It was the rancher’s turn at the appraisal table. “What’s that word you people are always using? Providence? Oh.” He looked away as the fellow wearing a plaid jacket and a string tie took the cloth he had brought. The man didn’t get far into the unfolding before he slumped and said, “This is a replica of the Shroud of Turin.”
“Had a uncle was in the big war. France, Germany—”
“Yes, yes—brought it back in his duffel bag.” The appraiser was already looking around the rancher at the next supplicant, a woman carrying a quilt featuring professional football team logos.
“Well I’m pretty sure this is the real one and the other they have is the copy. I mean, even the Catholic Church won’t come right out and say theirs is for sure what people want to think it is.”
“What are the odds!” plaid man chortled, both palms out and up in hallelujah.
“Said he got it from a man in Troyes, France. It was in the man’s family, down from when a Bishop of Troyes first called it a fake, way back when. He said the Bishop kept the real one and had a fake one made by the man who had been working on making copies of it for years. That’s where the story ended because, well, they burned him. The man that gave it to the Bishop.”
“Oh that’s rich,” the appraiser said. “And why would anybody accept that story?”
“All I can say is, let me spread this cloth out for you and you will see.”
It was a hot day for September, in San Antonio. In front of the tables set up on the country estate, a small orchard of peach trees stood across the way, leaves parched and the last harvest time long gone. The rancher set out for the trees, and once there he took clips from a front snap-down pocket on his long-sleeved shirt. He unfolded the shroud. Clipped it to the sagging limbs of two trees. There was then a quavering in the hot air, and all present felt it grow cooler. As they watched, the trees darkened in their green. The shroud rose a bit as limbs regained strength. And the trees began to bloom.
—Finalist in “The Question of Questions” Ekphrastic Writing Challenge
has taught creative writing and literature at The University of Texas at Dallas, The University of North Texas, and the Writer’s Garret, in Dallas. He now lives in Marfa, Texas. He is the author of This Is Not the Way We Came In, a collection of flash fiction and a flash novel (Ravenna Press), Winter Investments: Stories (Trilobite Press), and Prairie Shapes: A Flash Novel (winner of the 2004 Robert J. DeMott Prose Contest). His poems, short stories, and creative nonfictions have appeared in magazines and anthologies across the country, including Blink Ink, Cutbank, Eastern Iowa Review, New Flash Fiction Review, Star 82 Review, and Third Wednesday, among others.
⚡ Spring, microfiction by Daryl Scroggins in MacQueen’s Quinterly (Issue 12, March 2022)
⚡ Writer Boy, microfiction by Scroggins in MacQueen’s Quinterly (Issue 4, July 2020); nominated by MacQ for Best Microfiction 2021
⚡ Face of the Deep, ekphrastic prose poem in MacQ (Issue 3, May 2020)
⚡ Field Trips, flash fiction in KYSO Flash (Issue 12, Summer 2019)
⚡ New to School, microfiction in Eclectica (Jan/Feb 2018)
⚡ Two Fictions: “Almost Baptized” and “Against the Current” in New Flash Fiction Review (Issue 10, January 2018)
⚡ Eight Stories: A Mini-Chapbook at Web del Sol