Cab ride with Friday Flash Fics, by Jeff Baker. March 20, 2020.


And Now When David Banner Grows Angry Or Outraged A Startling Metamorphosis Occurs

By Jeff Baker


You see a lot of things when you drive a cab for a living and although I have never held that particular occupation, I have heard from those who have that the claim is no exaggeration. I am going to tell you the story as I heard it told to me by one of those selfsame cab drivers.

The driver of the yellow cab looks like he could play a kid in a revival of “West Side Story,” but his I.D. says he is 42.

“Look at that!” the Cabbie said. “It’s really coming down, isn’t it?”

“Glad I’m in here,” his passenger says.

“Me too, I need the fare,” the Cabbie says. “And this is a real thrill; I’ve never had a real bear in my cab before. I mean, I had celebrities, like Paul Rodríguez once, but never a bear.”

“I know,” the Bear says. “It breaks with the stereotype, doesn’t it?”

“I know,” the Cabbie says. “I expect bears in the middle of the woods or in a zoo. No offense.”

“None taken,” says the Bear. “I usually don’t come into the city, but I’m here on business.”

“What kind of business?” the Cabbie asks. “Not Wall Street?”

“If it was, I might be riding with a bull,” the bear says. He and the Cabbie both laugh. The Bear scratches the back of his neck. He is a big brown, furry bear, wearing a seatbelt in the back of the cab with a small briefcase on the seat beside it.

“Turn up there will you,” the Bear says, pointing with a furry paw. “That office building on the right.”

“Okay,” says the Cabbie, turning and parking in front of the building.

The Bear pulls out a roll of bills, and hands it to the Cabbie.

“Here, and keep the change,” the Bear says.

“Thanks!” says the Cabbie, for whom tips were as rare as parking spaces outside the stadium during the playoffs.

“I will be on my way,” the Bear says, picking up his briefcase.

“Might want to give that door an extra shove,” the Cabbie says. “I been having trouble with it sticking.”

“All right,” the Bear says. “But it shouldn’t be any, be any…” The Bear is struggling with the handle of the cab door. He grunts and pulls, and then he rolls over on his back and with another grunt, shoves the door with both of his powerful feet. With a loud creaking noise the door pops off its hinges and falls onto the sidewalk in front of the building.

The Bear steps out of the cab, puts the door in the back seat and apologizes to the Cabbie.

“Maybe this will cover it,” the Bear says, handing the Cabbie another roll of bills.

Now, I am not sure exactly what business the Bear had in the city, or where it earned all of that money but as long as he can pay for damages like that and tell a cabdriver to keep the extra, nobody is going to complain!




NOTE: Copied Damon Runyon’s style for this one and had fun doing it! —-jsb

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Words for our time:


Here are some words for our current surreal times:


“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  

Franklin D. Roosevelt said this during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Fear and panic are running rampant these days. More people will be hurt by unreasoning panic than by any virus.


“This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, but most of all, beware this boy…” 

The Ghost of Christmas Present says that to Scrooge in Charles Dickens’  “A Christmas Carol,” about the children that cling to him. (“Spirit! Are they Yours?” Scrooge says. “They are Man’s,” the ghost replies.)

There is plenty of misinformation and rumor flying around these days, spreading far swifter than any virus. And they are just as dangerous and deadly in the end.

If you do not believe we are in times ruled by ignorance, rumor and fear, just think of the empty shelves where the toilet paper was.


——-jsb. March 18, 2020

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“The River of the New Moon,” by Jeff Baker, Going Dark for Friday Flash Fics (Friday, March 13th, 2020)

The River of the New Moon

By Jeff Baker


During the nights when the Moon is new and not in the sky, she is nonetheless busy elsewhere. Sometimes she manifests herself as a nighthawk and soars the evening skies. Sometimes, she becomes a mole and burrows down into the ground to sleep. And sometimes, she appears as a lady in a boat on the river Ie.

It was during one of those nights that she came to the edge of the riverbank she often shone on from the sky. She felt the tall rushes with her hands, gazed at the tiny fish asleep in the shallow water and poked an investigating finger into the mud. And there were three young men on the riverbank who saw only a woman in a boat and quickly came up to her with knives and demanded her gold. One of them clamored into the front of the boat, displaying his knife, the other two were in the boat behind her. It was in the next moment that the boat set on down the river, moving swiftly against the current. And when the young men tried to leave the boat but could not and saw the woman smile with a smile broader than any woman could possibly have, they knew who they were with.

It is said the nights of the new moon are the best ones to see falling stars, which are not really stars but flecks of meteors which try but do not make it to earth.

And three of those falling stars on those nights are the young men who were let loose in the sky far from Earth, trying desperately to return home, to the lives they had before they foolishly invaded the boat of the New Moon.



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“The Adventure of the Open Field.” Mystery and Murder for the March Flash Fiction Draw Challenge by Jeff Baker. March 9, 2020


Note: This month’s Flash Fiction Draw Challenge was for a mystery, set in an open field involving a beard trimmer. I’ve been to a few small farm towns in Kansas like the one I depict here. Special thanks to Cait Gordon for hosting the draw!—-jsb.

The Adventure of the Open Field

By Jeff Baker


Raymond Ervine had been found dead in the middle of a field of harvested wheat, and he had been shot in the back of the head at close range not more than a day ago. It had rained for several days earlier and the field had been muddy for much of the week and there were no footprints around the body. Sherriff Joe Cornwall stood by his car on the paved road a few yards away from where they’d found the body.

“I hate days like this,” he muttered. Probably so did the victim. His cellphone went off; nobody seemed to use the radio in his car anymore. “Hello…yeah…he was holding what?”

Sherriff Cornwall had never liked being in the new hospital, especially the room used by the County Coroner. Especially with a corpse under a sheet on a table. The coroner usually dealt with farm accidents and, last year, the two kids who had gotten drunk and raced each other out of the Quickie-Mart parking lot. This was his first murder.

“That’s right Joe,” said Dr. Harrison. “We found this clutched in his hand. We had to pry the hand open”

“A beard trimmer?” the Sherriff asked.


Cornwall stared at the small trimmer. He’d never used one. And he’d never taken one out to the field with him.

“Well, now we know Ervine wasn’t killed in the middle of the field,” Cornwall said. “He must have grabbed this when he realized what was going to happen.”

“As a weapon?” Dr. Harrison asked. “And how’d he get in that field? There weren’t any footprints in the mud!”

“That part’s easy,” Cornwall said. “Somebody drove a combine on the road by the field and swung the unloading tube over it to drop him in it. Probably had a rope of some kind that tied him fast, lowered him enough and dropped him. That way they created enough of a mystery. It had to have been done at night, and probably by someone nearby. You know the only people bordering his land?”

“Old Man Collier, Zach Zebrowski and Billy Viers.” Doctor Harrison said.

“He ever quarrel with them?”

“Yes, with all three,” Harrison said. “They were in here a year ago after the four of them got into a fight over at The Lazy Bull.”

“Why wasn’t I called?”

“They didn’t press charges. They’ve been at it for years. Ervine’s Granddad left him the property and he others say he’d cheated them out of it; that it had been part of each of the other’s land once.” Harrison said. “Another time I heard them arguing at the gas station, could barely hear it over that loud rock music Ervine was playing in his car.”

“Rock music…” the Sherriff muttered. “Hold the fort here, Doc; I have to make a call. I think I found a killer.”

It was later when Sherriff Cornwall found time to come back and explain everything to Doctor Harrison.

“Well, he’s in jail, even if Old Man Collier wanted to confess himself,” Cornwall said.


“It was the beard trimmer that clinched it. The killer must have gotten into the house and confronted Ervine with a gun. Ervine wasn’t a big man; he wouldn’t have been able to overpower anybody who was armed, so he grabbed the beard trimmer. Only it wasn’t a weapon, it was a message.”

“A message?”

“All that rock music Ervine was always playing? Ever see that band with the three guys with two of them in long grey beards and dark glasses? Beards? Like in beard trimmer?”

“I think I saw them on T.V….”

“Z Z Top,” Cornwall said. “And that corresponded to a name of someone he knew; his killer.”

“Zach Zebrowski.” Harrison breathed.

Cornwell nodded. “He confessed. He’d planned it for weeks. Even drove his combine up and down the road a few nights ago to see exactly how long it would take.” He shook his head. “Want to hear something funny?”

“I could use it,” said the doctor.

“That band, Z Z Top, the one band member without a beard?”


Cornwell smiled. “His name’s Beard.”




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“Third Gramaltioff from the Outer Side” by Jeff Baker. Racing into Friday Flash Fics for March 6, 2020.


             Third Gramaltioff From the Other Side

By Jeff Baker


Prince Almazotz stood on top of the ridge and wiped the dust from his eyes. The road was dry and dusty but the hills ahead were green and inviting. There was a farmhouse to one side and to the other what looked like an old, ramshackle Gramaltioff Stadium. One of the smaller ones; he’d seen a few of them used for barns and even schools but nobody had raced one in a century. Further on down was another hill and what looked like a town edging up the side of a mountain. It spoke of the possibility of food and drink and a bed that wasn’t under a tree with chembugs swarming all around. It was a good distance from home.

He smiled to himself; he doubted anyone from his Province would be looking for him here, if indeed his Father, Prince Agromotz was determined to bring him home to get married. He was no more interested in marrying the Duke of Urkross than he was in working for a living. But, he was probably going to have to do something to earn food, water (possibly wine) and lodging for the night. But not right then, he thought as he patted his trousers. The pouch full of coins was still full, and if he was careful it would remain nearly full. As he walked into the town he saw a huge sign by the side of the road, depicting three huge grey lizards running side by side. gramaltioff races! Prince Almazotz may not have known much about work but he knew a lot about scales on the run. He grinned. With a little luck, he might have to buy a second pouch to carry his coins.

The weather was pleasant and the new stadium was open as Prince Almazotz settled into his seat. His pouch was near empty but he’d been able to check out the racing gramaltioffs in their pens at the start of the track. He’d put down some money on “the third one from the outer side,” and felt confident. That was the only one whose legs were long enough or strong enough to run fast. He was grateful his father had forced him to work in the stables as a boy. A winter shoveling lizard dung had been worth it.

The Invoker in his green robes stood in front of the stands and began the long invocation which ended “May Zavid and Zannic watch over you.”

Prince Almazotz realized he’d just heard a blessing for horses; did it count when used on lizards?

After a few minutes, a Celebrant with a sword stepped onto the track, raised the sword pointing at the sky then swung it to the ground as the trainers released the big lizards. The seven gramaltioffs were about four times the size of the Celebrant, but he had more time to nimbly step out of the way as the gramaltioffs slowly lumbered down the track. It took them a full three minutes to round the first bend, and Prince Almazotz considered taking a nap until the end of the race. But he had money on it, so he stayed awake and even considered yelling “Go, Third!”

The lizard he had money on was ahead, the other six were behind its swinging tail. One of the others even glanced around like it was looking for a place to take a nap.

The seven of them rounded the third bend and a small cheer went up from the crowd when one of the gramaltioffs in the back suddenly arched its back, unfurled parchment-thin wings and took off, not quite soaring but made a huge hop over the others, landing right in front of the finish line which it easily crossed. The blend of angry and triumphant yelling from the crowd was rendered totally unintelligible. In the end, three things were certain; Contrary to legend, flying gramaltioffs were no longer extinct; their wings really did blend in with the rest of them, and the rules against mixing flying and non-flying lizards in a race (which had been dropped during the updating of the rules in the previous century) meant that a lot of people were out of money.

And Prince Almazotz was going to spend the next few months working in the back kitchen of a tavern if he wanted to eat.


AUTHOR’S NOTE: My previous story about Prince Almazotz was posted December 1, 2018.




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Surf’s Up! “Impact Zone” by Jeff Baker for Friday Flash Fics (February 28, 2020.)


Impact Zone

By Jeff Baker


“Wow! Look at that sky!” Kendrick said, hoisting his surfboard a little higher as he walked along the beach.

“Yeah,” Brent said, balancing his board under his arm. “Think this is the place?”

“Just a sec,” Kendrick said pulling his saver out of his wetsuit. He swiped his finger across the screen and clicked it. “Yup,” he said, sighting along the indicator on the screen. “We’re right here.” He stuck the saver back in the wetsuit. “Don’t know why I don’t just toss the thing, not much use anymore.”

“Don’t be that pessimistic,” Brent said. “I intend to ride this out. Better than sitting in a basement, sobbing and getting drunk. I’d rather go surfing.”

“Me too. Hey, which way you gonna face?” Kendrick asked.

“West. I figure I can turn around and go with the flow.”

The two of them stood on the beach and stared for a few minutes. In the distance, they could hear a roar.

“Here it comes.”

“Let’s go!”

The two of them ran into the oncoming surf. A decade of surfing the waves and breakers all over the world had prepared them for this. Their boards and the feet of their wetsuits were specially prepared, so they could stay standing as the wave sped on.

Kendrick and Brent had never had a rush like this. Glancing down they thought they saw the tops of the buildings of the city or a mountain. They intended to ride for as long as they can as the giant tsunami covered half the world.

Kendrick pulled out his saver and glanced at it: No Service was all he saw on the screen. Pity, he’d wanted to know how fast they were going.

He tossed the device into the water as the wave roared on.





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Day Of the Dark Earth; Friday Flash Fics by Jeff Baker (February 21, 2020)


The Day of the Dark Earth

By Jeff Baker

I had my first kiss when I was sixteen years old under the Greek columns in the middle of summer. I remember the place; there aren’t a lot of Greek columns on the Moon. I’m not a hundred percent sure of the year; we hadn’t started using the standard time yet.

It was the Day of the Dark Earth where you could make out the bulk of the Earth with its dark side facing us if you looked closely in the bluish sky past the limit of the atmosphere. I learned in school how the first travelers to the Moon, some eighty years earlier had found atmosphere stretching not as far off the ground as Earth’s, and that the atmosphere was not natural, but caused by the machines left by the builders of the ancient cities. The Greek columns were something the Earth people had put up not long after arriving in a flinging effort to imitate an ancient Earth civilization and make the Moon theirs.

I’d met him in that class, young, dark-haired, brown eyed. I’d known how I felt about both girls and guys for a while, and I definitely felt about him. We were all excused from classes for the celebrations on the Day of the Dark Earth, probably because it was summer and the previous Days in summer had been fogged-over. We were both standing by the columns trying to find where the Earth was, we hadn’t been paying that much attention in class, when he grabbed me and kissed me on the lips. Just for a second.

Then he walked away.

I’d had a girlfriend but had never kissed.

When they started dating back time to correspond with the Earth calendar and ignoring the Lunar standard it made me sixteen in 1845, but as far as I was concerned time started for me the moment we kissed.



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