Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Flash flood

New sentence, same faded yellow bullshit.

I heard footsteps on the wet sidewalk and the sound of keys. Bare feet, a strange sound in this rain, for the summer of frolicking children was long dead. A grave tread, an off-kilter staccato riff of submissive plinks & thumps sad & autumnal as the date splashed on the screen of my cell, evaporates as soon as I turn around, the umbrella's ribs twirling drops into nothingness.

Today's special, pig in a poke, what I had for breakfast every Tuesday, what I had not ten minutes ago. I had gone around the block, passing the diner I had just left. Footfalls & jingling bearings, Mr. Jingaling in color & in black & white so good to see you, Gozer the Gozerian's keymaster wearing out its VHS stay, doors unlocked, snapshot snapshot, there's too many. Slow down! Let them linger a bit, please.

Footsteps on the wet sidewalk & the sound of keys, here & gone, there & back again. Not a ghost, because those you can see in their filmy, flimsy special effected glory. Hallelujah, maybe it was the food. I felt fine. My stomach was peaceful. Jingling keys all sound the same, there's either few or many. Yes, I know. Yet I've heard it before. Das Unheimliche. Many times, these few keys. I know them, a broken mechanical, a familiar out-of-tune tune on repeat, precision like big number karat Swiss clockwork. The diner's on the other side of the street. How I hated that jingling & how she knew it, reveling.

Yes, I know, I know. Why do I keep turning if I'm seeing nothing? I don't know.

I want to. So I keep turning.

Tectonic plates shift, attempting to catch my attention, a delivery truck vibrates blacktop to radiate crack, a cell set to rumble, the office wondering where the hell I'm at. I'll answer, but they won't hear.

Yes, a cup would be nice, the usual, why, work is fine, thanks. I wait, snapshot snapshot, more than I can handle. No matter, now I have time to slip past bars, to gaze & ogle & get lost running & falling in rolling, benumbed neurons. Free refills, Polaroid & digital, invisible carvings spread over greasy Formica, deep in fleshy, pulpy bark. I pass tick tock knowing I won't see my grimace mirrored by a grin. I bet she'd be surprised at my smile this time.

No, nothing else, thanks.


Susan Tiner said...

Brings back memories of being a Friendly Ice Cream waitress, opening the shop at the crack of dawn, serving "the usual" to the sad regulars, mostly men.

Beach Bum said...

Reminded me of that painting "Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper. Somebody or some organization had a writing contest once centered around that painting. Would love to find out how some the stories went.

Great work on this one Randal.

Tengrain said...

Graves, you swine!

Change bare feet to cloven hooves. We are on to you.



chad rohrbacher said...

Fantastic -- I liked this one a great deal! What a moment

Randal Graves said...

susan, there's a mom n' pop donut place I pass every day on the bus and it's the same gig, lonely old guys nursing a cup of coffee and a glazed treat.

BB, that's not a bad idea for a future flash fiction, you listening, fearless leader?

tengrain, I hope you're merely saying that I'm a merry mischief maker and not the devil incarnate. Don't make me napalm your state.

Randal Graves said...

chad, thanks!

Doc said...

Randal, you are not the devil incarnate. Part-time demon out on a lark maybe, but not the devil incarnate. Please give me the phone number of your boss as several of my departed relatives have taken up residense in his underground spa and I would like to contact them so that I know where I might find some of my tools they barrowed.

Huzzah Randal!


David Barber said...

Yes, nice job Randal. I'm getting better, I'm understanding more of your writings now. ;-)

Flannery Alden said...

Yes, I'm beginning to understand, too! Well done, especially the urge to turn around when nothing is there; that happens to me a lot.

Tom Harper said...

Hey, that's a picture of my great-grandparents, taken in 1903. How'd that get on the Intertubes?

Liberality said...

I tick past tock this post!

La Belette Rouge said...

So many bright colours of detail in this sepia toned prose. You are crazy talented, my friend.

Coraline J. Thompson said...

I think you need a day off of work as much as I do!

Gaye Bear said...

Had to read your story twice, the second time very slowly. Lots of beautiful poetry like "for the summer of frolicking children was long dead" and "the umbrella's ribs twirling drops into nothingness".

S.W. Anderson said...

OK, who laced the pig in a poke with LSD?

Seriously (if I may be forgiven), I like this story.

S.W. Anderson said...

Randal, who's in the photo and where did you get it?

MRMacrum said...

I envisioned driving down Greenmount Ave into the heart of Baltimore when I read this. But I guess the guts of any city pretty much looks and feels like the guts of all cities. Yeah, even Cleveland.

Randal Graves said...

doc, alright, but given that they're no doubt immersed in the wild abandon of sex, drugs and rock and roll, it might take awhile.

david, maybe you should drink more. ;-)

flannery, nothing? Surely something; a vast army of pixies who think you've stolen their stix.

tom, bah, that's a picture of you, dude.

liberality, it put you to sleep? Horrors!

LBR, thanks, but that's why the Novel From Hell is kept under wraps. You might start chucking Californian politicians in your disillusionment.

coraline, hold your tongue! I live for work.

GB, hmm, I think that second line could be reworked. One is never happy with their stuff, except maybe Tom Clancy as he looks at his monthly bank statement.

SWA, our diners know how to party. As for the photo, no idea, just used The Google to find a couple from around the 1920s, and stumbled across this.

mrmacrum, bah, our guts are far rustier, sir.

Paul D. Brazill said...

very strong piece of flash. Good stuff.

Liberality said...

I pass tick tock knowing I won't see my grimace mirrored by a grin.

Sue H said...

..erm, interesting, Randal!

If I stop to try to understand all your nuances I get lost in the frenzy of words... maybe I need another drink to get you in focus...!

PipeTobacco said...

I really liked the pace of this piece! It had an almost poetic or song-like quality to it as I read... had me imagining a sort of coffee-house with a folk singer vibe. Very nice.