FLASH FICTION: “The Theory of Gin”

piano

I’m not in the mood to talk. I don’t feel like talking.

After his breakdown, Dad played the piano when he was drunk, only. When he was too drunk to play Liszt, he played Chopin. I sat under the piano. It was damn loud under there, but I liked it. I was listening to the Ramones, in those days.

Dad was a mad scientist. He was a musicologist. He was a mad scientist. He thought … there was something mathematical about creativity, musical creativity. A formula. There were no geniuses, really, but people, lucky people, who chanced on the formula. Berlioz, Strauss…

“Imposters,” he called them. “Worse than impostors. Romantics.”

The Secret of the Secret. That’s what he named it. His theory of the formula. He spent half his life, trying to prove it.

The Secret of the Secret. That was the book, too. His colleagues… Of course they called him a lunatic. He was a lunatic. He was a musicologist.

When The Secret flopped, he bought every copy he could find. And burned them.

I just don’t feel like talking.

I was playing the piano, one night. Wagner—my favourite. By my late teens, I’d grown bored of punk. It wasn’t heavy enough.

Ride of the Valkyries. That was the piece.

I smelled gin. Dad hated Wagner.

I turned around.

Dad wasn’t… He had a strange look on his face.

He closed his eyes.

“Beautiful,” he whispered.

“Beautiful.”

Beautiful.

He kissed me—my forehead. I think … that was the first time. In years.

The Secret of the Secret.

He never proved it, of course. The theory. All he proved was the Theory of Gin. That’s how it usually is, isn’t it?

I’d rather not talk about it.

Hardly anyone went to the funeral. Not even my mother. None of his colleagues. He was an important musicologist. He was a mad scientist. He was a musicologist.

I found a notebook. Going through his things. Notes about the theory, mostly. Some lewd sketches. But on the last page… Under the heading AUTOBIOGRAPHY:

“Early in life, my ambition was to be a composer as great as Liszt or Chopin.”

That was it. He didn’t get any further.

It’s not easy, being the daughter of a musicologist. I could tell you stories.

I’m not in the mood to talk.

 

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FLASH FICTION: Chembera Bridge

 

Chembera Bridge

Greetings…

Read my latest bit of fiction for The Walrus, “Chembera Bridge,” right here.

If you enjoy my stories, don’t be shy about letting The Walrus know by sending a quick note to letters@thewalrus.ca, a tweet to @walrusmagazine (my own handle is @rolliwrites) or slapping a comment on their facebook page. Great feedback = many more stories to come 🙂

As always, thanks for reading…

FLASH FICTION: Family Reunion

I traveled a good deal when I was younger. By the time I was twenty, I’d been to Africa, India. Canada, I think. The whole of Europe, though I hated every minute of France. My mother was French.

I still traveled after I married, though nowhere near as often. Not at all, actually. Alfie was a house plant.

When I turned eighty, I bought a flower pot big enough for the two of us. Wollbaum watered us with tea. Or I guess … we had Andrews, then. He didn’t last. There’s something tragic about surviving one’s butler.

Andrews handed me a salver, one day. On it was an invitation—to a family reunion. I thought it would be a great surprise and fun to see what family I had left. But Alfie wouldn’t hear of it. I’d press him and he’d just sit quietly in his chair, petting the Business Section. He’d’ve done that if the bombs were falling.

A day or two later, Andrews lifted the cover on my dinner. Instead of roast, though, there were two tickets, train tickets, sitting on my plate. I looked up at Alfie. He was smiling.

The reunion was to take place in Chudleigh, where I’d done most of my growing up. I hadn’t been so excited about something, I don’t think… Since I was a teenager.

The train took us as far as Exeter—it’s not much more than a thumbprint, Chudleigh— where we hired a car.

As we drove through the fog, I told Alfie about the old house and the hidden passage and the dirty magazines. Puritanical Aunt Claire, who threw her empty wine jugs in the lilac bush. The hybrid crimes my brother and I committed every day, to mark the hours. The closer we grew to Chudleigh, I think, the more I talked, the faster. Alfie just quietly smiled as the bombs dropped.

When I saw the church spire sticking out of the mist… There’s nothing so dreamlike as meeting one’s past again, on the second lap.

With the town still a half mile off, Alfie slowed down. He pulled up to the gates of the Protestant Cemetery. He wasn’t smiling anymore.

“Alfie,” I said. “It’s nearly 2:00 and—”

“There,” he said, pointing at—I wasn’t sure if it was something among the graves. It was pretty foggy, still. I squinted.

There,” a bit louder, moving his finger in a circle. Meaning, I determined, the cemetery itself.

I looked at Alfie.

That’s where your family is. If you want to say hello, do it quickly. The train leaves in half an hour.”

Alfie. I looked at … his eyes.

He was serious.

He was serious.

On the train…

We didn’t say a word to one another, the entire way.

 

                                                                                                      

From The Dream Museum, an unpublished short story collection.

 

FLASH FICTION: The Charrington Copter

charrington_copter_c

A madwoman … a helicopter … a wig. The three essential ingredients of a short story. Read my latest for The Walrus, the Charrington Copter, right here. 

Remember: if you like my stories, let The Walrus know by sending a quick note to letters@thewalrus.ca, a tweet to @walrusmagazine (my own handle is @rolliwrites) or slapping a comment on their facebook page. Good feedback = many more stories to come.

As always, thanks for reading…

FLASH FICTION: Sweet Jimmy

sweet_jimmy

My latest Walrus story – my last of 2015 – is a nightmare of Hollywood. It’s called “Sweet Jimmy.” Read it here.

If you like my stories, don’t be shy about letting The Walrus know. Send a quick note to letters@thewalrus.ca, a tweet to @walrusmagazine or leave a comment on their facebook page. I’d be so grateful.

Until 2016…

 

 

FLASH FICTION: Adventures with Writers

adventures_wr

The Walrus Project continues with a new story. I think you’ll like it. Especially if you’re a writer. Read it here.

Remember: if you like my Walrus stories, let the editor know (letters@thewalrus.ca). Some letters are published in the magazine. Let me know too, if you have the time.