A Flash Fiction by Marianne Mandrusiak

Glancing sideways, Sarah raises her dishevelled flaxen eyebrows and gives me the signal. Oh, it’s on! Our favourite game to play is “detective.” We sneak away while the adults are talking about new co-workers or controversial politicians. Awkward flamingos, we walk on our tiptoes to mimic high heels and jut out our ribs, pretending that we have breasts. We hide in plain sight, under mahogany hall tables and behind corners with chipped drywall, patiently waiting to overhear juicy details that we almost never do. Sarah and I are silent as church mice until one of the adults, usually Aunt Carol, uses some ridiculous expression like, “Well, that just won’t cut the mustard,” which sends us running down the hallway, covering our mouths and shaking from laughing so hard. Convulsing, we flop onto Auntie Carol’s guest bed, finding spots amongst the coats that smell of strangers; old cigarettes, stale gum and vanilla bean perfume. We chortle until we can’t breathe, our obliques aching. The adults don’t come in to reprimand us, because much to our chagrin, they knew we were there all along. They also don’t care because we don’t understand politics or sexual innuendos. Bored of listening to fragments of incomprehensible conversations, we decide to play pretend. 

My role, as always, is that of the daughter. I hate playing the mom, which I suppose makes sense, considering that later in life, I will declare that I never want to have children. Sarah and I make believe that we are packing for a vacation. We are going to take a train trip, that’s it – first class! Going east, to visit her long-lost twin brother, Billy, in Waterloo. I heard the name of the city in an ABBA song, so I know that it really exists. 

Sarah puts on Auntie Carol’s friend Shelly’s fake-fur coat and an anxious thrill makes my face turn beet red. She looks glamorous surrounded by the ebony pelt, like she’s a ten-year-old Jennifer Love Hewitt (except blond). Her look is perfect for our first-class voyage.  

“Now, you need a coat too,” Sarah asserts. I’m too nervous about wearing someone else’s belongings. I shake my head, and some hair gets stuck to my fuchsia lipstick. I nicked some from my mother’s purse earlier, but she never minds unless I have a cold sore. Sarah calls me an old “fuddy-duddy.” Ironic for someone who would dare use that insult. I tell her I’d rather get into trouble for going through Auntie Carol’s things than for sifting through those of a stranger, so I open one of the dresser drawers, which is empty. I pretend to pull out a green crushed-velvet dress with a satin ribbon as a belt.

“You can’t just make-believe,” Sarah says, “you need to put on something real.” She feels entitled to make up all of the rules. Sarah has two younger siblings, and you can tell. 

Sarah opens the other drawers, looking for something to dress me with whilst saying in a piss-poor British accent, “Come on Luv, I’ll make you a cuppa.” This sends us howling again, remembering the film we saw in social studies class about the children who worked in the mines. (It wasn’t supposed to be funny, and we got in an awful lot of trouble with Mrs. Slavinsky because we kept trying to speak like the people in the docudrama). 

We are unprepared for what we see next. Sarah opens the bottom dresser drawer, and at first, I think that it’s full of comic books of some kind. Once my eyes have focused, I can’t make sense of the images. Naked women tied up, bent over with their mouths open. Men grabbing fistfuls of women’s hair, one woman screaming in pain as her breasts are being squeezed. Not just pain, though, her face holds something else…something that fascinates me. I’m not sure if any of the adults heard the drawers open or if the sound was muffled by The Beatles singing something about feeling alright.

Sarah and I should throw the magazines back in the drawer and slam it shut. We don’t. We sit there, silent, on the moss-toned shag carpet for a good twenty-five minutes staring at the pages and acclimating to the images, barely aware of the conversational din in the background. Individually, in our own minds, we speculate about each glossy, naked person’s back-story. Miraculously, nobody walks in on us. I don’t know what we would have done if they had. When we finally break free of our trance and put everything away, we pinkie swear never to talk about what we have seen to anyone and never to go back into that bottom drawer.

Sarah and I exit the room feeling like we have walked into another dimension. Our world has changed, and I suppose so have we. Suddenly self-conscious in our bodies, we slink around sheepish and close-mouthed, glancing surreptitiously at the adults. We see them with new eyes. We are investigating again, seeking some kind of an explanation and yearning to find clues. Back to playing detective, only this time we aren’t teetering around on our tiptoes and sticking out our chests. 

Marianne Mandrusiak is a writer and comedian living in Montreal, Canada. She was longlisted for the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize for her short story entitled “Bad Kisser.” Marianne is currently working on a short story collection, as well as a children’s book which introduces the concepts of environmental stewardship and the power of collective action. For details on these projects and others, follow her on Instagram under the handle @mandrusiaki. 

A Flash Fiction by Ken Olson

The sky is flat this morning and words won’t fall out. No words for a poem, no words for a story; mundane, domestic words or stirring, cosmopolitan words for Joe’s daring exploits far from his home. It makes no difference once the sky loses its verve. So, Joe summons Noveldog. S/he instructs Joe to build something wordless, whereupon he journeys to the beach, crafting a sandcastle. Tonight, he writes with words. Noveldog focuses on Joe’s actions, interpreting his experience: Without knowing it, Joe has written a story with his hands. Back home, the sky opens and words haphazardly tumble out.

Ken Olson lives in the Pacific Northwest. His haiku poetry has been selected for the ‘Red Moon Anthology’ five times, the 2019 Special Issue of ‘Right Hand Pointing,’ and featured in Ion Codrescu’s new book, ‘The Wanderer Brush.’ In 2019 Ken published stories in Crack the Spine, Sky Island Journal, and Silver Needle Press. In 2020 the inaugural edition of the Centifictionist, Wild Roof Journal, and The Closed Eye Open.

A Flash Fiction by Matt Petras

In my grey sweatpants and navy blue sweatshirt, I climbed onto the armchair, placed my little hands on the top of the velvet chair and gazed out the window at the lights.

I saw streetlights, houses aglow with yellows and blues through their windows, cars beaming light at the road ahead of them. Red lights would come from the railway intersection. Traffic lights. Green. Yellow. Red.

Most prominent and highest, a small fire burned, wafting smoke into the air, at the top of a tall, thin chimney.

Pap walked into the room, a cup of tea in his hand. He saw me and smiled.

“When I first moved into this house, I would look out that window a lot too,” he said. He sipped his tea. “When I look out that window now, I see what that town used to be like, back when it was booming. I met your grandmother in that town. I see all of the delis you could get a great sandwich. I see the park that isn’t there anymore, where bands would play. Really great music.”

I looked at him. I smiled. I went back to the window.

“So what do you see when you look out that window, kiddo?”

The window chilled my tiny fingertips as I kept looking.

“I see lights.”

Matt Petras is a Pittsburgh-area writer and educator. His journalism has been published in The Daily Beast as well as local publications like PublicSource, Pittsburgh Current and The Mon Valley Independent. He is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing in Chatham University, focusing on fiction and concentrating in pedagogy.

A Flash Fiction by Rachel Johanna Darroch

The chair creaks under her weight in a shriek of metal and quarrelsome springs. Wheels whirl across the floor, clicking over the divots in the warped floorboards as she takes her place before the computer screen in grave repose. Hesitance tightens her shoulders to her ears like corkscrews. Her fingers settle over the keys, not quite daring to compress. Every muscle is held in suspension, even though she knows nothing has changed.

The clacking of the keys never comes.

A minute or two later, the chair creaks again, its burden now lifted. She stands, the wheels clicking at her like snapping fingers, telling her to get on with it. This an old dance, now, between her and the chair. Back and forth, like today might be different when it never will be.

The computer screen darkens to black while she moves on to another part of the house to simmer in perennial regret.

There will be no words today.

Rachel Johanna Darroch is a Canadian writer from Kitchener, Ontario. She is the author of several published short stories and flash fiction pieces, including At the End of Indigo, The Paradox, Light Years, Minor Key, and The Advent. She is a graduate of the University of Guelph and lives with her two cats, Archie and Edi. 

A Flash Fiction by Philip Redo

It was a big pipe. And it was coated with some kind of cloth. Painted white. As he stared at it he thought that maybe the white paint had been brushed over some kind of adhesive tape or even a gauze. The big pipe turned at 90 degrees into the wall. He thought it would be called an elbow pipe by those who knew about such things. He didn’t. But he couldn’t help but look at the pipe as he swam his daily laps. On each trip across the pool he switched from side stroke to freestyle. He started with side and returned with the traditional crawl. The side stroke trip exposed the right side of his head parallel to the water. Going this direction he couldn’t help but see all the way up the wall that bounded the pool. Towards the ceiling the pipe was easy to spot. Even if you weren’t really looking for it.

He looked at it each time he swam. He couldn’t help it.

Below the pipe hung seven large panels. He had counted them. On each panel were swimming records. Backstroke. Breaststroke. Freestyle. Relay. The record holders were all children. The oldest age group listed was girls and boys between 13 and 18. The youngest group were 8 year olds.

As he swam he would calculate their times against his own. They were impressively fast.

He knew little about swim times. He only knew that these were this particular pool’s record holders. The glory of past efforts by people he did not know. How these times might compare to Olympic times didn’t matter. What he knew for certain was that compared to these times, he was slow. But he wasn’t 13-18 years old either.

As he swam he wondered what exactly the big pipe did. It was clearly part of the air filtering system. Or was it part of the heating system? Are those the same system? He didn’t know. Maybe some sort of vent. Venting what exactly? He imagined that when it was first installed it must have been all silvery and shiny. Like a brand new pipe in the hardware store. Then they taped it up and painted it white to match the walls around the pool. Maybe the wrapping also muffled some noises it might make. He didn’t know anything about pipes. He wondered how long ago the pool had been constructed. The oldest reference he could see was a smallish banner hanging on an adjacent wall from the pipe celebrating a championship won in 1968. 52 years ago. That was a pretty bad year, he remembered from personal experience, as he reached the deep end. He touched the wall. He swam back the other way. In this direction he wouldn’t be in position see the pipe or the names and times that were listed on the wall. Heading in this direction he swam the crawl. Freestyle. Traditional swimming. The way they first teach you as a kid. Face in the water. Up for a breath. Face back down. The entire length of the pool. Up for a breath and then back down.

Swimming was great exercise. Especially for him. He had to exercise. He was not 13-18 anymore. He was about to become a senior citizen. He had received his Medicare card in the mail two weeks ago. It was hard to believe.

At the shallow end of the pool he stopped for a few seconds. He bounced on his toes. He stretched his arms out wide and then he lifted them above his head. Then he kicked himself off the side of the pool aiming for the other side. He examined the names again. And noted their times. “R. Bouchard 24.23”, “K. Chu 21.54”, “M. Singleton 20.37”. He couldn’t fathom how even a kid could swim this same body of water so quickly. Two lengths! 50 meters in about 20 seconds. He had timed himself on occasion. The digital timer attached to the wall would continuously count up both the seconds and minutes elapsed but it did not divulge the hour of the day in which it was happening. It wasn’t a clock. It marked times but not time. He did some calculations in his head, accounting for the fact he had not started his swim with a dive. That would be an advantage. He also factored in his relatively advanced age. The kids were about three times faster and five times younger. “L. Munroy”, “J. Gardella” were their names. It didn’t matter.

The pipe seemed oversized as he went back the other direction. It didn’t seem in correct proportion to the space. It looked to him as if it either had been purposely over built or the wrong size pipe that they decided to make work because it was easier than ordering a new one. But he knew very little about HVAC duct pipes.

It was a strange thing. The pipe caught his eye the moment he first walked into the pool.

Ready to undress and get going with his laps.

It was a big pipe, covered with some type of cloth, painted white.

It looked exactly like the one he focused his eyes on when he had been wheeled into the operating room at the Medical Center. They were about to put him under. The doctors and nurses were milling around him. He was trying to take his overactive mind and put it someplace else. Anywhere else. He stared at the ceiling. At a huge pipe that was coated with some kind of cloth. It was white. He was going to have his heart repaired so he could go swimming.

A NYC native Philip L. Redo is a former broadcaster in both commercial and public radio/tv. Articles of his have appeared in several publications including an OpEd in the Boston Globe. He lives in Maine.

A Flash Fiction by Pamela R Winnick

Marla parked between the yellow lines and slid out of her Jetta, the April breeze teasing her long blond hair. She wore a leather jacket and tight-fitting leggings that revealed skinny, well-toned thighs. When she spotted Art’s Jeep, she waved at him, smiling.  He stepped out, his belly bulging above his sweatpants, his polo shirt stained beneath the underarms.     

“Hey,” he said, “What’s up?”

If only he’d hug her or at least kiss her cheek.

“You’re looking kind of, uh, tired,” she said.

He scratched his head, his hair flecked with dandruff. “Tax season. Everyone waits ’til the last minute.”

Maybe that’s why he hadn’t called, she thought as she reached for his wrist. “Such a tragedy. Losing her to pneumonia of all things. She was only forty.”

Freeing himself from her chokehold, he looked her up and down. “In the mood for a burger and fries?  Looks like you could add a few pounds.”

So he’d noticed the weight loss, she thought as they wove around parked cars, stopping when they reached Charlie’s Burgers, tucked between Target and Walgreens. Inside, he asked for a booth in the back, dropped down without waiting for Marla to settle in.  

“Do you believe in heaven?” she asked, twirling her gold chain.

“I guess.”

“If Claire could see us now, what would she think?”

He shrugged. “She’d be grateful, probably. We’d been out of touch since high school, but all of a sudden you were there. Feeding us when she was in the hospital. Speaking at her funeral. Arranging the flowers.”

Marla might have done more, but, dropping by his house one day with a tuna casserole,  she spotted a pile of plates on his front stoop, covered in foil. Bolting, she realized she’d have to act quickly; she couldn’t just wait around.

The waitress slapped two plastic menus on the table, announced the day’s specials:    French onion soup and fried calamari.

“I’ll take the green salad,” Marla said. “Dressing on the side.”

Art ordered a triple cheeseburger, fried onions, extra mayo.

“I hope I’m not bothering you,” she said. “But when I didn’t hear from you, I worried. So I thought I’d shoot you a text and ask you to lunch.”
With a shudder, she recalled his response. Since you’re asking, I guess the meal’s on you.

 “We’re friends, aren’t we?” she asked.

“Sure.”

She twirled a loose strand of hair. “Then why didn’t you call me? It’s been a month since the funeral.”

“Sorry. But, like I said, I’ve been super busy,”

“I would have helped if you’d called. I’m here for you.”

The waitress brought their food, warning Art that his plate was hot. He tucked a paper napkin in his shirt,  drowned the cheeseburger and fries with ketchup, lathered the hamburger bun with mayo, took a huge bite, without waiting for her to start.  Marla filled a teaspoon with vinaigrette and dribbled it on her salad, picking at the lettuce and allowing herself three green olives. He downed his meal as though it were his last, chewing with his mouth open. But unmarried men were few; she could always fix him later.

She pushed her bowl away, tilted her head. She’d planned the words, rehearsed them again and again, but now they eluded her. Summoning her courage, she plunged ahead, unscripted..

“I hope it’s not too soon.,” she said.

“Too soon for what?”

She twisted her napkin. “I was thinking you might be lonely.” Looking up, she drew a deep breath. “If you want to catch a movie or something, maybe you’ll think of me?”

The waitress cleared their plates, asking it they’d like dessert. Art ordered pumpkin pie with whipped cream, lots of it.  Marla demurred.  Beside them, two tables had been joined together for what looked like an office party. A promotion. a birthday.

Or maybe an engagement

The waitress set down his pumpkin pie. He ate lustily, his mouth open, not a crumb left on the plate.  A crowd formed a line by the entrance, entering in twos and threes. He licked the whipped cream off his fingers.

“So what do you think?” Marla pressed. “You and me? It’s not like we just met. We’ve known each other since first grade.”

He patted his belly. “I’m kind of seeing someone.”

“A woman?”

“I’m no queer.”

“Who?”

“Suzanne Mills. We went out for a while senior year. She called me after the funeral and, well, one thing led to another.”

“I ran into her recently. She’s obese.”

He smiled apologetically, a crumb caught between his teeth. “Yeah. I guess she’s sort of heavy, but I like a little meat on my woman.”

The waitress set the check in front of him. He slid it toward Marla, but she couldn’t bring herself to pick it up.  

“What was I supposed to do?” he went on. “Sit home nights and cry?” He crunched his paper napkin, tossed it on the table. “I mean a guy’s got needs.”

A graduate of Columbia University’s Schools of Law and Journalist, Pamela R Winnick was an award-winning journalist before turning to fiction. Her debut novel, Betrayed, is due out in 2022.

A Flash Fiction by Aditi Ramaswamy

So my car breaks down a lot…

I really should replace it––but somehow, I can’t bring myself to. Fine, I’ll say it: I’m fond of the damn piece of junk. I think people nowadays are far too focused on their destinations that they don’t take time off to enjoy the journey itself. So it’s kind of nice, being forced to stop so much: you meet the most interesting people.

Anyway, it always happens to conveniently sputter to a stop right smack dab in Nowheresville, USA––and always next to a dilapidated inn named “The Shady Hotel of Horrors” or some crap like that. You can practically hear the banjos playing.

That being said, you’d expect me to have met a whole bunch of creeps––you know the type. Toothless inbred hicks with a taste for gruesome murder, and all that. I had to admit, part of me really did hope to come across one, just to see if they really do exist. But the closest I’d ever come to Encounters of the Urban Legend Kind was the one-eyed weight-lifting gas station attendant in Pennsylvania who insisted on stepping out back and showing me an entire camera reel of pictures of his goat. (Her name is Albertine, by the way, and she likes wearing pink ribbons in her beard.)

Until the other day. I was down in––well, I’m not naming names here, but let’s just say it was one of them states known for great food with a side of whackjob evangelism. It was maybe one, two in the morning, and I was putt-putting along one of those winding country roads in the Crapmobile when it had suddenly decided to stop cold turkey on me. No amount of turning the key or cussing at the steering wheel would make it move––so I’d finally given up, gotten out of the car, and surveyed my surroundings. Nothing but broad, squat tobacco leaves for miles around–

No, wait, over there––a few yards off the side of the road. Yeah, definitely a house. I’d kicked the Crapmobile one last time, then waded through the thick sea of future lung cancer toward the light in the distance.

Upon closer inspection, I’d realised that calling it a “house” was actually pretty generous of me. It was a hovel, a shack, a moldering pile of boards held together by a handful of nails and the will of God. And when its door had creaked open and its sole inhabitant had stepped out, I’d definitely seen the family resemblance: she looked as if someone had stretched a sheet of white paper haphazardly over a jumble of bones. Her eyes had leisurely slid across me from head to toe; then she’d licked her cracked lips and bared a set of sharp, crooked teeth the colour of coffee stains.

“Well hello there,” she’d drawled in a voice like nails tap-dancing on a chalkboard. “And what’s a tender scrap like you doin’ outside my old home?”

“Sorry to bother you, Ma’am,” I’d said, smiling ingratiatingly. “But my car broke down, and my phone is near dead. Mind if I use yours?”

A spark of hunger had ignited in the depths of her pale bloodshot eyes. “I’m afraid I don’t got no phone. But you’re welcome to some supper, and to use my guest bedroom after. It’s a very comfy bedroom,” she’d added. “So comfy, some folks never wanted to come out!”

“That’s very sweet of you,” I’d said, stepping around her to get in the door- and nearly tripping over a bloodied axe lying out on the sagging porch. Frankly, I had been pretty thrilled: my first real crazy! This would be an experience to write home about for sure.

The first thing that had hit me when I’d walked inside was the smell: a heavy curtain of warm metallic tang enveloped me the moment I set foot in the shack. The woman had gestured to a narrow black hallway in the back of the dwelling. “You’s sleepin’ there. But first––supper!”

“Oh, it’s all right–” I’d started to say, but she had already shuffled into the kitchen and was busy clattering pots around.

“Nonsense!” she’d snapped. “You’ll eat, and you’ll enjoy it. I even got a whole pecan pie left, all the better to fatten you up. You’s thin as a beanstalk!”

I’d stifled a giggle when she’d said that. A lunatic who sounded like she’d just fallen out of the pages of Hansel and Gretel? ’Twas my lucky day, indeed.

She had come out bearing the aforementioned goods on a tin platter, and had set it down with a firm thump on the rickety wooden table. “Now, I want to see you eat this all up.”

I had eyed the food distastefully before looking back up at her. She certainly wasn’t a gas station attendant––but, I had supposed, something was better than nothing. “Thank you very much, Ma’am,” I’d said finally. “But I’m afraid I can’t partake of this. See,” I’d continued, smiling politely, “bit of a quirk of mine––I only eat fresh meat.”

And then I drew my knife.

Aditi Ramaswamy is twenty-four years old, and her dream job is to haunt a pond in the woods. Until she becomes the forest spirit she’s destined to be, though, she’ll stick to software engineering and writing fiction. Ramaswamy’s debut novel, Nathaniel Keene (The Lovelace Chronicles Book 1), is available here.

A Flash Fiction by Kevin Reigle

Johnny Rutledge flipped open the lunch pail as he straddled his usual bench.  His legs kicked out at each side like a jockey waiting at the starting gate. He rummaged through the lunch pail for his sandwich.

Johnny grimaced at the loud clanging that pulsed through the walls and into his brain.  His eyes snapped closed, and his teeth clenched.  Just as he was about to open them, he heard a familiar voice.

“Are you alright?”

Johnny relaxed his jaw as he looked across the table at Erik Newsome.  “Yeah, the banging was just getting to me.”

“You should be over that by now,” Erik said with a chuckle.

Johnny rubbed his temples as he watched Erik sit down on the bench across from him.  “It just gets to me every once and a while.  It’s not a regular thing.”

“I guess I’ve been here so long that nothing bothers me.  I can still see myself walking through that door the summer after high school.  I was pretty nervous, let me tell you.  My old man got me this job.  I worked right beside him till the day he died.”

“Heart attack, wasn’t it?” Johnny asked, unwrapping the tinfoil around his sandwich.

“Yeah, it happened right there in the back room.”  Erik extended his arm and pointed toward a rusted-out door in the mill. “I went to get a replacement part from the floor manager, and when I got back, he was face down.”  Erik looked across the table at Johnny’s sandwich.  “A bologna sandwich again?  She packs that for you every day, doesn’t she?”

Johnny started to lift off the bread, deconstructing the sandwich.  “I guess she doesn’t know how to make anything else.”

“You’d think she’d figure something out,” Erik said as he unsnapped the metal clasp on his lunch box.

“Every penny counts.”           

“How is the overtime going?  Is Anderson giving you any?”

“Not yet.  I went to see him earlier,” Johnny said as he put the sandwich back together and took a bite. “He said he didn’t have any to give me.”

“That college boy is such a jackass.  He doesn’t know anything.  Those kinds of people just swoop in here and think they know what the hell to do.”

“I’ll tell you; we aren’t doing too well at home right now.  I don’t know if I can get this check to stretch, or not.”

“Things are tight for everyone, aren’t they?”

“I guess so,” Johnny said as he shook his head.  His gaze froze on a poster beside the snack machine.  It was a picture of three dogs playing poker.

“You know, I do know a way you can make a couple extra bucks,” Erik interjected.

“How’s that?”

“If you want to place a bet on a horse, I got a pretty good tip on the sixth this Saturday,” Erik said as Johnny’s face went flush.

“Come on. Are you serious?”

Erik raised his hands in a gesture of surrender. “I’m sorry.  I thought, uh, maybe you were over that.”

“That’s not how it works,” Johnny said as he reached into his lunch box and pulled out a can of soda.

“I hope Anderson changes his mind about that overtime.”

“Yeah, me too. Before I forget, did you see the flyer on the bulletin board?”  Johnny pointed at the slab of cork hanging beside the hallway to the administrative offices.

“No, I hadn’t looked.  Why?”

“At the company picnic, they’re having doubles for horseshoes.  You’re pretty good, aren’t you?”

“Pretty good, do you know who you’re talking to?”

“Oh, I know exactly who I’m talking to.”

“So, you want me to be on your team, is that what you’re asking?

Johnny finished his sandwich and tossed the crumpled tinfoil into the lunchbox. “I think we could win.”

Erik nodded his head. “As long as you hold up your end, we will.” Johnny closed the lunchbox and started fiddling with the metal clasps. “You know that horse race you were telling me about?”

Kevin Reigle has previously been published in the Pensworth Review. He works at the University of the Cumberlands.

Flash Fiction by Rob Reynolds


I’m pulling out of Fresno late one night when this baboon waves me down.

He wants to know how far I’m going. I say I don’t know.

He shows a fifth of Jack.

We’re on our way.

I wonder sometimes why I keep this up — the stench, the hair, the hangovers. But it’s late in the game for those thoughts. I lean over and kiss the beast. His lips are soft, a hint of passion. He pulls away.

After a while, he asks me what kind of music I like.

“I like the three-word, one-syllable bands.”

He snickers. “Goo Goo Dolls?”

“There you go.”

“Third Eye Blind?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

My kind of primate, but I don’t tell him that. I tell him to pop the glove compartment, see if there’s anything he likes.

His big paw burrows beneath the owner’s manual, finds a Snickers bar.

“No, I mean the CDs.”

He pulls out Miles Davis’s Some Day My Prince Will Come. It’s the only CD I own. But I own ninety-six copies.

“Faith No More?”

“Jesus, give it a rest!” I run my hand through my hair. Humans, baboons. Give ‘em an inch, they want two.

I cue it to the title track and steer us toward the desert. Miles blows away the miles. We pass the bottle between us.

He tears the wrapping off the chocolate bar, slides it between his lips, sucks each long, beautiful finger. Says, “We never talk anymore.”

Rob Reynolds‘s comic novel Wire Mother Monkey Baby was published in 2017 by Outpost19, a small, independent publisher in San Francisco. His stories have appeared widely including the Tampa Review, Kennesaw Review, Vestal Review, flashquake, Mad Hatter’s Review, and Hobart Pulp. “What You Can Learn in a Bar” was anthologized in Ooligan Press’s You Have Time for This: Contemporary American Short-Short Stories.  He’s a former Contributing Associate and Contributing Editor of the Harvard Review and the Boston Book Review.

In what seems like a previous life, he taught English at Tom Petty’s alma mater, Gainesville High School. He’s lived in Austin, Texas, since 1994 and is a big fan of cats, dogs, and children.

Check out more of his writing at robreynolds.me.