Monday Flash Fics, Sept. 18, 2016; “Goodnight, Sweetheart.”

(Note: This story is a sequel to my story “Atmosphere,” posted August 29, 2016 on “Monday Flash Fics” Facebook page.)

                                        Goodnight Sweetheart

                                                By Jeff Baker

 

            “How’s the coffee?” Bryan asked.

            “Good,” Nico said with a smile

            “How’s your head?”

            “Lots better,” Nico said, taking a sip of the coffee. “Most of it’s coming back. I remember that interview I had before with all those forms to sign.”

            “Yeah,” Bryan said with a laugh. “I’ve done this three times now. It’s a pain but it’s worth it when you get a month’s pay for a weekend’s work.”

            Nico thought back on the weekend. Being programmed to fall for each other, compelled to kiss and snuggle there on the grounds, lending “atmosphere” for the customer’s romantic weekend at the resort. Nico had forgotten signing up and all he could think about for two and a half days was Bryan and how nice he looked in shorts and a tank top. After the de-programming with his full memory coming back he wondered if his feelings for Bryan were going to fade.

            “Remember they told us at the interview that even if we didn’t go through deprogramming we’d have our full memories back in about two days,” Bryan said.

            “Us,” Nico said. “Did we meet at that interview?”

            “Yeah, we did.” Bryan said. “We weren’t supposed to remember the interview during our weekend but somehow I did this time.”

            With a start, Nico remembered the explanation that they wouldn’t be able to think about anything except the mutual attraction that would be programmed into their minds. He remembered meeting Bryan, and hearing Bryan say that he’d be glad to make out with Nico happily, even without the programming. Nico had smiled and thought he felt the same way.

            When they were done with coffee they called a cab. They had been advised not to drive or operate heavy machinery for at least another day. With what they’d earned that weekend they could certainly afford a cab. Besides, they wanted to share the ride.

            “One of us can wake the other up when he falls asleep,” Nico said as they got in the cab. They laughed. They were both exhausted.

            “1511 North 11th street,” Nico told the driver. “The Parkside Apartments.”

            Bryan stared at him.

            “I live there,” Bryan said. “Building A.”

            “I’m in C,” Nico said. “C-39.”

            When the cab dropped Nico off in front of his building he leaned back to Bryan.

            “I guess I’ll see you later,” Nico said.

            They kissed, certain this time that it was real.

 

                                    —end—

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Something Psychoactive for Monday Flash Fics

                              The Bison Tenniel Minute

                                          By Jeff Baker

 

            “It’s vandalism, plain and simple,” Tenniel said. “That’s why I hired you.”

            Phillips and Ervin stared at the metal sign somebody had wired to the fence. It read simply: Do Not Give The Bison Psychoactive Substances.

            “Clearly your organization didn’t put this sign up,” Ervin began.

            “We didn’t,” Tenniel said flatly.

            “I thought so,” Ervin said. “Therefore, somebody is attempting to just embarrass you at least, or maybe more.”

            “You don’t engage in sending animals on acid trips and the like, do you?” Phillips asked.

            “Certainly not! We’re a breeding facility,” Tenniel said.

            “Is there anybody you believe would want to besmirch your reputation?” Phillips said as he bent his six-foot-three frame over and inspected the sign closely.

            “Yes,” Tenniel said. “The people in the shopping center across the street. Clarke and smith with their flower shop and Williams with his damned stationary store! They’re always complaining about the smell.”

            “Have they ever taken any action against you?” Ervin asked. “Legal or otherwise?”

            “No but they’ve threatened to,” Tenniel said. “And with this, this thing here, the publicity will give them the impetus to call the authorities and have me investigated. The bad publicity could ruin me!”

            Phillips stared across the fence at the small herd of young bison contentedly grazing away. There were no other signs on the property at all, other than the one out front proclaiming Tenniel and Co., Animal Breeders. He and Ervin walked together to the corner of the fence, talking quietly. Then they walked back to where Tenniel was standing.

            “My associate and I,” Phillips said, indicating Ervin, “agree that there is no such thing as bad publicity, wouldn’t you agree?”

            Tenniel nodded. Phillips went on.

            “And most people would just call those animals a herd of buffalo, not making the distinction between buffalo and American Bison.”

            “And your friends across the road certainly qualify as most people,” Ervin said. “You however, are an expert on the subject of bison and buffaloes.”

            “It seems to us,” Phillips said, “that only you would have put the sign up on your own fence.”

            Tenniel stared and nodded.

            “Are you going to report me?” Tenniel asked.

            “To whom?” Ervin said. “We’re not the ASPCA.”

            “Or the Ad Council,” Phillips said. “Our recommendation is if you really want the publicity, you should get yourself a bigger sign.”

 

                                                —end—

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“Serenade on the Beach”

(Written for the Monday Flash Fics Facebook Page)

                                      Serenade on the Beach

                                          By Jeff Baker

 

            Being a calendar model is so glamorous.

            Right then, I was sitting on a beach getting sand up my butt, listening to Eddie play the guitar. He didn’t have to actually play, he just had to sit there and fake it, but since he could play he did. Unfortunately, the only song he knew was the theme to “Gilligan’s Island.”

            Meanwhile Gary, the director, was telling us how to sit, how to smile, not to smile, how to flex, and to act like it was summer.

            It was March. Even in California it was chilly. People who don’t think it ever gets chilly on a California beach have never sat naked on one. At least Eddie had a guitar covering his front. I’d never done a nude shoot before.

            “Yeah, that’s it,” Eddie said, between choruses stranding the Millionaire and the rest on the island. “They hire us to be in the buff and they make us cover our junk.”

            “Hey, Leonard,” the director said. My name was Leo but I smiled and looked up.

            “Yes?” I said as pleasantly as possible.

            “Elevate the left leg a little,” he said. “Need to cover up your junk.”

            “See?” Eddie said smugly as I moved my leg. He went back to his playing. We needed to be modeling headphones or earplugs.

            I sighed to myself. If this was a romance novel Eddie and I would fall for each other and run off in the middle of the shoot. But I couldn’t stand the guy.

            “Okay, here we go,” the photographer said. I heard the camera clicking, a little surprised that digital cameras still clicked.

            There was a sudden wet roar. Eddie yelled. A cold wave from the ocean suddenly slapped into us. When it rolled back, Eddie and I were both sprawled on our fronts.

            “Great! Change in plans! A ‘From Here To Eternity’ themed shoot!” the Director yelled. I didn’t know if he was serious, but at least Eddie’s guitar was gone.

            Oh, well! It’s a living!

 

                                    —end—

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Monday Flash Fic for August 29, 2016: “Atmosphere.”

                                             Atmosphere

                                              By Jeff Baker

 

            The evening was cool and starry, the grass soft and the blanket spread on the ground was warm as Bryan kissed Nico under the lighted canopy.

            “I could do this forever,” Nico said, in-between kisses and breaths.

            “Yeah,” Bryan said. “Me, too.”  But after a few minutes the two of them lay down on their backs, listened to the crickets and watched some of the other couples walking around the gardens,  some holding hands, some kissing, many of them passing couples kissing or making out on blankets on the ground. Some of the couples were male, some female some mixed.

            “You know, I don’t even remember how this weekend started,” Nico said. “I don’t even know how I could afford to come to a place like this.”

            “I remember,” Bryan said. “The acclimation thing didn’t work on me all the way. Sometimes it doesn’t.”

            Nico sat up on his elbows.

            “Wait, what ‘acclimation thing?’”

            “Programming,” Bryan said. “They hooked you up to an, an encephalic mind thingie. Programmed you,” he said flatly. “Me too.”

            “Programmed?” Nico asked. Bryan nodded.

            “We’re supposed to believe that this is really us, that this is how we really feel. It’s the programming. We were programmed to fall in love and get romantic and physical and, and, oh, God you have nice legs!”

            Bryan started rubbing Nico’s leg, and playfully stuck a thumb under Nico’s shorts.

            “Programming,” Nico said as he rubbed Bryan’s chest. “Like robots? Oh, God, we’re not robots are we?”

            Nico had a flash of an old black-and-white TV show where a character had discovered they weren’t human.

            “No,” Bryan said, in between kisses. “We’re not robots.” After a few more minutes of kissing, Nico pulled away and stared up at the sky.

            “But who did this to us?” Nico asked. “Who messed with our minds and our emotions and played with us like we’re, we’re…”

            Bryan laughed.

            “You did!” Bryan said. “We both signed up for this. We were hired.”

            “Hired?” Nico asked.

            “Yeah,” Bryan said, nuzzling Nico’s neck. “People pay a lot to come to this romantic resort. We’re hired to add atmosphere. They pay us pretty well. But we always stop just short of, well, doing what the customers do when they get back to their rooms.”

            Nico stopped. He didn’t really remember anything about yesterday evening after they’d spent the day making out.

            “You sure know a lot about this setup,” Nico said.

            “I’ve done this a couple of times before,” Bryan said.

            “Hey, what happens to us when this weekend’s over?”

            “Well, we get our credit receipt for our,” Bryan started to say.

            “No, no,” Nico said, rolling over on top of Bryan so he was staring down at his face. “I mean us. You and me. When this is all done? I mean, do we forget this or, or…”

            “No we remember,” Bryan said. “I’m not sure about our feelings.”

“So, do you want to go out for, you know, coffee when this is all over?” Nico said.

Bryan grinned and kissed him again. “It’s a date!”

             Over by the small Koi pond the couple in evening clothes pressed together.

            “You were right about this weekend,” she said. “Look at those guys on the blanket. Acting like teenagers.”

            “Maybe we should too,” he said as he smiled and gave her a long kiss that spoke of wondrous evenings and a vast expanse of starry, starry sky.

 

                                                         —end—

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Monday Flash Fiction for August 22, 2016 (“Deliveries In The Rear”)

                                     Deliveries in the Rear

                                              By Jeff Baker

 

            There was a line outside Deliveries in the Rear that night. The bar was always crowded on the weekends and Chris was leaning all over me smoking what I hoped wasn’t a joint. Jason was craning his neck looking to see if he knew the guy at the door. The three of us had driven out there that night our junior year of college.

            “Hey, Mickey, how much cash you got?” Jason asked me.

            “About twenty bucks, why?” I said.

            “Looks like they’re doing a cover charge. And I brought my I.D. but not my wallet.” Jason said. He was always forgetting his wallet.

            “Great,” I grumbled. This was 1982, and the only gay bar in the area.

            “I should have thought about bringing some beer to wait to get into a bar,” Chris said. “Hey, there’s a sign on the door.”

            “Lemmie check,” Jason said. He walked up to the front of the line for a moment. I felt like I was in the junior high lunchroom and they’d tell Jason to get to the back of the line.

            “Maybe it says ‘Closed for repairs,’” Chris said.

            “Cover charge is five bucks a head, it’s for some charity,” Jason said as he walked back. “Says something else; that slaves get in free with their masters.”

            “Kinky!” Chris said with a grin.

            I did some adding in my head. One of us was getting in free if we wanted to pay for a few drinks. By the time we reached the front of the line, we’d figured it out. Jason had said they were issuing “slaves” white tank tops. Jason had a shirt, Chris and I just had leather vests, but Jason didn’t have any cash. So, Jason, grinning, put on one of the tank tops with “Slave” written on it in magic marker. We sat down and I handed Jason a few bucks and told him to get us two beers apiece and that he was driving us home.

            “Yes, Sir!” Jason said heading over to the bar. I looked around in the typical dim bar light. I could make out several other guys in the white shirts, one giving his “master” a backrub.

Jason came back with the beers, bowing to us, playing the role to the hilt. A guy at the next table leaned over to us.

            “How much you think they’ll get for him?” the man said, indicating Jason.

            “Uh, he’s not for sale,” I said. Chris was snickering as he drank his beer.

            “They’re putting them up for auction later on for charity,” the man said, pointing to a sign by the stage. I stared at the sign; that was what it said.

            “Oh, I’m Steve,” he said.

            “Mickey,” I said, starting to laugh, imagining Jason being auctioned off to a bunch of little old ladies, none of which were going to be at the bar.

            About an hour later, Jason and the other “slaves” stood on the stage where the bands usually played as a drunken emcee in a top hat called out for bids, with all the money going to a local charity and all the “slaves” going home with their owners for the night, as the emcee said; “to do whatever you two want to.”

            When the bidding got to Jason I started laughing. He was mugging and flexing his pecs to the whistles of the crowd. There were a couple of bids and then Chris (who’d had a couple more beers) stood up and yelled “I bid five-thousand dollars!”

            Dead silence. Everybody stared at Chris.

            “Um, I don’t have five-thousand dollars,” Chris said. “I got twenty!”

            “Sold for five-thousand dollars,” the Emcee said.

            In the end, Steve offered thirty bucks and I put in some of my cash along with Chris’. Jason drove both of us home and Steve and I exchanged numbers.

            That was thirty-four years ago. Chris is gone now and I haven’t seen Jason in years. But Steve and I have been together thirty-two years now. It’s a heckuva way to meet, but hey! It worked for us!

 

                                                   —end—

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Monday Flash Fic.:Cutesy Bears and Intrigue.

Here’s the latest for the Monday Flash Fiction page for August 15, 2016.

                                         The Cutesy Bear Caper

                                                By Jeff Baker

 

            “Faster!” Donna said. “He’s getting away!”

            “I’m pushing as fast as I can!” Shawn said. “If his foot wasn’t stuck in that pumpkin he’d be gone by now!”

            How had they gotten into this mess?

            Shawn and Donna Reidel had been hired by the Eldrad’s chain of stores to supplant their usual security. Things had been disappearing and there was a funny feel to the thefts. If it was random shoplifters they had been successful dodging the security cameras. Most private detectives wouldn’t touch something like this, but the Reidels were eclectic. And broke.

            Dressing up as toy bears the store was promoting was definitely not the Reidel’s idea.

            “Little girls love them,” the store manager had said. “Right up until they discover boy bands.”

            Donna didn’t know whether to laugh or gag as they got into their costumes that matched the Cutesy Bear toys; pink for her, panda black-and-white for him. Ironically, the costumes made them inconspicuous unless some preschooler saw them and started pointing and shrilling that they wanted one.

            “We’ve probably cost parents a collective fortune,” Donna muttered to Shawn.

            “At least Nick and Nora Charles could drink,” Shawn muttered back.

            Donna kept a running count of how many toy bears had been sold; ten pink, eight panda on the second day. But around two in the afternoon, she grabbed Shawn’s arm and pointed.

            “Look! There should be only 32 bears in the display. I just counted 36!”

            “What?” Shawn said.

            “And that man was standing there; he must’ve put the bears in the display!”

            “Grab him!” Shawn said pointing.

            Donna had lunged for the man who had shoved a shopping cart in her way. Like the ex-gymnast she was she had vaulted over it and landed in it with a crash just as the man had stepped into a big plastic jack o’lantern (it was August, after all.)

            “I’m stuck!” Donna yelled.

            “I got him!” Shawn said pushing the cart at top speed after the man who was hobbling with a leg stuck in the pumpkin.

            “Never mind me, just get…whoa!” The cart Donna was in hit a speed bump and raced down the drive towards the lower level slamming into the pumpkin-encumbered man. He, Donna and the cart spilled into the ditch, a tumble of cart, broken plastic pumpkin and cutesy bears that fell from the man’s jacket. 

            “Hey!” Donna said. “I’m out of the cart!”

            The whole thing had been outlandish. The earlier thefts were done to see if they could conceal them from the security cameras. Then, carefully altered bears were placed in the display, to be picked up by special customers. Bears containing black market diamonds.

            Donna and Shawn weren’t paid in diamonds, just their regular fee. They were offered their own pair of Cutesy Bears, but they politely declined.

 

                                                       —end—

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Monday Flash Fiction for August 8, 2016: “Doctor Livingston, I Presume.”

(One note—I just glanced at the picture and saved it to my phone and wrote it on my lunch break. Somehow, I didn’t notice the buildings!)

                           Doctor Livingston, I Presume

                                           By Jeff Baker

 

            “I thought I’d find you here,” the first man said.

            “What? Oh, it’s you,” the second man said.

            “Who were you expecting?”

            “At least you didn’t ask me if I was Dr. Livingston,” said the second man. “That’s gotten old.”

            “Actually, it hasn’t been said yet,” said the first man. “Not for about another, let’s see, how many billion years?”

            “Millions of years,” said the second man. “It’d be on the display in your machine. You know, I’d almost forgotten we’d made the working prototype. Very cramped, but it apparently works if you’re back here.”

            “Tracking gizmo works pretty well,” said the first man. “It’s how I found you. “I figured you’d used the newer machine to cut out of there.”

            “All that fol-de-rol about paperwork and procedures. Of course I left!”

            “You came all the way back here to the Jurassic just to get away from the office!” The first man began to laugh.

            “Well, we’re not in the Jurassic,” the second man said. “We’re in the Cenozoic, I think. No big dinosaurs. And this view is worth it. The clouds, the hills, the lake.” He looked up and grinned. “It does get wet, though.”

            “I noticed your umbrella,” the first man said.

            “It poured a few hours ago. Look over there! A bird!”

            “What kind of bird?”

            “Not sure,” said the second man. “But I think it had feathers. Maybe the first one.”

            “We have to get back you know,” the first man said, staring out across the lake. “But not just yet.” He sat down.  “I brought coffee.”

            “Good,” said the second man. “I thought about it, but I was in a hurry. Pass the thermos, will you?”

            “Sure. Oh, look at those birds!”

 

                                                —end—

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