The Interview

“And your prognosis?” She leaned back, scrutinizing the male across the desk.

“Um…” He fidgeted with his wedding ring. “Err…”

“At this rate, I’m won’t be getting my fifteen minutes of quality time.” Arms crossed, she scanned the room with a huff of disdain. “Tick-tock.”

His fingers tugged at his too-tight collar. “Well, the reports and our tests—”

“Prove, what?” Her swinging crossed leg made her stiletto’s heel to glint in the light like the tip of a black dagger.

His mouth went dry, unable to swallow. “Um, well if you look at—”

“I don’t want to look at the images I can find at home. I’m here for a report. Your verbal presentation. Not a show and tell lesson. I want to know strengths. Weaknesses.” She shifted in her seat. “These chairs are so uncomfortable.”

“I can get you another one?”

“And waste my fifteen-minute time slot. Listen, Mr,” she said, checking her wristwatch. “I want to know the basics. Simple—failure or pass? Brain scientist or truck driver.”

“No one fails grade two and your son is doing well.” Relieved to see her smile, he dabbed at the sweat from his brow, mumbling, “I hate parent-teacher interviews.”

200 words

from the flash collection HOME SWEET—NOT.

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It came in the mail

“Tommyyyyyyy,” hollered the housekeeper from the front door.

“Stop ya bellowin’,” his boots echoed on the wooden floorboards. “What, woman?”

“This came in the mail, got proper paperwork  everythin’.” She passed the envelope and pointed outside.

Tommy opened the packet, his eyes darted across the pages, then flicked to the open doorway. His frown deepened as his jaw locked tight.

“What’s it say?”

He cleared his throat, licked his lips, and stepped forwards, mumbling, “It’s time to stop being the villain of this tale.”

“What does that mean?”

“What do you have to say for yourself, boy?”

“Hello, father.”

 

(100 words)

 

from the flash fiction collection HOME SWEET ~ NOT!

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Vehicular Larrikanism

“I’ll check it later,” he said, scratching beneath his oil-stained baseball cap as her bottom lip dropped while staring up at him with pleading puppy-eyes. Shaking his head, he leaned down to the rear tyre.  “Y’know, mechanicin’ isn’t magic. It’s just a process of elimination.”

“But—”

“You realize it’s a car, an’ not moving camouflaged-art?”

“But—”

“This is a two-wheeled drive —not four-wheeled drive.”

“But—”

“It’s not a billy goat or a reincarnated army tank.”

“But—”

“Not a born-again gecko gripping metallic-mud-wrestler.”

“But—”

“My truck’s tyre’s bigger than this teeny, tiny, car. Our cattle’s bigger than this vehicle. It’s a toy-car designed to never leave city limits.” He reached beneath the chassis and sighed heavily at the sight. “You know, cars perform much better when they’re not luggin’ a forest’s worth of tree,” he said, dragging out a long branch from under the wheel arch. “What did this little car ever do to you to deserve this kind of treatment?”

She jumped into the front seat and started it up. Her feet barely reached the pedals as she crunched the car into gear. “It’s survived everything we’ve put it through, so far.”

“Poor car. Especially with you drivin’ it. Where d’ya get it?”

“It fell off this road-train, Uncle. No one claimed it.”

“Course no one would want it, kid, not when we’re in four-wheel drive country. I’m surprised the bull-dust hasn’t swallowed it up yet.” He closed her door and the whole car shook. “How come you’ve got it when you’re not old enough to get a license?”

“There’s a wager goin’ on what it’ll take for me to kill it. But, I’m not allowed to shoot it or hit anythin’ to trigger-off the airbags. Hey, do you reckon it’ll float? I wonder if I can hook the outboard motor onto it?”

“Get gone, girlie,” he muttered, wiping his grimy hands on a rag as red dust billowed out from behind the tiny car cutting through the open plains. Wallabies raised their heads from under the shady eucalyptus trees, watching her drive past, upsetting a screeching aerial escort of white galahs to fly above her trail of red dust. “That’s it, I’m buyin’ that kid a bloody TV, to get ‘er away from all this country….”

(377 words)

FROM MOVING MOMENTS

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Caffeinated Confessions - flash fiction by Mel A ROWE

Caffeinated Confessions

‘Here,’ said Dave, placing the takeaway coffee cup on the small square table of the inner-city coffee shop.

‘Cheers.’ Pete grabbed his cup while eyeing off the scrapping build on the young workman seated opposite. ‘Do you make the time to do real coffee or you an instant kind of bloke?’

‘Me?’ Taking a sip from his cup, licking his lips, Dave nodded. ‘Simplistic would be my word.’

‘Simplistic, huh?’

‘Yeah, you know,’ Dave said, thumbing towards the men in suits walking past while the two men wore tradesman’s clothing. ‘Simplistic.’

‘Like all men should be. I found ya gotta grind ‘em coffee beans first, it releases their flavour.’  Dwarfing the cup’s exterior with his large workman’s hands he inhaled.

‘I clicked onto that and its part of my coffee ritual. I blame my girlfriend for that.’

‘Gotta girl then?’

‘Yeah…’ Smiling widely, his fingertip traced a crack on the table top.

‘She the one?’

‘I like to think so.’ Then sighed, his stature deflating.

‘What’s the problem?’

‘Her dad’s apparently a real hard ass.’

‘Don’t he like you?’

‘I’ve never met him. But you’re a dad, right?’

‘Got three kids. One girl and twin boys.’

‘What do you do when your daughter brings home a boyfriend?’

‘I clean my guns an’ warn ‘em. I’m sure every father’s the same,’ Pete said, hiding his smile behind his cup.

‘Oookaaay.’ Dave rolled his eyes, shaking his head.

‘So how long ya been with this girl?’

‘A year.’

‘An’ you’ve never met the parents?’

‘Nope.’ He grimaced while fidgeting with his coffee cup. ‘But she’s met my parents. Just not hers-’

‘But keepin’ secrets from her folks…’ Pete shook his head slowly. ‘My daughter’s seein’ a medical student these past few months, an’ I haven’t met ‘im.’

‘Would you pull out the shotguns for this trainee Doctor?’

He wriggled his eyebrows up and down. ‘Sure, I remember to clean ‘em then.’

Grinning widely at the burly middle-aged male, Dave said, ‘glad I’m not dating your daughter because my ex’s dads weren’t as scary as you.’

‘My wife says I’m over-protective with my little girl. Maybe I am… So, what’s ‘em other dads like when you meet ‘em?’

‘Intimidating…You got any tips bein’ a dad?’

‘Me.’ Pete chuckled. ‘Buy ‘em beer an’ be ya-self…You’re alight. Easy to work with. And it’d be better if this idiot Project Manager showed up.’  He frowned at his watch.

When Dave’s mobile phone rang. ‘That’s my girlfriend.’ He held up the phone to show Pete the photo displayed.

‘Hold the phone!’ Snatching the phone, Pete activated the speaker. ‘Shelley is that you?’

Dad,’ replied the female’s voice over the phone. ‘What are you doing on Dave’s phone?’

‘What are you doin’ callin’ Dave?’ Pete demanded Pete, glaring at Dave.

Instantly Dave leant back scraped his chair against the floor. ‘You’re Shelley’s Dad!’

(480 words)

from HOME SWEET NOT

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Four Wheels of Reason by Mel A ROWE

Four Wheels Of Reason

‘We’re saved.’ Rick waved his arms at the vehicle weaving along the dirt track.  His three companions rose from their gum tree shaded campsite and also waved with vigour.

Amidst a whirl of red dust, the ute stopped. The driver thumbed the rim on his sweat brimmed Akubra, examining the grime riddled young couples. ‘Ya bogged?’

Rick patted the ute’s bonnet then pointed to their stranded wagon. ‘We’ve been stuck here for four days.’

The driver’s door creaked as the engine idled. As he inspected their car, his rubber thongs made miniature dust clouds beneath each step. ‘Four days, huh? D’ya radio anyone?’

‘Wish we did,’ said Rick.

‘Don’t see no recovery gear. No winch. No shovel.’

Four heads shook.

‘D’ya tell anyone where ya goin’?’

Rick shrugged. ‘Our social media followers knew.’

‘Followers?’ The driver scanned the red track slicing through a harsh, sun-faded scrubland against an undisturbed skyline. ‘Why d’ya want media out here for? When reporters are nothin’ but a mob of corruption chasin’ conspirators—’

‘Social media.’

‘That face-bird thing?’

The quartet giggled. ‘We contact them through our smartphones,’ said the young woman, raising her phone.

The driver tilted his head, cocking an eyebrow. ‘Why didn’t you use ‘em smartphone’s to fetch help?’

‘There’s no reception.’

‘That’s why we have radios out ‘ere.’

‘Do you have Wifi?’

‘Me, no. It’s in town. Just look for them tourists sittin’ round this white pole in the pub’s carpark, staring at their hands like they’re prayin’ to some rod-god.’

‘May I take a selfie with you?’ Her white toothy smile stood out amongst her dirty sunburnt skin.

He screwed up his bronzed nose. ‘What for?’

‘You’re our hero,’ she said, smiling at her phone in hand, readying for the shot.

He shook his head and stepped away to peek into their car. ‘Nah mate, I’m just a bloke on the way to the pub where ya can explain all while shoutin’ me a beer.’

‘When we find civilisation, I’m having the biggest beer,’ Rick said to his three friends.

‘I want a shower.’

‘I want a pizza and—’

‘Hey, we could be famous,’ said Rick. ‘Survivors of the Outback.’

‘We’ll sell it to the media.’ Her camera phone videoed their rescue as the others followed suit.

When their engine roared into life and clunked into gear. ‘What the—’

‘What,’ the four asked in unison, as their smiles sagged?

‘D’ya know what four-wheel drive means?’

‘Yes. We hired it for off-roading,’ said Rick. The other three nodded with phones still recording.

‘But ya need to engage the four-wheel drive to make all the tyres move.’ He drove the car forwards with ease, parked it up and walked back to his own ute. Closing its creaking door he smirked at the foursome who’d lowered their heads and phones. ‘Yep, you’d wanna tell ya mates all about your adventure. I’ll be at the pub—it’s just over that hill. Surprised ya can’t smell the beer from ‘ere.’ And his laugh echoed in the midst of a red dust swirl leaving the tourists behind.

First published 13/07/2016

(510 words)

from   ‘MOVING MOMENTS’

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Flash fiction story by Mel A Rowe

Steer Clear

Peak hour traffic halted, and vehicles were banked-up for miles. Helicopters hovered. Emergency vehicle lights flashed. Horrified road crew workers ran for their lives.

A meeting was called with the city’s Departmental heads, and they soon released a media statement urging all residents:

 

Please remain calm.

Those trapped inside their vehicles please lock their doors.

All canines are to be secured.

Please stay off the streets until the situation has been contained.

 

Pandemonium and panic arose from …

 

LIVESTOCK—FREE IN THE CITY

 

Scattered walking sides of beef had missed their boat and pounded the pavement on a no-rush-rampage in the city. They gawked through glass windows where humans were trapped inside their vehicles. This herd of hefty heifers squeezed between cued cars, sideswiped mirrors with grain-fed (now free-range) rumps. Doors were dented by dancing hoofs and a red car’s grill got stabbed by a set of horns, killing the stereo.

Meanwhile…

Leaning against the bar were the usual suspects. Red-dust covered their jeans, their sweat-stained wide-brimmed hats shaded leathered complexions, as their scuffed boots leaned on the lower rail. Beer glasses cradled in their working-man’s-hands, the men watched the televised drama unfolding.

‘Are you mob doin’ a road trip, shortly?’ She asked, working behind the bar.

Ol’ mate grinned, giving a conspirator’s wink. ‘Let ‘em high paid experts have conversations on co-ordinatin’ them coffee-carriers into catchin’ ’em first. Let’s have another beer luv, an’ enjoy the show.’

For many days the media traffic reports on the radio included regular Rogue-Cattle-sightings of beef bludging on council lawns.

But, as part of Operation Steakout, numbers are dwindling… their barbecue has never been busier.

 

Based on a true story

First published 06/9/2015

(275 words)

from   ‘MOVING MOMENTS’

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A Floral Front

He sniffed. Wiped his nose on the cuff of his gloved hands that held the snips he’d been using to trim the stem on the thornless rose. “Please feel free to browse.” His red eyes wandered over the slim build of the bottle blonde screwing up her nose at his art. “Can’t find anything to suit?”

“I’m getting married and I want different.” She popped her littlest fingernail into her mouth and teethed on its edge like a termite tackling timber.

“Of course, you do.” They all do. He sniffed, wiping the beads of perspiration from his brow, and eyed the clock’s countdown.

“So, any tips?”

“Have you considered the match to your dress and theme?”

She tapped the tortured fingernail on her tiny chin. “What do you think?”

Nope, not touching that one. He licked his lips, sniffed, and grabbed his water bottle and drank it dry. “Ask your mother for advice.”

“She won’t. She doesn’t like him.”

“Ah huh.” Great, let’s play counsellor – not.  “What about a friend?”

She shook her head. “They work.”

Duh, don’t we all. “We’re open on the weekend where our best staff pander to people.”

“Oh, goody.” She clapped baring her white teeth in joy.

“Yay.” Not. But it was part of the job. “Listen, honey…” Yes, let’s play it up the expected way.“Why not get your girlfriends to come with you, find a few photos of what you like and meet with our Stylist, she’ll be able to dote all over you, doll-face. She’s just lovely.” He paid his mother a fortune to deal with customers he hated.

Again, he sniffed. Side-glanced the crawling clock, counting the minutes until his next snort of powdered magic.

“Are you alright?” She asked.

“Yeah, why?”

“You look stoned.”

“Excuse me?” His brows raised.

“The red eyes and constant sniffling. The clock-watching, chewing on your bottom lip, and drinking gallons of water. I know the signs. You…” Pointing her chipped fingernail at him. “Are an addict!”

He laughed. “Honey, I’m always like this in the last half hour before I can take my next powdered pill.”

“Pill? I knew it.”

“I suffer from allergies and my antihistamines dry me out.”

“You have hay-fever and work as a florist?”

“What can I say, I like floral arranging.” He just didn’t like the customers or the pollen. “Bet you think I’m gay too!”

(first published 11/08/2016)

Happy Valentine’s Day

From the HOME SWEET NOT collection. Available HERE.

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Silenced Surround Sounds

They didn’t smell the pungent regurgitated mashed food that battled against clouds of floral perfumes and spicy aftershaves.

They didn’t hear the loudspeaker promoting the latest motivational activity or the surrounding shouts accompanied by scraping chairs and falling cutlery.

All they saw was … Continue reading “Silenced Surround Sounds”

Whispered Wants, flash fiction post by Mel A ROWE

Whispered Wants

She inhaled deeply, basking in his manly aroma. His large palms cocooned her hands. Staring deep into his eyes where the world around them no longer registered.

He leaned in closer and whispered the words, ‘my little blood-puddin!’

‘Huh?’ She blinked at him as if flushing out an eyelash. Continue reading “Whispered Wants”

I’m Sorry

‘I’m so sorry,’ Bob whimpered, as tears trickled down his cheeks. ‘I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you. I’m sorry I always gave you the smallest serve of the meals. I’m sorry I gave you hottest beer first. I’m sorry I put the chilli in your toothpaste, on the toilet seat, and on the rim of your beer glass. Sorry, I diluted your rum with tea when I pinched your stash. Continue reading “I’m Sorry”