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.

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Dream Woman

A poem by John Grey


You want to get yourself a woman.

 

A city-bred, street-wise woman,

who lives in a tenement apartment

in a rough part of town.

And preferably one

already diagnosed with cancer.

 

She must be working still,

nothing fancy,

house-cleaning maybe,

or at the checkout

of one of those convenience stores

with bars on every window.

 

Your dream is to walk

her home after a hard day on the job,

hold her up by the arm if necessary,

talk about how much longer

you figure she should be working.

 

And then it’d be up to bed early for her

or settled comfortably in the cramped parlor

to watch the only non-flat-screen TV on the block,

while you cook dinner.

Nothing fancy.

Probably the same mush as the night before.

 

Blood on the pillow is no problem.

Nor is worrying about how you’re

going to pay for the treatments

on the little the two of you make.

 

You spend your lonely days

longing for some tragedy in your life.

Good luck is not working.


John Grey is an Australian poet and U. S. resident. He work has recently been published in New Plains Review, The South Carolina Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review, with work upcoming in The Louisiana Review, The Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.