Like the Dwight Howard of online flash fiction challenges, the 52/250 editors have been sending stories back at me, fast and furious. I'm not really mad, just kind of puzzled. I guess art is subjective, so what else can a poor boy do? Here's two that did not suit their needs- the first is on the theme "Unintended Consequences", the second on the theme "Threesome".
I slid into a seat towards the back of the auditorium, on time, but only just. The professor, a tweedy looking guy with thick glasses, had already started.
"When one undertakes an act, one undertakes the risk of all possible consequences of the act, wouldn't you agree? Or, to use the vernacular, don't do the crime if you can't do the time." He got a laugh, but it was a perfunctory one.
I slid down lower in my seat, bringing the brim of my Red Sox cap in line with the top of his head. I didn't want to fall asleep, but I didn't want to listen to this crap, either. All consequences? You can't do anything without imagining all possible outcomes? Like hell. She said she was safe. It's not my fault. It's not like I made her do it. She wanted to.
"Who is responsible, we must ask ourselves. Whose fault is it when things go awry? Who do we blame when an undesired event, however unlikely, occurs?"
She said it was OK.
When I reminded her of that, on the phone this morning as I dashed for class, she spat back, "I know what I SAID, Richard. And I know what this is, and I know now that I was wrong. And I know one more thing, too. I know you're not going to discard me. I'm not some dumb little mistake."
I started wearing heels all the time around the house. I was taller than him wearing pumps, and I knew it bothered him. He was in the living room, sunk down into the couch, smoking and sulky like a recalcitrant teen. I smelled that it wasn't tobacco.
I walked in there and stood, close enough to the screen that I knew he could see me. I knew better than to block the screen completely.
"Bill? Are we going to talk now?" He hated it when I called him "Bill".
"Later," he mumbled, his eyes on the screen.
"No, Bill. Now. We have problems. You and me problems."
"I told you, I'm under a lot of pressure. The press, the fans."
"I know. And I understand. I've been there. But if it's not you and the band, it's you and the press. Or you and the fans. Or you and the lawyers. When's it going to be you and me, Bill?" I saw that last line strike home.
"It will be. I promise. Soon." He coughed, then looked up at me, his words turning hard. "I'm doing all this for you, you know- all the work is for you, my new song is for you."
"That's great, Bill. But I can't curl up next to a promise. Or a f@$king song." I walked out again, listening to the tick tock of my heels keeping time against the hardwood floor.