Death is always difficult to deal with, but sometimes only because of the life that went along with it, dragging behind the specter of the dead like the drying slime of a snail. Or sometimes it’s because we don’t know how to sum things up after such a finality. What’s the point? Memory? That’s sometimes too hard to bear.
Read Deadbeat by Arnulfo and inspire yourself to write a short short to submit to the flash fiction section of the Current. I’m looking for approximately 500 words (though I love those stories/prose poems that are even shorter). Submit: email@example.com
Deadbeat by Arnulfo Talamantes
What did it matter if his shirt was ironed? This would last a few hours at most. And if his aunts and uncles were upset that he wasn’t going to wear black slacks and a white shirt like they asked, this was their problem, not his. At the very least he was going—even going to be a pall-bearer. They should be happy for that.
And it’s not like he even cared for this man, this man that manhandled his mother, gave her the chip in her front teeth she still had now, the four kids he abandoned. But now it seemed they were about to be reunited or at least walk together for one last time and he could care less about how he looked. He would just go through the motions, accept what would sound to him like empty and automatic condolences, words people had to say, words that would free them from any potential criticism for not honoring the dead, however horrible the dead really was.
Fuck. If it was up to him, he would have done something else with the body, maybe dumped it in the lake. If it was up to him, he would have dumped the body among the reeds and the lilies that would envelop the corpse and welcome this devil to a murky hell. It’s not like his dad would have objected. Hell, if his dad didn’t spend his time drinking and womanizing, odds were that he was at the lake fishing. If he could do it right, make it so he wouldn’t float, he’d sink the body into the muddy waters and be done with him. But knowing him, knowing the tenacity of his absent father, knowing that evil never ceases to exist, the body would likely return as an alligator or a crocodile and haunt the waters below, bully the fish like he did his mother and his sisters. Knowing that son of a bitch, he would remain the monster he was before and threaten life in the water like he did on land. That son of a bitch was always a bully. Always a fucking bully. What the fuck did it matter if his shirt was ironed?
Read The Great Ernesto & Lorenzo Salinas: The Woman across the Street by Arnulfo.
Lyle Rosdahl, a writer living in San Antonio, edits the flash fiction blog & best of in print for the Current. He created, facilitates and participates in Postcard Fiction Collaborative, a monthly flash fiction response to a photo. You can see more of his work, including photos, paintings and writing, at lylerosdahl.com.
Send your flash to firstname.lastname@example.org.