Category Archives: Fiction

“A Bullet for Mr. Sweet” – Fiction by E.L. Siegelstein

Chocolate – Salvador Dali, 1930

An infamous candyman becomes the target of a disgruntled former associate in “A Bullet for Mr. Sweet,” E.L. Siegelstein‘s scrumdiddlyumptious short story from our Fall 2017 issue.

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DEATH HAD CAUGHT UP TO THE OLD MAN AT LAST. 

After too many years and too many miles. Six times, the trail had gone cold, but the killer persisted. Three times, he had come close, missing the old man by mere minutes in Pittsburgh, seconds in Dublin. The old man had seen him then, electric blue eyes meeting his through the glass of the taxi window, but hadn’t shown any sign of recognition. But the killer, who most people knew simply as Chuck, persisted. The Salt Family provided him with all the money he needed. The fat German furnished an extensive network of contacts throughout Europe and the Americas. Little Mikey T. provided the gun, the cold steel Derringer .45 Chuck clutched in trembling fingers in the pocket of his green army jacket. And now, in a hotel bar in Cleveland, of all places, he finally had the old man cornered.

The old man bellied up to the bar, pushing himself up onto the stool with the cane he always carried. He had to be at least 90 years old, but he didn’t look it, not at all. His hair was white, but it was all there, an unruly puff of cotton candy on his head. His eyes still held all their power, darting around the room, laughing at everything they saw. The old man had gone by many names. In some places he was known as the Candyman, in some places he was Mr. Sweet. Then there was his original name, the most famous name of them all, but he hadn’t used it in ages, which was just as well, as the very thought of that name made Chuck want to vomit.

The old man caught the bartender’s attention, and ordered a Double-W on the rocks, adding, “And you know what? Let’s make it a double,” smiling like it was the cleverest thing in the world. It was the old man’s own whiskey, too, from a distillery he’d founded only a few years ago. Nobody knew how he managed to make young whiskey taste like it had been aged for decades, but knowing him, Chuck guessed it was something inane, like boring it with political speeches or something.

Chuck took the stool next to the old man’s and ordered a beer. The old man didn’t even look at him, seeming completely enwrapped in tasting his own drink, swirling the whiskey around his teeth with eyes closed.

“Hello,” Chuck said, simply.

The old man swallowed. “You know,” he said, opening his eyes, “most people drink to make themselves happier. But the problem is that alcohol, on its own, is a depressant. Everyone knows that, of course, but strangely nobody’s tried to do anything about it. They just accept it as a ‘fun fact’ and go on making depressing whiskey. Except for this one. It has happy things, like childhood memories of Christmas morning, the first ray of sunshine after a summer storm, a new lover’s smile. They’re subtle, but they’re there.”

“I heard it was just a trace amount of MDMA.”

The old man shrugged. “For a whiskey to be classified a bourbon, the mash needs to be at least 51% corn. What you do with the rest of it is entirely in the hands of the maker.”

Chuck took a slug of beer and turned in his stool to face the old man, his right hand still clutching the Derringer in his pocket. “You’re a hard man to find,” he said.

“No, I’m not,” the old man replied. “I’m right here. You’ve found me.”

Continue reading “A Bullet for Mr. Sweet” – Fiction by E.L. Siegelstein

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“Big Game Hunter” – Fiction by Matt Patrick

Successful Hunter – Alexander Pope, 1912

An old hunter’s animal head collection gets inquisitive in “Big Game Hunter,” Matt Patrick‘s curiously surreal flash fiction from our Fall 2017 issue.

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IN HIS OLD AGE, THE HEADS MOUNTED ON THE WALL STARTED TO TALK TO HIM. At first asking the obvious whys, but over time the conversations began to wander.

The lion asked: Does the sun still beat on the savannah?

The shark inquired: What’s it like to live without gills?

The human head, as always, stays silent.

Every once in a while he toys with the idea of getting rid of them. Stripping the walls bare. He can’t do it, of course. He would miss the company. Not that he’s particularly hospitable to them. The questions often go unanswered as he drifts into his imagination and hunts far more elusive game.

The hippo asked: What did you do with my body?

The gazelle inquired: How does it feel to take a life?

The human head says nothing.

The hunter tries to picture what sort of gun he’d need to bring down happiness, or a bond with his son. And if he did bag them, what sort of mount do they need? Can they be taxidermied?

The second hippo posits: You must hate hippos. Why else would you kill so many of us?

The third hippo concurs.

The human head motions, as if to spit.

Someone visits the hunter. A young person. Not his son, maybe a grandson? Granddaughter? The young person politely follows his lead and ignores the heads as they pester him. The young person leaves. The hunter is alone for a long time. He isn’t sad, he tells himself, but a lesser man would be.

Continue reading “Big Game Hunter” – Fiction by Matt Patrick

“Scent” – Fiction by Cooper Wilhelm

Soir d’orage, Strange Perfume by Mem – Rene Magritte, 1946

A young man’s bargain with a mysterious shopkeeper has some revolting repercussions in “Scent,” Cooper Wilhelm‘s magically disturbing story from our super-spooky Fall 2017 issue.

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THE PORTION OF THE INTERROGATION THAT FOLLOWS was entered into the public record as part of a murder trial that commenced in the Eastern District Court of New York on August 14th, 2015. The suspect [name withheld] is described as male, Caucasian, DOB 12/5/1986, Height 5’ 11”, weight 190 lbs. The interview was conducted by Detective [name withheld] of the New York Police Department 94th precinct, 100 Meserole Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11222.]

INTERVIEWER: When did you first meet [name redacted]?

SUSPECT: In the shop. I was walking past two weeks ago and I could smell the incense. My girlfriend had been ragging me for weeks about how my room smells bad. Like a men’s—like a boy’s locker room. So I figured I’d get some.

INTERVIEWER: And you talked to him then?

SUSPECT: Not at first. I was looking around, picking up different kinds of incense and smelling them. But they had all this hooky-dooky stuff, too.

INTERVIEWER: “Hooky-dooky stuff”?

SUSPECT: Yeah, like crystals, star maps, and like, these little white sticks he said would clean bad spirits out of stuff or something if you burned them. It was all like stuff I’d hear people in my Warcraft guild say they needed for a raid, but in real life. And not cheap.

INTERVIEWER: So that’s when the two of you started talking?

SUSPECT: Yeah. I’m buying the incense and I ask, you know, like making conversation, is this your shop? how long you been selling stuff like this?

And he’s like oh we’ve been doing this for a couple years. We used to be a perfume shop, but we couldn’t make ends meet. And then I tried this money incense and I thought I should start selling it and I branched into other magic whatever since then.

And he starts talking about the crystals and about talking to ghosts and spirits and gods and it’s creeping me out. And the credit card machine won’t work and I start really wanting to leave, like I’m getting the willies from this guy, and he’s sweating a little as he talks to me, and his eyes were, um, they were. . . .

INTERVIEWER: Yeah?

SUSPECT: They were too big. Maybe it was because he was so tall. A lot of people are taller than me, but he was a lot taller. Like 6’ 8”– 6’ 9”. So he felt threatening. He loomed.

INTERVIEWER: Did he threaten you then?

SUSPECT: No, not then, no. He just told me he would give me a free sample of this cologne. And he pulls down this big plastic bottle, like the kind bulk cheap paint would come in in art class. He squeezes out this dark oil, like purple but almost black. And he tells me all cologne and perfume is oil, it’s just that the stuff people buy is watered down usually. This is the pure stuff. And he puts some on my finger for me to smell.

INTERVIEWER: What did it smell like?

SUSPECT: Weird. I mean, I don’t know how cologne is supposed to smell. I mostly just use Axe. But this smelled weird. Like ammonia and rust.

I really just wanted to get out of there because he keeps staring at me. Even when he puts some cologne in a little vial and hands it to me he never stops looking at me.

INTERVIEWER: Did you leave then or stay longer to chat?

SUSPECT: That’s it. I go home and I make dinner. And that would’ve been the end of it. But when I’m pulling stuff out of the fridge, I see this thing on my finger. It was gooey, like three soft little yellow eggs or little balls or something, that were sticking to my finger with this yellow goop. Like what wasps use to stick their hives to the undersides of roofs.

I washed my hands. I figured it’d gotten on me on the subway, but now I think maybe it was on those little sticks I picked up at the store. Continue reading “Scent” – Fiction by Cooper Wilhelm

“My Teen Ghost is Hungry” – Fiction by Caroll Sun Yang

Ice Cream – Evelyne Axell, 1964

Until today, Caroll Sun Yang’s vibrant & Proustian experimental flash fiction “My Teen Ghost is Hungry” could only be read in copies of our Spring 2017 issue, FLAPPERHOUSE #13… but now, as a special treat, it’s freely available to read on FLAPPERHOUSE.com ! Dig in…

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Prognosis. Oakland, 1974.

FATHER’S MATE SERVED STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM IN DEPRESSION ERA BOWLS. We prodded lobsters in ten gallon barrels. Babysitter froze colorful fluids in Gerber jars—I chipped away for taste and to birth gemmy shards. Nurse fed me marinated fish on sticky rice. Mother pushed me in a special stroller, post-hospital chocolate cookies leaving muddy smears on me. Picking Froot Loops out of olive shag while loving mangled dolls in heat. I taste/d air, a bustling mid-70’s melting pot with boiling grease, steamy grates and desperate immigrant kisses.

Prayer. Vallejo, 1981.

Fingered globs of Duncan Hines lemon frosting when none noticed. Held stolen Olive Wood rosary beads in my mouth. Balmy winds thrashed as devils chased me on my bike—mouth open to the antiseptic, wild fennel and sour flower fumes. I smoked candy cigarettes. Grandmother fed me bloated Captain Crunch in warmed milk. Fevers. I burned, snuck out in rain, pressed my cheek to a crippled Oldsmobile Cutlass, and lapped up lukewarm raindrops.

Remission. Oxnard, 1985.

Father arrived wielding a fluffy banana birthday cake with a tub of PB&J ice cream. Guzzled grape Slurpees with Randall while watching scrambled sexy movies. Malt-O-Meal quicksand drowning sliced hotdogs blanketed in Kraft Singles. Sunshine frolic with grimy kids, sucking Tang covered ice while wading in muddy backyard ponds. Slabs of Jolly Rancher Fire! Manure fields. Hot. Grainy Orange Metamucil doled by mother frowning.

Relapse. Camarillo, 1988.

We undressed easily, bodies collapsing on heaped clothes, chewing homework pencils and breaking Miracle Whipped bread with Libby’s corned beef that never met my hips. Final rays filtered through pale lavender drapes, faces painted in dreamy shadows, first/ last kisses. Radiant sick eyes, blather about heaven’s boys between sips of Minute Maid Punch in crystalline tumblers. Feverish. Settling sadness. Tongue fade.

Outcome. Here, Now.

Hunger.

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CAROLL SUN YANG earned her BFA at Art Center College of Design, an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, and holds certification as a Psychosocial Rehabilitation Specialist. Her work appears in The Nervous BreakdownNew World WritingMUTHA MagazineThe Los Angeles Review of BooksMcSweeney’s Internet TendencyNecessary FictionIdentity TheoryWord RiotColumbia Journal and Juked. She lives and toils over her gestating debut collection while writeressin’ and matriarchin’ in Eagle Rock, CA. She can never have enough personality-disordered friends/ lo-fi anything/ human touch/ sarcasm/ cell photo filters/ art films featuring teens/ Latrinalia/ frosting flowers/ bio changes. She spews forth as Caroll Sun Yang on Facebook.

“Drought” – Flash Prose by Kim Coleman Foote

Spirit of the drought – Arthur Streeton, 1895

Our Fall 2017 issue, FLAPPERHOUSE #15, won’t fly until Friday, 9/22, but today we’re offering a taste of all the menacing weirdness we have in store with “Drought,” an eerily surreal & fable-like work of flash prose by Kim Coleman Foote.

(Print copies of FLAPPERHOUSE #15 are available on Amazon for $6US, and digital PDF copies are currently available for via PayPal for just $3US!)

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for Cynthia Graae

THIS YEAR, BEFORE NIGHT RUSHES IN, WE AWAIT THE RIGHT MOMENT. When sky turns cyan and a breeze chants in the air, against our ears. When sky turns grey, erasing sun rays and hinting at rain, which hasn’t appeared in months.

Everyone in the area tenses upon their chairs, hoping to be agents in a new rite, begging Mother Nature to grant us those liquid grains from her atmosphere. We cant and cry, hoping she’ll hear us, when a gay gent strolls amongst us, stroking the cat on his shoulder. He lifts his thin legs like a crane then breaks into a canter. Some gather their young in fright. He tears off his hat, exposing a halo of hair, rants about how in this age, it is our hate that keeps Her from cooperating.

When an old hag jumps from her seat, we grit our teeth. She rages at the man, spittle staining her chin like tinea, her breath stinking of gin. She claims that the gates of the moon shall open to anyone who hasn’t tired of life’s mysteries.

The man grins the whole time. The cat has changed to a hare eating hay (some say it never was a pet but a rat disguised in rags).

Aside: don’t attempt to tag this as fiction; reality, in actuality, is fraught with much more strangeness.

Continue reading “Drought” – Flash Prose by Kim Coleman Foote

Our 2017 Best of the Net Nominees Are…

Casting the Net – Suzanne Valadon, 1914

We have submitted our nominations for the 2017 Best of the Net anthology, which honors literary work that originally appeared on the internet between 7/1/2016 & 6/30/2017, and they are:

“How to Vomit Living Creatures” – short fiction by Deirdre Coyle (from FLAPPERHOUSE #12)

“Mission Concept” – short fiction by Peter H.Z. Hsu (from FLAPPERHOUSE #14)

Congratulations & best of luck to all our nominees, as well as our eternal gratitude for contributing their amazing work to our weird little zine!