KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 8: August 2017
Haibun Story: 369 words

The Pick-Up Artist

by Roberta Beary

midwestern loop
cars jam an exit ramp
to nowhere

The conference sends a driver in a blue Honda hatchback. Full of crap. A road atlas. Newspapers. Plastic shopping bags. A cage with a bunny inside. “OK to put my suitcase on top of the cage, since it’s kind of cramped in here?”

He gives me a wink. “No worries. I’m taking the bunny to a kill shelter after I drop you off.” Taking both hands off the wheel, he adds, “Who do I remind you of?”

Hmmm, let me think about that. A bunny-murdering weirdo sent to torture me? I think he’s keeping both hands on the wheel, but he starts moving again. Flipping open his wallet, he takes out a 3x5 glossy of Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke and his own yearbook headshot. He holds them in his right hand, steering with his left. “Can you tell us apart?” he asks.

“Yes, because you look nothing like Paul Newman.”

He spasms a bug-eyed leer. “What do you mean? We’re both Jewish, on the short side, with magnetic blue eyes. Babe magnets.”

It’s true what my shrink says. Men have a limited vocabulary. Still, he is giving me a ride. I decide to throw him a bone. “My favorite Paul Newman movie is Cool Hand Luke, what’s yours?”

He gives me a sad-sack smile. “I don’t do movies,” he says. “But don’t you think we look alike?” He sticks his face close to mine and sails right through a stop sign.

“First of all, keep your eyes on the road,” I say. “Second of all, Paul Newman is dead.”

“Really, are you sure?” he asks, looking like he’s about to cry.

Thank God we’re pulling up to the hotel. I lift my suitcase, put it on the curb, and turn to unlock the cage. I scoop the bunny in my arms. The driver doesn’t notice—he’s too busy staring down at the street. It’s his photo of Paul Newman, torn to shreds, floating in a puddle. And the bunny? I figure I’ll give it to the conference head, as a thank you for the ride.

absence of hills
nothing on either end
of the horizon


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