Monday, October 20, 2008

Fall Flash Fiction Challenge

The story starter from Patti Abbott:

Since women have become a bit of a political football of late, I have a choice of two lines to use in a 750 or so word story. Both lines come from an obscure and strange Kay Francis movie from 1932 called Cynara.

"I have been faithful to you, Cynara, in my fashion."

Soup of the Day

by Gerald So

Ed and Cynara Hutton had breakfast 8:30 every morning at Rocky's Diner, Ed starting with a bowl of cream of artichoke soup as a show of devotion. He'd done it mostly to be clever, but in the thirty-nine years they were married and ten years after she passed, he developed a taste for artichoke.

On his seventy-first birthday, however, Ed didn't go to Rocky's for breakfast. Called for jury duty, he had to be at the county courthouse by 8:30. Sitting in the central jury room, he read the three newspapers he brought along. By 12:30, he hadn't been empaneled, and was told he could go to lunch until 2:30.

The courthouse was just far enough from Rocky's that Ed didn't want to make the walk. Instead, he had lunch in the courthouse cafeteria: a dry, tasteless hamburger and ten-ounce, two-dollar bottle of water.

Back in the central jury room by 2:15, Ed started reading Maximum Bob by Elmore Leonard, and didn't hear his name called. At 4:30, he checked at the front desk.

No, he hadn't been called.

The secretary handed him a certificate of service and said, "See you in six years."

Ed smiled at her, knocked on the desktop, and left.

He descended the courthouse steps slowly.

Behind him, a woman called out, "Long day, huh?"

Ed turned and recognized her as someone who'd sat there all day, same as he had.

"I didn't get called, either. Where are you headed?"


"I know it. I can drive us."

Ed really looked at her then and, to his surprise, said, "Sure."

As usual, he placed an order beginning with cream of artichoke. A different waitress took his order, but returned shortly, frowning. "I'm sorry. We're out of cream of artichoke. Can I get you something else?"

Ed thought, I have been faithful to you, Cynara, in my fashion, and said, "I'll have the cream of mushroom."

"Make that two," his companion said.

"Name's Ed," he said when the waitress was gone. "What's yours?"

Blushing, she said, "Bella."



My first story inspired by Patti's challenge used the line, "Call no woman respectable till she's dead," so I used the alternate line for this one. I looked up Cynara on Wikipedia, discovered its relation to artichokes, and off my imagination ran.


Others Tackle the Topic

Patricia Abbott, "Cynara"

Cormac Brown, "Cynara"

Clair Dickson, "Weaker Sex"

Ray Foster, "Death Levels"

John McAuley, "A Million Miles Away"

r2, "Goodbye Cynara"

Stephen D. Rogers, "Lady Killer"

Sandra Seamans, "A Collusion of Suits"


pattinase (abbott) said...

Damn, that was cute. Loved it.

sandra seamans said...

This is such a sweet story, Gerald. I loved it, too!

Ray said...

Thoroughly enjoyed this story.

Thanks for looking at mine. The name's Ray Foster - but I've forgotten whether I registered the blog with that name or my writer's name. I guess Ray Foster will do.

r2 said...

Nice story. Very rich in detail. It's rare that you really like a character in a flash piece. But I felt I got to know Ed Hutton and I liked him.

Cormac Brown said...

Ah, infidelity of the third kind.

I like it and that definition of "Cynara" also explains the aperitif with the same name.