The 500th Block of Vincent Child: A Flash Fiction

Special thanks to Door is a Jar, who first published the story in the Spring of 2019. 

The 500th Block of Vincent Child

by Marc Alexander Valle (mavthewriter)

     Vincent Child watched as the young man assaulted the old man across the street. He wasn’t sure if it was a robbery and didn’t know what to do if it was. So he stood still, watching the young man grab and shove the old man in front of the tenement on the narrow one-way street.

Vincent looked around. No pedestrians. Only him and the two men on the sunless block. A knot formed in his stomach and he could feel the cold breeze more intensely, cutting through his black jacket and tan pants. The men continued to struggle.

He wished he hadn’t turned this corner. Yesterday, he turned onto another street. That was his usual route for the last ten days as he substitute taught for an eighth grade teacher at Jackson Middle School. But he’d read an article that said that if you change certain routines in your life, you can change your brain waves and create positive thought patterns. So he turned onto the 500th block of Chester St, a slightly downhill block of apartment buildings and tightly parked clunkers, then he crossed the street.

“Give it,” the young man said.

“No!” the old man said.

The young man punched the old man, who fell behind a parked Cadillac. The young man crouched down. Vincent could see neither of them now. He could hear sirens getting closer and wondered who they were for.

He looked around again. A woman pushing a stroller walked his way. He believed that she hadn’t seen the struggle across the street, but he figured she would soon. And when she did the woman would believe that he was a coward. She would tell the police that he did nothing and the news would quote her as saying, “No one did anything. He just stood there.”

Vincent pulled his cell phone from out of his jacket. He turned it on and waited.

     What icon do I press? Do I call 911? Are they already coming?

“Help!” he heard from the old man.

The young man was standing back up. “Stop!” he said, looking down and kicked.

“Give it.” He kicked again.

“Hey,” Vincent said. “Hey!”

The young man looked over. “I called the cops,” Vincent said, raising his phone to the young man.  “The cops.” The siren were blaring and getting closer.

The young man crouched down again behind the Cadillac.

“What’s that?” the woman said.

“I don’t know,” Vincent said, “Two guys fighting.”

The woman shook her head and kept walking with the stroller.

Vincent kept looking at her as she walked away, then turned to the Cadillac.

He could neither hear, nor see either of the two. He turned back to the woman with the stroller. She was nearing the corner. He turned to the Cadillac. Still no commotion. Then back to the woman as she turned the corner. Then back to the Cadillac.

“Hey,” Vincent said.

No response.

He turned and started walking down the block.

“No! Stop!” he heard someone say behind the Cadillac. “No!”

It sounded like the young man. But it could have been the old man. He wasn’t sure.

“Hey,” he said.

No response. No commotion. Vincent backed closer to the corner.

He heard the sirens, blaring and getting closer.

     The cops are on their way. I’m late.

     They were blaring and getting close.

     I’m sure they’re coming here.

He turned the corner.

“A 67-year old man was beaten to death yesterday on the 500th block of Chester St. at 9:00 am. Police were alerted by neighbors–

Vincent Child put down his phone on the desk. The incident he saw took place at 7:00 am. A full two hours before neighbors called. It’s impossible to have been the men I saw. He exhaled and stood up.

The seventh grade students would be arriving in ten minutes. He’d wanted to avoid seventh grade. He heard they were bad this year, but he was sent to cover one period after his break. The teacher’s lesson plan was at the center of the desk:

Students will be wrapping up their projects on How My Community Feels. If finished, tell them to post drawing on the corkboard. Some students are finished. Have them read a book.

Vincent walked over to look at the drawings. Most drawings had children playing. Some had children with family. A few had people arguing. But in one drawing there was a man on the ground with another man standing above him. Vincent read the words below it:

I saw a man get beat out my window and no one did nothing. Makes me scared.

Vincent looked at the image again. At the edge of the paper, a woman in purple held onto a yellow stroller. Behind her, a man dressed in a black jacket and tan pants. The man in the black jacket looked back at the two men with wide eyes and an open mouth. He saw “Period 3, 7th grade” labeled at the top of the paper. Vincent was in period 2 now.

The school bell rang.

Vincent took his black jacket and hung it in the closet. He doubled checked his pants and saw they were blue today. The students could be heard down the hall, yelling and getting closer. Part of his job was to serve as hall monitor in between classes, but he could only stand still, listening to them yelling and getting closer.

Vincent looked over to the drawing again and studied the face of the man with the black jacket. He had the vertical face his mother always said he had and noticed shaky lines to make him look more scared. He put his head down and took a deep breath.

Vincent turned to the door again. He could hear the kids coming down the hall, yelling and getting closer. Yelling and getting closer.

Marc Alexander Valle ©2019

Twitter, Instagram, Youtube Channel: Mavthewriter

The Bucket: A Flash Nonfiction by Marc Alexander Valle

“Wax on, wax off,” I said. Tanya laughed. I continued with more impersonations.

After the fourth minute, it was indisputable. The second grade blackboard was clean. I would have to impress her another time.

“Alright,” she said. “Mrs. Reed makes us dump the water in the sink when we’re done.”

Tanya approached the sink. I followed.

“I got it,” I said, taking the bucket from her.

“Mrs. Reed told you how to dump it, right?”

“Yeah! Watch.”

I grabbed the handle with my left hand and lifted. It wobbled. I held the bottom with my other hand. All I needed was to get it above the sink, way above, as high as I could get it without getting water on the counter.

Tanya stepped forward, “Mrs. Reed said–

I tilted the bucket.

“Just make sure you pour the water sl—

I dumped all of the water into the sink in one shot. Nearly all of it splashed back.

Tanya backed off a step.

I backed off a few.

But it was too late.

“Oh my God! You got water all over my dress.”

I looked at myself, “Yeah, I got it on me too.”

“Why’d you do that? You were supposed to pour it in.”

“I didn’t know.”

Students got out of their seats, looking over.

“Ooohhh, weeee,” they said.

I turned to Mrs. Reed’s desk.

She was walking towards us. I placed my hands in front of me to cover the water.

The Ride by Marc Alexander Valle

“You guys want to stay here and watch Transformers,” my dad said. “Or do you want to go on a ride?”

My older brother voted to stay at the department store to finish the episode on a big screen color TV.

I voted for the ride.

“Well, you guys have to figure this out,” my dad said.

I turned to my brother, “I want to go on a ride.”

“I want to watch Transformers,” my brother said.

“I want to go for a ride!”

“I never saw this on a big TV.”

“What’s the ride?” I said to my dad.

“Well, you’re not going to see until you get on?”

“I want to go on a ride,” I said to my brother.

“I don’t want to go,” he said.

“But you’ve seen this one,” my dad said.

“Yeah, we saw it!” I said.

“No.”

“Come on!”

“No.”

“I want to go!”

“No!”

I want to gooooooooo!

He looked over, “No.”

I turned to my dad: “I want to go for a ride.”

“Well,” he said. “Since you guys can’t decide, you can watch this at home.”

“But it’s gonna be over then,” my brother said.

“It’ll come on again.”

We went on the ride. It was a five-story, downward spiral car ramp. The one we were always going to ride if we wanted to leave the parking lot.

Delicacy: A Flash Fiction (Feedback Please!)

Delicacy

by Marc Alexander Valle

The boy looked down at the worm, squirming on the backwoods trail. A ray of light illuminated its pinkish hue and a warm breeze hit his face.

“Eat it,” she said. “I’ll kiss you.”

“No,” he said.

“Then no,” she said.

But he had wanted to kiss her all summer, floating in the deep in the pool, bumping her hand at the movie theater as he reached for soda, lying on the grassy field with the late morning sun warming him enough to feel bliss.

He looked back down. Then kept squirming and picking up dirt.

“It tastes like nothing,” she said. “Go ‘head.”

He thought of candy then reached down and picked it up.

He could feel its life force as it wiggled and expanded on his palm. Candy would be pointless, he thought, “It’s too fleshy.” Then he imagined roast chicken instead.

“I’ve done it,” she said, “You won’t get sick.”

He popped it in his mouth and could feel it slither then contract, the dirt turning to grim on his tongue. He swallowed it and closed his eye. It slide down his throat quickly and he could feel it move. And like everything else he ate, the feeling disappeared just before reaching the stomach.

He opened his eyes and looked to her.

“Yuck,” she said.

He stepped forward and closed his eyes again.

His lips touched hers.

But he felt nothing in return. He held the kiss and waited for her to reciprocate. But he felt nothing in return. He stepped forward and moved his face closer to her. But he felt nothing in return. He could feel nothing but the dead lips, hear nothing but the cicadas and crickets chirping. Just the dead lips and live bugs and the hope of something in return.

She pulled away and jabbed his stomach.

“Gross,” she said, “I’m not kissing bugs.”

As he held onto his gut crunched over he could see her walk away down the path and out of sight. The pain spread across his abdomen and he wasn’t sure if he needed to go to the bathroom.

He could hear the bird chirping and an animal moving in the brush. He had to go home now. If he was late for dinner one more time, he’d be grounded for two days.

Rays of light disappeared as a cloud rolled in. A cooler breeze hit his face. He wondered what boy he’d get to tell first.

Lancelot and Arthur at the Corner Bodega: A Flash Fiction

Lancelot and Arthur at the Corner Bodega

by Marc Alexander Valle

 “If you step on the line,” Terry said, “it’s a laser, and it’ll cut your legs off.”

“Yeah?” Eddie said.

“So we gotta jump them.”

“Are we fighting evil knights?”

“No, just lasers.”

“Okay.”

They never used lasers before, but Eddie had seen them in a movie, and he thought they were the most dangerous weapon. He liked the idea. So the boys walked over one sidewalk line to the next.

Terry’s movement was fluid. He’d step over the line, then he’d have to hop the next one or two. Eddie took his time, hopping over one, then stepping forward a bit until he’d hop the next line.

Last week, they dodged arrows, and Eddie got shot in the knee, so Terry claimed.

“The most painful place in the world to get shot in,” Terry said. “We’re out of commission. The queen is dead.” Eddie decided to practice his jumps every summer day since that event. He felt that he was prepared this time.

Terry pulled ahead.

“Wait up,” Eddie said.

“Come on,” Terry said.

“Wait up.”

Terry stopped.

Eddie continued to hop and step just a bit faster, but not too fast.

“Eddie, come on. There’s gators.”

“What?”

“Alligators behind you.”

“Alligators?!”

Eddie hopped and stepped faster. He’d seen alligators on television, and he feared what they called “the death roll”. Concrete block by concrete block, he began to find a flow and a groove. He could sense the gap between the gators and himself widening behind him. He caught up to Terry. “Where are we going?” he said.

“Around the corner,” Terry said. “To the store.”

“For what?”

“I want a 5-Nougats.”

“I can’t do this that far.”

“You want a Swill Stick?”

“Yeah.”

And they continued, hopping and stepping. Eddie fell behind. Terry stopped and waited, then started again. They continued around the corner and approached Stephanie and the jump rope girls. He knew Stephanie from class and liked her and thought she’d be impressed with his new jumping skills. He once gave her a valentine with a knight drawn on it. His caption read, “I’ll save you, princess.” Eddie jumped as far as he could and nearly touched dog poop. He checked to see if Stephanie saw, but she continued to count the girl’s jumps.

Eddie continued. Neither boy stepped on a line.

Eddie caught up to Terry. Terry looked ahead. He could see the sign for the corner store up the block.

“Alright,” Terry said. “No more lasers.”

“No?”

“No. See that house? That’s a sniper’s nest. It’s got Nazis in it.”

“What are Nazis?”

“You remember Uncle Jimmy?”

“Yeah.”

“He used to kill them. Now they want to kill us. So we can step on the lines now cause they don’t need lasers anymore, but we gotta run. Real fast. On three.”

“But you said lasers.”

“Yeah, but Nazis now.”

“What about the alligators?”

“No, just Nazis. So here we go. Three..two…one.”

But Eddie stood still, looking at the sidewalk.

“I said let’s go,” Terry said, looking back.

Eddie shook his head.

“Come on. They’ll blow your head open.”

Eddie shook his head again.

“You want to get blown up?”

Eddie shrugged his shoulders.

“It’s just for now,” Terry said, touching Eddie’s arm.

“I thought you said lasers.”

“Yeah but for now.”

“Yeah but lasers.”

This wasn’t the first time Terry changed the rules. But it was the first time Eddie insisted on following the previous instructions.

“I’ll get you a soda,” Terry said.

Eddie put his head down.

“And a mystery bag of candy.”

Eddie looked up.

“Or a bag of gummies.”

Eddie’s eyes opened wide, “Okay.”

They ran. They ducked. Terry yelled commentary on the sniper’s fire. Eddie lagged just a little behind. But not too far.

They made it to the store.

“Alright, just a regular size bag of gummies,” Terry said.

Eddie nodded.

“And a small soda.”

Eddie nodded.

“And don’t tell mom about the soda. Finish it before you get there.”

Eddie nodded again. Terry turned to the steps of the store.

“I win,” Eddie said.

“What?” Terry said.

“You got no legs!”

“What?”

An ice cream truck turned corner down the street. Eddie could see Stephanie and the jump rope girls stop, then run toward their row home. The sidewalk was clear now, and Eddie estimated that there must be one-thousand lines and cracks on the ground. This was the most he’d ever jumped. Sweat began to bead on his forehead. He turned to Terry whose eye brows were crunched down, waiting for a reply.

“Nothing.”