The Middle of Nowhere? Friday Flash Fics for Sept. 21, 2018 by Jeff Baker.

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Little House on the Prairie 

                                                        By Jeff Baker

            “There it is!” Pete said. “Stop the car!”

            There weren’t any other buildings on that side of Main Street so they weren’t likely to miss it. Two story, brick with tall windows and ornate carving toward the top. Looking like a visitor from the 1890s plopped down on this near-empty street, even more like an ancient tower overlooking an ancient battlefield.

            “I worked there,” Pete said. “That was my first job when I was a kid!”

            At the Auto Parts place?”  Diego asked, looking at the sign painted on the wall of the ground floor.

            “Naaaah,” Pete said. “That wasn’t there then. I worked out of the old grocery store on the first floor. Sweeping floors, stocking shelves, running errands on my bike…”

            “For Mr. Gower?” Diego said with a grin.

            “Naaah,” Pete said with a laugh. “For Old Man Lebsack. You know he was probably my age when I worked there back in ’75, ’76, when I was about 15.”

            “When both of us were about 15,” Diego said. He looked around. Typical near-dead small town baking in the Kansas September heat. Grocery store down the street, convenience store/gas station just off the highway at the edge of town, and a cluster of largely boarded-up buildings on the main drag. Diego sighed again. A lot different then back in New York City.

            “Hey,” Pete said pointing behind the building. “You can see my cousin’s house from here.”

 Diego stared at the houses amid the rows of trees, looking so much like suburbia he expected to see T.V. opening credits.

“You sure your cousin’s going to like me?” Diego asked. He had started getting worried on the plane and continued worrying in the car they’d rented.

“I’m sure,” Pete said. “You talked to her on the phone, remember? She and her husband want to meet my husband. Her kids get to meet Uncle Diego. Besides, they’re my only living relatives.” He kissed Diego. “Other than you!”

Diego kissed him back. They spent a moment smiling and looking into each other’s eyes.

“We’d better head over there,” Pete said.

“Yom Kippur in Trent, Kansas,” Diego said grinning. “You know what my Granddad said when I told him where we were going? He said he didn’t know there were any Jews in Kansas.” They both laughed.

“Tell you what,” Pete said. “We’ll spend Hanukkah with your family. Deal?”

“Deal,” Diego said.

“You know, wherever we are is family,” Pete said. They kissed again, and then they started the car.

 

                                    —end—

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Alias Skip Hanford

Just got word that my first erotic story (under the name Skip Hanford) to the anthology “Rule 34, Vol. 2.” I’ll keep you posted.

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Stuck on you for Friday Flash Fics, September 14, 2018 by Jeff Baker

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                                                        It Takes a Licking  

                                                               By Jeff Baker

                                   

            “Okay, it’s ringing.”

            “Yegggh. Whmmm he answrrr, lmmmme tkaaahum!”

            “Hello? Zav! Yeah! It’s me, Barry! Look, uh, I think we may have gotten those instructions messed up. You know the love potion?”

            “Lmmmmme tkaaahummmm!”

            “Well, yeah, it said ‘To Make You Yummy To Him’ on the label. Yeah, I poured some in his coffee and I drank the rest…oh, really? I was the only one who was supposed to drink it? Just a couple of drops in my own coffee?”

            “Stouffa muggafoocha!”

            “Huh? No, Nick didn’t say someone mugged his poodle. Listen, those instructions kind of got scrunched-up in the mail. I’m just glad the bottle was plastic. Look, I…okay. Side effects? If two people both drink too much of the potion and have contact? Stuck to each other? You mean if someone was to lick the other one, his tongue would be stuck to, the other’s face or something?” 

            “Murrrg! Flurrrb! Mooooooofffff!”

            “Yeah. Yeah. That’s what happened. Yes. No, just his tongue. To the side of my face. Stop laughing for a minute. Okay, I’ll wait. Okay. What? I’ll ask. Nick, Zavid wants to know what I tasted like.”

            “MMMMMMMMPH! Glurrrg!”

            “Calm down! Calm down! Look, he asked! Maybe it’ll help.”

            “Puppamunk”

            “Heffalump?”

            “Puppa. Munk.”

            “Oh! Oh! Peppermint! He says peppermint.”

            “Mmmmmph.”

            “Okay. You didn’t need to know that, you were just curious. Look, we paid a hundred bucks for this stuff! We could report you to the Sorcerer’s…huh? No, just the tongue is stuck. What’s that? It’ll wear off? How long?”

            “Murrrgffffthh!”

            “Um, about six hours. Okay. He was going to be here all night anyway. Anything else?”

            “Rofunk! Rofunk!”

            “Nick wants to know about a refund…hello?”

 

                                    —end—

 

AUTHOR’s Note: My Hubby pointed out the similarity to this and a scene in “A Christmas Story.” Me, I think it sounds like a very bizarre Bob Newhart routine. —-jb

 

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“A Traffic In Dollars,” by Jeff Baker. September entry for the Monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge.

NOTE: This month’s Flash Fiction Draw results were a suspense story set at a border crossing involving a bag of money. This reminded me of the old radio show “Suspense,” which put me in mind of the old “Radio Mystery Theater” from the 70s and 80s. If you never heard it, it was a somewhat old-fashioned revival of radio drama that was nonetheless a big hit with the younger crowd (like me!) So, our mystery drama written especially for the Monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge is…

 

A Traffic In Dollars

By Jeff Baker

 

They’d been careful, oh so careful. Stuck to the speed limits, turned the truck headlights on a half-hour before dusk, and made certain to signal before changing lanes. Even though this section of old Highway 66 wasn’t the main highway anymore, they had reasons to be careful.

About a million reasons.

“About three hours to Springfield and we’ll be home free,” George said.

“If we stay free,” Betty said. “Just mind your driving. They decommissioned this highway a few years ago but that doesn’t mean they don’t still have police in some of these little towns.”

“Relax, Doll,” George said, doing his best Bogie. “We made it through Oklahoma City and Tulsa okay, didn’t we?”

“That’s only because I was driving,” Betty said. “Look, what’s that signpost up ahead?”

“Trucks use right lane,” George read. “Inspection and weigh station, State of Oklahoma. What’s that?”

“How long have you been driving a truck, anyway?” Betty asked.

“Since we got it at the Texas border,” George said. “Just keep your purse to one side. Maybe they won’t look in it.”

“It’s a weigh station, not customs,” she said. The purse, one of those old, leathery affairs that looked like a bag lay at her feet. It was filled with one-thousand dollar bills, their take from a clever scheme down in Texas. All they had to do was meet up with Charlie in Springfield to have the bills changed into more conventional tender, since regular consumers were not allowed denominations over one hundred. And turn in the rent-a-truck.

George pulled right as the uniformed state trooper finished inspecting an eighteen-wheeler ahead of them. George and Betty had some carefully-forged documents identifying them as part of a non-profit charity. Their drivers’ licenses were likewise forgeries. A few pleasantries and they learned that the troopers were looking for out-of-state drug smugglers. Betty made a reference to only getting high on doing the Lord’s work, and the trooper began his inspection.

The only thing missing from the trooper, Betty thought, was one of those big brimmed hats and maybe Burt Reynolds, bare armed, leaning against the side of the truck making snarky comments. The trooper did have a gun, though she noted as the man bent over and rubbed the tires with a hand and proceeded to walk around in a crouch, carefully eyeing the underside of the truck as he walked from one end to the other, He signaled to George to open the hood and conducted a thorough inspection of the engine, doubtlessly checking for hiding places. He slammed the hood shut and walked over to the passenger side window.

“Okay, I’ll need you both to step out of the cab and…what’s in that bag?”

George eyed Betty for an imperceptible instant, then Betty reached into the bag and pulled out two white, cottony packets.

“Just these,” she said. “I may be a liberated lady but I still have to…”

“That’s okay!” the trooper said. “I have a wife and two teenaged daughters. I understand all about that. But I still have to check your load.”

He led them to the back of the truck and watched George unlock the doors and then the trooper climbed inside. George and Betty had to have a load and the mattresses had fit the bill. They filled the box, standing on their sides, leaning to one side. The trooper edged between the mattresses, examining them carefully.

“We’re taking them to Springfield,” Betty said. “Our church group is setting up there to help homeless kids.”

“Well, I’m satisfied,” the trooper said climbing down to the ground. “Lock it back up and you can get on your way.”

Maybe looking too eager, Betty and George moved to shut the two big doors. And that was when one mattress tipped and Betty saw it. She tried not to scream.

She and George got back into the truck, smiled pleasantly, said “Praise God” a couple of times and drove down the highway. A few miles down they turned into an alleyway.

“It couldn’t have been,” George said as he parked the truck out of sight.

“It was, I recognized that big ring with the fake ruby,” Betty said.

They pulled the back doors open and pushed the mattresses to one side. Sticking out of a hole in one mattress was a hand with a ruby ring. Charlie. He was no longer able to get anywhere under his own power.

“Charlie!” Betty gasped. “Dead! How?”

“The last time we saw him alive was at the trailer park,” George said.

“Wait,” Betty said. “The last time you or I saw him alive was in the trailer park. We weren’t together, remember?”

“Brrr!” George said. “Whoever took out Charlie could have knocked us off one by one! What if they followed us?”

“What if they didn’t have to follow us?” Betty said. “What if the killer…what if it’s one of us?”

They stared at the cab of the truck. They had no choice but to continue driving and maybe find a place to dispose of Charlie.

And hope the killer wouldn’t dispose of his or her remaining partner.

 

—end—

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A wild ride for Friday Flash Fics, September 7, 2018 by Jeff Baker

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The Wild Ride of Cormac O’Toole

                                                                 By Jeff Baker

 

            My Grandmother told me to avoid Summit Street. Especially after dark. It wasn’t in a bad part of town, just on the outskirts of Irvington, Kansas. That’s the little town right on the Kansas-Missouri border I grew up in. And it has a history.

            The Battle of Irvington took place on October 24, 1864 towards the end of the Civil War. Two groups of stragglers from Union and Confederate armies suddenly came across each other on the old Summit Road and started shooting at each other. Owing to the fact that they were tired and hadn’t eaten in two days they largely missed each other. That was until Cormac O’Toole, a young Private attached to Major Price as a messenger and assigned to locate the stragglers had the bad luck to find them. Two groups who couldn’t have hit the backside of a barn managed to fire at a moving target and blow off Private O’Toole’s head. Since then, on dark nights, a shadowy, headless figure on a horse has been seen riding down the old Summit Road (which became Summit Street)

            I was sixteen years old in the Fall of 1977 when Johnny Foster talked me into playing a trick on the people in town. He told me to bring some of our friends out to where Summit ran through the woods on the Kansas-Missouri border. Right around dusk. I knew Johnny so I got out there about an hour early and walked down the road calling out his name. The leaves were golden and a few of them were falling to the ground when I saw the dark figure amid the trees. It’s Kansas and we don’t have redwoods or anything, but the trees were tall and the shadows were long and it was getting close to Halloween. I stared. The figure was a man on a black horse. There was nothing above the upturned coat collar. I backed up a step as the horse and rider moved out from behind the trees. Then I took a more careful look. Something about the clothes…

            “Johnny Foster, you come right over here!” I yelled, trying not to sound as scared as I was. “Your wardrobe is about eighty years out-of-date for the Civil War! It looks like you got it for the Bicentennial!”

            I heard laughing and the rider pulled down his collar. Yeah, Johnny.

            “Whadya think?” Johnny said. “Think it’ll fool ‘em?”

            “Once it gets dark enough it might,” I said. “Where did you get the horse?”

            “My Dad’s cousin,” Johnny said. “He raises them. This one he put out to pasture a long time ago.” I walked up to them. The horse was old and a little out of shape, more suited to Don Quixote than Sleepy Hollow. And Johnny’s outfit was from some show they’d had the year before about the American Revolution. I was about to say something when the horse suddenly looked up. A cold wind started blowing and it got dark. I looked up; there was no storm, no clouds, nothing! Johnny and I stared at each other. Hoofbeats! Johnny’s horse whinnied in alarm.

            Before we could do anything a dark figure surged out of the darkness. A lean wild-eyed horse and a lean rider, both of them shadowy but distinct enough to see the rider had no head. And there was no long coat with a collar to conceal a head, just a grey military uniform. No braid, no hat.

            And no head.

            It didn’t stop. It raced right past us accompanied by a frigid breeze. It ran up the road and the wind swirled the leaves and the strange darkness enveloped the figure and faded. It was the same near-twilight as before. Johnny and I were breathing hard and so was the horse.

            Johnny returned the costume to the theater he’d gotten it from and must have ridden the horse back to his Dad’s cousin’s farm. Me, I ran home and locked the door behind me and stayed up that night with the lights on.

And I stayed away from where Summit Street stretches outside of town. When they routed the highway on the other side of Irvington stretching into Oklahoma and Missouri, I always took that, even if it was out of my way.

And I always tell my kids to stay off Summit Street outside of town. Especially after dark.

 

                                    —end—

           

                                   

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“Shine On Harvest Moon,” a reading by Angel Martinez

https://angelmartinezauthor.weebly.com/from-angels-cave/friday-reading-day-shine-on-harvest-moonThe fine writer Angel Martinez does a reading of my short story on her weekly Friday Reading Day podcast! Thanks for the kind words, Angel!

 

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Off on a Bike; Friday Flash Fiction for August 31, 2018 by Jeff Baker

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Sidetracked

By Michael J. Mayak

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a prologue of sorts to a novel I was writing (under my pen-name) that I put to the side because it wasn’t working. At one point I thought I might try posting part of a chapter a week, but I lucked out onto the flash fiction thing. The picture put me in mind of James Velez, our main character, and his life before he borrowed a bike and roared off into a very strange place. So here is James in our world before things get very strange. —-jeff b.

 

“What do you think?” James said, adjusting the dark glasses and pulling up the gloves as he balanced on the silvery motorcycle.

“You look like the Fonz,” Victor said.

“What’s that?” Peralta asked. James rolled his eyes.

“When’s your brother coming back, man?” Victor asked.

“Not ‘till next Thursday,” James said.

“So, the bike’s yours ‘till then?”

“Long as Marc doesn’t find out about it!” James said grinning.

“Or your Mom & Dad,” Victor said.

“Long as I take a shower after the ride, they won’t find out a thing!” James said. “Nice of Marc to trust me with the keys to his garage as well as his apartment.”

Boots, jacket, helmet with visor, leather gloves. James was glad Marc’s things fit him.  He checked his watch; 2:30p.m. August. Senior year starts in two weeks. He grinned again and started the bike. He roared out of the driveway and turned onto the alley; no sense taking the chance of being seen if his Mom or Dad were driving around. A quick scoot down the alley and then onto the highway. Up the ramp, onto the bypass, the city spread out to one side, the wind roaring past. If it hadn’t been for the helmet laws, James would have left his (okay, Marc’s) helmet behind and let the wind blow through his hair.

James turned off just past the Brigman Street exit and the stretch of highway was flat and straight just outside of town. He signaled and turned down the dirt road flanked by tall bushes and headed to where he remembered the cabin was. It had been there since the highway was built.

He turned left at the fork in the dirt road, and then the blue swirling miasma of light surged up in front of him, from literally out of nowhere. No time to turn, swerve or brake. James and the bike roared into the light. He held on and felt himself bounced and shaken, air freezing on his exposed wrists, the sound of the motorcycle sounding like it was being played from the wrong end of a telescope. Then the blue swirl was gone, the bike hit the ground like after a bump and James jumped off, glad he knew how to roll. After a moment, he looked up. He could see the sun just over the trees. It looked strange. He looked through the visor; just a glance, his Dad’s warnings about looking directly at the sun playing through his head.

No mistake. There were two of them. Two suns. Smaller than usual, each side by side. James closed his eyes and pulled off the helmet. He shook his head to clear it. He looked around. No sign of the blue swirl in the air. He stood up and then stared at the ground.

One of them was very dim, the other dark and distinct. Two shadows. From two suns. Where the hell am I? he thought.

 

—end—

 

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