“No. Station” by Timothy Gager
Thursdaze (because the weekend won’t come fast enough) features original flash fiction modeled after our Drug Chronicles Series. Each story is an original one, and each encapsulates the author’s fictional experience with drugs. Our print series has anthologized authors writing about marijuana, cocaine, speed, and heroin, but contributors to the web series can focus on any drug, real or imagined, controlled or prescribed, illegal or soon-to-be legalized. Submissions to Thursdaze will be judged on an author’s ability to stylistically emulate his or her substance of choice. Submissions are also limited to 750 words, so try to focus. (They have a pill for that.)
This week, Timothy Gager brings us on a long trip back home.
by Timothy Gager
I didn’t notice I had nodded out on the train and had missed my stop until the conductor clamped down on my bony shoulders in Wellington, saying, “Come on, honey.” Nor had I noticed the PA announcements or felt my head bounce against the train’s window. These things are never noticed on the return after a score, often riding the entire length of the line, passed out. If only I could stop this.
Now I’m three stops removed from my stop, and it’s two a.m. The trains have run out and I’m stuck at the end of the Orange Line. I can pull a phone out of my pocketbook, but it’s so damn late; anyone who can help lives on the other end of the line, so I have to do what I’ve done the last few times, what I dread: walk back home, a trip that’ll take over an hour.
Then there are the nights I get lucky. Tonight there is Bill. Bill is driving and pulls over because I have long black hair. He says I look like a drenched cat caught in the rain. Bill glistens in the night humidity, asks if I want a ride, and when the door shuts, he tells me he has a few errands to run on the way. Even though Bill seems safe, the hint of adventure has hooked me. His car roars, a heavy foot on the accelerator, the same way my father’s old truck made me feel I were riding in a boat—when I still had his smile.
The car hits a pothole and Bill swears. He swears he’ll get the money he’s owed and that this errand could be well worth it. Oh, and his name’s not Bill, since “now I know him better”; it’s Manny, and he was an engineer before he did this. Out comes a glass pipe from his pocket, which he offers outside a darkened house. He says I can go in, but it’s a collection so it’s at my own risk, so I don’t budge. Unfamiliar houses where someone might owe money to someone who seems high are better left alone.
I roll down the window, hoping to hear something. If it’s bad it’ll be my turn to make that engine roar. If he takes too long, I’ll pull away quietly. Some nights I don’t get lucky at all. Manny comes out, all smiles, says he’s done. He tells me things always work out, asks for my address. It is now that I think of my bed.
TIMOTHY GAGER is the author of ten books of fiction and poetry. His most recent, The Shutting Door, was nominated for the Massachusetts Book Award. He has had over three hundred pieces published in print or online, nine of which were nominated for The Pushcart Prize. His first novel is due out later this year.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Thursdaze flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your submission should never have been published elsewhere.
—Your story should feature a drug, any drug, and your character’s experience with it. We’ll consider everything from caffeine to opium, and look forward to stories ranging from casual use to addiction to recovery. Stylistically, we’ll respond most favorable to stories that capture the mood and rhythm of your drug of choice.
—Include your drug of choice next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected], and include THURSDAZE in the subject line. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
About the Drug Chronicles Series: Inspired by the ongoing international success of the city-based Akashic Noir Series, Akashic created the Drug Chronicles Series. The anthologies in the series feature original short stories from acclaimed authors, each of whom focuses on their fictional experience with the title drug. Current releases in the series include The Speed Chronicles (Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, Megan Abbott, James Franco, Beth Lisick, Tao Lin, etc.), The Cocaine Chronicles (Lee Child, Laura Lippman, etc.), The Heroin Chronicles (Eric Bogosian, Jerry Stahl, Lydia Lunch, etc.), and The Marijuana Chronicles (Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Linda Yablonsky, etc.).
Posted: May 29, 2014
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