Hearing Nothing

Flash Fiction

“Grampy, the plumbers are here to take a look at the busted pipes!”

Elijah yells toward the back of his grandparents’ shotgun house — screams loud enough for the neighbors to hear.

“You wanna give me my pipe? Yes, boy, that’ll be all right. It’s in the den on the coffee table.”

Elijah shakes his head and cautions the plumbers with his right hand and then directs them to the bathroom on the first floor which is where they will begin their work.

“No, Grampy! The pipes! The busted pipes from the storm. The plumbers are here to fix them!”

“Mice!!! When did we get mice?! Lemme get up and find some traps, boy. We can’t have no mice cohabitating with us. No, siree.”

Elijah presses two fingers to the temples of his head and massages slowly. He then walks toward his grandfather’s bedroom and enters the room with a defeated look on his face. He stands near the window, breathes out, and begins again . . .

“Grampy, the plumbers are here to fix the pipes. There are no mice and you stopped smoking that godawful pipe three years ago.”

He looks at his grandfather, places a hand on his shoulder, and smiles gently.

“Well, if you wanted company boy, why didn’t you just say so? Sure, they can spend the night.”

A look of bewilderment shot across Elijah’s face as he tried to understand exactly what his grandfather was going on about now.

“Grampy, for who to spend the night? This is about the pipes, Grampy. The busted pipes!”

His voice was at a measured shrill with just enough volume to alert his grandmother in the kitchen. She came running to her grandson’s aid.

“Gerald! Pay attention to me, please. Elijah said the plumbers are here to start work on the busted pipes from that winter storm! They’re in the bathroom downstairs, that’s where they’ll begin!”

Although she was shouting, Sue’s voice was just as serene and peaceful as if she were speaking calmly to an infant. Elijah thought to himself, surely his grandfather would not hear her.

“Now, Elijah is going to keep watch over them while they work on the pipes and I’ll finish dinner.”

A brief moment of silence waltzed in on them and Elijah and Sue awaited Gerald’s response.

“Sue, of all the things in this world you could call me, I never thought a sinner would be one of them. And if those plumbers don’t hurry up and get here, we’re going to spend another night in this house with no water!”

Sue looked at Elijah, smiled, and gave his hand a pat.

“Today’s almost done, Elijah. Tomorrow is a new day. Maybe it’ll be a good day for him.”

Elijah gave his grandmother’s hand a gentle pat and smiled back at her.

“Maybe.”


Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.

The Luring Scent of Fudge Brownies

Flash Fiction

A fresh batch of brownies lay on the counter. We sniff the luring scent, slip on our clothes, and rush down the stairs. I’ve got my heart set on the two middle brownies & my sister craves two from the corners. She’s eager to dash from the entrance of our kitchen to the sweet smell of love and hard work.

Our mom outdid herself this time. We both knew it. The fresh scent travels throughout our home and wafts around every corner of every room. My sister looks at me, I look at her — hesitantly; we measure each other up — lingering in our newfound glory. I nod my head toward her and watch her cherub-like face light up. That’s her cue to take a bite.

We sink our teeth into the gooey goodness of chocolate. Every morsel melts in our mouths — we land on a small slice of heaven. The brownies are both chewy and moist and filled with everything we could have possibly dreamed up if anyone were to ask us.

We take another bite in unison — fudge drips on to our fingers. I lick remnants of evidence from my hands and advise my kid sister to do the same. There’s no hiding the fact that we’ve had our share of this exquisite dessert and we will not deny it if asked, but . . .

How could anyone ignore the luring scent of fudge brownies?


*This began as a response to a Twitter BraveWrite prompt. The prompt word was batch. I liked this so much, I decided to expound on it here.


Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.

Sweet As Sugar

A Haibun, 2 Parts

Musical Selection: Eagles|I Can’t Tell You Why

Photo from ds_30 via Pixabay

She sits across from us — hair pinned up tightly in an aggravated bun. I have my hands on my lap. I am centered in my chair — immovable. She invites us in for tea, this will calm our nerves, she says. We sit quietly. She gathers the good china, readies the table, and prepares some Earl Grey. He spies me looking at her precariously. I give him a cautious wink — I nod slowly. He knows something is wrong. He says nothing.

“Your sugar cubes . . . One lump or two, Dears?” We look at each other before speaking. We both shout in unison, “Two, please!” She plasters a fake smile on her face then offers us a drink we’re scared to consume.

afraid to drink tea
something’s not right with our host
but we can’t be rude


We sip our tea slowly — breathing in and out as we swallow. She eyes us nosily. I sit back in my chair — rock steadily. The air in the room wolfs around us — strangles us into silence. She seems nice. She seems sweet as pie — sweet as honey — sweet as sugar. But she’s not. We know she’s not. We just can’t put our fingers on it. He takes a few more sips then his head lands on the table with a loud thud. “Teddy! Baby, wake up! Wake up!” I look at her, she’s still smiling — the same fake one from earlier. What has she done?

host for evening tea
is a killer in disguise
we both die that night


Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.

The Strange, Unforgettable Little World of Tyson Liston

Part III: Directionless

Photo by Cherise Evertz via Unsplash

“No time to dillydally. We’ve got to keep moving!” The conductor takes out his compass — a shiny, gold contraption that ticked as it moved. He treasured it. His eyes focus on the direction points, he blinks quickly as the needle lands on “N.” He is beside himself with glee. The next stop is just four miles ahead, north. “Due North!”

Tyson kneels down to eye-level with the conductor and smiles at him. He is intrigued by this man who is engulfed in his role, so much so it seeps into everything he does. He spies the compass and satisfies his curiosity.

“Whatcha got there, Mr. Conductor?” He leans his gigantic head closer to the windows of the toy locomotive and awaits an answer.

“Why it’s my compass, my dear boy! I never leave home without it. I’ve been railroading for twenty-three years now and this baby has been by my side. It has never once steered us wrong.”

Tyson flops his body down on the hardwood floors, lowers his head onto his hands, and props up his elbows. He can feel a story coming on.

“My pop gave me this compass when I was about your age. He was a conductor too. He’d seen so many beautiful, interesting, and unbelievable places. I’d see him two, maybe three days per month, but upon every visit, he had something for me — some new thing I couldn’t wait to get my hands on.”

Tyson could feel himself smiling, but getting sad too. Two or three days out of each month? He knew he couldn’t go that long without seeing his dad. He felt encouraged to ask the conductor how this made him feel.

“How’d you feel growing up not seeing your daddy a lot?”

“Oh, I don’t think I minded as much. They kept me pretty busy. My mom had me in so many activities after school, I barely had time to miss him. Plus, it was like a special occasion — this grand adventure whenever he came home. We all filled to the brims of our hearts with delight and anticipation.”

The conductor flips open the compass, smiles earnestly, bats a few tears from his eyes, and continues with his story.

“My pop conducted his train like no one else. The passengers loved him and the engineers depended on him. That train ran like clockwork — dependable and on time. Folks used to say, ‘You can bet on Smitty’s train. It’s one thing that’s sure in life.’ And they were right.”


Photo by Andrew Neel via Unsplash

Tyson watches the conductor. He feels himself shedding a few tears and wipes them quickly before anyone can see. The train slows down, approaching what Tyson thinks is the next stop. The conductor slaps his compass shut, twists his mustache by the ends, and hurries to the front of the train. Tyson looks on, enraptured by the magic.


To read the rest of this story, please click here. Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.

Part I and Part II

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The Strange, Unforgettable Little World of Tyson Liston

Part II: The Stapler Thief

Photo by Everyday basics via Unsplash

“Son! Have you seen my stapler?”

Roger looks all over their cabin-style home for his favorite stapler. He has a project he’s working on and one of the key tools to use is his heavy-duty stapler. Their home is quiet — only the hum or the a.c. unit can be heard. Dena and Celia are both out doing the weekly shopping, so he and Tyson are manning the fort.

“Son! The stapler, have you seen it?!”

Tyson is fiddling with a few knick-knacks for his train set — careful not to misplace anything. Since he found out the magical toy comes to life when no adults are around, he is adamant about being discreet. He is mindful of how he explains what he’s doing and why. The last thing he needs is for his parents or sister to begin snooping around his “secret place.” He barely hears his father as he enters the family room.

“Shh! I think I hear my dad coming.” He warns Tyson#2 as he risks his existence to listen carefully for Roger.

“Son. Hey, Tyson, buddy. Did you hear me? Have you seen my stapler? I am working on a project for your mom and I need it.”

“No, sir. I haven’t seen it. I thought Celia had it last, but then again, Mom likes that stapler too.”

“Oh, God. If your mom had her hands on it, there’s no telling where it is by now. I’ll just wait until they come back from the store and I’ll ask her about it. How’s the train set?”

Tyson watches his dad’s eyebrows arch in a peaked position — eager to hear his report about his grandpa’s gift. The old man did a little two-step when he heard the whistle blow last night. Tyson was going to have to keep his eyes on him.

“It’s great! It’s the perfect gift! I’m nearly done setting up the village.”

Roger tousles his son’s hair, turns on his heels, and walks briskly down the hall to the kitchen. Tyson checks on Tyson#2 and finds him standing by the window.


Photo by Brandon Morgan via Unsplash

“Hey, there. What are you doing?”

“That thing your dad’s, (well, our dad) looking for. Is it big, pink & white, and has a floppy, sharp edge?”

“Yes! It’s his favorite stapler! Why?! Have you seen it?”

Tiny Tyson has a look of guilt plastered on his face. He tries to find the right words to explain to Tyson the whereabouts of the stapler.

“Well, yeah . . . kinda. Johnny Boots, Tommy Townes, Mikey Loops, and me — we dragged it out back, made ourselves a diving board for the pool. It’s so hot out. We were going to put it back later, didn’t think anyone would miss it.”

“A diving board? You guys could’ve gotten hurt. Do you even know what a stapler does?”

“Well, it’s a pretty good diving board right now.”

Tyson waves Tiny Tyson off with the flick of his hand. He leans his head over the roof of their tiny home, looks to his right, and locates the stapler.

“I’m putting this back where it belongs. This isn’t a toy.”

“You sound like one of the grownups.”

“Well. Well . . . Someone needs to be a grownup in this here village. You can’t go stealing things or taking them without asking. You’ll get me into big trouble if you do.”

“Okay, calm down. I didn’t know it would stir up such a fuss. I’ll be more careful.”

Tyson runs as quickly as he can to his dad’s tool shed. He finds his toolbox, lifts it quietly, and places the stapler in the upper compartment. Roger circles back around for one more check.

“Buddy, I can’t believe this. I’ve looked everywhere. Are you sure you haven’t seen my stapler?”

“I’m sure, Dad. Have you checked your toolbox?”

“I did! That’s the first place I looked. I’ll go and give it another look-see, though. Couldn’t harm things at all.”

Roger shuffles off to his tool shed, picks up his toolbox, and breathes out a sigh of relief. His stapler sat perfectly placed in the upper compartment.

“Found it!” He yells to his son excitedly.

Tyson looks at Tiny Tyson, stifles a giggle, and signals him to be quiet.

“Shh, that’ll be our little secret.”

And it was.


Part I

Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.

 

 

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