In my dance through the cacti thorns and crocodiles and onions (floured, fried, sizzling) and silk black triangles and albino woodsmen of Wigleaf Top 50 we now meet Shellie Zacharia.
It made me this happy to read, though the tone of this photo below is all wrong. Zacharia’s work here is not sunny or diving board (ok, a little plummeting) or amputated manikins in the background.
(happy happy mr. sean!)
OK, her flash does have a bit of amputated manikin in the background, but to that later. Aren’t we all–like the sports injury phrase “day to day”–basically amputated manikins?
So I keep reading online/offline flash and I keep seeing the words Shellie Zacharia and I keep pausing and re-reading and thinking, “Who is this author?”
(Others have probably known all along about Zacharia. I get that. Sometimes I am slow. Example, Chicago AWP, someone [I think it was Dave Clapper] asks me, “Have you read Mary Miller?” I say, “No.” Within days I would read ALL Mary Miller, have her book/chapbook, wish for more, and more, and bow down to her evil goddess-ness of bourbon and beer bottle glass and broken condom and ash.)
[I review Mary Miller here. Please read her book. PLEASE.]
So I feel about Zacharia that way. I can feel she’ll have a collection out soon, I can feel it. Or maybe she already does? Couldn’t find it. Again, I’m slow. Anyway, I will read all Zacharia I can find.
And she seems to be a flash advocate, without remorse. As she says in Smokelong Q interview, “..my desire is to write flash and short stories…”
Can we get an authentic amen and tell the novel it is no doubt a great form, but, you know, the big-ass T Bone steak is a great cut of meat (I guess), and could a man get a light yet succulent tray of nachos. Or a shot of tequila. A whack analogy? I’m saying the tequila shot is a flash fiction, and just as valuable/verve-able, serotonin shiver-able as…oh hell never mind.
Let’s watch Werner Herzog get shot during an interview.
Ok, check that off the Life List. Moving on.
Scarlet is a great title. A certain hue of red: blood, entitled southern belle, Letter. But I digress. Strong title. ‘Nuff said. Let’s, as I said, move on.
I like my flash fiction like a suburban lawn, a-la David Lynch. Appearance vs. reality. Grass green, but what is beneath? Facade of house (one of three floor plans in the whole fucking neighborhood), but what lies behind those walls, the hairline crumbling facade?
And when do you not see the truth? Purposely, or naively?
Or–more interestingly–when do you see the truth and say Fuck it. I’ll go for the doomed ride.
Or maybe you see the truth of deception (not as large an oxymoron as you might think), see it again, see it again, and just embrace it. Some call this maturation. Or resignation. Some call it acceptance, or life. Some call it cynical, or you should parachute out of this sad day, my friend. Some search out the chaos. It’s called “going out” for the night. I like that term, Going Out. Leaving the self. Some don’t even know what I am saying right now.
“I want a boy with a red truck…” our story begins. So Dorothy Parker, so perfect rose. The Georgian moment, the idyll, the prelapsarian moment in the garden, before the fall.
Fall…Things fall apart.
red truck, black dog, flip flops…ahhh. A day in the wonderful life. But wait a moment, what’s that the “boy” (no boy at all) keeps on the front porch? Red wine on the table. Alcohol. Did I mention the suburbs earlier? Did I mention the ways we accept? The wine seems innocuous here, a crafty (as in use of craft) move by the author.
The boy smells like soap. And fire.
The boy has an old quilt in the car. Has a blanket. In the car. The boy drives the narrator to an overlook and keeps a blanket in his car. Sometimes repetition is used for emphasis. Blanket, he keeps one.
The idyll collapses. And the characters know any serious examination, serious conversation will bring the Rockwell painting tumbling off the wall. So they say nothing, or nothing really, as the narrator tells the “boy” she likes his truck, his dog, his___________.
A last line makes, or un-makes, or does not make a quality flash fiction.
Here, the last line the narrator says the truth. Let’s end on truth. Truth.
“It’s too late for that.”
Things do fall apart, and that must be revealed. One role of literature? Obviously. To unearth. To resist the sweeping away, the hidden. To show. I thank thee, Shellie Zacharia.