Thursday, September 10, 2009

Breaks - #fridayflash fiction

Jimmie knew that dressed or undressed, she wasn’t going to get money from her husband. But she had to ask just the same.

“Could you leave me maybe a twenty?”

“Nope. Don’t have any money,” Walter said and left.

While vacuuming the rug later that morning, the frayed edge of one corner got caught up in the machine. When Jimmie lifted the rug she screamed. She was looking at a wad of money.

“Why that bastard told you he didn’t have it,” Momma, her mother-in-law, said. She loved Walter but she loved Jimmie better.

Late in the afternoon, Jimmie, Momma, and Fatsy, were sitting on the porch after shopping. They had some fun spending several of those bills, if fun included getting basic products for the kitchen cupboards. But they also bought some lottery tickets. Momma felt lucky.

“Don’t worry, Jimmie,” Fatsy said. “If my brother tries anything with you, I’ll kick his ass.”

That was not an idle threat. As Momma always warned anyone who tried to pick a fight with her daughter, “she has a size 12 foot and she don’t play.”

Walter never did say anything about the missing money. But the next time Jimmie went to look, the remaining bills had been removed. However, she would find money left on the bureau from time to time, so all was good enough for her.

There was only one time that it wasn’t. Jimmie was getting ready to go out with her husband and Fatsy. The neighbor was coming over to baby sit. She had taken care of little Maggie before, and knew how to keep a baby with cerebral palsy safe and happy. Jimmie was applying the finishing touches to her make-up at the bathroom mirror. Walter was in the living room already buzzed from communicating with his favorite bottle. When Jimmie came in looking real curvy in a red dress, he barely looked her way.

“You know something?” he said. “I think it’s stupid that your sister had another baby and she’s not even married.”

“So what? Your sister had a baby and she wasn’t married. And what about your Momma?

“That’s different!”

Walter finished off the bottle.

“Well,” he said, looking at her. He didn’t need sticks and stones, his words would hurt too. “At least her baby ain’t damaged.”

Jimmie turned her head to the room where little Maggie was sleeping. “You know what?” she said softly, calmly. “You don’t have to worry no more ‘bout seeing your damaged child.

“Is that a fact? How you figure that?”

“Because tonight I’m gonna kill you!”

It was said later that Jimmie had hit Walter with everything in the room that wasn’t glued down. He didn’t even try to fight back. When Maggie began to cry, Walter ran out of the house.

The next morning the living room looked as if nothing had happened. Jimmie and Fatsy were sipping coffee and talking. The doorbell rang. Grandma stood there standing tall and scared.

“Grandie!” Jimmie said and hugged her. “What are you doing here so early? Did Grumples bring you?”

“Girl, I get to ask the questions,” she said putting out her palm as a stop sign to Jimmie’s words. “I got a call from Walter last night, and he told me you finally lost your senses. You were trying to kill him?

“Grandie, I can’t spin it different to you. I tried to hurt him but I sure wasn’t crazy. I was as sane as I’ll ever be.”

“You ain’t lying,” Fatsy said.

Grandie didn’t ask for details; it made no difference to rehash the bad. If you wait long enough the bad makes a return visit when you least expect it.

“Well,” she said, “What now?”

“Don’t really know. Though when he comes back, I’m gonna expect…”

“When he comes back? Are you letting that fool stay here?”

“You ain’t all that sane!” Fatsy said.

* * * * * * * * * * 
The phones ring and the women know it’s back to work. They have heard Jimmie’s stories for many lunch breaks now. When she talks about the past, no one feels the need to take a turn.

“Your new grandson arrives pretty soon. Has your daughter thought about names?” one of the women asks Jimmie.

“Yeah. She wants to call him James Alphonsa King.”

“Alphonsa? You mean like Fatsy?

“Uh huh. My daughter loved Fatsy and wants to honor her memory.

“Forgive me, Jimmie,” another asks with some anxiety, “but isn’t Alphonsa such a… female… name to give a boy?”

Jimmie shrugs. “Oh, you know this family and crazy.”

“Will he be called Alfie, maybe?” offers another.

“Nope. It’s Junior.”

* * * * * * * * * 
Jimmie sits in her office. She sees a picture of her family on the desk and remembers the night she told Fatsy that she, Jimmie Boyd, was the woman Walter Barnes would marry. This news had troubled her friend. She told Jimmie it would mean more heartache than not.
“Remember,” Fatsy said. “If you change the name and not the letter, you marry for worse and not for better.”

“ Nah. Just a rhyme we used to say as kids; it don’t mean nothing.” 

Jimmie looks at the picture and thinks that Fatsy's words had turned out to be not too far off the mark. But she shakes her head and laughs at a thought, pushing away any others. Next time, she’ll tell the ladies about the night she cooked a stew for Walter, and met him at the door naked and wearing 3-inch heels and Nerf reindeer horns. She got that tip from a tv show on how to spice up your dinner. Walter had asked for seconds.


  1. I really like the story concept. I was a little confused between the many characters and their relationships though. Maybe more backstory?

  2. I agree with Laura, maybe a little more backstory.

    I did laugh when Jimmie told Walter she was going to kill him.. then failed. It sounded soooo like something I would do (I never said I was a "good" ninja)

    See you next week :-)

  3. An ambitious piece for flash fiction. It may work better as a longer story. I like all the characters and the dialogue was well done. Fatsy is my new favorite name.


  4. I like the concept also - the characters are quirky but appealing. I wanted more character development and the transition points were a bit awkward. This idea could be expanded, though, and it has lots of potential.

  5. Like everyone else I liked the story and the concept but I found myself jumping back on a lot to reread pieces because I would get confused.

    I still haven't figured out if there are flashbacks or not.

    Definitely like the family however. :)

  6. Thank you all for your comments, and advice! It is much appreciated...

    It was meant to be a story that Jimmie's co-workers were hearing about at their weekly lunches... Jimmie's stories about her life and loves. Since all of you were confused, it obviously didn't come across. Must try better next time :)

  7. I agree with the others that it was a bit confusing. Perhaps the transitions may have been abrupt to fit the word count? A longer version may be just the ticket.

    But man was it compelling. It about tore my heart out when Walter made that comment about his daughter. I guess it's good that she didn't kill him, her in jail would do daughter no good.

  8. Really liked the voice and tone here. The family certainly seems filled with characters. There's a lot here that could be spun out into longer pieces. The closing paragraph made me laugh. I was only confused once in the piece, so I think it is largely working.

  9. I agree with the previous comments, a tad confusing - but very enjoyable anyway. I liked "If you wait long enough the bad makes a return visit when you least expect it." This story does beg to be made longer and more fleshed out - you made me want to learn all the backstories!

  10. I love any story that shows a family as dysfunctional as mine. Just sayin'.

    The characterization is excellent, but I agree it's confusing. That being said, I want to know a lot more about this family.

    Jimmie should have shoved Walter's bottle up his ass for what he said about their daughter. IMO. ;)

  11. Netta! Thank you for the laugh! Yes, that's what Jimmie should have done to Walter and his bottle, heh.

  12. Man what a family! You do a mean line in dysfunctional. Maybe just a simple insertion of ******** in the line between the jump from the anecdote into the present would help reduce confusion. I don't think you need more backstory - the reader's got to do some of the work, eh?

  13. Wow, so simple! I should have thought of that! Thank you, Cascade Lily, for your advice, and comments.

    Yes, just a little bit of work, heh...x

  14. I agree with the comments, both that it would probably make a better longer story and the fact that it was still really good. Nice job!