Plain Old Magic

December 5th, 2020

by Sasha A. Palmer

This is part five. Read the suite from the beginning


Mr. Cooper

A regular day in July it was. John Miller Jr. arrived at the distribution center before dawn, picked up the newspapers and the route. Close to home, good, he thought. He liked the job. He just turned sixteen, and getting up at four was no fun, but once he dragged himself out of bed, he was okay. He liked the soft crackling of the tires on the cool surface of the road. The crisp breath of morning through the rolled down windows. He imagined himself at the beginning of time. The first, the only man, on the verge of some wonderful discovery. The town lay at his feet. Not a soul in sight.

Except for one.

“Morning, Mr. Cooper,” he would say, getting out of the car.

“Morning, John,” the old man would extend his hand to take the paper, “thank you, son.”

“Gotta run. Have a good day, Mr. Cooper.”

“You too, John. Give my regards to your mom. She is a good girl, that Grace.”

“Will do. Goodbye, Mr. Cooper.”

“Bye, son.”

John would get in the car and drive away. Sometimes just before the turn he glanced in the mirror, and the old man nodded and waved the newspaper at him. Then Mr. Cooper would disappear. But the following morning he would be there again. Waiting.

I should chat with him a bit longer someday, now that he’s all by himself, John often thought, perhaps, stay to watch the sunrise from his porch. There’ll be time.He liked the old man. Mr. Cooper was ancient and agile, like the sea. When John was younger, he believed Mr. Cooper was a pirate captain. Or perhaps a wizard. Or both. Mr. Cooper had lots of cool stuff. Treasures, in boys’ eyes. There was one thing in particular–a battered hockey stick–that everyone coveted. Mr. Cooper claimed it was magical. Gave him his strength. It must have been true, for the old man was always there.

But not today. John got out of the car and slowly headed for the house. Carefully laid the paper down on the empty rocker. Then rang the doorbell. Rang it. No answer. John reached for his phone.

“It’s 5:30 in the morning,” Sergeant Parker said grumpily, “maybe he is still in bed, sleeping?”

“He never misses his morning paper, Sir,” John said, “something’s wrong.”

They found Mr. Cooper on the living room couch. He looked like he was taking a snooze.

“You may go now,” Sergeant Parker said to John quietly.

“Thank you, Sir,” said John, “I need to finish delivering the newspapers.” John walked to the door, past the couch, and Mr. Cooper, and stepped outside. The red ball of fire rose in the East. Mr. Cooper’s paper lay on the still rocker. John placed his hand on the back of the chair and pushed slightly. Then he punched the back hard, hurting his knuckles and sending the rocker into an awkward jerky motion. The newspaper slid onto the floor. John ran down the porch steps and to the car. He drove away fast. He never looked in the mirror.







back to the 2021 FLASH SUITE Contest
What’s New
home/ bonafides


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

Plain Old Magic

December 4th, 2020

by Sasha A. Palmer

This is part four. Read the suite from the beginning


Jim

Mr. Cooper saw his parents today. They had been dead for thirty-five years. It was nice to see them. Dad sat in his favorite armchair, tracing the lines of the “Leatherstocking Tales”with a cracked magnifying glass. Mom – at the table, admiring her collection of postcards featuring famous actors.

When Mr. Cooper entered the room, they both looked up and smiled. Mr. Cooper did all the talking.

“I missed you guys,” he said, “how have you been?”

They nodded, smiling.

“You look well,” he continued, “I’ve been okay, too. Julie…she’s got this…memory problem. Has to stay at the hospital for a while. Wish she were here now.”

Mr. Cooper thought he saw Mom pout and suddenly remembered that she and Julie never got along. Maybe it was for the better his wife wasn’t home.

“Next time,” he said quickly, “next time for sure.”

Mr. Cooper walked over to the closet.

“Recognize this, Dad?” he reached to bring down something lying on top, “Gosh, it’s heavy.”

It was a battered ash hockey stick. The kind they made in the old days. Crafted from a single piece of wood.

“I remember the day we got it like it was yesterday,” said Mr. Cooper, “My fifteenth birthday. The best present ever.”

He gripped the handle tight. Now, almost seventy-five years later, his fingers still tingled with excitement. The same way they did at the store when he pointed at the stick, and the clerk handed it to him.

“I don’t care it’s not laminated. I’m glad it isn’t. This is better. This is special.”

He knew it the very first time he touched it. It was magical.

Mr. Cooper shut his eyes and saw the old skating rink and a young boy, himself, kicking the puck with friends. His hat was stuffed in his pocket and there was snow in his hair.

So much snow. Everything was white. Except for the tiny red flame moving about. Flickering in the white mist.

That girl. She wore her red beret on one side letting her black curls bounce on the other. He left his hockey stick on the ice, made her trip. It was an accident.

I’ll wait for you,she said three years later as he palmed her dear face and kissed her goodbye.

He was eighteen now. Onboard of a Navy ship in the Pacific. Happy, because he was going to war. Because death didn’t exist. Because Julie waited for him at home.

Mr. Cooper opened his eyes, coming back. His parents were still there.

“I’ve been thinking,” he said, lifting up the hockey stick, “perhaps it’s time to pass it on. Remember the Millers? A nice family, moved in next to Liz’s? Had a little boy Johnny?”

His parents smiled, nodding.

“Well, it’s the Millers’ grandson. John Miller Junior. The newspaper boy. Just turned sixteen. His mom is a nurse. She’s been very good to Julie.”

Mr. Cooper was silent for a moment.

“You know,” he spoke again, “if I had a son, I would want him to turn out like this kid.”

Now that it was decided, Mr. Cooper set to work without delay. He cleared the table. (Mom collected her postcards to make more space.) He found all the supplies he needed. He wrapped the hockey stick very carefully, securing the many layers of tissue paper with little bits of scotch tape. Just in case. With a permanent marker he wrote on the package To John Miller Jr., then added Grace Miller’s son. He laid the package on the table, dragged himself to the couch and sat down heavily.

He had never been that tired in his whole life. Or that content. Mr. Cooper closed his eyes and there he was again. In the middle of the old skating rink.

Hey, remember me?he called, chasing after the girl in the red beret.

I remember you,she said, glancing over her shoulder, You made me fall.

Sorry about that. How are you feeling?

I’m fine now, thank you.

And they skated, and skated, and talked about nothings. And then he took her hand, and she didn’t mind. Didn’t mind one bit.

The snow was coming down hard. All turned white but for the tiny red flame shining through the thick mist. But then the flame, too, flickered and went out.







back to the 2021 FLASH SUITE Contest
What’s New
home/ bonafides


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

Plain Old Magic

December 3rd, 2020

by Sasha A. Palmer

This is part three. Read the suite from the beginning


Liz

 “It’s a difficult town to fit in, Sergeant.”

“It’s Bill, Mr. Miller.

“Right. It’s a tough place to fit in.”

“How so?”

“Just is. I’m from out of state myself, but my son was born and raised here. Still he never felt he was a local.” Mr. Miller fell silent.

“I heard about your son,” Sergeant Parker said, “I’m sorry.”

“He was twenty-three,” Mr. Miller nodded slightly, “How old are you, Sergeant?”

“Forty-two, Sir.”

“He would have been thirty-six now. Hard to believe.”

The front door of the house next to Mr. Miller’s half opened quietly, and a little head with a halo of blond curls peeked out from behind it. The head turned, registered Mr. Miller and Sergeant Parker standing in the driveway and ducked back inside. The door closed.

“What was that?” said Sergeant Parker.

“That would be Liz Benson,” Mr. Miller explained.

“Was she afraid of me?”

“Why would the old girl be afraid of a policeman?” Mr. Miller answered with a question.

Sergeant Parker had no idea.

“Guilty conscience perhaps?” Mr. Miller suggested. “Yep. There’s a thought. Why don’t you investigate her, Sergeant?”

Sergeant Parker stood staring.

Mr. Miller grinned. “She wasn’t afraid of you,” he said, “she was avoiding me.”

“Why?”

“Oh, it’s a long story. She hasn’t spoken to me since…forever.”

“Old grudges?”

“Beats me, Sergeant,” Mr. Miller shrugged his shoulders. “You know…” he paused, “…my son, he was an only child…had this puppy, loved it to pieces. Introduced it to Liz, said, Ms. Liz, this is my brother.He meant it, too. He was about four then. And Liz goes, What a cutie! Looks just like my sister’s puppy. It died, isn’t that something?…That’s Liz Benson for you.”

“Interesting folks around here, uh?” Sergeant Parker said.

“Don’t like strangers much,” said Mr. Miller. “Specially from a big city.”

“I thought that has changed.”

“Some things never change, Sergeant.”

“Tough to fit in.”

“Right. You’ve got an advantage, though. Great to have a police sergeant for a neighbor.”

“Thank you.”

“Just take it slow. You’ll be all right, Bill.”

“Thank you, Mr. Miller. Appreciate it.”

Sergeant Parker was walking to the car when from the corner of his eye he saw Liz Benson. She’d made it down the porch steps already and now hurried toward him, smiling and waving her little hand.

“You must be our new neighbor,” she said in a surprisingly young voice, “I’m Liz Benson.”

“Sergeant Parker. Bill Parker, Ma’am.”

“Welcome, Bill, welcome,” she beamed. “You know, you look just like his son,” she quickly gestured in the direction of Mr. Miller’s house, “just like Johnny! Can you imagine, fell to his death one day, isn’t that something?”

Now that Sergeant Parker saw Liz Benson up close, he found that it was impossible to guess her age. She must have looked exactly the same for many years. Would look the same forever. It’s funny, as he stood there on the sunlit sidewalk, Sergeant Parker suddenly felt very small. Just a boy. No more than four years old.








back to the 2021 FLASH SUITE Contest
What’s New
home/ bonafides


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

Plain Old Magic

December 2nd, 2020

by Sasha A. Palmer

This is part two. Read the suite from the beginning


Julie

That boy. Jim? Yes, Jim Cooper. That’s his name all right. Left his hockey stick on the rink, made her trip. Now her side hurts. No ice skating for a while. She won’t tell on him, no. Never has been a snitch. And he did apologize. Snowflakes sparkled in his hair. 

She fell. Big deal. No, she will not tell anyone. Not even the angel.

“It’s Grace, Ms. Julie,” the angel says, “how are you today?”

“Fine, just fine, thank you.”

“Good…good,” the angel says.

She wonders what other people’s angels are like. Hers is short and plain, with kind hands and tired eyes. The white feathers rustle as the angel moves through the air. Checking, and fixing, and straightening, and tucking. Attending to the guardian duties. Then a smile, a wave. Gone.

Perhaps she can go to the rink tomorrow after all. She will be well enough to go. Yes, she is quite sure. It’s just a little bruise, that’s all. Jim Cooper will be there. He’s there every day. Kicking the puck with other boys. She’ll put on the red beret – a present for her fifteenth birthday. Mom made it herself. She’ll wear it on one side, letting her black curls bounce on the other. She’ll skate past him. A queen of the ice. Bow to the queen. Forget the silly puck.

Hey, he’ll call, catching up with her, we met a couple of days ago, remember?

Oh, it’s you, she’ll say matter-of-factly, yes, I remember now. You made me fall.

Sorry about that, he’ll say, how are you feeling?

I’m better, thank you, she’ll reply with a gracious nod.

And they’ll skate, and skate, and talk about nothings, and then he will take the queen’s hand, and she won’t mind. Won’t mind one bit. They’ll skate, and everyone will watch them. And Liz will watch too, green with envy. How beautiful they are together, everyone will say, look how they glide, and turn, and…

Muffled voices. The silky rustle. Soon. Soon.

She stirs. It’s her angel. Hovering in the doorway.

“This way, Mr. Cooper,” the angel says softly.

A boy walks in. Her heart explodes. Can it be? Oh, yes, it’s him all right. It is him. That boy. He has been outside in the snow without a hat on. It really is him. He has found her. She grins. Forget the royal pride.

“Hey,” he calls, “remember me?”

“I do,” she says, “you made me fall.”

“How are you feeling today?” he comes closer.

Snowflakes sparkle in his hair. They don’t melt. 

“I feel fine now,” the shards of her heart burn her chest, “Jim?”

“Yes, Julie?”

“You remembered my name, how sweet of you,” tears stream down her cheeks, “Jim?”

“Yes, my darling?”

“Will you take me skating tomorrow?”

“I will.”

“You won’t take Liz instead?”

“Never.”

“Promise?”

“I do.”

“Will you hold my hand?”

He takes her withered hand in his.

“I will, my love,” he says, “always.”

“Always,” she echoes.

She sighs quietly.

And, content, she watches the hot breeze of July play with the window curtain.








back to the 2021 FLASH SUITE Contest
What’s New
home/ bonafides


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

Plain Old Magic

December 1st, 2020

by Sasha A. Palmer


Treasure

Last name “Cooper” conveniently provided by his paternal ancestors, “James Frank” was chosen to honor the two passions in his parents’ lives: his mother’s silver screen crush and his father’s fascination with sea novels. Some adjustments had to be made: “Frank James” (known to the world as “Gary”) became a less conspicuous “James Frank”, when at the same time giving a more distinct nod to “James Fenimore.” It took a certain amount of persuasion on both parts, but in the end the name was an example of the Golden Rule of marriage at work – compromise. 

His mother not so secretly hoped James Frank would one day be a famous actor. “He certainly has the looks,” she would say. His good looks were questionable, but, sadly, his lack of talent or desire for acting, were not. He was not much of a reader, either. By the time he turned twelve, it was obvious his one true passion lay elsewhere. On the skating rink, to be more precise.

His father, though not a hockey player himself, approved, for the game was manly and appropriate. On his son’s fifteenth birthday he took him to a store and let him pick out a hockey stick for himself. If they had waited, they would have got a laminated one that was invented the same year. But they could not wait, and it was James Frank’s best birthday present ever.

Three years later he still could not help grinning as he remembered the sheer thrill of holding that brand-new ash hockey stick crafted from a single piece of wood. Whether the sea roots in his name had something to do with him enlisting in the Marines or not – hard to tell, but there he was, onboard of a Navy ship in the Pacific, in the midst of war, grinning. He was eighteen, and immortal, and the girl with black bouncy curls was waiting for him at home.

James Frank and his wife never had kids and over the years passed their treasures to the neighbors’ children and then grandchildren. They probably gave away a small fortune – costume jewelry alone would have sold well. Most of their possessions were not worth much, though. But to the Coopers, her mother’s brittle hat with a “fashionably vintage look,” or his father’s cracked magnifying glass, once used to trace the lines of the “Leatherstocking Tales,” were priceless.

The Coopers were generous. There was one thing, though, Mr. Cooper would not part with.

“It reminds me of myself: heavy, not very forgiving and extremely durable,” he joked.

“But, Mr. Cooper, we’ll be so careful with it, we won’t break it, please, Mr. Cooper…”

No matter how the boys pleaded, he would not budge.

“One of you will get it, when I’m gone,” he promised, “but not till then. I need it still. You have to understand: it’s not your ordinary hockey stick. It’s magical.”

And the way he said it, they believed him.

Julie

That boy. Jim? Yes, Jim Cooper. That’s his name all right. Left his hockey stick on the rink, made her trip. Now her side hurts. No ice skating for a while. She won’t tell on him, no. Never has been a snitch. And he did apologize. Snowflakes sparkled in his hair. 

She fell. Big deal. No, she will not tell anyone. Not even the angel.

“It’s Grace, Ms. Julie,” the angel says, “how are you today?”

“Fine, just fine, thank you.”

“Good…good,” the angel says.

She wonders what other people’s angels are like. Hers is short and plain, with kind hands and tired eyes. The white feathers rustle as the angel moves through the air. Checking, and fixing, and straightening, and tucking. Attending to the guardian duties. Then a smile, a wave. Gone.

Perhaps she can go to the rink tomorrow after all. She will be well enough to go. Yes, she is quite sure. It’s just a little bruise, that’s all. Jim Cooper will be there. He’s there every day. Kicking the puck with other boys. She’ll put on the red beret – a present for her fifteenth birthday. Mom made it herself. She’ll wear it on one side, letting her black curls bounce on the other. She’ll skate past him. A queen of the ice. Bow to the queen. Forget the silly puck.

Hey, he’ll call, catching up with her, we met a couple of days ago, remember?

Oh, it’s you, she’ll say matter-of-factly, yes, I remember now. You made me fall.

Sorry about that, he’ll say, how are you feeling?

I’m better, thank you, she’ll reply with a gracious nod.

And they’ll skate, and skate, and talk about nothings, and then he will take the queen’s hand, and she won’t mind. Won’t mind one bit. They’ll skate, and everyone will watch them. And Liz will watch too, green with envy. How beautiful they are together, everyone will say, look how they glide, and turn, and…

Muffled voices. The silky rustle. Soon. Soon.

She stirs. It’s her angel. Hovering in the doorway.

“This way, Mr. Cooper,” the angel says softly.

A boy walks in. Her heart explodes. Can it be? Oh, yes, it’s him all right. It is him. That boy. He has been outside in the snow without a hat on. It really is him. He has found her. She grins. Forget the royal pride.

“Hey,” he calls, “remember me?”

“I do,” she says, “you made me fall.”

“How are you feeling today?” he comes closer.

Snowflakes sparkle in his hair. They don’t melt. 

“I feel fine now,” the shards of her heart burn her chest, “Jim?”

“Yes, Julie?”

“You remembered my name, how sweet of you,” tears stream down her cheeks, “Jim?”

“Yes, my darling?”

“Will you take me skating tomorrow?”

“I will.”

“You won’t take Liz instead?”

“Never.”

“Promise?”

“I do.”

“Will you hold my hand?”

He takes her withered hand in his.

“I will, my love,” he says, “always.”

“Always,” she echoes.

She sighs quietly.

And, content, she watches the hot breeze of July play with the window curtain.

LIZ

 “It’s a difficult town to fit in, Sergeant.”

“It’s Bill, Mr. Miller.

“Right. It’s a tough place to fit in.”

“How so?”

“Just is. I’m from out of state myself, but my son was born and raised here. Still he never felt he was a local.” Mr. Miller fell silent.

“I heard about your son,” Sergeant Parker said, “I’m sorry.”

“He was twenty-three,” Mr. Miller nodded slightly, “How old are you, Sergeant?”

“Forty-two, Sir.”

“He would have been thirty-six now. Hard to believe.”

The front door of the house next to Mr. Miller’s half opened quietly, and a little head with a halo of blond curls peeked out from behind it. The head turned, registered Mr. Miller and Sergeant Parker standing in the driveway and ducked back inside. The door closed.

“What was that?” said Sergeant Parker.

“That would be Liz Benson,” Mr. Miller explained.

“Was she afraid of me?”

“Why would the old girl be afraid of a policeman?” Mr. Miller answered with a question.

Sergeant Parker had no idea.

“Guilty conscience perhaps?” Mr. Miller suggested. “Yep. There’s a thought. Why don’t you investigate her, Sergeant?”

Sergeant Parker stood staring.

Mr. Miller grinned. “She wasn’t afraid of you,” he said, “she was avoiding me.”

“Why?”

“Oh, it’s a long story. She hasn’t spoken to me since…forever.”

“Old grudges?”

“Beats me, Sergeant,” Mr. Miller shrugged his shoulders. “You know…” he paused, “…my son, he was an only child…had this puppy, loved it to pieces. Introduced it to Liz, said, Ms. Liz, this is my brother.He meant it, too. He was about four then. And Liz goes, What a cutie! Looks just like my sister’s puppy. It died, isn’t that something?…That’s Liz Benson for you.”

“Interesting folks around here, uh?” Sergeant Parker said.

“Don’t like strangers much,” said Mr. Miller. “Specially from a big city.”

“I thought that has changed.”

“Some things never change, Sergeant.”

“Tough to fit in.”

“Right. You’ve got an advantage, though. Great to have a police sergeant for a neighbor.”

“Thank you.”

“Just take it slow. You’ll be all right, Bill.”

“Thank you, Mr. Miller. Appreciate it.”

Sergeant Parker was walking to the car when from the corner of his eye he saw Liz Benson. She’d made it down the porch steps already and now hurried toward him, smiling and waving her little hand.

“You must be our new neighbor,” she said in a surprisingly young voice, “I’m Liz Benson.”

“Sergeant Parker. Bill Parker, Ma’am.”

“Welcome, Bill, welcome,” she beamed. “You know, you look just like his son,” she quickly gestured in the direction of Mr. Miller’s house, “just like Johnny! Can you imagine, fell to his death one day, isn’t that something?”

Now that Sergeant Parker saw Liz Benson up close, he found that it was impossible to guess her age. She must have looked exactly the same for many years. Would look the same forever.

It’s funny, as he stood there on the sunlit sidewalk, Sergeant Parker suddenly felt very small. Just a boy. No more than four years old.

Jim

Mr. Cooper saw his parents today. They had been dead for thirty-five years. It was nice to see them. Dad sat in his favorite armchair, tracing the lines of the “Leatherstocking Tales”with a cracked magnifying glass. Mom – at the table, admiring her collection of postcards featuring famous actors.

When Mr. Cooper entered the room, they both looked up and smiled. Mr. Cooper did all the talking.

“I missed you guys,” he said, “how have you been?”

They nodded, smiling.

“You look well,” he continued, “I’ve been okay, too. Julie…she’s got this…memory problem. Has to stay at the hospital for a while. Wish she were here now.”

Mr. Cooper thought he saw Mom pout and suddenly remembered that she and Julie never got along. Maybe it was for the better his wife wasn’t home.

“Next time,” he said quickly, “next time for sure.”

Mr. Cooper walked over to the closet.

“Recognize this, Dad?” he reached to bring down something lying on top, “Gosh, it’s heavy.”

It was a battered ash hockey stick. The kind they made in the old days. Crafted from a single piece of wood.

“I remember the day we got it like it was yesterday,” said Mr. Cooper, “My fifteenth birthday. The best present ever.”

He gripped the handle tight. Now, almost seventy-five years later, his fingers still tingled with excitement. The same way they did at the store when he pointed at the stick, and the clerk handed it to him.

“I don’t care it’s not laminated. I’m glad it isn’t. This is better. This is special.”

He knew it the very first time he touched it. It was magical.

Mr. Cooper shut his eyes and saw the old skating rink and a young boy, himself, kicking the puck with friends. His hat was stuffed in his pocket and there was snow in his hair.

So much snow. Everything was white. Except for the tiny red flame moving about. Flickering in the white mist.

That girl. She wore her red beret on one side letting her black curls bounce on the other. He left his hockey stick on the ice, made her trip. It was an accident.

I’ll wait for you,she said three years later as he palmed her dear face and kissed her goodbye.

He was eighteen now. Onboard of a Navy ship in the Pacific. Happy, because he was going to war. Because death didn’t exist. Because Julie waited for him at home.

Mr. Cooper opened his eyes, coming back. His parents were still there.

“I’ve been thinking,” he said, lifting up the hockey stick, “perhaps it’s time to pass it on. Remember the Millers? A nice family, moved in next to Liz’s? Had a little boy Johnny?”

His parents smiled, nodding.

“Well, it’s the Millers’ grandson. John Miller Junior. The newspaper boy. Just turned sixteen. His mom is a nurse. She’s been very good to Julie.”

Mr. Cooper was silent for a moment.

“You know,” he spoke again, “if I had a son, I would want him to turn out like this kid.”

Now that it was decided, Mr. Cooper set to work without delay. He cleared the table. (Mom collected her postcards to make more space.) He found all the supplies he needed. He wrapped the hockey stick very carefully, securing the many layers of tissue paper with little bits of scotch tape. Just in case. With a permanent marker he wrote on the package To John Miller Jr., then added Grace Miller’s son. He laid the package on the table, dragged himself to the couch and sat down heavily.

He had never been that tired in his whole life. Or that content. Mr. Cooper closed his eyes and there he was again. In the middle of the old skating rink.

Hey, remember me?he called, chasing after the girl in the red beret.

I remember you,she said, glancing over her shoulder, You made me fall.

Sorry about that. How are you feeling?

I’m fine now, thank you.

And they skated, and skated, and talked about nothings. And then he took her hand, and she didn’t mind. Didn’t mind one bit.

The snow was coming down hard. All turned white but for the tiny red flame shining through the thick mist. But then the flame, too, flickered and went out.

Mr. Cooper

A regular day in July it was. John Miller Jr. arrived at the distribution center before dawn, picked up the newspapers and the route. Close to home, good, he thought. He liked the job. He just turned sixteen, and getting up at four was no fun, but once he dragged himself out of bed, he was okay. He liked the soft crackling of the tires on the cool surface of the road. The crisp breath of morning through the rolled down windows. He imagined himself at the beginning of time. The first, the only man, on the verge of some wonderful discovery. The town lay at his feet. Not a soul in sight.

Except for one.

“Morning, Mr. Cooper,” he would say, getting out of the car.

“Morning, John,” the old man would extend his hand to take the paper, “thank you, son.”

“Gotta run. Have a good day, Mr. Cooper.”

“You too, John. Give my regards to your mom. She is a good girl, that Grace.”

“Will do. Goodbye, Mr. Cooper.”

“Bye, son.”

John would get in the car and drive away. Sometimes just before the turn he glanced in the mirror, and the old man nodded and waved the newspaper at him. Then Mr. Cooper would disappear. But the following morning he would be there again. Waiting.

I should chat with him a bit longer someday, now that he’s all by himself, John often thought, perhaps, stay to watch the sunrise from his porch. There’ll be time.He liked the old man. Mr. Cooper was ancient and agile, like the sea. When John was younger, he believed Mr. Cooper was a pirate captain. Or perhaps a wizard. Or both. Mr. Cooper had lots of cool stuff. Treasures, in boys’ eyes. There was one thing in particular–a battered hockey stick–that everyone coveted. Mr. Cooper claimed it was magical. Gave him his strength. It must have been true, for the old man was always there.

But not today. John got out of the car and slowly headed for the house. Carefully laid the paper down on the empty rocker. Then rang the doorbell. Rang it. No answer. John reached for his phone.

“It’s 5:30 in the morning,” Sergeant Parker said grumpily, “maybe he is still in bed, sleeping?”

“He never misses his morning paper, Sir,” John said, “something’s wrong.”

They found Mr. Cooper on the living room couch. He looked like he was taking a snooze.

“You may go now,” Sergeant Parker said to John quietly.

“Thank you, Sir,” said John, “I need to finish delivering the newspapers.” John walked to the door, past the couch, and Mr. Cooper, and stepped outside. The red ball of fire rose in the East. Mr. Cooper’s paper lay on the still rocker. John placed his hand on the back of the chair and pushed slightly. Then he punched the back hard, hurting his knuckles and sending the rocker into an awkward jerky motion. The newspaper slid onto the floor. John ran down the porch steps and to the car. He drove away fast. He never looked in the mirror.







back to the 2021 FLASH SUITE Contest
What’s New
home/ bonafides


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

Announcing the 2021 FLASH SUITE Contest Finalists

November 22nd, 2020


Congratulations to our 2021 FLASH SUITE Finalists.
Go straight to the contest, here, to see their accepted works,
the 2021 publishing schedule, meet the Judges, and more…


Sasha A. Palmer is a Russian-born award-winning writer and translator, who currently lives in Maryland. Sasha’s poetry, translations, flash fiction and essays have appeared in Writer’s Digest, Slovo/Word, Indies Unlimited and elsewhere. Sasha has a thing for the word “amateur” and tries to follow the motto she has created: Live for the Love of it.

Visit Sasha at www.sashaapalmer.com

~

John Kaufmann is a former big-firm lawyer, current mobile home park owner who lives in southern New York State.  His writing has been published, or is forthcoming, in AnalectaThe High Plains Register, The Journal of the Taxation of Financial ProductsThe Journal of Taxation of InvestmentsLitroOff Assignment, Tax Notes, and Whatever Keeps the Lights On.  For fun, he grows things and eats them.

Kaufmann blogs at https://dirtlease.com.

~

Jeaninne Escallier Kato, a veteran K-12 California public school educator and teacher coach, finds her muse in Mexico. She championed education reform for Latino populations during her long teaching career. Jeaninne is the author of the notable children’s book Manuel’s Murals, dedicated to her fourth grade students who inspired her appreciation for the Mexican culture. Jeaninne’s non-fiction stories are featured in two Chicken Soup for the Soul series and in several online literary publications. Her story “A Desert Rose” won first place for the fall 2017 WOW-Women on Writing fiction contest. Jeaninne lives in Northern California with her husband, Glenn, two rescue dogs, Brindey and Bobby, and one rescue cat, Mr. Big.  

~

Allison Floyd is a Schadenfloydian analyst living in her own private Idaho. Her work has appeared in Bitch Magazine, On Spec, and on the Submittable blog, among others. She once reimagined Rock of Love in an almost-published novella entitled Bluebeard’s Bel-Air Bachelor Pad and is currently hatching schemes for living near the Oregon coast, ideally in a geodesic dome.

~

Nickolas Urpí is the author of the literary war fantasy novel The Legend of Borach and has been published in Tell-Tale PressPage and Spine,The Copperfield Review,HCE Review literary journal, Ripples in Space magazine, amongst others. A Hispanic author, his writings fuse his studies of ancient history, literature, and philosophy with his crafted prose to immerse the reader in the world of his fiction through vivid settings and characters. An alumnus of the University of Virginia, he resides in Charlottesville, Virginia.

~

Onyeike Vania Chidinma is a 300 level medical student of Gregory university uturu, Abia state, Nigeria. She is also a very talented creative writer, who has written so many poems and small stories. Chidinma loves African literature, she recently started a book club strictly for African literature to enable young readers come together and discuss books about African culture and heritage. She is a brilliant medical student, with natural skills in the field of arts.

~

Tom Ray devotes his time to writing adult fiction.  His stories have been published in numerous journals and in the print anthology Unbroken Circle:  Stories of Cultural Diversity in the South.  He is a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee.  After two years of active duty in the U. S. Army, including a tour in Vietnam, he entered U. S. government service as a civilian.  He retired after working thirty-five years in the Washington, D.C., area, and currently lives in Knoxville.

~

Long Tang is a retired Research Analyst. He is fluent in 3 dialects of Chinese and Spanish. He authored 3 books and numerous articles on the history and culture of China.







Go straight to the contest to see the accepted works,
the publishing schedule, meet the Judges, and more…

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

The Princess of Woe

November 8th, 2020

by L. Rose Reed


Once there was a princess who did not feel love.

She was born to the wise and beloved Queen Vasudha, and Vasudha’s king, Sarvesh. On the day of the princess’s birth, all across the Realm of Red Earth, tens of thousands of fish leapt from their rivers and into the nets of the fisher-folk.

“Our princess is come! Minali, Minali, Fish-Catcher!” cried the people.

And so, the princess received her name, Minali, as a gift from the people.

As a baby, Princess Minali wailed with the rage and grief of one whose heart has been broken. No trinket nor song nor cradling arms could soothe her— she fell silent only to listen to the great racket roused by the storms of the rainy season. And so, the queen and king moved their household into an ancient castle on a tall cliff by the sea. There, the never-ending crash and groan of waves against the dusty red rock of the shore bought their daughter’s ease.

Minali grew into a taciturn, unsmiling child. Her parents provided her with hundreds of the most doting servants, and dozens of the most charming playmates, and the most lavish clothes and toys beyond numbering. Dutifully, the princess ordered her servants, and entertained her playmates, and made use of each and every gift. But she could not smile, for no love stirred in her heart.

 With her shoulders — red-brown skin over barely-there muscle over sharp bones, a young girl’s miniature wings — already bowing under the weight of her sorrow, she approached her parents

“Mother, Father,” said the princess. “I must confess to you the shame that I feel in my heart. I am a princess, the prized Fish-Catcher of my people, born in an age of plenty to parents who love me far beyond my due. I want for nothing in this world. And yet, I yearn for something I know not what. I shall feel neither love nor wholeness until I have obtained this thing, my heart’s one desire.”

And so Vasudha the Queen and Sarvesh the King redoubled their efforts to provide for their daughter’s happiness. They sent traders and messengers across every inhospitable land and every treacherous sea. To the far corners of the world, royal vassals sought the heart’s desire of Princess Minali.

In this way, the tale of Minali Fish-Catcher, Princess of Woe, spread across the world, and all who heard it felt their hearts moved to pity. The envoys of Vasudha and Sarvesh returned to the Realm of Red Earth with gifts rich and poor: precious jewels and fine cloth; strange fruits and bespelled herbs; and dolls, always dolls, the most prized possessions of the poorest children. All were gifts freely given, to tempt the princess’s heart.

And still— only the endless dance of ocean-and-shore brought Minali a measure of peace.

The wheel of years turned the princess from childhood toward womanhood, and still — and still, and still, time and tides both endlessly turning — no flame of love kindled in her heart.

On her eighteenth birthday Princess Minali resolved to search the world for herself.

First, her parents begged her not to go. Second, as her sovereigns, they commanded her to stay. But, Minali explained— “As the tree must reach for the sun; as the landslide must bring down the mountain; as the carp and the kingfisher must leap and dive: so, too, must I be moved.” And the queen and king relented.

Princess Minali refused all who offered to escort her, from the noblest knight to the humblest hunter. Only one would not be parted from her. This was Kiran, the Dust-Collector.

Kiran was named for the kiranen, the threads of dust which catch in sunbeams. (The common people knew that the humble dust wove the tapestries of Gods, for those patient enough to see. Kiran’s keen dark eyes had traced the threads of kiranen from infancy.) The princess’s first playmate in childhood and, on the cusp of adulthood, her truest friend, Kiran clung stubbornly to the princess’s side.

“It will be a difficult journey,” warned Minali.

The Dust-Collector only smiled, and answered, “Then you will need a poet to immortalize it. I am with you, my princess, my sister, my friend.”

And so Minali Fish-Catcher and Kiran Dust-Collector sailed the seven seas, traversed the seven continents, and even, it is said, sought out the seven sister stars in the night sky.

The tapestry-threads of their many journeys are re-spun in full in Kiran’s The Journey of the Princess of Woe. Here is recounted their final adventure.

Minali and Kiran sailed away from the island country of the Faery Folk in a boat hewn from a single enormous elm tree. Their humble vessel was tossed from wave to wave in the waters of the unquiet straight, until keen-eyed Kiran spied the warning of an ancient lighthouse. Safely to the shore of that far distant country, the travelers came— to the place where Minali’s heart’s desire was found.

The companions left the ocean and shore behind, following a winding path cut into a steep cliff. The weathered white and green limestone recalled to Kiran’s mind the red cliffs of their home on the other side of the world. A feeling of deep unease overcame them.

“We must be wary, here, Princess,” said the Dust-Collector.

The princess was thinking of the Faery Queen’s warning— “Yours is an all-consuming Love: although Death Herself cannot reap that which is thrown beyond Her reach, such a mighty hunger must by nature consume its creator as well as its object.

But she kept her thoughts veiled as though by the sea air’s very mist and mystery.

At the top of the cliff stood a marketown.

“Let us resupply for our next journey,” said Minali.

“And what journey will that be?” asked Kiran, not without amusement. “Shall we now venture inside the caterpillar’s chrysalis? It seems that we have been everywhere else.”

But Minali did not hear; she had stopped walking several paces behind Kiran when a flash of white caught her mournful black eyes.

Among the wares of a vendor who plucked sea-relinquished objects from the sands, it lay.

A comb. Carved of bone by an unknown but steady hand.

The princess held the comb in her shaking hand, and smiled.

And remembered.

She remembered the first love— two stones formed by God’s hands from the dust of creation. One stone, God threw high into the stars, and the other she threw low into the waters— beyond the reach of Sister Death, so that love could never die.

She remembered lives long past and lives yet to come—

a river who reached out a loving hand to a fisherman

a house on a hill and and two newlyweds crossing the threshold

a catfish jumping to meet a waiting kingfisher

two stones cupped in a child’s hand

two soldiers in a foxhole

a star that fell from the sky for love of a man.—

A princess, and her comb.

She remembered the people who wailed with hunger, and the flood of the river which began life anew. She remembered the cacophony of bells which rang out—which will ring out—at the wedding of the ages.

She remembered what it was to love and be loved, and knew that she could not return to its absence.

Smiling, the princess said, “Kiran, my friend, the Dust of Creation— I love you. Tell my parents that I love them, too. And thank you.”

And so saying— the princess swallowed the comb. In this way, she and her love would again be part of each other, and never be parted.

The comb did not rend her from the inside with its teeth; It was by love that Minali perished, her lips smiling.

With the threads of the kiranen did Kiran stitch the princess’s body back together, from throat to stomach, leaving the comb within. They wrapped her in clean cloth, and bore her body home. 

The queen and king’s laments were louder and more terrible than the raging sea. Funeral bells sounded from the heavens themselves, and the rivers ran dry. The fisher-folk moved on to more bountiful lands while, in their crumbling red castle, Vasudha the Wise and Sarvesh the Beloved wasted away in their grief.

Throughout the Realm of Red Earth, you may spot fish lurking in the mud of the river bottoms; But to this day, none will be caught.

And none will: until the day that the two lovers appear in this world once more— the Princess, and her comb.

Pray that the lovers return from the hand of God before Sister Death reaps us all from this earth. Before all hunger of love abandons us, too.







L. Rose Reed is a former teacher, current librarian, and forever historian. She writes queer speculative fantasy and narrative poetry. Her short fiction appears in Spoon Knife 4: A Neurodivergent Guide to Spacetime, The Monsters We Forgot, Vol. 1, and Helios Quarterly Magazine, among others. Reed currently lives in Aurora, Colorado with her siblings-of-choice and a clowder of cats. You may find her at her beloved spinet piano, or online at lrosewrites.wordpress.com and on Twitter at @LRoseWrites.








Thanks for surfing through, Lovers of Literature–
stay tuned for our 2021 FLASH SUITE Contest,
posting throughout December and November.
Winners announced MLK Day (US).

home/ Bonafides


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

Strong Traffic as We Wrap our Autumn Publications

November 1st, 2020

Greatings Lovers of Literature;

A reminder, the submission period for our 2021 FLASH SUITE Contest is open for but a handful more hours, to close the instant that it is no longer November 1st anywhere on Earth.

Be sure to surf through next week for the final publication of our Autumn lineup, “the Princess of Woe” by L. Rose Reed. Our editorial advisor, Tara Campbell, spoke of the piece as so: “the language of legends, and the epic sweep of the quest… It’s a beautifully sad sentiment.”

Meanwhile, traffic numbers remain high, here at Defenestrationism.net .

In this last, sole week of the contest reading period, 516 unique IP addresses surfed on through, visiting us a total of 1,066 times. Impressive for one week. Most impressive.

I’m pleased to say that one of Tara’s own stories has been trending all this month– “Angels and Blueberries“, first published in a collaborative work exclusively on Defenestrationism.net , Complex Fairy Tales. “Angels and Blueberries” has received 376 views from 294 IP addresses in the last seven days, alone, with 2,060 hits from 1,066 IPs since the end of September. Repeated visits are well and good, they mean an IP address is returning and rereading; but many, many IP’s can mean that that many pairs of eyeballs (/earbuds/fingertips) reading for a first time.

Be sure to catch her newest book, “Political AF: a Rage Collection”. In one of these installments, Campbell manages to turn Cauliflower into a vehicle for commentary on a racialized society. And if you other vegetables would get off your couches this week, we might see some substantive change to it.

Let’s hope so.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

Halloween Special– 202020202020202020…

October 30th, 2020



May we not live this year again.

This 2020 year reading of
October Nights Lyrics
is dedicated to
George,
Breonna,
my cousin Pamala,
and the countless, unnamed rest…



October Nights Lyrics

No, it’s never too much darker
than this dusky side of late October.
The Moon hums sillily on the sides
of slumbering edifices, declaring willingly
the nature of her vamp metaphysics.
The first fog ghosts steal through gorges and under
bridges as our fingers move through
their freshly shampooed hair.
There’s a mischief on this air. 
Callow ghouls
stride and stagger
along the crowded
pedestrian streets;
flippant fairies
vivisect the sidewalks;
vampires with plastic
teeth transact
with their bank accounts―
crossing their fingers,
sticking out their tongues.
They curse their invisible gods.
Behind Cheshire Cat
eyes and eyebrows painted to
outrageous angles,
underdeveloped faces hide crack
infested minds. Lingering
on pouty tragi-comedy lips,
that condemnablest fear— of unknown.  

I said no,
it’s never too much darker
than this dusky side of late October.
Only they― truly tremulous― dare supplicate
at Alters of Chance and Change, dare
lift a prayer to preserve those shallow memories,
re-live them once more, ever one
time more, and so, ascend
to inalterable Eden. While we,
the wiser, wisened damned―
left behind this Day of the Dead Eve―
cursed with myth-making arts of memory, will
stumble on and stumble on and stumble on.
While we turn keys and juggle dice, they
dance to an unconquerable, sugar-coated rhythm!—
let them play, I say, at immortality.
I envy them not.
For we know first tossed spades
closing a close friend’s death, know,
unaccroachably our failures; know of
diving from cliffs into different seas, and
rocketing through and beyond the atmosphere
toward endless numbers of empty infinities.   

I said no,
no, it’s never too much darker
than this dusky side of late October.
Dressed as their most disconsolable desires,
ever greedy as first suckled,
candy-gobblers pain unto
the French word for bread.
We know, soberly, that distinction,
possess the instinct to retain,
and aspire to know totally;
our pen ink’s read; our desires
known, if only as unattainable.
Gloaming arises, morning mounts,
mist,
hissed,
ssssst.
Questions often answered then seemed notionless—
lightning remained motionless—
the tide thundered, oceanless:
acorns yet crushed
— underlined twice.
And repeats,
acorns which
have yet
to be crushed
— underlined twice.
Yet how I enjoy their crushing.
Each age of excess
soon descends.
They will soon enjoy
inaccurately remembering.
Jack-o-lantern
candles sputter out.
One less roll down the hill.
Another year,
another night…







more from Defenestrationism.net

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

ATLAS: vol. 1 Austin, TX–Waterloo Records, West End

October 26th, 2020


West of the the city center, Waterloo Records still hangs out for a full square block.  Since 1982, it has sold in here.

The entrance door sticks open into the first of two expansive rooms.  In this first room, digital media– CDs, DVDs.  Immediately left of the entrance, two seven-foot cases of Texan’s music, five ranked by staff preference.  You pick up Jon Dee Graham and proceed to the next room.

Ah, here is the analogue.  Some used, but mostly new vinyl LPs sidle up the length of the building in four rows.  Unlike the digital media– which are squeezed tightly in their shelves with but the sides of their packaging displayed– the LPs have their front covers facing forward, to flip through with your fingertips.

Hey, check this out, y’all, two columns of analogue cassette tapes in six narrow rows.  Ranging from 3.99 for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, a rare find, the Cro-Mags, goes for 17.99.  You pick up both, pay, remind yourself to check the belts on your tape deck, then pick up your skateboard deck from behind the counter where it was checked, hitch up your pants by the belt— and saunter forth into the bright, Texas-size Sun.







More from ATLAS: vol 1. Austin, TX
More ATLAS
What’s New
home/ Bonafides

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather
Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather

Welcome to
defenestrationism reality.

Read full projects from our
retro navigation panel, left,
or start with !What's New!

Follow Us