Three Flash Fictions
    John Repp


Green Bottle

My wife offers me a green bottle half full of carbonated water, crumbs of last nightís crackling corn bread floating on top. ďHere, drink this,Ē she says. ďItís really salty.Ē I glug it down, tasting anchovies, the olive-jammed flat bread from the Haymarket Deli, the cod we always order at the Portuguese restaurant.

Iím as hydrated as Iím likely to get, so I lift my bike off the rack in the dark bedroom, hustle past my slippered beauty in the breakfast nook, and trundle out the back door. When your car rusts out, itís good to have a bike as back-up.

Out in the alley, I lower the bike off my shoulder, and it doesnít bounce, doesnít click, doesnít shift back and forth on its space-age wheels because is has no wheels, no seat, no sprockets or brake shoes. Iíve set a bike frame down on the gravel, a frame foursquare enough to stand there like a decapitated dog.

In my irresponsible days, Iíd have called in sick and made a batch of waffles. No more. The walk to the bus stop will do a world of good.


Head Study

My apprenticeship has ripened enough Iím ready for head studies. The studio is mine for as long as necessary. The models sit with their backs against the far wall.

I walk over, wipe wet palms on my lucky smock, and lift the first head from the neck into which it nestles, then set it back into place, having confirmed my first intuition: an old woman blasted to meat by a long-ago bomb.

I offer bread. No lower jaw, no eyes, a tangle of white hair, she unfurls her swollen tongue, draws the food in, mashes it against her teeth, and drops a gossamer mass on the floor.

I glance down the row of models: twelve patient creatures. All right. This demands hyper-realist representation, barbed wire, foam rubber, and clay as media. As the Master says: art is one thing, then the next.


Burrows

Sideways snow, cold so ferocious itís grown teeth, the shambling dog squealing at the neighborsí back door, Iím seized by an ancient need that yields a taste of tin when met, so, of course, I yield.

The acquaintance seated next to me on the blue bench I use as a sofa withdraws a derringer, tosses a can of sardines as high as the crown molding, and peels back the top with one silver bullet. Shoot some beans and weíd have lunch!

Despite the hard freeze and the aforementioned distractions, the woodchucks digging burrows next to the foundation must be stopped. No matter the dream that insisted Iíd dug the holes and forgotten, something must be done to rid the place of vermin, and Iím the man for the job. Iíve read books, articles, and fund-raising letters concerning kind methods, but what if the creatures pigeon-toe their way to the home of another honest burgher? No. Kindness is darker than we think. I need traps. Poison. A good gun.


John Repp is the author of The Old West (and Other Tales), a chapbook collection of short-short fiction published in 2001 by March Street Press. His most recent collections of poetry are The Fertile Cresent (Cherry Grove Collections, 2004), and White Doe (Mayapple Press, 2004).
 
 

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