Flash Fiction

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Short Cut to Love

Tanya Templeton’s slender fingers grip the dirty door handle to the Last Chance Corral. She yanks the door open. It slams behind her.

Heads turn to watch her long blonde hair sway as she wiggles across the room and sits at the bar. Her piercing blue eyes study other patrons whose elbows rest on the hard surface.  

“The usual?” Kurt, the bartender, asks grabbing a glass.

“Yea, a double. Who’s the dude?”

“You mean, the guy hound dogging you?”

Tanya smiles, shoots a look the man’s way, and runs her tongue around her lips like she’s ready to lick a lollipop.

 “Don’t get carried away, it’s early you know,” says Kurt.

“Not early enough?” Tanya laments. “What’s vibrating? Oh, my cell. . .”  She tosses her streaked hair, and checks the phone screen.

“It’s not love calling,” she says, then squeezes the phone back into her pant pocket.

When she slides the bar stool in closer, the metal scrapes the floor with an alarming sound.

“What’s his name wants to buy you drinks.” The bartender points his chin in the right direction. “Or are you running a tap?”

“Does he have a name?”

Instead of listen to Kurt’s reply, she slaps a ten-dollar bill on the bar like a husband slamming a pink slip down on the kitchen table, and sashays across the room, thumbs inside her belt loops.

“I’m Tanya, you must be . . .?”

“Damn woman, looking at you I can’t remember much, especially my name.”

“Well, you don’t mind being called Dean, do you? I once had a boyfriend named Dean, lived in the panhandle. . . Apalachicola. . . ever been there? You gotta love oysters to live there.”

She studies the creases in his worn jeans.

“Dean suits me fine. I’ve passed through Apalachicola many times hauling lumber. These days’ runs keep me traveling the interstate.” He smiles with his eyes. “I’ve been dreaming about oysters.”

Tanya toys with his body using her mind and quips, “Glad you have a sense of humor. You’ll need one.”

 After the small talk and learning nothing about themselves or each other, they saunter out together looking for the short cut to love.

The End

. . . just saying

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April Fools 2022

Flash Fiction

No Fooling

     Today, crisp cool air mingles with a blazing sun as I leave my minuscule apartment on Lexington Ave. The weather has been dreary. This morning is glorious.

     Around noon, I stop for lunch at a typical outdoor New York café; the tables are round and small; the metal chairs look uncomfortable, but are not when I sit.

     A waiter fills my water glass, and announces he will be my server. The menu choices are unexpectedly appealing; fennel quiche, gazpacho soup, and more.

     I take time ordering.

     The man on my left, glances my way. His thick blond hair is sun streaked and he looks familiar, a little like my friend, Sam.

      Groomed brows frame his eyes. Carefully pressed gray slacks, and a wrinkle-free dress shirt complete his polished look.

        I sit back to wait for my meal and people watch; New Yorker’s enjoying the sun, walking and talking loud. A biker babe dressed in leather, pushes a doggie stroller. The dog wears goggles and rests his paws on the bar celebrity style. I laugh aloud.     

       My order comes, and the man who looks like Sam stares in my direction, again. His eyes searching, and as the tables fill up, the man gives a knowing nod my way, and conceals a smile.

He faces me, but, I can’t tell if he is looking at me, or not.

     Behind me a couple seat themselves, and I refrain from turning around. They create a stir dragging empty chairs across the concrete and arranging shopping bags, and I realize the man who looks like Sam is studying them.

     When the waiter takes my empty plate, I order a Cappuccino and the ‘Chocolate – Chocolate’ cake, and listen to the couple’s banter, intrigued.

     The woman protests, “I didn’t make you come here, you said it was your favorite restaurant.”

     The man responds, “Eve, you’re the one who claimed the food was something else.”

      “You loved the zucchini mushroom quiche, and what about the gazpacho soup? You raved!”

     “No, you never listen; I said the quiche was good if you like quiche. And the soup ‘the best’ Gestapo!” His words are slow and deliberate. He gets up. “I’m going to the men’s room.”  

     His voice sounds like Victor’s, and I look.

     Sam rushes to fill his empty seat, firing off questions, “What’s going on? You said you would be at here 12 o’clock, alone.”

      Coyly, Eve removes her Hollywood style sunglasses, checks her diamond wristwatch, leans forward, and whispers, “Oh, my, it is past noon, isn’t it.” Playing with her neckline she continues. “Victor’s golf was cancelled. When he learned I was coming to the city, he said he was coming.” She shakes her head and says misty eyed. “He’s my husband. I couldn’t persuade him otherwise. We’ll do it next time.”

     Sam laughs, “You think me a fool, Eve; there are other restaurants in town! Why lunch here? There won’t be a next time.”

     “Next time . . . answer your cell, damn it!” She shouts after him.

     The husband returns. A tan complements his brown eyes, perfect Roman nose, and romantic lips. Approaching the table, his aloof expression becomes surprise, as our eyes meet.

He is my Victor, and my heart pounds.

     Sitting across from his wife, he tucks in a cloth napkin. “Who was that? You seem upset. Is everything alright?”

     Eve clears her throat, forces a smile, and explains, “Someone who goes to my gym. It’s nothing. I’m tired, and sorry. Sorry we had words.” She reaches across the table to take her husband’s hand, “Can we forget it?”

     Eve appears confident and why not? I’m the other woman.

     I play with the raspberry sauce on and mush the the ‘Chocolate-Chocolate’ cake.

   I stop at the couple’s table when leaving and smile, “Victor, What a surprise to see you and your wife.”

As I walk away, Eve asks, “Who’s is that? You seem upset. Is everything alright?”

. . . .  just saying

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Footprints In The Snow

Laverne

snowy pathway surrounded by bare tree
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The promise of a beautiful day after last night’s blizzard woke me early. I stood inside the glass storm door in the early sunlight, enjoying the view and a cup of coffee.

Yesterday, a gentle snow started falling in the morning and continued as though a baker was sprinkling confectioners’ sugar on a cake throughout the day. Around midnight the precipitation slowed and transformed into large snowflakes. The kind kindergartners cut from paper and their teacher hung on the classroom bulletin board.   

Footprints in the snow told me he had been here during the night. The boot marks were deep, and I imagined it would have taken great effort to reach the doorbell or trudge around the back; where his key no longer fit, but the door might have been left unlocked.

Stopping by was what he called it.

I remembered yanking those boots off and landing on the floor. When I suggested he loosen the laces first to make the task easier, he said, “You look so cute scolding me.” And joined me on the floor. But my looking so cute did not last during a long winter of frequent storms.

This morning the sun reflected on the ice crystals creating a mysterious pattern and I remembered his smell. The music, laughter, and wearing my best dress. The red one with a side zipper. I closed my eyes and recalled his moist lips on my neck.  

 “He’s not marriage material,” said my sister, Shirley.

I thought of Annie Oakley dressed in burlap, holding a rifle in her hand, and wanted to respond, “he’s great in bed,” but didn’t.

She hugged me. “He calls you Laverne. That’s not your name.”

“It’s a joke! You love the Laverne and Shirley show. I’m Laverne because you’re Shirley,” I blurted, too loudly.

“Did you laugh?” she asked.

He and I broke up not long after.

That spring I watched him throw a Frisbee to his dog in Washington Park but kept driving. What would be the point? He named the dog Max III and had explained his pet didn’t know there had been others.

I pulled over after a few blocks to do the math. Our relationship had lasted two years. If the ratio of dog life to human was seven to one, and Max was the third . . . Multiply the denominators, divided by the numerator . . . Well, it was highly probable I was Laverne #8.

I called my sister. She was snowed in too and suggested the footprints may not be his. “Remember phoning 911 because that man down the street pounded on your front door?”

The neighbor had come home drunk; the brick houses with chain-link fences looked the same and he assumed his wife locked him out.. When police asked for identification, he pulled out his license cursing. They walked him home.

Today, the fences were invisible under the snowfall. By noon the crunch of shovels piercing the hardened snow replaced the quiet, as the wind began to blow. I dressed in heavy clothing and inspected the footprints to determine if the outside heels were worn. They weren’t. The snow glare was unbearably bright and I walked to the store wearing sunglasses.

When I returned, the landlord was shoveling the footprints off the front steps. He stopped and called to me. “Hey Laverne,” leaning on his shovel he asked, “How’s what’s his face?”

I smiled, waved, and went into the house. Reminding him my name wasn’t Laverne and what’s his face and I had broken up one more time seemed silly.

I had a bowl of soup, washed the dishes, hung the kitchen towel, and looked around the apartment. The sofa pillows had been plumped and the crochet afghan folded, the way I liked it. There was nothing on the bedroom floor, the way I liked it.

I thought about getting a dog.

Later that evening, the phone rang. When I said, “hello,” the caller hung up.

Outside a full moon highlighted the piles of crisp white snow and the footprints were gone. But my sister’s words lingered.

I picked up the phone, pressed caller ID, and then dial. When he answered I said, “Jason, it’s Laverne.”

. . . just saying

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Something to Think About

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Arthur

(This paragraph was recently published in the October 2021 Florida Writer Magazine. The prompt was an airport setting.)

Flowers lined the roads to the airport. Overhead signs with arrows attempted to direct motorists to arrival or departure ramps. Inside the airport, a sparkling glass atrium housed the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Passengers hustled around large planters filled with Bromeliads then waited in line for a security check.

Lynette filled two plastic bins with her stuff. When called she stood, her feet shoulder-width apart, with her hands held above her head as the metal detector circled. After gathering her belongings, she found a seat to put on her shoes and notice a man watching her.

He wore a blue plaid shirt and attempted to return his foot to an athletic shoe without undoing the laces. She ignored his smile and walked to the tramway.

The doors opened.

She got on and waited for the doors to close.

They did, but not before the man in the blue plaid shirt slipped inside.

The train jerked. Lynette clung to a metal pole and dug her heels into the floor for the ride.

When the doors opened, people scurried into the Southwest terminal as though late for their flight. She lingered. So did the man in the plaid shirt.

At Hudson’s News Stand, she window shopped, then went inside to peruse the magazine section. And the man did too.

She confirmed her departure gate on a screen. So did he.

She used the lady’s room. A camera flash drew her attention as she exited and she looked up to see a young family, all wearing Mickey Mouse Ears posing for a picture under a welcome to Orlando sign. She smiled.

Lynette was early for her flight to Atlanta, where she had a short layover before her destination flight to New York City and plenty of time to stand in line at Starbucks. So, she did.

The man in the blue plaid shirt stepped in line behind her.

“Do I know you?” she asked him.

“You look like my wife,” he replied.

Lynette didn’t know how to respond but said, “I get that a lot.” Then stepped to the counter and placed her order.

She was stirring cream into her coffee when the man joined her at the desk. His cell rang.

“I found your mother,” he said. “Well, she’s not dead . . . I don’t care if I miss the flight. I’m not leaving your mother.”

He handed the cell to Lynette.

“Mom?” said the voice of a young woman.

“I’m not your mother,” said Lynette.

“Well, you certainly look like my mother.”

“You can see through the phone?”

“No. Dad sent me a picture of you by the restrooms. We thought you were dead.”

 “I’m not your dead mother.”

“But you look like my mother.”

“Just because I look like your mother doesn’t make me your mother.”

“Really? Caffe Americano with room for cream and the chocolate-dipped Madeleines.”

Lynette peered at the cookie packaged she’s stashed in her tote. Her patience was wearing thin.

“Do me a favor . . . please, Mom.”

“Don’t call me Mom.”

“Accompany Dad to his gate. Pretend you’re his wife, my mother.”

“What’s his name?

“Arthur.”

Lynette repositioned her tote bag on her shoulder, grabbed her cup of coffee, and said, “Okay, Arthur. Where are you going?”

They waited at a recharging station near gate 25.

Lynette drank her coffee, occasionally taking a bite of the chocolate-dipped Madeleine cookie.

Arthur watched.

“Lynette, it’s time to board,” Arthur said when the final call for Flight 1214 to Atlantic was announced.

“How do you know my name?” she asked.

“You’re my wife, Lynette,” said Arthur.

The End

* * * just saying

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Second Thoughts is a previous post you might enjoy.

Flash Fiction

woman standing by the side of a watercraft
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Lynn

    Lynn stood on the sidewalk and could not remember who she used to be.

    It was a horrible feeling.

    She strolled casually to a nearby bench and sat to quiet the feeling.

    The weather was mild. The sun strong.

    It was not the present that disturbed her.

    Having silly thoughts, she hummed an old Peggy Lee song, “Is That All There Is?”

    She came to buy Christmas gifts, or so she thought.

    Instead, she window shopped and tried on clothes in an upscale woman’s store; attempting to find a new identity.

    Norman Rockwell’s picture of the golden-brown turkey on a large platter surrounded by family flashed  across her mind.

    Her romanticized past was painful to watch.

    She had been the women wearing the plaid apron, trying to fulfill other people’s dreams. Okay, perhaps they’d been her dreams too.

    It was hard to remember, things were different.

. . . just saying

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.

Flash Fiction

(The word pearl was a prompt given at a writing session. A strong female character came to mind and her story enfolded.)

Pearl

The last time I saw her, she was young; youth sparkled in her eyes. Now the sparkle is gone, the jade blue color diminished by time; her convictions etched in lines across her face. Her once narrow nose is broader, broken from standing up for others. Her chest sunken with anger, not there the first time we met.

“Pearl is that you?” I inquire.

She strains to turn towards me, her range of motion greatly compromised.

“Yes, I’m Pearl,” Her voice recalls dignity, and she pauses to ask, “Have I had your acquaintance?”

It was 1971; we got on the Concourse Avenue bus in the Bronx, each with a child in hand. She took notice of my bruises and we became friends.

I take the seat alongside her and gently touch her forearm, “Pearl, it’s me Rosa . . . . Rose, remember. . . .” I expect her to ooze with gladness, say, “Lordy, Lordy, Rose, how are you?”

Instead, she says “Rose? Can’t recall a Rose, refresh my memory child.”

If she remembers me, she would never mention beatings, and hiding in safe houses. I remind her of Bainbridge Park; how we would meet after lunch, let the children play in the sand box then walk them to sleep in strollers.

“I remember sunshine and playgrounds, how is your boy . . . ?”

“Danny, Dan, he’s at Fordham University; studying to be a lawyer.

Danny was five when I made the decision to leave the morning after a beating. I phoned my sister, asked her to get him from school, and left a note for John saying I didn’t want a divorce, and wouldn’t fight him for our son.

I worried about leaving Danny behind. Pearl said, “Don’t fret; your boy be fine,” and hooked me up with people.

John was a New York City Police officer and protected by his brothers, but the force would not ignore his beating a child.

Sill, I moved every four months with a new identity.

Three years later, the Richmond Virginia Newspaper reported the hunt for the killer of John McGill, a NYC Police Officer shot in the line of duty. I went home; stood next to his coffin, widowed with a pension; my eight-year-old son at my side.

John had never mentioned I was gone to anyone on the force.

Now Pearl dozes next to me, and her head bobs from side to side startling herself. “What was I saying?”

“We were talking about the time we brought the boys to the Bronx Zoo and rode the train around the park ten times. You packed potato salad and fried chicken; a stranger asked to buy your picnic lunch.”

The mention of potato salad crystallizes in her milky eyes, “I remember the day you left, bruised and wearing borrowed clothes; it broke my heart knowing I’d not see you again. How you been?”

“I never got to thank you, Pearl. . . .” She interrupts my attempt at gratitude and explanation of regret .

“Hush, Woman . . . tell me something that will make me smile.”

* * * just saying

(Originally posted on November 23, 2014)

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Lucky Day

Black Onyx Earrings

Lucky Day

Yesterday was a lucky day for me. The feeling stayed with me all day and woke me up this morning. Lucky because I found a pair of earrings, I thought were lost. I frequently misplace but rarely lose items. Unless you consider putting something in a very safe place never to be seen again.

These earrings, favorites of mine, were searched for time and again. I hadn’t put them in a secret spot, but I looked in jewelry cases, double checked coat pockets, handbags, toiletry bags. I crawled under couches, shook out bed sheets, used a flashlight around car seats. Eventually, I threw my hands up and said, “When they’re ready to be found, they’ll be found.”  

A few years went by. I still couldn’t believe they were lost and phoned my sister asking, “Did you happen to find a pair of black onyx earrings?”

Purchased at an antique store on Beach Street in Daytona, they had history. Some might reference the jewelry as previously owned. The store identified them as estate jewelry.

Yesterday, while sorting through a basket kept in the bathroom for hairdryers, curling irons, and brushes they appeared, so tarnished I had to put my glasses on to identify them.

They were ready to be found.  

It was a lucky day.

. . . just saying

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Perturbed

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     When I overheard someone say the word perturbed recently, the word danced around in my head until I put pen to paper and wrote this vignette.
 

Perturbed

The police station hugs the railroad tracks in this rural New Jersey town. I contemplate retirement most mornings and especially today, as I skip over rain puddles to the precinct door. When I climb the steps, an umbrella pokes my neck. Inside I turn around and observe a woman hiding a closed umbrella in a corner. Then she walks toward me, her hand extended and says, “I’m Dolores.”

Usually, I am not quick to shake hands, but do so automatically and introduce myself.  “Officer Hawkins. How can I help you?”

“My husband went missing last night.”

Her voice is raspy. Her long jet-black hair parted on the side, frames the opposite eye. I wish I had gotten a haircut, or at least trimmed my mustache.

I respond. “Standard procedure is to wait twenty-four hours,” then stomp my feet on a rug, “your guy will probably show up before that.”

“Officer Hawkins, it’s so unlike Steven.” Her doe like brown eyes fill with tears.

“Well, file a missing person’s report if you want.”

I walk behind my desk, and search for the appropriate form. Dolores eases into an interview chair uninvited, and slips off her raincoat, to reveal; what my ex-wife called, a sweater dress.  She trembles at the sight of the paper work, reacting as though it is a hot potato.

Reluctantly, I complete the form for her. She describes Steven as tall, dark, and handsome. Then quickly produces his wallet. The contents spill out. She gathers the singles and worn scrapes of paper with her hands and almost perfectly manicured red nails. The index finger nail is broken.

I say, “Tell me what happened last night.” Her lips purse together before she responds.

“I was perturbed.”

Her pronunciation; emphasis on the first syllable without ignoring the rest, grabs my attention. I confirm her intent. “Perturbed. . . As in annoyed, agitated, or troubled.”

“Yes,” she studies the ceiling, “so. . . I took the dog for a walk,” she pulls nervously at a sleeve, “when I got back, Steven wasn’t there.” She tugs repeatedly at the dress to cover her knees. “I was perturbed.”

I mimic what she says, “You were perturbed?”

Now her doe eyes light with anger as she contains her passion. “Yes, perturbed,” she slips into her coat and stands, “what don’t you understand? Surely you’ve been perturbed, Officer Hawkins.”

She is guilty. But of what, I do not know . . . yet.

I watch her leave the building perturbed.

. . . . just saying

 

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April Fools

21783582-afc2-4d7c-bfcf-6b726629127aPhoto by Joze

Flash Fiction

APRIL FOOLS

     Today, crisp cool air mingles with a blazing sun as I leave my minuscule apartment on Lexington Ave. The weather has been dreary. This morning is glorious.

     I pull my long chestnut hair into a no-nonsense ponytail, walk and think about the other woman . Damn, I am better looking, appear tall for my height and young for my years.

     Around noon, I stop for lunch at a typical outdoor New York café; the tables are round and small; the metal chairs look uncomfortable, but are not once I sit.

     A waiter fills my water glass, and announces he is my server. The menu choices are unexpectedly appealing; fennel quiche, garlic soup, and more.

     I take time ordering.

     The man on my left, glances my way. His look lingers but reveals nothing, and leaves me questioning if I know him? The feeling we have met and cannot remember where, accompanies the exchange. His thick blond hair is sun streaked and he looks familiar, a little like a friend, Sam.

      Groomed brows frame his eyes. Carefully pressed gray slacks, and a wrinkle-free dress shirt complete his polished look, but I do not know him.

        I sit back to wait for my meal and people watch. New Yorker’s are something, a biker babe dressed in leather, pushes a doggie stroller. The dog wears goggles and rests his paws on the bar celebrity style. I laugh.

       The street is increasingly active as people walk and talk loud.  

        The waiter brings my order and the man who looks like Sam stares in my direction again, his eyes search everywhere. As the tables fill up, the man gives a knowing nod my way, and almost smiles. Although he is facing me, it is hard to tell if he is looking at me, or not.

     I refrain from turning my head to look behind hearing a couple seat themselves. They create quite a stir dragging empty chairs across the concrete and arranging shopping bags. I realize the man who looks like Sam is studying them.

     “Mind your own business,” says a voice in my head.  

     When the waiter takes my empty plate, I order a Cappuccino and the ‘Chocolate – Chocolate’ cake, and listen to the newly seated couple’s angry banter.

     The woman protests, “I didn’t make you come here, Victor, you agreed it was a favorite of ours.”

     “Eve, you’re the one who loved the menu, thought the food so nouveau or something?”

      Her voice rises. “You loved the zucchini mushroom quiche, and what about the gazpacho soup? You raved, said it was the best you’d ever had!”

     His reply is slow and deliberate. “No, you weren’t listening; I said the quiche was good if you like quiche. And the soup ‘the best’ Gestapo! I was being sarcastic.”

     He leaves the table saying, “I’ll be in the men’s room.”  

     I am  stunned.  His voice sounds like Victor’s? My Victor? 

     Look-A-Like Sam rushes to fill Victor’s empty seat, firing off questions that leave no room for a response. “What’s going on? You said you would be at here 12 o’clock, alone. Why did Victor come? Drama? Eve, you thrive on drama. I’ve had enough.”

      Now, I turn my head to see and watch. Coyly, Eve removes her Hollywood style sunglasses, checks her diamond wristwatch, leans forward, and whispers, “Oh, my, it is past noon, isn’t it. Victor’s golf was cancelled.”

    Playing with her blouse buttons she continues, “When he learned I was coming to the city, he said, he would come.”

     Shaking her head, she  continues, her eyes misty. “I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t persuade him otherwise. You know I’m married.”

     Look-A- like Sam laughs, “Do you think I’m a fool, Eve? There are other restaurants in this town! Why bring him here? There won’t be a next time.”

     He takes a twenty-dollar bill from his wallet, presses it in a nearby waiter’s hand, and leaves abruptly.

     Eve shouts after him, “Next time answer your cell, damn it!” As she tosses her hair back and adjusts her sun glasses.

     The husband returns. A tan complements his brown eyes, perfect Roman nose, and romantic lips. Approaching the table, his aloof expression becomes surprise, as our eyes meet.

     Victor sits down across from his wife, tucks in a cloth napkin and questions, “Who was that? You seem upset. Is everything alright?”

     Eve clears her throat, forces a smile, and explains, “Someone who goes to my gym. It’s nothing. I’m tired, and sorry. Sorry we had words.” She reaches across the table to take her husband’s hand, “Can we forget it?”

     Eve appears confident and why not? She is not his other woman.

     I linger to finish my ‘Chocolate-Chocolate’ cake, lick the remains of a raspberry garnish from the fork, and pay the bill.

   Stopping at the couple’s table when leaving, I say, “Victor, What a surprise to see you here . . . with . . . your wife? And move into the passing crowd.

. . . .  just saying

Acerbic (Flash Fiction/Short Story)

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Polar Fox

“Acerbic” draws on personal experience and is published in FWA, Let’s Talk by Peppertree Press.

The inspiration for this story came after a doctor’s appointment. His nurse is habitually terse and abrasive, so much so that, I asked, “Have I offended you in some way?” She looked at me strangely having no idea she treatment others poorly.

The challenge for the Anthology was to use a dialogue format to present your short story.

The conversation below is between two women in a doctor’s waiting room.

                                                                                                                                                                                    

Acerbic

“This is unacceptable!  My time is of value, too.  Why aren’t you complaining?”

“I was told the doctor was running late when I signed in.”

“This is ridiculous.  I’ve been waiting more than twenty minutes.  My appointment was for nine fifteen.  What time was your appointment?”

“Well, I’m not sure; I think nine thirty, why?”

“It’s better if everyone is out of sorts.  I can complain for you, make something up, like your dog is in the car, sick and needs to be taken to the Vet.”

“Reading here is as enjoyable as anywhere.”

“Boy, you people are annoying, must you be so perky and pleasant?”

“You’re upset.  Why don’t you thumb through a magazine?  There’s a travel article about Hawaii in this one.  Have you been there?”

“You think looking at pretty pictures of places I can’t afford to travel to will help me… what?  Be happy I have to wait for a man, I pay to tell me I’m sick.  And looking at colorful advertisements won’t help either.  I’m Acerbic.  My parents and grandparents, on both sides, were Acerbic and proud of it.”

“Acerbic?  Is that … American or … a religion?”

“Acerbic is a way of life.  You got a problem with that?  Our dispositions are generally crabby.  We find fault in others quickly and enjoy being sarcastic.”

“Golly gee, everyone feels crabby from time to time.”

Golly gee?  Golly gee, we’ve been sitting here over a half hour.  Can’t you pretend you’re a little annoyed?  That wing back chair looks awful uncomfortable.  These doctors are all the same; think they’re better than the rest.”

“His nurse said the doctor had an emergency, it sounded serious.  Are you really Acerbic?”

“Our whole neighborhood is Acerbic.  We don’t like friendly.  People yell, ‘Don’t park in front of my house, jerk’ and threaten, ‘If your dog pees on my grass, I will call the police!’  Although things are changing.  Someone, I can’t find out who, moved my garbage pail out of the street on a windy day.”

“You don’t mind if I read my book?’

“Of course I mind.  I get it.  Why not say shut-up?  Add please if you have to.  It’s easy; watch my lips, ‘Will you please shut-up!’ ”

“No, tell me about your life.”

“Actually I had a great childhood.  We owned a small cabin not far from Route. 95 below the Georgia border.  Dad named it Acerbia.  It was a retreat where we could be sour and discontent on weekends and during vacations.  You know, say nasty things about neighbors and relatives.”

“Was that fun?”

“Are you kidding, of course, the best.  By the way, they call me Unfortunately.  I’m Unfortunately Fortunato.  What’s your name?  Not that I care.”

“Unfortunately is a first name?  And Fortunato your family…?”

“Mom wanted an Acerbic name, nothing cheerful or common like Hope, Joy or Grace.”

“That had to be a difficult name for a child.  Did she think it was a mistake?”

“No, Difficult and Mistake are my brothers.  Mother named them good, too, because Difficult is in prison and Mistake, chronically unemployed.”

“Was that a surprise?”

“They still haven’t called anyone.  All they do is talk on the phone.  Someone else has to complain.  You can do it.  I like your pink eyebrows.”

“My eyebrows are pink?”

“Yea, they match your lipstick, compliment that bluish tint in your hair, and look cool on a woman your age.”

“My hair isn’t blue! I’m not that old.”

“Isn’t that book you’re reading in large print?”

“It’s easier I don’t have to remember my glasses.”

“Most seniors get a little forgetful.  It’s normal, not a problem unless you can’t remember what glasses are.  You know glasses magnify things, right?”

“I know what glasses are for and I didn’t forget them.  I do not need them to read a large print book.”

“Did you hear that?  The receptionist called Ms. Fortunato.  That’s me, Unfortunately.  Doc’s ready for me.  Have a rotten, day”

“You too, and my eyebrows aren’t pink!”

P.S. I welcome your comments.