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Three Flash Fictions
by Eric Bosse


Benjamin's mother screwed her face into a grimace. "You're twelve years old, Benny. The holocaust happened fifty years ago, halfway across the world." She pushed a box of Wheaties across the table. "You're not even Jewish. Now eat some cereal."
     Benjamin sipped his grapefruit juice. He wiped his chin with a napkin. "You can't fool me, Mother."
     "I'm not trying to." She crossed her arms over her chest. "Take a piece of toast."
     Benjamin leaned forward and whispered, "I remember what I remember."
     "You can't remember what never happened to you, Benny." She began to clear the breakfast dishes. "You need a psychiatrist."
     "I don't need a psychiatrist, Mother. I need the truth." He pounded his small fist on the table. "When did you adopt me?"
     Rinsing spoons in the sink, she shook her head. "After you kicked around in my womb for nearly ten months. You want a Pop Tart?"
     He shook his head. "I want to know if I was cryogenically frozen after the War."
     "At least drink the rest of your juice, Benny."
     Benjamin hurled his half-empty glass at the refrigerator. The tumbler shattered and sent a sputter of pink juice dripping down the refrigerator, trailing a rainbow of rivulets through Bnjamin's sister's watercolor portrait of the family.
     "Don't lie, Mom. They froze me after they found me in Dachau at the age of four. They didn't know what to do with me so they froze me until they could find parents. I remember it! I remember the bunkbeds and the rats and the gas chambers and the Nazis and the -- "
     With a soft grunt, Benjamin's mother pitched the porcelain cookie jar at the refrigerator door. The jar didn't shatter, but broke into three big shards that fell with a clank. Two dozen chocolate chip cookies rolled around the linoleum like so many fat coins spinning into stillness.
     Benjamin's mother placed a fist on her hip. The other hand pointed a finger down the hallway. "Get to your room, Benjamin, before I show you a real gas chamber. If you're still a holocaust survivor in one hour, well, then we'll go straight to the goddamn mental health clinic and check you in. You got that, mister?"
     Benjamin nodded. He sulked down the long hall to his bedroom, hanging his head and sucking in his gut in an effort to look gaunt and oppressed. He closed the bedroom door behind him. He gingerly rubbed the little serial number drawn in ball point pen on his forearm.

Yesterday Chad, the head of our division, played a prank. He switched Paul Cropp's lunch with a sack of moldy dog shit. Paul came into the break room and pulled the sack out of the fridge. Carol started to giggle so hard her tits vibrated. Paul reached into the sack for his sandwich. Carol laughed so hard I thought she'd piss herself. Paul's face went red, then white. He pulled out his hand. It was all brown and gray and gooey. He threw up right there on the lunch room table. Chad patted Paul on the back and told him his real lunch was in the cabinet under the sink. Paul didn't eat it, though. He took half a sick day and went home.
     So this morning I'm at my desk reading the sports page when Paul gets off the elevator in a matched set of maroon silk pajamas. I assume he's up to some kind of revenge prank. The real kicker is the slippers, though. He walks in with a big, fuzzy head of a German Shepherd on each foot. Carol's eyes balloon. She gets going right away with her stupid giggles. Chad scratches his cheek and cocks his eyebrows.
     "Hey," he says, "what's up with the pajamas, dog-shit boy?"
     Paul says, "Good morning, Chad."
     "Ah well," Chad says, "why the hell not? I mean, you pretty much sleep all day anyway. Right, Paul?"
     Paul sets his briefcase on his desk. With this bizarre, almost mystical, summer day smile on his face, Paul reaches into the briefcase and pulls out a pistol.
     Chad waves his hands and says, "Oh. Hold on there, Paul. I was. Just. Kidding. Paul? You're making. A big. A big. A big. Mistake."
     Paul walks right up to Chad and points the barrel of the gun at Chad's temple.
     "Whoa," Chad says, louder now, "Paul, don't. Please. I. My. Wife."
     Paul says, "Goodbye, Chad."
     Chad's head splatters all over Carol's desk. His body slumps to the floor. The phone beeps, but no one moves to answer it.
     Paul turns to Carol. Her giggles get all crazy and pathetic, like maybe if she giggles hard enough Paul will just go away. I try to tell her with my eyes to just shut up, but she doesn't look at me.
     "Paul?" she says.
     "Yes, Carol?" he says.
     She clutches at her neck. Her giggles stop. She holds up the tiny gold cross on her necklace as if Paul is a vampire. He presses the gun to her forehead. She whimpers.
     "Goodbye, Carol" he says.
     Her head splashes all over the TEAMWORK poster tacked on the wall. Her body collapses onto the orange sofa where job applicants used to wait a long time for Chad to get off the phone.
     Paul walks toward me. His fuzzy German Shepherds flop ahead like they want to nibble on my shins or something. Paul is still smirking. His eyes sparkle. I get down on my knees and I beg.
     Thank God he settles for a blow job. I sure wish the cops were quicker to respond, though.

A static-filled screen flashes to a head shot of the filmmaker's mother seated on a maroon and gold ottoman. She is medium-plump with short, graying, brown curls and slightly oversized bifocals. She wears a pink sweatshirt under a blue and white checked apron. Her face sports the prominent lower lip and cocked eyebrow of the matron coerced by her progeny, without explanation, into sitting before a video camera.
     The filmmaker's voice -- resolute and quasi-formal -- addresses her from behind the camera. "Ready?" he asks. She shrugs her shoulders. "Here's the deal, Mom. Talk about me as if I died last week. You've got two minutes."
     Her eyebrows rumple down on the bridge of her nose. She draws a quick breath, audible over the thrum of the refrigerator in the kitchen and the murmur of the television in another room.
     "Go ahead," her son says.
     She glances into the lens, then at her lap. "What do you mean?" she asks.
     "I mean, I died last week. Just run with it, Mom. There's a, you know, a film crew interviewing you about me."
     "You and that damn camcorder," she says.
     "So talk about me, not to me."
     "Jesus Christ," she mutters. "He was a good boy."
     "That's it?"
     "What more do you want?"
     "Something a bit more interesting."
     "Interesting?" She takes a cigarette from her apron pocket and lights it. "I'll give you interesting. He thought he got away with things."
     "Like what?"
     "Oh, you don't want to know."
     "Sure we do."
     She raises her chin. "No you don't."
     "Mom, my film will be better if you just tell the truth. So, what sorts of things did he think he got away with?"
     "This," she says, and waves her cupped hand in the universal gesture for masturbation. "That boy kept naked magazines under his mattress and played with himself three, four, five times a day up until the day he died."
     "Mother -- "
     "No, really, he would do it in his bedroom or the bathroom or even in the TV room when he thought no one knew he was watching the sexy movies."
     "O.K., O.K. Stop. Enough." After a long pause in which his mother's face spreads into a ruthless smile, the filmmaker asks, "Did he do anything you'll remember him for?"
     "Not really."
     "Oh, come on, Mom."
     She shrugs again. "Well, he tried acting, music, even writing for the local paper, but he wasn't very good. Not really. Not in a way that anyone would take notice." She gives the camera a wink. "He was mainly just a kid who never appreciated his mother and shot his wad into bath towels which she then had to drag from his bedroom and pile into the washer."
     The camera darts toward the floor where, for a split second, it captures a blurry view of the filmmaker's mother's worn, white sneakers and the frayed cuffs of her pant-legs. The screen zips into a white blip at the center and fades into a flurry of black and white snow.

ERIC BOSSE lives in Colorado with his wife. He works as an educational behavior consultant by day, writer and filmmaker by night, and lounges around sipping chocolate soy milk and watching European movies all weekend. His short film, "My Mother Received a Wound" just might be featured in the 2001 Sundance Film Festival -- you never know. Eric's fictions have appeared in Linnaean Street, Eclectica, Vestal Review, and will soon appear at In Posse Review and in the forthcoming fiction anthology from Agony Press.


Everybody Must Get Stoned


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