Category Archives: Flash Fiction

It Be Truth

Rasgado’s Jazz Club, Baía Farta, Angola | Claudio González Jorge, Google Maps

“What do you call it?”

“Jazz.”

Razi leaned back in his chair, puffing his cigar as the trio of musicians packed their instruments. This was not jazz. He knew jazz. He’d spent his greening years in New Orleans—the very birthplace of jazz. This was no Congo Square swing—all blare and brass. It wasn’t even the rhythmic roots of it, which owed its soul to the brothers and sisters sold from these shores. No, this was something different.

As a boy he’d played a game they called ‘telephone’, where the children sat in a circle. One child would whisper something—sometimes a secret—but usually a lie. Each child would whisper to the next, passing the lie from ear to mouth until it became something else entirely—something bigger and brighter and more fabulous. And sometimes, by the time it made it back, it be truth.

147 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

 

 

Employment at Will

86 Serangoon Rd
Singapore | Google Maps

It was seven floors down the fire escape, a 15-foot drop, and then 11 blocks to a shelter for girls like her. Girls who had believed the agents’ lies.

She’d been there 8 months, but had barely made a dent in the fees: the visa, the papers, the travel, the commission. The earnings to send back to her family were a dimly remembered dream.

She touched the bruise on her cheek. The swelling from her last beating had gone down enough that her vision was restored. If she stayed, there would be more of this.

She thought of her family back home in Myanmar, of their scant rice and the thin soup. If she ran away, there would even less to go around. It would fall on them to pay the agent’s fee.

She stared out at the stairs, the street, the moonlight—then closed the blinds and turned inside.

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

Inspired by From Myanmar to Singapore: Why the maid trafficking continues.

The Village Above the Clouds

Somewhere in Laos | Torsten Bachner, Google Maps

Today was lucky, she could feel it. She puffed an ember until caught beneath the pot of vegetables. When she was satisfied the fire was burning, she slipped out into the dark.

She was a hard worker. The man who came to put them in the television show had said so. As second daughter-in-law she had to be, for it fell on her to kindle the fire and make the morning breakfast. Beyond the morning chores that she alone must do, there was wool to spin, water to carry, rice to dry, and herbs to find along the way, in case any sickness came.

She looked out across the mountains. Purple tinged the sky in a way that signaled dawn. In the hen house, she slipped a slender hand beneath one snoring bird and then another. Treasure, so much treasure. Today, there would be eggs.

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

Inspired by this video: The Akha tribe in Laos: Between tradition and modernity | DW Documentary

What Pegman Saw: The Brotherhood of Blackheads

Brotherhood of Blackheads, Riga, Latvia } Google Maps

Alvis never had any need for a woman, that was for certain. A nagging wife thrusting out a bunch of hungry mouths to feed. He never got the attraction in it. Women were too soft, too insubstantial. He had decided long ago to remain a bachelor.

At an alehouse in Riga he learned about the Brotherhood. He had heard of brotherhoods before, full pious friars and with all their senseless god-chanting. He had no use for that either.

“No, no. You got it wrong. These are fighting men,” the tavern keeper said as he filled Alvis’s cup.

Fighting was not a thing that Alvis longed for, but the thought of being surrounded by fighting men was quite appealing. Especially if they were as strapping as the man who poured the mead.

“Who do they fight?” Alvis asked.

“Invaders,” the man shrugged.

Alvis nodded. This might be the place for him.

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

From Wikipedia:

The Brotherhood of Blackheads (EstonianMustpeade vennaskondGermanBruderschaft der SchwarzhäupterLatvianMelngalvju biedrība) is an association of local unmarried merchantsship owners, and foreigners that was active in Livonia(present-day Estonia and Latvia) from the mid-14th century till 1940 but still remains active in present day Hamburg.

What Pegman Saw: Marie

BSA Big Munson Island – Front Yard – Sargassum Beach CTS | Peter Khor

“Look, it’s a sea cucumber.” She grinned, a fisherman’s net of wrinkles cast across each cheek.

Before I could wade my way out, she’d lowered the creature into the shallows and let it rest in the sea grass. Then she was off, squinting up at the sun before splashing into another inlet, her bare legs freckled with age. She sported a skirted-swimming suit and a hat with a brim wider than Calusa Beach.

I could barely keep up with her. She knew the name of every sea star and prickly urchin that ever stitched its way through the shoals of Coupon Bight. She pulled up each kind in turn, greeting them like snowbirds in November, turning their bellies up to marvel at their workings.

“Once I had a nurse shark swim right between my legs,” she said for no reason.

She had a million stories and I believed them all.

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

This little vignette was inspired by my former mother-in-law, a woman as fearless as she is joyful. The woman has a Carolina drawl sweeter than southern comfort and twice as intoxicating. What a delightful woman, I miss her still.

And Then There Was One

Somewhere in Manitoba | Phillip Compton, Google Maps

Started coming up here in ’69, hale and hearty as we were. Rode as far as Winnepeg in my VW bus with our gear strapped on the roof. Two weeks every August when the pike were biting.

’81 was the year Eddie caught a 32-inch walleye. Had it mounted in his bar. Us drunk on the dock, singin’ ‘Oh Manitoba’. Next year Randy died all sudden-like and no one felt like singing.

Phil got the cancer in ‘95 and stayed home to fight it. Next year he flew out anyway, cancer riding copilot, trademark ballcap loose on his bald head.

By 2001, most of the rest of us were retired, but feelin’ fine.

The tens were rough and by ’18 it was just me and Eddie.

“Wouldn’t miss it,” he said on the phone a month before. But wouldn’t you know it, his wife just called.

Manitoba’s seen the last of us, I fear.

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

Badlands?

Deer Haven, Badlands, South Dakota | Darius Nabors, Google Maps

The bouncing jeep headed down a faint dirt roadway towards the rocky outline of the Badlands.

A half mile later, a more unexpected and disconcerting thing happened. A horizontal split wrenched across the landscape–dividing the world into two distinct views. Above was the world he knew: pinnacles, hoodoos and mesas. Beneath, lay a city, both ancient-looking and impossibly new.

It wasn’t as if the split had just happened, perhaps it had always been this way. Tom had never actually been way out here. No one really did. As they drove down a slope and into the gap, he watched the familiar features of the Badlands evaporate overhead. From here, it was evident that this part of the landscape was only a projection over the city that lay below. He turned to the woman, astounded.

“Holographic camouflage,” she said, pointing up. “It’s a mirage, essentially.”

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

Two things:

  1. Sorry for being so late to the party. A family trip and a fallen tree had me playing catch-up these past few days.
  2. I owe you an explanation on the story–it’s actually an excerpt from the first novel I ever wrote. I started it in August of 2011 following a family trip to the Black Hills. It’s my write-er-versary. The book was called Panacea, the story of a young man who finds himself in a secret compound in the Badlands, where science and magic collide.