Flash Fiction







It was late on Friday afternoon, and the heat of the day was beginning to fade. July in Mississippi can be brutal, and the little window air conditioner was struggling to stay even. Bubba Lovejoy was seated at his desk in the old yellow school bus he and Junior used as the office of L&S Hauling, LLC. Since Bubba had installed the AC, he had put it directly across from his desk, and today he had it on high. When Bubba looked up, his hair blew like he was riding a Harley.

Bubba was totaling up the week, and he used a simple accounting system. He had a pile of cash and checks in one stack—the “comes inza’s”—and all of the expense receipts in another—the “goes outza’s.” Cary Brock, their CPA, would take care of the tax issues; Bubba was a cash on cash kinda guy. This afternoon when he added up the “come inza’s,” then subtracted the “goes outza’s,” there was a little over $2,500 left. To Bubba and Junior, this was all spendable.

Bubba opened the file drawer on the desk, leaned back, and propped his feet on it. He reached down beside the desk, pulled a long neck Bud out of the ice chest, and opened it on the opener screwed into the wall behind him. He took a long slug of the ice cold beer, and thought,

Dadgum, they never have charged what this stuff is really worth.

He was on the last of the beer when he saw Junior’s pulpwood truck pull through the gate. Junior Swafford stopped by the wash rack and hosed himself down from head to toe. After he dried his head on a towel, he came storming into the bus, dripping water behind him.

Bubba didn’t complain. After all, hauling pulpwood was a dirty business, and the hundred degree heat and hundred percent humidity made it even worse. He looked at Junior and said,

“You look like you could use a cold beer and some good news.”

Junior reached into the cooler and grabbed a Bud Lite, popped the top, and replied,

“Well, give me the good news.”

“We had a pretty good week. What do you think we should do with it?”

“How much?” Junior asked as he took a big slug of the cold brew.

“Just a little over $2,500. When I deposit the 20% for taxes, it’ll leave us a grand apiece.”

“That’ll make Lucy Lee’s whole week. She’s been wantin’ a new washing machine, and it can’t cost more than $1,000. What’ll you do with yours?

“Well you can bet your ass it won’t be anything from the appliance section at Walmart. I was thinking about going over to Tunica to play a little blackjack.”

“Why don’t you just give it to me and I’ll buy Lucy Lee a dryer to go with her new washer. You’ll lose it all just like last time.”

“Yeah, I’ll probably lose it, but I’ll have a couple of really good meals, and who knows, I might just get lucky with the ladies.”

“Damn Bubba, how many times I gotta explain it to you, luck ain’t got a damn thing to do with it. Either you got it, or you don’t.”

Bubba shook his head and grinned. Junior had “it,” whatever “it” was, and women, young and old, fell under his spell. Bubba had never had a problem with the girls, but Junior was a real chick magnet. It seemed to Bubba to be a darned shame that Junior had tied himself to Lucy Lee and appliances, but it really wasn’t his monkey. He passed ten $100 bills to Junior and said,

“I’m going to go over to Claude’s and grab a beer. Wanna come along?”

“No, I better go on home; Lucy Lee gets pissed when I go to Claude’s.”

“Oh hell, Junior, it’s been a long hot week, and what harm could come from a couple of beers?”

In the end, Junior climbed in his pick-up and followed Bubba to Claude’s Tap Room. The gravel parking lot was beginning to fill with the TGIF crowd, and Bubba and Junior took the last two seats at the bar. Claude began pulling two 16oz. Miller Drafts into frosted mugs when he saw them come in, and he slid them across the bar as they sat down. Bubba took a long, deep chug of the golden brew, wiped the foam off his lips, and signed,

“If every sip of beer tasted like that, I’d be an alcoholic.”

“Gosh, Bubba, you only drink about a case a day; I don’t see you becoming a drunk,” Junior replied with a straight face.

“Of course not; I’m careful to stop before it’s a problem.”

Both finished their mugs, and Claude drew two more. Bubba saw that the pool table was empty and said,

“Come on, I’ll let you make a little toward that dryer; let’s shoot some eight ball.”

Bubba racked the balls and flipped a coin, and Junior called tails and won the break. He carefully chalked his cue and scattered the balls across the table, then proceeded to run it. He picked up the $5.00 bill from Bubba, and re-racked the balls. Junior called out for another draft, then broke. He muffed the first shot, and ran the table and collected a second $5.00. Bubba had no illusions about beating Junior on the pool table, but it only cost $5.00 a game, and he knew just how much Junior loved it.

They drank several more drafts and played until some other guys claimed the table, so they headed back to the bar. Their seats were taken, so they took two more beers to a table by the dance floor. Claude had a local band play every Friday and Saturday night, and they started playing just as Bubba and Junior sat down. They played the old country songs, and started off with a passable rendition of Hank William’s classic I Can’t Help it if I’m Still in Love with You. Before the song was half finished, a pretty young girl came up to Junior and asked,

“Junior, will you dance with me?”

Junior smiled and said,

“Of course Nellie, it’d be my pleasure.”

Bubba watched as Junior held the girl close and led her around the dance floor in a daze. It was pure pleasure to watch Junior slide gracefully across the room. He could make the most awkward country girl feel like Ginger Rogers. That was all it took. Soon both of them were being asked to dance every number, and they did, taking time out only to finish off another beer or two. Finally one of the maidens suggested that Junior accompany her to the parking lot for some fresh air.

Bubba was taking a break, sipping on a fresh beer, when someone shouted,


Everyone spilled out into the parking lot, and Bubba made it just in time to see a stark naked Junior systematically beating a large bear of man senseless. The guy had Junior by fifty pounds, but not only was Junior a great dancer; he was a street fighting machine. Bubba stepped in and grabbed Junior before he killed the big man, and drug him away. Junior had that thousand yard stare that he got when fighting, and he struggled to break free, but Bubba held him until the adrenalin slowed, then managed to wrap him in a table cloth. He asked a bystander what had caused the fight.

The man pointed to the prone figure in the gravel, and replied,

“Cracker Hazzard found Junior and his wife Nellie in the back of her car doing the big nasty, and Cracker drug Junior out to stomp his ass.”

Bubba looked at the unconscious man being attended to by Junior’s recent partner, and said,

“I guess that didn’t pan out for him. Think she can calm him down?”

“Cracker has a hot temper, but this ain’t Nellie’s first trip down lover’s lane, so yeah, she’ll tend to him. I’m willing to bet he’s done for the night.”

Bubba looked over at Junior and said,

“Where in the hell are your clothes?”

“Probably on the floorboard of Nellie’s car. I don’t remember taking them off, but the car seems like a good place to start.”

Bubba retrieved the clothes and suggested that Junior go into the men’s room and lose the table cloth. While Junior was changing, Bubba looked at the clock behind the bar and saw that it was after midnight. The band was starting their last number of the evening when Junior returned to the table with a frosty mug of beer. The last notes of Kitty Wells’ hit, Let Yore Lawyer Talk to God echoed as he walked up.

Bubba looked at him and said,

“Junior, it’s after twelve; you need to be getting home. Lucy Lee is gonna kill you.”

Junior gave his best crooked grin and said,

“Aw, shit, she won’t be a bit madder if I don’t come home for a week; let’s go to Tunica.”


Mug of beer image is licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to www.publicdomainpictures.net

Categories: Flash Fiction

3 replies »

  1. from Mary TetreaultHope this gets to you, Tom. Frank passed away on July 21 – here at home with hospice. You can read about it at http://rowefuneralhome.net/There are some nice comments to see if you click on condolences and tributes after going to his picture. I want to also thank you for the many years of wonderful ham at Christmas – he so looked forward to it and even used the bone for soup! Mary

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