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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Failure to Launch Flash Fiction

     Ok, here's a good example of me screwing up. Something I do with alarming regularity. I wanted to enter this writing contest; Liked the concept, wouldn't take too much time, had an idea about the photo right away, and of course, I'm a big fan of NPR. So I got the story written in plenty of time ... but failed to get it submitted before the end of the month deadline. I will just offer it up to all of you now. Please critique at will. This was an ekphrastic exercise, so you have to take a peek at the link to see the photo I was responding to.

In Peace

     He liked this spot. It was rather peaceful sitting near the iron grate where the warm air could reach him as he sprawled on the edge of the sidewalk trying to stay out of people's way. His head lolled side to side as if he might find a comfortable spot in the concrete wall just under the plate glass window of the coffee shop, and he was both comforted and tortured by the smells from the shop that made his stomach come alive. Some days he could get so relaxed here that he could remember, way back, before the drugs, before he went to Iraq, way back to when he'd been a different man. When he had a family and a home. He closed his eyes, and tried to return to that time, and his favorite thought of all, to remember his little sister, and how she had always looked up to him. His foot fell to the side as his happy little recollection softened into a dream, and a little spittle escaped the corner of his mouth and meandered into his messy beard.
     A woman inside the coffee shop, on the opposite side of the wall he lay against, could no longer control her disgust. The skinny latte and scone she had ordered could not be called inexpensive, and she fully expected to enjoy them and her magazine in peace, without having to watch some filthy vagrant wasting away outside the window. She got up and demanded the barista notify a manager immediately.
     "Something needs to be done to clean up the scenery on the street for all of the patrons," she implored. With her finger pointing outside in an angry salute, she seethed, "That is not the America that my brother went to war for," thinking of the beautiful young soldier she hadn't seen in ten years.

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