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.

The Existential Futurist: A Flash Memoir

Age 35

2015. At home. On my cell phone with Adam.

“Alright,” I said. “So are robots going to take our place as artists?”

“No,” Adam said. “Humans will always have a need to produce art.”

“Yeah, but they might be better at it. Then my writing will look like a kid did it and not mean as much.”

“No, I don’t think so.”

Age 13

1993. Sleepover at Jake’s. The first person I knew to have the internet. We saw Jurassic Park, the summer’s highest grossing film, for third time earlier that day. We’d been in online chat-rooms since we’d gotten back.

“I’m just scared,” I said.

“About what?” Jake said.

“Cause when I’m a movie director. Cause everyone’s going to be on the internet and there won’t be movies anymore.”

“I don’t think so.”

“You don’t?”

“No, people are always gonna want to go to the movies.”

I looked to the computer screen. Five more people entered the chat-room.

“Yeah, maybe,” I said. “I don’t know.”

Age 35 continued

“Yeah,” I said. “but look at what androids do now. And look at how fast it got like that in twenty years.”

“But they won’t be human,” Adam said.

“Well, what’s human? Whatever it is they might be able to reproduce it. We’ll be obsolete.”

“No, it’ll be alright.”

I looked to my computer screen. The news app said that the fourth Jurassic Park film is the fastest grossing film for the summer.

“Yeah, maybe,” I said. “I don’t know.”

Bubblegum Complex: A Flash Memoir

Age 35

Third store I’ve been to and no sling bag. Now I gotta walk out this place empty handed, wondering if the clerk thinks I’m just here to steal.

“Can I help you find something,” the clerk said.

“What?” I said.

“Is there something you need?”

Age 7

I headed down the aisle that led directly to the counter, clasping the piece of stolen gum. The exit was to the left of it, and I would have to pass Chadi as he stocked a carton of Pall Mall. But he turned before I could leave the aisle, making eye contact.

“What do you have?!” Chadi demanded.

I stood still, body pointing towards the exit, “Nothing.”

“Open your hand!”

“I don’t have nothing.”

“You steal from me?!”

“No.”

“Show me what’s in your hand.”

I opened my hand.

“Why you steal from me?!”

“I was going to give it to you later.”

“If you would have asked me, I would have given one to you. Why didn’t you ask?”

“I don’t know.”

I couldn’t run for the exit. I lived right around the corner. He could tell my parents. For the next minute, or maybe more, or maybe less, I let him scold me. He made me put back the candy and told me to leave.

“Next time I tell your parents. Okay?”

I nodded.

“Go.”

Age 35 continued

“No,” I said to the clerk.

I grabbed a travel-size shampoo and showed it to her.

“Thanks.”

I paid for it at the counter.

Outside the store, I stared at it.

Color protecting shampoo. What heck am I gonna do with this?   

A New Theory

My 10-year-old self said to my 13-year-old brother, “So before our time there was The Great Depression. And before The Great Depression there was The Old West. And before that there was The American Revolution. And before that was medieval times. And before that there was Rome. And before that there were dinosaurs. And before that there was the Big Bang. And what was before that? Well, it must come from a time where there is no time.”

“What?” my brother said.

“It all has to come from something,” I said.

He didn’t hesitate, “Get out of here!”

The moral: Never hassle your 13-year-old brother with philosophical ruminations on the universe. Especially, when he’s listening to fart competitions on Howard Stern.

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