Tag Archives: flash fiction

Homosexuality and Bullying

Credit: Fotolia

I have taken part in several flash fiction challenges over the years. I love writing, and writing extremely short pieces of fiction really pushes me and helps me to develop more as a writer. Hopefully at some point I can make time to continue this guilty pleasure.

I had wanted to discuss two different issues on this blog at some point in time; however, after going through my old file of stories, I found something that should really be categorized as “flash flash fiction:” The challenge was to write a story in only 100 words. 100. That is probably as long as my “About Me” page on my blog. Ridiculously brief. And that’s why I took the challenge!

What’s interesting is that the 100-word flash fiction piece addresses both of the issues that I wanted to write about. Why not kill two birds with one stone? I originally wanted to discuss each topic in separate posts, but I will attempt to merge them here and try not to bore you with an outrageously long post.

Anyway, here is the flash fiction piece entitled “Bullies and the Bullied:”

We always made Todd close his eyes in the shower after gym class.  Once, during our barrage of insults, I threw his clothes in the trash barrel.

Todd spoke softly with a lisp and only hung out with girls.  As far as I knew, he never got beat up; no guy wanted to touch him.

After that school year, we never saw him again.

***

My son’s junior high photo smiles at me from the mantle. “Of course I still love and accept you, Michael,” I say to it, wiping my eyes.

When you get home from school, I’ll tell you that, buddy.

(I wonder how many of you counted those words…? I might have been off by a few.)

The inspiration for the second half of the “story” came from a conversation that I had with my wife shortly after our oldest son (now seven-years-old) was born. I have read about quite a few parents over the years who had to come to terms with the fact that their son or daughter was gay. When I lived in Japan, I had a Canadian friend who was disowned and told to “go to hell” by his parents after coming out to them.

Of course my wife and I didn’t have to think about our response at all; we would love and accept both sons because they mean more to us than life itself. I would never have the heart to cut off all contact with my two little buddies.

Now, that doesn’t mean we would support the lifestyle. I’m sure you noticed that this blog is written by a Catholic, and I accept and believe what the Catholic Church teaches on homosexuality. But nowhere does it say that anyone should be looked upon as sub-human.

I am really ashamed to admit that the first part of my story really happened. I was young and foolish. Too concerned with trying to fit in, I joined in on the taunting and verbal abuse of my fellow seventh-grader. How I wish I could go back and shake my younger self by the shoulders and scream, “Look at yourself! Think about what you’re doing to this poor kid!”

But I can’t go back. All I can do now is hope and pray that “Todd” is safe and not going through the harassment like he did every day after gym class so many years ago.

Maybe I joined the crowd because the focus of my peers was temporarily off of my awkward, uncoordinated self. Or maybe because I had to take my frustrations out on someone more vulnerable than I; anger and hurt from my father’s continued physical and verbal abuse during my entire childhood would build up from time to time.

There is never a legitimate reason to bully or hate someone. In fifth grade, our family moved to a new city, and that meant a brand new school for my sister and me. By that age, every kid in my new class already had their social groups fixed, and they made it clear that I wasn’t allowed in. Needless to say, I was bullied and even had mud thrown at me. It wasn’t until later in junior high that I finally made a few friends: other outcasts who knew that strength in numbers would be the only way to survive the dark, scary corridors of high school.

Going back to the topic of homosexuality, the Bible and the Catholic Church have never taught that it is a sin.  Rather, they teach that homosexual activity is a sin because it goes against the laws of God.

God gave each and every one of us dignity when He created us. As a result, every person on the planet deserves our love and respect.

~t


The Flea Market

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“So, let me get this straight,” the bearded old man said, adjusting his round spectacles and placing his palms on the cheap folding table that separated him from the customer. “You want to donate this gorgeous hunk of jewelry? And you don’t want any money if it sells? Well, I can guarantee that it’ll get snatched up as soon as I put it out with the other things.”

The customer, a tall, average-built 30-something, merely nodded. He wanted to explain everything to the old man, but it would have been too embarrassing to start bawling right there in the middle of all the bargain hunters.

The flea market volunteer hesitated and then slowly took the glistening ring from the young man’s outstretched palm. The customer sighed heavily as the small platinum band with the large inset diamond left his possession once and for all. Thoughts and memories flooded the young man’s mind: placing the ring on his new bride’s finger during the ceremony; the bouquets of Oriental lilies filling the chapel with their sweet, pleasing scent; Jennifer whispering “I love you” as they walked down the aisle toward the doors, anxious to begin their new stage of life together; and embracing his little boys every chance he got because they meant everything to him.

“Mister, you can probably get a few hundred for it at a pawn shop. You sure about leaving it here?”

Jim fought back tears. “It’s OK,” he said, waving his hand, barely able to choke out the words.

“Well, all right. That’s mighty kind of you. This’ll make someone’s day, that’s for sure,” the old man said, taking in Jim’s chiseled features. This poor guy is a wreck, he thought.

Turning back to the surplus items in boxes behind the sales tables, the old man didn’t hear Jim’s whispers: “Bye Tyler. Bye Garret. Love you, my buddies.” Jim sniffed and swiped at his nose. “Bye Jennifer.” With that, Jim turned around and weaved through various tables full of clothing and knick-knacks.

Looking back to see that Jim was out of sight, the old man turned to his wife, a round, cheerful lady. “Now, why would he do such a thing? I don’t get it.”

His wife smiled, the crow’s feet accentuating her squinted eyes. “Don’t worry about it, hon. Maybe you’re not supposed to ‘get it.’ Ever think of that? Go ahead and put it over in the ring display.”

The old man examined the exquisite platinum surface. A few scratches, but surely it wasn’t more than a decade old. Could have been a divorce. Then why didn’t he give me his ring as well? The old man became enveloped in his own thoughts. Everyone told him he dwelt on things too much; that it was a weakness of his. 

Instead of placing the glistening treasure among the gaudy, rusted rings, the old man dropped it in his apron pocket instead. He wasn’t about to let just anyone have it for next to nothing.

#####

By Sunday afternoon, most of the decent stuff, if you could call it that, had been snatched up. The tables in the sprawling yard of the community center contained only junk: watches that didn’t work; old, ratty clothing that no one would even pay 25 cents for; baby dolls with missing limbs; and so on.

About a third of the tables had been folded up and removed, leaving room for the children to run around while their occupied mothers milled about.

The old man set the newspaper on the chair beside his table and shook his head. He breathed heavily.

“What’s wrong, dear?” His wife glanced down to the folded paper showing a portion of the obituaries. The prominent photo showed a handsome, smiling man still in the prime of his life.  “Didn’t I tell you to stop reading this section!”

The old man sighed. “That’s him. The guy who gave me his wife’s fancy wedding ring.” He shook his head again and wiped his eyes with a red handkerchief from his back pocket.

The woman picked up the paper. “James Michael Sherman.” She quickly scanned the few paragraphs under the photo and name. “Passed away Friday. Survived by his ex-wife Jennifer and two young sons.” She placed the paper on the table and covered her mouth, tears trickling down her face.

The old couple embraced, gently swaying back and forth.

“Um, excuse me.” The old couple let go of each other and looked behind them. A young guy dressed in a faded Polo shirt and shorts stood near the ring display. “Is this all that’s left?”

The old woman walked over to the man, forcing a smile. “I’m sorry, sir. They’ve been picked through all weekend,” she said, motioning toward the cheap remnants in the ring case.

The old man approached. “Looking for something in particular?”

The Polo guy smoothed his dark hair to the side. “Uh, I was hoping to find something for my fiancé. I don’t think she would go for these huge gaudy things, though.” He laughed.

“Have you tried the mall? Some of the jewelry places are having big sales, with the economy the way it is and all,” the old woman said.

The young guy laughed again, this time in embarrassment. “Speaking of the economy, I got laid off right after I proposed to her. Her folks are paying for the wedding, but I really wanted to give her something special. I guess that won’t be happening now,” he said, his eyes sinking to the ground.

“Wait here.” The old man turned and pretended to rummage through a box. Instead he pulled the platinum diamond ring from his apron pocket and turned back around. “Here it is! I knew it was in there somewhere.” He held up the shiny piece of craftsmanship.

“Whoa… How much do you want for it?” the young man exclaimed.

“Fifty dollars,” the old woman said softly.

“I’ll take it!”

After the Polo guy bought the ring and practically sprinted away, the old man reached for his wife’s hand and squeezed it. She squeezed back and put her head on his chest.

~t


That Fateful Night: An Excerpt

Credit: realhdwallpaper.com

I have been writing a lot for the past couple of years. How much is a lot, you ask? Well, I have a few completed manuscripts that I’ve accumulated.

That’s great!! What are you waiting for?? Send them in!!

Ha.

If only it were that easy.

I haven’t wanted to release any of them yet. And the one manuscript that I did shop around turned out to be lacking something. Oh well. We live and learn.

Live.

Yes, it’s all about living. That much I know.

This current project feels like it might be the one that sees the light of day. It may very well be the one that gets published self-published. Why? Because it’s the only one that feels right: the story that is bleeding out of my still-open wounds. It’s not like I’m on a 1,000-word-a-day writing binge, but I’ll get it written at some point.

My goal is to have it finished and bound before my mother passes away. She’s not sick or anything, but she’s the one who keeps urging me to publish it, so I’d at least like to finish it before she does pass away someday. She wants me to get my story out there so others can learn and benefit from it. Plus, she thinks it’ll earn me millions of dollars.

Yeah, right. It helps to dream, though.

Anyway, below is an excerpt from my work in progress (I almost said Enjoy! but decided not to). Mind you, it’s a rough draft, so please overlook mistakes of any kind:

 

**************

 

I never thought I would be so brave as I rushed toward my death. No goodbyes, no crying (and I was quite the crybaby). The four margaritas, each with an extra shot of tequila, had given me the courage, though. They had taken the credit just like everything else in my pathetic life.

Luckily I had enough sense to pick up my prescription at the drive-thru. The Muslim lady with the head scarf gave them to me through the window just like she always did. She has her faith. That’s good, I thought. I had mine: nearly two full bottles of Xanax.

Like in that Clint Eastwood flick where the one-armed deputy had two guns in his belt.  “But you only have one arm,” someone had asked him. “Well, I don’t wanna get killed on account of not being able to fight back,” he had responded. I, too, wanted to be like that.

 

**************

 

Not so smart now, are you?

Why was my mind still working?

Somehow I knew it wasn’t God’s voice; sounded too familiar.

I didn’t see anything.  No blackness.  Just… nothingness.  Even with all the liquor and drugs in my system, I was still somehow tied to reality. What was going on?

 

***************

 

“Scott, Scott, where are you?!” The voice was frantic. I knew it was my wife’s, even in my condition. That smallest hint of recollection. Funny how the mind worked. Her voice sounded tinny, like it was coming from my grandma’s childhood radio that she had shown me pictures of.

I was fumbling with my work bag on the floorboard. “I can’t find my phone!!” I was frantic, too.

But why? 

Oh, I know. 

The redneck standing outside my passenger window. I’m not actually sure if he was a redneck, but that’s what I called those guys in Texas who drove those huge gas-guzzling pickup trucks. I think I had asked him if he were okay. “I’m fine, but your car is totaled,” I remember him saying.

I never started up my car.  I was still in the crowded parking lot of El Ranchito… right?

“Where’s my blasted phone?!” I shrieked again and again. It was no longer in my bag. I was going by my sense of touch, unable to see. I could still hear my poor wife’s frantic question coming through the receiver like a short-circuiting megaphone in the darkness of my mind.

“Scott!!”

 

******************

 

–killed someone!  You could have—

I was on my back, staring up into a bright light. Nothing but radiant fog, like headlights shining through early morning mountain air. It was a woman’s voice. She seemed to be addressing me.

–could have killed—

–someone!

You could have—

Yes, I get it, now shut up, I thought.  All I was conscious of was my vision, or lack thereof; I hadn’t noticed my limbs, if I were even able to move them.  Was I strapped down?  Was I in an ambulance?  Were we in motion?

Who cares?  The radiance was giving way to a shadow; an eclipse entered my line of mental vision and sent icy pellets of fear through my body.

I’m dead.  Oh my God, help me…

Someone had an arm around me and was helping me walk. I felt cold. I sensed that nothing was covering my legs. Where were my clothes? I was doubled over and staggering like an old man, a few baby steps at a time. I’m 6’3” and a lean, solid 220 pounds, so whoever was helping me was pretty strong, that was for sure.

Come on…  you can do it…

An old man’s voice. Maybe it was God.

 

*******************

 

~topaz