Welcome! Here is this week’s Flash, posted in the order received.
The theme is Broken Camera.
Real Eyes by Susan Tepper
He watched me through the lens taking shot after shot. He said, “You know, you’re very hot,” multiple times during the shoot. He was a pro. He knew saying those words would turn me on and he’d get his best work.
I had changed for the shoot in the next room, his bedroom. All my different tops were laid out across his bed. The hair and make-up guy had whispered at one point, “He likes you, he said you’re very clean, you wash behind your ears.”
“Well doesn’t everyone!”
“You can’t believe the dirty girls we get here for head shots,” the hair and make-up guy said.
When he finally put down the camera I looked at him, ready for anything. His eyes were dead. Flat and gray like an old fish. So totally dead. Still. I wanted the hair and make-up guy to get lost.
“Change into the black V-neck,” flat eyes said. “That sexy white throat and your clavicle bone…”
I stared closely into his eyes. Nothing. He’d almost talked dirty. It was discouraging. The make-up guy, paid by the hour, wasn’t going away so fast. He fluffed my hair, lifted and misted the top.
Back behind the camera again flat eyes said, “Lick your lips,” about four dozen times. Then, “Think where you’d like your lips to be. Yes, yes, yes,” he kept saying shot after shot.
His real eyes, the camera, brimming for me.
Susan Tepper is the author of “Deer & Other Stories” (Wilderness House Press, 2009) and the poetry chapbook “Blue Edge.” Over 100 of her stories and poems have been published in journals worldwide. Susan had been nominated five times for the Pushcart Prize. She curates the reading series FIZZ at KGB Bar in NYC, and is Assistant Editor of Istanbul Literary Review. You can find her online at www.susantepper.com.
High on a Cliff by Kaston Griffin
Minerva admired the ocean from her house overlooking the bay, the old lighthouse standing next to her right thumb as she held her fingers in the shape of a frame. Often the wind at the edge of the cliff blew too hard to allow her to step onto the porch with her camera, and today it moaned while floorboards rattled, rubbed together like bones, sank closer to the earth like her skin. Rain blotted the sunken glass like gum syrup and the waves that uncurled under the precipice seemed to swell and relax like a tongue licking at the clay supporting her home. Through her fisheye pane, the sea grew as if a yawning mouth with white, sea froth running from blue lips, panting, “Down, down” on the bluff walls. Staring into Death, she felt a tremor jostle her to the floor as if the very foundations were shaking.
Ex-Mongol archer and con man, Kaston Griffin can be found jumping his motorcycle roof-to-roof, putting together a new A-team, or high fiving Conan O’Brien. Whenever he finishes a daring escapade, the public knows as he celebrates each successful caper by publishing a fictional story with undertones of extreme personal danger.
Broken by Michelle Fuller
She watched the baby sleeping in the dappled sunlight on their blanket spread over the sand. She rifled through her backpack for the water and her hand came to the camera.
The camera had fallen out of the car when she opened the door and landed in the gutter with a deceptively tiny thump. Something about the angle must have been just right, or just wrong, because it hadn’t worked since. That was yesterday and she still didn’t understand his anger when she told him this morning. How could we have enough love between us to create this beautiful life, but not enough for forgiving?
She stretched out on the blanket and thought about how long she should stay. At the beach and in her marriage. When should she go?
With a heavy sigh, she knew she’d head home before sunset. He would be over it and they would eat dinner together.
Looking back at the beach watching the sunlight hit pieces of beach glass and shimmer in the wet sand, she wished she could take a picture.
Michelle Fuller is a wife, mother, and scientist who likes to experiment with poetry, fiction, and photography.
My Eyes Don’t See the Truth by Matthew A. Hamilton
I reach the subway platform at 1:00am. I study the gang graffiti on the wall across from me, something I don’t see when the sun is up, when the platform is filled with clicking feet and impatient coffee drinkers.
Out of the corner of my eye I see a shadow slip behind a concrete pillar. I snap my head, watch, investigate. Nothing. I turn back to the graffiti and I as I do, the shadow appears again, this time in human form, dark complexion, wearing an Oakland Raider’s jacket.
He walks slowly in my direction. I look at the clock. The train will arrive in 5 minutes. I can already feel its vibrations. But he will reach me before then, so I pull out my baton and wait. My sweat turns to ice. I’ve never been robbed before.
The time clicks to one minute and by now I can clearly see the guys face, wrinkled and sick, red eyes dripping with alcohol. A knife sticking in his leg explains why he is walking like a turtle.
He loses his balance and falls towards me. I catch him, put him on the ground, call 911. As I’m talking with the operator, the train stops for a minute. I breathe in the stale wind it produces as it speeds away.
I feel so guilty that I ride with him to the hospital. I kick myself with shame, because if the guy had been white, my baton would have never left my pocket.
Matthew A. Hamilton is a US Peace Corps Volunteer serving in the Philippines. He has work in Metazen, Crows Nest Magazine, Long Story Short, and others. He has forthcoming working in Black Lantern Publishing and The Battered Suitcase. After service, Matthew will pursue an MFA in Creative Writing at Fairfield University.
Comeback by Martin Brick
He hears their feet on the pavement. Collectively they add up to the sound of one horse at a gallop. His vision is altered, sideways, as his lies on the ground, greasy-window blurred from the rising heat. Asphalt’s skillet-hot on his cheek.
“Did you see him hit that?” Kenny exclaims. He’s just some kid who likes movies, but when the whole crew is a dozen, you get an assistant director credit by hanging around the director.
Then things get red. Blood draining into his eyes. The camera hit him – or he hit it – smack in the forehead. Damn jerry-rigged boom out a carwindow on this jokingly-funded film.
“Doesn’t look good,” Peter tells Kenny.
The cut doesn’t hurt, more itchy than anything. He hopes this doesn’t affect his face. What will stitches do to the continuity of the film?
Peter looks worried. “God, how are we going to pay for that?”
It occurs to him, shit, they probably aren’t insured. And he sure isn’t. Back in the day, on his series, the network took care of anything. This rinky-dink film doesn’t even cater. But it’s a step. Back into the spotlight. Script is good. It should be a Travolta moment. His Pulp Fiction. This little accident, the cut, will make a nice anecdote for Letterman.
“It is bad…” Kenny sullenly.
“It’s broken.” Peter.
“Nah. Just a cut,” he tells them, then wipes the blood to find the pair huddled, backs to him, around the camera.
Martin Brick is an Assistant Professor of English at Ohio Dominican University. His publications include The Cortland Review, Vestal Review, Sou’Wester, Pindeldyboz, and other places. He is a past Pushcart nominee and a former editor of Wisconsin Review.
Different Perspective by cubehermit
“How you even know yo’ camera’s workin’?”
“I can hear it working, man. I know what it sounds like when it works. When it’s out of memory, it makes a beep, not a click. When it’s out of batteries, it’s real quiet.”
“How you know whachu’ takin’ pictures of?”
“I’m blind, not stupid! If I take a picture of you, I know I just took a picture of you. I take pictures of the city, man. I can feel it, I can smell it, I can hear it. People like my pictures. I have a following.”
“You got a followin’. That’s stark crazy. Blind photographer’s got a followin’! You showin’ your pictures in fancy ga-alleries? People buyin’ your shit?”
“For real, man.”
“How the hell you get started takin’ pictures if you blind? I mean. You’ like a writer that don’t read! How a blind person even learn about pictures? And don’t tell me you wa’n’t always blind ‘cause you got that look – that look like you ain’t never seen shit…”
“Ha! You’re right, man, I ain’t never seen shit. I went to summer camp and photography was one of the activities. I asked the counselor ‘What’s that?’ and he said ‘A photograph captures a feeling that people can see and understand later, after it happens.’ He probably doesn’t even remember saying that, but I said, ‘Sign me up!’ and I’ve been in it ever since.”
Cubehermit is master of her 4×5 foot domain. Just as you do not mess with Texas, don’t mess with the cube. You can see more of cubehermit’s work at her website at Corporate Cog Poetry.
We regret to inform you by Bernard Heise
My job is easier if I fancy myself the curator for a museum of broken cameras, publicly funded and modestly sized, rather than the director of this specialized retirement home. I manage a highly trained staff with degrees from the best universities. We usually acquire our stricken residents from their remorseful middle-aged children or dejected spouses. I examine each one personally, shine a light in the eyes, monitor the apertures and the ability to focus. Most important (as per standards developed by the Johns Hopkins Medical School), I conduct a functional MRI scan to confirm that, although the eyes blink, no new images are actually being recorded. We feed them, diaper them, and make them comfortable. Decorum demands that we turn on their televisions or pipe in music by Celine Dion. For the first few months, they receive visitors — relatives and friends who hold their hands and speak to them in hushed tones. But interest inevitably wanes. After thirty days go by without a single visit (it once was ninety, but regulations have changed due to economic blight and shifting health care priorities,) we mail out official notices that the exhibit will be discontinued unless interest resumes. After another thirty days without a visit, we administer the pentobarbital and ship any personal effects to loved ones (provided that the forms have been filled out correctly; if not, the belongings go to the state). Everyone is sad. Then we clean and disinfect the room, preparing it for the next installation.
Bernard Heise lives on a sailboat in the South Pacific. He monitors the sun as it rises and sets; he keeps a watchful eye on the tides. And when the spirit moves him, he animates the mummified corpse of a 15th-century Anglo-Saxon bishop and mounts the pulpit at the Church of Rebar Jesus.
Broken Camera by Catherine Russell
quaintness appealed to her – the huge black plastic box with silver metal and shining lenses. She couldn’t wait to get it home, tear it apart and inspect every detail.
Brushing some of errant bunnies from her shoulder, she feigned indifference. “Well, if it doesn’t even work…”
The man reached out to her receding back. “Wait,” he said.
Raising one eyebrow, she turned back. “Yes?”
“Tell you what,” he said. “It’s been gathering dust here long enough. I can’t seem to unload the damn thing. I’ll let you have it for a buck.”
Her voice was level. “I don’t know,” she said. “It might not even work…”
“Oh, hell,” the proprietor muttered, “You got me. Take it. I’m sick of looking at it.”
Kat took the contraption. “Thanks,” she said.
She meant it. The camera would make the perfect planter for her daisies.
For her purposes, it would work perfectly.
Catherine Russell is currently trying to publish her first novel. She writes short fiction, poetry, and learns more about the craft every day. More of her work can be found at her writing blog.
Consequences by Katherine Nabity
She liked snooping.
Sneaking through the empty house was a thrill. Better than a roller coaster or a wrapped birthday present. Peeping into out-of-bounds drawers and closets was naughty, but she couldn’t see the harm in it. Nothing but winter coats and sweaters or envelopes filled with typed invoices and old Christmas cards. She never found anything good and never left a trace behind.
Until the day she broke the camera.
The leather camera case sat on the top shelf of the linen closet. Just that week she had grown a fraction of an inch tall enough to worm two fingers under it. She knew its weight. If she could tip the case over the edge of the shelf, it would fall and she’d catch it on the way down. From her angle, she hadn’t seen the shoebox perched atop the case. Not one, but two objects fell. She ducked out of the way in surprise. The camera case remained closed, but she knew from the glass-tinkle-crash that something had broken. Sepia pictures spilled from the open shoebox.
She didn’t want to know how badly the camera was wrecked and she couldn’t put it back on the shelf if she wanted to. The stepladder was in the garage and far too heavy to carry. She hadn’t considered that earlier.
She would take her punishment when Mom came home. Until then, she flipped through the pictures of the smiling grandma and grandpa she had never known.
Katherine Nabity is a full-time writer and part-time ultimate frisbee enthusiast. She’s married to her writing collaborator and lives in a five computer household. Her other writings can be found at EntangledContinua and her long-standing LiveJournal.
Second-hand Video-cam by Linda Simoni-Wastila
Air undulates over steaming pavement. I zoom in to capture the shimmering heat, but the mirage disappears. Instead, glass rectangles come into focus, all but one curtained off from sun or stuffed with thrumming AC units.
Two more minutes. I pan back to the street. Kids swoop around the ice cream truck tinkling merrily on the corner. Chaos straightens into a line. Birds gather in weed trees hoping for dropped cones.
The camera seizes. I tap the on button.
Damn machine. Put me back a week’s pay, it better not futz out. Not now. I thump the barrel with my fist. The lens eye closes with a whir.
I power back on, shift back to the brick façade. Third floor, second window from the right. The curtain rustles. Right on time. I smile and zoom in.
His hand tosses the hardhat onto the futon. I imagine the hollow thud, the back of my head pushed into those pillows. He moves into sight, framed by the open window. Back to me, he peels off his muscle tee. His skin glistens and all I want is to tongue each sweaty trail. He flexes his arms, every muscle defined.
I lick my lips, and wait. For him to tug off his Levi’s, stretch along the futon, and fall asleep. But he keeps his pose, not moving, a museum-quality bronze. I lean forward, inner thighs damp, but still he does not move. I shake the fucking camera, too late.
Linda Simoni-Wastila lives in Baltimore and blogs at LeftBrainWrite.
Broken Camera by Guy Yasko
– Café? It’s more like a crack house. Think about it.
– I – we – spend, what? three to five dollars a day here.
– That’s not it. What do you pay, what do you sacrifice to be here,
in this city, in this neighbourhood? Admit it. The whole reason you
ever stayed was this place. What did that decision cost you? It’s
not even the rent so much as the lost opportunities, the flying back
and forth, the dithering. It all adds up. Huge. I can’t live here
any more. Not really. I can’t afford it. I shouldn’t even be here.
He took stock as directed. The really heavy losses had come first:
the career, the marriage, the sense of identity. Money,
certainly. Later there had been a stretch when he had lost bits and
pieces of himself: a broken toe, lost and rotting teeth. Lately it
had been the prosthetics of vision: broken eyeglasses, lost contacts,
a broken camera.
All painful (and therefore repressed) but still familiar. Only the
last string of items was worrisome. It was as if the city were taking
away his ability to see it for what it truly was.
Guy Yasko went to Japan as a child and never came home. He makes a living in the intersection of Japan and the anglophone world, often as a translator.
Blank Screen by Doug Bond
Tynan never would have seen it, half buried in sand and grey ash but for that exact moment, the moon light pulling out from behind low clouds bringing a sudden glint to the camera’s chrome casing.
There was nothing to identify it. No branding or letters. The setting dials and options were few, nothing fancy. It reminded him of the simple point and shoot he’d gotten from his mom before she left. He raised it to the moon and clicked. Nothing.
Maybe not enough light. He pointed to the bonfire where his new stepbrother, Stu, and his friends were drinking, loosely assembled around the rising flames in the rock ring. Nothing. Shit, piece of junk, he thought. Just about to toss it back into the nearby trash can when Stu came up; he was holding a brown beer bottle. Tynan wheeled and clicked.
Stu yelled, “You little shit!”
“Doesn’t work anyway.” said Tynan quickly, and he thought to show Stu that the LCD was blank, but stopped. He could see that something had popped up on the screen, so he cradled it into his sweatjacket.
Stu tossed the not quite empty beer bottle into the grill pit. The glass shattered and lay jagged in the sand. He slurred “Fucking momma’s boy.”
Tynan pulled out the camera but with the moon shuttered behind clouds he had difficulty making sense of the tiny controls. It mattered little anyway. Whatever he’d thought had been there was gone.
doug bond has endured life in Manhattan and along the Western fault lines, most recently in San Francisco in loving, creative partnership with his wife, daughter, Ben (a Lab), and assorted other hungry creatures. Doug has been in the habit recently of sharing a variety of Amuzementz including his own writing at http://dougbond.posterous.com/ and also at Fictionaut.
Broken Signals Light Up the Sky by Darryl Price
Well it was really only a toy I
got for one Christmas when I was little.
But what does that mean when it worked
perfectly well for its size?For the size
of my hands? I remember how it came
in a cool looking tan leather case inside
a neat little red cardboard box. I loved
the whole package.The white molded plastic piece
it sat locked in like an unbelievable secret
discovery waiting to show you its powerful use,
never before seen by man nor beast. The
box it came in to me was as
perfectly wonderful to behold as the thing itself
with all of its shiny chrome moldings fitted
snuggly around the tiny machine it actually was
like racing stripes on what looked like some
kind of really well-made wallet.I have no
idea what the other material was–paper,leather,
cloth? I couldn’t tell but it kind of
felt bumpy like I imagined alligator skin might
and it made a little sticking sound that
reminded me of paper being torn, not in
half, just torn for a second, when you
took a picture.All pictures were only in
black and white of course. You had to
send away to have them developed, and to
buy new film. And that’s what happened. All
of a sudden they stopped making that film.
Darryl Price was born in Kentucky and educated at Thomas More College. A founding member of Jack Roth’s Yellow Pages Poets, he has published dozens of chapbooks, including a dual chapbook with Jennifer Bosveld, founder of Pudding House (the largest literary small press in America), and had poems in journals including The Bitter Oleander, Cornfield Review, Allegheny Poetry, Wind, Out of Sight, Paper Radio, The West Conscious Review, Pudding, Metazen, Cap City Poets, Doing It, Prick of the Spindle, Olentangy Review, Fourpaperletters, LITSNACK and the Green Fuse.
Worth a Thousand Words by John Wentworth Chapin
He tossed the sopping, warm facecloth in the corner by the shower of the hotel bathroom. The discarded towel nearly glowed against the subdued khaki of the tub and tile; it was wet, but the plush loops of absorbent goodness were thick and luxuriant enough to give the towel a fuzzy look, despite what was wiped inside the clot of cotton. He peered at his face in the mirror, sweaty and spent. He was triply satisfied: he’d come twice and he was a damn good-looking man.
Satisfaction drained from his face as he glanced over his shoulder to the bed; his therapist was holding the camcorder in his palm, aluminum legs of the tripod splayed beneath it at an angle like some uprooted monument. He walked around behind the therapist and watched the small screen over his shoulder. The sex act was mechanical; the therapist’s face was hidden, but his own face was there, looking at the camera most of the time. His face was inscrutable, but he strove to remember what he was feeling as he stared into the camera while building to an orgasm. He couldn’t make meaning out of it.
“This fucking experiment didn’t show me shit,” he said.
His therapist continued to watch his own pelvis thrusting in the foreground while his client’s face beseeched the camera. “You can’t see what you were feeling?” the therapist asked the client.
“Nothing,” he replied.
The therapist nodded.
John Wentworth Chapin teaches writing and runs the writing center at the University of Baltimore. He is an Editor of 52|250, but he knows who wears the virtual pants around here.
Snapshots by Michelle Elvy
He brings the spoonful of Quaker Oats to his lips; his hand trembles but the oats stick to the spoon. His mind quivers and nothing sticks.
A woman smiles up at him from a photo on the front page of the morning paper. He thinks of his wife, the way she tucked her hair behind her left ear, like the woman in the photo. He can barely picture her any more. His mind offers random snapshots of the life he’s lived: a green metal swing-set he shared with his sister, the arc of waves over a long white beach, a fallen friend’s face shaded by a green helmet. A white cat – or was it grey? A piano and a flute. A blue floral sofa he never liked. Bacon, port, rhubarb pie….
Sometimes he can feel his wife’s hand in his – the small fingers with their neatly trimmed nails, the wide gold band that wouldn’t come off over aging knobby knuckles, the long lifeline (a lie, he reckons: she should have outlived him by years). Sometimes, he hears her laughter in his dreams. But he cannot recall much about her face – his mind is a broken camera. Still, he always loved that hair behind her ear.
Michelle Elvy lives and writes on a 43′ sailboat and is presently located in Whangarei, New Zealand. She is co-editor of 52|250, and she has published work at Metazen, Words With JAM, and 6S. When not flashing here, she’s writing at Glow Worm, listening at VOICES, or sailing on Momo.
52|250 thanks Cecelia Wyatt for the art this week, which is a photograph of a diarama in the Riesenrad Museum in the Prater in Vienna, Austria.