The first time I saw her, she was puffing softly on a cigarette in the girls’ bathroom. She looked all too much the devil incarnate, with tattered jeans and a band shirt that left no doubt at all that their songs would consist of guitar smashing and angsty screaming. She had dyed her hair this brilliant shade of blue that was almost black it was so dark. Upon her exhale, a long strand of smoke twirled from her ruby stained lips and curled around a nose ring that
Nothing can spoil today, not even our Sue. It’s the third Saturday in September, 1978. I’m 11 years old and like every other girl in our street, (and some of the boys), I’ve waited months for this. I know all the singles off by heart, I’ve watched the videos on Top of the Pops, posters of John Travolta have replaced Starsky and Hutch on my bedroom wall, and finally, FINALLY, after hearing the songs all Summer, the people of England can go to the cinema and watch Grease.
All the Brook Street lot are going; kids from six different families with four of their mums; The Thompsons, the Maguires, the Connollys, the Yips, the Browns and us. I’m as excited as the rest of them, but the difference is, I can’t tell anyone who the flutters in my stomach are for.
We all get the bus together. It’s packed and we have to stand in the aisle, fingers slippery on the
Baltimore, Maryland. 1960. DAVID, a white boy in his late teens, is standing in the rain under an umbrella, waiting for the morning school bus. There is a bench behind him. Enter CLARE, a black girl his age.
It’s so cold.
Long pause. DAVID is uncomfortable.
Would you mind sharing your umbrella?
Heads up to all interested short fiction writers…The deadline for submitting your story for consideration in our 49th Short Fiction Contest is September 30. Contest details are found here.
You’ve played this gig at the Tennyson Lodge at least a hundred times by now you figure—three years times twice a week, Wednesdays and Thursdays. You just took a solo and now The Kid is thumping on his oversized instrument, oversized by comparison to his body. He’s a five-foot-nothing of a chubby student bassist having joined the quartet two weeks prior. His dark, stylishly teased hair is stuck in place by product, his eyes just barely open and he rocks left to right in a manner offensive to you for some reason.
You don’t need a reason. You’ve been doing this long enough to call it like you see it and The Kid is nothing more than a vaguely promising hack. You might want to talk to him on break, get a better idea where his head is at, but meanwhile he’s wiggling around and you kind of hope he gets caught under a
Gas lamps lined the street lifting their warmth out into the world to stave off the night. Their flickering orange reflected in the puddles along the curb and the cobble still shiny with rain long gone. A storm had passed. Leaves now settled in clumps along the gutters and at the feet of a slumped musician folded forward on a stoop. The curve of his instrument’s dark case towered above him, concealing an elegant bass within.
Brownstones framed the scene extending stoops from hidden entryways. A newspaper fat with rain hung over a wrought-iron rail, the upside-down words “Congress Overrides Veto of Taft-Hartley” visible even in the obscurity of predawn. A five-and-dime, closed for business until morning, hosted a shadowy window display advertising dry shampoo and
Chris Chisholm’s suit jacket landed beside his foot in a black pinstriped heap. He studied his fragmented reflection in a mosaic of mirrors, raised his eyebrows and his glass and said, “A toast!”
There was only one other person within view, within earshot. Phil the bartender stood beneath a clock whose hands were both pointed to the number one. “What’re we toasting, Chi Chi?”
Chris opened his mouth to say, “To Reggie!” But what came out were the lyrics of a Led Zeppelin song: “The cup is raised, the toast is made again…” He trailed off, humming, as if he’d forgotten the rest. He hadn’t.
Phil smirked and reinserted a rag into the glass he’d been drying. “Thanks a lot. Now I’ll have that love song stuck in my
When they came to build the wall, I played Mingus.
I stood in the blistering sun, watched them arrive, and did my best to blow my lungs clean out. They climbed down from hissing dew-sprinkled trucks, adjusted their hard hats, and went to work setting up the barricades. They ignored me completely.
They didn’t ignore me long. I was off-key, and I was loud. Ain’t always about hitting all the right notes, man. A clarinet’s gotta be raw. Real. None of that philharmonic fast food commercial stuff.
I could almost hear Tony taking the high notes right beside me. He would have, too. He always loved a good
I just returned from a wonderful vacation in Italy and Germany, so we have fallen a bit behind on determining the winner of the Short Fiction Contest. For those of you who entered your story, I appreciate your patience. I hope to have the winning story published by July 15.
Meanwhile…you may enjoy this 2011 interview of
Camp looked through glass doors and across the shoulderless highway. A patch of grass across the road was covered with white trailers washed clean by the rain. He stared out a side window at the brown back of a gas station. A red and yellow sign, mounted so high he had to twist his neck to see it, seemed like it should have been turning but sat still against a gray sky.
What do you find in a bus station? Long waits under dirty fluorescents, grimy floor and seats, gloom on scattered faces. Soup, coffee and candy vending machines. If someone could gather it up, all the pieces a bus station’s handed down through the years, you could start a museum. You could cover the walls with black and white photos, pictures of a million people. Pick out any one person, nobody special, just someone with some