Being Boring by Robert Vaughan

It’s been years since I last saw him. No, decades. Water under the bridge. I rejoin him at the bar, careful not to bump his walker.

“Are the bathrooms nice?” he asks. He still has that small town hush, generous wrinkles.

“See for yourself,” I taunt, glancing around the pathetic bar. Smells an odd mixture of wood-smoke and bad genes.

He laughs. His Adam’s apple bob up and down, up and down, like a two bit whore. Or a person with Parkinson’s. Like my brother. “Ask you something?

I shrug. “Sure.”

“Do you think Mom and Dad forgive us?”

“Oh jeez,” I say, “and we were having so much fun.” I pause. Take a swig, enjoy the burn. “I imagine, wherever they are, if you believe in that stuff, the afterlife, they probably aren’t focusing on us. Unless you believe that shit, too.”

He bites his lip. “So you still don’t think it’s our fault?”

We were kids. The accident was ages ago. Life altering, no question.

“I try not to look at it like that. I mean, was I driving? Sure. Was it their fault I drove because they were both too drunk? Maybe. Was it our fault that poor bastard fell asleep at the wheel and slammed into us? You tell me.” I feel blood course through my veins, and my heart pounds as hard as the day it all happened: excruciating blast, metal spark fireworks, spontaneous combustion.

The jukebox plays a Pet Shop Boys song: Being Boring.

.

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15 Comments

Filed under Robert Vaughan

15 responses to “Being Boring by Robert Vaughan

  1. for some reason this story made me think of Tom Waits’ stuff instead.

  2. John Riley

    There is a lot of strong characterization here in such a short story. I could really feel the tension between the brothers. Good one.

  3. Len

    this a great piece. lots of twists. felt very visual and real. way to go, robert.

  4. The past haunts in strange ways, odd times. You cleverly avoided tying in the brother’s infirmity, as they too, avoided it. Nice.

  5. Loved the way you dropped all the little details along the way…

  6. Lots of complexity here. Hated to see the story end — these brothers have more to tell us. Peace…

  7. Kim Hutchinson

    Deep undercurrents in this complex story. Nicely done.

  8. I liked how you wrote about all the deep stuff – conscience, blame, responsibility, illness … in a contained way that makes them bearable and digestible. Thanks!

  9. grey johnson

    Your story shed light on the idea of what can and cannot be controlled. I enjoyed the way the main character thought through the event logically, yet was still not able to come to peace.

  10. Al McDermid

    Some great lines, ‘like a two bit whore’ and ‘and we were having so much fun’ (I laughed out at this one), and then, so much tension. Really great writing.

  11. Shari

    Such a complex story in a finite space. The brothers’ relationship is wonderfully built with minute details.

  12. Theo

    Love this one, Robert! The great twists, realistic aspect. Fiction? Who can tell.

  13. Dex

    Bravo, Robert! Another great short story! You spin these like gold.

  14. guy

    I like the spare rhythm of the opening. Small town hush, too.

    I’m not familiar with the PSB song, and i’m not quite sure what to make of it at the end. I try to ignore it, but i have this memory of thinking about the PSB. I say “it’s just a boring detail’ and maybe it is. But i have this nagging doubt that it isn’t.

    As writer — i sometimes do this, too — i think that these things aren’t as self-contained as texts on paper, that people are reading them online and can therefore look things up. But as reader, i don’t. In fact, i’m resistant to it in a way that i am usually not. I’m wondering if that’s a product of what comes before or whether it’s just some perverse stubborness on my part.

  15. Pingback: Week #33 – Spontaneous combustion | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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