Weekend Fiction: Three Pieces of Flash Fiction
FAUX FABLE: MY CRANE
“Learn how to spear a frog neatly,” one crane once said to my crane, “and you’ll live like a king in the swamp,” though I only smiled my wise-ass smile as I overheard that bird go on and on. ‘Truth be told, my crane is lucky if he can pierce French toast, much less come up with the slippery master of hops and plunges. However, my crane’s not a dead loss by any stretch. He comes to me able to analyze the motives in your love letters, and he’s always more than willing to wade through the tall grass of your sentences and the squoosh of your emotions. The fine mornings he flies down to my patio, he wastes no time getting to work on your latest letter after I’ve tossed it into the sunlight gilding the picnic table and turned back to polishing off my breakfast. If one just casually heard him going about his work, one could never imagine how close he always comes to the heart of matters about the heart, and he does it in a setting so bright, that were it me on my lonesome, this place and hour would always impede insightful conclusions. But I can tell you straight-away, sweetheart: most everything my bird points out sure seems to come to pass.
Moral: A perceptive pet is worth its weight in gold.
And then there were times he could tip a merlot into a tulip-shaped glass or a fluted tumbler and get a triumphant little goddess of purple to splash up and live and even wave a moment or two entirely inside the glass, but the real test—the constant standard—was simply not to spill whatever he poured. However, the force of that dictum loomed in front of him the day he speared a two-hour gig at a Roman-themed bachelor party and was handed (practically the moment he arrived at the site) a full pitcher of what they told him was “a flinty Chablis,” and this husky, patrician woman, fresh out of Plautus or Catullus (maybe she was the bachelor’s somewhat liberal and clearly in-charge mother), walked over to the pourer, silently looked him up and down as if inspecting for lint on a fine black toga, and then commanded him: “I want your squirrelly ass to keep moving behind our visiting stripper and slowly drizzle the Chablis down her heaving chest and into the cups of her bright brassiere—there will be edges opening and closing all the time while she’s pumping and sweating through her art—and if you make any kind of mess at all—like lapping over her cups, or flooding out good wine between the two bad-girls, or, worst of all, attempting to drown yon maiden—you best believe, motherfucker, shit like that is covered in our contract with the caterer, and a centurion will come marching out beside you, and you’ll start losing fingers and thumbs at the rate of one each sloppy minute, until you finally get your assignment right. And know up front, this is in your contract too: you won’t be excusing yourself and leaving the limelight to go take a break or try and have us believe you’re only exiting to empty your bladder or refill the pitcher, and there’s no sweet young attendant going to come prancing out and giving you additional wine: what you start with is all you’re going to get, bozo, so carefully parceling out the magnificent Chablis is definitely a key part of the job, until our exotic dancer indicates she’s ready to stand up straight, take her bow, and maybe share a kudo or two with you, Mr. Seedy. Understand, it kind of amounts to this: we like accuracy, craft, and dignity throughout this-here dominium, and god forgive me, but I have a premonition—oh, it’s what you might even term a fortified hunch—that you really are not what we’re looking for here.”
Not long after Andrew had put what he hoped were the finishing touches on his mechanical starling, he quit standing in the field and trying to make the bird caw; he gave up attempting again and again to get it to fly over the blue tile roof of the adjacent bus station. Disappointed and pissed, he carried it home and tossed it onto an upper shelf of his pantry. But fellow artisans outside the bus station now began to visibly relax; a random smile broke out here and there; more than just a few of the municipal residents who lived nearby lightened up, so to speak, ‘came out of their homes and walked about, and there even appeared a just-off-duty letter carrier who distributed free cans of cold soda from her huge leather pouch. There was everywhere-about easy-to-spot evidence of the indefinable relief of folks no longer within the area of Andrew’s nasty intensity.
But of course Andrew’s absence could in no way help incoming buses arrive any sooner, and the loiter-time for waiting passengers was certainly undented. Opportunity for them to lose their wallet or have their pocket picked before they boarded a bus likely didn’t change a mite, and it naturally followed that an identical risk now applied to those artisans who continued to hang around the field and the bus station. Only the chance of Andrew’s losing or crashing his aluminum starling and/or his being assaulted by the oppressed people around him before he made it to the relative security within the four walls of his own house could now be said to be non-exis
- William C. Blome writes short fiction and poetry. He lives in the ‘States, wedged between Baltimore and Washington, DC, and he is a master’s degree graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. His work has previously seen the light of day in such fine little mags as PRISM International, London Poetry Review, Fiction Southeast, Roanoke Review, and The California Quarterly.
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