All posts by Dan Evon

police tape

Boxes

Flash fiction inspired by a story published at CNN

It felt like nothing.

The box only weighed a couple of pounds but the smell made it difficult to carry. It made it difficult to think.

They had found it in the garage underneath some old clothes and a dirty tarp next to six other boxes that emitted the same ghastly smell. And once they found it… Once they realized what it was… Once they understood what had happened…

They were standing in the kitchen. The rookie was wiping vomit from his lip. The chief stood with his hands spread wide across the counter. The red and blue siren spun in through the window and the chief searched for something to say. Anything.

“Jesus fucking Christ,” he muttered.

The woman was sitting in the back of the police car, a dazed look on her face, as the officers started making their way out of the house. Each held a box that weighed almost nothing. Each held a box that was nearly too heavy to carry.

***

Flash fiction inspired by a story published at CNN: Unbelievable. That’s how a police captain described the case. A 39-year-old woman in Utah is in custody, accused of murder, after authorities found the remains of seven infants at a home where she used to live.

photo credit: Tony Webster via photopin cc

Connected and Alone, Plate II

A New Celebrity

Flash fiction inspired by a story published at the Social News Daily

“How did you become a celebrity?”

She was sitting in the bleachers with a phone in her hand thinking about herself sitting in a studio. There were bright lights above her and a handsome man with a white smile sitting across from her. He was smiling and the cameras were rolling and millions of people were glued to their television screens.

“How did you become a celebrity?”

She didn’t know how to answer that yet but she had plenty of ideas. She could make a sex tape. It had already been done before but if she found the right person it would work again. She looked down at her phone for a second, then smiled.

“@TheSituation is so hot,” she wrote. “Want to see pics?”

The basketball team was practicing and she watched one of the boys run up and down the court. He was cute, athletic, and dating a girl who was caught having sex in her car by one of the teachers. They called her backseat Betty. At least they called her something. 

Maybe she could release an album get a whole bunch of plastic surgery. She could marry a D-list celebrity or make a viral video. There were plenty of ways to make people look at you. The talk shows were always hungry for content and once you got your fifteen minutes of fame you could turn it into a career. 

“How did you become a celebrity?”

There was a guy she followed on Twitter who always said the nastiest things about blacks, gays and liberals. He used words like genocide and holocaust and unconstitutional and it seemed like just about everyone hated him. But everyone knew him, too.

She was sitting in the bleachers with a megaphone in her hand thinking about herself on a book tour. A woman in a suit called out her name and the audience clapped as she walked out on stage. She waved, smiled, then sat down in a big comfy chair, crossed her legs, and opened her mouth: “It’s so nice to be here.”

There were some boos, too, but that only meant book sales. There were some protests, sure, but that only meant a sequel.

She looked down at her phone for a second, then smiled.

“How did you become a celebrity?”

The whole world was listening. She just had to say something that no one wanted to hear.

***

Flash fiction inspired by a story published at the Social News Daily: A young Twitter user found herself in federal trouble today after she made some insanely idiotic threats to American Airlines. On the bright side, she did gain a few thousand Twitter followers.

fog

It’s Probably Nothing

Flash fiction inspired by a story published on Newser

“What is it?”

He was sitting at the foot of the bed taking off his shoes. His eyes were focused on the window and his hands worked slowly on his laces. His wife was lying beneath the covers with a book open on her lap. She asked again: “Honey, what is it?”

“It’s probably nothing,” he said, as he pulled off one of his shoes. “Don’t worry about it.”

He wasn’t sure what he had seen. It had been a long day and he wasn’t thinking much about anything when he turned onto the dim street that led to his house. A car was parked on the corner, the light inside was on, and a faceless figure was sitting on the curb. He wouldn’t have thought twice about the car or the figure if it wasn’t for the baby crying.

His shoes hit the ground and he climbed in bed next to his wife. She put her book down and ran her fingers through his hair.

“Are you sure?” she said. “It looks like something is bothering you.”

He heard the noise immediately when he opened the car door. It was high-pitched and frantic and when he turned toward the vehicle he had passed on the corner he saw the figure violently rip the door open.

Well, he thought it was violent. It was hard to see. He knew that the baby was crying and that the door had opened and now the figure was walking away from the car with the child slung over its shoulder like a sack of sugar. The car door was still open, the light was still on, and he watched with his mouth open as the brash noise of the toddler crying slowly faded into the night.

“It’s nothing,” he said. “It was just this woman outside. Or man. I don’t know. It was just weird. Did you hear the baby crying? It sounded like it was hurt. I couldn’t really tell. It was dark. It just felt strange, you know?”

She nodded then laid her head on his shoulder and swung her arm over his chest.

“What do you think it was?” she asked. “Probably just a bad parent. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.”

He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and told himself that she was right. It was nothing. There was no reason to worry. That figure was just a stressed out parent and that child was just cranky. They probably lived down the street and she was probably just tired, like he was, and forgot about the car door. She wasn’t a murderer, or a kidnapper, or a child molester. How often, after all, does that sort of thing happen in a neighborhood like this?

His breath got short and heavy as the flashing light of a siren lit up their bedroom window.

“It’s probably nothing,” he told himself. But he knew that he was lying.

***

Flash fiction inspired by a story published on Newser:  ”A jarring potential missed opportunity: A neighbor called police around 9:45pm Thursday night after seeing a child alone in a car parked outside the Germantown townhouse … The police then arrived, but no one answered the door, and after finding no probable cause that would allow them to enter, left roughly 40 minutes later.”

photo credit: Chapendra via photopin cc

nun

Immaculate Deception

Flash fiction inspired by a story published by the BBC

“Congratulations, big guy,” he said. “You’re going to be a father.”

He was laying on his back on the grass looking up at the stars. A beer bottle rested on his stomach and between the dirty nails of his fingers hung a half-smoked cigarette. He wasn’t too concerned with either.

The stars were bright and the air was cold and his mind was filled with hundreds of thoughts that he didn’t quite know what to do with. What now? What then? Why? The questions came and went and he waited at the top of the hill for some sort of answer.

“You’ve been through this before, right?” he said. “I know the story. But, well, how did people take it? Like when they first heard it? When they first found out that an angel had knocked up one of the villagers. They must have doubted, right?”

He took a sip of warm beer and knocked the dry ash away from his cigarette. A star fell over the horizon and he knew that someone was listening.

“I mean I doubt my brother when he tells me that he scored 157 points on Flappy Bird. Because it’s impossible, right? But here these people are, at the scene of a miracle, and no one questions it. Why is that? Some people need to believe while others need to doubt.”

He sat up and leaned forward, his elbows on his knees, and looked out over the trees that grew below him. He could see their branches blowing in the wind and their shadows dancing on the ground.

“You’re lucky you had your first one back then,” he said. “There’s no way that story would fly today. Within a half hour of news breaking every tabloid on the planet would be filled with some bullshit story about some bullshit love affair. The paparazzi would snap a photo of her holding some guy’s hand and the internet would speculate about who the father was. She’d be called a whore. A liar. By the time the kid was born the story would be so clouded with doubt that even the most devout believers would have a hard time seeing the truth.”

A light poured down from the top of the hill and when he looked up he saw the silhouette of woman standing in front of the headlights of an old car. She waved. He finished his drink. He swallowed a secret that he didn’t want to keep and pulled himself up to his feet.

“Some people need to believe,” he said. “While others need to doubt.”

He always felt closer to god on top of the hill.

***

Flash fiction inspired by a story published by the BBC: A nun who gave birth to a baby boy in the central Italian city of Rieti, said she had no idea she was pregnant, local media report.

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

america

And God Bless America

Flash fiction inspired by the a story published at CNN

“And God Bless America.”

The crowd rose and clapped. The cameras panned and people shook hands, talked, clapped, and forgot about everything that was just said. Of course it was hard to tell at the time, but it was a speech that he had heard before.

“Darling,” he said. He motioned her over with his empty glass. “Make it a stiff one, will you?”

The bar was empty but it was loud. In the other room there were tables and there were families who were just finishing up with dinner.

The bartender brought back a cold brown drink and set it down in front of him. He raised it up in her honor and took a big gulp.

There were four heads on the TV screen now. He listened to them over the din in the other room. They argued about how the President had said something, or hadn’t said something else. They argued about how brilliant of a speech it was, and how devastating it was to his presidency. They argued and forgot about how they had crossed over the aisle to sit with one another. Red and blue on one side. It made for a great picture. A great talking point. It symbolized something that didn’t exist. And after it was over, it was obvious to everyone but them.

“The greatest show on earth,” he said, and took another drink.

In the other room he watched a man slip a piece of plastic between the fold of a big black padded check book. He never opened it to see his bill. He just placed his card in the little slot and moved it to the edge of the table. The waitress picked it up and smiled and he leaned across the table to whisper something to his wife.

His boy was standing on the seat, looking over the backrest at the people at the other table, and his daughter was clawing at his mother’s shirt. There was a car seat on the ground and a little baby was tucked away inside, his eyes closed, sucking on a blue pacifier.

“A year of action,” he thought. It was a nice slogan. It wasn’t any “yes we can,” but it was good.

“A year of action,” this time he said it out loud to himself. He liked the way it sounded and wondered if anyone out there was drawing up some sort of poster that would go down as an iconic piece of political memorabilia.

“Darling,” he said. “Make it a stiff one.”

There was a loud crash in the kitchen that silenced the rest of the bar. But slowly, the chattering din came back and he watched the man pick up his son, put on his jacket, and lead his family out of the restaurant.

She placed a brown drink in front of him and he raised his glass up in her honor. “To the future,” he said. He took a big gulp of his drink and wiped his lips with his sleeve.

There was another man giving a speech on TV now. His eyes were red. He didn’t know who he was, what he was talking about, or who he was talking too. But he watched the TV blankly and sipped his drink. He’d read about it in the morning.

He put some money on the table and stood up. The girl smiled at him and he tipped his hat. He made his way out passed the bar, passed the small tables of fed families. He walked passed the hostess who handed him a mint, and out into the frigid Chicago air where a hundred cars passed him all at once.

He walked down the long straight sidewalk thinking to himself.

“A year of action,” he mumbled.

It really did sound nice.

***

Flash fiction inspired by a story published at CNN: He talked a good game of acting on his own if necessary, calling for 2014 to be a “year of action, but President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address showed he knows that true progress depends on cooperation with a divided and recalcitrant Congress.

photo credit: Werner Kunz via photopin cc

baptism

A Fit Of Giggles

Flash Fiction inspired by a story published at NPR

“They were sitting on the couch reading that book about the monkey,” she said. “You know the one where the monkey looses his sock and he goes and meets all the other little animals. Well, anyway. They’re reading this book and I hear Jenny ask, ‘Grandma, did I really come from a monkey?’”

She paused and looked at her husband who was laying on his back with his eyes closed. The silence startled him and he rolled over in his side and looked at his wife.

“So?” he said.

“So,” she said. “Do you know what your mother told her? She told her that she didn’t come from any monkey.”

He sighed and roll back onto his back and stared up at the ceiling.

“I hate to break it to you honey,” he said. “But Jennifer was never a monkey.”

“You know what she meant,” she said. “She said that evolution was a bunch of baloney and that she actually came from Adam’s rib.”

The man smiled. He tried not to but the thought of his daughter’s face when she heard about Adam’s rib made him giggle.

“What’d she say?” He laughed.

“She started cracking up,” she said. “She was rolling on the floor but that’s not the point. I don’t want her telling her that stuff.”

“I don’t think there’s any stopping it,” he said. “My mother is going to do her best to make sure Jenny is a good Catholic girl.”

It wasn’t the first time that they had had trouble with his mother. When Jenny was a few months old her grandmother had taken her into the kitchen and held her head under the faucet. She said a prayer and made the sign of the cross over the baby’s forehead and told her that no granddaughter of hers would end up in limbo.

It was the end of one long fight about baptism and the start of another about religion.

“How could you baptize our daughter?” she had argued, but then, after a few days, she couldn’t help but laugh at the silliness of it all.

“If running some water over her forehead makes her feel better,” she thought. “Then who cares. It doesn’t change anything.”

But this was different. Her daughter was thinking now. She was looking at the world for the first time and trying to decide what was true and what wasn’t.

She leaned over on her side and looked her husband in the eyes.

“I’m not against faith,” she said. “Faith is great. It’s all of the other things that come along with it that I’m worried about. Why does the earth have to be 900 years old? Why does humankind have to grow up in the garden of Eden? Why do we have to roam the earth side by side with dinosaurs?”

He stuck his arm out and she laid her head down against his shoulder.

“She can believe whatever she wants,” she said. “But it’s not right to put those ancient ideas into our girl’s head.”

He rubbed her arm with his fingers and thought about his daughter’s face when she had heard about Adam’s rib. He wished that he could have seen it. The moment when her smile grew so big that it weighed down her entire head. The moment when the silliness of it all completely overwhelmed her and she dropped down to the floor in a fit of giggles.

***

Flash Fiction inspired by a story published at NPR: “Does it damage children to teach them biblical creationism? What are the costs of denying evolution, one of biology’s core tenets? Those are the questions being asked and answered Tuesday night, in a live debate between bestselling Christian author Ken Ham and Emmy Award-winning educator Bill Nye (“the Science Guy”).” 

ocean mansion

A Dream

Flash fiction inspired by a story published at NJ.com

“I had a dream,” she said. “I was driving down a long highway that was perfectly straight in both directions. I didn’t turn for a long time and there were no cars coming up from behind or ahead. It was just me. I think it might have been cornfields but on both sides there were tall plants and all I could see was the road in front of me. It was long and straight and I drove for a very long time.

“I drove and I drove and I drove until the road ended and there was the ocean. It was an enormous ocean. I guess it really wasn’t any bigger than the one in real life but in the dream, I stood on the beach, and the ocean was bigger than anything that I had ever seen, and blue too.

“I dreamed that I picked up a log. It was a really big log but for some reason it was weightless and I carried it over to a flat patch of grass and laid it down. I began cutting and hammering and building and soon enough I had built a house. It was a big house and there was a big wooden fence around it and I watched a small boy paint it white.

“I hadn’t noticed it but while I was building my house a whole town must have sprung up because I had never seen the boy before, and then I heard a bell and a bike rode by and back at the beach there were people laying out in the sun and flying kites. You were there too, in the house. I opened the door and I could smell fresh baked bread and you were sitting at the table drinking coffee and reading the paper. You kissed me and then, oh, well there were kids. Three of them I think. All boys. They came running down the stairs and you and the boys went outside to the beach.

“It was all so beautiful.

“I dreamed that I was pretty too. Yes, I know, I had on all this makeup and a red dress. I don’t know where it came from but it was gorgeous and I stared at myself in the mirror all day.

“But then I dreamed of something else. I was in my car, downtown, by the Dan Ryan, and it was bumper to bumper traffic. I kept trying to put my lipstick on but it just wouldn’t stick. And outside, well, it was raining like you wouldn’t believe. Just a down pour. It was absolutely deafening inside the car and I could only see the dim brake lights of the car in front of me.

“I was listening to the radio and someone was talking about how they had lost their home and needed help and I wanted to help but there was so much damn traffic that I couldn’t move. Another woman came on and talked about how her husband had died in the war and was asking for just 50 cents so she could keep her house. I know it’s crazy but no one was giving it to her and I was stuck and I couldn’t move and someone knocked on my window.

“It was you, I swear to god, but you had a long beard and black eyes and you held a cardboard sign that said ‘If you help me, I’ll stop the rain.’ But I didn’t want to help you. You were dirty and smelly and real and there and all I wanted to do was leave so I could help that poor war widow.

“And then I dreamed about that long road again. The one that brought me out to California. But this time the crops were on fire and I could see in all directions. There were cars flying toward me and people honking. I wasn’t driving fast enough I guess because people kept cutting through the burning cornfields to get ahead of me. I don’t know where we were all going but we were in such a rush to get there.

“Eventually I hit the coast and that big white house that I had was even bigger. It was 20 stories high, brown, with symmetrical windows across its face and the words “Hilton” written at the top. I tried to get inside but they said that I didn’t belong there so I went down to the ocean. It didn’t look so big anymore next to all the big buildings and it didn’t look nearly as blue.

“It wasn’t the dream that I had that I had dreamed.”

***

Flash fiction inspired by a story published at NJ.com: A walk down the 6-mile city street named for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. yields plenty of images that would surely unsettle the civil rights leader: shuttered storefronts, open-air drug markets and a glut of pawn shops, quickie check-cashing providers and liquor stores.

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

edgar allan poe

Quoth The Raven

Inspired by a story published at the Daily Globe

Once upon a midnight dreary, they sat by candles weak and weary,
Reading forgotten volumes of his poetry and lore
Waiting slowly for the creaking, for the once expected sneaking
Of the ghostly figure they had seen so many times before
‘Will he come’ one had whispered, “like he has come before?”
Only this and nothing more.

One said ‘Yes, I remember.’ He was dark and tall and slender
A masterful pretender who laid roses on the floor
Appearing on the eve of morrow, so slow and full of sorrow
With a costume he did borrow, borrowed from the poet’s lore
From the rare and radiant poet whose pen had stopped years before
Named here in stone forevermore

So they sat still and waiting, quiet, contemplating
The thrilling, chilling stories they’d heard a thousand times before.
The hidden heart that kept on beating, the ghostly bird that kept repeating
And the stories filled them one last time with terror and with horror
Yes, the stories filled them once again with terror and with horror
Like they’d never heard them once before

But soon the light grew stronger, and the group could wait no longer
‘Sir,’ one said, ‘Your pardon, regretfully I implore’
But the dawn has started breaking, and it’s time we start forsaking
Forsaking this Poe Toaster whom we all have waited for
The traveler who has ventured here he ventures here no more
To drop his roses and his cognac on this sacred hallow floor
He shall come, nevermore

***

Flash fiction inspired by a story published at the Daily Globe: For “another year,” the mysterious “Poe Toaster” has failed to appear — indicating that it is unlikely the person or persons responsible for the annual event no longer intend to carry it forward.

pellet gun

Bang Bang

“Bang Bang.”

The little boy clenched his heart, a smile building on his lips, laughter churning in his belly, until the imaginary wound grew too heavy and dragged him down to the big red carpet infront of the fireplace.

“You shot me,” he yelled. “You shot me.”

He rolled back and forth across the floor, kicking his legs in simulated pain and gasping for air between muffled chortles. His brother was on the other side of the room holding a finger pistol to his lips.

“I got you” he shouted again. “I got you I got you you’re dead.”

“Bang Bang.”

He was sitting in black leather chair with a red controller in his hands and a headset wrapped around his ears. The television screen in front of him was filled end-to-end with the scope of a rifle and at the center of the target was soldier with a gun.

He steadied the target on the soldier’s head, licked his lips, then pressed the button that pulled the trigger.

“Bam,” he yelled. “You don’t mess with me in my house.”

The soldier fell to the forest floor and somewhere on the other side of the he country a grown man cursed and spilled his drink as he threw his headset at the wall.

“Bang bang.”

He stood 20 foot tall at the front of the stage. There was cigarette hanging from his lip, a gun from his hip, and in his eyes was the pain and anguish of one hour and 47 minutes. The sun was setting over a desert hill and his shadow stretch out across the sand until it stopped at the feet of a man who was ready to die or to kill.

“Draw” someone shouted and the screen filled with smoke.

The crowd cheered when the smoke cleared and the hero was shown, 25 feet tall, spinning his pistol around his finger. They clapped when the villain was shown lying face down in the he dirt and when the lights came up they pointed their imaginary pistols at one another and shouted…

“Bang bang.”

The little boy fell against the wall, a smile fading from his lips, until the wound in his stomach grew too heavy and dragged him down to the big red carpet infront of the fireplace.

“It hurts,” he cried. “You shot me.”

He fell to the floor in pain, gasping for air between blood soaked coughs, as his brother stood silent on the other side of the room above a pistol he didn’t know was loaded.

“Bang Bang?” He cried as the little boy breathed his last breath.

***

Flash fiction inspired by a story published at the Detroit Press: A 4-year-old boy was fatally shot in Detroit on Thursday in what police said was a tragic, avoidable accident. The shooter was the boy’s 4-year-old cousin.

photo credit: Dunechaser via photopin cc

communion

Dear Archibald

Flash Fiction inspired by a story published at the SF Gate

Dear Archibald,  I’ve never heard such kind things before :) You are a sweet heart. My friends say that I should change my hair (it’s been the same style since high school) but I like the way I look and so do you.

I’m 66, retired, and of course, single. But you probably already know that from reading my profile… What else can I say?! I love movies. Did you ever see the one about the guy who was a pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer but really he was just a kid? I was thinking about that one the other day and about how people lie when they’re scared or desperate. It’s sad. I felt bad for him.

Anyway, what about you? What do you do? What do you like? I look forward to hearing from you. Susan.

Dear Archibald, thank you for the flowers! You are so sweet. How did you know I liked roses? I put them in a vase on my kitchen table and when I smell them I think of you.

I’m sorry to hear about your business. It can be tough, I know. I’m so happy to be retired! (Haha). Have you tried talking to friends? Family? My son once took out a loan from a bank but he didn’t like the way it was handled. Sharks is what he said. Nothing but sharks.

I wish you the best. I truly do. Pray to the lord for answers. He’ll guide you in the right direction. I look forward to hearing from you again, Susan.

Dear Archibald, Do you know that we’ve been talking for more than a month now? The first thing you said to me was this. “If it’s not too forward, I’d like to tell you that you have the most beautiful eyes.” I read that email nearly every day. You were so sweet.

I talk to the lord about you often. I tell him how you are funny and kind and how that one day I want to met you. I hope that that day comes soon. Maybe when your business gets back on its feet you can fly here and see me? I would really like that.

I would like to send you the money that you asked for but…. well, can I ask you something? Can I trust you? I want to trust you, I do, and I’m sorry to ask. But I need you to tell me. Please just tell me that I’m doing the right thing. I’ll pray for you tonight. Susan.

Dear Archibald, I’m so excited for you! I’ve been praying every day for you and I believe that God will guide you through this. Your business is growing now and you’ll be back on your feet soon! Maybe, when things settle down, you can come and see me?

You’ve been so sweet to me and I really would like to meet you. Good luck and may god be with you. Susan.

Dear Archibald, It’s been nearly a month since we talked. Are you OK? Has anything happened? I’m worried about you. Please reply. I’m praying for you. Susan.

Dear Archibald, You told me that I could trust you. I had a feeling in my gut when I signed those papers and now I know that it was God trying to tell me something. He was trying to tell me that you were a bad person. He was trying to tell me that I shouldn’t trust you.

Do you remember that movie we talked about? The one about the liar? Why are you lying? What are you afraid of? You broke my heart, Archibald. I feel sorry for you. I’m praying for you. Susan.

***

Flash Fiction inspired by a story published at the SF Gate:  ”A San Jose woman was conned out of more than $500,000 by a Nigerian scammer who wooed her on a dating website while posing as a British citizen stuck at sea on a Scottish oil rig, prosecutors said Wednesday as they sounded a warning about an increase in such online rip-offs.”