They Buried Him Under the Old Jane Magnolia Tree

Springtime. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Flash Fiction (Challenge Response)

Rufus was the town postman—employed for thirty-six years before he had a heart attack on his route during a blazing hot summer.

Died on the spot.

His manager, Paul Scheltz, had to identify the body, call his wife, and drive the mail truck back to the distribution center. EMS wasted no time hauling his bloated body to the local hospital, where he was officially pronounced dead.

All their potential life-saving efforts stood before them laughing—making fun of the ten minutes they had pumped the man’s chest. He was deader than dead, and there was nothing they could do about it.

Sylvia arrived at the hospital. Her heart weighed a ton. They’d just taken out a second mortgage, and their youngest was about to enter college. All these thoughts raced through her head as she stared at her dead husband—body as stiff as a board.

They buried him underneath the Jane Magnolia tree in their backyard four days later. No other family was there other than her and their three children. No friends except for Paul and his wife. Sylvia sang, “The Old Rugged Cross” while tears waterfall’d upon her face.

“May he rest in peace,” she said afterward.

May he rest in peace.


This is in response to a challenge request from fellow Simily contributor Rod Gilley where he challenged me by stating the following on my previous post: “I challenge you to write a Flash Fiction (1,000 words or less) on the subject of that tree (any genre). That is a beautiful tree – eager to see what your imagination can come up with for a story about it.” 

Originally published via Simily.

Checking In After Hours (Part II)

Flash Fiction: The mysterious fire extinguisher

She stared at the man, fumbling for the words to tell him what they’d just found, and before she could get the first word out, he said, “Lemme guess, you found Magda? We’ve been looking for her for hours.”

Hearing this, Tamara fainted. Her feathered-like body splayed itself on the floor. There she lay until the cops arrived.


The strange Oompa Loompa’d man waddled over to Tamara and waved his hands frantically in front of her face. He leaned in far too close to her and then stared intently until she blinked and opened her eyes. Tamara shot up from her fainted state — disoriented — but regained her sense of self quickly. He led one police officer to the area where she was and directed the other to the room the couple reserved.

“Hey! Hey! Name’s Beau. Officer Beau Dibbs. We got ourselves a bit of a situation here. You the one who found the motel’s cleanin’ lady, Magda?”

The strange man stood behind the front desk with a defiant look plastered on his face. He scrutinized Tamara silently while Officer Dibbs attempted to get whatever information he could out of Tamara. She averted her eyes from him and paid attention to Officer Dibbs.

“Ye — Yes, me and my husband found the woman. He — her head. God! Her head was in the bed and her body was in the tub. IN THE TUB!”

Officer Dibbs made note of the delirium spouting from Tamara’s mouth. He perused the perimeter, took photos of the motel lobby, and asked the strange man to escort him to the scene of the crime. Tamara walked along behind them — afraid to touch anything. There was a fire extinguisher on the wall next to their room. Had it been there before? The glass was broken, yet the extinguisher looked to be intact.

“Was that fire extinguisher there when we checked in? I just . . . I don’t remember it being there before.”

“Yup. Gotta have one every hundred feet. City code. There’s one here, then about five rooms down, there’s another. And so on, and you know. City code.”


Officer Dibbs entered the room. His partner, Officer Clive Bends had questioned Tamara’s husband Dale, took photos of the mangled body, the room, and blocked off the area in a 50-foot radius with crime scene tape. Dale was standing in the middle of the room, hovering over their children, and muttering a lullaby. It seemed as though the song was for him more than it was for their children.

“Dibbs. It’s a damn mess. Couple came in expecting a night of rest from a long drive up. They’re headed farther North. From what I got from the husband over there, they hadn’t been in the room five minutes before locating the body. According to him, they don’t know the lady, and don’t have anything to do with this here, um . . . situation.”

The strange man stared at Dale, then at Tamara, then at both officers before speaking up.

“The deceased is Magda. Magda Kowalski. No children. She lives here on site. Works every day along with our other two maids; Daphne and Tess. Last I heard from her was three days ago — hadn’t called in — nothing. This was odd for Magda. She’d be here at 07:00 on the dot every morning. As I said, she lives on site.”

Noting the information given by the motel clerk, the officers gathered their things and headed for Magda’s room. Tamara insisted on following along — she wouldn’t be able to sleep. Not tonight, and definitely not at this motel. On her way out, she noticed the fire extinguisher was on the opposite side of the door.

“Wasn’t that fire extinguisher on the other side when we came in?”

“No, ma’am. Been there the whole time.”

But had it?


Originally published in Hinged.press via Medium.

Part I

Checking In After Hours

Photo by Sean Mungur on Unsplash

Flash Fiction

Tamara slapped the call bell on the dusty motel desk with her freshly manicured hand. She had on thigh-high boots, a blood-red sarong, and a black throw draped across her shoulders.

Her nine-month-old son bounced on her hips. His tired eyes surveyed the dingy lobby — his fat feet kicked at the stale air.

It was 12:35 am and their family had turned off I-95 onto the ramp for Exit 164 and pulled into the first parking lot they spotted.

Dale, Tamara’s bald, bold, and barky husband, stumbled in behind her and the baby, carrying their four-year-old lopsidedly across his chest. He barked at Tamara to hit the call bell again.

She slapped the bell this time with a salty vengeance that had been pulled from the depths of her exhausted body. She slapped it again and then again, and then finally . . . a chubby, Oompa Loompa’d man appeared from the shadows. He yawned, scratched his scruffy beard, and acknowledged them begrudgingly.

“How many beds and how many nights?”

Tamara looked at Dale, then back at the man, and said whisperingly, “Two beds, one night.”

The man whisked a key from the panel on the wall beside him, scanned it under the reader, and typed the request on the computer. He blurted out the fee.

“72.99. We only take cash. ATM’s on the side of the building next to the vending machines if you need it. $3.99 fee, though.”

Tamara looked at Dale, who looked at her and the two of them scraped cash from their purse and wallet, respectively. They paid the fee and took the key from the man.


Once in front of the door to their room, they swiped the key over the reader and opened the door. The room, to their surprise, was spotless and smelled of lemon-scented Pine-Sol and lavender-scented bleach. But something felt off.

They piled their things on the table near the window, turned on the lights and television, and laid the children down on the bed nearest the bathroom.

Tamara pulled back the covers to the bed she and Dale would share, and a trapped scream escaped her throaty lungs. Before her, was the head of what must have been the motel’s maid. Dale found the rest of her body in the tub.

Tamara bolted out of the door to the lobby while Dale called the cops. She slapped the call bell and yelled for the attendant. He came stumbling out from his previous stupor, annoyed by yet another interruption.

“Room need cleaning? Or empty fridge?”

She stared at the man, fumbling for the words to tell him what they’d just found, and before she could get the first word out, he said, “Lemme guess, you found Magda? We’ve been looking for her for hours.”

Hearing this, Tamara fainted. Her feathered-like body splayed itself on the floor. There she lay until the cops arrived.


Originally published in Hinged.press via Medium.

That Awkward Saturday Morning Smell You’re Not Supposed To Talk About

Photo by オム via ReShot

Flash Fiction

Chris sat on his balcony engulfed by the Saturday morning breeze—eyes bounced back and forth—blazing on a blunt the size of a sausage link. He had a uniquely relaxed smile plastered on his face. As he inhaled a toke, he exhaled the stress from the prior week. Working in IT had its perks, but he was becoming at odds with his current position.

His neighbors, he thought, would surely report him as soon as they smelled the smoke slowly slithering further down each floor. Saturday was his kickback and take no shit day. It had been the day to forget the troubles of the past week and move forward into the coming one with a rational mind and a happy heart. He almost always did this after his early morning smoking session. 

His roommate was a flighty bartender who worked late nights and slept until 2 pm every day. No harm. No foul. Who really had the balls to tell the property manager on a grown-ass man? Everyone was too busy living their lives, trying to keep their heads above water, and steer clear of each other as best as they could. He was one of those people. Wasn’t everyone else?

He’d often lose himself there on the balcony—drifting off to the ocean—one of his favorite places to be. He grew up in San Francisco and spent at least six years in Tampa, Florida. He was no stranger to the open waters. It was where he could be his most vulnerable self. He worked through many problems while moving his naked feet through the sand on various beaches—maneuvered through life accordingly without flouncing and losing his sense of self.

He deserved every Saturday morning smoking session he engaged in—earned it! The sun sashayed into his view, opened up its eyes, and pressed its rays onto his balcony. He closed his eyes, took another toke, and blew the smoke from his mouth as quickly as he inhaled it. 

Who really had the balls to tell the property manager on a grown-ass man? Everyone was too busy living their lives, trying to keep their heads above water, and steer clear of each other as best as they could. He was one of those people. Wasn’t everyone else?

Really, who?


Originally published via Simily.

Alone With Himself Without Her

Photo by Asheesh via ReShot

Flash Fiction

He hadn’t known she would leave first thing in the morning. The argument they had the night before tested the strength of their relationship. They had failed. They were failing - he was blind to it all before. The colder side of his bed lured him over and he turned to lie in the space she left. His heart pulsed and his hands twitched. His pillow was wet. Had he cried while he was asleep? Why couldn’t she have waited to say goodbye?

The bedroom was dark - no light had entered during the morning hours. He limped over to the window and pulled the curtains back - opened the blinds. He would make a fresh, hot pot of coffee. It was something she’d always done, but she was not there. 

While the percolator purred, he checked their closets. All of her things were gone. The skis they purchased together the year before were too. She’d always said she’d take those if they split. She kept her word. He searched the bathrooms for reminders. A few strands of her auburn hair rested at the mouth of the sink - waiting to be washed down. He feathered them gently between his two fingers before releasing them. 

The sound of the running water prompted tears to fall. He stood there - buck naked and unashamed - alone with his tears. He took two deep breaths and sat down on the toilet. This was a thing Ava hated - him spending far too much time in the bathroom - far too much time on the porcelain throne. Far too much time sheltered and shuttered away from her. He sighed. His world had been crumbling - cracking - and he would not pick the pieces up in time to move on.

***

He poured the piping hot coffee into his favorite mug. The quote on it said, “Go be great. Then, sleep.” Ava hated the mug. But he drank from it every day, anyway. The morning sun pressed itself on his stony face and found its home underneath his eyes. Tuning the radio, he selected his favorite channel to listen to some music. The last thing he needed was a blast from the past that led him to more thoughts of Ava. More tears. More momentary solitary seconds of surefire sadness. He wept . . . He wept . . . He fell into the pits of depression.

Roxette–It Must’ve Been Love

The day was beginning without him, and he knew he had to shake himself free from the tight grip of melancholy. He had a presentation at work in two days and, knowing his boss as he did, he knew he would need to make some last-minute changes. Ava would help him with his presentations by sitting and listening to him as he mock-presented his work. She would critique and applaud and give him the support he needed.

He set up the area, created the projection onto his living room wall, and talked to an invisible audience. Halfway through his concept, the tears crept in once again. He lowered his body to the floor and sunk into the plush carpet. He’d call in sick - surely he could not work today. As soon as he reached for his phone, a message appeared from Ava.

“Hey, I’ve forgotten a few things. I’ll be over before you head out to work. Shouldn’t take long.”

He read the message five times before settling back into the floor - his body curled into itself, alone with his thoughts of . . . her . . . and the reality of the end of them.


©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt, Originally published via Simily.