Flash Fiction Contest Entry-Story #2

Story parameters – political satire, a military parade, and a battery.

 

One Nation Under Trump

“Hello everyone, and welcome to the first national Trump Military Parade, brought to you by US-Arabia Oil. I’m your host, Lou Dobbs, and I’d just like to thank President Trump for making this great day possible for us all.  Sitting in the booth with me today is our very own Second First Lady, Tomi Trump. Tomi, it’s an honor to have you here.”

“Thanks, Lou. I’m so happy to be here supporting my husband and our president, Donald Trump, in the very first military parade to honor our brave soldiers since we passed the Trans Ban.”

“What’s going to be interesting about this parade, Tomi, is the way they are celebrating both our hugely over-budgeted military and all the improvements to America that the President’s made since he ratified the 28th Amendment making himself president for life. I really like America’s new slogan: “One President, His Country.”

“Me, too. Get it? ‘Me too’….ah, I’m hilarious. Thank God that was outlawed. But seriously, Lou, this new slogan sends a message to the world that America is stronger than ever.”

“Right you are, Tomi. Well, looks like the parade has started, and passing the booth now is the NRA float, followed by the 1st Trump Infantry. I really like the new gold insignias on the uniforms.”

“My idea, of course, Lou. The company that produces my Freedom athletic wear line, available online at alexoathletica.com, designed them.”

“Are they made in America?”

“No, China. But with all the tariff money we’re charging them, the Chinese are really paying for it, so we’re still supporting America.”

“We certainly are. All hail our Supreme Deal-Maker. Well, that float is spectacular…a giant AR-15, with a banner that says “Come and Take It, Libtards.” That’s a beautiful sight.”

“All a joke, of course. Now that the Democratic Party’s been designated a terrorist organization, they won’t be taking anything. The Senate swamp has been swept clean.”

“And not a moment too soon. The President is a wise and strong leader. The infantry is almost past us now…why the big gap before the next float?”

“That’s where the F-22 Stealth fighter was going to be. Donald really wanted an F-22 in the parade, but he still thinks they’re invisible, so we thought we’d save some money by just leaving a big empty space and telling him it’s there.”

“That sounds like a responsible budgeting decision, and doesn’t reflect poorly on the president one iota. Will we be seeing any of the President’s children today?”

“No. Don Jr. and Eric are in Africa hunting the last living elephant – that trophy will be worth a fortune. And Ivanka is still in Bangladesh touring her newest sweatshop. Merchandise available at IvankaSilks.com.”

“What about Tiffany, and Melania’s son?”

“Who?”

“Oh look, here comes the 305th ICE Regiment from Texas. I wasn’t sure any of them would make it, what with the National Emergency at the border. They need every man.”

“They were flown in on Air Trump 1 just for the day, Lou. They’re going back tonight; their work protecting our country from terrorized women and orphaned toddlers is so important. Imagine what our country would be like without them. I feel so much safer these days I only carry two guns now when I leave the Trump House. And they fit perfectly in the yoga holster I designed; $34.99 on my website.”

“We can thank President Trump for that. Permanently closing our borders was a brave decision by a gutsy guy. Obama wouldn’t have had the balls. Do I see a float behind them?”

“I think this is my favorite, Lou. Stephen Miller had the great idea to make all ICE cages mobile, so now we can move illegal immigrants around without actually letting them out. It saves so much time and money, and again, safer for everyone.”

“Sensible plan, Tomi. Who’s this coming now? Oh, it’s Kellyanne Conway, leading the White Nationalist Guard in a tank. Whatever happened to her husband?”

“He fled to California with Bernie Sanders and the rest of the Godless bleeding heart Democrat snowflakes, of course. Good luck running that country, Bernie.”

“I’m with you, Tomi. How do you live in a country without guns? They’ll never survive.”

“Oh, this is exciting, Lou. Here come the guests of honor – soldiers from Russia’s 200th Motor Rifle Brigade. Aren’t they impressive?”

“They look very intimidating. It was nice of President Putin to take the time to join us on his way to Texas.”

“Donald told me their permanent base at El Paso is almost finished.  I can’t tell you how exciting it’s been to witness history being made as America and Russia form the first co-country coalition.”

“And I, for one, am really looking forward to learning Russian. At least it’s not Spanish, eh Tomi? Thank Trump that was outlawed.”

“That’s right Lou – no more third world languages in this country. Which reminds me, look at this new gadget Donald gave me – it’s a prototype for a new illegals catcher. You just insert this battery…like so…and turn it on. Since Americans are all microchipped, anyone here illegally will set the alarm off when they walk past you.”

“That is a handy little device, and not a human rights violation at all. Well, it looks like the parade is wrapping up. Not a long one, but of course we have to give everyone celebrating our freedom time to get home before curfew. Tomi, I’d like to thank you for sharing parade duty with me, and I’m sure every American joins me in wishing you all the best managing the President’s continued mental deterioration .”

“Thank you, Lou. I’ll make sure he gets a good night’s rest, after he’s finished tweeting this week’s insults at Alyssa Milano.”

Flash Fiction Contest Entry – Story #1

This Friday I’ll be competing in the second installment of NYCMidnight’s Flash Fiction contest. You have 48 hours to write a story, 1,000 words or less, based on the 3 criteria they send you – a genre, a place and an object. Here is my first story – the elements were “thriller, a coral reef, and chewing tobacco.”

——————————————————————————————————————————–

Be Careful What You Wish For

“How much for your boat?”

The voice came from above him. Craning his neck back, the fisherman looked up to see a middle-aged man standing on the dock, wearing a pair of torn jean shorts and nothing else.

“What’s that? This boat here?” he asked.

“Yes,” said the man. “I want to go out to the reef.”

The fisherman climbed out onto the dock. Straightening, he took a tin of chewing tobacco out of his pocket while he sized up the man speaking. Tucking a wad into his cheek, he put the tin back in his pocket.

“You can hire someone to take you to the reef; you don’t have to buy a boat,” he said.

“I know. I’d just like my own boat. I…plan to go out there a lot.” The man stared steadily into the fisherman’s eyes.

The fisherman stared back, jaws working on his tobacco. Something about this didn’t feel right. He held out his hand.

“Jack. What’s your name?” The man reached out and shook Jack’s hand.

“Mitchell. I’ll give you a $1,000.00,” said the man.

Jack’s eyebrows went up. His boat was ready for the scrapper; it wasn’t worth more than $300. He decided whatever Mitchell was up to, it was none of his business. He spat a mouthful of tobacco juice into the ocean.

“Sold.” Mitchell took out his wallet and pulled out ten $100 bills and handed them to Jack.

“Be right back.” He walked down the dock towards the parking lot. Jack busied himself unloading his fishing gear onto the dock. After a few minutes he heard footsteps behind him.

Mitchell was back, with scuba gear he laid into the boat. Jack climbed out of the boat and Mitchell got in.

“Well, enjoy ‘er,” said Jack. “Don’t go too far out; it’s too small a boat for big swells.”

“I’ll manage,” said Mitchell. He was checking his equipment and did not look up.

Jack picked up his gear and walked back to the parking lot. The sun was getting lower in the sky, casting cool shadows over the beach. Reaching his car, he opened the trunk and tossed in his fishing pole and tackle box. Behind him, he heard the familiar roar of his boat’s motor. Closing the trunk, he turned and watched Mitchell untie the rope and push off from the dock. Mitchell turned the throttle and the boat began moving through the water. Suddenly, he made a throwing motion and Jack saw something sail from his hand and land on the dock. Mitchell revved the engine and sped out to sea.

Curious, Jack walked back to the dock, then down its length, toward a dark object lying on the boards near the end. When he saw what it was, his gut tightened. Bending over, he picked the object up and looked at it.

Car keys.

“Shit,” muttered Jack. He turned and ran back up the dock, looking for a policeman.

~~~~~~~~

The coolness of the water enveloped him. Lying with his back against the coral reef, Mitchell breathed his precious oxygen in and out, marveling at the stillness of the underwater world. He was about 20 feet below the boat. Fish flitted past his mask; one bumped into it. He chortled softly into his mask.

Fuck everything, he thought. Fucking job, fucking boss, fucking wife. See how you like this.

He was 45 and his life was over. His daughter was dead, taken from him by a stupid, treatable illness – if you had health insurance. He didn’t. His wife moved out, blaming him for not saving their child. Then, last week, he’d lost his job.

He was done.

The only love of his life left was the ocean. Diving the coral reef had always been his escape from a chaotic world; a world of illness, misery, politics and death. The reef was where he wanted to end it.  Cradled in the embrace of this silent utopia, he would just drift away with the fish.

The light filtering through from the surface was dimming. He stared into the blue, remembering his daughter. Her laugh; her face when she slept; their first trip to the ocean, where they built sand castles and he showed her crabs and starfish. The feel of her little arms around his neck. Daddy’s girl.

He shifted his weight slightly; the coral was digging into his leg. Probably have about 5 minutes of oxygen left. He breathing sped up a little; his heartbeat quickened.

This is gonna hurt.

Anxiety boiled in his stomach, irritating him. He didn’t want to be scared; he wanted this over. But his primal instinct to survive was starting to fight, trying to make him panic, get up, swim back to the boat. He clung to the reef, trying to calm himself.

His fear was building. He could almost hear the needle on his oxygen gauge dipping towards 0. His breath was coming in rapid pants.

Goddamn it. I can’t.

Sitting up, Mitchell started swimming towards the boat anchored above his head, tears of anger in his eyes.

The crushing blow hit him from behind, propelling him through the water like he’d been hit by a car. Pushed forward at blinding speed, his mask was torn from his face. He couldn’t breathe; he couldn’t see. An agonizing force of compression was around his legs and pelvis. Yanked back and forth, everything was boiling water and flashing light and pain.

Suddenly the jerking stopped. The grip around his legs disappeared. Panicked, out of air, he swiveled his head, trying to understand what had just happened. An object drifted past his vision, slowly sinking back down towards the reef.

Comprehension dawning, he tried to scream, but there was no air. He saw a huge, dark shape moving like a torpedo through the water towards him.

With the water turning red above the reef, Mitchell’s leg softly came to rest on the coral.

~~ The End ~~

Last Requests

** 8th Place Winner – Writer’s Digest Short Short Fiction Competition (2015)

Last Requests

By Lisa Hoadley

The night air was cool, yet soothing in its gentle caress of her face.  The dank smell of freshly turned earth wafted past her nose.  She paid scant attention, immersed in her task.  The only sound besides the occasional night creature scurrying through the crisp leaves was the rhythmic, soft thunk of falling clumps of dirt.

She paused, stood up and stretched her back, then leaned against the shovel.  The hole beside her was deep.  It had taken three hours to dig and was taking almost as long to fill back in.  But it had to be deep or some animal might catch the scent and start digging.  He had taught her that.  She was back far enough in the bush that she had only moonlight to see by, but it was enough.  She knew this place like the back of his hand.

Still resting, her mind wandered, sifting through snapshots of their past.  They were just nine years old when they met.  She could see his frayed jeans cuffs, battered sneakers and pale blond hair.  She could still feel the sudden jolt in her chest when their eyes met.  He told her years later he had felt it too.  He said it was two souls that had been together in another life recognizing each other again.  She said he was nuts.

Shaking her head, she put down the shovel.  She needed a break.  Turning, she stepped over the sheet lying on the ground and walked the short distance to the swamp.  Sitting on a moss-encrusted log, she contemplated the silvery flat mirror of the green water.  An owl hooted nearby, making her jump.

Their life together had been a gift, although he had not been easy to live with.  He believed in soul travel, psychics and natural remedies, while she believed in rules, secure finances and regular bedtimes.  A true woodsman, he had survival skills rarely seen anymore and was spiritually, almost psychically, linked to the earth.  He could smell the weather coming, danced under lightning storms, and grew restless during the full moon, feeling a pull he could never explain.

He never held down a regular job.  He never had a driver’s license, or a credit card, or even a bank account.  He dressed in jeans and t-shirts, wore his hair in a ponytail and his hands were always dirty from gardening or painting.  His volatile nature and total rejection of authority made him a misfit in such a conformist society.  He never had any money, or security, and he didn’t care.

It’s all bullshit, babe.  Life is for living.  I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

A slightly sour smell reached her nostrils and she wrinkled her nose.  She would have to hurry and finish before that got worse.  Rising, she sighed, dusted off her jeans and returned to the hole.  Picking up the shovel, she resumed throwing scoopfuls of dirt into the dark crevasse before her.  The smell dissipated.

The memories continued to come, distracting her from the pain in her arms and back.  Playing tag and building tree houses in these woods; catching tadpoles in this swamp and taking them home in jars; the burning look in his eyes before their first kiss.  The first time they made love, on a night very much like this one, in the nightshade of a tree.  He had often said he wanted to be buried under that tree, since that was where their life together had started, and she would laugh.

He was so alive.  Every fiber of his being crackled with energy, in his snapping blue eyes and hearty laugh, his constant movement and explosions of anger.  He belonged in the woods, or in some wide open space – somewhere he could live life free of modern society’s constraints.  He was Pa Ingalls, and Wild Bill Hickok.  She felt bad that her job kept them near the city, but he brushed it off.  He built himself an oasis in their backyard with trees, gardens, and a fire pit.  No primly pruned suburban garden, it grew wild like the meadow they once played in.  He would spend hours there, his fortress of solitude, shared with some rabbits that found refuge from the concrete jungle under his woodpile.  He could grow any flower, name any plant.  He could have been a botanist if he’d been able to sit still long enough to finish school.

I don’t need anything but this, and you.  And when my time comes, I want to go with your arms around me.  No hospitals, babe – promise me.  And she would promise.

Then suddenly his time did come.  Too soon his dry cough became worse, then worrisome, then the symptom of the eventual diagnosis.  Stage 4.  The doctors pressed him to undergo chemo.  He told them to fuck off.  He reminded her of her promise.

Not here…take me home.

He was determined, yet resigned.  He was a strong believer in destiny and was convinced everything happened for a reason, even leaving her too soon.  His requests were few.  To die at home, in his garden.  No medicine, no treatment.  Last visits with his friends, a few beers and some laughs.  To end his life the way he had lived – on his terms, bending to no-one’s rules.  To be buried under their tree.

Just have me cremated and sneak out there one night and do it, babe.  No-one will know.

He was gone so suddenly.  Stretched out on a lounge she put in his garden, the arms about her went limp.  The long exhale into silence, an agonizing dead zone of sound…it was over.  She had lain with him awhile, studying every line of his face.  The shape of his nose, the shine of his teeth; running her hands over his hair, his arms, his thighs…she touched every part of him, branding his image on her mind, not wanting to forget a single thing.  Eventually it grew dark and she had reluctantly risen, going to collect the supplies she had put aside weeks ago, preparing for this day.

She stopped shoveling; the hole was full. She scattered the last of the dirt, then grabbed some fallen branches and leaves and began to camouflage the site as he had taught her years ago.  Not that it was likely anyone would come by.  Kids didn’t play outside anymore – too busy texting.

Finished, she leaned against the tree for several minutes. There was a faded heart carved into its trunk, the time-worn initials “SH + LM” barely visible a few feet above her head.  Tears dripped from her eyes and fell onto the mossy roots that had once pillowed their heads.  Straightening, she picked up the shovel and sheet and walked back to her car, dragging a large pine bough behind her to brush away her tracks; just like he taught her.  She stopped once to look back; the full moon was shining on him.  She wondered if he could feel it.

Back at the road, she tossed the shovel and sheet in the trunk.  As she dropped into the driver’s seat, exhaustion finally washed over her.  She was miserable and elated at the same time.  He was gone, but she had honored his last requests – save one.  She hadn’t bothered asking permission to bury him; it would never have been given.  She was a rule-follower, but this time she did things his way.  Just drove up here and did the deed.   It was surprisingly easy.  The hardest part had been getting him in the car, and carrying him through the woods.

Cremating him would have been an abomination.  Destroy that beautiful body that had held her and kissed her, laughed with her and curled up with her at night?  Sacrilege.  She was determined he be laid to rest in his natural state, returned whole to the earth.  She was sure that would satisfy some mystic belief of his, although she couldn’t say which one.  But she knew he only asked to be cremated so she could get him here – cremation didn’t fit into his belief system.  She wondered if he was watching her, delighting in her audacity.

Didn’t know you had it in ya, babe…right on.

She started the car and drove down the road, reaching up to run her finger gently down the braid of hair hanging from her rearview mirror.  The car disappeared into the empty gloom.  Behind her the wind grew stronger, the trees bending sharply, their boughs reaching like ghostly arms toward the moon.

– The End –

True Nature

How freeing it must be
To be the wind.
No conscious destination,
Just free-floating whimsy.

No shackles of debt or love
Or need,
No restraint of one’s nature,
Just being.

To be the wind
Is to be softness and light.
Sometimes fierce;
Never insignificant.

If I were the wind
I would endlessly caress my darlings,
Glory in the loving touch
Never marred by want or greed.

How Do I Let Go

Four months left
‘Til she leaves this house
To begin the journey of her life.
University beckons, home already
Fading in her mind.

The school’s been picked
And she is going
Very far away;
Four hour drive, five hour train.
A journey that for the first time, won’t include me.

How do I stand back and say goodbye
To the little hands that once gripped me tightly,
Not wanting to leave mommy,
Not even to sleep over at Nana’s
Who lived three whole blocks down the street.

In four months she’ll be gone and I will be left here
Staring at the cavernous emptiness of her room.
Sure, we have internet; Facebook and Skype,
But they offer only the insufficient consolation of visual connection.
No warmth, no hugs, no life.

It will never be the same,
And I am not ready.
Never will be, to accept the end
Of 18 years of always being there
For every, single, thing.

Dinner Party

Peas mashed on the table,
Potatoes combed through her hair.
Juice running over and down
The sides of her chair.

Bib stained by the carrots
She ate yesterday at noon.
Washed twice; it’ll never come out
And she’ll just smear more in with her spoon.

Beets were the big mistake,
Turning her fingers purple with dye,
Which she then rubbed all over her face
Before sticking herself in the eye.

There’s parsnips on my ceiling
Flung up by a chubby hand,
And sweet potato on my walls –
I guess she prefers fresh, not canned.

My kitchen has been trashed
By a toddler food fight of one.
How can such a tiny child
Wreak so much havoc before she’s done?!