Flash Fiction by Brad Rose
Just for a lark, I voted against myself. Yes, it hurt my feelings, but I don’t like to awaken before I go to sleep. Some people think it was because of those slippery eels, but I’m in favor of all the things those naysayers are against. It’s part of my wellness journey. Yesterday, while loading my double-barreled questions, I discovered, at 40, everyone gets the face I deserve. Now, no one is returning my calls. I think there might even be a little money in it. What self-respecting taxidermist is going to stuff all those crying animals? Meanwhile, I’m channeling the ambient positivity. Like incompetence, or an all-you-can-eat buffet, it’s remorseless. In fact, last night, just as I was about to wrestle that slimy gator into smiling submission, Nadine leaned close to me and tantalizingly whispered, Did you buy me that flood insurance I’ve always wanted, Ralph? So much love.
It was her birthday. I gave her a birthday fish. Wrapped it festively. In jalapenos. Not sure if it was more Tex, or more Mex? Of course, I’m not a professional, I’m just an armchair re-gifter. Because I have a lot of respect for the sea, I don’t normally condone piracy. I prefer to leave well enough alone. Every explanation has to stop somewhere. Naturally, it can’t be a monolith, if there are two of them. I wish I knew the names for the different kinds of laughter, but like Astroturf waving in the air-conditioned breeze, there’s no use pretending it’s all water under the bridge. How big is the universe? What shape is it? How fast is it expanding? And when will it end? If you have any tough questions, I can be reached by extension cord. In the meantime, run the applause track, Snallygaster.
Love is Like That
I’m my own outfit planner. McKenzie says I look like I’m waiting for an execution. She says my clothes may increase my risk of infection. Both my shoes and my feet are asleep. Generally speaking, I like medium-sized objects, but there are always exceptions. Sure, there may be life on other planets, even the Disney planets, but there’s no accounting for taste. I don’t remember my passwords, the same way some people don’t want to be found. Not sure if I’m using a pseudonym or a nom de plume, but just in case, I’ve got a pair of those little black x-ray sunglasses—you know, the kind for watching an atomic bomb explode. McKenzie says it could occur at any moment, and if it does, it won’t be a minute too soon. I tell her, it’s never too late to pretend like nothing happened. Love, if you let it in, is exactly like that.
It’s a perfect day to shave my head. Last night was dark as a tar pit and the sheets were so hot, they nearly melted my legs. Nothing is magic, if you know how it’s done. Sometimes, with my butcher knife, I stand in the front yard and twist around like a worm. The passing clouds have no idea what’s in store for them. Claudine says that on our street, I laugh the loudest. When I was your age, I blacked out. I got nearly a thousand hits. Now, somewhere else hides inside me, like jail hides inside a cop’s stare. The Museum of Unspeakable Things is close as a whisper. When I get the coordinates, I’d send them to you. If the black box was painted yellow, it would be a lot easier to find after a crash. Of course, the sharpest razor isn’t always the truest.
The polls report it’s the favorite color of the colorblind, but I don’t see it that way, so I shut my eyes. Since I dropped out of the 12-step program, I’ve been tormented by the metric system. I may have missed out on the extra credit points, too, but most people lie for no good reason. No more snake conspiracies for this dude. Too many bro hugs. Sure, I taught myself to juggle, but not even God can be everywhere at once. Sooner or later, it’s just a matter of time. You’ll have to excuse me, I had no idea you were dead. It’s such a fine line, you know. At least until you find yourself taking turns. Of course, there’s no denying you’re known by the company you quit, but we’re all guilty of believing our own thoughts. Everything’s on a continuum, no matter how you enter death’s dark tunnel. As for me, I’d rather back up. I’d like to get a head start on those exit wounds while I’m sleepwalking in reverse, but wouldn’t you know it, I’ve forgotten where I parked the car. Luckily, it’s never too late to pick limequats when you’re scavenging a Meyer-lemon ghost farm. Those thieves don’t give a damn about what you steal, just as long as it’s red or blue.
Brad Rose was born and raised in Los Angeles, and lives in Boston. He is the author three full-length collections of poetry and flash fiction, Pink X-Ray (Big Table Publishing, 2015), de/tonations (Nixes Mate Press, 2020), and Momentary Turbulence (Cervena Barva Press, 2020). WordinEdgeWise from Cervena Barva Press is forthcoming in 2021. Brad’s website is: www.bradrosepoetry.com Selected readings can be heard at http://bradrosepoetry.com/audio-readings/ A list of publications is available at: http://bradrosepoetry.com/2019/03/a-list-of-publications/
Flash Boulevard is edited by Francine Witte. Banner photograph Wes Candela.