KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 7: Spring 2017
Flash Fiction: 513 words


by Dan Gilmore

She’s Pentecostal, a preacher’s daughter. I’m Church of Christ. We’re both forbidden to dance. It infects us with lewd thoughts. So, we sit on the junior high steps. We sit and watch the other kids dance. And I’m sure she’s going to hell because she’s not Church of Christ and because she’s tapping her foot to the music, and I know that in the Lord’s eyes tapping is the same as dancing. As for me, I’m proud Jesus is watching, because I’m not tapping my foot. I’m just watching the dancers and her foot.

Then, on its own, my foot begins to tap too. I tell it to stop but it won’t.

We sit there, both of us tapping our feet. Then I feel her finger punching at my shoulder, and she says, “My folks are going to Bible study on Saturday. Would you like to come over, and...” She sorta raises her eyebrows. I’m thinking: And what? And what? My foot’s still tapping but otherwise I’m a stone monument to Christ’s teachings. And finally she leans over and whispers one breathy word in my ear, “Daaaaance.” On its own my head bobs to the beat. My foot practically leaves my leg. And that marks the beginning of my long decline into sin.

On Saturday I ride my bike to her house, praying all the way to give me strength to turn around, and to forgive me if I can’t. But when I see hair down, bare feet, a flowered dress and painted lips, praying ceases to be important.

She puts on a record, and something like I’ve never heard at church comes out, something that makes me itch and want to holler. “It’s called Twistin’,” she says. “Goes like this.” She moves her butt back and forth and squiggles her foot like she’s putting out a cigarette.

I jump and leap, land on my feet, and start twistin’ my butt. She looks right at me. And I look back. We’re twistin’. She turns the music louder and screams, “Christ Almighty!” But I can’t scream because I’m burrowing down a long dark tunnel into my own personal darkness. And I’m scared the devil is down there, but I don’t care because I’ve never felt this good before, not even when I was baptized full immersion and rose up from the water to see the golden light shining.

The music stops but we keep dancing, close now and slow, just swaying, hardly moving. I feel her heart, the heat of her breath on my neck, the wires in her bra, and for an instant I think about my preacher’s warning about dancing and how it leads to lewd and lascivious thoughts, because I’m having plenty of them.

We move closer, our bodies weld together, and she kisses me with her painted lips, and I kiss her back, and when our tongues touch, it feels like the flutter of angel wings and I think Christ Almighty, Christ Jesus Almighty. Thank you God, You and all Your angels in heaven.


Dan Gilmore
Issue 7, Spring 2017

is the author of a novel, A Howl for Mayflower (Imago Press, 2006); a collection of new and selected haibun stories, New Shoes (KYSO Flash, 2016); a chapbook of haibun stories, Just Before Sleep (KYSO Flash, 2015); and three collections of poetry and monologues: Season Tickets, Love Takes a Bow, and Panning for Gold. He has won the Raymond Carver Fiction Contest, the Martindale Fiction Award, and multiple Sandscript Awards for Short Stories. His poems have appeared in Atlanta Review, San Diego Reader, Aethlon, Blue Collar Review, The Carolina Review, Sandscript, Loft and Range, KYSO Flash, and Serving House Journal.

“Happiest Black White Man Alive,” one of Gilmore’s flash fictions, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and was chosen by novelist Robert Olen Butler as one of the winning stories appearing in the anthology, The Best Small Fictions 2015.

In his time, Gilmore has been:

  • a fry cook,
  • a jazz musician,
  • a draft dodger,
  • a soldier,
  • an actor,
  • a minister in a Reno wedding chapel,
  • a psychologist,
  • a single parent of two children,
  • a college professor,
  • a dean, and
  • a consultant to business.

Currently, he lives in Tucson, Arizona and divides his time between playing jazz, writing, and loving his grandchildren, his life partner JoAn, and his cat.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

New Shoes, Gilmore’s collection of new and selected haibun stories reviewed by Kathryn Kulpa in KYSO Flash (Issue 7, Spring 2017)

Just Before Sleep, Gilmore’s chapbook of haibun stories reviewed by Duff Brenna in KYSO Flash (Issue 4, Fall 2015)

Dan Gilmore Poetry Reading at The Rogue Theater in Tucson, Arizona; in addition to Gilmore reading from his poetry collections, also includes readings of his poems by actors such as David Greenwood (“Semper Fi” and “Prayer Wars”)

Consternation and two other prose poems in Serving House Journal (Issue 9, Spring 2014)

The Hyperbolist and three other poems in Serving House Journal (Issue 8, Fall 2013)

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