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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing May 2023
Flash fiction by Vasilis Manousakis
In Paris everything seems familiar. Let me explain. I mean, for someone who hasn’t been here before. You land and then you enter the city by bus, train or taxi and suddenly you find yourself at home.
The taxi driver is the same, the hotel concierge the same, the bartender the same and the streets the same. The only thing that changes is you.
You and the reasons you came or most importantly the reasons you left. Why did you decide to come home? That’s what you have to focus on. All the rest has already been decided for you.
Paris was expecting you. Opened its bars for you, its museums, its streets. Montmartre knew you were coming to explore. The waitress at café Indiana knew you were going to order a beer named Morte Subite, sudden death. A look in her notepad would metaphysically convince you.
Mario is now enjoying his beer killing memory fragments one by one, causing their sudden death and laughing sardonically, like the villain in the old movies. He looks around while doing it, checking if anyone else needs the same defragmentation as him.
He is thinking of becoming a professional memory killer, like in the movie Eraser. He is fantasizing that people would call him and he would erase their memories for a price. Five thousand for happy memories, ten thousand for traumatic memories. The psychotherapists would hate him. And at this thought he let a sardonic laughter escape enough to cause the question from the waitress: “another Morte Subite?”
“No,” he replies. “I am done with my memories.”
She doesn’t understand and goes away. He goes too.
As he is walking up Boulevard de Clichy to his hotel, a sudden thought crosses his mind.
Paris looks even more familiar for the ones with an erased past.
I am thirsty, she told him indifferently. He knew this meant, I am thirsty now. Come here.
He got dressed, instead, and went out to get both of them something to drink. The sun was blazing, scorching the cobbled path and making it look as if he had to pass through fire. As he was reaching the mini market thinking of buying some coke and some cold beer, he noticed the watermelons sunbathing outside. Earth’s ice cream, he thought and started slapping them because he had heard once that this is how you can find a sweet one. Finding the lucky one, he carried it inside and paid for it. No coke, no beer.
He returned to their room and she was already topless, as she couldn’t stand the heat. She was reading her book cross-legged with her back against the pillows. He looked at her for a moment and went to the kitchen to slice the watermelon. In the meantime, she had turned and her round butt was on camera. His mind camera. He looked at her for another moment and then brought the watermelon to the bed. She lifted her head and smiled and continued with her book without reaching for a piece.
“Aren’t you thirsty anymore?”
He took a piece of watermelon, chewed some of it and kissed her back. It was fresh and juicy and the water separated from the melon and started trickling down her spine. He took another piece and did the same, only this time he made sure he squeezed the juice out of it with his teeth to cover her spine and reach her buttocks. He got up suddenly, after following the juice down her ass, and went to the kitchen. He came back with two empty slices of watermelon. He placed them on her buttocks, paying careful attention not to disturb her swallow tattoo above the left one. Here, have something to eat before you fly away, little bird, he thought. She wasn’t moving. The book put on the side and her hands outstretched.
He ate another four pieces off her back this time and she lay still, not wanting to disturb the moment. Her hand was deep in between her legs now. The watermelon was trickling down her spine creating a small lake on its sacrum. He was drinking the sweet juice and she was quenching her own thirst with her fingers.
When he finished all the juice and her back was licked clean, he took her hand and placed it in his mouth, licking that juice from her long fingers. Tastes sweeter, he thought and sat beside her on the bed.
Without turning or moving next to him, she resumed her reading and he ate the rest of the watermelon from the bowl.
© Vasilis Manousakis
Dr. Vasilis Manousakis is a short story writer, poet, and translator, whose work has appeared in New American Writing, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Barcelona Ink, Parentheses, and Drunken Boat, among others. He writes reviews and translates poetry and short stories for literary magazines and e-zines. He has been one of the founding members of Bonsai Stories, the blog directly linked to Planodion literary magazine. The blog is dedicated to flash fiction and work from many well-known writers from Greece, the United States, and other countries has appeared there.
These flash stories have been collected in two printed volumes so far, and a special tribute to 9/11 stories has appeared in a third volume, in which Vasilis was on the editorial committee. He holds a Ph.D. in Contemporary American Poetry and currently teaches creative writing, modern poetry, short fiction and audiovisual translation. He is a faculty member of the New York Writers’ Workshop and a writing instructor at Scribophile. His focus on the human thought and behavior in his writings has led him to a Master’s Program in Mental Health Counseling, and he holds individual and group sessions with clients, specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy and narrative therapy.