Something to Bridge the Gap

By Brett Battles

 

So this week has been a very interesting one for me. By interesting, I mean…well, let’s just say there’s an installment of AT PLAY IN THE FIELD OF THE WRITTEN WORD coming up, and it’s a doozy. Can’t do it this week because a few things are still up in the air, but should be raring to go in two weeks.

That said, what has been going on has kept me a little occupied, so I hope you’ll excuse me if I post something that has appeared on-line before. It’s a short story.

Now, I haven’t written a ton of short stories. In fact, with the exception of several flash fiction piece (one of which is below), I’ve really only written two average length shorts. One is a sci-fi piece I worked on about ten years ago, but never really did anything with. And the other was “Perfect Gentleman,” the story that appeared in the KILLER YEAR ANTHOLOGY in 2008. (Side note: I am very honored by the fact that “Perfect Gentleman” was also selected by Tyrus Books to be included with their recently released BETWEEN THE DARK AND THE DAYLIGHT AND 27 MORE OF THE BEST CRIME & MYSTERY STORIES OF THE YEAR anthology.)

So, I guess what I’m saying is that while I don’t do a lot of short fiction, I do enjoy it. Anyway, on to the story. For those of you unfamiliar with Flash Fiction, it refers to short stories that are limited to a certain small word count, quite often 1000 words. In this case, the limit was 500.

Apologies to those of you who’ve already read it.

 

CAFÉ LATTE

By Brett Battles

 

“The large one.”

“You mean venti?” the barista asked. She was probably just barely out of high school.

“Sure. Venti. That’s the large, right?” the man asked.

“That’s the large.”

“Good.”

“Can I get your name?”

The man looked around. “Why? Is there a line?”

There was no line.

“Right. Sorry. I’m a little nervous,” she said.

“This your first day?”

“No. Third.”

“You’re doing fine.”

And she was, too. Her customer service was all he could have expected.

“How much?” he asked.

She hesitated for a moment like she hadn’t understood what he was saying, then shook herself and rang up his drink.

“Three forty-five,” she said.

“Annie.” It was one of her co-workers. The red-headed kid who looked like he could use a little sun. “Just give it to him.”

“It’s okay,” the man said. “I don’t mind paying.”

He pulled a five dollar bill out of his pocket and handed it to the girl. Once she had given him his change, he dumped it all in the tip jar.

While the rest of her co-workers and pretty much everyone in the coffee shop watched, Annie made the made a venti latte. No one offered to help, but she seemed to have everything under control.

Somewhere in the distance, there was the faint sound of a siren.

The man waited contentedly as she finished frothing up the milk and adding it to his cup. Once she was done, she put a lid on top and slipped a safety sleeve around the base. Her hands weren’t even shaking as she handed the drink to him.

The sirens were closer now, probably only six or seven blocks away. The man took a sip of the latte, then smiled.

“This is great.”

“Thanks,” Annie said.

“You have a good day,” he told her.

“You, too.”

Except for his footsteps on the tiled floor, the coffee shop was silent. Everyone’s eyes were on him, but he acted like he didn’t notice. The only abnormal thing he did was step over the dead body of the would-be robber lying in the middle of the floor.

The unlucky bastard’s gun was still in his hand. An ancient .38 special. God only knew how much damage the kid had done with it in the past.

As the assassin opened the front door, he glanced back at the counter. Annie was still there, watching him. As he gave her a little wave, she mouthed the words, “Thank you.”  

He smiled and walked out to his car. A glance at his watch told him he was still ahead of schedule. That was fine. It was never good to kill someone when you were in a rush.

 _________________________

Read a good short story lately? Tell us about it. And, if you can, tells us where to find it.

16 thoughts on “Something to Bridge the Gap

  1. Simon Larter

    Ha! I like it. Cool idea.

    Online fiction is remarkably easy to find, and (sadly for those of us who want to publish fiction online), great online fiction is also everywhere. That said, here’s a couple of stories that have stuck with me over the past few months:

    Formation, by Gary Moshimer. This one’s like an extended kick in the groin. Very, very effective, and haunting. Caution: adult content.

    Mylar Man, by Jeff Kass. the images in this one are stuck with me. The ending is phenomenal.

    And would I be remiss if I didn’t link to my own flash? Yeah, I suppose I would: Twister, by me. I like this one too.

    Reply
  2. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    That was great, Brett. Your short stories are exceptional. I have to tell you again that "Perfect Gentleman" is a perfect story, and deserving of all the praise it is getting.

    Reply
  3. Barb Goffman

    Nice story, Brett. And you fooled me a little bit. As soon as you had the bit about the siren, I thought I had it all figured out, of course. Thought the customer was a robber. Good for you.

    Regarding recent short stories I liked, I have to give a plug for the stories in The Gift of Murder, an anthology published last month by Wolfmont Press. All the stories involve crime at the holidays. One particularly heart-warming story is "Caught on Christmas Eve" by Earl Staggs. (And of course, I also liked my own story in the book, "The Worst Noel.") And in case you haven’t heard of the anthology before, it’s not just a good book but a good cause — all the authors donated their stories and the publisher is donating all its profits to Toys for Tots.

    Reply
  4. Melanie

    Wow, I LOVE this!! My focus is on novels but I write about one flash piece a month. I like that I can sit down and finish a piece in a short period of time, as opposed to months and months for a novel.

    This is awesome. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  5. BCB

    Very well done. I’m such a novice, I had no idea short stories were so, well, short. Like a blog post. Only not. Oh hell, I can feel myself being distracted by the urge to write a few… Nonono. Must focus on the novel. But, wow, short stories would make for some interesting blog posts, wouldn’t they?

    And while I’m very happy, really just thrilled, for all of you who have wonderful secret writerly things that must not yet be revealed going on in your lives, it’s kind of frustrating not to know what they are. Just saying. [pout]

    Reply

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