was the last in a long line of almost harmless pranks. As Sabom Apostion said, no one had been able to find out who was doing it.

Until now.

My own Sabom had been wise to send my here. I’d been attending for a couple of weeks, and I had to say that pretending not to know anything was more difficult than simply doing it. Having to kick wrong hurt my brain.

We were halfway through our first set of laps when a pair of mid-ranking students slowed until they cantered on either side of me.

“Hey,” one of them said. I hadn’t bothered to learn names. This guy had long blond hair and palamino coat.

“Hey,” I said, pretending to be winded.

“How are you liking class?” This one had dark skin and an even darker coat.

“It’s hard, but it’s pretty fun.”

“It’s not usually like this.” Blondie waved his hand. “Sabom Apostion is pretty mad about all of the pranks going on.”

“Yeah, I caught that,” I said between gasps.

“What do you think of these pranks?” the darker one asked.

I looked around, as if to make sure no one else was in hearing range. Then I leaned my body closer to blondie. “I actually think it’s kind of funny. I mean, no one’s getting hurt, right?”

“Right.”

The two of them looked at one another, then back at me.

“What?” I asked. I sped up, trying to look panicked.

“Do you like playing jokes on people?” the darker one asked.

I shrugged. “Sure.”

Blondie leaned in. “What if I told you we were playing the pranks on the other dojos?”

I hadn’t expected them to confide in me so easily. Maybe they’d figured out who I was. “I would say good job.”

They both laughed.

“Right?” the dark one said.

“Listen, we could use some help with our next one. Are you in?”

I looked around again. “Why are you asking me this?” I watched them as closely as I could as we turned the corner of the yard.

“We need a third guy. You like to tell jokes and you’re into funny stuff. We thought you might get a kick out of it.”

Either they knew who I was, or they were looking for a fall guy.

We finished our laps and we went on to kicks.

“Think about it,” blondie said.

I got partnered with the other white belt, and was apparently supposed to figure out if I wanted to go in with these guys.

They would likely give me a fun part to play, then leave me to take the fall for everything. It was possible that they actually wanted to incorporate me into their little gang, but I doubted it.

If they knew who I was, they could frame my dojo for the problems.

My partner—a red-head with a bay coat—stumbled back as I kicked with one of my back legs. A little too hard.

“Sorry,” I muttered.

She smiled.

Then I realized I’d kicked her so hard she should have flown across the room.

Maybe I wasn’t the only one here who weren’t who they seemed.

I returned her smile. “What number are we on?”

“Twenty six.”

“Thanks.”

My mind chugged on what I was going to do, but it didn’t take long to figure it out.

This called for the crocheter. Plain and simple.

***

Argh! I didn’t get to the afghan. I was going to have them replace a different instructor’s uniform with a crocheted one the morning of the tournament. So not exactly an afghan, but better.

Alas, I ran out of words. I’m really not sure how to do a caper in less than a thousand words. I’m going to have to think about it!

Genre – Caper

Character – Undercover Centaur

Setting – Taekwondo School

Random Object – A Crocheted Afghan

 


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14-Feb-2020

Showing off to impress a girl has no age limit!

Jenni winced when she saw the pothole. The front tire of the private transport bus went into said hole, causing one corner of the vehicle to dip and then pop back up.

Cries of protest flew from the senior citizens.

“Every heard of dodging, buddy?”

“I think they’re trying to crash the bus!”

“I think the government is still trying to kill me.”

“Who got killed?”

“Give it a rest, Bill. The government doesn’t care about you. Probably one of my loyal fans trying to rescue me from this bus.”

Jenni exchanged an amused expression with Martha, her coworker sitting across the aisle. She stood and pat the air with her hands. “Just a pot hole, nothing to worry about. We’re almost there.”

A familiar face, sporting her favorite stern expression, glared at Jenni. “Where exactly are you talking us, young lady?”

Jenni sighed. “We’re going to the park to have a picnic, Claudia.”

“What about Nick?” someone from the back asked.

Martha snorted.

“Nick died last week,” someone else said.

Jenni shook her head and sat. Good thing they were almost there.

By the time the bus driver parked—only a couple of minutes later—a small scuffle had broken out behind Martha over a cane, and someone was asking if it was Rick that had died.

At least her job was never dull. Jenni stood and smiled. “We’re here. Everyone off!”

That drew a round of grumbles. The driver moved to help Martha with the three people in wheelchairs while Jenni made sure everyone got down the stairs in one piece.

This part was like herding cats. The first woman off the bus decided she wanted to get back on. The man behind her threatened to kick her in the face—he watched way too many Kung Fu movies—and the rest of the senior citizens asked what was going on in loud voices.

Jenni smiled through it all, making notes about the most entertaining comments so she could write them down later, and finally got everyone off the bus. She rolled her eyes when she saw
Alan tottering toward the gutter with one hand on his cane and his other holding a grabber claw that his granddaughter had given him for his birthday.

Claudia was the last one off, and she kept a hold of Jenni’s arm. There were bright yellow balloons along the path to the pavilion for everyone to follow, and Martha was already wheeling the first resident in the right direction.

Alan surveyed the gutter, pushing the dirt and rocks around with the rubber tip of his cane. He wore a t-shirt of his own rock band—he had been rather famous back in the day—under a leather jacket. He wore what hair he had left long and stringy.

“That man is disgusting,” Claudia said.

Jenni watched as Alan’s wrinkled face lit up and he used the grabber to pluck a gray rock about the size of a walnut out of the gutter. It only took him three tries. It took him another minute to get the rock into his hand. Then, in typical Alan fashion, he licked it.

Claudia strangled a cry of shock.

Alan smiled and sped toward them.

Of course sped was a relative term.

“Did you find a good one?” Jenni asked.

“Don’t encourage him,” Claudia whispered like a three-year-old. Lucky for her no one else could hear either.

Alan stopped in front of Claudia and held out his prize as he flashed his perfectly white dentures. “Granite. From the mountains.” He jerked his head toward the west.

“Really?” Jenni asked.

“Yup.” Alan’s face held both pride and hope. His eyes moved to Claudia.

Claudia sniffed. “You and your silly rocks.”

Jenni held out the hand for the rock, promising to put it with the rest of his collection. She didn’t miss Alan’s face as it lost a bit of excitement. So she pulled Claudia close as they shuffled along. “I think he’s trying to impress you. He knows you were a geologist, and he’s been reading all about rocks.” Plus, he thought it was hilarious to be a rock star who had a rock collection.

Claudia’s hand tightened on Jenni’s arm. “Don’t be ridiculous.”

The old woman said that, but she straightened her shoulders, as much as she could, and Jenni could have sworn Claudia began to sway her hips as she walked. Good thing they’d both been replaced, or Jenni would have been worried.

When they reached the benches, Claudia waited to pick a seat until Alan sat with a couple of the other guys, as he called them. Claudia then picked a spot where he could see her. As soon as Jenni dropped her off she fished a mirror and her brush out of her giant gold purse a checked her hair.

“Still using a horse brush?” Martha asked as Jenni came to sit with her.

“I can’t convince her it’s not a valuable antique.”

“Did Alan find another rock?”

Jenni held it out. “Granite.”

“It will look great in his guitar case with the other hundred or so he has.”

“It will.”

Jenni watched as Claudia put lipstick on, then practiced her smiles in the mirror.

“Uh-oh,” Martha said.

Jenni turned to see two of the other ladies fighting over a cane. “We never should have let them have the exact same cane.”

“My plan is to toss them both.”

“Good plan.”

Jenni caught Claudia giving Alan a little wave as she moved to break up the scuffle.

Nope. This job was never dull.

***

That was fun! My mom is in a nursing home, and sometimes it’s hard for me to go see her because it can feel so depressing there, but if I keep my sense of humor I always find a few things to smile about!

I forgot to mention the burial mound! I was going to have a random hill in the park that one of the old people thought was a burial mound. Then they were going to fight about it. Ah well, it’s still a fun story.

Genre – Senior Citizen Romance

Character – A Rock Star Who Collects Rocks

Setting – Burial Mound

Random Object – Horse Brush


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