FLASH PARTY
 
Orange Groves and Oil Fields by Sissy Buckles.   Flipping through an old Cha-Cha Charming magazine there's a black and white early Ronettes fan-photo, tough looking street smart homegirls grouped around a parlor grand piano working out 3-part harmony, beehives piled high with Aqua Net hairspray, dressed alike in stylin' empire waist frocks and t-strap kitten heels.  Their exotic dark eyes kohl-lined, babyfaced smiles still innocent before Ronnie's Stockholm Syndrome imprisonment, fighting for her life behind Phil Spector's crazy Wall of Sound and little star Estelle homeless wandering streets of New York in agonized schizophrenic wonder.  

A photo reminding me of visiting my cousins in LA when I was a kid, all of us roadtrip piled into the Country Squire station wagon, my sisters and I wearing pink plaid sundresses that matched our Mom's who'd made them for us on her old Singer sewing machine.  On the way up from San Diego we'd fight with our brother, passing steel mills, orange groves, and miles of Long Beach oil fields and my cousins lived in a neighborhood so different from our quiet lawned homes, louder and more alive, intense colors and spicy smells mingled with concrete and corner liquor stores.  Then we'd go have huge potato salad picnics at  South Gate Park on Tweedy Blvd. where we'd all play, our Dads listening to the Dodger game on the transistor radio.  FP


Untitled by Jamie Loftus.  Testa and Hart had tied in every road race for the past two years, and were wonderful friends. They had spent many afternoons jogging
together along the path that led to the high school, then through and
out to the other side. They would watch television and sometimes make
each other dinner, then wake up and continue running the next morning.
Not as much lately, but certainly most of the time.

“How’re you feeling, Testa?” Hart asked, lacing her shoes sleepily.
She hadn’t been able to sleep in some time and wasn’t feeling well.
Testa nodded wildly in response, hopping from foot to foot, not
betraying a word; Hart rarely said what she thought, either.

Crack. The gun sounded and Testa sprinted half a mile, leaving Hart to
meander her way along the course, which didn’t have any clear finish
line--they were to run until they tired. Slow and steady, Hart
thought, slow and steady, but found herself to feel far more slow than
she did steady.

“Testa!” she shouted, slowing to a walk far sooner than she used to.
“I’m finished! You win.” Testa loved winning and being patted on the
back, something Hart wasn’t as concerned with.

Silence. “Testa!” Testa had never tired and was five miles in the
distance, turning onto the highway and running through zip codes and
counties into a whole new state, although Hart didn’t know of what.

It seemed they hadn’t been as close as she thought. FP

The Start Of The Big Rumor by Thomas Sullivan.  “Hello?”

“Evening, is Emma Smith available?”

“Speaking…”

“Emma, I’m with a national, non-partisan polling firm. Do you have a moment?”

  “Well, if it’s quick…”

“Great. Here’s the first question. Would you rate the President’s policies as socialist or communistic?”

  “Uh, socialist.”

“Okay, great. Next. On a scale from somewhat damaging to very damaging, how would you rate the impact of unions.”

  “I don’t know. Somewhat?”

“Great. Okay, two more quick questions. First, what is your reaction to reports that the President is officially renaming the White House to the Black House?”

  “What!!”

“What is your…”

“I heard you. That’s true? I didn’t see anything on TV.”

“Absolutely. According to the Center For Truthful Politics…”

“What’s that?”

“A research group based in…”

“FRED!! You have to hear this! Hold on, he’s downstairs.

“No problem, so how are things in, let’s see, Hammerton?”

“Hammersville.”

“Never heard of it.”

“That’s how we like it. Population two thousand, we never lock our doors. FRED!!”

“Probably not much left to steal.”

“What’s that?”

“I, uh, said…”

“Hello?”

“Fred, this man says our President’s gonna rename the White House.”

“C’mon, you’re kidding. What to?”

“The Black House.”

“What!!”

“Yes sir, you hadn’t heard?”

“Jesus. That fella speaks English real well and all, but I knew something was up.

“Oh god. I gotta go tell Mabel about this. Fred, answer this gentleman’s last question.”

“Jesus, this is unreal. Okay, go ahead.”

“Mr Smith, would you rate the corporate tax burden as heavy, staggering, or outright crushing?”  FP




Rivulets by Dominic Knight.  He curled into the front seat, eyes watching the rivulets of rain descend the smooth glass. Glancing to his Aunt, he could see her focus as she drove. It had been hours since they spoke. The radio had long been turned off—a lack of good news and reception.

There hadn’t been a plan on the destination. She hauled him from his bed and forced him in the car. It had been the wee hours of the morning; birds had yet to sing their greetings to the sun and most hadn’t left for work. Virtually everything they owned had been left behind. Some boxes were on the backseat, but their contents were unknown to him. His only companion, Tosha, sprawled across a blanket on the floor.

“I could drive too,” he offered, breaking the silence. Studying his Aunt, she continued with her eyes on the road.

“You’ve no idea what to do,” she murmured. “More dangers lurkin’ about.”

“If you tell me where we’re goin’ I could—“

“Drivin’ straights all you need knowin’. You’ll be safe soon.” The roar of the engine filled the silence. Shifting in the seat, his eyes returned to stare out at the brooding clouds. FP


The Miles Between by Katie McGuire.  There weren’t enough miles between Boston and Braintree.  You could still feel the effects of the closed port.  You could still hear the gunfire from Breed’s Hill.  You could still imagine the musket balls flying, the bayonets plunging into supple flesh, the cannons taking down family homes and shops.

In the early days of her marriage to Peter, Rebecca hadn’t been quite so imaginative.  A year ago, seated by the kitchen window in their new window, the young wife would admire the delicate spring trees and coo at the tiny child growing inside her.  She had been the perfect wife and Peter – he had loved her.  That was enough.  He was a failed sailor, but she had loved him anyway, from the very first day they met.  She still did.

Now, scrubbing shirts in the washbasin and listening to the gentle breathing of her little daughter, Rebecca couldn’t help but see the bloodstained grass and the sea of advancing enemies.  Her daydreams were vivid, full of terror; the clear sky was lost on her darkened eyes.  She looked into the basin and saw not New England dirt marring the water, but American blood.

Peter was a failed sailor, but he had been so sure he would make a far better soldier.  How had he expected to live up to the role of warrior, of murderer, of patriot?  Rebecca had not received word from her husband in nearly three months.

There were far too many miles between Boston and Braintree. FP


And so it goes by Cath Barton.  I had already been on the road for ten hours, and this was not the kind of thing I wanted to hear.

“Shuttlecock  County is a bit of a drive, lady. I’d say six hours.”

I had to do it. Michael was waiting for me and there wasn’t going to be a second chance this time. I got back in the car, revved the engine and swung out onto the highway.

All along the dusty road I passed the time by playing tracks from back then.  Tears for Fears, The Cure - songs from when we were just babes and didn’t know which end of anything to suck.  Twenty years had passed  in a wash of forgottenness and I was in Texas now, Michael only hours away and nothing  to stop us. Just this goddam road to travel.

We’d not known what we were doing. The quarrel had been so stupid, but I’d pulled myself back into a semblance of shape eventually, met Harry, taken the expected path. Until the unexpected had tripped me up and sent me headlong into this crazy journey.

There were things I couldn’t think about. Like what Harry was doing right now. Feeling too, because he sure as hell had feelings. I turned up the volume. Billy Joel was singing. About me, singing about me and Michael. I stepped on the gas. “That’s if the choice were mine to make....and you can have this heart to break”. Sing out, Billy boy.  FP


Clutching Forgiveness by Katie Moore.   I clutch the jerk, wrapping my right arm around his left, grasping the cuff of his leather jacket. My left arm moves for him, across my body. My hand slides over his chest.

I grip the far collar of his jacket and turn, press my face against him. Jacket. Cold. I move closer, wedging my left leg between his. I settle, straddling his thigh, resting my face on the t-shirt where his jacket gaps. Our right hands hold, with his left he runs one finger through my hair. We breathe deep and sigh together. Release. Alone. Home. I close my eyes and smell him, sniffing, feral. I cup my hands together around my nose and draw his scent closer.

He grips my hips and rocks me on his thigh. I make noises like a little animal. I want to lick him, so I lick his mouth while his eyes are closed. He laughs before trapping my tongue in a smile that turns into a kiss. I moan into his mouth. He puts one big hand around my neck and sucks away my breath. I let him take it. He gives it back. We share one swallow of air until the oxygen runs out and our ears buzz.

I fall against him, panting and giggling while asphyxiation fireworks explode behind my eyes. I laugh, and cry, which makes me laugh harder. He holds my head with both hands and lets me. I forget he was a jerk.  FP


The Long Ride Home by Aleia Sears.   She looked over at the white knuckle grip on the steering wheel. She turned away quickly so as not to show fear. She surreptiously wiped the beading sweat from her upper lip and watched the Arkansas Black Oak streaking by so quickly the blurred together like her wasted future. She could feel the pulsing anger rolling off her mother and she felt as if she were drowning and involuntarily gasped for air. Red, Yellow, Brown whizzed by her window as she contemplated her immediate future of telling the rest of her family and the future of the horizon where she would be trying to take care of it. The hour in seething silence pulled at her skin like a weight until she felt as if she would be ripped asunder and left an exposed pile of beating heart and blood and shame. She took a steadying, deep breath as the future came sharply into view in the form of the tiny ramshackle house with the gravel driveway. She promised herself she would not cry. She would not give them that. FP                                                                                                                          
 


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