Friday Flash Fiction by Jeff Baker for November 24, 2017

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Last Tango Before Armageddon

By Jeff Baker

Peyton was standing there, stark naked with the book covering his, well you know. He’d been reading in our bedroom. The public nudity had been a recent addition; he’d always been a little unconventional. The news had changed a lot of things. Nobody batted an eye at somebody stepping outside and grabbing the morning paper naked. Or wouldn’t if they were still printing the paper. They’d stopped this last week.

Last week. I wish that didn’t sound so final. I shivered a little. The weather had gotten unseasonably cooler for July.

“So, what’s up?” I asked.

“Not much,” he said. “Was listening to NPR. They’re saying that thing, the big meteor thing…”

“Planetoid,” I said.

“Yeah. Planetoid,” Peyton said. “The one that’s going to hit us is probably going to. You know. Arrive. Next week.”

I was trying not to think about it. A whole bunch of the big things had been zipping through the solar system. One near miss had messed with earth’s rotation and screwed-up the seasons and the weather. But if the scientists were right, it didn’t matter. We were sitting ducks.

“I’ve been, you know, sitting in there reading the same page for about two hours,” Peyton said.

“I know,” I said. “I was watching you.”

“Oh,” he said. “Well. Do you want to dance?”

“Where?” I said. “I don’t think anything’s open anymore.”

“Right here,” he said. “Now. You know, two guys. Music. Last Tango Before Armageddon.”

“Uh, sure.” I said. “Just let me…” I pushed a button on the old C.D. player. Music filled the room. We pressed close together.

“Just hold me,” Peyton said. “Don’t let go.”

“I won’t,” I said, squeezing tight.

For the next few minutes, I wasn’t scared.

 

—end—

 

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A brief encounter for Monday Flash Fics, November 20, 2017–by Jeff Baker

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                                             Double Date

                                             By Jeff Baker     

 

            We’d been sitting in the diner (one of those cool ones made up to look like the ‘50’s) for about an hour and he’d been laughing when Doris walked up to our booth. Doris! I’d come to this side of town with Mickey so nobody would recognize us.

            “Hi, Mike,” she said. She’d been sweet on me in High School before she’d realized we were both crushing on the same guy on the basketball team. Just friends since then.

            “Uh, hi Doris,” I said.

            You never told me you had a twin brother!” Doris said. “He looks just like you!”

            I figured I’d better come clean.

            “Doris, this is Mickey.” (He grinned, raised one hand and gave a half-wave, half-salute. He could be cocky like that, like a fighter pilot in a movie.) “Mickey is my…”

            “Mike and Mickey!’ Doris interrupted. “Oh, I think it’s cute! My cousin named her twins Donald and Donna, but of course they were…”

            “Doris, Mickey isn’t my twin or my brother. He’s a Replicated Genetic Construct. And he’s my date.”

            Doris stared at me. “You’re dating your own clone?”

            “Mike says I’m perfect for him,” Mickey said. “And we know each other so well.”

            “Mickey has all of my memories, from the time he was, uh, grown a couple of months ago,” I said.

            “Yeah,” Mickey said. “Like I remembered when Doris asked you if you’d go to the senior prom and just ‘fake it.’”

            Doris and I just stared at Mickey.

            “Now, I would have gone to the prom with her and I wouldn’t have to have faked anything.” Mickey said. “We could make up for lost time.” He grinned again. His teeth were whiter than mine and I thought his voice was deeper.

            “You’re supposed to be my date,” I said.

            “Aren’t you, you know, interested in the men’s basketball team?” Doris asked.

            “I’m versatile!” Mickey said. I was about to point out that I’d spent a lot of cash for Mickey and he was obligated to do what I said, but that made me sound like an actor in a bad porn movie about gladiators. One who couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag.

            “Sure, sure, you can go out with her,” I said, waving a hand dismissively. They grinned again, this time at each other, and left.

            Holding hands.

            I sat in the booth for a moment. Then the jukebox started playing an oldie; “My Clone Sleeps Alone.” That was when I pulled one of the prop electric guitars off the wall and started smashing the jukebox.

            So, that’s how I ended up here in jail. How about you?

 

                                            —end—

           

 

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Out-Of-Sight Story for Monday Flash Fics (Nov. 13, 2017) by Jeff Baker

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                                     Boot-Scootin’ Boogie                                                                                                                                  By Jeff Baker

 

I stared at the pair of boots as the executed clumsy move across the floor.

“Cut that out, Henry!” I said. “And make yourself visible, okay?”

“You mean, I shouldn’t show up just like this?” The familiar voice came from a few feet above the boots.

I grinned. “Yeah. Just be visible,” I said reaching out to embrace what looked like thin air and give it a kiss. “Uh, and put on the rest of your clothes!”

Henry laughed as the boots flopped off onto the floor and he faded into view. A little shorter than me, scruffy blonde hair.

“How long before this country swing thing anyway?” Henry asked.

“About an hour and a half,” I said. “Plenty of time.”

“Great!” Henry said. He kissed me again, grabbed his boots, grinned and disappeared as he walked towards our bedroom.

“And don’t get to popping in and out all over the place,” I said with mock dismay. “It’s not like we were still in high school.”

High school had been seventeen years ago. We’d both been serious closet cases. Then Henry had his “little accident” at the research facility his Dad worked at the summer after our freshman year. He’d gotten his invisibility largely under control by the start of school but he still needed to be invisible about twelve hours a day or he’d start fading. That meant a lot of ducking out to the restroom in the middle of class.

His family and the research facility wanted to keep it a secret. But he’d told me right before Christmas vacation. That was the start of it. Well, I’d been smoking a cigarette in the boy’s room when he rushed in with his midsection just gone. The next two years felt like a very weird cable kid’s show, with both of us jumping around to keep anybody else from finding out that Henry spent part of his time literally out of sight.

Senior Prom was cool. By that time Henry and I had discovered each other. I was ostensibly taking Jan Hall but Henry was my real date. Invisibly. It looked like I was slow dancing with myself during the last dance and kissing thin air, but I didn’t care. I told everybody I’d been stood up and the Principal gave me a breath test, but still, Senior Prom was cool.

By the time we graduated College, Henry only needed to be invisible about two hours a day. Also, we’d moved in together.

“How’s this?” Henry said walking out of the bedroom. Western shirt, jeans, boots and a cowboy hat apparently perched on thin air above the empty collar.

“Perfect!” I said. “It’ll inspire a new country song: “the Invisible Man Boogie.”

Henry’s face appeared below the hat. He laughed as we kissed.

“Personally, I always liked classical,” he said as we walked out to the car, fully visible for the night. “Hey, you know Rimsky-Korsakov wrote a whole piece about an invisible city?”

 

—end—

 

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Screaming for Ice Cream, Friday flash Fics for Nov. 10, 2017 by Jeff Baker

23032386_298868510610727_7348292570511776684_n                                                             We All Scream For Ice Cream

         

                                                By Jeff Baker

                      Tommy had lost track of how many boards he’d sawed in the last four hours. He was just glad he could take his shirt off on this job. Hell, he was just glad he had this job. He picked the shirt off the stool and wiped his face with it. This place needed more ventilation. But it was better than the machine shop in prison. And it was better than having no job and being made to police the yard for cigarette butts at the work-release place.

            He resumed sawing and started trying to think about how much money he’d made in the three weeks he’d worked here. Wasn’t sure what percentage work-release took out for expenses and he hadn’t had to spend anything except for lunches and bus fare. He wouldn’t even get the bulk of it until he made parole. Maybe about three, four months from now. Maybe in time for Thanksgiving.

            Tommy placed the sawed sections into the box and glanced at the saw. He grinned. No way they would have let him near one of these behind prison walls. He looked over at the window. Bright sun, blue sky. Be nice to be out there on a day like this. But this wasn’t a bad job to have, even temporarily. Maybe when he made parole he could relocate here and keep working at it. He stretched for a minute. It was getting close to quitting time. He’d have enough time to clean up a little and head for where he picked up his bus. He grinned to himself. There was a little ice cream shop on that corner. It probably wouldn’t blow his budget to stop in quick and get an ice cream cone. He hadn’t had one in a long time.

            It would be worth it. A taste of home.

                                    —end—

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Monday Flash Fics with hors d’ oeuvres by Jeff Baker

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                                                By Jeff Baker

 

            The reception had been going on for about twenty minutes when Adam leaned over and nuzzled Josh’s ear.

            “Don’t react and don’t look,” Adam said. “He just walked in.”

            “Is he armed?” Josh asked.

            “I can’t tell,” Adam said.

            Josh and Adam had been hired by one of the grooms just in case the one’s ex showed up at the wedding to cause trouble. The ceremony had gone on without incident but now they were all seated at big picnic tables in the park next to the wedding venue.

            “We’re detectives, not bodyguards,” Josh had said when Walter had hired them.

            “Didn’t you say you’d boxed in college?” Walter had asked.

            “I was a box boy in college,” Josh said.

            “Oh.”

            The gist of it was that Chris’ ex-boyfriend had said he was going to break up the wedding. He hadn’t threatened violence so Walter had remembered Josh from school.

            “Chaz can be mean,” Chris had said.

            “Is that why you broke up with him?” Adam had asked.

            “No, he broke up with me,” Chris had said.

The grooms were paying Adam and Josh plus renting their tuxes. It was a formal wedding. Plus, there were free hors d’ oeuvres. Then Chaz showed up.

            “He’s looking around, he’s staggering. I think he’s a little sloshed,” Adam said.

            Chaz was six-foot-something and probably would have looked at home in any football uniform instead of the suit and tie he was wearing. For a moment he stared at the table loaded with food.  With a yell, he tipped the table over. In the corner, the band stopped playing.

            “Oh, yeah, he’s a lot sloshed,” Adam said as he and Josh jumped up from their table.

            “Chaz no like buffet table, Chaz smash,” Josh said.

            Adam kept his eye on the groom’s table. They were seated with family and the wedding cake. It was on the other side of a tree so maybe Chaz hadn’t seen it yet. How bad was this going to turn out? A food fight or worse?

            Josh reached Chaz first.

            “Hey, buddy,” he said. “Let’s cool down. Okay?”

            Chaz snarled, raised a fist and swung at Josh, missed him by a half foot. Josh felt a breeze from the fist. Chaz staggered.

            “Hold up, man!” Adam said, reaching Chaz. Chaz stared, bleary eyed. Then he fell over on top of Adam.

            Adam was about 185 pounds and muscular. That didn’t help. He was slammed to the ground by the now unconscious Chaz.

            “My, God! You okay?” Josh said.

            “Yeah,” Adam said. “I just wonder how Mannix would handle this.”

            Somebody put Chaz in a car and hauled him off. Chris and Walter thanked Josh and Adam, even asking if there was anything they wanted.

            “Just one thing,” Josh said grinning at Adam in his food spattered tuxedo. “Have the band play something slow. It’s been a long afternoon.”

            Adam grinned back at him. He was still grinning as they danced, cheek to cheek, trying not to slip on the little cucumber sandwiches on the ground.

 

                                                       —end—

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“All Hallow’s Eve.” Monday Flash Fics. for Oct. 30, 2017 by Jeff Baker

22788627_10155743030119787_6000867585554295384_n                                                                             All Hallow’s Eve                                                                                                                                            By Jeff Baker                                                                                                         The house was an old Victorian, two stories made of graying brick with a flat roof. The yard had seen better days; brambles tangled through a growth of brown grass. The shutters on the windows were securely closed. Irving sighed. If the flag wasn’t up on the open mailbox with a stamped letter inside Irving would have assumed the house was deserted. He sighed and snapped the mailbox shut, glancing at the name on the box: Mordante.

            Mordante, he thought as he walked up the stone walkway. Mordante, Mordante. He reached the door and was about to reach for the big brass knocker when he saw it was in the shape of a skull. He stared for a minute, and then remembered. October Thirtieth. The family must have decorated for Halloween. He knocked on the door and after a few moments the door swung open and a blond, middle-aged man stood there in a turtleneck sweater and jeans.

            “Good afternoon Mister Mordan-tay,” Irving said. The man smiled broader and held up a hand.

            “Mordant, it’s pronounced Mordant. The e is silent.” Mr. Mordante said.

            “Oh, Mordant. Sorry,” Irving said pulling out one of the flyers. “Mr. Mordante, I represent Josh Silk who is a candidate for Representative here in the thirteenth district. Are you and your family registered to vote in the election next week?”

            “Ah! Civic duty!” Mordante said with an even broader smile. “But come in, come in. You shouldn’t be standing outside on a day like this!”

            “Well, okay,” Irving said following Mordante through the front door, glancing backward before the door closed. Clear, sunny, not a cloud in the sky.

            The interior of the house was greyish and somehow cozy with an old stone fireplace and antique furniture. The windows were tinted a dark green. The fireplace was made of the same gray stone with ornate carved groves and lines crisscrossing the mantle. Irving squinted: the lines almost resembled snakes.

            Irving took a few steps to the side and stared into a large room where a rocky gully on the floor with a small, flowing stream (inside the house?) blended somehow into a large, high-vaulted cathedral, complete with a gray, stone altar.

            “We only use it for Sabbaths,” Mordante said almost apologetically, steering Irving back to the living room.

            Irving was puzzled; he hadn’t noticed a high vaulted roof on the house when he’d driven by it in the side street. He hadn’t thought the house was that big.

            “Now, young man,” Mordante said. “About your candidate…”

            “Oh, yeah. I mean, yes,” Irving said. “Well, he, we, believe in the importance of everybody in the household being registered to vote in local elections.”

            “As do we!” Mordante said smiling even more broadly.

            Irving stared. It had to be his imagination. Mordante’s teeth seemed longer and sharper. And there seemed to be more of them. Must be the light.

            “Ah!” Mordante said. “Here is my lovely wife! As much a believer in the electoral process as I!”

            Irving turned. What was slithering towards them on the carpet bore a superficial resemblance to a boa constrictor, except it had fins and human-like eyes. Luckily, it was not between Irving and the door. Irving barely remembered throwing the door open, racing through the yard, starting the car and speeding off. He didn’t remember that he was screaming.

            He knew two things; he was done canvassing for the day and he was going to have a large drink.

            Maybe two.

 

                                                —end—

Author’s Note: I had another story plotted out for this picture and then I realized what day this was going to be posted on. So I came up with this. Happy Halloween!

           

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Friday Flash Fics from Jeff Baker for October 27, 2017

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The Optimum Fractured Curve Against the Reality Flow Matrix Theory

                                                           By Jeff Baker

 

            I hadn’t seen Roberto Anyas in about thirty years when I turned around that morning to see him lying there in bed. He hadn’t been there a moment before. He stared at me and a broad smile spread over his face.

            “Connor?” the man in the bed said. Roberto’s voice all right.

“Roberto?” I managed to sputter out.

            “Looks that way!” Roberto said. “My gosh! You look great!”

            “Yeah, you too!” I said. “I mean, you really haven’t changed.” I was convinced I was still in bed asleep and that it was the middle of the night, not mid-morning. Usually when I dreamed about Roberto Anyas he was bare armed and bare chested. Like now.

            “How long has it been?” Roberto asked. “No, really, how long? I’ve got no way of knowing. Just blame the tattoos.” He pointed to the green lines that striped and crisscrossed his left arm and shoulder.

            “Well, the last time I saw you was right after we graduated in 1983,” I said.

            “Eighty-three,” Roberto said, leaning back in bed. “That was about five years ago for me.”

            “Five years?” I aid. “More like thirty-five.”

            “Like I said, you can blame the tattoos,” Roberto said. “Hey, you have a pair of pants I can borrow?”

            “Sure,” I said. By this time, I was expecting to walk down a hallway and find myself in my high school class on the day of the big test. Still, a lot of it seemed real. I grabbed the sweatpants from the hall closet (our only closet) and turned back to the bedroom.

            “So, you zapped here from, like, 1988 or something?” I asked, tossing Roberto the sweatpants.

            “More like the early 75th Century,” he said as he slid further under the covers and started putting on the pants. Going for modesty. “After I graduated, I got involved with this think tank. We were going to try and reach the future.” He grunted, presumably pulling on the pants. “The tattoos are microdots. They’re linked in with the mainframe and with me. I can work it mentally so I went ahead about eight thousand years. Tried to learn something about future technology.” He shook his head. “They didn’t like that. I got out of there in a hurry. You were the first person I thought of so I homed in on you.” He looked around at the bedroom.  “I was aiming for the dorm, back about 1982.”

            “Why me?” I asked.

            “You were a really clear memory in a specific time frame,” Roberto said. “Besides, I really didn’t have any time to think about it. I had to get out of…where I was, fast.”

            “Without your pants.” I said, smiling.

            “Yeah.” Roberto said. “I was in a hurry. Oh, and thanks for these.” He tossed back the covers and stood up. The sweats just fit him. I stared. He looked just like he did 35 years ago. Back in the dorm.

            “They belong to Jason,” I said.

            “Thank him for me,” Roberto said. “He’s your boyfriend?”

            “Husband,” I said. “We got married about three years ago.”

            Roberto grinned. “Husband! Niiiiice! I could get to like this, what is it again, 2017? Almost as much as I liked the dorm.”

            I remembered the dorm in 1982. The windows open with the spring breeze. The radio on low. The lights off.

            “But I have to go,” Roberto said. “I’m stretching things with the optimum fractured curve against the reality flow matrix to drop me here and get me, well, back where I belong again.”

            “Nice seeing you,” I said. It was even if this was an increasingly realistic dream.

            “If I’m in the area, I’ll send you guys a postcard or something,” Roberto said.

            “Sounds good,” I said. “Hey, if you get there, say ‘hi’ to 1982 for me, okay?”

            “Will do.”

            “Hold up a minute,” I said looking out the window at the driveway. “Jason went out to the store; he should be back in a few minutes. He’s bringing donuts. If you like we could…”

            I turned back and Roberto was gone. I blinked a couple of times. I sat down on the bed, remembering 1982. It was a dream, I said to myself as I stood up again and walked over to the closet running my hands over the clothes.

            Nonetheless, Jason’s old sweatpants were gone.

 

                                                —end—

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