AUTHOR’S NOTE from Jeff Baker: May 25, 2016, I did my first flash fiction post for Monday Flash Fics. (As I recall, a couple of days early!) I had been wanting to use this blog to regularly post fiction and promote myself, maybe by posting a serial version of a novel-in-progress as J. Scott Coatsworth has done (my novel stalled, glad I didn’t do that!) Instead I began posting flash fiction stories, one a week, (sometimes more!) with varying results. The best result being that I have exercised my writing muscles and maybe become a better writer as well as developing better and more regular work habits when it comes to writing. (Skills that would have served me well had I developed them and started regularly writing in College about 36 years ago!) I’ve written the weekly story when I was eager and motivated and when the words flowed as well as when I didn’t feel like writing. I’ve written standard stories as well as taken the advantage of the form to experiment with themes, styles (drabbles?) and new or series characters. Plus, I have written about a hundred stories, most for Monday and Friday Flash Fics, a handful for ‘Nathan Burgoine’s monthly flash fiction challenges and a few for submissions calls. A few of them are out in submissions right now, some originals, some reprints of stories posted on this blog. I owe a lot of thanks to Helena Stone, ‘Nathan Smith, Brigham Vaughn, Kelly Jensen, Elizabeth Lister and others too numerous to mention for their encouragement in maintaining these prompt sites. Again, many thanks!
Ray Bradbury and Anthony Boucher were both believers in writing at least one story a week, although I usually don’t have time to pull off a full-length one each week, I hope they’d approve of my efforts and persistence.
Without further ado, I turn this entry over to my occasional pseudonym and examine an entry from:
The Biffle Papers
By Mike Mayak
“All right, Mr. Biffle, where were we?” the interviewer said.
“Chicago, 1962,” Biffle said.
The interviewer riffled through his notebook. “You weren’t in Chicago in 1962,” he said.
“Oh. New York City then,” Biffle said, looking out the window of his penthouse.
1962, late spring, (Biffle said.) I had a cheap little walk-up in the Village, working a couple of jobs and getting by. Had a roommate who was in the theatre and in a drag show but he was never there, so I largely had the place to myself. And I kept to myself, mostly. I was working in a back kitchen straight out of a gangster movie when I met Rico. We spent our spare time wandering the streets, eating or ducking in somewhere for a drink and a new adventure despite both of us having to work second jobs at night. But we were young and tough; we’d both been in the Army in the late ‘50s,
“Uh, Mr. Biffle,” the interviewer said, “I think Rico Mangini was in the Navy. You were in the Army.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Biffle said. “Well we both wound up in New York, back when Greenwich Village was a village of dreams.”
That year we took it easy (Biffle said.) We spent our afternoons walking around the Village. We saw them tear down a section of the Highline over at Perry Street. We ate lunch in the shadow of the old Gothic building that had been City Hall and was now a Public Library.
One afternoon I got off work at my day dishwashing job and was gonna kill time with Rico until we both had to go to work that night so I walked over to where Rico worked to wait for him. One of the guys comes out of the back of the place, into the alley where I was smoking a cigarette and tells me ‘Your boyfriend never showed up for work.’ Well, Rico wasn’t my boyfriend, neither one of us was out. Not in 1962; but it wasn’t as much of a secret as you would think it was. They had no idea where Rico was, just that he hadn’t shown up for his shift and so he didn’t work there anymore.
I had a couple of ideas where he was; I found Rico in a bar rambling about how his life had gone down the toilet. I paid his tab, becoming officially broke and helped him out of the bar. Thank God I was bigger than he was because I wound up carrying him down the street to my apartment. It was closer and I had a key. And I was glad I’d done a lot of heavy lifting in the Army.
I managed to get him to walk up the stairs and he just staggered into the apartment, muttered “Thanks, Biff,” and collapsed on the couch (the only other furniture besides a table and two beds we had.)
That evening, I showed up at his night job and explained that Rico had been called out of town and couldn’t make it in and I was filling in for him.
“And they let you do that?” the interviewer asked.
“The guy who ran the kitchen knew me. He liked me. His boss was an idiot who was probably passed out on somebody else’s couch at that moment. Besides, the kitchen was short-handed even with Rico. Of course, in saving Rico’s night job I couldn’t show up for my own, so we were both down to one job apiece, so Rico moved in with me for a while. Saved money. Like I said, my official roommate was never there, so I don’t think he even noticed.”
“And this was all Greenwich Village, right?” the interviewer asked.
“Yes,” Biffle sighed. “I thought I’d made that clear. Greenwich Village, 1962. Maybe part of ’61, I’m not sure. Oh, well. It was almost sixty years ago. Turn off the recorder, we can do more later.”