Ice Cream Party: A Flash Fiction

“Well,” my dad said, “you can’t just say that you don’t want to sing in the Christmas concert, Marc.”

“Why not?” I said.

“They’re not gonna like that. You’re gonna have to tell them that you’re a Jehovah’s Witness.”

“What’s a Jehovah’s Witness?”

“Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate Christmas.”

I gave Mrs. Reed that excuse the next day.

 “I didn’t know you were Jehovah’s Witness,” she said. “But you pledge to the flag.”

“Yeah, my dad said that we’re not that kind of Jehovah’s Witness.”

“Alright, but there won’t be any ice cream party for you.”

Over the next few weeks, students taunted me:

“Ice cream parties are fun.”

“There’s gonna be music.”

“You don’t like ice cream?”

One week later, the entire class was treated to ice cream. Myself, the actual Jehovah’s Witnesses, and misbehaved students were sent to the cafeteria where we did school work.

“I wish we could be at the party,” Ralph said.

I looked up. “I don’t like ice cream.”

I continued working.

The Dunbar Number ©2016 by Marc Alexander Valle

First published in The Lehigh Valley Vanguard  ©2016

If you keep your mind open and listen to someone’s view, you can believe anything.

People on the ‘left’ always seem right, logical, thorough. People on the ‘right’ always seem right, thorough, logical.

Clinging to their views like a cat to its master’s when it’s about to go into a tub.

You second guess yourself.

You figure it out again,

you come up with new points, arguments, philosophies,

you tell yourself that your view is free from the influence of experience,

you tell yourself that you’re not free from the influence of experience, but still must be right.

Like you happened to have fallen out of a womb that landed you into the right time, place, race and class in history.

But have you ever met someone that admits to having the wrong point of view? I have. The person’s name is ___________. The person has asked to remain unidentified but has this to say: The momentum of cause and effect acts on us all, acts within us, acts without us. Don’t listen to me. Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

The Chestnut (Longer Version)©2016 by Marc Alexander Valle

The old man contemplated suicide. He would walk the park. Maybe change his mind.

Children played.

Mothers talked.

Dogs barked.

Fathers caught baseballs.

He still wanted death.

He turned to the creek and stepped on its bank. An object floated towards him, a squirrel clenching onto a chestnut. The old man bent down and held out his cane.  He leaned in as it neared. But the squirrel kept holding on to the chestnut.

The creek pulled the squirrel downstream. Then, submerged it.

Children played.

Mothers talked.

Dogs barked.

Fathers caught baseballs.

“Stupid animal,” a boy said. “Why do they do that?”

“Everybody’s gotta eat,” the old man said. “No matter how stupid you are.”

“I don’t get it.”

The old man turned away. “Sometimes you’re not supposed to.”

Both story and image by Marc Alexander Valle ©2016.

For the shorter, one-hundred word version of the story, click here, and please click ‘Like’ if you liked it.

 

3 Poems and a Photo©2016 by Marc Alexander Valle

These are three poems of mine from an untitled series. They have been published in Beechwood Review (http://beechwoodreview.com), a minimalist online journal. The attached photo is also mine.  

Branches, buddings, purple wrens,
landing, chirping, bouncing,
over battlefield trenches

Desert, moon, white, dunes,
sand, blowing,
unearthing limestone ruins

Thick mist clears,
hot air balloon armada
blots the atmosphere

All poems and photography by Marc Alexander Valle ©2016.

Weird by Marc Alexander Valle*

People called me weird in elementary school, because I said that I was Superman since I was wearing red underwear.

People called me weird in middle school, because I always talked about movies and used Star Wars analogies to make my point.

People called me weird in high school because I was quiet and would suddenly say something totally irrelevant like “Bill Clinton would have made a good Roman general, don’t you think?”

People would call me weird because I could consume a gallon of spaghetti sauce but hated tomatoes. Because I would drive all around the block to find a stop light simply because I didn’t like left hand turns. Because I would drink coffee followed by a soothing cup of chamomile.

Being called weird doesn’t bother me as much anymore. I figure that being weird is better than being a ‘weirdo’. A weirdo is like the Rain Man of weirdness. I consider myself the Good Will Hunting of weirdness…more adjusted, less irritable.

Weirdness is the state of not being normal. But weirdness is definitely a normal phenomenon in nature. Look to the sky and study flocks of sparrows swarming to and fro, left to right, up and down. There’s always one bird just outside the swarm, trying to keep up, trying to break off.

He’s weird. Maybe even a weirdo.

We’re all weird on some level. Some people are weird on all levels. I’m probably weird on a few levels, but nothing I’m uncomfortable with. Well, except for a couple of things. But if I told you, you’d probably call me weird.

*Published in Lehigh Valley Vanguard

Posted image above by Marc Alexander Valle.

New Bike by Marc Alexander Valle*

New Bike

10-year old Devin Maguire held onto his BMX handle bars and stared at my new bike, “Your dad got that bike from a thrift store.”

“No he didn’t!” I said.

“Yes he did. I can tell.”

“No, he didn’t.”

“Yeah, cause there’s marks on it.”

“He got it from K-Mart.”

“Okay, which one?”

“The one down the street.”

“I know all the bikes at K-Mart. I didn’t see that one there.”

“Well, that’s where he got it from.”

“Did he tell you he got it from there?”

“No.”

“Then how do you know?”

“Cuz, my parents don’t shop at thrift stores!”

When my dad came back from work, he told me that he bought the bike from a thrift store. The same store we’d been to several times that year.

*Previously published in Lehigh Valley Vanguard

Deep Thought by Marc Alexander Valle

Deep Thought

by Marc Alexander Valle

She told my co-worker

that I was just in deep thought

after he asked why I don’t talk.

Deep thought.

So often labeled ‘quiet’

Deep thought.

that I started to get used to it.

She said that co-workers referred to her as a ‘dolt’

when it came to judging character.

But maybe she just needed a euphemism.

Like ‘deep thought’ for ‘odd’,

or ‘good-natured’ for ‘dolt’.

But I never said anything.

I was in too deep of thought

to realize that I should.

Published in Lehigh Valley Vanguard on 6/29/15

Published Piece: 34 and Up

34 and Up

by Marc Alexander Valle

     At 15, a classmate, Billy Murphy, was shot to death by his half-brother, Jason Roberts. It was the result of an armed, verbal argument. The altercation started over food, but ended with Billy being fire upon as he watched television. The following day, the high school loud speaker said that counseling was available to all students. Two female friends of Billy were crying in my English class. They were sent to the guidance office.

At 34, I found a former classmate, Sara Rodgers, on an online dating website. We met for a few drinks. She was in that same English class as those two grieving girls.

“Was it really true Billy was shot over a pierogi?” I said.

“Yeah it was,” she said.

“Wow. We were only sophomores, so I hadn’t had a class with him yet.”

“Marc, you did have a class with him! He sat in front of you in that English class for two whole marking periods!”

I still can’t remember Billy sitting in front of me at 15, but a thought started to brew in my mind over the next few months: From the time Billy died until that date with Sara, I’d gotten to experience The Matrix Trilogy, Xbox video games, the discovery of over one thousand new planets, two new presidents, the pleasure of reading Shakespeare, the joy of singing karaoke, performing open mic poetry, my older brother’s wedding, saying “I love you” to a woman, earning my degree in English, camera phones, wi-fi, Wikipedia, podcasts, Facebook, YouTube, google, e-mail, apps, skyping, texting, vining, tweeting, eating the best buffalo wings in the county and figuring out what my favorite brand of beer is.

I don’t know how I blocked out Billy Murphy.

Would he have blocked out me?