Hot Flash Fiction 8: Out of His Family Tree

Beau Bretagne has a twelve-gauge shotgun on the porch and has a ladder-back chair with one short leg, a chair in which he leans against a big old sycamore tree; he has fourteen perfectly good teeth and a wonderful, spotless complete set of the Great Books, and he has read the complete bindings of them more than once. He has the gift of playing the squeezebox in the Gilded Crescent’s Big Dog Zydeco Band so beautifully that dancers have passed out as often from dancing all night as from the vast quantities of moonshine they are drinking at the same time. Beau gets a lot of pleasure out of all this wealth, but most impressively, he has the envy of the entire county ever since he had the brainstorm to name his baby boy Xerxes Junior Bretagne so that he truly has something that no one else in that whole county has. Unless you count Beau’s two cousins Billy-john and Bart, whose sons also share this magnificent combination of names (modified for the Bretagne family’s convenience as XJ2 and XJ3), but since Beau doesn’t count these, why should you?digital illustration from antique photographs

Hot Flash Fiction 7: The Scientists’ Children

It was pretty rare and indeed a little suspect back in those days that both husband and wife were scientists. That the Cruikshanks, odd ducks each one, also both taught the Modern Sciences at the local normal school only opened them to further scrutiny and whispering. So when Rupert’s distant aunt died and left him her desolate hardscrabble farm and its rickety frame house at the dead end of the worst road in a dry, mean county, husband and wife packed up their trunks, borosilicate retorts and all, and moved right out to that far frontier, disappearing as though in a puff of salty dust. It was only some years later, when they began to appear in search of provisions at the nearest town’s dry goods emporium with their two remarkable young children in tow, that folk in that region began to guess that perhaps the inexplicable strangeness of the Cruikshank life was not lessened, let alone ended, by any means.digital collage

Hot Flash Fiction 5

The Duchess was inordinately fond of animals. Though her courtiers would never dare say so to her face, they imagined she ought to have been born a zookeeper, or at the very least a farmer. This idea was strengthened, especially, by the fact that it always fell to the housekeepers and servants to make the palace tidy enough for Her Ladyship’s dainty passage through life and to freshen the air when the royal menagerie had pranced, prowled or otherwise paraded through its rooms and left unseemly gifts along the way. The Duke, who was as allergic to all things animal as the Duchess was attracted, considered for some time whether he oughtn’t to have a team of expert taxidermists and artisans solve this problem once and for all, creating a large display of preserved zoological beauty that might be both lower maintenance and less powerfully scented than the living creatures populating his estate indoors and out, day and night.digital collageUnfortunately, the Duchess’s sisters who lived in the east wing of the palace did not support the Duke’s enthusiasm for the design, making noises of disapprobation at least as loud as the Duchess’s favorite dogs’ barking or donkeys’ braying. Perhaps, the Duke thought, he had been a little incautious in discussing this artistic concept with his secretary while within earshot of the sisterly ladies-in-waiting, for they both appeared quite ready to dash off squealing with rage to their unsuspecting sibling, or at the least, to imitate the household fauna in some other impolite fashion.digital collageAs it fell out, the Duke, however incautious he may have been in heat of the moment, was not without the wit born of hard experience. Working swiftly with his retainers, was able to resolve the situation quickly and suitably merely by shifting the subject of the new art to a slightly different one featuring the Duchess and her sisters. As an added benison of this resolution, it was discovered that he wasn’t allergic to winged or four-legged pets after all. The palace staff found maintaining the menagerie surprisingly less onerous afterward as well, even with the added curatorial duties of dusting off the Duchess and polishing her sisters from time to time.

Hot Flash Fiction 4: Man’s Better Friend than He Ever Knew

 

digital artworkThe interviewer from Wagging Wonders paused. Biscuit cocked her head thoughtfully, now reminiscing about her youth. In the old days, before the invention of the Frisbee®, dogs had to be so much more clever and agile to chase and catch those passing spaceships. Pups these days! They have no idea how easy they have it. Why, if it hadn’t been for Biscuit and Sprocket, all of Montana would’ve been overrun by those little orange beings that dodged their yipping and nipping, landing covertly in Seattle instead, in ’62.

Hot Flash Fiction 1: Pedigreed

I know it’s been around, arguably, for generations, but the extreme short story seems to have undergone quite the revival in recent times, being popularly called in the English-speaking and -writing world Flash Fiction. Me, I’m an old lady and slow to keep up with any sort of trend. Or, to give myself partial credit, I am so old that I was already around the first time half this stuff was popular.

Never mind all of that. In the way of condensed arts, I’ve always been particularly enamored of short forms, miniatures and compact performances that have rich enough content to hold up under speedy scrutiny yet continue to beckon one for a second and third and thirtieth look, or at the very least, to get one’s nose a whole lot closer to the subject before waving farewell. That applies to works by others (short stories, small photos and drawings, children’s books, one-act plays, songs comprising one or two brief movements, and snappy quatrains), and very much to my own productions. Since you lovely people already know full well that I have the attention span of an end-of-season Mayfly, you can easily surmise that this obsession with tiny-tude is merely a natural outgrowth of my laziness and tangential, caroming path through life.

Which is, of course, partly true. But I’ve also been known to commit to larger-scale projects and yes, in real life, honest-to-goodness fact, to complete them, too. Sometimes, I’ll readily admit, this happens at a very, verrrrrrrrrrry slow pace. But though I have made murals twenty feet wide, rebuilt gardens from the bulldozer up, written and/or drawn every single day for years at a time, my heart does retain its deep affection for the minute, yea verily for that minutiae that can happen in a minute. But only if it’s worth the effort. There are still those larger goals to be achieved and metaphorical mountains to be climbed that require my continuing attentions between spurts of compact acting. And it’s the very change from the massive to the mini that makes those idiosyncratic idioms of iota-size such excellent crevice fillers and so appealing as a respite from larger concerns.

So, old though I may be, I’m trailing in the dust of your every trend–unless you’ll allow that I am only lapping myself in circles, having written couplets, sketched 3-second figures and made one-bite desserts since I was hardly bigger than a molecule myself. I like to think that I’m gradually getting better than I was back then, at least. Practice, practice.digital collage

They were justifiably proud of their daughter’s pedigree, but it was precisely this family resemblance that first drew the unkind attentions of those catty girls in the sorority.