Stop in for a coffee in Friday Flash Fics, by Jeff Baker, (October 12, 2018.)

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In The Night, In The Rain

By Jeff Baker

“I don’t like funerals. I don’t like ‘em in the rain and I certainly don’t like ‘em at night,” Jayce said, sipping his coffee.

“Would you, could you with a bagel? Would you, could you reading Nagel?” Cassie said grinning and holding up her blueberry slathered bagel. The two of them laughed sitting there in the mid-afternoon sun of the coffee shop. Jayce sipped his coffee and went on.

“I mean, honestly, I barely knew Uncle Karl. He was my Mom’s great-uncle and I only saw him once when we drove across state to that town in the mountains where he lived for a family wedding when I was, like, fifteen? Remember, I told you when I was going through my David Bowie phase? My hair was all, you know and I was in one of those suits that make you look skinnier? And that tie that looked like blue tinfoil?”

“Mmmmm-Hmmmmm,” Cassie said sipping her coffee.

“It helped with the look that I was pretty pale,” Jayce said. “Well, I met Uncle Karl then. We drove all day and they had the wedding at about eight in the evening. He introduced himself at the reception and said he liked the look, especially the dark glasses. Oooooo! Girl, where did you get that eye shadow?”

“I was wondering when you’d notice,” Cassie said. One of the nice things about this relationship was they could trade makeup tips. Jayce went on.

“Anyway, Uncle Karl said he had to wear dark glasses too because his eyes were pretty sensitive to daylight, but he wasn’t wearing them then. Honestly, Girl, he looked pretty healthy and way too young to be a great uncle.” He took a big slurp of his coffee and Cassie grimaced. “Anyway, I asked Uncle Karl if the punch was spiked and he said ‘I never drink…punch.’ And then laughed like he’d made this big joke. And then I got asked to dance by this tall girl I didn’t know who she was but what the hey. And Mom and I stayed at the motel and went back home the next day.”

“So, why’d you go up for the funeral anyway?” Cassie asked. “I mean, you hardly knew the guy.”

“Ooooooo, that’s what I was wanting to tell you!” Jayce looked around the coffee shop and lowered his voice. “I had to go to the reading of the will. Uncle Karl left me, well Donnie and me,” he took a deep breath “twenty-thousand dollars!

“Girl, you’re not serious!” Cassie said, almost dropping her cup and squealing.

“I’m serious!” Jayce said. “Donnie squealed when I called him up and told him! He wished he could have gotten off work, but we’re taking that vacation to Hawaii now! Anyway, my cousin Brian got the real haul. A bundle of money but it came with having to live in that creepy old house of Uncle Karl’s that my Mom didn’t want to set foot in.” He picked up a bagel and started to munch on it. “He also inherited Uncle Karl’s business,” (munch-munch) “but I didn’t want any” (munch-munch) “part of that. Too dangerous. That’s what killed him.”

“What happened?” Cassie asked.

“I didn’t tell you?” Jayce said. “Oooo Girl, he was inspecting this warehouse he owned a few nights ago and this wooden pallet shattered and part of it impaled him right through the chest.”

“Grosss!” Cassie said. “I’m eating.”

“Me too,” Jayce said. “Oooooo! Remember my telling you about that cute little coffee shop we went into when Donnie had that conference in Toronto and we bummed around for a few days? This little town called Fuscha or something? They had the most…ooooo! Did you see the latest Will and Grace?”

 

—end—

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“It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a frog!” Flash Fiction Draw Challenge story by Jeff Baker for October 8, 2018

Note: The way this works is ‘Nathan Burgoine draws three cards that correspond to a genre, a setting and an object. Then we write a story using all three. This month the draws resulted in a horror story set at a blood drive involving a frog. I started writing before I realized I was invoking a very famous horror story! Enjoy!

                        Let Your Vengeance Fall To Sleep*  

                                                By Jeff Baker              

 

            “I heard the frogs again last night,” Eric said.

            Eric’s apartment was on the edge of town, not too far from Cow Creek. Hearing frogs was not too unusual for this time of year. But I knew what he meant, and he was terrified.

            I’d seen it before.

            Eric Montpillier was my second cousin and we’d been helping out at the big “Count Dracula Blood Drive” decked out for Halloween in the middle of summer. The company we both worked for liked being thought of as being socially aware and spent a lot of time co-sponsoring community events. So there we were, wearing t-shirts with the company logo and a cartoony picture of Dracula baring his fangs. But it was all real to Eric; he firmly believed his side of the family was cursed. (“His side,” meaning we were only related because my widowed Uncle had married his widowed Mom.) He’d told me all about it one night after we’d finished making out. (Yeah, “kissing cousins,” he said.)

            The curse on the Montpillier family started about a hundred and thirty years earlier, when one of Eric’s multiple great-uncles abruptly broke off his engagement to a girl. He had apparently found somebody richer. Anyway, the jilted fiancée screamed in his face that he and the young men in his line were cursed to violent, early death. When he laughed at her she supposedly walked to the pond and drowned herself screaming “Let your vengeance fall to sleep.” No one ever figured what that meant. It was the middle of summer and the frogs were croaking noisily in the pond. Eric’s great-great-something uncle died not long after in an insane asylum, reportedly raving about “the frogs they can never hear.”

            I didn’t believe in curses, but I did know that a lot of the Montpillier men died in their 20s, but then a lot of people in the 1800s and early 1900s died young. Eric was 28 the week we were working at the blood drive. Every year Eric would hear the frogs in spring and summer and get nervous for a couple of weeks. Sometimes Eric would get like that when there were no frogs.

            And last night, there had been frogs. I’d slept with my window open, the nights were cool enough and the air was refreshing. And the sound of the frogs had wafted in from the distant creek. I had heard them in the middle of the night, smiled, rolled over in my half-sleep and muttered something like “enjoy your orgy, froggies,” before dozing off. Eric, of course, had a different reaction. He was a nervous wreck. He stumbled around, dropped things, snapped at one of the volunteers and was generally no help. My boss told me to take him back to his apartment after noon, because we were busy at lunch. But we all heard the loud crash from outside at about 12:30. I looked around; Eric wasn’t anywhere to be seen. I’d hoped he had gone home.

            We found Eric outside, next to the delivery truck whose brake had failed and it had rolled down the drive and hit the side of the building. Witnesses said Eric had been leaning against the building quite a ways away smoking a cigarette, he hadn’t been hit but he had screamed and fallen to the ground when the truck slammed into the building. Someone was performing CPR and they had called an ambulance, but it was too late. The verdict was a heart attack. My guess was he had died of fright. I didn’t believe in curses, but Eric had followed his family pattern and had died young.

            The blood drive went on. I went on. Life went on. The seasons changed. And I wonder now about the meaning of “family,” especially with regard to curses. Eric and I weren’t related by blood, but we were close. I wonder how close is too close. Especially three months later, in October when I can hear the sounds despite the early freeze, when it could not be. And now, I’m driving away as fast as I can, heading for the biggest city I can find. I’ve got the radio cranked, as loud as it will go.

            Trying to drown out the noise of the frogs dinning in my ears.

 

                                                —end—

 

*Note: Title from “The Frogs” by Aristophanes.

Posted in 'Nathan Burgoine, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, LGBT, Monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge, Short-Stories, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

An optimistic take on the weekly picture for Friday Flash Fics, October 5, 2018 by Jeff Baker.

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Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

                                                              By Jeff Baker

            One of the first things you saw coming into the east side of town was a handmade sign that said “What Twister?” The sign was tacked on a branch of one of the broken trees, like the one Kenny Donaldson was sitting under, practicing that song from the Monty Python movie that he’d been practicing all week in the dorm. This was spring of my Junior year at Millington College, 1981. The twister had hit at about six-thirty in the morning. Fortunately some of us were up already for breakfast before a few early classes and heard the tornado siren and the warnings on the radio. A lot of the commuter students and faculty weren’t there yet but those who were rushed to the dorm and banged on doors getting everybody up and ushering us into the basement under the cafeteria as the sky turned dark and the wind started to blow. The lights went out and somebody screamed as we sat and listened to what sounded like a freight train and a lot of crashing outside. “I got a radio,” some kid said. (This was long before everybody had mobile phones that could stream T.V, radio and movies.) So we listened to the weather bulletins in the dark.

            The whole thing was over by about seven, and we opened the basement door and cautiously crept upstairs and outside. That was when we saw the mess; the torn up trees, the cars that had been tossed around and the damaged buildings. It looked like the tornado had smacked through the eastern side of campus and danced through the parking lot and then had probably lifted. We could see blue sky overhead and the dark clouds were receding, heading west. There wasn’t any damage to the town which was about three blocks away. No damage at all.

            And that was the crazy thing; Garfield Hall, the one with the old clock tower and the date “1889” was still standing, the building that everybody said shook when the wind blew. The brand-new Science building made of reinforced concrete—gone!

            But, like I said, there was enough warning that everyone took shelter, and nobody was hurt except for Greggy Subvoda who tripped and fell down the basement stairs and broke his arm.

            Anyway, we considered ourselves lucky that the tornado didn’t hit the rest of town, and we went ahead with the College Talent show, Kenny doing the Python song and all, just we held it outside the Auditorium since the power wasn’t back on yet and held it at five in the afternoon while it was still light out.

            But I still don’t want to hear that damn song ever again!

 

                                                        —end—

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Who Killed The Mysterious Spy? Friday Flash Fics by Jeff Baker, September 28, 2018

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Lust’s Dominion, and Other Bawdy Stories

By Jeff Baker

 

The fog was so thick Kit worried about stumbling into a tree.

“This fog, so thick I can barely…Halt! Identify yourself or feel my steel!”

“It is I! Ingrim Frizer!”

“Frizer! My old friend! What brings ye here to skulk in the fog?” Kit said.

“I am in hiding,” Frizer said. “I am sought for murder. Murder most foul.”

“Murder!” Kit gasped. “Then the deed is done.”

“Yes,” Frizer’s grin glinted in the fog. “You were apparently kill’d in a dispute at the Crown and Bull Tavern.”

“Tragic!” Kit said rubbing his hands together. “I hope there were witnesses!”

“Plenty!” Frizer said. “At least one of the more lucid ones had actually been one of the group that stabbed you to death and so played the role of a witness when the local constable arrived.”

“The players did their work well!” Kit said.

“Indeed,” Ingrim said. “None suspected anything but an act of brutal violence.”

“And my remains?” Kit asked. This had been the crucial part of the plan.

“Returned to the property room of the Theater, to play the role of a dead man on a battlefield, as he did once for Her Majesty. Or, if needed, to be pressed into service as a scarecrow.”

“The Coroner, the Coroner,” Kit said impatiently.

“As we hoped, he was easily bribed with coin and mugs of mead. He signed the necessary papers.”

“While money does not buy love, it puts you in a greater bargaining position,” Kit said. “The same with Coroners.”

“True!” Frizer said.

“And the Privy Council?” Kit asked.

“Easily fooled. They may as well have been on the privy.” Kit and Frizer both laughed. Then, Frizer continued. “None examined at your burial to see that we were lowering an empty casket.”

Kit breathed a sigh of relief. “We owe to the Inquiry and their Sham of Testimony the fragment of an Idea which led to this elegant ruse.”

“But, Kit, you must hurry and be on your way, lest curiosity compel them to dig up your bones and find no bones there. They may realize that you have other activities far more worthy in their eyes of death than the facetious treason they made appear like a conjurer’s trick.”

“Espionage, even for the crown, remains an uncertain career proposition,” Kit said.

“When will I see you next?” Frizer asked.

“I do not know,” Kit said. “Perhaps never. Unless you come with me”

“I cannot,” Frizer said. “I am, in truth sought for murder, but the Council wishes to reward me, not place my head on a pike. Would that I could run with you, but I must stay to allay suspicions of our plot.”

“Then, let it be thus, here in the fog, as was ever in secret.”

For a moment the two men embraced and kissed.

Then; “I must be off,” Kit said turning. An instant later he turned back. “Hold,” he said. “There is a document in my lodgings, on my bed-table. It is titled ‘Lust’s Dominion.’ It must be destroyed.”

“Secrets purloined by you?” Frizer asked.

“Nay, the first draft of another play of mine,” kit said. “This one wretched. Put it to the fire, and never let it be seen by… Nay!” Kit’s smile lit up the growing darkness. “Give it to Will. Say it was my last masterpiece. He may pass it off as his own if I know Will! A last jest!”

The two men laughed again. Then Kit turned to walk away.

“Fare-well Ingrim Frizer!” Kit said.

“Fare-well Christopher Marlowe!” Ingrim said.

 

—Finis—

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE; A largely fictionalized version of the death (and maybe faked death) of playwright Christopher “Kit” Marlowe in 1594. He really was a spy, possibly was gay and that last play was re-discovered about 75 years later. All the characters herein were real people and given Marlowe’s spy activities, this story may not be not too far-fetched. Oh, and Will himself was not above using players (the Elizabethan kind) as characters in his plays, so this fits! 

                                                           ———-j.b.

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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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