Strawberry Daiquiris and a Hot Summer Night

A short story by Ed Higgins

A hot summer night walks into a bar and orders a drink. A frozen strawberry daiquiri with lots of crushed ice, she says. She brings with her the slightly fragrant scent of roses from outside, and a dusky, green hint of the ripening cornfield across the highway. A large, neglected rosebush outside in a half-whiskey barrel sits to the left of the green, padded vinyl door. Its leaves brittle, desiccated petals falling from wilted blooms, stark thorns you could make a halo for Jesus with. Sitting at the bar with her strawberry daiquiri, the hot summer night’s hair is limp and disheveled from the evening’s muggy air. The bartender knows her kind. She’s hot but likely poor material for a pick-up. She may be good for a couple of drinks. Another strawberry daiquiri? he asks, picking up the twenty she has left on the bar. His interest is piqued and the place isn’t particularly busy since the air conditioning broke down a couple of days ago. He’s played hell trying to get a service technician out here to fix the damn thing with all the heat-wave breakdowns apparently going around. The hot summer night is plain vanilla but not unattractive. She has a slight bead of sweat along her upper lip and the dark hair at her temples is clearly damp. Warm night out there, he says, trying a subtle approach. Sorry about the air conditioning, been out for a couple of days now. But she doesn’t care about the lost air conditioning. The hot summer night knows that even in the midst of a long, stultifying summer, rain earlier in the day leaving its mugginess, the corn harvest beginning soon—we are all nonetheless ineluctably approaching death’s long winter. She smiles, letting the bartender continue hitting on her. The hot summer night is serious enough without ever yielding to it. She orders a second strawberry daiquiri.

Edward Higgins’ poems and short fiction have appeared in various print and online journals including Monkeybicycle, Tattoo Highway, Triggerfish Critical Review, and Blue Print Review, among others. Higgins and his wife live on a small farm in Yamhill, Oregon, raising a menagerie of animals including an alpaca named Machu-Picchu.

Higgins is the assistant fiction editor for Brilliant Flash Fiction, an Ireland-based flash journal.

Funny Bone

A poem by Kenneth P. Gurney

Everything has a funny bone.
Sorry my last joke missed yours.

You should laugh at my tie,
or, better, laugh at my lack of a tie.

I give you permission to laugh at me when I am employed.
And to laugh all the harder when I am employed and wearing a tie.

I will laugh at you when you wear your turquoise jewelry
and black shirt, with its black buttons and high collar.

Not because turquoise or your black shirt is funny,
but because you never wear your turquoise with any other color.

We should laugh at the forbidden together.
Even if you think the word ta-Boo should elicit a scream.

I remember laughing as a white cop punched Ed in the face.
My laugh jerked the cop’s head toward me,

so he drop Ed to the ground and walk over to my face
and splatter shouted, “You find something funny in this?”

Which I did not, but the cop left Ed alone and the scene
shortly after I wiped my face dry on my shirt tails.

Unintentionally, I banged my funny bone on a Hurricane Ridge rock
which must have been its exposed funny bone

because I felt the low rumble through the mountain,
so similar, but deeper, than my elbow-rubbing, laughing moan.

Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his beloved Dianne. In his spare time he practices being an elk on the flanks of the Sandia Mountains. In Dianne’s spare time, he does whatever chores she places on the chores list for him to accomplish. His latest collection of poems is Stump Speech. (CreateSpace IPP, 2015.) Peruse his website.