HONORABLE
MENTION
GeminiMAGAZINE
2011
Flash Fiction
Contest
Sandra walks into the bar as I’m
crawling on the floor, looking for the
tip of my right index finger.

“I don’t
fucking believe this,” she
shouts from below the burnt-out
exit sign. Even over the drone of
Steve Miller on the jukebox, I can
make out her sharp New York
accent, the elongation of
fucking,
which, under normal circumstances,
I’d have found kinky. But losing so
much blood so quickly makes even
her Angelina Jolie curves fade into
the dim, back-alley bar ambiance.

“I’ve been parked in front of this
shithole for fifteen minutes waiting
for you, Trey. And here you are,
Baby Huey, putting on a show for
your smarmy bar buddies.” I turn
toward her in time to see her
gesture to my co-drinkers—Lou,
Clive and Tuna—who gape at her
like she’s a solar eclipse.

“You mind shutting the hell up and
helping me look for my finger?” I
skim my good hand over the crusty
red felt carpet. I pull myself off the
ground, but standing adds a new
dimension to the folds of my
dizziness; I fall back against the
bar, and Clive hoists me up with his
elbow.

“Whoa there, Cowboy,” he says,
patting my good arm like it’s the
ass on a hooker. Once I’m steady, I
adjust the makeshift bandage on
my hand—Lou’s once-white
undershirt—which is now balled into
a sopping, plum-like extremity.

Sandra walks toward me. She stops
to adjust her black stockings, then
her red pumps, then her stockings
again. Instead of asking how I’m
doing, she looks past me and fixes
her eyes on the back wall. She
shakes her head disapprovingly.

“Figures,” she says as she walks to
the back of the bar. She stares at
the blood-soaked mouth of the
condom dispenser, which is
mounted next to the unisex
bathroom with a picture on the door
of a man taking a dump while a
blonde lady watches.

I set out to follow her, to explain
how it happened, but Tuna’s back
on the floor, and it looks like he’s
onto something.

“Will you look at that?” he says,
crouching below the table by the
dart board.

“You found it?” I shuffle across the
room when I see he’s holding
something small and flesh-colored
in his hand.

He holds his discovery over his head
and examines it in the backdrop of
the nearest forty-watt hanging light
bulb. As his face erupts in a satisfied
grin, I feel a sick wave of relief as I
imagine myself relatively whole
again.

“A peanut with
three nuts,” he says,
then throws the entire thing, shell
and all, into his mouth.

When we get to the car, Sandra
hands me a copy of Marie Claire.

“What the hell is this for?” I throw it
onto the floor next to her elephant
of a purse.

“I just had the upholstery
shampooed.” She gestures with her
unlit American Spirit to the bristly
seat I’m sitting on. “I don’t want
you bleeding everywhere.”

“Oh, well I’m
so sorry! Let me just
hold my fucking hand out the
window so I don’t taint your
upholstery.” I punch the February-
gray seat with my other fist.

“You’re trashed.” She lights the
cigarette, takes a shallow drag,
then starts the engine. “I hate when
you get sloppy drunk. Like some
nineteen-year-old frat guy.”

“I can’t believe we’re fighting about
this
now.” I point my bloody hand
stump at her. “Accidents happen,
y’know.”

Sandra throws the nearly untouched
cigarette out the window. “Yes, I
know.” She scowls at me as she
turns onto the highway.

My eyes ping pong between the
speedometer, which is stuck at 27,
and my throbbing fabric ball
appendage, which is stuck to the
glossy magazine cover Sandra
picked up and shoved back onto my
lap. “Can’t you at least go the speed
limit, for Chrissakes?” I beg.

Instead of angry, Sandra now looks
tragically sad—broken almost.
“You’re never going to grow up, are
you?” She slams her foot on the
gas, and I jerk back against the
seat.

I twitch in silent sickness until the
Saab pulls into the emergency loop
at the hospital. The left half of my
hand is completely numb, and the
only sensation I notice is the tickle
of the slow stream of blood as it
charts its course into the creases of
my fist.

It’s surprisingly calm for a Friday.
Sandra pulls up to the curb and puts
the car in park. She looks at me,
then reaches below my leg into her
purse. She pulls out a new pack of
cigarettes, opens it, and lights one.
I move to get out, but the car doors
are locked from the inside.

“I’m keeping it, Trey,” she says.
Instead of looking at me, Sandra
holds the amber end of the cigarette
in front of her face, her stare
focused on the slender stem of
smoke.

“Oh Christ. Can’t we please have
this conversation another time?”

She throws the lit cigarette out the
car window, onto a bank of dead
snow. “Get out,” she says, eyes
piercing the windshield.

When I don’t move, Sandra unlocks
the car doors.

I try to lasso her gaze, but her face
is planted straight ahead. “Okay,” I
finally say. I tuck my bad arm in,
then turn and open the door with
my left hand.

“Okay?” she asks as I hoist myself
out.

“Okay.” I slam the car door and
walk into the blanket of white light.


Corey Ginsberg's work has most recently appeared
in, or is forthcoming at, The Cream City Review, The
Los Angeles Review, Compass Rose, Subtropics,
Gargoyle, Pank, Memoir (and), Front Porch and The
Writer, among others. Corey studied creative writing at
Carnegie Mellon University and Florida International
University. She currently lives in Miami and works as a
freelance writer.
by Corey Ginsberg
THE TIP