Monday, November 28, 2016

Flash Fiction: The New Neighbor

The last TinHouse Plotto contest loser for your reading enjoyment.  The week 3 of 5 prompt:

The New Neighbor

The morning dawned gray and John awoke to the sound of the empty apartment downstairs being ransacked. He looked out his foggy window. A woman with dark hair was unloading things from a hatchback Pinto. He shook his head clear and opened the door. He hesitated, smoothed his couch-head hair, then trotted down the stairs.

“Hi, I'm John. I live upstairs. Need a hand?”

She flinched.

Oops, I startled her.

“Fuck, you startled me.“

He met her gaze and it was his turn to be startled.

I know her.

“Do I know you?” he asked.

"I dunno, do you? Look, I got a lot stuff to unload and I need to get that shithole clean before that cat piss smell sinks into my stuff.”

“You have a mouth on you.”


“You're so familiar to me...”

“Whatever. I got shit to do, so help or fuck off.”

He took a step back, tripped and fell sprawling.

He whispered, “Lyanna? Is that you?”

“I'm Jo,” she said loudly and offered her hand.

He accepted and she turned it into a painful wrist lock.  She leaned in, “How the fuck do you know that name, Creeper?”

She stood over him, her blue eyes expectant. He noticed that she shifted her weight, freeing her right knee for a drop to his vulnerable ballsack.

“No, no, sorry. You just remind me of a character from a book I read,” he lied.

He hadn’t read it—he wrote it. His Lyanna is a strong, foul-mouthed woman, with dark hair, blue eyes, and a panther tattoo on the back of her neck. His Lyanna was raised in an abusive family in the slums of Chicago. His Lyanna grew up to be an undercover cop, using that abrasive personality to blend in with what she thought of as her kind, allowing her to ferret out drug dealers and sex traffickers. His Lyanna saves a group of boys and girls trapped in a shipping container. His Lyanna dies in a brutal retaliatory murder. His Lyanna lies in the musty grave of his reject trunk because his Lyanna was too “one-dimensional” in a storyline that was “too predictable.”

How could this be? It couldn’t. Coincidence; gotta be. People have doppelgangers, so why can’t fictitious characters? Overactive imagination. Apologize idiot…out loud…words!

"Sorry. I'm an idiot. Obviously. Didn't mean to creep you out, Jo. I'm a writer. I guess we tend to be creepy."

She dropped his wrist and stepped back. He got up.

“That’s OK. I'm feeling edgy. I hate moving. This isn't exactly a step up for me.”

She’s lying; she's exactly where she wants to be.

"Have I read anything of yours?”

"Unlikely; unless you're the poor bastard that has to read publishing house slush piles.”

She laughed. She fished a hair tie from her pocket and tied her hair back.

She said, “I'd better get back to to it.”

She leaned into her car to retrieve a pile of books from her hatchback. Her ponytail slid to one side and a panther snarled at him.

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