A-Frame

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

The instructions were specific but unclear.

Blue convertible, Clark Street coffee shop next to the station, 2 PM. There wasn’t a coffee shop on Clark. Colombe was on Grant, around the corner and a block away, a location identified on an A-Frame sign on the sidewalk outside the station.

1:57. The exchange would be less noticeable around the station, everyone focused on getting somewhere else. Too many people-watchers at Colombe.

Calling or texting wasn’t an option. His client wanted no digital footprints.

When the blue convertible stopped by the A-Fame and put on its flashers, he knew he’d chosen correctly.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Event Poetry & Prose

Nearly every literary journal and genre magazine recommends reading a sample issue before submitting work to it. That’s one of the motivations for my ongoing series of reviews — to demonstrate I’ve done my homework.

Event Poetry & Prose is a literary journal founded in 1971. Published by Douglas College in British Columbia, the journal comes out three issues a year.

What They Say About Themselves: “For 50 years, EVENT has published the very best in contemporary new poetry and prose. We are one of Western Canada’s longest-running literary magazines, and welcome submissions written in English from around the world. Each issue of EVENT includes high quality fiction, poetry, non-fiction and book reviews, and we feature emerging and established writers side-by-side in our pages. We also print commissioned illustrations alongside the writing, and each cover features the work of a BC photographer.”

Issue Reviewed: Volume 46, Issue 1 (Spring/Summer 2017). This was the complimentary issue offered when I signed up for the journal’s newsletter.

Genre: Literary realism

One Story I’ll Remember Not to Forget: “My Holocaust Survivor,” by Méira Cook. Daniel is a disaffected high school student interviewing an elderly Holocaust survivor in a senior center for a school project. Resentful at the assignment and disgusted by the ill-mannered man he interviews, Daniel eventually discovers a unique bond with the survivor. Stories on this subject can be predictable and maudlin, but this story was neither. I appreciated this fresh take.

Exploding Helicopters: One Explosion. The stories featured a great deal of dialogue and introspection, but very little conflict.

Profanometer: Dammit. After two-plus years of reviewing literary journals, I’m coming to believe that writers routinely throw in an f-bomb or two as a perfunctory demonstration of their stories’ adult content. I know that’s cynical, but then again I am kind of a fucking jerk.  

Should

PHOTO PROMPT © Carole Erdman-Grant

“Definitely not a restaurant,” Len explained. “No kitchen. One night someone remembered it being a cheese shop.”

“Cheese?” Terri asked.

“And specialty foods. A boutique for foodies. She said it changed ownership several times, but had been abandoned twenty years ago.”

“You didn’t go for cheese, did you?”

Len snorted. “Saturday nights in high school, this was the place to do stuff we knew our parents wouldn’t approve. It’s where Bob… did something he shouldn’t have.”

“That wasn’t your fault,” Terri said, laying a hand on Len’s shoulder.

“Bob did what he shouldn’t. And I didn’t do what I should’ve.”

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Opportunity

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

Scott knew what would happen if he asked his wife to bring the chair back inside. I’ll get to it. She’d say the same when he reminded her in an hour as daylight vanished.

Perhaps it was best to leave it overnight, allow the elements to further erode the finish. He hadn’t wanted the chair anyway, knowing the maintenance required. Linseed oil? He had enough mundane chores. Tomorrow, maybe she’d want to be rid of it. Yes, this was his opportunity —

“Oh, that chair,” Lynn called. “Scott, I’m busy making dinner. Would you mind getting it?”

Well played. “Of course.”

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Celebrating the Unusual

HOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

When the pandemic began, working from home was Arlen’s sole option. For nearly a year he came into the office once monthly, never for a full day. Once vaccinated he went in once each week; feeling comfortable a month later, that increased to two days, then three a few months later. In January, nearly two years from the virus’ outbreak, he was in the office all five days.

Today was his last of scheduled remote work. Starting Monday, his daily commute would resume.

Arlen’s wife prepared an elaborate breakfast to celebrate the end of this unusual time in his career.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Urban Legend

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Her request to leave, now, prompted him to ask what was wrong.

“Look up. No, not straight up, down the street. I don’t… want to point.”

A moment later he believed he located her concern. “The shoes?” A dozen pair of sneakers dangled from their laces across a thin pole, the remnant of an abandoned sign.

“This isn’t a good neighborhood,” she said. “Let’s get an Uber.”

“It’s nothing. Don’t believe those urban legends about gangs. Probably a neighborhood practical joke. Let’s keep walking.”

“I want to leave. Please.”

He looked back at her, realizing he wouldn’t win this battle.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.