The Meaning of Life

I chose a lighthearted approach for this flash fiction. It’s
written for the November 29th Flash Fiction Challenge

Abelard Stiles turns his profile and strong jawline to the audience as he clasps both hands of Marissa Herring, his costar, playing Angelique. He looks longingly into her cerulean eyes, pellucid as gems of northwestern azure.

“Angelique, my love, I must go. I leave you now for the glory of Canada. My comrades await. ” He drops her hands and pivots melodramatically, walking out of the spotlight, into the dark at the back of the set.

Marissa pushes her hair back, clasps her breast, and collapses like a husk to the stage. “Oh, Neville; don’t go, come back, please.”

The prompt and instructions were:

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the phrase “into the dark.” What must a character face? Write about an encounter, journey, relationship, or quest. Follow the ship’s lights on gloomy seas. Go where the prompt leads you

OLWG#78- A High Forehead and an Unmarked Grave

A bit of fun written for OLWG#78

Henry was sittin’ in his livin’ room
When he heard a knock
Pounding on his old front door

Henry sat on his mother’s old Chesterfield in the front room, watching TV. He was interrupted by someone at the door. His caller, that afternoon, was Death himself. That Grim Reaper was wearing his black robes and standing on the wide wooden porch. His bony finger was pointing directly at Hank. He carried his scythe in the crook of his arm, the wicked blade resting over his shoulder.

“You’re early,” Henry said and he turned back toward the sofa, “But you might as well come in anyway. The game doesn’t start for at least another hour. Come on then… don’t let all the warm air out.” He chided the Angel of Death who had remained in the doorway but now followed Hank into the house.

“Did you bring beer?” Henry asked. “You were supposed to bring beer.”

Pale Death trailed behind. silent as the grave.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. an unmarked grave
  2. a high forehead
  3. “you’re early,” he said


The incident occurred as Violet was climbing into the back of a Gypsy cab, curbside at The Apollo. She saw it as a revelation, enlightenment, an illumination of sorts.

She’d been drinking quite a bit and tossed her cookies. Lucky for the cabbie, Violet hadn’t gotten in the taxi. Unlucky for Violet, the cabbie sped off. She studied the vomit in the gutter and saw Jesus. It almost kept her from drinking again.

An Even Stranger Story

It was a sunny day without a cloud in the sky when Morgan Renfro first saw Jessica Thurman. Jessica was standing in a third-floor window of the Biltmore hotel, gazing at the farmer’s market below. Her dark hair hung down below her shoulders. She wore dark-tinted Ray Ban aviators and nothing else.

Morgan stared at her, transfixed and unabashed by his intrusion on her privacy. She wasn’t his type. She appeared older than he and was exceedingly gaunt, thin to the point of being anorexic. No breasts to speak of, but a slight roll of loose skin at her hips that made him think she hadn’t always been so lean. His attention focused on the thatch of dark hair below the loose skin and he felt the stirrings of his own arousal.

She chose that moment to turn her back and move into the shadows of the room. He walked immediately toward the front doors of the hotel where he pushed inside and took a seat in the lobby, choosing a table by the front window. He sat where the sunlight streamed past the painted letters that spelt Biltmore on the glass. Mo was curious and he was a patient man; there was nowhere else he needed to be. Mo waited.

He waited for Jessica Thurman to come downstairs. He didn’t know that was her name, yet, but her image was strong.


Jessica stepped dripping from the shower and dried herself with the thin towel embroidered to read ‘THE BILTMORE.’ It was too small for a bath towel and too large for a hand towel, but it was all she had. Naked, she pushed open the bathroom door and let the steam escape into the bedroom. She opened the window. The room had a musty, damp smell that she needed to abate.

Leaning over and surveying the street she jumped when she noticed the man across the way, only a couple of doors down. It was him, she was sure of it. Jess reached over and grabbed her shades so she wouldn’t have to squint against the glare and to conceal her stare. She pretended to look at the farmer’s market while she studied the man.

Yes, it was him, although this was a much younger version of him. The last time she had seen him was right before fleeing her home and coming to the Biltmore. She’d been scared then. She’d seen him as an ancient workman. He was an apparition standing at the end of the hallway wearing only untied and unpolished boots. His genitals had been pulled in tight as though he was cold and his pallored skin was finely textured, crinkled, and ridged. He’d been small, withered and bent. When he raised his arm and pointed at her, then crooked his index finger beckoning her closer she had turned and run. Wound up here, afraid to go back home, but not sure why.

She realized that he was looking up at her in the window. She realized that she wore nothing but sunglasses. She turned, walked away from the window and began throwing her things into her case. Jessica knew that he had seen her, knew that she had to flee. She hoped she could get away quickly enough. She feared it might be too late.


OLWG#77- The Milky Way

A Haibun (of sorts) written for OLWG#77

Mandy got out of the car at the bottom of the off ramp and shut the door. She stepped forward and leaned into the front passenger side, “Thanks, Jim; thanks, Harriet I’ll make sure to look you up next time I’m in Topeka.”

Harriet clasped Mandy’s hand, “You do that, honey; and best of luck to you.”

Everyone smiled and waved. Jim and Harriet turned onto the two-lane and Mandy crossed it taking her position at the foot of the on ramp, still going west.

Looking around Mandy noted that she was in farm country. There were dark fields stretching in every direction. There were a few lights from a farm house down to the south. Other than that, there was nothing. No cars on the motorway, no cars on the two-lane. Above her were stars. A multitude of stars and she thought they looked like sea-glass spilled onto a dark surface.


Broken glass tossed and shining on a black velvet sky, lit from within

This week’s prompts were:

  1. at the bottom of the off ramp
  2. is that my pencil case?
  3. broken




Russian Eggs

I may have taken a few liberties with the prompt in this cigarette story. Know that it was
written for the November 15th Flash Fiction Challenge

When the new Pastor showed up at the parish potluck bearing Russian eggs; the Elders all objected.

“This is a church event,” they insisted, “deviled eggs are inappropriate.”

Pastor Huberd chuckled until Elder Belknap blocked his path and an argument ensued. The Elders all were adamant, they stood united. Soon chests puffed up. There was pushing and shoving.

No one knows, for sure, who threw the first punch; I believe it might have been the Widow Montes.

In the course of the ensuing scrap, the fancy plate broke and the eggs were trampled underfoot. It was a total loss.

The prompt and instructions were:

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that uses scraps. It can be scraps of dried flowers, paper, metal, fabric, food — any kind of scraps you can think of. Then write a story about those scraps and why they matter or what they make. Go where the prompt leads you.

OLWG#76- Mesa Azul

Flash fiction written for OLWG#76

“Chimito hizo una pintura, de la tabla de cocina, ‘Mesa Azul’”.

“I know, he gave it to me for my birthday.”

“I really like that painting, you should re-gift it to me.”

“I don’t think so.”

“You would if you loved me.”

This week’s prompts were:

  1. tell me about it
  2. blue mesa
  3. you would if you loved me

Author’s note: When I was younger I had a friend who went by the name ‘Chimito.’ He told me that it meant “Curly” and I never questioned it. I thought it was synonymous with ‘rizado’ or ‘crespo,’ but I don’t recall if I ever used it in conversation or not (I must have)> I looked it up tonight and I may have been duped for all these years. Can one of you who speaks better Spanish let me know, please?




Super Carl

Written for the November 8th Flash Fiction Challenge

Carl knew he was different from his classmates. Yes, he had superpowers like all the other kids, but his gifts were more eccentric. He couldn’t see any practical applications for them.

Carl had the ability to manipulate plants. He could also transform himself into a gelatinous substance, like potatoes mashed with an electric mixer.

School was torture and constant teasing until he slathered up the opponent’s lanes at the track meet against Eastwood High. Their star runner, Flash, never left the starting blocks, he couldn’t gain any traction.

All the trees and shrubs in the schoolyard fell over laughing.

The prompt and instructions were:

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that pairs mashed potatoes with a superpower. It can be in any circumstance, funny or poignant. Go where the prompt leads.

OLWG#75- Kitty

Flash fiction written for OLWG#75

Kitty came home late last week. It’s good to have her back. When she left she told her mother that she was running to the store to pick up avocados and salsa. Kitty wanted to make guacamole to go with dinner. That was a little over four years ago.

Now she’s back, and she brought the fixings for a nice guacamole and a fresh pack of menthol cigarettes. Carried it all in through the front door in a paper bag with handles. The bag didn’t have a store name printed on it, it didn’t say Safeway, or Ralphs, or Tesco. It was nothing more than a plain brown paper bag.

She came in as though nothing had happened, “Mom, I got avocados,” she announced, “but Jeeze they cost a lot – almost three dollars apiece. I thought about just buying the readymade stuff, but that’s never very good.”

Well, needless to say, everyone went apeshit. I stopped cooking and stared because Loretta, my wife and Kitty’s mom, wasn’t even around anymore. She had been killed by a drunk driver almost a year after Kitty left for the store. Kitty’s boy, Billy got up from his seat and went over to hug his mother.

“Billy,” she said, “I didn’t realize how bad you need your haircut. I’ll drive you to the barber this weekend.”

“Where have you been?” Billy asked.

“The store, silly,” she said. “Did you need something? Jeeze, you’ve grown! I’ll have to get you new trousers as well.”

“You went to the store years ago, Mom. You never came back.” He looked in her bag. “When did you start smoking?”

“Smoking? I don’t smoke. What are you talking about?”

Billy held up the pack of green Marlboros, the question plastered all over his face.

“Give me those,” she ordered. He did.

Kitty looked at her boy. She looked at me, “Where’s Marilyn?” she asked.

“She’s at school,” I told her.

“She should be home by now,” Kitty said as she looked at the clock.

“No, she’s at school, sophomore year at State,” I repeated and expounded. “She’s majoring in Literature. She wants to be a poet.”

Kitty’s eyes were wide now. She was studying the kitchen, looking at Billy and, looking at me. She was pounding the pack of cigarettes on the counter. When she stopped, and tore open the pack like a pro she stuck a smoke between her lips. Reaching into her handbag she pulled out a pack of matches and lit the cigarette. I was so dumbstruck I didn’t say anything. I watched her.

“What else do you have in your purse besides matches?” I asked and, in reply, she turned it over and emptied it onto the countertop. She had a pack of tissues and a hundred dollars in twenties, along with her wallet and keys, nothing else. No receipts or coins. No gum or breath mints, no cell phone, no lipstick or other makeup. She picked up the wallet and opened it.

“What day is it?” she asked.

“November the eighth, 2018.”

“No, it’s not. No, it’s June. June 2014”

I pointed to the calendar on the wall. “Billy, show your mom the newspaper. There’ll be a date on that too.”

Kitty looked at the paper. She shook her head, “No,” seemed to be all she could say. She started pulling out credit cards, “These are all expired, and my driver’s license has expired too? What the fuck?” she staggered over to the seat where Billy had been sitting and collapsed in it. “I need a drink. Dad, can you get me a drink? Where the hell have I been? What the fuck have I been doing?” She shook her head some more and I opened a beer; handed it to her.

We’re still getting adjusted to her being home again, and so is she. We didn’t know where Kitty has been or why she took up smoking and, she it seems that she doesn’t know either.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. a hundred dollars in her purse
  2. loquacious
  3. Kitty came home

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