Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Dustin Hoffman reading.

Ladies and Gentlemen: May I present some flash fiction stories for your enjoyment. (Powder Burn Flash should go up with the hour). The first paragraph or so of each story was written by another writer. That was the challenge.

Steve Allan "Pieces of History"
Sandra Seamans "Lost in Vegas"
Sandra Scoppettone, "Meatloaf"
John McFetridge, "Cozy Noir"
Patrick S. Bagley "One More Mess"
Cormac Brown "All Time Low"
Kieran Shea "Malice" at Powder Burn Flash
Welles Fan "Choices Made"
Ray "Behind the Mask"
Paul Brazill, "Red Winter" at Powder Burn Flash
John McAuley, "No Pool, No Car"at Powder Burn Flash
Scott D. Parker "Construction Paper Camelot"
Sophie Littlefield, "Reparations" at Powder Burn Flash
r2 "Send in the Clowns"
Keith Rawson, "The Word" at Powder Burn Flash
Jerry House "Bad Break: at Powder Burn Flash
Gerald So
Fester McFardle "Bloody Valentines" Powder Burn Flash
Thomas Miller "Valentine's Night" at Powder Burn Flash
Pamila Payne "Liquid Silver" Powder Burn Flash
Patti Abbott "Initiation"
Jacob Weaver "One Last Night"

Once again, at least two-three paragraphs are missing because I couldn't reach the writer to resend it or someone dropped out. I hope there are not too many screwups beyond that. I had fun writing this. I hope you did too.


by Patricia Abbott

She hated working late shift at the Waffle House. The night cook, Gary, had slicked-back dishwater blond hair and always wore the same greasy tunic that had once been chef's white. He'd grind his hip rough against her ass as she refilled the syrups and ketchup bottles, then smirk while she cleaned up the mess.

Back when she first started, she'd complained to the manager. The next night Gary'd leaned in close and stared at her nipples while she wiped blueberry syrup off her blouse. Since then, he'd laugh whenever he saw her. A mean-spirited, snake-eyed kind of laugh that crawled up her spine and whispered in her ear "I'm gonna fuck you to Jesus the second I get around to it. Just because I can."

“It’s your initiation, honey,” Rhonda told her, toting up a bill at the cash register. “Didn’t you know guys like Gary in high school? He’ll back off once he sees it don’t bother you.” But Rhonda was fifty-five and Starla got the feeling it’d been decades since anyone rubbed up against her.

At most restaurants, the night shift was the money-maker but not at the badly located South Peoria Waffle House. There’d been one snowy night last month when the four of them-Gary, the dishwasher, Lloyd, Rhonda and her-- had gone three hours without a single customer. Starla could only wipe off the counters and tables so many times, could only fiddle with the pieces of cake and pies in the display case so much before they looked shopworn.

Later, Gary found a reason to send her into the backroom where he turned up seconds later. He stuck his wormy tongue in her ear like it was a move he’d just invented. His hand slid up her skirt, his eyes dancing with glee when she tripped and fell over the splayed legs on the desk chair.

“That’s how I like to see my women,” he laughed, looming over her. “Down and dirty.” He held out a hand and when, without thinking, she started to take it, he yanked it back. “Your head good for anything more than keeping your neck on straight, Starla? Any thoughts ever wander through it.” She could hear Lloyd laughing in the kitchen.

Gradually, she spent all her free time thinking about how to solve her problem. She flirted back at him just as hard as he gave it; he laughed even more. She called the Sexual Harassment Office in Chicago, but their funding had been cut. She let the air out of his tires, and weakly wielded a knife after the place closed one night. He had it out of her hand in seconds. “You’re pathetic,” he said, pocketing it. “Don’t pick up a knife ‘less you know how to use it.” He flicked her nipple before climbing into his car.

She followed him home one night and found he lived with his mother in a trailer park. Her next free night, she knocked at the door and his mother, old and as quiet as the truckers in the Waffle House, waved her in and put on a rusty kettle for coffee. They sat together silently until Gary came in and did a double take. She was there again the next night too—and the one after that.

On the fourth night, she tied up his mother with silk kerchiefs and faced the chair toward the door. “What do you think he’ll do?” the old lady giggled, spitting the gag out. “He has a temper, you know. My Gary has a terrible temper.”

He swung in about eleven, gasped when he saw Starla’s handiwork, and hurried over to his mother. “You stay away from here, you crazy bitch,” he told Starla, shoving her out the door.

“Only if you stay away from me.”

“I haven’t laid a hand on you in weeks.”

Could that be true? She could still feel his hands on her, his breath on her neck. She woke up in a sweat, remembering, so filled with fear or something like it that she couldn’t get back to sleep.

Finally, one night she pushed up against him at the kitchen counter, slipping her hand inside his pocket, watching his face harden in the stainless steel counter beneath them. “You can take me now.”

“I wouldn’t touch you for a million dollars.” His face crinkled with revulsion.

“Then I’ll have to touch you,” she said, pulling out his kitchen slicing knife. She’d considered the chef’s knife but finally rejected it. And correctly it seemed because this one went into his neck, the one that only held his head up straight, easier than she’d expected. And the second time, his tendons parted like the strings of a harp.


Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Good story. This thing was a blast.

Scott D. Parker said...

Whoa! Did NOT see that one coming. Boy, that one really made me think. And the line "his tendons parted like the strings of a harp" is beautiful. Bravo.

Jacob Weaver said...

Wow, great story. I agree with Scott, that last line caps the story perfectly.

Thanks for finding a way to let me be a part of this Patti. I had an absolute blast and I can now officially say I've written at least 1 complete story! What a rush!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, guys. So glad you came along, Jacob.

Sophie Littlefield said...

Yeah that last line soared. :)

PA, I worked at a waffle house all through college and I could swear you must have been there too...you nailed the whole thing! Only i never killed any of my annoying co-workers....

thanks for making this thing happen. The best part of February, imho. :)

Anonymous said...

Sophie worked at a Waffle House? The mind reels.

Thanks Patti, for everything.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It was great fun and I was a waitress for years too.

Charles Gramlich said...

A cool idea for some stories, writing from someone else's opening paragraph. I like your piece very much. She learned her lessons well.

Gerald So said...

Powerful stuff. As several have said, the figurative imagery (Gary's tongue and tendons) is right on.

When do we find out who wrote the original paragraphs for the project?

sandra seamans said...

Great story, Patti! For someone who was nervous about the ending, you really nailed it.

Thanks for pulling this all togeather, its been great fun.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I'll post the list later today. After all of them are up. It was fun. And I amazed at the high caliber of the stories, especiallyconsidering that they began with someone else's words

Sandra Scoppettone said...

A gem. I've never worked as a waitress but I feel you nailed it.

David Cranmer said...

Excellent story Patti and I'm looking forward to spinning around the web and checking out the rest of these links.

pattinase (abbott) said...

What! Never worked as a waitress. I thought it was required.

WellesFan said...

Good story, Patti.

These flash challenges are always great fun and the whole someone-else's-first-paragraph thing added extra spice to this round.

Anonymous said...

Patti: Excellent as always.I'll never look at tendons or harp strings the same way.

I just didn't have the legs to be a waitress...

John McAuley

pattinase (abbott) said...

And I didn't have the feet.

Clair D. said...

Nice job, Patti! You do a fantastic job with dark tales.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Clair. You know how much I value your opinion.

Juri said...

Great story. I especially liked this line:

She called the Sexual Harassment Office in Chicago, but their funding had been cut.

Anonymous said...

Great story, Patti. This challenge has been a blast. Thanks.

Paul D Brazill said...

A top story with a whipcrack of a last line!

Again, thanks for the gig,Patti!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks. guys. The diversion was most welcome. You knocked the ball out of the park.

Cormac Brown said...

A nice turning of the tables and I definitely didn't see that coming.