F.F.F. Stories – Friday 9/18/20

5. A Few Extra Bucks, by Sankar Chatterjee

It was an unusually hot summer Saturday morning in New York. Cheng Li, a Chinese Ph.D. student in city’s university, was already late for a guest lecture. He would decide to cut through Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. He found dazed Shlomo Rosen on sidewalk.

Cheng: You OK, sir?
Shlomo: Air conditioner! Not functioning!

Entering the premise, Cheng found nothing wrong and turned it on. Shlomo offered a $10 tip.

Cheng: No need, sir.
Shlomo: You don’t understand. Today is Sabbath; I’m not allowed to turn on any machine.

Cheng took the bill. For next four summers, he would spend his Saturday mornings in that neighborhood.

4. The Red Bridge, by Don Tassone

All the kids in my neighborhood crossed it on our way to school. Gently arched, the red bridge spanned a deep creek and made our journey through the woods safe and fun.

One summer evening, when I was 15, I met Lisa Jasper there. As kids, we’d crossed the bridge together many times on our way to and from school, but we’d never been there alone.

Leaning over the railing, we watched the fireflies flickering in the trees and listened to the restless murmur of the creek below. Then I turned to Lisa and kissed her, and she kissed me.

3. Forgiveness, by Russell Conover

She was devastated when he stole her personal money and abandoned her. Initially she called the cops and tried to find him, but she had no luck. Now he, and her savings, had vanished.

She really tried to forgive him, knowing he was struggling. He wasn’t in a good place emotionally, and he was only grasping for a way to get by. Sucked for her, but he was desperate.

Nope. She couldn’t do it. He’d traumatized her so badly that she’d always be scarred. A lump formed in her throat, just remembering.

Moving on was the only option. Be strong.

2. A Long-Awaited Trip, by Chloe Ford

“Did you lock the front door?” I ask, as we clear the bridge and head out of town.

I see him wince, answer enough: “Turn around.”

His thoughts are as clear to me as if a bubble and words appeared above his head, but arguing is pointless.

I jump out as soon as we’re back in the driveway, and feeling silly, I can’t help darting inside to check on things.

The blow catches me right across my face and I know I’m going down hard. The floor comes up to meet me.

If only we’d kept on driving.

1. How Was Your Weekend? by Ian Fletcher

Fuck! He’s at the coffee machine. No escape.

“Hey, Ian! How was your weekend?”

“OK,” I say.

“And you?” I add, as one does.

“Great! I … I … ” blah, blah, blah.

“Do anything interesting yourself?” he asks.

I trawl for some event to say something about …

“What’s your take on Trump’s decision to … ?” he continues.

I have no interest in the matter (nor has he) but regurgitate an opinion to satisfy this empty chatterer.

“Nice talking to you!” he says, energized.

“You, too,” I lie, already drained by 9:00 a.m. on Monday.

Being an introvert is tough.

F.F.F. Stories – Wednesday 9/16/20

5. Hope Regained, by Guy Fletcher

Danny sat with head in hands at his usual haunt: a park bench in Bute Park, still not believing that his business had collapsed and all his years of toil broken like a smashed fluorescent light.

“I see you here every day,” said an attractive female jogger. “Let’s have a cup of coffee. Cheer you up.”

Suddenly the light of hope returned to Danny’s world-weary eyes. He had noticed her, too, but with only a cursory glance or two, yet now felt excitement in his heart, compared to the grey existence of depression. He commented on the beauty of autumn trees.

4. The Giveaway, by Don Tassone

Barbara and George had been close since they dated in high school. Too close, some said. After all, George was a married man.

They got together for lunch a lot. No one ever caught them doing anything. But everyone had a hunch something was up.

“We’re just friends,” Barbara would say if anyone mentioned it.

They both attended their 50-year high school class reunion. At dinner, George’s wife sat to his right. Barbara sat to his left.

At one point, George leaned over toward Barbara and speared a cube of steak on her plate with his fork.

Case closed.

3. Unworthy, by Gordon Lawrie

The Women’s Institute host gave a brief introduction. Elizabeth Buckley, she announced, was one of the U.K.’s most successful writers in recent years, especially her chart-topping book series Chiropodist Chronicles.

Gazing at the blank faces, Elizabeth knew she’d be asked any number of inane questions by her geriatric audience: Elizabeth’s average reader was almost 90. Some of tonight’s audience had even been ferried in from a dementia clinic. Writers like Elizabeth were above this, surely?

Suddenly, she had a brainwave: she got up and left.

Sure enough, none of the audience even noticed, but everyone had an enjoyable evening.

2. From Dummies’ Get-Together, by Sankar Chatterjee

They came from all over for their annual gathering, the ventriloquists and their puppets. This year, the bragging rights belonged to blue-colored French soccer dummy Marcel: “Bring on all the Messis, Ronaldos, and Neymars of football world.” British red dummy, Johnny, pint-in-hand, murmured: “If only we didn’t have to deal with Brexit!” Russian bare-chested Vlad smirked: “Talk about strength-difference … a TV star with only 18 months in power against a K.G.B. agent in 18 years in power!” Only then, the crowd realized him missing.

Deflated yellow U.S. dummy, his diaper dropping, was lying in the corner. The escape from Europe, over the Atlantic, was treacherous.

1. Among School Children, by Ian Fletcher

“Sixty! Wow!” the new 7th graders say as I introduce myself, feeling like Yeats’ “sixty-year-old smiling man … a comfortable kind of old scarecrow”.

“But you look so young … At least you’ve still got hair … You don’t look it … Sixty’s not old … ” are their mollifying comments.

They comfort me not.

Indeed, I am a relic in a world no longer mine.

For I have seen generations pass, and many of my own are now dead, dropping off inexorably.

Above the classroom din, I hear their voices, much louder – yet unheard by these youthful souls – calling, calling.

F.F.F. Stories – Tuesday 9/15/20

5. Outside the Lines, by Don Tassone

On the first day of kindergarten, Becky’s teacher, Ms. Williamson, handed out drawings of a teddy bear and told her students to color them.

“Be sure to stay inside the lines,” she said.

The children grabbed their crayons and got to work. Most stayed safely within the lines. A few strayed a bit.

With Becky’s teddy bear, though, every line was crossed—by a wide margin.

“Why did you do that?” Ms. Williamson asked.

“He’s jumping around,” Becky answered.

Throughout grade school, Becky got F’s in art. She never stayed inside the lines.

Today she teaches quantum physics at MIT.

4. re: Probes, by Reg Wulff

Dear Earthlings,

Thanks for sending probes to say hello. While we appreciate the attempt to communicate, we’re troubled by some observations of your species.

Your one common denominator, your humanity, is less important to you than the color of your skin, your birthplace, or deity you worship. Too often this leads to violence.

You stubbornly cling to extreme ideologies rather than seek to understand others.

To be honest, there’s no room for that in outer space.

Maybe, eventually, you can join the rest of us in the cosmos.

But for now, please stay home.

Sincerely,

The inhabitants of the universe.

3. Simple Dream, by Don Tassone

“Are you happy?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said, sipping her coffee. “Are you?”

They were sitting at opposite ends of the sofa, facing each other, their legs outstretched. It was a chilly morning, and they shared a blanket. She pulled it up, nearly to her neck, leaving him just enough blanket to cover his legs, but he didn’t mind.

Some men dream of fame and fortune. But for years, he had dreamed of waking up when he wanted, with nowhere to go, and sharing the morning with the woman he loved.

“Very,” he answered, smiling and sipping his coffee, too.

2. Sanctuary, by Russell Conover

Terrence was gasping for breath as he huddled inside the trash can. Not the ideal hiding place, but since the dragons had invaded so suddenly, he had no choice.

He was trembling with fear, afraid he would break down and never see his friends and family again. “This is the end,” he lamented. “Who’d have thought it would happen like this?”

His eyes hardened. “NO. Never give up. You will escape somehow.”

Trouble was, he had no idea how. But, the dragons hadn’t found him yet. He could still make it. “Never give up hope,” he repeated. And he didn’t.

1. Regrets, by Jim Bartlett

A long slow sigh escapes him as he makes his way across the cluttered room to his chair. He sits, staring at the draped easel—maybe for a moment too long—before reaching down to his brush holder. He picks up several, thumbing the bristles with the lightest touch, before selecting the one with a blunt tip and wide swath. Carefully, gently, he dabs it against the palette, choosing the present, a bold opening stroke needed to form his tomorrow. He throws back the tarp, but, alas, there is nowhere left to paint, as yesterday already fills the canvas.

F.F.F. Stories – Sunday 9/13/20 (B)

5. Joyride, by Jon Remington

A hard-damaged car on a forest road. A man is sitting on the driver’s side. Squeaky breathing. The car door, mauled, turned inwards – its edge into the side of his body. The mobile phone beeps. He gets mad. Seconds go. Beep. Clenches his jaw. Waits for it now. Beep. Blood runs out his mouth. His vision is blurring, little by little. As it’s beeping now he turns fast and looks down at it, in hate:
“upload complete” The picture: Car window open. The wind in his hair. Playful pouty lips.
His fierce stare at it, soon tired.

Revision:

A badly damaged car on a forest road. A man is sitting on the driver’s side. Squeaky breathing. The car door, twisted, turned into the side of his body. The mobile phone beeps. He gets mad. Seconds go. Beep. Madder. Clenching his jaw. Waiting now for it. Beep. Blood runs quick out his mouth. He tries to swallow it. It never stops. He panics. Forgets he’s locked to his car. Beep. A fierce look at the phone:
“upload complete”: Wind in the hair, open car window
He stares, in sleepy hatred at those playful pouty lips in the photo

4. The Forest in July, by Gordon Lawrie

(Published, with picture, to a PAGE on the F.F.F. website.)

3. Pyrrhic Victory, by James Revell

Vulnerable kids, some violent, co-existed uneasily in the special school. Bullying was rife. On Mondays taxis (with escorts) ferried boys to school, some after weekends of crime or neglect.

One Monday, Steve was my only pupil: the rest were ‘not at home’. His refusal to remove an ear-ring seemed likely to cause a confrontation.

I changed tack and asked Steve about the latest in WWF wrestling and especially The Undertaker. His eyes lit up, and he challenged me to an arm-wrestle. I said nothing.

He rolled up his sleeve,………but then called me a ’solid bloke’ and removed his ear-ring….

2. Wish Chairman Mao Were Here, by Sankar Chatterjee

Chris was exploring Ollantaytambo (Peru), a historic Inca habitat. Occasionally, he would notice flying red flags in front of some homes. In recent past, Peru experienced a violent leftist movement. Chris assumed flags were the remnants of clandestine activities. However, a youth explained they signaled that a fresh batch of home-brewed potent “chicha” (corn beer) was available that day.

He entered one such house. A joyous drinking group was watching Peru, after a long absence, playing World Cup football in live telecast. While finishing his third pint, inebriated Chris visualized Chairman Mao, raising a red flag, was leading the citizens in Peru’s only win.

1. The Sun or the Streetlamp, by Matthew Roy Davey

Something might be happening. Beyond the curtains. Beyond the glass. But I’d rather not know.

She brings me up a cup of tea. I give thanks.

There’s a stain in the carpet, hence the saucer.

These walls are getting closer; the wallpaper takes on a life of its own. The light bulb flickers.

Something happens. I will it.

I’m not sure what it is just yet, but it will shatter the glass, blow the walls outward.

It might even tear the curtains.

There is a knock at the door.

Another cup of tea.

I don’t bother saying thank you.

F.F.F. Stories – Sunday 9/13/20 (A)

5. Tombstones Aren’t Forever, by Jesse Riley

He’s at her tombstone when he thinks of leaving for Florida.

He places the lilies underneath her name. Somehow the thought crept that one day, perhaps one hundred years in the future, the granite will start to erode. Maybe the kudzu would get it? Tombstones aren’t forever. Okay, he thinks. I’ll go where gators snatch children from fathers’ arms, where families sometime whisper to each other in Spanish, where sinkholes sometimes devour backyards.

But he doesn’t pack for Florida. He goes to sleep, clutching a photograph. A lily tucked in her hair.

The same dream of fire, as always.

4. Twenty-One Chances, by Charita Gil

“My God, Lorraine. Where have you been?” The voice quivered on the other end.

“It’s Monday. You tell me. Am I like you?”

“Oh, Lorraine … “

“I’m sending money. As always. Make sure that Mother eats fresh food. She’s not getting any better.”

“The missed calls … the text—”

“Ah. Thirteen missed calls, eight messages. I don’t even want to open them. Must you always do that? I was in a meeting, for Pete’s—I know my obligations. Do you want me to thank you for yours?”

“She was also calling and texting you, Lorraine!”

“Who? Mother?”

“She’s gone, Lorraine. She’s gone.”

3. Descriptors, by Don Tuttle

Small-minded, mean-spirited, petty, petulant, vain, selfish, crude, ignorant, arrogant, deceitful, lying, disrespectful, short-sighted, short-fused, manipulative, childish, distrustful, insecure, hollow, bombastic, tone-deaf, tempestuous, ill-advised, overbearing, rude, vainglorious, loner, garrulous, aggressive, bossy, bully, grumpy, cynical, narcissistic, tactless, thoughtless, unpredictable, boastful, pompous, patronizing, callous, confrontational, defensive, nasty, cruel, domineering, Machiavellian, sneaky, intolerant, pig-headed, impatient, unreliable, fussy, jealous, resentful, secretive, careless, foolish, quick-tempered, sullen, grumpy, touchy, repulsive, obnoxious, slimy, shallow, superficial, name-calling, intimidating, unhappy, duplicitous, non-player, brazen, know-it-all, ruthlessly ambitious, immoral, scary, uptight, authoritarian, free-wheeling, sarcastic, iconoclastic, abrasive, impulsive, destructive, President.

2. The Big Day, by Russell Conover

Dan was at the gaming store at 6 a.m., three hours before it opened. He arrived before all other customers, ready to be the first to grab a new baseball video game.

A crowd formed around him, but he remained in front. When the doors opened, he rushed to the display and grabbed the first copy. Victory!

He sauntered to the checkout counter and paid. “Did you see our display of a similar game for half off?” the clerk asked. Dan looked immediately, but saw only “Sold Out”. He groaned, distraught.

“Better check your peripheral vision,” the clerk smirked.

1. Bloodstains, by Ann-Louise Truschel

“Why did you kill your cousin?”

“I didn’t!”

“Then why is her blood on your sweater?”

“I don’t know.”

“She was terminal, Leo, but you couldn’t wait to inherit, could you? Take him downtown, Sarge. I’ll talk to the husband.”

“Andy’s downstairs, Lieutenant.”

“Andy, where’d you get the blood?”

“After I … uh … after she experienced the blow to her head, I did a venapuncture on her, Jack. I am a doctor, after all. Then I poured it on Leo’s sweater. I’ll inherit the whole $20 million estate once Leo’s convicted.”

“You mean HALF the estate, don’t you, Andy?”

F.F.F. Stories – Thursday 9/10/20

5. Imager, by Ashley Bullen-Cutting

There is a mirror on the other side of the galaxy and it lies. I want it. I can’t bear to look upon the surface of my own anymore. The truth – fissures, blemishes and follicles – hurts too much. Stings. Besides, the world has had enough of truth. Bring me fake news; bring me renewed youth. Bring me a time when humanity doesn’t have a sell-by date and regal means monarchy and not the stage in life where opportunities are lax.

Let me walk in the lines of lies, or, better yet, see differently.

4. The Missing Bride, by Marjan Sierhuis

While the sun casts a warm glow over the beautiful countryside, the crowds are seen patiently waiting along the tree-lined route to catch a glimpse. There’s a palpable excitement in the air as the horse-drawn carriage draws closer, and the spectators crane their necks to get a better look. Suddenly, everyone gasps in eager anticipation as the carriage driven by a coachman and pulled by four grey horses comes into view. The moment that spectators have been waiting for has finally arrived. But to everyone’s disappointment, the carriage is empty.

The bride forgets that she is allergic to horses.

3. Standing Near Precipice, by Sankar Chatterjee

Jim Johnson couldn’t remember who uttered “Fictions are lies to tell the truth”. Or, was it a tag-line of a recent flash-fiction magazine?

It’s been months now that he didn’t hear back from his editor about his last submitted piece. Did all his lies paint a picture so truthful that the editor no longer believed it to be fiction? Are all the pathetic recent lies of the supreme leader nothing but fractions of a bigger truth, misunderstood by “intellectually ignorant” global citizens?

His inbox pinged with the acceptance news. “Lies will always be lies”. Jim felt reassured in humanity.

2. Problems in Space, by Jane Reid

“The Plutonians are demonstrating,” said my colleague Joe, who recently returned from a long stay there.

“What are they upset about now?” I said, as he clearly waited to be asked.

“Those so-called ‘moons’ of Jupiter. Pluto got demoted as a planet, but most of those are only oversized rocks. We have to bring lunar equality into astronomy. The Plutonians are marching, wearing home-made ‘Moon hats’. They are chanting ‘Planethood now’.”

“I sympathize with them,” Joe continued, “but this can’t end well. If those mini-moons are demoted, their residents will be marching as well, all chanting ‘Me too’.”

1. Issues, by Kim Tackett Tackett

I met my wife when she was working as a bank teller. She admired the paperclip holding my statements and said she preferred clips over staples, mostly because she had commitment issues. I asked her out anyway, mostly because I have listening issues. It’s been 15 years, and we are still together, though sometimes I think she’s laughing when she might be crying. And once in a while, I mistake her going-out door sounds for coming-in door sounds. As for commitment, she stays when she remembers I am her home. So I try to be home as much as possible.

F.F.F. Stories – Tuesday 9/8/20

5. A Day Out at the Open, by Gordon Lawrie

(Published, with picture, to a PAGE on the F.F.F. website.)

4. Nature, A Repeat Offender, by Sankar Chatterjee

Past winter Cathy, a photojournalist on assignment in Guatemala, was enjoying a late-afternoon drink on a rooftop bar in Antigua, a picturesque Spanish colonial town, surrounded by three high mountains. Alvarez, the bartender, informed: “They’re all historic dormant volcanoes,” while focusing Cathy’s lens on farthest one:

Cathy: My goodness! It’s slowly belching!

Alvarez: Fuego, angriest one.

Cathy: Any anticipated eruption?

Alvarez: Always without notice.

Now Cathy, screaming “Fuego exploded,” woke up from a nightmare in her cozy London apartment. She turned on B.B.C. Live images were streaming: erupting Fuego burying San Miguel with volcanic ash, repeating Pompeii’s fate from Mt. Vesuvius’ wrath.

3. Return to Dawlish Beach, by Guy Fletcher

I have returned to Dawlish after a long time … cannot sleep, so leave the house at six. Seagulls guard the causeway and cracks in the sky make it seem as if searchlights shine into the sea.

“Hello. What are you doing here?” my former lover inquires.

I haven’t seen her for years; we walk along the beach as in the past, adoring it here before noisy crowds arrive.

“You look remarkable and haven’t aged at all,” I say.

​I turn to peer at the hole in the rock by Coryton Cove, but when I glance around again, she has disappeared.

2. Runner, by Don Tassone

When Robert stopped running, he died. More precisely, he was gone in three days.

He had begun running in high school, and he ran every day for more than 70 years.

Robert couldn’t imagine not running. It was not just his priority; it was his purpose.

“I live to run,” he used to say.

But now he was ill and could run no more. He lay in his bed at home, where he wished to die.

Family members came to say goodbye. Robert looked at them curiously, as if they were faces in the crowd. He really didn’t know them.

1. Encounter, by Paritosh Chandra Dugar

She kissed the king’s lips. The monarch gave his head a jerk, with little impact on the lip-lover. He shook his entire body, but she stayed on. After a while, she reached the king’s eyes. The infuriated sovereign raised his arm but only to bruise his eye, in his attempt to get rid of the eye-nut. Then, she began to caress the royal nose. A mischievous move made the monarch send a loud cry. Instinctively, the right hand moved but only to make the nose bleed. The king’s distress rolled down his cheeks.

Survival of the fittest–not the strongest!

F.F.F. Stories – Monday 9/7/20

5. The Day After, by Sankar Chatterjee

He came, he succeeded uniting the citizens to rage against him for all his destructive policies, and then he left a friendly relationship in tatters.

Even the babies in strollers showed up to protest his inhumane behavior towards other children. Then they saw his namesake cartoonish diaper-clad floating baby-balloon. All the children began to giggle, soon creating a giggle-tsunami that would cross the boundaries of the nations, slowly infecting the globe.

Next day, the emperor would travel to meet his “new friend”. He noticed millions of yellow balloons flooding the sky, while a fresh wave of the giggle-tsunami drenched him.

4. This Summer, by Lucy Lloyd

Hot, suffocating air, ruffled by the sea breeze. Glinting cars queued up for the chain ferry. Heat rippling the air, sky a vibrant blue, the beach bleached by the sun. An old red telephone box, standing adjacent to a telegraph pole.

Brass with a jazz beat escapes from a can. A cigarette tip peeps out a window of a car. A sailing boat pops into view between sand dunes, and races ahead of the clanking ferry. Speed boats zip about in the sea.

The ferry creaks into place. We rush to the car and move on.

3. Morning Peace, by Riette Badenhorst

The world still belonged to the sleeping. Few have stirred from their slumber, and the quiet belonged to me. Briefly I held time to savor the precious moment that was mine alone. I looked out as the play of a wakening world unfolded. Covered in glistening frost and snuggling fog. And I was its sole audience.

Too soon it wakes. That tempestuous being that steals my peace. But tonight I will find it again. Until morning breaks again for me.

2. Guilt, by CeinWen E. Cariad Haydon

She looked on; her young granddaughters were absorbed in their books. She watched and remembered. When her own children were that age, she’d believed she could keep them safe from the vagaries of the world. Though she’d never stopped loving them in her own fierce way, she’d been proved wrong; been proved inadequate to the standards she’d set herself. These days, she saw her daughter striving for perfection in her motherhood. She wanted to say, ​‘Cut yourself some slack; be gentle.’

Yet she felt she’d lost the right, due to her own maternal failings. She simply kept on apologising.

1. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? by Gordon Lawrie

A rare event: two stories in one day. I can’t think what inspired this one.

Everyone at the diner was smiling, but not in identical ways. Most had fixed smiles taped over faces whose eyes squirmed with embarrassment. A handful of naughty boys enjoyed the general discomfort of their fellow guests.

One diner, a large disgusting creature, wore a smug grin.

At one corner table, a quiet argument broke out.

“Why is he here? He’s a beast! A sex offender! A bully!”

“He just invited himself.”

“She was too weak to say no.”

‘She’ – the dinner’s host – had to sit beside it. It turned towards her, placed its hand between her thighs and said, “I’m enjoying this.”

F.F.F. Stories – Sunday 9/6/20

5. The Winner, by Guy Fletcher

“Why does he seem so unhappy?” he shouted at me and then put his head in his hands.

The winner’s trainer took a suck on his pipe and explained.

“You came fourth. A good effort but you were not obsessed. He has been training for this moment for years and now like Alexander the Great he has no more worlds to conquer. Victory does not always mean pleasure.”

“I guess I’m Salieri and he’s Mozart,” observed the runner.

The winner headed for the pub with his eyes full of melancholia, the reason for existence now disappeared like chaff into the ether.

4. The Nut, by Marjan Sierhuis

When I squeeze my eyes shut and think of all the places I would rather be at this moment, the dental chair does not top my list. But how did I know that biting down on the nut was going to wreak havoc on a back molar and give it attitude.

As the dentist injects a local anesthetic into my gums, I wrinkle my nose, dig my nails into the sides of my chair and ignore the perspiration that lays siege to my forehead.

Then I think of all the nuts that remain uneaten. They will just have to wait.

3. Home, at Least, by Adam Smith

When the starship crashed on Voledex, cryogenic chambers were scattered across the alien landscape.

I was the only crew member who had suited up before life support gave out. There were no other survivors.

Eight children slept in their chambers, dotting the gray dust of our new home.

I located a rover, and one at a time I hauled those chambers from the frozen waste to the previously-built Ops Dome.

It was not ideal, but the second ship would arrive in a month. We might make it. And if not, well, at least we had made it home.

2. Conditions, by Don Tassone

Two old friends sat together in a cafe, sipping coffee. They got together too seldom these days, it seemed. Unlike the old days, when they were inseparable.

In those days, there was an ease about their togetherness. Sometimes they talked about important things, sometimes not. It didn’t matter. They were simply together, and that felt right.

Lately, though, one friend began asking critical questions of the other, and now he began talking about the conditions of their friendship.

His friend tried to hide her dismay. She wanted to talk further, but the cafe was closing and he had to go.

1. Davie, by Gordon Lawrie

Davie was a small, wiry man, his frame emaciated by heroin. Each night, he’d crawl inside communal wheelie-bins, sift through the discarded refuse of better-off city residents, and drag out whatever he could find. Then, he tried to sell his treasure to the very people who had dumped it in the first place. Incredibly, some took pity on him. However, most simply called the police, who moved him on.

Then one cold night he climbed inside a bin and fell asleep. The bin lorry came along the next morning.

Davie’s body wasn’t noticed at the landfill site for another fortnight.

F.F.F. Stories – Friday 9/4/20

5. Light of my Life, by Fliss Zakaszewska

Light of my life. I loved you with a passion I thought would never die. I was with you when Bobby, Geoff and Martin were there. I’d follow you everywhere … anywhere.

I’d scream to encourage you, be in agony when you fell. I’d have done anything for you.

But the magic’s faded. I won’t get out of my chair to see what you’re doing in the next room.

The shout goes up! England scored? Who cares? Croatia scored? Twice? England’s out of the World Cup? So what? Eleven millionaires on the pitch moaning? Football’s boring now. Bring on rugby!

4. For Whom the Humanity Tolls, by Sankar Chatterjee

Twelve dazed children emerged from the masqueraded van of the Border Patrols. They were separated months ago as punishment for their parents’ crossing the border asking asylum.

Anita Lopez, picking up her two-year-old Maya, burst into tears: “What did they do to her? She recognizes me no more!”

Half-a-world around, the last little footballer out of a dozen, trapped in a flooded cave for weeks, would see the sunlight again for an international joint-effort, while the world celebrated the same sport.

Neera Desai (born to immigrant parents), a pro-bono lawyer for refugee rights, pondered, “In which America are we living now?”

3. Playing Hard to Get, by Adam Smith

The girl boarded the train.

I followed.

She slipped out a different door but I exited as well, gaining on her in the rail yard.

She looked back and I noticed mirth in her eyes.

Dodging left, the girl put a box car between us and I lost her for a moment. I saw her again when she tripped on a stone and stumbled.

I closed the distance between us.

I could smell her perfume. He brown eyes sparkled. I grabbed her arm and she surrendered.

“You’re under arrest,” I announced, ignoring the fire in her eyes.

2. Beyond the Race, by Eric Neher

“Why are you laughing?” said 1.

“I can’t help it; they’re spinning out of control,” said 2. “Just look at them.”

“Why are they doing that?” said 1. “Don’t they know it’s suicide?”

“For them to admit that they are wrong is to show weakness,” said 2. “Better to fall with your chin held high than to admit your mistake.”

“What a selfish way to look at things,” said 1. “What about all of the other creatures that have nothing to do with it?”

​”We shall have to wait and see,” said 2. “It’s time for us to report in.”

1. Spinning, by Ton Tassone

His world was spinning. It was moving too fast, and he felt swept up in it, as if his life were just a speck caught up in a dust storm that swirled around him.

He was speeding to his next appointment when he was forced to take back roads because of an accident on the highway. A cyclist ahead was peddling dead center in his lane, and because of oncoming cars, he couldn’t pass right away.

Knowing he would now be late, he downshifted and watched the cyclist, who seemed so focused, and realized that his world too was spinning.