Flashers flash themselves 

Cook Islands Tiki by Michelle Elvy

The following featured flashes were written especially for thirteen

We wanted to honor 52|250’s most frequent flashers, so we asked them to share something, in 250 words or less, about themselves. Here is what they came up with for this special non-fiction page.

We begin with Matthew Hamilton, Catherine Russell, and Susan Tepper, who wrote thirteen stories in the first thirteen weeks of this flash-year.

Matthew Hamilton

Finding God

I was born a Kentucky Briar. Mom named me Matthew. She wanted me to be a monk. My sisters named me Mr. McGoo. I don’t know what they wanted me to be.

I was spawned from warriors. My ancestors fought and died in the Civil War and World War II. My grandfather survived Korea, brought home a Bronze Star. We ran out of boys by the time Vietnam came around. I was 13 days old when Saigon fell to the Communists.

The military didn’t work out for me. I tore my ACL before basic training, went anyway, then realized my leg couldn’t keep up with the rest of my body. I was pissed and remained pissed for a number of years.

To the delight of my mother, I tried the monk’s life after college. To her chagrin, I left after four years. God, at least for me, cannot be found in seclusion.

Wanderlust got a hold of me while I was a Legislative Assistant on Capitol Hill. I joined the US Peace Corps. It took a letter from an Orthopedic Surgeon to get me in. After the blistering cold in Armenia, I upped again, this time for the humid Philippines.

Now I’m engaged to a Filipina. We will marry this September. I am glad I tore my ACL. Otherwise, I probably would have never met her. I love her with all my heart.

I am not pissed anymore. I have found God.

Read our favorite M. Hamilton story from 52|250

Afshan, Week #4 – Cartography

Afshan met Mr. Lee at Times Square Mall. They dined at the Hunan Garden. He bought her a pair of $300 earrings at Chow Tai Fook. Compensated dating paid well.

He was very handsome. Sparks of silver in his hair gave him a divine aura. His body, erect and strong, ironed the folds in his well tailored suit. She was eager to intimately explore him.

They drove to the Kowloon Hotel.

“I reserved a room on the tenth floor,” Lee said.

“Sounds nice,” Afshan replied, giggling. Her face was warm and flushed. And the shaved topography between her legs was wet, eager to sketch seductive intersections in virgin white sheets.

He swiped the key card and they walked in. She removed her jacket as they headed for the bedroom. She unhooked her earrings, studied them for a moment, then placed them on the nightstand. She knew what he expected after giving her such an expensive gift. She pulled back the sheets and walked over to him, unbuttoned his coat and threw it on the floor. She gently poked his chest, backed him up toward the bed. He grabbed her hips and rolled her Kookai skirt up to her waist. She dangled her breasts above his awaiting tongue. He traced a slimy trail of circles around her chocolate colored areolas.

After an hour of heat and sweat, his balls stiffened and exploded in pleasure. She collapsed on his chest and began mapping out the details of her next date.


Catherine Russell

Wired

My soldier husband had been in the field for months, I was alone with my little dog, and there was a wire under my car. Every morning since my arrival in Germany I’d checked its perimeter as instructed by Army personnel on my arrival. Though most Germans welcomed American servicemen and their families, the tension prior to the first Gulf war made the need for caution critical, especially when our apartment was off post and unguarded.

So every morning I surveyed the perimeter and undercarriage of my car. My relationship with cars since my recent marriage hadn’t been very stable. In fact, the MPs knew me from the many times I’d locked my keys in the car, once with the engine running outside the station. However, this was a matter of life and death.

The wire hadn’t been there the night before. My breath caught in my throat.

Inside the apartment I called the MPs while my chihuahua jumped on the couch beside me.

My husband says that I told him later how the MPs and bomb squad showed up at our apartment building in the tiny German village, cordoned off the street, and examined the car. I don’t remember much else except my sheer panic.

And, of course, the face of the policeman as he pulled out the coathanger that had fallen down from inside the bumper.

Coathangers are handy to have around when you lock your keys in your car.

Read our favorite C. Russell story from 52|250

Perfect Vision, Wk #8 – Corrected Vision

Bernice thought she looked like a damn owl. Her pupils seemed like walnuts behind the large oval lenses. However, on her meager retirement, they were the only new glasses she could afford. Swallowing her pride, she walked out the door for the first time and headed to the bank.

At the crosswalk, Bernice tapped her foot until the light changed and the stick figure indicated her right of way. With her head down, she crossed with the crowd, embarrassed by the gaudy plastic frames.

The gunk on the street didn’t attract her attention too much until she noticed a glowing trail leading into the bank. A tall, handsome man stood behind the help counter.

Following the path of light, she found herself staring into his impossible golden eyes. He beamed at her. “Hello, Bernice,” he said, offering his hand.

“I’ve been waiting for you.”

She examined her glasses.

The pealing sound of his laughter filled the room as he took the lenses from her. “You don’t need these anymore,” he said. “You have perfect vision now.” Then he took her hand, spread his wings, and flew with her into the golden sunset of her life.


Susan Tepper

A Psychic Told Me

Back in the mid 1980’s, I had my first psychic reading. Though I was skeptical, I came out of that reading with my future (supposedly) laid out in the palm of my hand. The psychic told me whom I’d meet and marry, when we would meet, where we would live, what his profession would be; then threw in some stuff about his musical accomplishments. As I was almost out the door, she said, “You write?” I laughed, answering, “No way. I’m an actor.” She said, “Well you will.” She said this with a certain annoying vehemence. Well that’s really nuts, I’d thought, glad to get out of there. Because back then I did no writing except the occasional letter. I was an actor from age 17 and assumed I always would be. I had lots of “day jobs” in order to pay the rent, but acting was my first love. Sometime after that reading, while doing a Shaw play in NY, I started dating one of the producers who I found out later was actually a lawyer. (psychic said I’d marry a lawyer). We did marry, and when she predicted. Score two for the psychic! He played piano and violin. Score again for the psychic. A few years later we moved out of the city (score!) and that summer I wrote my first short story (!) A little voice in my head kept saying: write that story. I knew. And the rest (psychically speaking) is history…

Read our favorite S. Tepper story from 52|250

Fun, Week #12 – Allergic Reactions

Spottie’s black spots are falling off from an allergic reaction. The vet proclaiming: “This is a very rare condition in Dalmations.” Like that would make me feel better.

On the patio next to the pool, our trainer, Ralph, is bent over studying the round pink flesh spots that used to be black dog hair. He throws up his hands having a conniption. “If we don’t get them back he’ll be disqualified!”

“Well you’re the trainer, Ralph, what have you done to my prize dog?”

“He sure won’t be weeening any prizes this time.” Though it’s muttered sotto vocé, Italian style, I don’t want Antonio’s point of view.

“Stick to cleaning up the rose garden!” I yell.

Antonio flicks those Sicilian eyes. But he doesn’t pick up his trowel and leave, either. Once you hanky-panky the gardener, there is no going back.

Rubbing the dog’s head I say, “What do you think, Spottie?” His tail wags.

“We can’t very well paint him,” says Ralph.

“Paint heeeeem!” Antonio holds his stomach rolling with laughter.

“Take a hike, Antonio!”

“You cannot speak that way to me.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“I weeeel tell your husband.”

“He would never believe you.”

“He weeeel. When I tell him about your double neeeple.”

Ralph’s head jerks. “Your double what?”

“It’s a small mole, that’s all.”

“Double neeeeeeeeeeeeeple,” Antonio sings out across the patio.

Then Spottie runs around in circles from the fun.

And now, introducing our seven other most frequent flashers…

Darryl Price

A Monk with the Blues

I hate to say it but Darryl Price is a monk with the blues. He does not wear any robes that do not resemble blue jeans. This should tell you something important about his head space but it’s still all illusion. The truth is that Darryl is one of the broken hearted people living in the world today, just like the Beatles sang about, but he tries not to let it get him down. Instead he is a butterfly whisperer. He was given the extremely mysterious power to make poems at a very young age by an even more mysterious stranger whom he met once in a moon-lit dream. This beautiful stranger told him only two things. Be kind. And have fun. The kind part isn’t all that difficult to muster if you have a heart that’s working, Darryl says, but mastery takes a lifetime. The fun part has been like chasing a shadow across mountains. It’s hard to catch up and stay caught up. Nonetheless our Mister Darryl does attempt daily to scatter his little paper and paint poems far and wide in hopes that future generations will enjoy their beauty in their own original moment of burning.

Read our favorite D. Price poem from 52|250 here

Martin Brick

Armchair Divination

This was back in the day when men didn’t really come into the delivery room. So after maneuvering the roads, slicked with ice that morning, my dad sat down to watch two movies and three football games. Always a tinge of pride, of playful boasting, when he proffers this recollection.

In one of those football games, history happened. Pittsburgh versus Oakland. The Steelers were in something like their second playoff game ever, making up for forty years of horrible football. But they’re down 7-6. Fourth down and long with seconds to go. Then a play-of-all-plays. A play that, given Christmas’s proximity, came to be known as the Immaculate Reception. How many plays get nicknamed? From what I understand they made a Wheaties box commemorating it.

Check out YouTube and you’ll see Terry Bradshaw rushed from every direction, an absolute wonder he got rid of the ball at all. Then it smacks into someone’s helmet and ricochets into Franco Harris’s hands. He runs it in. Touchdown. Write your ma – Steelers win.

That’s the kind of play that makes a dad want to name his fresh, pink son Franco. Mom’s fascination with country singer Marty Robbins triumphed, however. Still, it makes you wonder if something like that can be an omen of sorts. Is that supposed to direct you in some way? This boy’s got a future on the gridiron, NFL bound. Nah. Hardly. Better omen: this boy is gonna have some stockpile of dumb luck.

So far, so good.

Read our favorite M. Brick story from 52|250 here

Linda Simoni-Wastila

Soothsayer

For years the Professor plotted data, thousands upon thousands of pixils splattered into lines, arcs, and Rorschach-like blotches. High in her tower of Ivory, she took the most intimate information – birth days, addresses, records of visits to psychiatrists and emergency rooms, prescriptions for Zoloft and Seroquel and Subutex, dates of final breaths – and massaged the binaries into beta coefficients, chi-squares and log likelihood ratios. When the p-values rendered less than 0.05, she arranged words around the pretty figures and tables declaring statistical truths. Hoping to make a difference, she sent her stories to esteemed peer-reviewed journals with high impact factors. There, her numbers lodged into permanence and were read by others, like her, isolated in their towers and marbled halls. Colleagues congratulated her as she climbed the twin ladders of promotion and tenure, waving her benevolent wand at the minions aspiring to reach her lofty perch. The world stayed the same, and all was good.

But one morning, after two decades of crafting beautiful pictographs, she woke before dawn broke, panicked about one particular data point, one of the uglier ones which never made it into a glossy table or power-point slide. Who was Benjamin Michael Taylor, she wondered, and why was he in trouble? She took pen and paper and worried these two questions into a paragraph, then a page, and more pages, night after night, and in her newfound mania she begat new truths, truer ones without the crutch of numbers, still hoping to make a difference.

Read our favorite L. Simoni-Wastila story, a poem, from 52|250 here

Christian Bell

Often Someone Else

Christian Bell, the writer, was often Russ Finn, someone else. When he went to restaurants and left a name on the waiting list, it was Russ Finn. When someone approached him with a petition, he would sign it “Russ Finn,” never using the longer first name Russell. Why use a pseudonym, some would ask, as if you were all so important, as if you needed to have some sort of cover. Espionage, deception, it’s all in my blood, he’d say. Back when he was a child, he had an intricate fantasy life. Going to sleep at night, his bed was a rocket ship hurtling through space, charting new frontiers, his stuffed animals his passengers and crew. Walking two miles to school every morning, he was the lead guitarist of a metal band, the MVP of the World Series, a real-life action hero who was avenging some wrong in his life or his embattled country in some underground resistance in a Red Dawn plot.

Confusion comes because his given name was Christian Bell, printed on his birth certificate, typed in Courier on all of his medical records, the dot matrix printed name on the school rosters (even if, inexplicably, he was Christopher Bell in 10th grade). A new name, he might say, is, much like fiction, a gateway to some new place. As he gets older, Russ Finn becomes less frequently used, a suit encased in mothballs. Maybe he will surprise, though, and bring him out, just for kicks.

Read our favorite C. Bell story from 52|250 here

Bernard Heise

Everything is True

Bernard has been a disappointing investment. Hatched at the intersection of the conservative post-WWII German diaspora and the rainforests of southwestern British Columbia, he was dropped into a machine that, at substantial expense to the greater good, pushed, prodded, tweaked and twiddled his mind for many years, shunting him between two continents and various institutions of higher learning. The process left him eminently certified to profess on matters of remarkably narrow specificity and parochial interest (his mother-in-law has framed the documentation and keeps it in her attic). But it also aggravated a previously undetected internal flaw and spoiled him for work. Upon emerging from the machinery, he and his small family were spat out to sea in a modern miracle of fiberglass and polyester sailcloth. While tethered to the earth by 3/8” chain or drawing lines in the sand on lonely desert islands, he and his friends, stoked on rotgut and fish, have on many occasions solved all of the world’s problems. But their voices do not carry. He has since washed up on the shores of New Zealand, where he lives hand-to-mouth. His wife says he cleans up nicely, although he usually dresses in a manner that would scare off potential employers. But it doesn’t matter since for the most part he works on-line. The view from here is beautiful (though he still wants to escape) and he likes nothing better than holding his daughters’ hands while walking them to school, because he wants them to be educated too.

Read our favorite B. Heise story from 52|250 here

Guy Yasko

At Six

Sex

He does what he is told: he holds poses, wears striped shirts, stands on a surfboard,
pretends to shave. This assignment is less clear; it involves a boat ride. Easy. In the boat he sits next to a woman in a bikini. Even at the height of summer the spray and wind in a motorboat are cold. He moves closer to her, pressing his leg against hers. He likes her warmth, but he likes how she feels more.

Death

The tour bus unloads onto an avenue of cherries in full bloom. The avenue leads to
a museum of feudal artifacts: helmets, swords, suits of armour. The boy pays little
attention to these. He stares at a broken, brown femur in the glass cabinet. The
break tells of pain, but what frightens the boy is the bone’s visibility. He sees that
death has brought the bone into view.

Read our favorite G. Yasko story from 52|250 here

Damian Pullen

Nothing left to write about…

Experiences with women.

When I attempted to kiss my Ethiopian ex-wife Bisrat Welde Selassie at our phony marriage ceremony, she flinched. She also never wanted to consummate. We were happily married for 7 years.

Experiences with religion.

When caught hiding under my bed to avoid mass at my Catholic boarding school run by Benedictine monks, I was dragged out and beaten.  At mass, I reflected the sunlight into the priest’s eyes during the sermon with my hymn book and was beaten again.  After the beating I had to shake hands with the monk and say ‘thank you’.  I am no longer a Catholic.

Experiences with animals with large penises.

While riding a cantankerous donkey in Yemen I fell off. While trying to explain metaphors to students in high school, a horse in the field outside the classroom displayed his enormous erect member.

Experiences with sex and reproduction.

While living in a commune, I failed to participate in an orgy.  When I attempted to become a sperm donor, I was rejected because my sperm count was too low.  I now have three children.

Experiences in employment.

While working as a toilet cleaner, I failed to have a homosexual experience.  When working as a life model, I got an erection.  When working in drug testing, I got the placebo instead of the anti-nausea drug, and puked.

Experiences with famous people.

When I met Kurt Cobain, he told me to fuck off.

Experiences in internet publishing.

I write to the word limit. Always.

Read our favorite D. Pullen story from 52|250 here

You can also see how Your Editors like to flash, too… — because the Editors contributed their own non-fiction stories here as well.

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