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Flash Fiction
612 words
SHJ Issue 9
Spring 2014


by David Bowen

This is my first time on, but I have a really good feeling. My brother Harvey and his girlfriend Carla met here. Harvey met his girlfriend Leslie here, too. He says it’s like magic. His other last girlfriend he met on, but he said they’re nothing but dogs over there.

I’m pretty good looking. There’s some Puerto Rican on my mom’s side—my grandma’s brothers all spoke Spanish. The rest of my family’s German and Irish, though, so I’m still basically white. Harvey says I look like Liam Neeson, but shorter and fatter. I guess Liam Neeson’s pretty good looking.

I have a lot of interests. Movies, TV, music—you name it. Harvey and me won a fishing contest once, but to be honest I should admit that our uncle Ralph caught the fish and just gave it to us, but we were little kids and didn’t know the difference between winning and deserving to win. It was just a picture in the newspaper and a really big musky they stuffed for free so we could hang it in our room. At night when the car lights passed our bedroom window, the teeth and the eyes would light up and the fish would go for my throat, but I would just close my eyes and tell myself that either the fish would bite or it wouldn’t, and it never did.

I used to smoke but I quit. I have to say that right off. I can’t date any smokers, or I’ll be right back on the tar. I got it bad when Harvey and me were still kids, just running around town with a pack of our dad’s Old Golds. We’d smoke half a cigarette at Harvey’s friend Danny’s and wait to finish it until later on that night, when we got back home and hid down in the basement with one of the dirty magazines Danny found in the dumpster behind the apartment building where he lived with his mom. That magazine’s where I saw the first black lady I ever saw, naked or otherwise. Her name was Sharon, but it probably wasn’t her real name.

By the time I was working with Harvey at the recycling plant, we were picking up three packs of Pall Malls on the way to work in the morning and then we’d both buy another pack when our shift got done. The best one was the first one of the day, just sucking in that blue smoke on top of a mouthful of Mountain Dew, and feeling myself drift back into a dream about a sad girl who wore a white dress, but then I realized it was a hospital gown and she was sick, so we hid in a tree and no one could ever find us.

I have dreams all the time. I guess that’s why we come to To tell the truth, Harvey bet me a six-pack that I wouldn’t come here and tell how we used to steal Dad’s cigs and look at those dirty magazines Danny found with Sharon and the other girls in them. But now that I typed it all right here, I can imagine you there reading this. Right now it’s just like the dream I had about the sad girl, where we were hiding in the tree and no one could find us. She looked at me in the dream and said, “Tell me the words.” I didn’t know what words she was talking about, and I still don’t. So now all I want to know is, what’s the words I need to say? And how do I need to say them?


SHJ Issue 9
Spring 2014

David Bowen’s

work has appeared previously in such journals as The Literary Review, Flyway, and Monkeybicycle. He serves as a senior editor at New American Press and MAYDAY Magazine, and acts as contributing editor at Great Lakes Review. He received his MFA from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, where he is a doctoral candidate.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury