Hellions – Flash Fiction

Shelley’s monsters are wailing at me like their lives are at stake and this guy wants to talk about insurance. Oh, I’ll call him all right – no question. Thanks for the card.

The brats pull me free. They lead me past a shoe store, a phone store, a jeweler. We go by a kiosk for t-shirts, a kiosk for hobby drones, a chittering pack of teenage girls, and now we’re near the food court. I corral the kids over to a table and we flop down on plastic chairs. I peel off my shoes.  The shoes have heels and my feet are a wreck. The kids squawk at each other.

We came here for Shelley’s hair appointment at 9:00 but now it’s 2:37 and she’s nowhere. She won’t reply to texts.

“Are you hungry?” I ask.

The boy screws his face up and reminds the mall that he wants to go home. The girl says she’s hungry.

“What for, sweetheart?”

“Ice cream!”
The boy’s face changes. “Ice cream!”

“Ice cream?”
“Yay!” they yell in unison and I have to smile. They’re energetic, I’ll give them that.

They order double-scoop waffle cones. The girl tells the kid behind the counter to make them huge and the kid follows orders. A wave of apprehension washes over me. I ask for a small hot fudge sundae and we carry our sugar-laden diversions back to the table. For a time it’s quiet and still. The kids focus. I slide out of my shoes.

Then the girl whispers something and the boy mashes his ice cream cone straight in her face. She shrieks and pounces and now they’re on the floor, punching, bawling, pulling hair. The girl is wild-eyed, her face green with ice cream. Even her eyebrows are green.

I try to pull the boy off but he’s determined. He drives a solid blow into her face that instantly elevates the pitch and volume of her screeching. He climbs off, satisfied. The girl fires a vicious kick at his crotch but misses. She is screaming, calling him filthy names. He laughs.

Sliding an arm under her neck, I help her sit and dab at her bloody nose with a napkin. She winces and directs a few of her curses my way. I realize I’m crying.

We climb up to the table and I bury my face in my hands and sob and now I know I need help. I need someone to keep me from choking the life from these shitty kids, someone to keep me from bawling into their ugly little faces what a godawful bitch their mother is to have ditched me here with them for all these hours.

The GPS app on my phone tells me Jeff is home from work. I call but it goes to voicemail. “It’s me,” I say. “I need help. Can you call when you get this?”

I stare at the screen.

The girl sniffs up snot and swallows. She wipes her nose with her sleeve. “We have that,” she says.

She points a wet finger at the GPS icon on my desktop. “That. We have that.”

“Oh yeah?”
She nods and shows me her phone. “See?”

I nod. “It’s a good app. Helps mommy find you if you ever– ” It dawns on me then. I ask: “Can we use your phone to find your mommy?”
The girl shakes her head sadly. “I don’t know how.”

“I can!” the boy says. “I know how!”

We ignore him. “Maybe I can help you figure it out,” I tell her. “Can I see your phone?”

The boy turns red and this pleases the girl. She smiles sweetly, first to me then at him, and hands me the phone. He lunges for it but I’m faster. I stab the screen with an index finger.

In the app, people are represented as pink circles on a map of the city. There’s a pink circle for The Boy and one for The Girl stacked nearly on top of one another at the Mall of America, and there, along the right of the screen, is a circle for Mommy.

At my address.

I tap Refresh. The screen reads: Updated Now but the address does not change. The app indicates she’s been there since noon. About the same time Jeff got home.

I give the girl her phone. “I have to use the bathroom,” I hear myself say. I drift off past the electronics store and the kiosk of sunglasses and the store with posters of skinny young girls in lingerie. I pass the coffee bean place and the leather coat place and the place that sells baseball caps. I turn left and exit through a set of glass doors and then another and now I’m out in the sunshine.

The button on my keyfob makes my car chirp twice. I walk to it, get in, and drive away.

Buried Treasure – Flash Fiction

He stood in a large hole, perhaps four feet deep and five or six in diameter. The digging was strenuous, the ground comprised of gravel and sand. With each thrust, the shovel stopped dead, sending a jolt through his arms, his shoulders, his back. Every few minutes, he dropped to his hands and knees to dig by hand. With his fingers, he unearthed heavy rocks, straining to wrestle them from the hole and heave them aside. The rocks dented and dulled his shovel, slowing his progress.

The air was crisp and the moon full; his body steamed through his shirt. He lifted the shovel from the hole, flat to the ground and perhaps a quarter full, and tossed its contents over his right shoulder. The sand made a brushing sound as it fell on dry leaves. He plunged the shovel into the earth again.

She stood behind him and said, “Why are you doing this?”

He stopped and let the shovel stand by its blade as he removed his cap and drew his arm across his forehead. The shovel stood upright for a moment then fell. “I have to find it,” he said.

She shook her head. “I don’t need it.”

Bending over, he grasped the shovel. “If I don’t find it now, We’ll have to wait until Spring.” He shook his head. “I can’t dig through the frost.”

She wrinkled her forehead and said, “Leonard, you’ve been out here for days! Weeks!” She moved close and he pulled away. She stopped and said softly, “Perhaps it’s not God’s will that it be found.”

“I don’t believe that. If He wants me to leave it out here in the wild, He needs to tell me plain. I ain’t interested in deciphering hints from The Almighty.”

She raised her eyebrows. “He is telling you. I’m telling you. Take the shovel home and draw yourself a warm bath. Put on dry clothes. Make a fire! Do the things you need to do to move on.”

He shook his head.

She smiled with sad eyes and said, “The landslide was not your fault. You don’t need to find my body.” She smiled. “It’s already buried.”

He fell to his knees in the dirt and covered his face with his hands. “No, no, no…” he cried.

“I have to go now, Leonard,” she said softly. “It’s time for us both to go home.”

She drifted away into the trees…

Leonard awoke with a start, his eyes wet and the television still on. Beside him, she lay sleeping, breathing deeply. He spooned her, and buried his face between her shoulder blades, pulling her close.

She faced the wall, smiling. “These dream pills were worth every penny,” she thought. “I am SO going shopping today.”

Now try this: The Predator


Goodnight, Ugbert – Really Short Story

Mama noticed I was crying when she came to tuck me in.

“Papa said I was unusual,” I told her.

She sat on the side of the bed and caressed my face, drying my tears. “That wasn’t a very nice thing for Papa to say, was it?”

I shook my head. She sighed and looked at me for long minutes ruffling my hair and petting my face.

“Just remember this when you have children,” she said. “Remember that words can hurt too.”

I nodded and she sang me a lullaby. Then she smiled and said, “You know, Papa wasn’t wrong. You really are a weird little bastard.”

I drifted off to sleep. Mama always knew just what to say.