“So I’m a liar,” announces Leo with a shrug.
Gloria purses her lips. “Don’t sell yourself short, dear. You’re also a cheater and a scum.”
They’re drinking refills of house coffee at Café Therapy. It’s crowded inside, standing room only.
“I’ll go order mochas,” says Leo. “Looks like we’re in for a night of it.”
“Can I believe you? Can I believe anything you say after you fucked Marie?”
Leo pulls out a ten from his Levi’s jacket pocket. “You can believe that I loved you, once.”
“Yeah right,” she says. “How could I forget.”
The afternoon is growing dangerously remote. Leo’s thigh is just an arm length away but Gloria prefers to float just now.
Faint jazz mingles with the clack of backgammon and passionate chatter. The counter man sweats, filling mugs from a steaming tap. Near the window a cropped woman speaks: “That’s the closest I’ve ever been to being insane.”
Gloria feels fearfully private, as if anything could happen and no one would notice.
A loud throaty laugh breaks everything up—a woman in a bathrobe and slippers is beating a short man at gin. And Gloria thinks, what a disgrace to do such a thing in public for everyone to see.
And Leo puts his arm around her though she knows it’s for the wrong reason, that he thinks she’s crying over him. But what does it matter—Leo’s a liar, a cheater, and scum.
—Published previously in the print edition of North Bay Bohemian,
as the winner of their 1999 Java Jive contest (under 250 words); reprinted here with
teaches “low fat fiction” and is the author of five collections of poetry
and short prose: Nova Nights (Nomadic Press, 2021),
Grace (KYSO Flash Press, 2019), Soundings and Fathoms: Stories (Finishing
Line Press, 2018), House Samurai (Iota Press, 2006), and Parts &
Labor (Thumbprint Press, 1992). His stories have appeared in dozens of venues
including Carve, daCunha, Flashback Fiction, KYSO Flash, Sea Letter, Third
Wednesday, and Exposition Review, where he was twice a Flash 405 winner.
In 2018, his flash was nominated for the Best of the Net anthology.
Born in the Chihuahuan Desert near the Mexican border, Guy grew up on a Sting-Ray in
Ventura, learned to write in the Peace Corps during a civil war in Guatemala, honed his
craft pulling weeds and planting flowers as a gardener in San Francisco, and later
received his M.A. from San Francisco State, where his teaching career began.
He’s been a creative-writing midwife since 1991.
Guy lives on a houseboat with his wife and a salty cat, and walks the planks daily.
It’s all true, especially the fiction.
Author’s website: https://www.guybiederman.com/
Author’s blog: This Day Afloat: Reflections of Life on the Water