Fiction in a minute: Fight

They called them points for a reason, Marlene thought, because that’s how you keep score in a fight. And without the score, how do you know who won? Her husband Carlos kept score by how he felt. The fights made Marlene feel safer and more in control, which was odd, because they were having the opposite effect on Carlos. With each incrimination, he drew further from her. When he finally packed a bag and told her he was leaving, she hurled insults and accusations, and when that didn’t work, she hurled the crystal bowl they had received as a wedding gift three years prior. Carlos felt the starlight mints from […]

Fiction in a minute: Panhandling

Mark made it halfway through the first day of his construction job before deciding he wouldn’t make it back the next day. Not because Joe would fire him. Joe was the owner of a construction company and a good guy who saw Mark panhandling outside the diner two days ago. “Swing by the job site if you want honest work,” he said. No, Joe would probably give him a second, third and even fourth chance to make things right. Mark had met good guys like Joe before, and he knew what Joe wanted – the satisfaction of offering the helping hand. But it only took thirty minutes of back-breaking work […]

Fiction in a minute: Bigfoot’s announcement

Bigfoot tapped the microphone set on the table in front of him. “Testing, testing,” he said, his voice low and guttural. The sound guy shook his head and rushed over to fiddle with the dials and wires of the audio set-up for the hastily arranged press conference. The public relations woman leaned in to one of his furry ears. “If you can work in a few messages on the need for public funding for Oregon state parks, I’ve prepared some talking points for you. Just a few facts…” Bigfoot had a weak spot for pretty women. He took the paper from her in both paws and set it down as […]

Fiction in a minute: Je suis Charlie

Robert had gone slack-jawed and moody from watching the news coverage of the shootings at a satirical magazine offices just a few kilometers from the apartment he shared with Cybille. The shaky footage shot by a passerby who heard cries of “Allah Akbar!” then the horrible rat-ta-tat-tat of automatic weapons had aired so many times that his outrage and disgust had numbed into weariness and fatigue. What could anyone do against those who reply to insults with bullets? Cybille burst through the front door with a bag of groceries and a blast of fresh air. “People are out in the streets tonight,” she said. “Everywhere I went was clogged with […]

Fiction in a minute: Warning

My phone blared a low-pitched tone that woke me up faster than reveille ever did when I was in the Army. The clock said three eleven a.m. I rubbed the sleep crust out of my eyes and made myself focus on my surroundings. Light from the full moon slipped through the cracks of the cheap plastic blinds and onto the dark green wool blanket in a tangle around my legs. I was alone. A robot man voice replaced the tone. They never used robot lady voices for these messages. Someone once told me that male voices have more authority. I didn’t buy the argument. If they used a voice like […]

Fiction in a minute: Starling

She was already late to work for a job she did not love. Stress thrummed in her head like smoke-colored static, focusing her attention inward. The static muted the pleasures of her favorite song on the radio, of the plop of raindrops on the windshield, of the friction of tires spinning against the road. With every half-breath she felt the abstract fear of not measuring up to some vacillating standard. Of being an imposter. Of not making her time on this earth matter. She was afraid to fill her lungs for then she would take more air than she deserved. A yellow-beaked starling swooped in front of the windshield of […]

Fiction in a minute: Breaking glass

I am made of glass and icy tears flow in my veins where blood should be.  He looks right through me at the new curtains and doesn’t see the hours of picking out the fabric, measuring and cutting, pinning and hemming. He doesn’t see me balanced on the stepladder with a yardstick and a pencil, measuring distances and checking levels. He doesn’t consider for a moment that I was trying to please him. “Those curtains are butt-ugly,” he snarls and my heart sinks into my stomach and burns in its acid.  The tears that are my blood pop to the surface like condensation. In the swirl of emotions in my […]

Lessons from my father

My father provided me with countless life lessons, many of which sunk into my head while I was pretending not to listen. I’ve written a previous blog on my favorite piece of his advice, the one about eating an elephant one bite at a time. In honor of the second anniversary of his death from Parkinsons’ Disease, I thought I’d share a few more bits of wisdom from John Lipinski. 1. He with the most tools wins. Dad was an airplane mechanic and as far back as I can remember, he always had at least one tool shed filled with shiny Craftsman tool chests on wheels, and filled with hundreds of well-organized […]

Fiction in a minute: Right-size

Alicia spouted business cliches with such earnestness that I had to wonder if she’d been living under a rock for 2o years. How could anyone in the year 2014 call for a paradigm shift or blame something on a perfect storm without a measure of irony at the sheer overuse of the terms? Then she stood up and announced it was time to think out of the box. I rubbed my forehead like I was really thinking hard so she wouldn’t see me roll my eyes. Privacy screen in place, I fired up the laptop to watch some funny cat videos and daydream about starting my own business. The meeting droned on around me […]

Fiction in a minute: Abandoned shoe

The police helicopter’s spotlight bounced through layers of Southern California dust on my windshield to illuminate the Chevy’s dashboard. Hip-hop music nearly masked the scream of the police sirens behind me. I counted two news stations circling the orange-streaked evening sky above me. High-speed chase alerts were breaking news in this town, and mine could be spectacular, if I wasn’t careful. You see, that night there was a full moon. With the sun dropping fast, my skin was already starting to prickle and burn. Griffith Park was the nearest wilderness LA had to offer, and I needed to get there fast, before the hairs started popping out and my transformation was […]