Alex, out of the hospital with his cancer diagnosis, was standing holding the IV pole with one hand and maybe questions and answers in the other. I was one of three writers and back for my second day as returning champion. My mother was sitting in a chair off to the side with a spotlight on her. She had died of cancer a number of years earlier.
Alex began by introducing my mother and asking her what brought her to the show and she reached down and patted a large bamboo basket with a sign reading, gift basket. He asked her how she thought I did on the earlier show. She unwrapped a stick of Blackjack gum, popped it in her mouth and shrugged her answer back to Alex. Alex read off the headings and me, being the reigning champion, I got to go first,
“Alex, I’ll take threats for $300.”
“What is, I’ll break every bone in your body?”
Barb buzzed first. “What did Paul’s mother frequently say to him to show extreme displeasure?”
This was the right answer and my mother glared at me as the audience applauded.
“Alex, I’ll take threats for $400.”
Tomasz buzzed in. “What is, for lying I’ll wash your mouth out with kosher soap?” Again, the right answer and they were coming from the other writers and not me.
“Alex, sarcasm for $600 please.”
“If _________ mother lets him jump off the bridge does that mean I have to let you jump too?”
Tomasz, lightening fast on the buzzer said, “Who is Myron?”
Tomasz, “Alex, I’ll take guilting for $1000.”
“Daily Double, Tomasz.”
“Let’s make it a true Daily Double, Alex.”
“Tomasz, this could do it for you. Folks he’s all in for $22,000.”
“What is—I wish I were dead.”
My mother looked at me with a self -satisfied look as the audience applauded.
Then the nurses came and escorted Alex out of the studio as the other writers went over and talked to my mother who laughed along with them. My Aunt Libby drove onto the stage in her Volkswagen Beetle and my mother materialized in her sister’s passenger seat and they drove off with my mother lighting up and blowing smoke rings to the applause of the audience.
Paul Beckman’s a Connecticut writer whose latest flash collection, Kiss Kiss (Truth Serum Press) was a finalist for the 2019/2020 Indie Book Awards. Some of his stories appeared in Spelk, Connotation Press, and Necessary Fiction, Litro, Pank, Playboy, WINK, Jellyfish Review, and The Lost Balloon. He had a story selected for the 2020 National Flash Fiction Day Anthology Lineup and was short listed in the Strands International Flash Fiction Competition. Paul curates the FBomb NY flash fiction reading series monthly in KGB’s Red Room (Currently Virtual).