By Deb Whittam
To the counter she marched
resolute, chin held high as
she looked the shopkeeper
directly in the eye.
That painting, there, the one
above the door, I’ll give
you twenty dollars,
not a penny more.
Silence met her words
but with a nod he agreed
and painting in her hand, she smirked,
there had been no need to plead.
At home she unwrapped
her highly sought after prize
only to discover on the frame
a notation that made shock arise.
twenty she had paid,
twenty she had offered,
but the tag clearly stated
clearance – just one dollar.
By Richard Helmling
As the ash piled up on the sixth day, they finally decided to head south.
“Por favor,” they made their son practice as they drove.
They avoided El Paso because the last radio broadcasts they had received said it was impossible to cross there.
So they found a seemingly desolate stretch of the wall. They approached with rope ladders slung between them, slapping their thighs, and he winced, remembering his vote in the previous election.
On the other side, he looked back over his shoulder at the six-foot high graffiti: “No les des de comer a los Americanos!”
Richard Helmling’s work has appeared in English in Texas, The Rio Grande Review, Fiction Brigade, Black Heart Magazine and Arsenic Lobster.
They argue over everything, especially when it comes to packing the car.
Her approach is to plan ahead and pack methodically, whereas he grabs items on sight and packs with brute force.
One morning she challenges him to prove that his method is more efficient. He spends the rest of the morning squeezing everything they own into the back of the car, determined to prove her wrong.
Once finished, he brings her outside to inspect his work.
Thank you she says, before getting into the car and driving away forever, happy to have conceded their final argument together.
By Christine Goodnough
“Mrs Derringer?” Officer Menzies flashed her badge when the woman opened the door. “Guess you know why I’m here.” She’d found starting this way could elicit some interesting reactions.
The old lady gasped. “How did you find out? I’ve been so careful.”
Menzies raised a questioning eyebrow.
“You don’t know what it was like living with that man. He was cruel in every way. I just couldn’t take any more.” Her eyes teared up. “I suppose one of the neighbors suspected …?”
“Mrs Derringer,” Menzies interrupted gently. “I’m here to tell you your driver’s license is expired. Time to renew.”
By Christine Goodnough
I made camp by a wilderness lake to enjoy some solitude. Almost. I did make friends with a curious skunk who found my frypan drippings appealing.
Next evening a motorboat roared in. Three hunters unloaded their gear, made camp, guzzled beer. Finally crawled into their tent to snore.
Later I heard sneezing; the skunk was nosing among the ashes. When he headed for the newcomers’ tent, I whispered. “Wrong way, Moufette.”
His visit incited shouts, then three splashes as our reeking visitors hit the lake.
I fried extra bacon the next night. It’s nice to have friends drop in.
By Maura Yzmore
When I met Jenny, she worked as a waitress at the diner where I often ate after my shift.
The day I fell in love with her, she gave me the middle finger—the whole middle finger, with the telltale writer’s callus and both knuckles. It floated alongside chunks of chicken in the creamy soup that she served me.
I was more curious than appalled. “How does one get the whole middle finger chopped off?”
“By flipping off a ninja,” said Jenny, deadpan. At that moment, I knew she was the one.
The settlement I received paid for our honeymoon.
Bio: Maura’s short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Fiction Pool, Storyland, Microfiction Monday Magazine, The Dirty Pool, and 50-Word Stories.