Published

When I Called in Dead

Skelsuit
image : pixabay.com

Okay, two stories in a row published with ‘dead’ in the title; all those years listening to Jerry Garcia must have had some impact. Anyway, I’m grateful to Cafe Aphra for featuring this flash story in May 2017. It’s a cautionery tale for those who feel like they’re being worked to death. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when the work day ends and your other life begins.

When I Called in Dead

by DL Shirey

The boss was angry when I called in dead again. I could tell by the way he didn’t respond, gave nothing but a frustrated huff and clattered the phone back to its cradle. Still, there was too much undone to take the day off, so I went to the office as usual.

First stop, coffee, but no one would serve me. Not even Yolanda who knew my usual. She didn’t even smile, in fact yelled NEXT to my face and beamed at the fellow behind me. He pushed me out of line.

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Published

The Dead Fund

deadfund
image : maskmagazine.com

Zetetic: a Record of Unusual Inquiry published my short story in June 2016. It was originally titled “An Occasional Family Photo,” but the editor wanted me to change the name. It was easy to agree, “The Dead Fund” was the working title of the piece before it was finished. Personally, this story sets a high bar and motivates me to write its equal.

The Dead Fund

by DL Shirey

I’ve lost hold of time these days. It’s been four months since Pops passed, but the house looked nearly the same. Six years of peeled paint and tarred-over roof since the last time I saw it in person. Sis sent an occasional family photo, but the house was only a backdrop. I remember thinking how the people seemed smaller posed in the front yard. Now the house itself looked small as I stood in front of it.

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Character Count, Published

Will Haiku for Food

homeless-crop
image : pixabay.com

Masters of the art of haiku will poo-poo the stanzas in my piece. They will scoff, “not nature-y enough or in the Japanese tradition.” A rejection from another mag had words to this effect. A Quiet Courage saw the 5/7/5 format and recognized the title for what it was: a reflection of the character who was writing the verse. They published it in June 2017.

Will Haiku For Food

by DL Shirey

Quite cold this morning.
Someone stole my shopping cart
with my heavy coat.

Don’t move or intrude,
never meet eyes, sit meekly,
raise cup, jingle coins.

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Published

Roosevelt’s Long Shadow

Teddy3
image : oxfordpoetryelection.com

The story itself may be surreal, but the location is authentic. It takes place at a tiny square in the Park Blocks of downtown Portland, Oregon. Every Day Fiction originally published the tale in June 2017.

Roosevelt’s Long Shadow

by DL Shirey

It is nearly impossible to remain motionless, though I’m persistent in trying. Even as I hold my breath and concentrate away a blink, my crossed leg tics. It’s barely perceptible, but the slight tide of blood causes my dangling foot to bob.

How can I turn invisible when I can’t stop moving?

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Published

The Box Adjacent

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image : hizook.com

You know how automation is displacing many American jobs? This is what I wanted to write about, but at the time, I needed a good jolt of coffee to kickstart the first draft. 365 Tomorrows published this short story in December 2016. How do you like your science fiction, black?

The Box Adjacent

by DL Shirey

I pound shots of espresso until my vision tinges brown as a sepia tint. The tip of my fat finger barely touches the skin of my thumb through the hole in the handle of the tiny cup, small and fragile like half an eggshell, yet it nests another stiff dose of caffeine. I need more. I won’t be ready to work until my teeth are coated with gritty film, that welcome friction between enamel and lips to help me force a smile.

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Character Count, Published

Limbs and Misc.

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image : thedrabble.wordpress.com

My 100-word story was originally published by The Drabble on January 25, 2017. This journal’s slogan is “shortness of breadth” and what they publish proves that tiny storytelling can be an art. This story is about a mining disaster, a news story I read about. The part about Limbs and Misc. is complete fabrication.

Limbs and Misc.

by DL Shirey

Afterwards, they called themselves the Dead Gang. Survivors, covered in dust, still on the clock, piling intact bodies onto pallets. Parts tossed in two bins labeled LIMBS and MISC.

Once the elevator started again, the job went quicker. It didn’t get easier. At end of shift coveralls and work gloves were burned, the Dead Gang given an extra day off.

Conversations at the bar that night were slurred, but grim flashbacks were not. All those hands, fleshed and unfleshed, aimed every direction, alleging blame. Some fingers pointed to heaven, others hell, most at the mineshaft. Never at the Dead Gang.

END