We’re pleased to announce Erich O’Connor’s short piece “Play Fight” as the winner of our flash fiction contest, inspired by the photography of Diane Arbus!
by Erich O’Connor
We stood shoulder to shoulder staring at the photo in The Medicine Shop—a local art gallery.
“What does it mean?” Alberta whispers.
“I don’t know,” Marvin says.
“Well, it’s clearly a statement about the effect of war and the Military Industrial Complex on the younger generations,” Frank says. “Humanity’s always been at war. We learn to fight because that is what we are taught.”
Frank is such a bummer—he’s smart—but he always takes the fun out of things by over-over analyzing things and always ends up making everyone feel like a dumbass.
“Whatever,” Alberta says, “I think it’s a toy grenade. The kid’s just playing around.”
“Exactly,” Frank resonates, “How else do you think we learn it.”
When we leave The Medicine Shop and Alberta says she wants to go to Tacos and Ice Cream and have a taco and some ice cream. We walk down the street, passing the spinning neon sign. Inside as Alberta is stuffing her face with a soft shell taco and I’m chowing on the cheesiest nachos, Frank informs us about the news report he’d just seen Andy Rooney give on last week’s 60 Minutes.
“In the news report,” Frank tells us, “they showed all the chickens and cows they pump full of hormones and stuff. The chicken’s bones snap like toothpicks and the breast meat is plump and the eggs are many. The cows, they get heavier, and the girl cows’ utters swell with so much milk that their utters touch the ground. It’s unhealthy,” he says, “and they use it for fast food and stuff.”
I throw a chip at his face, cheese sticks to his cheek and jacket before the chip falls to the floor.
“Hey!” Frank says.
I say, “What, you wanna take it outside?”