Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Entry #2

The Barrio
by S.W. Vaughn


I grew up here. Grass was a fairy tale, and rust cultivated intricate patterns on concrete and pipe. When summer baked the alleys, we sought the open rooftops.

Queenie had the best roof. She’d painted it green, and rendered flowers on the stubby surrounding walls. She welcomed us in her ersatz garden. The adults avoided her. We heard whispers: Queenie had a third leg, a rocket in her pocket. We didn’t understand “transvestite.”

Queenie had a soft spot for Jaime Kimball. We’d find him there at all hours. Jaime’s hopped-up mother didn’t take stock in her son, so he did what he pleased. We were at once sympathetic, and green as Queenie’s roof with envy.

Jaime whispered through life, a born peacemaker, soothing tempers when hot and piddly childhood wars broke out. Once I thought he might have become a cop, like me.

Five years ago, Jaime plugged everything life had burdened him with into a brick of C4, which he planted in Queenie’s basement.

We found him on the roof of the nearest building outside the blast radius. The pulsating lights of fire and emergency vehicles highlighted a lifetime of anguish in the hollows beneath his haunted eyes.

They shot him three times. I couldn’t draw my gun. I finally understood.

I grew up here. The ruins have shifted, settled. Grass pokes through warped asphalt in tufts and clusters, soft green paint splashed on ancient canvas. Queenie’s blood fed those stalks, and Jaime’s spirit brushes them with a sigh.

25 comments:

SF Johnston said...

Oh my GOD!

What awesome writing.

I guess we're all competing for 2nd place now!

Well done!

Bernita said...

This is GOOD.

Jaye Wells said...

Why did I read this before I sent my own entry? You have definitley raised the bar with this one, SW. Excellent job.

Jim said...

That's a lot of story for so few words.

Anonymous said...

Whoa! Remarkable imagery and a shocking revelation at the end. You've humbled me... Gee, have you considered writing novels??? (LOL)

Anonymous said...

Well crap I'll just go crawl into my little hole now and whimper as I see entries like this kick me in the teeth :)

This is stellar.

S. W. Vaughn said...

*blush*

Thank you, everyone! I really enjoyed writing this, and I'm looking forward to reading all the entries and seeing everyone's take on the photograph!

Scott said...

I'll just add my voice to the chorus of cheers. I love that last paragraph. Pure poetry.

Southern Writer said...

Some people can write, and some people can change the world with their writing. No need to guess which you are, S.W. Brava!

anne frasier said...

awesome

Fran Piper said...

Wow. Just... wow.

Michele said...

**Whew!**
Powerful.

Joni said...

What brilliant writing. Wow.

Dafath said...

good writing

Jeff said...

Very nice! Great writing!

S. W. Vaughn said...

Thanks so much for your comments, everyone!

You know, I really need a cool avatar. Wandering off-topic... la la la... *G*

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I didn't grow up there!
Poor Queenie! There goes the neighbourhood,;)

I like how you've captured a cop's ability to be matter-of-fact about anything.

Anonymous said...

That just toppled me. I think we have a winner.

Anonymous said...

That was stunning! A brilliant piece of writing! Well done!
Atyllah

Anonymous said...

That is so succinct and moving and well written! I agree with the others.

Anonymous said...

wow! wow wow and wow... seriously!

S. W. Vaughn said...

*shuffles feet*

Shucks, guys... :-)

Thank you! I'm really glad you like it. This is the first time I've ever actually managed to end a piece of flash fiction. LOL

Anonymous said...

I'm in awe, reading something like that is both intimidating and inspirational.

Hope it helps me kick it up a notch, but then again I could start cycling again.

Anonymous said...

What striking imagery. This is the kind of story that stays with you. Thanks for sharing, SW. Brilliant.

jason evans said...

The ending paragraph is beautiful! It has a wonderful, poetic quality. You introduced us to quite a world in 250 words.

Congratulations on the Readers' Choice Award!! An impressive achievement!