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Archive for the ‘Flash Fiction’ Category

The Second-Oldest Profession

by Terry Burlison

“Sit! Sit!” The Word-Man motioned to a spot across the campfire. His elderly visitor tucked his white robes under him and sat, crosslegged. “Okay, I’ve gone over your manuscript, Mr., uh . . .”


“Moses. You kinda threw me off, since you didn’t use a byline. Sure you don’t wanna use a byline?”

The elderly man shook his head gravely. “The words are God’s, not mine.”

“Uh, yeah. Okay, well it’s a decent story, requires a ton of suspension-of-disbelief, but I think it’ll sell. A bit wordy . . .”

Moses raised his bushy eyebrows.

“Don’t worry about it,” the Word-Man said, waving his hand. “That’s what you got me for, am I right? Lessee…it starts kinda weak, too. ‘Some fourteen billion years ago, God created the universe in a gigantic explosion–‘ Say, what’s a ‘billion’? Never heard the word.”

“A thousand thousand thousands.”

“Um, that’s three thousand.”

“No, a thousand thousands, a thousand times.”

“Whoa! Okay, people aren’t gonna get that. What say we shorten this to something they can grasp–maybe six days. A–whaddyacallit–metaphor. Now, all this ‘inflation’ and ‘fundamental particle’ stuff. Nuh-unh. K‑I-S-S.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Keep It Simple, Shlemiel. Remember, your average Israelite reads at a twelve-year-old level.”

“But this is what the Creator told me! In the beginning–”

“There! That’s great! ‘In the beginning.’ Brief, succinct, to-the-point. Killer hook!”

Moses shifted uncomfortably.

“Let’s see, expansion, cooling, coalescing–it’s all out.”

“No! The Creator said . . .”

“Yeah, well, the Creator ain’t paying a quarter-shekel a page. Six days. Now where were we? We got your light, we got your land, your sea, your animals, yada yada yada. Hmm, gonna need a protagonist. Something simple. ‘Adam.’ ”

“But God guided Man’s evolution gradually, until he developed intellect and reason–”

“Man from animal? Try selling that to the Levites! Nope, he’s gotta be created. Maybe from mud or dirt or something. We’re gonna need some conflict, some kind of antagonist. Hmm . . . fantasy’s hot right now–maybe we go with some kind of talking animal. And we gotta have a love interest. Let’s see . . . ‘Eve.’ Yeah, ‘Adam and Eve.’ It sings, it’s got legs.” His eyes lit. “Brainstorm! They haven’t invented clothes! They’re naked, but with a purity slant so as not to offend the Fundies. Besides: leave it to the imagination–‘world’s greatest aphrodisiac,’ am I right?”

Moses stood, robes a-flutter and eyes glinting. “ENOUGH! You dare despoil the true word of God? Infidel!” He turned and stomped off through the dust.

The Word-Man sighed. He started to toss the papyrus manuscript in the fire, then stopped and turned back to the first page. “Hmm, no byline. No legal copyright notice. Hey, if he doesn’t want the royalties . . .” Grinning, he slipped the manuscript into his robes.

And the rest is History.

Gift of the Heart

by Terry Burlison

Brynn adjusted the canvas bag under her arm, wiped a sweaty palm on her skirt, and rang the doorbell. The door opened and Kaitlyn peeked out, blonde hair framing her beautiful blue eyes. “Oh, it’s you.”

Brynn smiled up at the taller girl. “Hi. C-can I come in?”

Her heart seemed to seize within her chest when Kaitlyn hesitated, but then the blonde sighed. “Okay, but just for a minute. I’ve got to get to practice.”

Brynn stepped through the doorway, dizzy with anticipation. Today her life would change forever, she was sure. She sat on the edge of a couch; Kaitlyn slumped into a chair opposite.

“Are we alone?” Brynn asked hopefully.

“Yeah, my parents are still at work. Look, I’m in kind of a hurry–”

“I–I brought you something,” Brynn blurted out, fumbling with the bag.

Kaitlyn frowned. “Why?”

“It’s Valentine’s Day, silly. Here.” She held out a small gift-wrapped package.

Kaitlyn didn’t move. “Look, Brynn–”

“C’mon, open it!”

The blonde sighed and took the package, tore off the hearts-and-smiley-face wrapping paper, and frowned again. “Pills?”

Brynn nodded. “Steroids. They can make you all-state!”

Kaitlyn gaped at her. “Are you crazy? I’d get kicked off the team, lose my scholarship offers! What were you thinking?”

Brynn fought back tears. This was not going well, not well at all. “I-I guess I didn’t think it through. I’m sorry, Kaitlyn.”

Kaitlyn stood. “Maybe you should–”

“Wait! I brought you something else, something I know you’ll like.” Brynn pulled out a larger package, tearing the paper off in a rush. “I heard that bitch Victoria call you ‘stuck up.’ She–she also said something very rude.”

Kaitlyn’s eyes narrowed to silvery blue slits. “What?”

“That you needed a good . . . ,” Brynn lowered her voice to a whisper, “a good lay.” She opened the garbage bag within the box and stuck her hand inside. “Or at least . . . some head.” She pulled out the gift and held it up for her love to see.

Kaitlyn stared, blinking and confused. Then her eyes widened, and she let out a gasping shriek. She stared at Brynn, not with love or gratitude, but horror. She screamed and fled down the hall, slamming a door behind her.

Brynn stared after her, crestfallen, blood dripping from Victoria’s severed head onto her nice new skirt. She couldn’t believe what had happened. That ungrateful bitch! She threw the head onto the chair, reached back into the bag, and pulled out a large, bloodied knife. She stood and started down the hallway.

The only gift she ever wanted from Kaitlyn was her heart. And today she would have it.

Copyright 2009 T. L. Burlison
All rights reserved

Summer Heat

by Terry Burlison

“We need your help, Detective Summers.”

I put down the Sports section and moved my size twelves from their perch on my desk so I could get a better look at Deputy Chief Maria Ortega. The view was worth it. She had legs that went beyond the call of duty and could throw more curves at you than a Cy Young winner. Twenty years ago I never thought I’d be under a woman like her. Not in the professional sense, anyway.

“What brings you in so late, Chief?” I asked.

“Another Krispy Kreme arson. Over by Soldier Field.”

I grunted. The young kids would take the news hard. Personally, I prefer donuts you could play horseshoes with and coffee stronger than a Bears linebacker. But without their KK fix, these new kids wouldn’t be worth tits on a lizard.

“I’ll see what I can do, Chief.”

* * *

I rolled my old Chevy up to the crime scene just past midnight. I left the lights on and climbed out. All that remained of the Kreme was a few charred timbers and piles of smoldering soot. The whole block smelled like a chain-smoker’s ashtray. I found a young cop sitting on the curb, his red-rimmed eyes glazed with the thousand yard stare of a man who’d seen one tragedy too many.

“Excuse me, son . . .” I began.

“It’s . . . gone,” he muttered.

I patted his shoulder to give him some strength. My partner had that same look, back in ’69 or ’70, after the orphanage fire. It took the shrinks a year to get him talking in multiple syllables.

A portly civilian stood near the KK’s remains, his loose jowls jiggling as he shook his head. I walked up and flashed my shield. “You the owner?”

He sighed. “Manager. At least I was. Jacob Mallows.”

I took out my notebook. “Any idea what happened?”

“Just like the others; someone broke the back door window, climbed in and set the fire.”

“How do you know that?”

He pointed. “I’d just closed and got to my car when I remembered some paperwork I needed. I saw some black kids running out the back. I chased them for a block, but they got away. By the time I returned . . . ”

I scowled. My instincts told me this guy was dirtier than a bus station men’s room. “Don’t look like you worked up much of a sweat.”

He glared at me, but kept his flabby jowls shut.

I walked over to the back door. The frame and door were still upright, but leaning like a drunk on Fat Tuesday. Broken glass lay scattered around. Mallows followed, watching me carefully.

“Looks like the glass blew out, rather than in,” I observed. Fat Boy squirmed in his fifty-dollar suit. I pulled on a pair of latex gloves, bent over and carefully picked up some shards. “Interesting.” I pulled out my magnifying glass and examined them in the beam of my Impala’s headlights. “You see these edges?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Mallows answered cautiously.

“Clean break. That’s caused by fire. If someone breaks in, the edges have curved stress lines from the impact. I’d guess this door was opened with a key. You have a key on you, Mr. Mallows?”

Fat boy squirmed some more.

“I don’t much care for all these new hi-tech gadgets the youngsters got,” I said. “But there’s one I do like: it’s called a Gas Chromatograph. They can test the remnants of the accelerant used, say gasoline, and match it to a liquid sample. Is that your car over there?” I pointed.

He made a break for it, but I guess all those free Krispy Kremes came with a price. I may be pushing sixty, but I had him on the ground quicker than a four dollar hooker.

* * *

“Good job, Summers,” Ortega said, a fifty-thousand watt smile complementing her big brown eyes. “Mallows was our guy. Insurance scam with the owner.”

I nodded. This time I didn’t move my feet; I had a good enough view where they were.

She sat on the corner of my desk. “You know, Summers, if you were twenty years younger . . .”

I arched an eyebrow at her. “Yes, Ma’am?”

She grinned. “I’d say that you had a hell of a career ahead of you.” She stood and left the room, hips rolling like the ocean on a good day.

I just smiled and turned back to the Sports section.

Copyright 2009 T. L. Burlison
All rights reserved