Tag Archives: flash fiction

The Sixth Man – Episode 109

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Instinctively he slowed as he came to the crest of the road. Charles looked out over a body of water – Back Cove, there is was. He trembled. He eased off the brake and allowed the car to coast down a slight decline that led to the cove. He came to a fork in the road; one led to the east of the cove and the other bordered the north.

He stopped at the fork. “I’ve been here,” he murmured. “It is not my imagination. I’ve been here,” he repeated firmly.

He turned right and slowly moved along the cove. Three small fishing boats were anchored in the middle of the cove. He drove to a small gravel parking spot overlooking the cove. He parked and eased out of the car.

He walked down hill along the road. He stopped before it declined further.

At the bottom of this hill is a dock and a shanty is on the dock,” Charles said quietly.

He walked to the bottom of the hill and looked to his left. There was a yellow shanty attached to a dock. He walked on to the grass and to the water’s edge.

I’ve sat on that dock,” Charles said. “I’ve been on a boat at that dock.”

He turned around. Houses dotted the roadways and were tucked into the hillsides. He walked across the road to the nearest house. It was a single story well kept home. There was a bicycle in the driveway. ‘A young family,’ he thought.

He walked up the steps and onto the porch. He knocked.

A slender woman in her late 40s came to the door. Her skin was dark and leather-like as if she worked in the sun. Her eyes opened widely as if surprised when she looked at him. She held her hand to her chest and took a step back.

I’m sorry,” Charles said. “I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

I, I just w… was expecting someone else,” she said.

I’m sorry to intrude unannounced,” Charles said, “but I was hoping you might be able to help me.”

I’ll try,” she said. “How can I help?”

Are you aware of a boy disappearing from here many years ago?” Charles said, “probably before you were born.”

Her face seemed as if frozen. “No,” she said suddenly at ease. “No, I don’t”

Is there a neighbor perhaps older than you that has lived her a long time and might be able to recall something like that.”

I don’t think there is anyone that can help you,” she said. “I’m sorry.”

Charles smiled politely. “Thanks for the trouble, ma’am.” Charles turned away as the lady shut the door.

Charles reached the road.

Sir, sir.” the woman came down the porch steps. “Can I ask why you are interested.”

It’s a long story, ma’am,” Charles said, “and a very improbable story. I’m too tired and weary to tell it.” Charles walked away.

He walked further and turned back to look to the east. Tucked into a slope on the east side of the cove stood a home. “I know that house,” he said. He scanned the landscape trying to capture long lost memories.

Excuse me, excuse me,” a woman’s voice from behind him said. Another woman slightly older but very similar in looks walked curiously toward him. She forced a smile. “Can I help you?”

Sure,” Charles said. He pointed to the house across the cove. “Who used to live in that house?”

Why do you want to know?” she said.

It’s difficult to explain,” Charles said, “but I’ve come a long way. I’m from Atlanta, Georgia and I think I’ve been here before. If you could just tell me who lived in that house it may help me.”

Is your name Andre?” she said curiously.

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Person Of The Year – Part 3

(Continued from yesterday.)

“Hey!” JC said “You dropped some trash. It’s tough enough keeping this park clean when guys like you just throw trash everywhere.” JC handed Grant the money that one of the young men dropped during their hasty get-away.

“It would insult you if I told you to keep it,” Grant said.

“I am a proud man,” JC said.

“And if I just threw it on the ground…” Grant said.

“I’d turn it in,” JC said.

“That’s what I thought,” Grant said.

“This is your money,” JC said. “I wouldn’t have worked any harder than those four thugs would have worked for it.”

“Why didn’t you go on to college?” Grant said. “As I recall everybody wanted you.”

“Do you remember ole Taz Martin?” JC said.

“Yeah,” Grant said. “Me and him cross city rivals. Both of us all-state. He went on to college. Did okay. Played three years pro. Want to know where he is now?”

“Where” Grant said.

JC pointed to a park bench about 50 yards away. “See that man laying there?”

“Yeah,” Grant said.

“That’s ole Taz Martin,” JC said. “I stop at McDonalds everyday and get a McMuffin for him. We are still rivals. He‘s trying to kill himself and I’m trying to keep him alive.”

“That’s a shame,” Grant said.

“You can do me favor,” JC said.

“After what you did for me,” Grant said, “of course I can.”

JC reached down in his pocket and handed Grant $5. “I’d like to go see my sister and her family this weekend, can you get something for Taz?”

“Yeah,” Grant said.
“I’m not doing this for no other reason than to help and old rival,” JC said. “Ole Taz played defense too. I just got a hand-off and he leveled me at top speed. I didn’t think I’d ever get up. Ole Taz gave me a hand up and asked me if I was okay.”

“I remember that,” Gant said. “Two plays later you ran the ball sixty yards for a touchdown.”

JC smiled broadly. “Ole Taz was hot on my trail, right behind me. I could hear him breathing and his feet pounding and when I scored he said, ‘I guess you okay.’”

“What a game!” Grant said.

“Sure was,” JC said. “I really got to get back to work. Will you take care of Taz for me. He’ll be around here about eight. And don‘t give him the money, buy him the food.”

“You don’t have to worry,” Grant said.

Grant hailed a cab back to the office.

On the ride back it suddenly came back to him; he was supposed to choose his magazine’s person of the year award. It was crazy, but he knew who the person of the year would be – JC Sizemore.

 

 

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Person Of The Year (Part 2)

(Continued from yesterday.)

“Ahhhh!” one of the young men screamed.

Grant turned. A young man laid on the ground grasping the back of his knee wrenching and grimacing in pain.

Behind him was a short man in a city maintenance uniform. He held a club in his hand. “Only three left, whose next.”

They ran and the injured man hobbled away as fast as he could.

“That was a close one,” the man said.

“It sure was,” Grant said. “I don’t know how to thank you.”

“That’s okay,” the man said, “I just come here once a week to empty the trash… in more ways than one.”

“Don’t I know you?” Grant said.

“I don’t think we ran around in the same social circles,” the man said looking at Grant’s expensive suit.

“Sure,” Grant said. “I know you, JC Sizemore, running back at my old high school. You were two years ahead of me.”

“Well, it’s always good to meet an old alumni,” JC said, “no matter what the circumstances.”

“Sure,” Grant said. “you were the big man on campus.”

JC chuckled. “I guess I was so busy being the big man that I’m afraid I don’t remember you.”

“There were 2,000 kids at that school,” Grant said, “everyone’s a face in the crowd.”

“If you like, I can walk with you out of the park,” JC said.

“That’s okay,” Grant said, “you’ve done enough.”

“I’d sure like to reminisce further, but I got a schedule,” JC said.

“I understand,” Grant said. “I’m sure glad to have seen you again and once again thanks.”

JC smiled and nodded.

Grant walked away.

(Continued tomorrow.)

 

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Person Of The Year

Grant Chandler, editor, publisher, and owner of Vision Magazine had a decision to make. It was near time for the magazine to name it’s Person of the Year. Names were submitted to him by his staff and it was up to him to make the final choice. His staff always narrowed it to five candidates.

Something always troubled him about the selection; history would eventually reveal them as scoundrels and undeserving. He contemplated not naming one, but his magazines revenue always rose during the person of the year issue.

It was afternoon, just after lunch. He had to make known his decision by the end of the day in order for the issue to hit the newsstands on time. Normally he’d spend some time at the gym.

Horton Wilcox stopped him in the hallway. “Grant, have you made a decision yet?”

“Not really,” Grant said. “I’m really no closer to making one.”

Horton smiled. “You’re losing your edge, my friend. There was a time you’d have the decision before candidates were even submitted.”

“Maybe I’m gaining more insight,” Grant said. “I can see the day that this burden will be passed on to someone else.”

“If it’s all the same to you,” Horton said. “I’d sure like you to take a long look at my choice.”

“I did,” Grant said. “And that’s what troubles me. I have no idea why he was chosen by you.”

Horton stood in a state of disbelief.

Before he could conjure a relevant thought Grant said, “We’ll talk later.” And Grant walked away.

Grant left the office and walked. He walked for twenty blocks and there was still no decision. “City Park,” he mumbled. That is where he went as a boy to think when things troubled him. He walked along the familiar brick sidewalk that wound through the trees, the ball diamonds, basketball courts, and playground.

It was strange he thought, the park used to be such a happy and vibrant place, now it was empty, almost spooky.

As he approached the shelter house where he planned to sit on bench and make his decision four young men in hooded sweaters surrounded him.

“What do you want?” Grant said.

“We just want to have some fun.”

They shoved Grant.

“You got a lot of money on you?”

Grant reached for his billfold and held out $200.

They grabbed the money and shoved him again.

“You got a watch?”

Grant breathed deep and fearful.

They shoved him again.

“Look at that ring, I bet it’s expensive.”

Another shove.

Thwack! A nearly horrifying sound. Grant jerked. At first he thought it might have been something done to him; the pain that’s not felt for awhile.

“What was it?” Grant thought.

(Continued tomorrow.)

 

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Cashing In On A Pro Career – Part 2

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Posted as a Daily Prompt.

(Continued from yesterday.)

“We were bringing the ball down the court and I looked over at the scorer’s table and there’s five guys waiting to come in. I charged for the basket, stopped, and backed up to about 25 feet from the basket. I was wide open. I got the ball and didn’t think twice; I let it go.”

“Did it go in?” Millie said.

“You betcha,” Charley said. “And a minute later I was out of the game.”

“That night two of the reserves said they were ready to go back with the team,” Charley said. “They thanked me and gave me a check for $50.”

“What did you do with the money?” Millie said.

“Nothing,” Charley said. “I never cashed the check. I hitched hiked back home.”

“What ever happened to the check?” Millie said.

“See that book on my bookshelf,” Charley said pointing. “The middle shelf; the title is Basketball’s Greats. Get it down and look inside.”

Millie did as Charley said.

“The check!” Millie said. “It’s made out to you from the Rochester Royals.”

“I get that out and look at it every now and then,” Charley said. “Each time I look at it, it’s for 3 minutes and 17 seconds. I relive every second of that time. I never want to forget it.”

“That’s awesome grandpa,” Millie said.

“In the back of the book is the box score of the game,” Charley said.

“Why didn’t they give you another chance?” Millie said. “Are you bitter?”

“Never bitter,” Charley said. “I got 3 minutes and 17 seconds most men will never have. But if I could I’d sure like to have at least one more minute.”

“What would you have done with it?” Millie said

“I’d have faked the shot, dribbled right, and stopped about fifteen feet from the basket and shot another.”

“Why not go in for a lay-up?” Millie said.

“The Knicks had this big guy named Ray Felix,” Charley said. “He had arms like an octopus; I didn’t want to embarrass him.”

“I’m glad you never cashed that check,” Millie said.

“I cash it, alright,” Charley said, “every time I pick it up.”

The End

 

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Cashing In On A Pro Career – Part 1

thSIWC35FJIt was one of those cold winter nights in upstate New York where it seems to snow forever. A gentle fire crackled in the fireplace. An old man talked to his granddaughter amid books and leather furniture. It was night for stories, warmth, and hot chocolate.

Millie found an old black and white glossy 8X10 photograph among the books. “Are one of these guys you, grandpa?” Millie held it close to Charley for examination.

“That’s me,” Charley said gazing through is bifocals and the fog of time, “standing next to Jack Twyman, the ole Rochester Royals.” He pointed to himself. “That Jack Twyman was a real player. As good a shot as there’ll ever be.”

“I didn’t know you played professional basketball, Grandpa,” Millie said.

“Well, it wasn’t much of a career,” Charley said. “I was a real hot shot in my high school days and in college I was better than average. I had a college buddy whose dad worked for the Rochester Royals and he got me a tryout.”

“You must have been good enough,” Millie said, “You made the team photo. How long did you play?”

“One game,” Charley said, “and for some reason they let me go. The Royals were heading into to late November against the New York Knicks. Everybody on their bench had some sort of injury. That’s when I got the call. I was invited to a one day tryout.”

“How much did you get paid?” Millie asked.

“Oh, big money,” Charley smiled. “$50 and that covered everything.”

“Tell me about that game,” Millie said.

“It was midway through the third quarter at Madison Square Garden and the veterans were huffing and puffing; their months were open and tongues dragging on the court. Coach empties the bench. I’m the last to go in.”

“How long did you get to play?” Millie said.

“3 minutes 17 seconds,” Charley said. “There’s nothing like stepping on to the court at the Garden. It’s so smooth and shiny you think it’s wet. You can almost see your reflection in it. The rims are special, they’re magical. It looks as if the balls are destined to go through the rim. During warm-ups I couldn’t miss. When I walked onto the court I felt like I was king; I was as good as anybody. When they announced my name I felt like jumping around and saying that’s me. I didn’t want that moment to ever end.”

“Did you score?” Millie said.

(Continued tomorrow.)

 

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One Person’s Misery Is Another’s Joy

thB363VISMOllie trudged into work; a shipping and receiving clerk at Stanton Manufacturing. He sat at his desk next to the docks. He placed his thermos and lunch pail next to his desk. He retrieved a clipboard from the upper left hand drawer and walked down an aisle of shipments on skids. He arranged the papers in the order to be shipped.

“You look like crap,” Mr. Benning, the factory manager, said making his morning rounds. “What are you doing at work today?”

“It’s my job,” Ollie said.

“I should send you home,” Mr. Benning said.

“So that our Des Moines shipment ends up in Denver?” Ollie said.

“You’re so afraid someone else might do your job,” Mr. Benning said. “This place won’t fold if you miss a day or two until you feel better.”

“I’m not doing it for this place,” Ollie said. “I don’t even like this place. I don’t even like you. I love my job. No, I don’t give a crap about you or this place, I care about me. The quickest way to recovery is for me to do what I love to do.”

“Good job,” Mr. Benning said and walked away. After a few steps he turned toward Ollie. “I don’t particularly like you either.”

“But ya love your job, right?” Ollie said.

“Yeah,” Mr. Benning said, “and that’s what I like about you.”

“I feel the same,” Ollie said.

“You coming in here and being miserable makes me feel good,” Mr. Benning said. “When you’re all happy I hate it.”

“I promise to get well soon, Mr. Benning,” Ollie said.

“Anything to spite me,” Mr. Benning said.

 

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