Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the forty-eighth piece in this series. This week’s is a 716-worder by prose author, poet and lyricist Nathan Weaver.
George sipped his espresso, and gently laid it to rest on the saucer. The cafe he had come to know so well in the previous weeks had always made the perfect espresso, and he was going to miss it dearly. The weeks leading to today had seemed very surreal, almost like a vacation for the mind. The closer he got to today, the clearer his mind became, and for the first time in years he was feeling very content. He felt fresh. He was on the edge of rebirth. He let himself enjoy the sun’s warmth, the cafe and view.
To his left, several tables over, sat a man with his daughters. One was a teenager and the other was much younger. They had been here most days in the weeks George had, and were finishing up there usual breakfast and it seemed the daughters were especially hyper this morning. They spoke rapid-French and George could rarely keep up with the conversations when eavesdropping. The teen was quite a beautiful girl and often had an impact on passing boys her age. The father was in his fifties, and smiled proudly, spoiling them every morning at the cafe. And as was their custom the two girls talked him into letting them cross the cobblestone road to the jewelry store. He ordered a refill on his coffee from the waiter, and watched with glee as they ran across the stones and into the old building with the wooden sign hanging above the door. A biker leaning against the wall of the shop for a break moved his position to the other side of the door and watched the girls casually through the display window.
There was a jogger sitting at a far table at the edge of the outside cafe, sipping on some water and resting his hand on his hip pack. He wasn’t sweating and looked too big to be a jogger. He wore his hood up on his jacket, covering half of his face, but anyone could see that his eyes were constantly darting back and forth. He was constantly people watching.
George glanced at his watch, and finished his espresso. He rose to his feet and walked to the father’s table. He stood several steps back from it, but leaned his head forward and spoke to the man, “Pardon, monsieur?”
The father’s eyes looked at him worriedly, and his smile faded. “Bonjour.”
George licked his lips as he prepared to ask the question he had memorized. “Etes-vous André Batiste?”
This seemed to get the father’s attention, and he looked at him very seriously as he answered. “Oui.”
“My French is rough, pardon moi. Parlez-vous anglais?”
Now that George could speak English, he could say exactly what he wanted to say with confidence. “I believe you knew my father.”
Batiste squinted at him, as if trying to see a resemblance to someone he might know. “Who is your father?”
Batiste instantly snapped his finger at the jogger, who got up so fast that his chair fell over. He shoved his hand into his hip pack and gripped a Walther PPk, but kept it hidden.
George’s blue eyes appeared to glaze over black and his voice lowered. “I’m not going to kill you.” He let him chew on this for a moment, and a soft breeze came through the old village, sending chills down the spine of Batiste. George took one step forward and whispered. “Je vais ter vos filles. I’m going to kill your daughters.”
Batiste’s eyes shot to the shop across the street just in time to see an explosion knock out the entire front wall of the building. The blast knocked the jogger across a table, and Batiste fell over backwards in his chair, crashing against the hard rock. The ceiling also gave way and dumped several thousand pounds of rock and tile onto the biker who had been leaning against the wall.
George took the blast and the confusion immediately following to make his planned exit. He darted through the cafe’s small kitchen, out the back door and down the old wooden stairs behind it. He found his strategically placed scooter, jumped onto it, started its engine and sped off down the cobblestone streets towards the edge of town.
I asked Nathan what prompted this piece and he said…
It was fairly simple I suppose, I like contrast. And I had been under the influence of my all-time favorite movie ‘Vertigo’ directed by Hitchcock and the recent ‘The American’, which had a similar style and pacing. I like the contrast of dark matter with beautiful visuals, it makes for a compelling story. it was also a challenge for me to write a piece with dialogue that utilized a foreign language. I was somewhat familiar with the French language, so anything I didn’t know I looked up and had translated–but the key for me was that I knew how the language works so it made it easier to translate and actually be able to read it after. Though, I used the crutch of making one of the characters new to the language as well, so that sort of covers up the proper/formalness of the language I had used. Though there’s not much proper about having to translate, I am going to kill your daughters. And on a side note, I’ve been slowly developing this story into a short novella as well.
I look forward to reading that. Thank you, Nathan.
He has recently been honing his craft towards writing novels, completing a draft of his first novel in summer 2011, which is the beginning of a series of crime novels set in a high school setting and titled Hardboil High.
You can read a lot of his shorter works and excerpts from longer ones, for free, at his blog Tales from Babylon, and you can find this event on his http://talesfrombabylon.fanbridge.com/tourdates page.
If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here.
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with novelist Michael Murphy – the four hundred and sixty-fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.