Minneapolis Vignettes by Zebulon Huset
The last sliver of ice struggles vailiantly to remain in existence in an abaondoned glass, chasin the little red straw. On the bar by toothpicks, limes and olives, there are coasters with the 1980’s Budweiser logo. Counting Crows on the jukebox, cracked red vinyl barstools and dim lighting to hide the dust that’s settled on the regulars, day and night; the same songs. The same silence.
The ashtray brimming with butts: brown and white, gray ash accumulated on the bottom. It’s a photograph, gritty, emotional, of the grutty emotions he feels, or thinks he should feel. Used up and discarded, smashed, snuffed out; angry apathy from all angles. Nothing is alive in the picture. The next in the series is an empty pack, and an empty bok of matches. Head buried under his camera’s black cloth.
The Side Street
Her car on the side of the road, reflecting dusty red back at the man in the moon, making him angry, and he reflects that back. Eyes narrowed, the stoplights all turn yellow, then red and black. Streetlights flicker, then are pinched out like meager matchsticks in the hand of something larger, and implausible. By morning they will be back with their boring brilliance.
The “n” blinks its non-confidence from the orange and once-bright-red sign. Through the large windows no one looks out onto the deserted street. In a booth, the prematurely wrinkled waitress sits alone in the well lit, empty diner, book in front of her, a cold-coffee stare at the same page for hours.
Crassly hewn rocks slant shadows at the unmown grass, long, hunched over under the toil of carrying the evening’s dew. The slabs: misaligned in child drawn lines of the non-meticulous, the cheap. The oak blackens clots of midnight sky, globs of nothingness. Gunshots go unheard by any but the impervious triggerman, speeding away from the warm body in a nondescript car.
The clouds have been siphoned of color and lie like a ceiling cast over the water. The lake’s blues, too, have gone to gray, a choppy mass of desaturation. A painter by the lakeshore, still, his head bowed and canvas untouched, unbrushed. Until he plants paint on the plane, he is not a painter, but only a plain man, sad at the loss of his blues, listening to the melancholic sounds of single keys struck discordantly on the player piano of his artistry; a sad man unable to catch the rhythm, and jump into the lake.
The Bus Stop
Cars slide by the unoccupied bus bench. Shivering little girl sits on the curb in a faded raincoat. Hand-me-down, holes-in-soles sneakers. She stirs a puddle with a broken off car antennae, absorbed in the transient art of rainbow oil swirling the surface. It will rain again soon, and the next bus is an hour away. Just as the swirls spin something spectacular into her world of lack, the perfect surface is pocked repeatedly, like gunshots tearing through the canvas of dream, waking the dreamer from sleep, and slapping them back into the cold rain.
Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and editor in San Diego. He is obsessed with the netherland between flash fiction and prose poetry, as well as the haiku’s ‘murican brother the American Sentence. He posts near-daily writing exercises at his blog Notebooking Daily, he moderates a private subreddit for serious writing workshopping and although he was once nominated for a Pushcart Prize, he is the recipient of zero Pushcart Prizes. He did receive an honorable mention for the Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers in 2015 for his story “Being Memorable”. His writing has recently appeared in The Portland Review, The Southern Review, Harpur Palate, The Roanoke Review, The Cortland Review, Spillway, Westview and Third Wednesday among others.