February 18, 2007

Flash city

Inspired by Logophile’s recent flash fiction, I thought I’d attempt a few. I’ve limited the stories to 64 words, in honor of the bit depth halfway between 32 and 128. The setting is New York.

“It wasn’t a lie,” she said. The last of the company had gone. Glancing out the window, he saw Phil and Barbara walking slowly to the ferry. “You sighed when you saw the photo of London.” The whole autumn had had such a meandering quality. He smiled at what he knew she was about to say. He switched on the TV. Letterman had Couric.

The July sun pierced the sycamores, spraying the lawn with golden coins. Music played. The bride was radiant, and it was apparent there would be no rain. Elaine was halfway to the ladies room before she noticed the napkin she had been carrying, now wadded and rebuking, and discarded it on an empty plate where a bee was feasting on a smudge of frosting.

That summer they played badminton on the roof. They never kept score. Rich rushed the net for a shot but his wrist went wayward and turned his hand to spinach. George slammed the flub over Rich’s head, and immediately felt silly. “That was venal,” he said. “Forgive me?” Rich picked up the bird and lobbed an easy shot back to him. “Yes,” he said.

I looked down the length of the cavernous warehouse collapsing on its pier and disintegrating into the Hudson River. Someone, an artist, had sliced open the corrugated wall, high up, in the shape of a crescent moon. Stealthy shreds of city traffic surged and receded. When I heard the footsteps, a distant echo-edged tattoo, I stripped down to my briefs and sneakers and waited.

He glanced at the cabbie’s license. Vasanthi Rajan. The Seagrams Building, an elegant shadow, lurked in the windshield then slid away. The thought of being greeted in the white bathrobe and damp hair made his heart leap. As he emerged from the cab, he saw Howard Cosell. “Hello Howard!” he said, surprised. Cosell looked at him, expressionless, then looked away and trudged up 58th.