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Silver Spur Cafe
by Sherrie Flick

Jake drinks his coffee as folks troll by asking about his back, the café door slamming with the coming, the going. He says he can bend a little. It’s better than last week, but it’ll never be the same. Elijah, wire-rimmed glasses, feed cap, is settled low next to Jake with his heavy coat too thick for the spring weather, deep dark eyes.

Time passes. The clack of silverware, the ceramic-formica click of a coffee cup finding its final destination.

When Virgil scrapes in at the table and rubs his scruffy brown beard, Elijah stares at a point out beyond the restaurant, beyond the macramé owls on the walls, out to the flat line of horizon. Eventually, Jake turns to him, “And when’re you going to start that business you went off to school to learn about? What’ve you done? Nothing. Just sitting around.”

“I didn’t go to school for that,” Elijah says.

Jake says, “You’ve never worked a day in your life.” Virgil unfolds, pats Jake on the back, once, twice.

Elijah is dark and quiet with long fingers that never come clean. His old coat, down packed tight, has a bulging front left pocket.

The waitress, Suzy, is all blond confidence and good, loud voice, “Elijah, Julie says we need some ones.” She refills Jake’s coffee, leaves Elijah’s untouched. “Hey, what’re you guys doing with this magazine?” Gravity brings her pretty finger down. “I need a ‘kini.” She picks it up. “Now there’s some nice ones.”

“You can have it. We were just looking at the girls,” Jake says.

Elijah reaches into his coat pocket, hesitates, and says softly, “How many does Julie need?” Suzy bustles away with the magazine and a smeared plate.

Elijah hesitates—looks toward the noisy kitchen where pots bang and steam rises, then settles back into his seat, arms by his sides.

Earlier that morning the brothers had huddled together in their dark kitchen, the sun reluctant, waiting. The creaky, cold house had once been their mom’s—prim and pristine with lace doilies and knick-knacks. Now it’s filled with the boy-man smells of dirt, oil, sperm, meat. The wooden table is sticky with crumbs. Their rough hands push gently at them to make room for the magazine delivered to ‘resident’ the day before.

They lean together—shoulders touching—turn on the reading light so it’s a spotlight to the shiny pages. Sand and water and bright blue air with tiny, skinny women smiling up. Pink, blue, and white polka-dots; tiny strings, like presents. Cautiously, they turn the pages.

Elijah says, “That one sort of looks like ma, when she was young—in those old pictures we have.

“Yeah. Kind of,” Jake says.

They carry the magazine with them to breakfast, like a comfort, it occupies the third seat.

All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2014 by its authors.



Sherrie Flick is author of the award-winning flash fiction chapbook I Call This Flirting (Flume Press, 2004). Numerous literary journals have published her work, including North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Puerto del Sol, Quick Fiction, Black Warrior Review, and Quarter After Eight. Anthologies include, Sudden Fiction: The Mammoth Book of Minuscule Fiction (MAMMOTH Press, 2003) and Flash Fiction Forward (W.W. Norton, 2006). She has received artist residencies from the Ucross Foundation and Atlantic Center for the Arts, as well as a Tennessee Williams Fellowship from Sewanee Writers’ Conference. In 2005, she was selected for a Creative Capital professional development retreat and honored as one of Pittsburgh’s “40 under 40.” Her interdisciplinary work includes a collaborative exhibition, The Garden Inside, with photographer Sue Abramson and a libretto for Dali’s Egg, an experimental opera by Los Angeles composer Nicholas Chase. She holds a Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Nebraska and a Bachelor’s degree from University of New Hampshire.

Issue Fourteen (September 15, 2006): Everything by CB Anderson «» Twelve Steps Down by Mark Budman «» Hands by Stace Budzko «» A Boy Makes a Bow Makes a Man by Robert Earle «» Chancing by Utahna Faith «» Silver Spur Cafe by Sherrie Flick «» A Few Notes on the Remarkable Sighting of the Bishop-Fish of Smith Mountain Lake by R. L. Futrell «» Spooks by David Galef «» It'll Never Work Out for the Two-Headed Boy by Bayard Godsave «» Utilitarianism by Tom Hazuka «» Vandals by Jennifer A. Howard «» The Four Horses by G.A. Ingersoll «» Carrots and Plum Blossoms by Kit Coyne Irwin «» At the Well by Barbara Jacksha «» The Shanghai Cut by John McCaffrey «» Blank by Peter Mehlman «» The Reunion by Christopher Merrill «» Mullet Man, P.I. by Stacey Richter «» Bruce Holland Rogers by Bruce Holland Rogers «» Tamazunchale by Robert Shapard «» Three Steps for Nunzio by Ersi Sotiropoulos, translated by Kay Cicellis «» The Angel by J. David Stevens «» Translation by Melanie Rae Thon «» Diamond District by Katharine Weber «» Ancestors by Kathleen Wheaton «» Cover Art "Despair" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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