Straight Up

The darker it is, the easier to see the light?

K R Smith

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This is a story based on the image prompt from Miranda Kate’s Weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. You can see the prompt by clicking on the link. This is her intro from the challenge page:

This week’s picture comes from Andy Poplar, who makes these incredible bottles, at Vinegar & Brown Paper — do have a look, there are loads of others, also household bottles. Brilliant idea. I can’t find this pic on his site, but I suspect it used to be there as it dates back to 2017 (when it was first shared), and the page people link to is not found on his company site. I wonder if he sold this as a print as he does some of them. I love the colour contrast and the reflection in this one.

I know Miranda states a limit of 750 words in her rules, but I’ve blown past that like a locomotive going downhill in an ice storm. Well, you get the idea. Somehow, I went up to 1,019 words, not including the title. So much for self control…

So, on to the story. I’m not sure how to describe it. Horror? Noir? Morality play? Anyway, it’s called Straight Up.

Straight Up

It wasn’t a part of town I knew, but it’s where I ended up after walking around in a daze half the night. All the thoughts swirling around inside my brain had me in a funk I couldn’t shake. The streets were wet and I was cold. I figured a stiff drink wouldn’t hurt at this point.

Maybe that’s why I noticed the dim neon sign inside a grimy window on a one-way street. It flickered “Jude’s Place” in a sickly orange glow. It didn’t say it was a bar. I guess I assumed it was because that’s what I wanted it to be. For whatever the reason, I went inside.

The decor wasn’t much. The floor, the tables, even the walls were a dark, dirty brown. There was a man behind the bar and a woman at the far end chewing gum and wiping glasses. I didn’t notice anyone else in the joint. I pulled up a stool and put my hat on the empty seat next to me. I was rubbing my face with my hands when I heard a voice.

“You’re new here. What can I do for you?”

“Well, it’s gotta be stronger than beer,” I said, looking at the man in the apron. “I think I need the hard stuff straight up.”

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K R Smith

Writing, artwork, music — maybe even a recipe for chili.