In a glass of whiskey, a shark chomps off a swimmer’s head.  Chocolate icing sports a vulva.  Everything contains numerous SEXes and FUCKs and KILLs.  For four decades, as one of Madison Avenue’s top artists, he secretly embedded subliminal words and images into print advertisements, winning eight or nine industry awards in the process.  Now, as he lies dying of stage-four pancreatic cancer in his hospice bed, he does not regret keeping the economy healthy via tapping into (some would say exploiting) consumers’ subconscious fears and desires.  Rather, he regrets not flying to Mexico with his girlfriend, the love of his life (he now realizes), on vacation in 1981.  Neither of them had previously gone there; he watched her choose that country when she tossed a dart at a map of the world she had taped to his apartment wall.  He worried they would risk their lives in what he called that Third-World hellhole.  She called him racist.  He called himself rational.  After uttering FUCK followed by YOU, she tore down the map, crumpled it up, hurled it down at the floor, and left his apartment.  They never spoke to each other again.  She traveled to Mexico a few months later and ended up moving there; the last he heard, she had married some left-wing labor activist and started working at a non-governmental organization.  Maybe Mexico did have something.  Maybe it has subliminals.  Of course it does; they circle the globe, from the Third World to the First.

Oh, shit, the pain.  He thinks his morphine drip has broken.

Copyright © 2016 by David V. Matthews



A Full-body Chill

Rapidly approaching the sidewalk after hurling herself from the roof of the financial company where she’s worked since graduating from college, her final memory involves a blind date she had nineteen years earlier at age nineteen with a twenty-six-year-old man; he took her to a trendy restaurant, where, after they’d ordered dinner, he said he worked as a systems analyst for the Pentagon. “I do research to make sure our bombs’ll go ‘boom’ when we drop them on the Middle East or wherever,” he said with a chuckle. She considered him a callous jerk and never dated him again; in fact, she had forgotten about him until now, near the end of her six-story fall. Maybe the subconscious connection involving death from the skies had caused her to remember that jerk, she would have thought if her depressive thoughts hadn’t predominated. Not even the probability of receiving yet another glowing performance review from her company could improve her mental and emotional state.

Meanwhile, six hundred miles away, her older sister, who had set up that blind date, and who works as an assistant district attorney for a county that prides itself on its high percentage of drug-related asset-forfeiture cases, experiences “a full-body chill,” or so the older sister will call it anonymously on a psychic-phenomena chatroom that night. Soon after flying back from the funeral, the older sister will purchase a jasmine-scented, eight-inch-long, herbal “healing candle” from a local strip-mall store that sells paraphernalia related to spirituality, mysticism, and magick-with-a-K; she will keep the candle, unused, in her dresser drawer for a week before thinking Well, might as well, you sucker, then taking out the candle and inserting it inside the crystal candle holder that a boyfriend gave her eight years ago as a present after she’d won her biggest trial to date, sending the county’s biggest marijuana cultivator to prison for life without parole.


Copyright © 2016 by David V. Matthews



When my son Austin was seven, he asked me one day “Could I have a manicure, please?”

“Do you know what a manicure is?” I asked, remaining calm.

“Yeah. I mean yes.”

“So what is it?”

“It’s when you trim and clean up your fingernails and stuff to make ’em look fancy.”

“That’s right. But why do you, personally, want them to look fancy?”

“I just feel like it. So could I have one, please, Mom?”

“Well, now, let’s say you did have one. Do you like playing with your friends?”


“Well, then you couldn’t play with them anymore, because you might get your fingernails dirty and ruin the manicure you just had.”

“I won’t get them dirty, Mom. I promise.”

“Are you sure about that, Austin? Think hard.”

He did just that, for a few moments.

“So, do you still want a manicure?” I asked.

“I guess not,” he replied.

“You made the right choice. Now you can continue to have fun with your friends.”


He never asked for a manicure again. Of course, he still became a homosexual years later, but at least his house now has wonderful landscaping. I don’t know if that has anything to do with homosexuality, but still, he does all the landscaping himself. Even my priest likes Austin’s angular hedges.

Copyright © 2016 by David V. Matthews

Flash fiction (a hundred words or fewer) #11: In the Aeroplane under the Sea

As the aeroplane started sinking into the Pacific Ocean, Mr Tindall realised, while sitting with his fellow evacuees in the inflatable lifeboat, that (in that prehistoric era before cloud computing) he had saved the only copy of his six-hundred-page erotic time-travelling alien zombie novel inside the laptop he had stored inside the carry-on bag he had neglected to retrieve in the commotion after the sudden and somewhat rough water landing.  ‘Oh bugger,’ Mr Tindall said more loudly to himself than he’d intended, drawing the attention of a few evacuees; for authors such as he, true literary inspiration rarely struck twice.

Copyright © 2016 by David V. Matthews