Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Gator Grove (Short Story)

Rick Mendez got on the road way before sunrise. The drive from Key West to Lucky Knowles' was a solid five hours. Lucky's place was the last post before the deep wilderness of the Southern Everglades.
"You must've left the Keys pretty early Mr. Mendez," said Lucky as he walked out of the junkyard.
"Well, I'd like to serve this notice and get back home soon; it's my little girl's birthday today."
"I don't know 'bout that, Mr. Mendez; it will be a slow ride to O'Sullivan's place," said Lucky as he jumped into Mendez' Explorer.
"What is it that the County wants with old O'Sullivan anyways?" asked Lucky.
"It's an eviction order. The property is being foreclosed on back taxes. We've sent him plenty of notices to show up in court, and we can't seem to reach him."
"Well, I'm not surprised. Since this area became protected, wild alligator meat was outlawed. He can't sell his catch anymore. I haven't seen the old man in months."
They drove for two miles on a muddy road to a clearing. A mud runner boat was tied to a post a few feet into the marshland. Lucky adjusted the 4HP motor to the stern.
"Now, you will head southwest for 'bout an hour right through the open marshes," explained Lucky, "you will see a mangrove ahead of you, that's Gator Grove. By the eastern end you will find a way in through the mangrove. O'Sullivan's place is on a lagoon right at the center of the grove."
Lucky hanged a rabbit's foot at the bow.
"For good luck?" asked Mendez.
"You bet."
"I see."
Lucky noticed the skeptic grim on the man's face.
"It's not called Gator Grove for nothin'; you know? Plenty of alligator 'round there, so, keep your hands on the boat and stay dry. Oh, and remember to keep an eye on that compass too."
"Will do."
"Well, sir, good luck. I better start walkin' back, gotta feed the dogs."
"Thank you, Mr. Knowles."
"You bet."

Mendez soon realized the little motor wouldn't pick up much speed. The morning had died and now the high noon sun was merciless, Mendez was drenched in sweat; he had underestimated the blazing desolation of the marshland.
He found the opening by the edge of the mangrove like Lucky mentioned. In the darkness of the mangrove the air was sticky, but Mendez felt relieved from the scorching sun. The bellowing of hundreds of alligators filled the thick air; their presence was dark, unseen. Mendez got the message; he was an intruder.

By early afternoon, he found the clear in the mangrove. The house was standing on piles and surrounded by water. Once the boat was properly tied to a post, Mendez walked on the deck. "Mr. O'Sullivan? Are you home?" He knocked on the door, no answer.
"Mr. O'Sullivan, my name is Rick Mendez; I am with the Monroe County Assessor's Office. I have important information for you sir."
Mendez came close to the glass window next to the door to take a look inside.
The butt of a rifle came full force through the glass and hit him on the nose and forehead. As he was coming in and out of unconsciousness, he noticed he was being dragged through the deck, and then he was out again.

"Eviction?! You sonofabitch!" yelled the old man as Mendez was starting to wake up.
"What is this name on your ID? Ricardo Mendez?" continued O'Sullivan, "Where d'you come from, Mexico, Cuba?"
"What?" asked Mendez.
"This ain't no American name, you piece o' shit wetback."
Mendez was now fully awake. He was tied to one of the piles. His chest was tightly chained to the post, and from there down, his body was submerged in the swampy water of the lagoon. He was completely naked, his feet entangled in oily swamp weed.
"Mr. O'Sullivan, please..." begged Mendez.
"Shut yer mouth you fucking immigrant!"
"I'm not..."
"They send a fucking immigrant to take my home?"
"Sir, please..."
"No habla English, motherfucker? I said shut yer mouth!" As he said this, he hit Mendez in the head, this time with a hammer.

The steps of the boots on the wooden deck woke him up again. The sun was going down now and thousands of mosquitoes came out of the mangrove. Mendez kept shaking his hands to keep them away, but to no avail.
Old O'Sullivan approached him from behind.
"Did they teach you to read the Bible in your country, Mendez?"
"Please Mr. O'Sullivan; I need to get out of the water."
"You still ain't gettin' my questions, are ya?"
O'Sullivan took Mendez' left arm, pulled it back and stretched the hand over the wood deck, palm up. Then he took a four inch galvanized nail and hammered it down through hand and deck in three hits.
The screams were loud, loud and lasting. The bellows of the alligators stopped suddenly. Only Mendez' cry could be heard in the lagoon. O'Sullivan moved to the right and did the same to the other arm, only this time, it took him five hits. Blood was trickling down to the water below.
The old man stood up behind a crucified Mendez and proceeded to recite.
"O Lord, you are my dwelling place! No evil shall be allowed to befall me, no plague come near my tent. For you will command your angels concerning me to guard me in all my ways," he paused, "And here come the Lord's angels!"
Two large male alligators silently and carefully came to inspect the offering. Then one of them closed his jaws on Mendez' left leg. O'Sullivan was silent and his eyes wide open as Mendez kept desperately screaming and crying. The eight hundred pound beast started twisting his body to pull the leg out of its socket. The second reptile followed, and then others came to finish what was left. There were no more screams or cries in Gator Grove, only bellowing, only hissing.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Fishmonger's Daughter
A Flash Fiction Piece by F. Poj

The river turned golden as the sun rose behind Alessio's back. He steered the boat as he approached Ponte Vecchio at the heart of Florence. The bridge was rebuilt about a century earlier, after the flood of 1333. The road over the bridge was lined with houses and stores. He tied the boat to the abutment and called Filippa from under the bridge.
Filippa, the daughter of Benvenuto Bronzino, the fish merchant, opened her window to receive Alessio's catch.

"Good morning, King of the Arno!" said Filippa.
"Good morning to you, Queen of Ponte Vecchio."
"What brings you this morning to the crossing of our kingdoms?"
"I come to offer you the riches of my realm."
"And what could that be, sweet Alessio?"
"Brown trout, in quantity and quality."
"I see, but are they fresh?"
"More than fresh, fair Filippa, alive I towed them in the net behind my vessel...still in water."
"Bravo Alessio! Wait for my bucket."
Five minutes later she was lowering the bucket from the pulley of the first floor window.
As the first bucket came up she noticed the fish frantically shaking their tails.
"Truly alive, I see!"

When the last load was ready, Alessio stood on the bucket and hoisted himself up to the window.
"What are you doing, my king?" asked Filippa as she placed a trout on the weight scale.
"I come for a kiss, no less."
"But you must go, Guidobaldo Malatesta is coming soon with his father to discuss a wedding date with my father. They will kill you if they find you up here."
"What is this Filippa, a wedding?"
"Oh my sweet Alessio, will you take me away? Steal me from this bridge, from this nightmare, from those butchers."
"I have enough savings. Will you come with me to Sorrento?"
"Sorrento, by the sea. Yes! But when?"
"After your father goes to bed tonight, come and meet me. I'll be under the bridge with the boys by the right abutment."
"I will, I promise."
She said these last words as she pressed her lips firmly on his. When Alessio opened his eyes, he saw Guidobaldo coming through the front door.
"What is this?!" screamed the butcher's son as he saw them kissing. "You stinking fish boy!"
He grabbed a knife from the gutting board and pushed Filippa against the wall. Alessio saw that Guidobaldo was ready to give him death so he took a large trout from the bucket and slapped the man's face, then immediately let himself fall into the river below. The butcher boy saw Alessio get on his boat and run across the store and out to the street only to bump into Signora de Rossi, the widow of the hen merchant next door.
The basket of eggs was crushed between their chests.
"Out of my way!" he yelled.
He stormed into his father's shop and jumped right out of the window to fall into the river missing Alessio's boat by 2 hairs of a fruit fly.
"If I see you touching Filippa again, I'll kill you fish boy!"
"You can kiss my trout, Malatesta!" screamed Alessio with a fish between his legs.

That evening, Filippa wrote a short letter to her sleeping father, and walked out.
Guidobaldo was spying on her from his window across the street. He made his way downstairs and out into the street. He saw Filippa turn the corner at the end of the bridge and ran for her exactly when Signora de Rossi opened her front door on his face.
"Aaah! It's you again! You broke my nose you old bag of fat!"
"Oh I am so sorry my boy."
"Move, old bag, I have a score to settle."

Alessio and Filippa were sitting hand in hand under the bridge, by the right bank of the river. Piero Baldovinetti, Alessio's best friend, was singing old songs, while Father Barbarigo was grilling a trout.
As Filippa finished her wine amidst giggles she saw a familiar figure approach clumsily down the embankment.
"Martinella, is that you?"
"Oh my dear, I found you!" answered Signora de Rossi.
"How did you know we were here?"
"Nothing happens on or under Ponte Vecchio that I don't know of, my dear."
"Well, I'm glad you came. We were just..."
"My dear Filippa, there is no time. That butcher's son is looking for you and Alessio, and he carries a knife. You two should run far and fast."
"Father Barbarigo, we must hurry, would you do us the honor?" begged Filippa.
"Nothing would pleaaaase me more, child. Off we go. Piero, Signora... we need you as wetnessessss' said a rather inebriated priest.
As the group walked into the cathedral, Guidobaldo spotted them from across the piazza.
"I had a drunk too many...a drink too many I mean" said father Barbarigo, "On with the baptism...no...the wedding...rrrrright...holy mrathremony." They all burst in laughter.

"Alesssssio Marrrfggghrmonti, do youuuu take Filrrhhippa Brronzinahh as yourrr..." Father Barbarigo attempted the speech while suddenly; loud knocking was heard from the main door of the cathedral.
"Open this damn door right away, you miserable scoundrels!" yelled Guidobaldo.
"Quick father", said Alessio, "I do! I do!"
"Oh...all wwrrright. And you, fair Filfffhippa Brrronzinaaahhh, take Alesssio Marrrggh..."
"I do! Father, for the love of Jesus, I do!"
The thumping on the door was louder and louder.
"I prreneunce yeh...hussband and wwwrife. Yeh may kissss thee bridghhh."
Filippa and Alessio kissed each other's smiles.
BANG! Guidobaldo broke through the door and BANG again, a bronze crucifix fell on his head. Guidobaldo hit the floor unconscious as Signora de Rossi stood by him.

Filippa and Alessio were riding South on Pietro's horse when the sun broke the day on the horizon.
"Have I told you about the size of the octopuses we used to catch in Sorrento?"
"No, my love, you haven't" answered Filippa.
"Ten pounds and more, I swear."
"Tell me more, my king, tell me more."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Wife (Award Winning Flash Fiction)

They devoured each other in the bathroom. They kissed every inch of skin. They explored every curve, and corner, and cavity. They tasted each other. They exhausted their energy and spent every drop of love on one another. Then they crawled back to the blanket on the floor. She hated the bed, he knew it.
The morning was tired and getting ready for noon. They had time for one last nap. They fell asleep as one, tight. The day grew older and noon became afternoon.

The Long Honeymoon (A Short Story with Russian Accent) by F. Poj

This morning I woke up and I noticed I was dead. I mean, I've had some tough mornings before, but this was fucking ridiculous. Even before I opened my eyes I noticed I wasn't breathing, but that didn't bother me that much, what was really getting on my nerves were those flies coming in and out of my ears. Through the buzzing I could hear a commotion outside my door, something about a foul stench. My mother was already blaming my grandmother for clogging up the toilet again and my father kept yelling at her that the toilet was just fine, and that the smell was coming from somewhere else.

She started banging at my door and yelling at me: 'Misha, get up, you need to go get the plumber!'

'In a minute Mom, I'll be right out.'

I was sluggish, my energy was really low and it took me a while to move my dead limbs. I could finally sit at the edge of my bed when my mother opened the door.

'Misha, what wrong? The smell come from your room!'

'Mom, I don't feel very well this morning.'

'What Misha? You look so pale, I make you some tea. OK?'

'Mom, I don't want any tea, I think I'm dead.'

'Dead tired you mean? You came so late last night, I hear you come in. You drink too much?'

'No Mom, I'm dead, really dead. I'm not breathing.'

'What dead?! What is this? Since when?'

'Just now, I woke up and I was dead.'

'Today?! On your sister's wedding day? Stop joking around Mikhail, get up, I make you tea and you go get Pyotr the plumber.'

'I'm not fooling around mom. I am stiff as a 2x4.'

'You not serious. You don't want to be doctor, you don't want to marry Sophia, and now you wake up dead on your sister's wedding day' my Mom said. 'You embarrass me even today! I will have a talk with your father, we will fix this.'