Free Fiction Thursday (one day late) – Peaches

Oi, I’m late, I’m late, for a very important…

Let’s not go there, shall we? I see enough bunnies in the field next to my house — and sometimes in the back yard —  as it is. I don’t need to see one in a waistcoat peering at his pocket watch.

This week, Free Fiction Thursday has morphed into Free Fiction Friday. Yesterday I was crunching a deadline, so the fine folks who help me provide a free story every week were kind enough to give me a one-day reprieve. Yay! I met my deadline, subbed my newly-created story to my editor, and now it’s off to the next project on my list, but not before I leave you with a free story to read.

So for this unconventional free fiction day, how about something a little different? I occasionally write under the pen name Kris Sparks. Most of the Kris Sparks stories tend to be on the edgy side either in character or content, and most — not all, but most — feature LGBT characters in significant roles, but every now and then Kris writes a story with a more mainstream, literary feel. This week’s story is one of those quasi-literary ones. I hope you enjoy “Peaches.”

 

Peaches

Kris Sparks

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Kris Sparks

They met at lunchtime in a busy noontime Saturday line at Subway.  Henry ordered roast beef on sourdough, Marianne turkey and provolone on whole wheat, no oil or mayonnaise.

For years afterward he remembered the smells of that day — the rich yeast of bread fresh from the warmer, the campfire aroma of the smoky provolone, the sharp vinegar tang of pickles and hot peppers.  The motorcycle rider in dusty leathers in the line behind Henry reeked of sweat, cigarettes, and stale beer.  But most of all, he remembered the feminine smell of her perfume.  Subtle, but there.  It made him notice her.

He stood in line behind her looking at the back of her neck.  Did she wear her perfume there?  Perhaps a dab behind each ear.  His mother had done that.  He remembered when he was little watching his mother at her dressing table as she took the stopper out of a cut crystal bottle and dabbed the wet end of the stopper behind each ear.  The crystal was clear glass, but the end of the stopper was rough and opaque.

For the longest time he’d thought the perfume had eaten away the glass, and that’s why the stopper was rough.  Funny the things you remember.

He’d never known the name of the perfume his mother used.  She was gone long before he was old enough to think to ask.

Ahead of them in line a young woman held a toddler in her arms.  Boy?  Girl?  He couldn’t tell.  The child was dressed in one of those unisex outfits, neither pink nor blue but shades of green and red and yellow, like a street light.  The child smiled at him, the kind of sweet, innocent smile only young children can give.  He smiled back.  The child laughed and pointed a chubby finger at him.  He chuckled and waved the tips of his fingers at her.

The woman with intriguing perfume turned around and looked at him.  “She likes you,” she said.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Last Call

Happy Thursday, Internets! How about a free story to celebrate this day before Friday?

This week’s story is one I wrote under my Kris Sparks pen name. LAST CALL is a mainstream fiction story featuring a con man, a kitten, and one last shot at redemption.

Last Call

Kris Sparks

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Kris Sparks

 

Last call.  How many times had Jake heard that in his life?  He’d lost track, just like he’d lost track of a lot of things.

Years ago he used to say it, towel draped over his shoulder, last clean glass lined up in its place beneath the bar.  Back in the days when he wasn’t drinking more than the paying customers.  Before he started borrowing money from the till to tide him over until payday.  Before a lot of things.  Now he heard last call from the other side of the bar along with all the other hardcore, late-night drinkers.

Jake drained his glass and eased off the stool.  He stood still for a few seconds, cigarette dangling from between his fingers, while he waited for the room to right itself.

This place could have been any of a hundred other bars he’d been in.  Smoke hung heavy in the air, moving in lazy currents over the booths along the wall and the tables in the back.   The smell of alcohol and cigarettes mingled with the odor of cheap perfume and aftershave, and to Jake it always smelled like home.

“See you later, Harry,” he said to the bartender.  He didn’t know or care if the man’s name was really Harry.  Jake figured the bartender didn’t care either.

When he’d tended bar, all that mattered to Jake was that his customers paid their tabs and left without causing trouble.  The rest was an act, well-practiced listening without really hearing, just keep the customers happy and pretend to care.  He’d been good at it.  He still was; it just took more effort these days, and most people weren’t worth the trouble.

Harry, or Joe, or maybe the name was John nodded in farewell and turned back to polishing the already shiny dark wood of the bar.  Jake had been dismissed.  It was time to leave.

Time to figure out where to spend the next few hours until this or some other bar somewhere opened again.

Jake grabbed his duffel and headed for the door, gradually gaining control over his obstinate feet. All he wanted to do was sit some more, and then lie down and go to sleep.  But Sheila had kicked him out and Jake had nowhere to go.

Sheila was the last in a long line of spectacularly bad girlfriends, memorable only for her warm bed, her easy generosity when she was high, and the occasional home-cooked meal when she wasn’t.  Even Sheila had grown tired of his act.

“Son, you have a problem,” he muttered in his best drunken imitation of his father.  Wouldn’t the old man love to see him now, just wet himself over the mess Jake had made of his life.  “Too bad you’re not around anymore, pops.  At least I’d be good for a laugh.”

A laugh, maybe.  A belt across the face, more than likely.  Jake’s old man used to have a funny sense of humor.

(read the rest of the story here)