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Long Time Gone by Gary Carter

October 31, 2010 Literary 2 Comments
Long Time Gone by Gary Carter

Long Time Gone

By Gary Carter

One sunny morning in 1969, dressed for his job at Randall’s Business Supplies, Alfred Burns—just plain Al to most folks—pecked his wife of nine years on the cheek, walked out the door and disappeared. He was thirty-one, in good health and had given no signs of anything that would prompt him to evaporate from a life about which he had never complained or even hinted at discontent. There were no indications of foul play, and a missing person report yielded nothing.

He was not seen or heard from again until a slightly overcast afternoon in 1973 when he opened the screen door and strolled into the kitchen, walked past his wife, who froze at the sink, and the man at the table, whose arm hovered between a bowl of soup and his open mouth. Al nodded to both as he passed into the living room, where he stood and slowly rotated as if examining the elements of life within. There was a slight, seemingly pleased smile angled across his lips that were partially hidden beneath a scraggly mustache. His hair hung below his shoulders, its dark brown now streaked light by the sun. His pants appeared to be the same pale chinos he had worn the morning he disappeared, though the edges of the cuffs and pockets were frayed. Instead of the short-sleeved white shirt, which Evelyn had starched and ironed that long-ago morning, Al’s upper body now was covered by a loose-fitting blouse with billowing sleeves that was trimmed in intricate embroidery that seemed vaguely Mexican.

At least it was nothing that Evelyn could pinpoint as she followed Al into the room, stopping a few feet away to watch him spin slowly as if reacquainting himself with the place and what was in it. He came around to face her, giving her a quizzical look. ** Read on! **

A Safe Deposit by Mark Charney

September 20, 2010 Literary, Mainstream 9 Comments
A Safe Deposit by Mark Charney

A Safe Deposit

By Mark Charney

Lena welcomes Barry home from the memorial service around two o’clock, his gray eyes moist and dulled behind the tortoise shell frames. He removes his jacket, loosens his tie, unbuttons his collar, and sits in the chair before the bay window where he scans the bookshelves, desk, and the fireplace mantel with a photograph of three men: Meier, Goldman, and himself. It’s a photograph that she would have preferred taking off the mantel years ago. Barry insisted, “No, leave it.”

She had not gone with him this morning, had decided not to. It had been years since she’d set foot on campus and it would have been too difficult, too many memories there. She’d been an active faculty wife in those years, contributing her share to the school’s fundraising and campus causes, but had stopped after what happened, happened. She had stopped attending events related to the university after Barry had become persona non grata because by extension, she too had suffered the same.

Goldman’s death and today’s service might have been a special occasion, but she didn’t care to put up a front. Barry could. It was his choice and he could or would not stay away. He’d flown in from his consulting work in Florida to attend the service because it was his last chance to say goodbye to an old friend and mentor, pay his respects to someone he cared about and admired. He’d asked her to come along too, but she wouldn’t or couldn’t, and after she met his second request with a hard stare and a steady head shake, he didn’t ask again.

She joins him in the den now because she’s making a grocery list, and she wants his input. Setting her pad on the end table, she turns to him quickly. Her motions are rapid but fluid, elegant. She keeps her hair pulled back with a black scarf, exposing a high forehead, coppery skin, delicate features. Her body is petite and the limbs angular, attenuated like those of a ballerina. “May I bring you anything from the store?” she asks.

“No,” he says, staring absently at her pad and pencil. The back of her hand brushes a statue of Ganeshu that rests atop an arts and crafts writing table. The carved lava Ganeshu swings his trunk, holds a broken tusk in one hand and a stony sweet treat in the other. It isn’t an antique but she likes quirky objects as much as she likes antiques, and this one didn’t come cheap.

“Lena?” he asks, chin lowered into his chest, eyes ignoring Ganeshu but not her.

“Yes.”

“Was there ever a letter?” ** Read on! **

Sunshine And Stones by Cynthia Wilson

March 28, 2010 Literary 7 Comments
Sunshine And Stones by Cynthia Wilson

Sunshine and Stones

By Cynthia Wilson

We were on our way to school in Jack Spyder’s truck jammin’ to the tunes when an announcer’s voice broke in the middle of “Blinded by the Light.”

“Late last evening, a Convair 240 carrying the members of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd, crashed in a swamp near Gillsburg, Mississippi.” The announcer had tears in his throat. “Dead are lead singer Ronnie Van Zandt, guitarist and vocalist Steve Gaines, his sister, vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, along with both the pilot and co-pilot.” We sat with our shirts stuck to the back of the seats, a sudden sweat upon us, while the truck slowed down as if from its own shock. We could hear the announcer shuffling papers, attempting to collect himself before going on. “The plane was en route from a concert in Greenville, South Carolina to Baton Rouge, Louisiana when sources say it ran out of gas and went down. Injured are drummer Artimus Pyle, Gary Rossington, and Leslie Hawkins. Guitar player Allen Collins and bassist Leon Wilkeson  are both in serious condition. We will have more details as information comes in. Again, the plane carrying members of southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd has crashed in Gillsburg, Mississippi. Ronnie Van Zandt, Steve Gaines, and Cassie Gaines are dead. And now, a moment of silence.”

The truck drifted over to the side of the road. The silence was black. The decision to skip school that day was unspoken, and Jack went off to find dope. Sarah and I went to raid her parents’ liquor cabinet. All we came up with was a bottle of cherry vodka. We met up in the cemetery. It seemed the appropriate place. The headstones were a scattered Stonehenge baked silver by a hot sun. We sat among them, legs crossed Indian style. ** Read on! **

The Tale of Rauðúlfr by Lisa Farrell

February 18, 2010 Fantasy, Literary 3 Comments
The Tale of Rauðúlfr by Lisa Farrell

The Tale of Rauðúlfr
By Lisa Farrell

Hulda watched the flames dance until her dim eyes saw only light. She listened to the snapping and popping of the twigs, and ignored the sound of women’s voices through the wall. A bird was screeching outside, and she wondered how it could bear to open its beak and call out in such cold.

She had not thought she would survive this winter, but the children told her that the signs of Harpa-month were already here. Well, she could not yet feel it. Her bones still felt like the twigs in the fire, though under siege by ice rather than heat. She could barely move, but spent her hours trying to fold herself up small, keeping her face in the glow, until they teased her that the bristles on her chin would singe. They did not respect her, these young women whose bellies still waxed and waned like the moon. They had continually knocked into her as they prepared the day meal around her, as though she were an unwelcome guest. Yet this was her seat, her place, and she had earned her spot by the hearth-fire, having cooked on it for so many years. At least Rauðúlfr had made the women promise not to let the fire die. He was a good boy; he took care of his mother, as a son should. ** Read on! **

The Man Who Shot Stonewall Jackson by Gary Beck

February 4, 2010 Literary 4 Comments
The Man Who Shot Stonewall Jackson by Gary Beck

The Man Who Shot Stonewall Jackson

By Gary Beck

It happened once before, when I was a young man. The newspapers clamored for war, self-appointed know-it-alls told us why we had to fight and everyone believed them, especially the youngsters like me who got all fired up to join the army. So now, when those big headlines screamed ‘Remember The Maine,’ there wasn’t any more doubt that there would be war with Spain. And off they went to enlist, just like they were going to a picnic, as irreverent and ignorant as we were back in 1861. My eldest son told me he had to join up and I tried to discourage him. I told him how crazy it was for two groups of men to stand and blaze away at each other, but he wouldn’t listen. All he said was: “War’s not fought that way anymore, Pa.”

So I held my peace and watched him go, like my pa watched me go. When he died of yellow fever, before he even fought in a battle, it was another terrible affliction that I had to accept. But I guess he was right about it being a new kind of war, because it was over pretty quick and we got all these new places; Cuba, Puerto Rico, The Philippines and Guam. I never even heard of Guam. So I kept on farming and doing my chores but I was pretty much empty inside. I had been that way ever since the surrender at Appomattox, which ended my daily suffering, but left me a hollow man. I went through all the motions of the living and tried my best to be a good husband and father, and I never told anyone how I felt. How could anyone who hadn’t been there understand? Sometimes, when I went to town and saw the few old hands who survived the entire war, like me, there was nothing we could say. We just looked at each other for a moment, nodded in recognition that we were still alive and moved on. ** Read on! **

readshortfiction.com seeks literary stories

October 6, 2009 Literary No Comments
readshortfiction.com seeks literary stories

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