David Galef ~ Three Flash Fictions

After the Orgy

After the Sunday orgy, the men changed their shirts. The women changed their shoes.

Man #1 swag­gered all week.

Woman #2 com­posed a per­son­al ad: “Needy woman in search of help­less man. Weren’t you at the orgy on Sunday?”

Man #2 won­dered whether to con­tact woman #2 but nev­er got her name.

Woman #3 in her sex edu­ca­tion class announced bright­ly, “For the next two weeks, we’re going to turn the boys into girls and vice ver­sa, then com­pare notes.”

Man #3, rem­i­nisc­ing at least a few times dai­ly, thought the men had been hot­ter than the women.

Woman #2 felt unlove­ly, grow­ing more so by the minute—and signed up for the next orgy.

Man #3 found him­self in love with man #1.

Woman #1 jot­ted down in her old-fash­ioned plan­ner: “Sin at leisure, repent in haste”—and hur­ried to the drug­store.

Man #3 dreamt of the orgy sev­er­al nights run­ning, but with the man’s faces on the women’s bod­ies.

Woman #2 recon­sid­ered all her ori­fices.

Woman #1 felt, At this point, all I want is for man #2 to become a haunt­ing mem­o­ry.

Man #1 remarked sar­cas­ti­cal­ly: “As if sex were an equal-oppor­tu­ni­ty employ­er.”

Woman #1 put it this way to her friend at a Sunday brunch that was a pal­lid sub­sti­tute for the Sunday before: “I’m not a hope­less roman­tic but a hope­ful one.”

Woman #3 bought a poster-sized chart of penis sizes.

Woman #1 start­ed to write a short sto­ry about the expe­ri­ence but got bogged down in the first action sequence.

Man #2 wrote a poem about the expe­ri­ence, con­tain­ing the line “shud­der­ing loins.”

Woman #2 began siz­ing up every man she encoun­tered, includ­ing the ugly ones. Especially the ugly ones.

Man #1 decid­ed to start an orgy agency.

Woman #3 thought about the one prob­lem with a five-hour orgy and began a cater­ing start-up.

Man #1 changed not a whit.

Woman #1 nev­er told her hus­band.

Man #2 ill-advis­ed­ly post­ed pho­tos on Instagram.

Man #1 boast­ed to his wife.

Woman #3 rec­og­nized one of the par­tic­i­pants on the street the oth­er day and winked.

Bird Feeder

One day I woke up to find I’d been mar­ried for twen­ty years with two kids in high school. Bob sat at the yel­low break­fast nook, gaz­ing at the eter­nal squir­rels gang­ing up on the bird feed­er in our back yard. Look at that one with the clumpy tail. He point­ed at a deter­mined squir­rel cap­siz­ing the bird feed­er tray for access to the silo of seed inside. An irate blue jay cheat‑cheated over­head.

I was about to reply when our two daugh­ters Cindy and Mindy entered the kitchen. Since it was Saturday, they weren’t hur­ry­ing to school but were bored already at 8:00 a.m. It’s a love­ly June day, I told them. Take advan­tage of it while you can.

As for me, the decades had flown over to the bird feed­er, where the clump‑tailed squir­rel was gorg­ing him­self on sun­flower seeds. I was a psych major at Penn State, then an office temp till I met Bob the sales man­ag­er at Sears, lead­ing to our wed­ding at the Orange Chapel, after which Cindy was born, then Mindy. I worked flex time at an insur­ance office, arranged for babysit­ters, packed a thou­sand PB&J sand­wich­es for school lunch­es, drove to two dif­fer­ent soc­cer prac­tices, and lay in bed next to Bob night after year.

But none of that is true. I’m only sev­en­teen, and I have all those years ahead of me. I have the time to make mis­takes and cor­rect some of them. My mom calls out from the hall­way that it’s shap­ing up to be a splen­did morn­ing and that I should take advan­tage of the fine weath­er by going out­side. I look out the win­dow to see that the squir­rel has made off with all the seed he can take, and still the sup­ply spills out.

Second Act

Ignazio was sup­posed to feed the ele­phants that after­noon, but he want­ed to fin­ish his math home­work first. His father was a clown at the Rolldale Circus, his moth­er an acro­bat. “You have way cool par­ents, Iggy,” a boy from the audi­ence told him. They’d met dur­ing an inter­mis­sion and chat­ted. The kid’s name was Edward. His father was a lawyer, his moth­er stayed at home, and they lived in a ranch house with a dog named Rex.

But Ignazio wished his father didn’t put on an orange wig for work, and he wor­ried about his moth­er tum­bling off the high-wire. The scent of stale pop­corn always hung in his nos­trils. To earn his allowance at age twelve, he turned into Rex the Dog Boy, with a snap-on tail, claws, pointy ears, whiskers, and fur patch­es. For the marks, he’d bark, scratch his ears with his toes, and shove his face into a bowl of raw meat. In his dreams, he sat in a fam­i­ly den and watched TV sit­coms.

At eigh­teen, he ran away from the car­a­van to enroll in col­lege. After grad­u­a­tion, he count­ed twen­ties as a bank teller while he earned his cer­ti­fi­ca­tion as a CPA. He mar­ried a tax attor­ney and moved to the sub­urbs, where their son, Ed, was born. Ig keeps reg­u­lar hours and likes his steak well done.

But he’s will­ing to clown around for his son. He has a baby trapeze in the garage, sent by a pair of dot­ing grand­par­ents. And every once in a while, he freaks out the neigh­bors by get­ting down on all fours and howl­ing at the moon.

Ed, now age five, watch­es from the porch until his moth­er calls him indoors.

~

David Galef has pub­lished over a dozen books, includ­ing the nov­els Flesh, Turning Japanese, and How to Cope with Suburban Stress (a Book Sense choice, list­ed by Kirkus as one of the Best 30 Books of 2006); the short-sto­ry col­lec­tions Laugh Track and My Date with Neanderthal Woman (win­ner of Dzanc Books’ Short Story Collection Award); two children’s books, The Little Red Bicycle by Random House and Tracks by William Morrow Junior; a co-edit­ed anthol­o­gy of fic­tion called 20 over 40 (University Press of Mississippi); the poet­ry col­lec­tion Flaws and Kanji Poems (David Roberts Books); the trans­la­tion Japanese Proverbs: Wit and Wisdom (Tuttle); and lit­er­ary crit­i­cism: The Supporting Cast (Penn State Press). His lat­est vol­ume is Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook (Columbia University Press). Most recent­ly he won the ALSCW Meringoff Award for short fic­tion and place­ment in the top 50 very short fic­tions of 2017 from Wigleaf. His web­site is www.davidgalef.com, his Twitter han­dle @dgalef. He’s a pro­fes­sor of English and the cre­ative writ­ing pro­gram direc­tor at Montclair State University.