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Flash Reprint: Sean Lovelace’s “Endings”

End­ings

by Sean Lovelace

 

A cou­ple takes a dog for a walk along a rain-swol­len Potomac river. The man throws a stick into the water, and the woman, unaware, lobs a ten­nis ball. The dog leaps from the bank, swims to the stick, to the ball, to the stick, a des­per­ate orbit, and all the while the cur­rent tug­ging him down­stream and around a cor­ner. The man shouts sev­eral things, his words snatched away by the wind. The woman falls to her knees. On the way home they either stop by Star­bucks, run out of gas, or explode.

Alabama High­way 59. An over­weight Eagle Scout pulls over to help change a woman’s tire. The humid­ity is such that the young man feels sub­merged in a boil­ing pot. The word lob­ster comes to mind. As his sweaty hands strug­gle with a lug nut, he is swiped by a semi and killed.

Swarm­ing hon­ey­bees are sub­dued by smoke. They are then trained to sniff out plas­tic explo­sives. Instead they spend their time cre­at­ing geo­met­ri­cally accu­rate octagons. For this, the bees are her­alded as evi­dence of intel­li­gent design, or caught in Mason jars, suf­fo­cated, and fed to lab­o­ra­tory mice in West Virginia–or both.

A teenage girl catches an amaz­ingly large fish. She pauses, allow­ing her­self to gaze in won­der. It has a row of bent hooks and five bro­ken lead­ers in its mouth. It has a his­tory. The girl isn’t really a girl. She only plays one online. She is actu­ally a grown man who works in a chem­i­cal com­pany that com­bi­nes corn husks with hydrochlo­ric acid to cre­ate a poly­mer used in cruise mis­siles. He bashes the head of the fish on the gun­wale and tosses it thrash­ing into an Igloo cooler.

Denny goes to an art gallery in down­town Cincin­nati, mostly to impress an extremely cute hip­ster girl. He notes all of the pho­tos are of crows. Crows on elec­tri­cal wires. Crows perched on a scarecrow’s arm. Crows feed­ing, eat­ing French fries, gum, a rup­tured bag of Chee­tos. When did all the crows start feed­ing in park­ing lots? The girl meets a friend at the gallery, another girl, and leaves in a cab. Denny walks to a nearby rooftop bar and drinks so many beers he feels his legs float­ing. Soar­ing higher…And so he flies.

A fer­ret twists free from the arms of his owner and runs directly into a pass­ing train.

Sandy works at this bait shop in Upper Michi­gan. A senior cit­i­zen pulls out a filet knife and demands a Sty­ro­foam min­now bucket, for free. He carves the air with his bony fin­gers. Sandy selects a large revolver from behind the reg­is­ter (one of many secreted through­out the store), and says: “Old man. We all could use a bet­ter under­stand­ing of our sit­u­a­tions.” Then she shoots him in the fore­head.

 

Note: Orig­i­nally pub­lished 2007 in Flashquake.


 

Author’s Note

Inter­est­ing ques­tion on ori­gins. Three tips I’d say for writ­ers and read­ers or what­not:

  1. The entire text is in seg­mented form. This is a lib­er­at­ing struc­ture. You can add, sub­tract, move about, play. The reader will allow most any­thing, will enter all the won­der­ful white space, the voids. Seg­mented form is a pow­er­ful thing. I like it as a writer and reader. 
  2. The open­ing scene is an image I wit­nessed while out run­ning one morn­ing along the Ten­nessee River. A cou­ple, unaware of each other, BOTH threw an item–one ten­nis ball, one stick–for a dog to retrieve. What was the dog to do? So, lesson for writer: cap­ture images, be aware, absorb. Also, one image can begin a text. (Many writ­ers start sto­ries with a sin­gle image; I do some­times, too.)
  3. Lastly, always include a fer­ret, if pos­si­ble. In ear­lier drafts of this flash fic­tion, a dog ran into the train. Is a fer­ret bet­ter? Um, yes.

 

bio 5.jpgSean Lovelace lives in Indi­ana, where he directs the cre­ative writ­ing pro­gram at Ball State Uni­ver­sity. His lat­est col­lec­tion is about Velveeta and pub­lished by Bateau Press. He has won sev­eral national lit­er­ary awards, includ­ing the Crazy­horse Prize for Fic­tion. He likes to eat nachos and to run, far.


 

FF.Net Edi­tor Com­men­tary (Ran­dall Brown) 

Imag­ine end­ings with­out the fer­ret. it isn’t the same thing. Not even close.

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