KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 11: Spring 2019
Flash Fiction: 986 words

That Is So Brooklyn

by AN Block
 

I stood alone in a corner at the New Year’s Eve mixer I went to in Bayside after making my mind up—it’s enough already, I’m a full-fledged civil engineer with a city job and car now, the lovely Rachel’s dumped me (again, temporarily?) for some burnout who just sits around meditating, we’re going in circles, and it’s time for a serious back-up plan. Then, I don’t know, the words just came to me: “Hey,” I said to this woman I’d had my eye on, “it’s supposed to rain tomorrow.

“Nice line!” Veronica said, winking big. “I like a fellow who’s on top of the weather.” She had owlish green eyes, cutie pie bangs, and a figure on her from here to eternity. Her uncle, she told me, was a world famous chiropodist.

“Beginner’s luck,” my sidekick Dickie, the gnome-like English and Anthropology double major who’d recently secured lifelong female companionship would tell me, the following day. “Don’t read too much into it, Jake, it’s New Year’s.”

“Okay, Don Juan,” I would say, “whatever.”

Veronica knew how to vamp it up fast, we danced up a storm, then found a dark alcove and performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on one another till just before the ball dropped, at which point she whispered, “So, is this all you’re after, Brooklyn? Some kissy-face?”

“Well, don’t put it like that,” I told her. “We only just met.”

“Know what you are?” she said, pulling away as everyone started counting down. “A joke with no punch line.”

“Me?”

When I asked for her number, she shouted “What for? It’ll only end badly!” and that was it for Veronica, until I saw her slinking around a disco months later when her makeup had turned brassier, her hair was pomaded back, and she was wearing a pair of clunky metallic heels.

“Don’t work up a sweat, Lo-Lo,” she warned a woman I had approached. “All talk, this one is, but no action.”

“A Brooklyn boy, huh?” Lo-Lo said, pointing to the sweatshirt I always wore. “What a surprise!”

By then my skin had toughened, as I’d gone every weekend to a dance or some other social function in the greater Bayside area and beyond, wherever eligible young maidlach congregated. It’s well established, I have many failings, but shyness isn’t one. Being superstitious though, I kept repeating the line that had sealed the deal once, sort of, even though it kept laying one egg after another.

Each time I mentioned rain in the forecast, the Law of Averages meant that whoever answered, “No, it won’t!” or “You said that last week in Mineola,” or who fled outright, only brought me closer to finding a best friend for life to share my dreams with and, God willing, to be the mother of our unborn children, replacing just a few of the innocent cousins, aunts and uncles they slaughtered in Europe. I’m persistent (“a plugger” one of my professors said), and if I kept getting shot down, big deal. Some nights though, delivering my weather report, I’d wonder, What am I doing here?

“It’s your technique, Jake,” volunteered my good buddy Dickie. “Women dig questions more than declarative sentences.”

Hey,” I began to ask, “would you care for a raisin, or two?” Why? They happen to be my favorite nosh and I always keep a mini-box of Sun-Maid stashed in a pocket for emergencies.

Even leading off with a question, my batting average remained zero-zero-zero. In fact, anyone I’d offer raisins would either stare, or pretend to gag, like they were poison, and I’d have to remind myself, it was all a numbers game, which got even harder once some eagle-like creature at a dance looked down her beak at me, shook her feathers, and screamed, “What’s that? Yuk! Get away from me! That is so Brooklyn of you.”

“I’m not ingratiating myself,” I told Dickie. “In fact, the females are turning hostile.”

“Lose the sweatshirt,” he said. “You remember, Abbe kept noodging, I want to get married, I want to get married? Well, graduation comes, I give her a ring, and now she’s like, Oh, wonderful, so in the middle of everything you expect me to go plan a wedding? You’re better off, trust me.”

Rachel, my on-again, off-again, was a spacey art school girl who studied pottery, drama, and interpretive dance. Opposites attract? “But, you’re too opposite,” she complained. “And we have nothing to say to one another. Lately.” The nail in the coffin: I’d bought my very own bowling ball.

On New Year’s Eve, Dickie and I caught a movie in the city, Blow-Up, then went to a bar. Fog was drifting out of Central Park, the clip clop of the horses and onrushing traffic sounds drowned out whatever farkakte wisdom he was trying to dispense on our walk to the train, and in my beery haze I couldn’t help feeling jealous, picturing my neighbor Marisa, a lonely young mother with tight capri pants and spiky shoes whose husband travelled for work. Yes, I’m fully aware, it’s a sin.

“So,” Dickie asked, “did you at least find it stimulating?”

“What? That nutty French avant-garde flick?”

“Isn’t French,” he said, “it’s Italian.”

“Same difference.”

“It matters to them.”

“Why, did you like it?”

“What’s ‘like’ mean? The question is, was it stimulating?”

“For 30 seconds max, the boobs part, but no way was it worth three-fifty.”

“Don’t be crude.”

“You quoting Elvis now?”

“And don’t wallow.”

“I always thought my little Rachel would be ‘the one.’ New year though, new me. The worst put-down, she said I’m superficial. Believe that?”

“You are,” Dickie said, “but everyone is, so pointing it out is superficial. Everyone’s the same, it’s just fashions and customs that differ.”

“Look,” a woman stumbling through a throng of revelers bellowed, elbowing her friend, “it’s that raisin guy from Brooklyn. Gross!”

Whereupon we heard thunder and it started pouring.

 

AN Block
Issue 11, Spring 2019

teaches at Boston University, is Contributing Editor at the Improper Bostonian, and a Master of Wine. His recent publications include stories in Buffalo Almanack (recipient of its Inkslinger Award for Creative Excellence), Umbrella Factory Magazine (a Pushcart Prize nominee), and Lowestoft Chronicle (a Pushcart Prize nominee).

Recent stories also appear in Amarillo Bay, Blue Bonnet Review, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Burningwood Literary Journal, Constellations, Contrary, Crack the Spine, DenimSkin, Down in the Dirt, Drunk Monkeys, Falling Star, Flash Frontier, Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts, Litbreak, Literally Stories, Menda City Review, New Pop Lit, Nite Writers International Literary Journal, Per Contra, Projected Letters, Solstice, The Bicycle Review, The Binnacle, The Broadkill Review, The Citron, The Hungry Chimera, The Junto, The Maine Review, Torrid Literature, and several others.

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