Flash Fiction (a Hundred Words or Fewer) #59: Azaleas

Every now and then, I enjoy confounding reader expectations by posting an incongruous image with my latest story–thus, the above photo of the Australian author Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson, a.k.a. Henry Handel Richardson (1870-1946).

Vomiting prodigiously into the azaleas before the appalled guests that sweltering June night, in the backyard of Eric and Caroline McCafferty’s Cape Cod-style mansion, during the Joe Biden fundraising dinner (five thousand a plate, a hundred grand raised), Wayne Pellis (Caroline’s younger brother, thirty-one, unemployed, uninvited, unsober) wondered if raccoons or wolves or other animals from the overlooking hills would lap up the regurgitation, or if Caroline would have one of the Latino (or Latinx?) servants hose off the flowers, which had appeared last year in some magazine called Manor Illustrated (no doubt a purveyor of socialist propaganda, Wayne thought).

Copyright © 2019 by David V. Matthews

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Tenderized

Holy shit, I still remember the biggest party I went to in high school.  This was April 2019, my sophomore year, at my friend Ashlee’s house.  Just a small gathering at first, maybe eight or nine people, but like in the movies, small gatherings involving teenagers never remain that way for long.  Pretty soon it seemed half the students at our school, Central Valley High, had invited themselves.  The booze most definitely flowed; I got wasted on whiskey and ended up making out with the school’s star quarterback, Cole Demello, in the backyard as his buddies cheered us on.  What an honor.  He might have ended up fucking me right there, ugh, but Ashlee’s parents returned a day early from their visit to relatives in Cleveland.  Her parents had texted and voicemailed her with the news beforehand, but she’d been too busy smoking weed to check her phone.  Priorities, right?  Anyway, her dad’s a cop with a temper, so we all went home pretty quickly.  Then he beat the shit out of her.  Then she told the world via several tweets, even posting photos of her tenderized face, causing a massive Twitter uproar for a few days.  He got suspended without pay from the Center Township Police Department, pending the results of an official investigation; and Ashlee and her mom moved out; and Ashlee’s mom filed for divorce.  Happy ending, right?

Wrong.  Soon he got unsuspended, pissing off Twitter for another day or two.  He didn’t spend a minute in jail or even get charged with anything.  So much for the official investigation.  Well, he did have to take anger-management classes in order to keep his job, but take it from me, those classes hardly ever work.  (Not hanging out with crazy, violent people works better.)  Ashlee’s mom dropped the divorce proceedings, and soon the three of them became one big happy family again.  And after the school year ended in June, they moved to Cleveland, and I haven’t seen her since.  They’ve all disappeared from the Internet, in fact.  Meanwhile, I really shouldn’t hunt down Cole, but I know I’ll do so eventually, due to my masochistic nature.

Copyright © 2019 by David V. Matthews

revised June 10, 2019

Flash Fiction (a Hundred Words or Fewer) #58: Karate

The living room lay in ruins, after the forbidden party Ashlee (age sixteen-and-a-half) had held earlier that night in her parents’ absence.

“You know, years from now, you’ll look back on this and laugh,” she said.

Her father slapped her in the face.

“As for me, I can’t wait.  Ha.  Ha.  Ha.”

Her father punched her in the mouth.

“Too bad I hadn’t learned karate or something,” she would tell this guy a decade later over Alabama Slammers at some sleazy bar.  “That would’ve made it a fairer fight.”  She didn’t want to fuck him but not vice-versa.  Fucking cross-purposes.

Copyright © 2019 by David V. Matthews

Flash Fiction (a Hundred Words or Fewer) #57: Swampland in Florida

Hector: “Jim and Darrell got married last night.”

Zane: “They did?”

“Yep.  Just read about it on Jim’s Twitter page.”

“Did he say why they got married?”

“Yeah.  ‘Might as well.’  His exact words.”

“Makes sense.”

“They got married in Vegas.  By an Elvis impersonator, in a white jumpsuit and everything.”

“Was he fat?”

“More like slightly chunky, based on the photos.”

“Maybe he skipped breakfast that day.”  Pause.  “Does Terrence know?  About the wedding?”

“I hope so.”  High, whiny voice: “Awww, now they’ll never reach their heterosexual potential!”

Similar voice: “But I can still sell them swampland in Florida!”

 

Copyright © 2019 by David V. Matthews

May 14, 2019

It Nearly Killed Him!

Three boys sit together during lunch, in the cafetorium (combination cafeteria and auditorium) at Center Township Elementary School, Monaca, PA, Wednesday, October 28, 1975:

Douglas: “Here’s a good joke.  So this kid named Johnny goes home and says, he says, uh, ‘Mom!  Mom!  I was walking past the Giant Eagle, just minding my own business,’ he says, ‘just minding my business, when I saw this kid get hit by a car, on the butt!’  Ha ha.  And the kid’s mom, uh, Johnny’s mom?  Yeah, Johnny’s mom says, she says ‘No, Johnny—rectum.’  And Johnny, ha ha. Johnny says ‘Rectum?  It nearly killed him!’  Ha ha ha!”

No one else laughs.

Tommy: “Man, you suck at tellin’ jokes!”

Douglas: “I thought I did a good job.”

Tommy: “Then you’re a fag.  Who cares about all that Giant Eagle stuff?  Get to the point: ‘Mom!  I saw a kid get hit by a car, on the butt!’  No, say ‘ass’ instead—that’s funnier.”

Douglas: “My mom won’t let me swear.”

Tommy: “Then you’ll never be funny.”

Ricky: “Doug-ass.”

Douglas: “Shut up, fatso.”

Ricky: “Say ‘ass,’ Doug-ass.”

Douglas: “Shut up.”

Tommy: “Say ‘ass,’ or you’re a fag and you can’t sit here no more.”

Douglas says nothing.

Tommy: “Say it.  Say ‘ass.’ ”

Ricky: “Say it, fag.”

Tommy: “His mommy won’t let him.”

Ricky: “She’s a fag.”

Douglas, very loudly: “Ass!  Ass!  Ass!  Ass!”  Background conversation stops.  “ASS ASS ASS ASS ASS SHIT!”

Applause and cheers from the other students, including Tommy.  A teacher, Mr. Mullen, walks toward the table.

Mr. Mullen, to the cafetorium: “All right, everyone, knock it off.”  To Douglas: “Could you come with me, young man?”

Douglas, trying not to look frightened: “No!  You’re a FAG!”

Mr. Mullen grabs Douglas by the arm.

Douglas, as the teacher drags him away: “SHIT!  SHIT SHIT SHIT!”

The other students watch them leave the cafetorium.

Tommy: “What a loser.”

Ricky: “Yeah.  He coulda said ‘balls,’ too.”

Copyright © 2019 by David V. Matthews

Harvey Wallbanger (Part One)

Hallowe’en Spooktacular Party, at Gary and Elaine Dow’s house in Center Township, PA, Friday, October 31, 1975:

Costumed invitees cram the living room.  A mixtape (to use an anachronistic word) plays on the stereo’s cassette deck; the exceedingly mellow song “Those Summer Nights” by San Jose’s biggest musical artist, Benjamin Plum, nears its chorus as Donna—wearing a headband, peasant blouse, fringed leather vest, bell-bottom jeans, and sandals—spots an uncostumed guy exiting from the kitchen.  Glass in hand, she barges toward him, threading past a princess and a cowboy and a blowdried Dracula, electric guitar creeping along, Plum asserting in a reedy voice that “Those summer nights that brought us passion / Will never, ever go out of fashion.”

“Chuck Roland?” she asks.

“The one and only,” Chuck replies, holding a drink himself.

“I’m Donna Henningsen.  Milo’s mother?”

“Oh.  Right.”

“Tell your son to quit beating him up.”

“Tell your son to quit grabbing my son’s ass.”

“You believe that story?”

“Hey, your son is half Greek, so—”

She tosses the contents of her glass at Chuck, punctuated by the background tune’s somnolent saxophone-and-piano bridge.

“Now look what you made me do—waste a perfectly good whiskey,” she says reprovingly.

“You know,” he says, wiping off his face with his sleeve, “you’re lucky you have a great pair of tits.”

“Thanks.  I’ll tell your wife you said that.  Where is she?”

“At home.  She didn’t feel good.  You ever try a Harvey Wallbanger?”

“A what?”

“A Harvey Wallbanger?  Orange juice, vodka, and some Eyetalian liqueur called Gallyanno?”

“No.”

“You should.  I’m having one now.”  Chuck holds up his glass.

“Hooray.  The next time your brat attacks my son, I’m calling the police.”

“Yeah, yeah.”  Plum’s song fades out.  “So I can make you one here, if you want.  A Harvey Wallbanger.”

“Fuck off.”  Another lifeless, piano-heavy track, one Donna’s never heard before, commences.

“Aw, you hurt my feelings.”  He walks away a bit jauntily.

Copyright © 2019 by David V. Matthews

Flash Fiction (a Hundred Words or Fewer) #54: Organic Hummus Sandwich

Slumping deep into the least dilapidated chair in the teachers’ lounge during her lunch break that rainy afternoon in late October 1975, having consumed little of the organic hummus sandwich she had packed, Miss Wyant, the subaltern substitute, worried (after futilely attempting to make the Declaration of Independence’s history relevant to three consecutive classes of bored, ahistorical students) that Center Elementary School would opt not to retain her services once the academic year concluded a month before America’s two-hundredth birthday, July 4, 1976, thus providing her with yet another excuse to loathe herself in an atmosphere of rampant celebratory patriotism.

Copyright © 2019 by David V. Matthews