Tuesday Over Albuquerque by Amy Barnes – Selected Flash Fiction

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Amy Barnes has words at FlashBack Fiction, Popshot Quarterly, X-RAY Lit, No Contact Mag, Streetcake Magazine, The Molotov Cocktail, Lucent Dreaming, TunaFish Journal, Anti-Heroin Chic, Flash Frog, Janus Literary, Perhappened, Cabinet of Heed, Spartan Lit & others. She’s a Fractured Lit associate editor. Her flash collection is forthcoming in 2021.

I’ve taken two lovers. 

One is bigger than life with a bigger-than-his-face, midnight mustache. The other one is a beige shadow. His teeth and his eyes and his lips and his pants are all pale. I wonder if he is ill but I can see beige breaths escaping from his mouth in cartoon bubbles. Bland words. Banality about his tea cup collection and bag of bags that he keeps under the sink. I have a bag of bags under my sink too. The man with the giant rectangular mustache is a bit comic book villain, a bit time Chaplin, a bit trash truck driver. He struggles to go through doorways because his mustache is as big as the night sky, affixed to his face with a bit of sticky tape. It is slightly askew. He is slightly askew. The words that come out from under the big as the sky mustache are all in uppercase but he’s not shouting, just emphasizing. We all three climb into a hot air balloon but it can’t take off because the bland man has anvils in his pockets. 

I read a dream interpretation book as we wait for the pale person to drop his anvils and the mustache man to unpeel his sticky hairy face. One holds out an anvil as a gift. The other waves his mustache against the sky. Upon reading, I discover the dream means nothing and everything. 

We take off. 

Our hot air balloon has a leak. It wobbles in the sky like a not-formed jelly mold creation. 

Quick quick give me that!

I say to the mustache man. 

My name is Alvin. 

He tells me. 

Apropos of nothing

I tell him. 

I start to call his name because he’s told it to me but he’s not listening. He’s put his giant mustache across the hole in the hot air balloon. The beige man with pocket anvils has dropped all but one onto the dirty dirt below us. We lift up held down only by red licorice ropes that slowly snap one by one. Boing snap snap they make licorice music like guitar strings breaking badly. 

As we float over the city, I see a Small World ride below us. The last anvil falls on someone’s head but they are so far away, we aren’t guilty and just watch them poof disappear. We drift past. I hear them scream but I don’t. There is a beige hand suddenly on mine. It patches pales into my olive skin like make-up, a concealed concealer patch. The now mustache-less man looks forlorn in a way that bare-faced men with dollar store stick-on mustaches look. I hold his hand. 

How will we get back down?

I ask. 

They both stare at me, beige eyes and sad eyes. 

We don’t know. 

They say in unison, pale and hairless. 

They hand me a white plastic beach bucket like the ones in their hands. 

We bail sky and clouds and rain out of the balloon basket together. 

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