All tagged flash fiction

"ELEPHANT" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

ELEPHANT

 

I remember the circus

and the elephant.

I remember standing in a line

with other children,

and we were silent.

 

We were all pondering

this real monster

so close to us.

 

Frightened.

In awe.

Five at a time,

we rose up

wooden stairs

to a platform.

 

A man would move us in and over then.

Our legs straddling the beast

like a cowboy’s.

 

Cameras flashed.

Smiling mothers goggled.

Their babies so adorable on an elephant.

Then a man would say,

“Let’s go, Lisa”

and the elephant would move.

 

She moseyed

around a large ring

on a dirt floor

in the center

of the circus tent

five children on her back.

 

I waited my turn

(with the other silent and terrified).

I watched the elephant’s long sways,

her colossal legs taking ginger steps 

in slow motion.

 

I watched  those pillars move.

I watched her toenails,

her ears flapping like sails,

that long impossible trunk.

I watched her.

 

I watched her,

and when she was close enough,

I  looked at one of her eyes.

 

I saw her eye

and in her eye

I saw her,

and

in her eye

I saw that she saw me.

 

I saw that she saw me

but saw me

from some depth,

from some place,

some inner world,

I couldn’t imagine.  

 

But when I looked at her,

I saw goodness.

 

I rode in the front

behind a skull

as wide as a coffee table.

Her smell was strong and thick and animal,

and the way she moved…

 

She moved like a rock that changed shape.

She moved like a rock that moved like water.

And when she moved,

she moved around the circle

in the circus tent,

and I was so high in the air.

 

She could have done terrible things to us.

To anyone.

Something that powerful.

She could have done anything.

No one could have stopped it.

But she didn’t.

She was good.

 

She was magnificent.   

"FRIDAY EVENING AT THE ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT BUFFET" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

FRIDAY EVENING AT THE ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT BUFFET

 

Friday evening,

I was starving.

So, I went to The All-You-Can-Eat Buffet.

 

Jesus! Oh-God-help-me.

 

There were about a thousand of us in there,

at the buffet –

packed in –

little piggies jostling for Mama Swine's tit.

 

I juked and maneuvered and elbowed and made my way in,

 

then a ten-year-old boy threatened me.

 

He threatened me for the last

baconcheeseburger slider.

 

Ten years old,

biceps like hams,

he did it with his eyes.

 

I backed off,

out matched.

Slopped some pot roast,

made it back to a tiny booth table.

 

I ate in fear while looking around.

There was a tension in the air

like just before a riot.

 

Then,

as the breach memories of the buffet faded,

as my adrenaline subsided,    

as my mind calmed,

 

I began listening to a Loud woman in a group near me.

 

"Our next class is Wednesday after the service. It’s over Greed and Envy" she said, "I'm really looking forward to it. I must confess, I AM envious of Carrie's vacuum cleaner. It's beautiful. Perfectly balanced. Got to be one of those industrial ones. It’s got that feel, you know?... Anyway, I AM envious of her and that vacuum cleaner. I feel guilty about it, and I think this class will really help me with that. I'm tired of feeling guilty."

 

She kept rambling.

My jaw slowly dropped

and stayed there.

Eventually,

from my fingers,

a french fry tumbled away.

I looked around then,

panning the space,

the crowd,

the masses,

the chewing and sucking and sweating,

the screaming young,

the women chatting,

men standing watch over families,

sons searching for guidance,

other men in the midst

just sitting,

like me,

defeated in some way,

time etched into their faces,

their bodies limp and exhausted and beaten.

Then I noticed the eyes.

Some of their eyes wondered the room,

like mine,

analyzing

this place,

this moment.

Pondering it

and their place in it.

A hopeless acceptance

weighing down upon

slumped shoulders.

Some knowing,

I think,

of how they got here.

Maybe what went wrong.

Maybe there was never any real chance,

and this is how they got here.

Most just seeing it as it was,

I think,

their life.

A pointlessness.

A grasp for a meaning.

A settling for any possible comfort.

 

A settling,

and this is a highlight.

This right here.

A Friday night

at a cheap buffet

in a mass of chaos.  

 

I see their eyes.

I see their souls through their eyes.

 

Inside of me,

at that moment,

something broke.  

 

I rose then.

I rose slow

from the table

then moved silently,

walking fast.

 

But Not Too Fast!

 

I was afraid, you see?

Scared some unknown power might take notice.

Something of power and malevolence and godlike and an enforcer of predetermination…

It might see me and try to stop me!

 

I stepped on.

I burst through exit doors

into the night,

into cold air,

into black sky.

Then I turned,

looking back

at the bright building.

 

From life’s insanity,

from original sin,

from some kind of guilt instilled into the common heart,

somehow,

somehow,

 

I’ve escaped.

"CHICKEN WINGS" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

Writing this in The Bu (Chevy Malibu).

 

Was at a bookstore.

Just bought a literary mag.

4:30 PM, Halloween.

Now, I'm in traffic.

 

A migration of MASSIVE,

aluminum turtles

extends like defeat

in front of me.

 

I'm wiggling in my seat

to Lady Gaga.

YES, A 33 year-old,

straight man can do this!

 

The song ends.

My dancing ends,

and…

I JUST CANT TAKE IT ANYMORE!

 

I inch off to an exit,

glide to a red light,

make a turn,

and jerk it into

a strip mall parking lot.

 

There's a chicken wing place.

Wings?

NO WINGS!

On another diet.

Gotta stay sexy.

 

A good day

until the bookstore.

They didn't have what I wanted

(besides the literary mag).

 

Making my purchase,

the clerk hacked and coughed,

throat ejecting all over my book.

THEN HE SMILED AT ME!

He smiled

and handed it over.

 

How do I handle these situations?

How?

 

I took the book.

Thumb and forefinger only.

All other digits splaying,

flaring out,

trying to escape infection.

 

Now I sit

in this parking lot

with the book

radiating death

next to me.

I can feel it.

 

I look at the lit mag.

I want to devour it.

I want to burn it.

It's like an x-girlfriend.

 

I breathe deep,

withhold decision,

and turn

looking at the world.

 

The traffic's there,

rising to an overpass,

staring down at me like a colossus.

 

AAAAAHHHHHHH!

Time. Time.

All this Time!

 

I look back at the book.

Read?

Disease?

 

I start thinking.

 

Between me and my apartment,

somebody's dead.

Poor person.

Blood on the highway.

Probably had a family.

Halloween,

kids dawning costumes,

candy treats being prepared,

significant other devising sexual adventure.

 

Sorrow.

The one that went down…

They went down fighting

this invisible foe.

It'll claim every one of us.

Poor family.

Bad day to happen.

 

Should I try the highway again?

Approach the gauntlet?

Can I take it?

NO!

It's scary out there.

Better to sit here

in The Bu

with the disease.

 

Chicken wings?

NO!

 

I look at a vacant area

adjacent to the strip mall.

It's a small field

about the right size

for a football game.

Crab grassy and level.

 

There's apartments–

even shittier than mine

–beyond.

 

I look at the field.

An old man's out there,

walking,

swaying a long pole

in front of him.

 

He's a blind man, I think,

but then  I understand.

He's carrying a metal detector,

swinging it left to right.

He's out there searching.

He's searching while we all

cruise toward DEATH.

 

I decide I like the old dude.

I hope he finds something.

I haven't.

 

Chicken wings?

 

 

"TOWN TALK" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

TOWN TALK

 

The talk’s of work,

needing a job,

getting a job,

minimum wage’s

too minimum.

 

Then, now,

it’s the high rent.

Can’t afford it.

Got to have two workers in that home.

Got to have two incomes, at least.

 

Long ago,

they say,

it wasn’t like this.

 

I have a hard time imagining that.

 

And there’s those Politicians, they say.

We get on those politicians.

They’ll run you over, son, they say,

suck you clean.

You young people need to do something.

This world is fucked, they say.

 

Then,

they ask me,

“Can I get a cig?”

 

Now, it’s politics.

Now, it’s election.

Now it’s rock the boat time.

Rock the vote time.

Those politicians, man!

 

On street corners,

in trollies,

outside libraries,

this is town speech.

 

And I’m thinking…

The Pacific’s four blocks away.

It’s the biggest thing

I’ve ever seen.

Sunset’s at 7:04

I’ll eat rice tonight,

make it spicy somehow.

 

As the woes of life call from street level,

as human bodies quiver in state necessity,

locked inside me,

I know a secret.

 

I’ll share it with you,

but you may not like it…

 

The World Doesn’t Owe You Shit!

 

"TOWN TALK" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

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