Archive for “Short Fiction”

Literature » Short Fiction

“Louisiana Pearl” — a short story by Bokerah Brumley

The faraway trumpet’s trill drifted into the home we shared. The tune stirred the heavy air. It should have been spring weather, but a heatwave had taken over our parish. It made the air heavy and made us languid during the days.

Mama hummed along with the hand-me-down song while she worked, stirring the wash or cooking supper or mixing herbs. Her mama taught her to hear it, same as she taught me. It was as constant as the wind.

Mama’s gray strands peeked from beneath a dark blue kerchief, the majority braided then twirled in an age-thinned bun. She didn’t know how old she was. Best she could figure, she was

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Literature » Short Fiction

“Intergalactic Language” — a short story by James E. Guin

I was playing my weekly gig at Café Reinhardt when Bella, one of the waitresses, whispered in my ear, “They want you out back.”

She had disturbed me from a zone. I had been through all of my arrangements and was improving on the chords to “Minor Swing.”

“They?” I asked.

She shrugged her shoulders. Straight to the point, no small talk, Bella was my kind of gal. In the second it took to place my guitar on my guitar stand a million thoughts circled around in my mind. Did Chad, the drummer, want to borrow money again? Had the musician’s union caught on to the fact I wasn’t paying my dues? Another one of the agent Jimmy’s scams? Groupies? Oh yeah, jazz musicians haven’t had groupies under the age of forty-five since the 1940s.

I stood up, and as Bella was strolling to a table near the front door, she said, “Take your guitar.”

Ah, nothing complicated just someone wanting to test out my chops before a gig. People can be peculiar when it comes to inviting musicians into their home. They want to meet you, form a relationship, and get the feel for

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Literature » Short Fiction

Short Fiction Contest winning story #42 — “Playing for Tips,” by Kevin Bennett

It was a persistent and gentle nudge—always was. He knew who was prodding him and what she would say without turning, so he continued to run his fingers up and down the keys—there was a major seventh followed by a fifth interval; repeat several times, arpeggiate, transpose—

“Sir? I’m sorry sir—”

The nudging again. He spoke as if distracted—which he was: “Yes?”

“Some of the people are trying to work,” she said.

“Have them come and talk to me,” he replied, and continued to play.

The barista was put-off for a moment, but she jostled him again. “If you could just play a little quieter—”

The words were like daggers. They weren’t new, they weren’t original, and they brought hate like bile to his mind and body; coursing in and throughout him like a thousand

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Literature » Short Fiction

“The Horn: Whispers of eternity in F major” — a short story by Mi West

Some lives turn out healthy and long, some more fulfilled than long. Bro was sick and much older. He passed away last spring, so his voice sounds both new and familiar to me, as it whispers,

Go to my place and visit my old room.

“Why?”

I’ll let you know.”

An ascending airliner outside wakes me up, and I realize I was dreaming. I’m still yawning as I look up a weekend bus, but the online timetable shows more blanks than connections.

It’s dry September weather, so I grab my key to his door, fill up my water bottle, and make this a bike trip in heat haze instead, like the

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Literature » Short Fiction

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #41 — “You Blows What You Is,” by Ruth Knafo Setton

The port of Casablanca was crammed with Vichy officers, soldiers, cops, thieves and criminals. Each night I slept behind sand dunes, and each morning, washed in the freezing sea and shook myself dry in the winter wind. My shirt and trousers were stiff with salt and stuck to my chest, arms and legs. I figured it would be easy to steal a sweater or coat, grab it off a café chair while its owner ate and drank. But each time I stuck my head inside a restaurant and started weaving between tables, the owner threatened to call the cops.

No cops, no officers, no father whipping me, never again. I’d lie low, steal what I needed, and owe no one a damned thing.

Ten days after I arrived in Casablanca, a shipload of

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Literature » Short Fiction

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #40 — “The Blues Museum,” by Jay Franzel

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 […] Continue reading »

Literature » Short Fiction

“Songs for Sometime Losers: A Bebop Suite” — by Beth Spencer

Slow slow slooooooooooooooow; the river was practically dry, a river in name only, a few puddles on the mudflats where standing water reflected the cottony clouds that moved perpetually east, dropping nothing anymore but empty promises. Unsettling in the most literal sense. Many people sold their houses or just abandoned them, heading north, and those who stayed finally got serious about […] Continue reading »

Literature » Short Fiction

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #39: “The Lot,” by John Hyde Barnard

Three times a year, we award a writer who submits, in our opinion, the best original, previously unpublished work.

John Hyde Barnard of Los Angeles, California is the winner of the 39th Jerry Jazz Musician New Short Fiction Award, announced and published for the first time on July 3, 2015.

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“The Lot”

by John Hyde Barnard


He brought the cigarette up to his lips. As he took a hit the orange
glow briefly lit his face and faded back into shadow as he slowly exhaled
a cloud of blue smoke. He crushed the butt on the windowsill, sparks and
dying embers leaving a trail that quickly became black and cold. As he
flicked the butt into the night air he glanced over the rooftops. It
seemed the horizon was a shade lighter. Had he been sitting there that
long?

Unable to sleep since arriving at the apartment some hours earlier,
he sat at the open window: musing, arguing, longing and laughing with his
thoughts. He had not discovered an epiphany or revelation, only a comfort
with the warm night. It was the first warm night of the season; the
unmistakable promise of […] Continue reading »

Literature » Short Fiction

“Mystery in C Minor” — a short story by Bruce Golden

The winner of the November, 2006 Short Fiction Contest, Bruce Golden’s story looks at the mystery surrounding the death of Major Glenn Miller.

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January 30, 1946 — Allied Headquarters, Paris, France


“What is it, Captain? I’m very busy.”

“Sorry to disturb you, Colonel, but you said you wanted a report as soon as I completed my investigation.”

Colonel Washburn searched his desk muttering, “Yes, yes. I’ll read your report as soon as you’ve filed it.”

Captain Mercer didn’t move. He was hesitant to annoy his superior officer when the man was so obviously distracted by other concerns, but he was convinced it was necessary.

“Pardon me, sir, but I know the directive for this investigation came from the top, and I believe you should hear my findings before any official documents are filed.”

The colonel looked up at his subordinate for the first time. “What do you mean? What did your investigation reveal?”

“Well, sir . . . .” Captain Mercer hesitated. He’d rehearsed this, but now wasn’t certain where to begin.

“Come on, son, I don’t have all day. Major Miller’s plane went down somewhere over the Channel — correct?”

“Well yes . . . and no.” Mercer cringed at how it sounded.

“What do you mean yes and no? It can’t be both, Captain. What exactly did your investigation conclude?”

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