by ROBERT VAUGHAN
1. I sat, flask out, in a bar in Gallup during a thunderstorm. From the covered patio of the Horse Hair Diner adjacent you could smell charcoaled flesh being served to hungry bale-throwing hands. My stomach growled, but I only had money for either booze or food; not both.
2. It was then I barely noticed her, standing, all alone in the rain, in front of the Brassiere and Lingerie shop and Cheese establishment. Her hands held a cloth, a flimsy billowing scarf to her face and she appeared to be crying. Was it the storm, or a lover? A death she’d discover?
3. I was swept up by the strings of the Hungarian gypsies playing down a side street, and for a split second I felt transported back to Paris, after an unsuccessful evening at a brothel, perhaps the uber-elegant Chabonais, where I’d crossed paths with an ever-zealous Edward VII on late summer nights.
4. There were eyes, the ladies in the window of the diner staring around me, smoking. And hers, there in the rain, without moving, her shoulders breathing slightly. Getting wet. It was as if I was in their movie, and they, in mine. I ordered another whiskey to see what other liquids the evening might have in store.
5. The music came to an abrupt halt. I heard galloping footsteps outside the diner, what sounded like hundreds of cavalry pummeling the hard pocked earth. I noticed several other patrons moved their hands swiftly to their guns. I began searching for an exit toward the back of the bar, and she stood there, motioning me.
6. In a leap, I bolted toward her as shots rang out, and shouting began. She whisked me upstairs, her hand as delicate as a chickadee inside mine. We entered a room on the third floor, and she ran to the window, attempting to open it. “It’s stuck,” she whispered.
7. I forced it open, and she smiled, nodded me to follow her out onto the roof. There were people all over the town who were watching the events unfold below. “What happened?” I asked, and noticed my tongue was thick, and I was more inebriated that I’d thought.
8. She lie on the roof, staring up into the darkening sky. “See that?” She pointed. “It’s Leo, just there by the Big Dipper.” The bullets whizzed past us, and the fighting continued as we hunkered down. “Someday I want to live there.” She turned toward me, her lips moist, and we stared into each other’s faces like statues.
9. Nothing is permanent, of course, I know. I was only in Gallup to avoid getting soaked. Never thought I’d end up there with this vision, on a rooftop, avoiding the town plunder, and feeling romantic. Never thought I would meet someone so quickly, squashed on that roof like a bug in a grill.
10. At first I wasn’t sure it was me. We’d drifted off, entwined, her in my arms, breathing in unison. The guns continued to roar, but you could barely hear the blasts. Something startled me awake, and she was gone. I bolted up, was it all a dream? No, there was her scarf, fluttering against the wood shingles.
ROBERT VAUGHAN leads roundtables at Red Oak Writing in Milwaukee, WI. He also teaches workshops in hybrid writing, dialogue, playwriting at places like The Clearing in Door County, WI. He was the co-founder of Flash Fiction Fridays, a radio program on WUWM in Milwaukee, where he premiered local flash fiction writers, and also starred writers from America and abroad. He is a senior editor for JMWW, and Lost in Thought magazines, a guest editor for Uno Kudo #5. His fourth collection, Rift, co-authored with Kathy Fish, is out in November 2015 from Unknown Press.
His writing has been published in over 500 various literary journals, such as Necessary Fiction, Elimae, Literary Orphans, Everyday Genius, The Lit Pub, and Nervous Breakdown. He’s also been selected for many anthologies such as Stripped (20120, Flash Fiction Funny (2014), and This is Poetry (2015). He is the author of three collections: Microtones (Cervena Barva Press, 2012); Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps, 2013); and Addicts & Basements (CCM, 2014). He also edited Flash Fiction Fridays (2011). His awards include Micro-Fiction (2012), Gertrude Stein Awards (2013, 2014) and a Professional of the Year Award from Strathmore’s Who’s Who for outstanding contributions and achievements as an author (2015). He blogs at http://www.robert-vaughan.com.