Emerald Bolts Slim Monahan A Magazine for Flash Fiction

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The groundskeeper waved his hand over the stare of the motionless man on the bench.
     "Dead," he muttered and glanced across the street at the hospital complex, a small city twinkling in the dawn.
     Vince Dooley was on the 6th floor. He was all skin and bones. It didn't look good. Meanwhile the inconveniencies.
     Vince observed his wife Evey sitting next to his bed. What a great set she had; if he could only get his mouth around them one more time.
     And a cigarette. One more. Just one.
     The nurse shrieked, "You'll blow us up!"
     One more of something was magic. Like another day.
     Emily, his niece, had been badgered by family to come say goodbye. With tattoos, a nose ring and an attitude to piss off the Dalai Lama she was way off message as far as her elders were concerned.
     Emily sat indifferently and bounced her foot and chewed gum and waited to be dismissed. She had been the sweetest of things as a child. Ach, why ever grow up?
     His voice gone Vince blinked discreetly at Emily to get her attention. It took several tries but she finally responded and stepped next to the bed. Vince crooked his finger. Emily leaned over.  He whispered. Emily nodded affirmatively, crept her hand into her purse and tucked a cigarette and matchbook behind Vince's pillow.
     The two beamed at each other as if theirs was the heist of the century.
     It was long into the night. The graveyard shift was slaphappy from the unbroken croon of the seriously ill wailing a collective protest at the whole darn mess.
     Vince yanked the oxygen tubes from his nose and the IVs from his veins. Blood tumbled down his arm which he stanched with a fistful of kleenex. He lay still to catch a breath and sipped it like scalding tea when it arrived.  He counted to ten and sat up. He reached under the pillow to collect his stash. Ten again and he was standing.
     He peeked out of the doorway for a clear coast and on the mark shuffled down the hallway. He used the wall as ballast and moved as fast as his delirium would allow. The inane hospital slippers scraped across the floor and threatened sabotage.
     Vince yipped triumphantly when he made the elevator and out the front entrance under the noses of the drowsy night workers.
He ambled across the street to the park. A chilly stone bench came to his rescue and he collapsed.
     The lid of night tilted back and the first light peeked under.  Smiling he pawed at the horizon and opened a clenched fist for his treasure. He drew the length of the cigarette slowly under his nostrils and pasted it onto his lower lip.
     He opened the matchbook and with a supreme effort pulled off a tab. He struck and struck and struck. At last a flame.
     And sky was the color of Evey's cheeks when she blushed.


Mr. Vince Dooley struggled most of his life with a deep sense of foreboding. He couldn't figure it. There was nothing specific.  Maybe he had been dropped on his head as a child. On other side Mr. Dooley was blessed with the cheery notion he'd always land on his feet.
     For the majority of five decades Vince tiptoed the tightrope between his two fixations until both were obliterated the night a Boeing 747 crashed into his house.
     Mr. Dooley and his wife Evey had been looking at stars.  There were stars outside the open window on the clear evening and there were stars in Mrs. Dooley's upturned eyes as Vince toured the contours of her body with a tongue he bragged could snap the cap off a bottle top.  As he moved along Vince at some murky level sneered at the harangue on boring marriage and visualized his divorced cronies at the coffee shop as they stared at their laptops and looked vacantly out the window for someone with a life jacket.
     A delicate breeze fluttered the curtains and deliciously chilled Vince's saliva trails across Evey's skin as he artfully daubed her murmurs into a definitive composite. Suddenly, akin to a train in a tunnel a roar in the sky shook the house. The Dooley's didn't flinch, inured by repetition. They lived in the path of an airport. It was the thing they explained to unsuspecting guests who leapt up and ran for cover. They couldn't have afforded their own home otherwise. Anything they had promised themselves, anything to escape apartment life where low wages and high debt forced the sorry zoo of humanity to congregate. There was no guarantee a thin wall away you wouldn't have a skinhead, a jihadist, a pedophile for a neighbor.
     Captain Claude Bonein, of Fransair, was retiring soon.  He had a big problem. The engines had shut down on the 747 he was commanding. He was minutes from landing – minutes from azure coastlines, Spanish cuisine, gentle tides lapping at his carefree bunions.
     There was a street at the correct azimuth just beyond the runway Captain Bonein was about to miss. The captain dug deep for tricks of the trade while his settlement package flashed across his mind.
     The enormous mass of airliner came down as a man made comet. The landing gear collapsed. A parallel line of trees bordering the street bent against the wings and sheared them off.
     The stripped fuselage skidded on for an eternity until it reached the Dooley residence at the end of the cul-de-sac where it knocked the roof back like the top of a lunch box before squelching to a miraculous stop. The big jet's leviathan nose poked into the exposed second story bedroom.
     Captain Bonein and copilot Jacque sobbed in triumphant hysteria.
     Vince Dooley's derriere bloomed in the moonlight.
     Captain Bonein poked his head out the shattered cockpit window.
     "Bon soir," he said with Gallic elegance.
     "Likewise, I'm sure," Vince replied looking back over his shoulder.


- Slim Monahan (USA)

Slim Monahan 
was born 1945 in Hollywood, California. He graduated from UCLA in 1967, then served in the U.S. Navy for two years. After thirty years in business, he is now retired and living in Denver, Colorado. This is his first publication.

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 Copyright © Emerald Bolts Magazine, 2012
The front page image is copyright © by Anthony Kitterick, 2012