KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 8: August 2017
Flash Fiction: 757 words


by Richard Holinger

“I’m tired of traveling,” she says, poking her peaches. “I don’t want to go anywhere.”

“We’re not going anywhere. We’re done with all that. We’re settled. We’re confined.” He sweeps his hand through the air to define the floral-wallpapered dining area.

“Except Normandy. I’ll go to Normandy. If someone asks me.”

“Why Normandy?” he asks, uninterested.

“The wine. The beaches. The war.”


“I had an uncle. Or great-uncle. Maybe a cousin.”

“Died there?”

“He landed with Salinger.”

He looks up. “J.D.?”

“You know another one?”

“Your uncle knew J.D. Salinger? Met him? Stormed the D-Day beach with him?”

“I’m tired, Sammy.”

“The name’s Henry. Sammy was your first boyfriend. I was your first husband.” He pauses. “Only husband.”

“It must be late.”

“Finish your peaches. They’re fresh. The kitchen opened the can right before dinner. Heavy syrup. Tell me what your uncle told you about Salinger.”

“Uncle Derek. Or he might have been only a close family friend, the kind everyone calls ‘uncle.’”

“Not pertinent. Don’t drift, Lu.”

“I had a crush on him. He had a beard and swore like a novelist.”

“Bring it back.” He puts a hand on her forearm. Her skin feels like cold sandpaper. “You said your uncle landed with J.D. Salinger on D-Day.”


“Right. Jerry Salinger.”

“These peaches taste funny. They’re not like the kind that grows on the tree out back. I picked a few. Where are they, Sammy? Peaches taste more flavorful when just picked.”

“That was when we lived in our house, baby. That was when we had kids who loved us. Look, did Jerry say anything about the stories he was writing? Did he say anything about Holden Caulfield?”

“Jerry who?”

He holds her hand and squeezes gently. “Come back, Lu.”

“I haven’t gone anywhere.”

“If you only knew. Lu, your Uncle Derek, the World War Two grunt who fought alongside J.D. Salinger who had pocketed six hand-written stories about a teenager named Holden Caulfield.”

“Is that right?”


“Coffee, Mrs. Hendricks?”

He glances up at Madeline, his favorite server.

“She’ll have the high-test,” Henry answers for her.

“Not decaf?” Madeline asks. “She usually goes for decaf.”

“Not tonight. She’s tired, and she needs stimulating.”

“I can make my own decisions, Sammy.”

“Okay, then.” Henry leans back in his chair. “What’ll it be? Decaf or regular?”

“Decaf or regular what?”

“She’ll have the regular.” Henry leans forward again. “Can you believe it, Madeline? She knew someone who knew J.D. Salinger.”

“Who’s that?” Madeline asks, filling Luellen’s cup.

“Oh, Christ, you’re kidding me.”

Madeline giggles. “Swearing’s not allowed in the dining room, Mr. Hendricks.”

“Neither is blind ignorance.” He looks up at the girl. “You don’t know Catcher in the Rye?”

“Hum a few bars. We’ll have a sing-along.”

“He was affable,” says Luellen.

“Gotta go,” Madeline announces. “Goodnight, you lovebirds.”

“Come see me at midnight.” He winks. “I’ll leave my door cracked.”

“Wicked, wicked man,” Madeline calls back.

“Who’s affable, Lu? Uncle Derek or Jerry Salinger?” He bends her index and middle fingers through the pink plastic cup’s handle. “Drink up.”

“Uncle Derek used to say he always saw the man writing. ‘Intensely,’ he kept saying, ‘intensely. Like a man fighting for breath,’ he used to say.”

“This is marvelous!” Henry coaxes the cup up to her mouth, then begins scribbling. “Hold that thought. I want to get this down.”

“That’s a cloth napkin, Sammy. It’s probably linen.”

“Even better. Lasts longer.”

“You’re destroying that napkin.”

“Exactly. I’m recording history on it. Like On the Road’s continuous ream.”

“Madeline!” Luellen shouts.

“Shush! She’ll hear you.” He lightly punches her arm. “Drink up. What else did Uncle Derek always say?”

“Stop that!”

“Good God, hold it down!”

“He’s defacing a napkin! Madeline!”

“Okay, okay, okay! Look, the other side has nothing written on it. We’ll fold it like this, and no one’ll know anything’s amiss.”

“Everything okay over here?” Madeline holds out her two carafes like six-guns aimed at armed robbers.

“Look what Sammy did.” Luellen reaches for the offending napkin, but Henry slaps the trespassing hand. “Ow!”

“Mr. Hendricks!” Madeline calls. “Code gray, Dining!”

“No, no, no, no!” Henry whimpers. “Her Uncle Derek...”

Two burly aides lift Henry out of his chair and escort him across the dining room. He turns his head and sees Luellen rubbing the slapped hand. She holds it up, and Madeline kisses it.

“Do you want to hear about Jerry?” Luellen asks Madeline, and pats the seat where Henry once sat. “He was far more affable than that boar.”


Richard Holinger
Issue 8, August 2017

lives in the Fox Valley, west of Chicago. He has received three Pushcart Prize nominations, and his fiction, poetry and nonfiction appear in The Southern Review, The Iowa Review, Boulevard, and elsewhere. He teaches high school English, writes a bi-monthly newspaper column, and facilitates a local writers workshop. A book-length collection of short fiction is in progress.

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