Alone in the Big City; Monday Flash Fics for March 19, 2018 by Jeff Baker


The Flight Into Egypt                                                                                                                                         By Jeff Baker


            I was on the street from the time I was sixteen until the time I was nineteen. I was probably lucky; I didn’t get abused or killed or turned in to the youth authorities. But I slept on the street, I ate out of garbage cans, stole food when I could and tried to steer clear of the cops.

            My Dad had disappeared when I was twelve. My Mom left four years later. I came home from school and she just wasn’t there. I didn’t want to wind up in a boy’s home or something, so I cut out, and somehow got a ride to the big city. The first day wasn’t bad. I hung out at the mall, ate in a sandwich place and looked at the guys. But the place closed and security ran me out and I was out on the street. I’d spent all my money on dinner. I spent the next few hours wandering around the city and going into convenience stores to use the toilet. I wasn’t sure what time it was but it was still dark. I thought I heard somebody walking behind me. I tried not to look, but I turned a corner in an area of old, brick buildings and walked faster. I glanced behind me; I didn’t see anybody but I ducked into an alleyway between two buildings and hid in the shadows.

            The air was stuffy. I could hear my heart beating. I couldn’t hear the footsteps. I looked around; the walls were brick and the darkness somehow seemed syrupy; the bricks weren’t just in shadow, they were dark and shiny like tar. And they were moving. Not dripping or oozing but pulsing. In a rhythm. I looked closer. The dark part of the wall was damp. It had been dry for the last few weeks, all over the state. I reached out to touch the black wall and then pulled my hand away. I looked ahead; pitch dark. I looked back the way I came; the blackness was closing in over the passage, like a curtain being drawn. Or like a throat constricting.

            I could see part of the lit street. I ran and dove for the light. Somehow I found myself on the sidewalk. I heard a slurping sound behind me. I glanced back; the opening to the alleyway was black and pulsing. I ran. If there had been a car coming it would have run me down. I don’t remember a lot else about that night, other than my new certainty that parts of some cities are alive.  I showed up at a shelter the next day and lied about my age, probably a lot easier to get away with thirty-five years ago. Stayed there for a few months, runny oatmeal for breakfast, sleeping on a mat, in my clothes, wallet-under-rolled-up-jacket as a pillow, being shooed out after breakfast, being let back in in the evening. That next spring I’d had enough. I’d gotten some money so I bailed from the city. I didn’t head back home, I headed west. I worked. I stayed out of trouble. I lived someplace other than the streets.

            And I was careful in the big cities. I knew the shadows hid more than punks with knives.




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Christmas in…March???!! Friday Flash Fics by Jeff Baker for March 16, 2018.

28951386_354126738418237_836919504846979072_n                                                                        Green Not Alone in Summertime 

By Jeff Baker



“I think it’s early,” Silvio said. “Way too early is why.”

“Of course it’s early,” Mitchell said. “But I didn’t want to wait until July or August this year.

“March is way too early to take Christmas card pictures,” Silvio said.

“Says the man who ordered his nephew’s Christmas present last week,” Mitchell said.

“This way we have it out of the way early,” Silvio said. “Besides, I found it in the storeroom this morning. I had to move it out of the way, so no sense letting it go to waste.”

“Hey, you’re not thinking of wearing those shorts are you?” Mitchell asked.

“You mean that underwear with Santa on it?” Silvio said. “Sure. If I lose a bunch of pounds and go to the gym ‘till I look like some buff gym bunny.”

They both laughed.

“Jeans and sweaters?” Silvio asked? “Not Christmas sweaters.”

“Deal.” Mitchell said. “Just make sure the sweaters don’t clash with the tree.”

“Now that sounds gay,” Silvio said. “Besides, the ornaments don’t come off this tree. It came that way, remember?”

“Oh, yeah,” Mitchell said. “I’m almost tempted to do something like in that book you got me last year. You know, where the guy was on his own and got a different ornament for his tree every year, to sort of symbolize the year.”

“We’d have to get another tree,” Silvio said. “And this apartment really doesn’t have room. We barely fit the couch in, remember?”

“Yeah,” Mitchell said. “And after we got it in here we collapsed on it, remember?”

“Mmmm-Hmmmm.” Silvio said, kissing him. They moved to the couch for a few minutes.

“Hey, I have an idea,” Silvio said. “Let’s pose in the buff, covered by the tree!” They laughed again.

“And we only send that card to us. Maybe get a couple of boxes with Santa or the wise men to send to everybody else.” Mitchell said.

“Deal.” Silvio said. “I feel like some egg nog now.”

“No rush, they won’t start selling it for about eight more months.”




Author’s Note: The title is from “Oh Christmas Tree.”

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“The Men Upstairs,” by Jeff Baker for ‘Nathan Burgoine’s Flash Fiction Draw Challenge. (March 12, 2018)

Note: The results of this month’s draw (from Hawaii, how cool is that? 🙂 ) were a romance, involving a VHS cassette, set in a fire watch tower. 

                                                        The Men Upstairs

                                                              By Jeff Baker


            He could see for miles, but that was the idea of building the observation tower at the top of the hill. Accessible now through a stone staircase in its base, it reminded Bailey of a cabin he’d vacationed in once. But that had been with his family when he was about six. Now, he was twenty-five and had a bottle of wine and maybe a boyfriend. He’d left a note at the motel for Preston to meet him here at sunset. The tower hadn’t been used for watching for fires in years, now it was part of the historic park service. Bailey set the bottle and the bag down; glad the place had an electrical outlet.

            Bailey heard someone behind him and turned to see Preston bounding up the steps.

            “Didn’t think I’d make it,” Preston said. Almost got lost on the path back there.”

            “Come on in and sit down,” Bailey said. “We got some snacks, and this.” He held up the wine and a couple of plastic glasses. They sat down in the wicker chairs, side by side as Bailey poured the wine and set the glasses on the small table. “Annnnd, we’ve got this.”

            Bailey got up and put the old VHS tape in the machine and the T.V. set whirred to life. He sat down and they picked up their wine glasses, tapping them together.

            “Which one’s this?” Preston asked, looking at the T.V.

            “You’ll see,” Bailey said, sipping his wine and smiling. “They didn’t have the opening credits on this one.”

            After a few moments, Preston recognized the show. “Oh, yeah, ‘The Man Upstairs.’ Syndicated, 1974-76. 32 episodes. Jake Krolac inherits a house and a restaurant and the tenant in the house’s upstairs, back room apartment turns out to be a 387-year-old alien who’s writing a book. Basically a rip-off of ‘My Favorite Martian.’ Yeah, they used to show the reruns in the afternoons when I was in junior high.”

            “Mmm-hmm.” Bailey said. He and Preston were both walking T.V. trivia encyclopedias.

            “And this is the pilot, I’m guessing. Yup!” Preston said. “Pilot.”

            “Keep watching,” Bailey said, pouring them some more wine. After a few more minutes, they were watching Jake Krolac wander into the restaurant he’d inherited and pull out his I.D. because nobody believed him.

            “I don’t remember this scene coming in this early,” Preston said.

            “It didn’t. This is the first pilot. The one they never aired.” Bailey said.

            “Yeah? I didn’t know they made another…” Preston’s voice trailed off. On the screen, Jake Krolac was in the kitchen talking to the kid washing dishes. Tall with grubby brown hair. “Wait a sec. Is that? That’s not…oh, my God!”

            “Jonathan Yowmosky, credited as John Yates,” Bailey said. “They re-cast him when they did the second pilot.”

            “My God! That’s my Mom’s uncle!” Preston said. “I mean, my Mom’s brother! My uncle! He died before I was born! He was an actor for a while, but I never knew…where did you find this?”

            “I looked around,” Bailey said with a grin. “Wasn’t easy! The video isn’t even online. Found it from a dealer. Dealer. That sounds so Mod Squad.”

            The two of them laughed. They held hands as they watched the video.

            “I watched it through once,” Bailey said. “I don’t think your Uncle has any more lines, but I think we see him in the background towards the end.”

            “Awwwww! You sweet, wonderful sentimental man,” Preston said.

            Bailey tried not to grin as they kissed.





Posted in Fiction, LGBT, Monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

No Dragons and Not From Mars. Monday Flash Fics for March 12, 2018 by Jeff Baker.

055                                            Jonny Hero and the Dragon-Men From Mars                                        

                                                                       By Jeff Baker    


            Miss Tomoko stood by the big pole and glanced up at the menacing insect sculpted out of metal on the top. When the wind blows, the insect’s wings fluttered.

            “How many of you ever watched Jonny Hero on T.V.?” she asked her class.

            In answer, most of her grade schoolers gathered in the hillside raised their hands and said “Me,” or jumped up and down.

            “How many of you know that it started as a true story?” she asked.

            Not as many hands went up.

            “The real Jonny Hero was about nine when the dragonfly men from space showed up. They wanted to take over the world, starting with Japan. Some people called them Dragon Men, but they were like dragonflies, not dragons. But good space people showed up too, and they gave Jonny Hero a suit of space armor. And in it, he could fly and pick up cars and do all kinds of things. And right near here, he fought the dragonfly men with his space armor.”

            One of the kids raised a hand. “Did he have to ask his Mom and Dad?”

            “He may have,” Miss Tomoko said. “But he defeated the dragonfly men, who never came back. And he saved Japan, and the world.”

            The class let out a cheer. Miss Tomoko smiled.

            “And then they made the big movie and the T.V. show,” she said. “And they put this up, right here to remind everybody.”

            “Ooooooooooo!” the kids breathed in unison.

            Miss Tomoko smiled again. Hiro Kakunaka had been these kids age when he’d used the space armor. A grade-schooler was the same size as the aliens, the “Space Council” in the movie, who gave it to him. But then he grew too big to wear it, so the aliens had taken it back. They had probably known. And all Jonny Hero’s adventures after the first one with the dragonfly had been made up for the T.V. show. Kakunaka ran his own computer firm in Tokyo and he didn’t give interviews about what had happened nearly fifty years ago. And reruns of the T.V. show had never been off the air.

            Miss Tomoko glanced up at the dragonfly on the pole, tried to imagine what it had been like when hundreds of them had filled the sky. She reminded the kids it was almost lunch time. They cheered and started down the hill. She smiled. The kids were singing part of the closing theme to the Jonny Hero T.V show. The American version she showed them to help them learn English.

            “If you’re brave and if you’re true

            You can be Jonny Hero too…”




                        —–for the staff, nurses and physicians at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, circa 1969, where I watched Giant Robot and Ultraman.



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A Stop at the Neighborhood Café for Friday Flash Fics, March 9, 2018, by Jeff Baker


                                    Don’t Forget to Tip Your Waitstaff

                                                     By Jeff Bake

           “Over there,” T.J. said. “Tank top. Backpack. Shoulders.”

            “Mmmm! I see!” Ronny mused quietly with a grin, glad they were back to their old game of checking out cute guys, even though they only had eyes for each other. And that they were at their usual table at the café.

In the weeks since the café had re-opened, they had become semi-regulars again. They were amazed the place was still there after about seven months of largely no power and sporadic plumbing in town. It was a return to something like normal, T.J. had said the first time he’d left a tip. Amazed again that the bank had opened again and grateful they had a generator at the house the last few months, they made it a point to go to the café a couple of times a week, even though the coffee was nothing to write home about. It was just the atmosphere. It was reassuring. They had actually heard a radio broadcast the other day; the country was recovering and there were a lot of small cities and towns like this that had been self-sufficient. But the big cities were gone.

Like someone had predicted, there had been no winners.

T.J. grinned and sipped his coffee. “So, if I wasn’t around, would you ask him out?”

“Too young!” Ronny said. “Besides, I’d be holding out for perfection. You!”

“Awwww!” T.J. said with a smile.

Over at the table by the window, the man in the tank top ordered a cup of coffee and opened up his backpack. Out popped the cutest furry face Ronny and T.J. had seen. It sniffed the air and let out a happy “yip!” The man grinned again and pulled something out of his pocket and held it up to the dog, who sniffed it and gobbled it up. The dog then happily licked the man’s face.

“Hi,” T.J. said. “I’m T.J., this is Ronny. Excuse us for staring, but we haven’t seen a dog in a while.”

“I’m Marc,” the man said. “This little thing is Greta.” As he said that, the dog started licking his ear and he laughed. “Sometimes they save some scraps for her from the kitchen. She likes those, don’t you girl?” Greta seemed to understand and gave out with another bark.

“We had a dog like that when I was a kid,” Ronny said. “Seems like a long time ago.”

“Yeah, how long has it been since either of us have seen a dog?” T.J. said, sipping his coffee. “People used to walk their dogs in the park all the time. I haven’t seen that since before the war.”

“Lot of things changed,” Ronny said.

“Yeah, Marc said. “I was going to College in Wichita…”

“Yow!” T.J. said.

“I know,” Marc said. “I mean, we were out of town when it all…went down, you know? So, we hit the road, me and Greta. Been here for a few weeks.”

“We’ve lived here about three years,” Ronnie said. “Been doing odd jobs, what have you for the last few months. Trying to keep it as normal as we can.”

“Yeah,” T.J. said. “I’m just glad I have him.”

“Greta’s been my only real family for a while,” Marc said, feeding her a scrap from the small plate the waitress had brought over. “We’re going to be heading out as soon as it gets warmer. See what’s out there.”

“Well, hey, good luck to you both,” T.J. said.

“Thanks, you too.” Marc said, wiping Greta’s face with a napkin.

“See you around,” Ronny said.

Ronny and T.J. finished their coffee and walked home in the afternoon sun. Ronnie reached over and grabbed T.J.’s hand and he smiled. Their minds were on the dog and how nice it had been to see something so normal for a change.




Posted in Fiction, Friday Flash Fics, LGBT, Science Fiction, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A Bedtime Story for Monday Flash Fics, March 5, 2018, by Jeff Baker

28276961_10156074625254787_8095816509987927572_n                                                                                     Avario

By Jeff Baker


“Story! Story!” Kiaro said. She was four and it was past her bedtime, even though she was in bed she seemed wide awake.

“All right,” said Oramo, her mother. “Long ago there was a little boy…”

“Little girl! Little girl!” Kiaro said.

“All right, a little  girl,” Oramo said. “And she and her family lived on an island in the middle of the sea. Her name was Avario,” Oramo said.

“Ooooooo!” Kiaro said. Oramo went on.

One day she was sitting by the sea and she heard the voice of the Ocean. It told her that she would know she was grown when she found the third iguana. Now there were lizards all over the island, eating flies and beetles, but the only iguanas she had ever seen lived near the ocean, on the rocky shore. She went looking and found only two.

So she would look every morning before she went to school and still only counted the two iguanas. And after school she would look for the third iguana and only find the one. And she would sit on the big rock and stare out at the sea. And the voice of the sea would sing to her saying that when one learned the ways of the land, what is hidden would be revealed. And yet every day she saw only the two iguanas.

And then one day, after a good deal of time had passed, Avario realized; the rock she was sitting on was the third iguana. It crawled back to its spot on the beach every morning, sat there all day and went hunting for the large night-dwelling bugs that hid during the day.

“And when Avario realized this,” Oramo said softly, “she understood how much time had passed and that she was now grown.”

Kiaro was silently asleep. Oramo pulled the cover over her shoulders and kissed her daughter silently on the forehead. She crept out of the room and shut the door.

In the bed, little Kiaro curled up in her sleep, dreaming that she was an iguana.







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Table Talk for Friday Flash Fics by Jeff Baker (for March 2, 2018)

28377882_347743419056569_838276115672793006_n                                                                                      Let’s Do Lunch

                                            by Jeff Baker

                       “You’ve got to love the ambience,” Alec said.

            “Yeah, fine dining furnished in early Leavenworth,” Bud said. “What was this, a fallout shelter?”

            “Nope. It was part of some kind of aquarium at one time,” Alec said. “I’ve seen pictures. This room had a tank and some large fish, maybe salmon.”

            “Then we should have ordered fish,” Bud said grinning. “Seriously, look at this place. Glass walls, underground surrounded by concrete walls. It has prison fish tank written all over it. I keep expecting to see an angelfish swim by.”

            “You’d think with all that I could get a glass of water before lunch.” Alec said. “Hey, how long have we been doing this, anyway?”

            “Waiting on lunch, about ten minutes,” Bud said. “This isn’t fast food.”

            “No, I mean, the lunch thing? You and me?” Alec mused. “I figure, let’s see, since 1978, about fifty three years now.”

            “Whose turn is it to pay?” Bud said grinning.

            “Not sure. I don’t think we ever kept track.” Alec said.

            “Remember when we set this up as a date?” Bud said.

            “About six years ago,” Alec said. “We were both, well, widowed and we wanted to make lunch something more.”

            “Yeah, the last time we felt that awkward to each other was when we were about twenty,” Bud said.

            “It took us about an hour over crepes and champagne for us to start laughing!” Alec said.

            “Next month we were back to doing lunch,” Bud said.

            “Yeah, at a hot dog place!” Alec said.

            They both laughed. A few minutes later the waiter brought their water and apologized for being late. When he left, Bud and Alec toasted each other with their glasses of water.

            “To seventy.” Bud said.

            “To seventy plus, I think,” Alec said.

            “I haven’t been counting that close,” Bud said. “So, here’s to old friends.”

            They were smiling as they drank their water.



Posted in Fiction, Friday Flash Fics, LGBT, Uncategorized | 2 Comments