How I Deal with Life.....

How I Deal with Life.....

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Flash Fiction Friday: Up From Zero

Flash Fiction Friday Challenge
Prompt: Use the photo for inspiration.
Genre: Open
Word Count: 1000 words
Deadline: Thursday, July 21, 2011, 8:30 pm EST


     An exercise in futility is what this is. Yes, a goddamn exercise in futility. Eating, sleeping, just plain living.  All of it futile.
            The subway car slows, rocks, and the doors open. Two punk ass kids get on. Their pants slung so low on their skinny hips they look like they rushed here from taking a shit. What is wrong with kids today anyway? Hell, what’s wrong with the whole world?  In my day you respected yourself and your country. You worked. You didn’t live with your mama and get food stamps. You didn’t blast that crap they call music.  You pulled your goddamn pants up. And you said “Yes, sir” and “No, sir”.
            Beard itches. Maybe I should’ve trimmed it or just shaved it off. No, it’s me. Been me for so long I don’t think I’d even recognize myself in the mirror if I didn’t have it. Still, it itches. I scratch and the girl sitting next to me looks me over and then scoots away from me clutching her purse close like I’m gonna steal it or something. Hey, lady, I don’t have the crabs. Don’t you ever just get an itch? Train slows again. The kids start pushing each other and yelling. Maybe they’ll start fighting and kill each other. Everyone looks away. But I don’t. One of the kids walks up to me, leans over and says, “What ‘cha looking at, old man?”  I glare at him. The car door opens and two fags and a lady pushing a stroller get on. The kid standing over me has to shift a little for the stroller to pass. There’s a fat baby sitting in the stroller chewing on what looks like a dog biscuit. The baby smiles and throws the biscuit at me. It lands at my feet. The kid shifts again, turns around and grins at his buddy. The buddy shakes his head and looks down at his tattered Converses. The kid looks back at me, cups his balls in one hand and steadies himself against the roof of the train with the other. “I said, what ‘cha looking at, old man?” I look away. The kid slaps my head. Not hard, just enough to make a thwack sound. Everyone in the car gets silent, even the baby. They’re trying to look away. Don’t want to get involved. I understand. I’m just a used up old man.
             I wish the kid hadn’t done that. I was gonna get off at Times Square and do it. Just walk in front of one of those crazy New York taxis. Easy like. Now it might go the hard way.  This punk ass kid is forcing my hand. I go to stand up and the kid pushes me back down. One of the fags yells something, but I don’t know what. The lady reaches down and picks up the baby from the stroller.  The kid’s buddy comes over, “Say, man, leave him alone”. The other kid turns and yells, “Shut the fuck up! Anyone ask you?”  The buddy slunks back to the other side of the car. I stand up. The kid pushes me back down. “I tell you to get up, motherfucker? I tell you to get up?” He’s screaming not five inches from my face. The cords in his neck look like they’re gonna pop.  Droplets of his spit land on my lips. He slaps me on the head again. This time hard enough to make my ears ring. I quietly tell him not to do this. “Do what, you piece of shit? You think anyone cares about you? Look at you. Probably sleep in a cardboard box every night if you’re lucky. You stink like shit man.” The kid grins and then turns back to the other passengers. “Don’t he stink?” No one says a word.  He reaches back over and slaps me again. This time even harder. 
            I put my hand in my pocket and feel the warm metal. My hand closes over it tight. I reach up and quick, just like Sgt. Moore taught me, shove the K-bar right below the punk ass kid’s breastbone. I shove up and twist at the same time. The kid’s eyes go wide. He looks down and then looks up at me again. I feel kinda sorry for him. He doesn’t even know what the fuck just happened. He slumps down like a wind up doll that has run down. Blood starts pooling around my feet, growing wider with each pump of the kid’s heart.  His hand twitches.
            The lady with the stroller starts screaming. One of the fags leans against the other and says over and over again “My God. My God, My God”.  The girl with the purse is screaming too, but in small squawks like a bird. The kid’s buddy just stands there and stares at me.  The train lurches.  Times Square. The doors open. I get off. No one tries to stop me. The door closes and the train pulls away. Just like that. 
            Like Sgt. Moore said long ago as we were stepping off that C-130 in Da Nang, “Welcome to the jungle”.  I walk up the dirty tiled stairs that lead out of this hole in the ground.  Damn, Times Square looks bright tonight. Almost like a diamond.


  1. Wow, I loved it. I hope you don't wait 10 years before you try this again!

  2. Good story TC, well written and action packed, though not to my taste. But I'm glad you're writing. I look forward to more.

  3. TAg, I did not mean for this to become so violent (but I do like it.. thanks Thomas!). My stories take twists that I never expect. None of them are thought out in advance, they just bloom into a life of their own. I don't know who writes this stuff... ;)

  4. Twenty minutes ago, I could count... on one hand, with two fingers left over... the names of writers who's writing has left me breathless...

    You're number four.

    More, please.

  5. I like this a lot!

  6. By the third paragraph, I had forgotten I was reading a story. Invisible prose, gripping action, living characters. Outstanding work.

  7. SO HAPPY he killed the bully - great inner monologue, such a rich character.

    Hang in there for your father... my grandma had dementia and although it's not alzheimer's, it sucks life out just the same.

  8. Absolutely fantastic story! Ex-military myself and liked the K-bar for the killing weapon. When I was active duty back in the 80's the big elaborate Rambo knives were thought of as cool by us young punks, old vets just laughed at that idea while sharping the battle worn blades. Throwing in the Vietnam angle was another excellent touch

  9. Truly gripping, I was shocked! I can't wait to read more of your stuff

  10. Wow! This is a very well-crafted piece, TC - the calibre of which I've not read for quite a while!

    There was enough action without going over the top and told in such a way as to be easily dancing across the cinematic screen that is my mind's eye - this would easily translate to film! :-)

    I'd be interested to read more from you!

  11. Great story - loved the pacing, everything happened so fast.