Cashing in

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“What do you mean my advantage in this situation,” the tiny aspiring thespian asked.

“Well, I mean you are awfully small, you are very distinctive. Plus how many repressed memories are out there just walking around? It might make a really good reality show,” Byron said.

“What’s a reality show, “Fred asked.

“How old was the woman whose head you were in now,” Byron asked.

“I have no idea,” Fred said.

“What year was it when she came into your restaurant?”

“1984,” Sam said.

Byron smiled. They had no idea about cell phones, lap tops or reality television. They didn’t know about gay marriage, 911 or the internet. His mind raced at the possibilities.

“People become big stars now a days just from being themselves. You have to have something about you that’s special and you certainly have that.”

The waiters all  high fived each other. The four men began to plan the show. It was decided they would live in a doll house in Byron’s apartment which just happened to be located in Beverly Hills.

…………………………………………………………………….

Medgar Simpson parked in the Ralphs lot and ran into the store. He did not feel comfortable leaving his apartment for very long these days.  He bought fourteen frozen dinners a box of cereal bars, a six pack and an enormous bag of potato chips for himself. The then Purchased tofu, veggies and rice, brie cheese, mac and cheese and fancy wine for his guests. He drove back to his building and ran upstairs. The tiny people were sitting in their terrarium playing Sorry and using themselves as pieces.

He said hello to them and got a few grudging responses. He put away the groceries while heating up a frozen meal. After gobbling it down he cracked opened a beer and made a salad, boiled water and stir fried some tofu. He opened the wine to let it breath and then poured it into tiny thimbles. When the water reached a boil he made the mac and cheese and doled out ten servings onto a set of Barbie plates. Along with the salad. He carried the meals in two at a time where they were devoured by his unappreciative charges.

“Could you cut the tofu smaller next time,” asked the woman in the house dress.

“Where’s my fish,” asked Jesus.

“You’ll get some tomorrow,” said Medgar in the most pleasant voice that he could muster.

“Excuse me,” said the man wearing the tweed jacket.

“Yes, professor,” Medgar asked wearily.

“I Believe I requested Brie?

“You’ll have it tomorrow as well. I can’t serve all the food at one meal.”

“When will we be interviewed,” the woman in the house dress asked.

“Tonight, or possible early tomorrow morning. Dr. Peterson will be over as soon as his wife falls asleep.

Several hours past and Medgar had two more beers. Dr.  Peterson arrived at midnight explaining that he had given his wife an Ambien. He took each of the little people into the bathroom and interviewed them one by one. Medgar sat and took notes as he recorded the interview on his cell phone.

The woman in the housedress had been Shelia’s aunt who she had caught reading her diary when she was young. The boy on the bike was a grade school bully who had grabbed at her in front of her entire sixth grade class. The man in the tweed jacket was a college professor who made fun on a poem she’d read in class. She had repressed a memory of a time when she had peed in her pants at scary movie she’d seen involving the Catholic Church. THis explained what Jesus was doing there. The teenage version of her was there because she had repressed her entire 15th year. David Strathairn was merely a forgotten star crush. He complained about the fact that he had been completely naked for the last 30 years. Dr. Peterson ignored his request for pants.

When he was done and the little people were asleep. Medger and the doctor sat in the kitchen drinking coffee and eating chips.

“It’s quit fascinating, really,” the doctor said. Every one of her repressed memories has to do with some sort of public humiliation, except for that actor of course. Not only is it a great psychological study, but a sociological one as well. She grew up white, middle class and Jewish. She never had to worry about survival as a child, yet she has a very survivalist mentality.  She does almost nothing now but sit and stare at the television set; she is a completely blank slate.”

“You’re going to be very famous, “Medgar said. “

“So will you, my friend. I just want to study them for about another month. “

Medgar felt his butt cheeks contract. Another month of playing nurse maid to the tiny people? Still he wanted those referrals of whom Dr. Peterson had spoken. He smiled and the two men began to plan a strategy for their study.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Byron sat in his office waiting for the publicist who shared his virtual office to arrive. He’d found his card in the desk and decided it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a partner in this new endeavor. He heard the elevator creek and crash, followed by steps down the hallway.

The door swung open and a slight, dark haired man entered the room.

“Byron?”

“Yes.”

“I’m Jay Pikeman.  The two men shook hands.

“So, I’m curious to see what this is all about. You say you have some sort of miracle you want to show me?
“Yes, but before we get started. I’m going to have to ask you to sign this agreement,” Byron handed Pikeman a single sheet of paper that basically stated that he would not disclose anything that that was about to be seen or discussed. After the papers were signed the men sat down and Byron opened the desk drawer. The three waiters climbed out. Pikeman gasped and smiled.

The three waiters introduced themselves. Byron explained that they were repressed memories from a woman’s head. Then they discussed the reality show. The three waiters had been living in a luxury doll house in Byron’s living-room. They already had a bit of film footage. The three young men had been 21 for 30 years. They would all be 51 years old now. The show would focus on the three young men hunting down their 51 year old selves and bounding with them.

After the meeting, Pikeman left and the waiters climbed into Byron’s briefcase. Everyone was happy accept for Sam. As they rode home in the dark briefcase he thought that he did not want to meet himself at 51; he wanted to be young. He did not want to be a novelty, he wanted to be a serious actor. He began to plan his escape.

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HOLLYWOOD PUBLICIST AVAILABLE

  office

From Craigslist:

I represent writers artist and actors. I will get you booked. $67.00 will get you an introductory package.

Pikeman sat on the bus, grateful for the air conditioning. He had given himself a whole extra hour to get to his virtual office on Sunset Blvd. He tried not to smell the stench of urine and sweat that was present on the bus. He tried not to look at the old woman who had no teeth and an ugly scar or listen to the man who sat arguing with himself about a long ago debt.

As his perspiration froze and dried, he closed his eyes and tried to envision success. He would meet Peter and tell him what he could do for him. Peter would get excited about the idea and they would sign a contract together. He promised himself a victory drink at Bar Marmont.

He opened his eyes as the bus pulled away from the sad madness of downtown Los Angeles and watched the faces change as the 704 drove out of downtown and onto Santa Monica Blvd. Although it was an express bus, it crawled down the road past bums screaming the bible and begging for money and then buildings and houses with peeling paint and many children playing on the lawn. It drove by hipsters loudly proclaiming their disdain for what secretly comforted them and then the Beverly Center with its tourist and its wannabes. Finally it reached his stop, where maids and shop girls dismounted the bus to serve the wealthy and discontented.

He walked to his virtual office, He took the rickety elevator up to the third floor and quickly stuck his sign on the door.  He walked into the bathroom, washed his armpits and brushed his teeth. He returned to his office and sat behind his desk reading the Hollywood Reporter that he swiped from the mailbox of a house, that was just three blocks away from the Wilshire Blvd. call center, where he secretly worked. He checked the clock on the VoIP phone that sat on the desk. He still had five minutes before His client was to arrive. He hoped this one would show up. He took a quick glance at the notebook that was left by one of the men with whom he shared the office. He wondered if it belonged to the psychotherapist or the life coach as he shoved it into a drawer.

He heard the precarious rumbling of the elevator gasping its way to the third floor. He instinctively straightened up, then remember to slouch again. He heard the the slow footsteps of a man trying to locate an office.

Pikeman’s heart sank when the man stepped into the room. He was slight and chubby and  appeared to be about thirty five. He had teeth that would suggest that he was a smoker and a hairline that would suggest he was a worrier.

“Peter,” Pikeman said rising to his feet.

‘Yes are you…”

“Jay Pikeman.”

“Nice to meet you,” Peter said. They shook hands and sat down.

“So, you were a little vague in your e mail, what exactly brought you to me,” Pikeman asked.

“Well, I wanted a publicist.”

“What did you want publicity for?”

“Myself.”

“But, Well, I mean what is it that you do. “

“I live.”

“I see,” Pikeman said wondering how he was ever going to get someone this homely and dull on reality television.

“I want everyone to know about it,” Peter explained.

“Well, we could try to get you on Big Brother or something. Maybe we could start by having you make some videos for YouTube. Can you do impressions?”

Pikeman asked wondering if he still had time to sell his plasma after the audience with this self-absorbed yutz.

“I don’t think you understand. I would never do reality television, in fact I arbore the.”

“ So what are you an actor…a writer? Do you play music?”

“I don’t do any of those things. I’m customer service representative in a call center.”

“Oh yeah, which one” Pikeman asked, “I’ve got a buddy who does that.” He wondered if this wasn’t some kind of trick; was someone trying to humiliate him?

“It’s a legal service in Santa Monica.”

“Yeah, well that can be tough work. I understand why you would want out,” Pikeman said, wondering how many more calls he himself could take before committing suicide.

“Oh, I don’t want out. Well, I mean I do. But, I don’t have any talent and I’m nothing to look at.”

‘That never stopped anyone before,’ Pikeman thought.

“I want all the people in my world to know I exist.”

“In your world,” Pikeman asked wondering if the man wasn’t schizophrenic.

“I want you to let the people I deal with every day know that I’m alive. The coworkers in the call center. My family members, the people on the bus, this really cute girl who works at the grocery store I go to.”

“Peter, I…”

I’ll give you the $67.00, plus expenses and I’ll write you a letter of recommendation.”

Pikeman thought for a moment. He could create bunch of fake Facebook profiles and like everything Peter posted. He could photograph him eating at various restaurants and have a girl he knew who wanted to be a model have her picture taken with him.

“Okay, I’ll do it,” Pikeman said.

The two men signed a contract and Peter left. Pikeman, headed up the block to Bar Marmont. The $67.00 in his pocket made him a professional publicist; now all he needed was a drink.

Aesthetic Inequity

heart

 

 

Claire sat in her apartment waiting for the doorbell to ring. She had spent most of the day cleaning her apartment and the last two hours trying to make herself presentable. Her stomach knotted when the clock struck 7:00. She’d told the service to send him over an hour before the party, so they could get their stories straight. She’d seen the Rent a Buddy ad in LA Weekly and called out of desperation. She hoped he wasn’t too good looking, she’d instructed them to be realistic.

She got up and looked at herself in the mirror again. There she was, plain and pale with thin blond hair and bad skin and ten pounds overweight to boot. She wasn’t sure what was more ridiculous, the problem she was having or the solution to the problem.

The bell rang and she opened the door to find a tall dark haired man with perfectly chiseled features standing in the door way.

“Claire?” the young man asked.

“Are you Tim,” she asked without a smile.

“Yes,”

She stepped aside and he entered. He sat down on the sofa and she offered him a root beer. She studied him suspiciously as he drank it.

“How old are you.”

“Twenty Seven,” how old are you?

“Thirty three, If anyone asks I’d like you to be thirty.”

He shrugged.

“How much do you pay for this place,” he asked.

“$1000 a month.”

“Am I supposed to live with you?

“No, we’ve only been dating for a month.”

“Are you trying to make someone jealous,” he said with a note of judgment in his voice.

“No, I’m trying to discourage someone. My boss wouldn’t leave me alone. I’m not used to that sort of thing and I didn’t know how to handle it. I told him I had a boyfriend.”

“Why didn’t you just sue the company?”

“Well, It’s only a temp job and, I don’t know It didn’t seem worth it I mean sometimes those things make the news and they make the woman sound nuts “She said looking at the floor,afraid to meet his glance.

“Look, I could use something stronger. Do you want some whiskey,” she asked.

“Sure,” he brightened. “So tell, me about myself. What’s my name what do I do?”

“You’re a paralegal.”

“Not just one,” he chuckled and she looked confused.

 

“I told them you worked in the legal department of  BOA. I didn’t want them asking too many questions. Your name is Greg and you just moved here from Denver and you moved here to be closer to your family.”

He took a moment to absorb this.

“What is it you do,” he asked emptying his glass.

“Telephone customer service for a video production company. Their normal girl is on maternity leave she’ll be back at the beginning of February, “she said refiling both of their glasses.

“How did we meet,” he said draining his glass and pouring another.

“We met at a party of a guy in your building. We bounded over a love of Robin Williams movies.” She paused to refill her own glass.

”That was how I ended up mentioning you, actually. My supervisor, is this really creepy guy and we were talking in the break room and the subject was 80’s movies. He said he loved Mrs. Doubtfire and that it was playing at the Beverly, I panicked and said something like you know who love’s Robin Williams, my boyfriend! Were gonna have to go see that movie! Thanks for telling me about it. I said something like that. So then he started asking me about you. I just got deeper and deeper into the lie.”

She began to feel a bit more confident and everything in the room seemed softer, even their aesthetic inequity,

“I did like that movie.” He smiled.

She smiled to herself feeling a bit superior in knowing that the film was a trite piece of shit.

”Do you have any smoke?”

 

They both sat in silence for a moment smoking from Clair’s cheap glass pipe. More alcohol was consumed.

“So, how did you get this job,” she asked with a laugh.

“I just came here and I was looking for a day job while I pursued acting. My roommate told me about the company, he said fighting of a slur.

They both began to giggle.

“We should go,” she said. She staggered to her feet.

Realizing they were too drunk to drive they got into a cab a rode to the restaurant where the office Christmas party was being held. By this time they were both quite jovial and a bit speech impaired.

Tim laughed at the sight of palm trees with lights on them.

“I miss snow,” he said.

There was a light rain that pounded the cab and made the filth on the street shine and rise and run into the gutter. The lights from the cars seemed bright and magnetic to Clair she wanted to follow the light itself as it sank back into the world of the car.

They arrived at the party fifteen minutes after it had started. They made a bee line for the bar to get their two allotted free drinks, they ordered Jamison’s and went over their details as they drank.. After a moment, Randy the supervisor that Tim had been hired to fool walked. In the door. He took off his hat to reveal that a bare pate sat above the chubby exterior which was clad in a cheap, powder blue suit.

“He’s here,” Claire jumped up and almost fell to the ground in the process. Tim giggled hysterically and caught her. Claire felt a warm rush go through her body as he pulled her to her feet and put his arm around her, leading her towards Randy.

“Hi, Randy” Clair said.

“Hey…” Randy began.

“I’m Ti…..Greg! How ya doin’ man!”

“I’m doin’ well. So you….

“I’m a paraplegic in a firm.”

Claire looked horrified.

“You’re a what.” Randy said confused.

“I’m from Denver” Time screamed.

Clair began to laugh. Tim slapped her butt and kissed her with an open mouth.

Randy looked confused but a little aroused.

Clair and Tim stagger out into the street. Tim began to run along Melrose Ave as fast as he could. Weaving in and out the passers by who regarded him with curiosity. Clair chased after him trailing a block behind. He stopped at a vintage store and waited for her to catch up.

“This store sells Fruit Loops T-shirts for fifty dollars apiece” he said. “Throw a rock!”

“I don’t think so,” she said.

“Do it and I’m free”.

“I already paid,” She said.

He kissed her, this time more seriously. She picked up a rock and aimed at the window.

.

The Agnostic

a_single_red_rose-normal

 

 

The girls got into the limo that was parked outside of the airport Holiday Inn. They were about to leave for the Beverly Hills mansion where they were to meet their potential suitor. There were five limo’s containing five potential girlfriends. Each limo pulled up to the mansion and the girls got out one by one and they had a brief interview with Jackson Butterworth, a former country star and the host of Alpha Male which was to be a reality television show. Twenty five beautiful women were to compete to win the heart of a pickup artist who wanted to settle down.

Emily was assigned to the second limo. She sized up the competition as the limo flew down Santa Monica Blvd. There was a tall dark haired girl with nice teeth, but small breasts. There was a red head with perfect skin and long legs, there was an Asian girl with a perfectly tight figure, and a flawless looking brunette with perfect everything.

Emily was a blond with blue eyes and big breast. She hoped whoever this guy was, he was a traditionalist. She needed him to pick her. She wanted to move to LA badly and she knew she would never ever able to afford it without a job. She was sure that if she won she could get another reality show or perhaps an anchor job on E. It was her plan to be likable and sexually conservative, not virginal; but conservative. From what she had seen America like what it considered to be “good girls”, but not freaks. She planned to drink less than the other girls but not tea tottle, she planned to appear smart, but not intellectual, spiritual but not religious and aware but not political. She made a study of these shows, it was her only way out of Boise.

The limo arrived at the mansion and all the girls did the five minute interview. They headed inside for a fabulous cocktail party. Emily had never seen anything so opulent in her life. There were camera men all around and the girls were all served many cocktails. Emily had to hold herself back from eating too many of the hor d’oeuvres. After about an hour Jackson came into the room and told everyone to have a seat.

“Welcome to Alpha Male, ladies,” he said.

Everyone hooted and hollered.

“You ladies were selected from over two million applicants to be here.”

There was more hooting and hollering.

“The Alpha Male is one of the most famous pick up artist on America. He’s been a player for the last fifteen years. But, now he claims that he will marry the right lady if he can find her He is also a self made millionaire with a musical background. Are you ready to meet the Alpha Male?”

There was yet more hooting and hollering.

“Well, this show is a little bit different than most reality dating shows. You ladies won’t be meeting our star tonight, but he has already met all of you.”

The girls all looked confused. Emily went for her best wide eyed, pouty blonde face.

“You see ladies the first elimination won’t be tonight or tomorrow, or the next day. The Alpha male has been watching you from a secret room in this mansion and will continue to do so for the next thirty days. You will be asked to perform a series of tasks. He will judge you on how well you perform these tasks and in thirty days he will eliminate fifteen of you.”

There were gasps all around.

“Oh, Hell no,” someone said.

“What kind of tasks are they,” Emily asked.

“They are tasks based on physical and mental strength, morality and altruism,” he said.

“What’s altruism,” a voice asked. Emily suppressed her laugh and fought an urge to answer the question.

“It’s kind of like generosity,” he said.

The ladies retired to their rooms. Emily’s roommate was Susan, a sultry brunette from Texas. They were encouraged to share secrets before they fell asleep. Emily made up some sexy ones.

The next morning the girls had a relay race before being treated to an elaborate breakfast. Afterward they were ushered into the TV room where they were shown a video about a woman in the Deep South who had adopted six handicapped children. She had supported them largely by selling quilts that the entire family made together. It turned out the woman had given one of her kidneys for her sister and now she was experiencing kidney failure. She needed a donor.

The girls were asked to be tested to see if any of them were matches for the woman. They were told that they had to vote unanimously to be tested and if anyone said no than no one would be tested; everyone agreed to a test.

Emily got a funny feeling that this show may not be what it seemed. Late at night she tried to crack open a window and realized there was no way to do this. She tried to go off the grounds to the convenience store, but was told that it wasn’t allowed. There was no internet access in the house and the cable was regulated to certain channels that only showed reruns and other reality shows.

They next day they played a trivia game, that was followed by a bikini contest. After that they were asked to donate their weekly stipend to a Bolivian orphans, they voted to do this as well.

At night she lay in bed unable to sleep. What if there was no Alpha Male? What if it was all a ploy to get them to do the produces bidding?

She closed her eyes and told herself it was all in her head. She tried to make herself dream of a wonderful life in Los Angeles.

One Onion Ring

 

 

 

WIN_20140709_184211 (2)

I must be honest; I am an exceptionally attractive male. In my fourteen years on this planet I have been able to get away with that which less fortunate men cannot. I often go up to strange women on the street and rub my body against them. I rub my face on their inner thighs and their only response is to squeal with delight, stroke my head and tell me how soft my hair is and how beautiful I am. Too be fair it might be because I have had a certain operation that makes women feel I am not much of a threat. If you have ever read The Sun Also Rises I am sure you will understand to what I am referring.

I do not have to work, I am what you might call a kept man. The woman who supports me does not have very much money, but she still treats me very well. I am afforded the best food and personal care as she knows how many other woman wish to be in her shoes. I will refer to her only as Madame.

Up until very recently I was fairly contented with my life. I stayed home most of the day while Madame worked. I watched TV and surfed the net. I did not concern myself with the problems of the world as there is so little I could do about them.

A couple of nights ago Madame came home with a takeout meal. She had purchased for me the finest type of meat and potatoes. She had also purchased some sort of bean patty for herself as well as some sort of breaded item. I finished my meal quickly, tossing the vegetables aside. I had to investigate the new substance. I jumped across the table and sniffed of the circular shaped items just as Madame was putting it in her mouth. She pushed me gently away and I responded by knocking the bag off the table.

She picked the bag up quickly, but in our struggle one of the breaded rings had fallen to the floor. I pounced to the ground and snatched the treat up into my jaws devouring in quickly. I was amazed at how good it was. I tilted my head back to a low the delicious grease and juice to flow down my throat. It was the most wonderful sensation I had ever experienced. The breading danced upon my tongue with all of its myriad spices.

It was gone too quickly. I licked the carpet to capture the remaining breadcrumbs, but soon they were gone as well. I jumped back on the table and grabbed the bag. Madame tried to stop me but I growled at her. Let’s face it, I am far out of her league and if she tries to tell me what to do, I will just find some other woman to live off of. I tore open the bag, but they were all gone. I ate the crumbs and licked the bag until the taste was gone. I sat by the door and cried all night.

When Madame left the next day I attempted to open the door by myself to go out into the world and find more of the wonderful food, but I was unable to maneuver the stubborn tool. When Madame got home I was unable to convince her to buy more. She said they were bad for me (as if they were good for her.) When we went out for a walk I attempted to run away to find them, but Madame held on to me with great strength.

I do not know what else to do. If you are reading this please help! If you know where to get this substance please tell me! I will do anything at all for more. I will leave Madame; I don’t care. I have tasted paradise and I must have more.

The Winner of The Second Annual Eliza Gale’s Elizashead Flash Fiction Contest

The Southbound Transit Line

By Barrett Johnson

The smoke from Train 229 poured out from the tunnel and swirled into the yellow station air. It danced and puffed at every chilly commuter like a man blowing cigarette smoke into the face of a dog. Ah, Detroit! The last haven for the cynical optimist clinging bitterly to every moment of despair with the absolute certainty that there is no place to go but up. Such was Kevin Troweler, morning train fare.

It’s been this cold since May, fucking 1971, thought Kevin. Even this car is cold. The seats are cold, how are the seats cold?!

Kevin glared at the neighboring commuters, who were in turn glaring daggers at everyone else. The frost that inched up along the windows was painting a design upon the glass like varicose veins upon the arm. The silver metal that jostled and trembled over the tracks in the darkness leaned gently into the palest shade of blue. God dammit, thought Kevin. God dammit.

At the end of the carriage, a woman stood up. No one seemed to notice; her clothes were plain and bundled against the chill. Kevin leaned forward to stare down past the row of glaring faces and towards the woman. There was no telling if she was pretty, wrapped up as she was, but Kevin looked anyway and the woman looked back.

We’re not even halfway to the next stop, Kevin mused, what a tourist. Yet try as he might to berate her very existence, there was something about the woman, something that stirred in Kevin and took him back to the roaring radiator that was pressed against his single bed in his single cozy room. Kevin loved that room. And the more he looked at the figure, the more Kevin was overcome with a deep and consuming desire for her. Kevin wanted to rip off every layer of clothing the woman had and take her right there in the cold carriage, while all the wind‐burned faces never stopped exchanging evil looks. He wanted to shrug off the cold and stand up as well. He wanted to keep riding the train until it rumbled to the end of the line, noone still in the cars but two bundled figures, standing in the middle of carriage number Seven. Kevin shook himself and leaned back into his seat. Calm down,dummy, you’re fantasizing about a giant pile of coats.

Definitely a female pile of coats though. Definitely that.

A sudden undeniable urge came over Kevin, and he sharply stood up as well. His bad running knee wobbled, disapproving in a crotchety way this sudden act of betrayal after having just bent to sit down. Kevin felt a rush of blood to his face, felt himself redden. He was sure every single person on this rickety old train was staring at him in the same way he had been staring at the woman a moment ago. Kevin felt dizzy, and realized standing up so quickly had even upset his inner ear.

“What are you doing?” a voice said from Kevin’s hip. Kevin looked down to see a teenage girl’s face demandingly glaring up at him from the seat across.

“Oh, I’m – well I just thought I’d stand.” Kevin felt his face redden further.

“We’re only ten minutes out, it’s another fifteen ‘til the next stop.” the young girl spat.

Dammit, how come that woman got away with it and I didn’t?

“I know, I know, just…” Kevin bent over and struggled at touching his knee, “feels good to stretch, you know? Cold air. Stiffens the bones.”

“Sit down, man, you’re freaking me out.”

“You sit down.” This was not going well. Kevin looked over to the standing woman for help, but the ‘Statue of North Face’ said nothing, and gave no indication she even registered Kevin’s plight. All around him, the commuter mob began staring intently at their phones and e‐readers.

“Ugh, you’e the worst.” the girl bemoaned, slumping back into her seat.

Kevin stood quietly in the aisle of the train. There would be no sitting down now, it would mean he had lost a battle he had not intended to fight, which he then proceeded to fight anyway. He stared at the white tile smudged with brown mud. He stared at the windows and their icy veins. He stared at the metal in the ceiling, cracking and falling apart. It was the worst moment he’d had in weeks, but… much to Kevin’ chagrin… at admitting things could only get better. It could only go up. Still, he never dared look at the girl sitting next to him, or the woman in the jackets.

Fifteen agonizing minutes passed and still Kevin stood. His knee hurt, and he wanted desperately to sit back down but he knew he had weathered the worst of the storm. When Train 229 hissed and billowed into the next station, Kevin got off. The air was orange here, not yellow. The sky was clearer and the wind less blistering, and though it was still desperately cold, Kevin decided to let his train leave him. He would catch the next one.

Better to leave that one behind, he thought. And as the

whistle blew, sending smoke puffing into Kevin’s face upon the platform, Kevin sat down on a nearby bench. His knees gave in gratefully, and he folded his arms into his chest against the cold. That’s better, he thought. That was much better.

Here is an interview with the winner:

http://elizagalesinterviews.com/2014/02/02/an-interview-with-eliza-gales-elizashead-flash-fiction-contest-winner-barrett-johnson/

The Runner Up In The Second Annual Eliza Gale’s Elizashead Flash Fiction Contest

Strawberry Fields

By Dana Lee

I had just gotten out of a hot shower. The bathroom filled up with so much steam that I could write “Can you feel it?” on the mirror. Sitting on a comfy king-sized bed in a luxurious modern five-star hotel room, I wait. The room rests on the 75th floor of an 80-story building. The windows stand floor to ceiling and I left the shades open to watch the stars.

    The mattress is covered in beige satin sheets. The pillows are soft, fluffy and smell like laundry detergent. I decided to eat a small piece of dark chocolate I had placed on the night stand. The housekeeper had left it on my pillow. After tossing the cold smooth cocoa in my mouth I jumped out of bed and ran to the window. Suddenly, I started feeling a change.

    It was a colorful kind of change. My senses slowly started altering themselves. The chocolate in my mouth had melted and I craved more. As I looked out the window for a bit longer the stars seemed brighter. The moon seemed so low to the ground that if I stepped out on the balcony and reached my arm out, I’d be able to touch it and it would feel like velvet.

     It hit me like a rough slap to the face that I had to leave this hotel room to satisfy my craving. While struggling to pull my tight jeans up, I tripped over my feet and fell on the bed at least five times. After finally getting them on and fastening the zipper, the color contrast of the room started to appear brighter and brighter.

     My red jacket that hung on the coat rack was sparkling; I put it on. The champagne glass chilled on the night stand across the room but I could hear the bubbles popping as if they were fizzing right next to my ear. White paint on the walls made the room glow as if it was empty. I smelled roses in the air but I couldn’t figure out where the scent was coming from. I started sniffing everything in sight until I became face to face with the door. Opening it I tried to pull my mentality together as I walked down the hallway, but it was impossible. I thought, “Well, I hope I look sober.”

    I took the elevator down to the main lobby. I headed towards the door happily waving goodbye to the man standing beside it. I was in the best mood I could ever dream of, but after stepping outside, the world didn’t seem so pleasant anymore.

    I was in New York City. The world was turning upside down. Civilized life began to walk backwards instead of forward. I stood in the middle of the sidewalk with people on their cell phones passing by me talking like Yoda. “Business deal you have not.”

“OK,” I thought to myself. “I was in a good mood; why is it rapidly declining into extreme anxiety?”

    I ended up in Times Square not remembering how I got there. All of the television screens on the buildings had gone blank and then started flashing psychedelic colors. As I lost myself in the radiance, buildings started to melt. I was on an actively animated apprehensive trip and it wasn’t a mental vacation anymore.

 

    In my head I was questioning what was real and what imitation was. Fear and panic succumbed me. I turned around and witnessed people’s heads floating off their shoulders as they strutted down 42nd Street. Each head switching torsos as they drifted into midair. I bolted down the street as fast as I could and hit the ground running. I felt no pain so I got up quicker than I started. I felt like eyes were piercing through me. Everyone, the whole public state of New York was staring at me, even if I was just a blur in their tracks.

    I slowed down and darted through the entrance of Central Park. Oddly enough when I started to recuperate the air felt cleansing. Sunlight peaked through the bright green trees in the surrounding atmosphere and although colors were still intense, I wasn’t panicking anymore. I had no uneasiness of anything. I was at peace. I noticed the path I stood on led to a monument. I followed it to the vestige and was taken aback by what I saw.

    Unaware that I had left my hotel room on a quest for dark chocolate, ignoring my hallucinations of people walking backwards, their words jumbled as their heads floated from one body to someone else’s; I was on the grounds of “Strawberry Fields.” A black-and-white mosaic that read the word, “Imagine,” dedicated to the late John Lennon and named after the popular song, “Strawberry Fields Forever,” was decorated in flowers and candles.

    I reached into my coat pocket and pulled out my iPod touch not knowing it was there to begin with. I placed the earphones inside my ear and played the song loud enough so I could feel the rhythm flowing through my bloodstream and pulsing in my veins. I looked beyond the memorial and my mind painted another optical image. I saw a field of green leaves standing tall, with luminous red strawberries hanging on the tip of each leaf.

    I was having an out-of-body experience, watching myself frolic through the garden with the biggest smile I have ever seen on my face. As the lyric “Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see” played, I felt tranquil and inanimate. I concluded with confidence that everything in my life was going to make sense from here on out. I looked up at the magnificent blue sky and got the impression that God and all of my relatives who have passed on were laying in the clouds watching me smile and dance freely.

    When the song ended, I closed my eyes and recollected my hallucination on the cement bench. When I opened them, I was back in my lavish hotel room. Everything was still placed just where I left it. The chocolate wrapper lay unwrapped on the pillow next to me. I sat up in bed, baffled pushing the pillows down and touching them excessively to see if they were really there.

    I crawled out of bed and walked towards the balcony. I opened the door and stood outside for a breath of fresh air. When I came back inside I noticed the champagne glass was empty on the night stand. Something was in it that wasn’t there before. A strawberry stem was at the bottom of the glass, and next to it on the hotel stationary pad was written, “In strawberry fields, nothing is real.”  

 

Here is an interview with Dana:

http://elizagalesinterviews.com/2014/02/01/an-interview-with-eliza-gales-elizashead-flash-fiction-contest-runner-up-dana-lee/

The Complaint (part 10)

compShe finished her SpaghettiOs and excused herself to have a look around the dorm.
She went into the bathroom where she tested the water in the shower and as she suspected, it was ice cold. After using the facilities for the first time in the eight or so hours she’d been in Hell she looked in the mirror. She saw a short fat woman with deep crow’s feet and white hair and a rather reddish complexion.
She heard the door open and saw Danni walk in.
“Hey,” Danni said coldly.
“Hey,” Ellen said.
She turned back to the mirror and was astonished to see a morbidly obese acne ridden bald woman crossing in back of her.
“You’ve found the soul reflector, I see, ‘the woman in the mirror said as she passed. Ellen turned back around to see the stunning Danni in the same position as the woman in the mirror.
“It freaked me out at first as well, now I just don’t look in it.”
“What do I look like to you,” Ellen asked in a panic.
“About five foot five, straight brown hair,about 135 pounds slightly crocked teeth vaguely smallish chest; good skin though and nice blue eyes,” Danni said in a rather unimpressed tone.
“So I look the same as I did in life to other people?”
“Yes, that’s right. It’s just Satan’s way of reinforcing the idea that other people’s opinions are everything.”
“But, I mean, how you get ready in the morning?”
“Well, the way I look is part of my job so I have a special mirror to look in before I go to work. You’ll just have to find a buddy to tell you if you look okay.”
Ellen wondered who she would trust enough to do something like this. She wandered back out into the hallway and found an unoccupied TV room.
She turned on the TV and a small blond anchorwoman appeared on the screen.
“Good evening, I’m Jessica Savitch and this is News Unearthed on HNN.”
Five people are dead and seven were wounded in a mall shooting in Chicago, IL today, by a man who appears to have been a disgruntled ex-employee of The Bed and Bath store there”
Ellen gasped as the picture flashed on the screen. It was Morton Tepper, the manager who had been caught stealing from the cash register.
“Witnesses say Tepper ran though the mall screaming, ‘I am an agent of darkness. I am sent here by Satan!
Statin denies any affiliation with Tepper and says that he is disappointed in the paltry death toll.
The dead include Ellen Turnblue a 24 year-old Bed and Bath Store employee, Steven Potsman a 30 year old attorney, Rebecca Kienman a 22 year-old mall employee and Justine and Karen Pitswater two eighteen year old twins who were apparently playing hooky from school that day.
All of the victims were unremarkable in their accomplishments and each of them will come to reside in Hell.
Satan says that he hopes the victims’ families will come to enjoy the media attention they will receive as a result of their loved ones having such highly publicized deaths.
No punishment has yet been designed for Mr. Postman at this time. Mr. Tepper was taken into custody and a hearing is set for tomorrow morning.
Satan stated that he hopes the low death toll and the fact that the gun was not registered to the offender will not strengthen the argument for gun control and and will not encourage health insurance companies to cover mentally health care.”

The Complaint (part 5)

comp
“OK, Ellen said.
Virgil will take you to your desk
Virgil and Ellen got into Ellen’s private motor boat and traveled a few miles down the river. Ellen marveled at the amazing array of plastic palm trees and mechanical animals that lined the shore. Enormous bags of garbage floated down the river, some people rode on the bags.
“We love plastic around here, makes the earth die faster.”” Virgil said. “Those people you see floating on the bags were coach potatoes. “See that island of trash over there? “That’s all from movie sets; do you like movies?”
“They’re okay, Ellen said sensing that another question was coming and wanting to avoid it.
They docked in front of a building marked operations.
Virgil gave her a brief tour as they walked towards her desk.
“This first section over here is acquisitions. That guy in the grey is Bill is in charge of bribery, the one in blue is Sam he’s in purchasing.”
“That lady he’s with looks just like Sarah Palin. “ Ellen commented.
“That is Sarah Palin A.K.A Mussolini the demon of a thousand faces as we call her; she’s like seven hundred years old “ Virgil said.
“Over here is marketing, they do product placement, spray on tans, if you ever saw Sex and the City that was their special project. They do a lot of blogging these days.
Here’s the kitchen, coffee, vending machine and oh we have a book sharing station.
Ellen was disappointed to see the coffee was Folgers, the only candy in the machine was white chocolate and the only book was Fifty Shades of Grey.
Virgil lead her to the Planning and Danger department and showed her to a small cubicle. She sat down and waited to be told what to do. She was sitting wondering what her funeral was like when a loud voice interrupted her.
“Hey, you must be the new planner, I’m Rhonda!”
Ellen, looked up to see a plump woman of around thirty with enormous hair and bright red lipstick standing over her.
“I’m Ellen”.
“Are you hungry, I was just about to go to lunch?”
The two women took headed upstairs to a restaurant on the roof of the building called the Observatory.”
Ellen was amazed at what she saw when she entered the dining room. The room comprised entirely of glass and every window had a different view of Hell.

The Reality Show in Tad’s Head part. 6

past

Editor looked at Caroline with distain.

“I doubt very much anything like that was running through your mind with the way you were carrying on”, he said.

“Seriously”, Caroline said losing her patents with him I tell you I was faking it in so many words and you still don’t believe me? The male ego knows no bounds.”

“No, I know you were faking it. But was your motivation really to watch Chelsea Lately; I think not. It’s very obvious that you have no respect for yourself or what you want all you care about is what this jack ass thinks of you that’s why we are here, isn’t it? You were faking it so he would think you were hyper sexual and would want to come back for more.”

Caroline blushed hotly and continued about her business. She edited out the time he was telling her about the software program he was writing and she fell asleep She edited out the times she called and hung up to see if he was home.

She landed on June 21st and took a deep breath. I’d like you to stop at 6:00 please: she said to camera man.

Tad was sitting on his sofa watching The History Channel and eating chips.

‘Maybe she’ll finally get a clue”. Tad’s inner voice said.

Caroline’s face turned white.

“Go back”, she said.

“How far”,  asked camera man.

“An inch”, she said.

She watched in horror as the thought played again.

“Maybe she’ll finally get a clue.”

Caroline began to cry.

“Are you ok, love?”. She heard director voice come from the darkness.

“I always knew it….” she sobbed.

“Knew what”, director said.

“That he forgot my birthday on purpose”.

Editor smirked and glared at her as she cried. Cameraman yawned and asked where she wanted to go next.

“What the fuck”, an unfamiliar voice said.

“What’s all this shit”?

“I’m so sorry for the inconvenience we’re filming a TV show,”, director said. You should be able to just walk on the inside of the tracks, they only go back about three year’s total.”

“Well I’ve got a long enough walk, asshole”. The voice shouted. Caroline heard the sound of a good solid punch. After a few minutes she saw a ghostly figure of a very big child coming towards her.

“What are you looking at, ugly”?, he said to her. “Haven’t you ever seen a repressed memory before?”

“No, not up close. I mean all mine are repressed so…”

He rolled his eyes.

“I used to beat Tad up in the 6th grade. I knocked out his front tooth. “

“Oh, okay! is that why he has that weird habit of touching his upper lip”, she asked.

“Yeah, that would be my handy work. Hey, wait, I know you. You used to date Tad.”

“Yes, that’s what the show about.”

Okay, I could see that. Sorry about all those performance issues he had, I mean guess you could say I’m partially responsible.

“Caroline, love we’re on a very tight schedule”, director said.

“Well, it was nice meeting you, but I have to get back to work.”

“”Hey, I don’t know if you’re doing anything later but there’s a really good bar upstairs in primal desires and….”

“I’d wish I could but I’m only gonna be here  a day and a half and I have to work the whole time.”

“Yeah, whatever”  the memory said and walked off.