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The Drifter: Flash Fiction by cam

Updated on June 26, 2016
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Chris has written more than 300 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.


I get up from my desk to answer the door. Working from home has been more difficult than I would have imagined. Distractions come in multipacks—Doorbells, ringtones, a spider hanging from the ceiling, a phantom itch.

The Drifter, my name for him, comes in as he always does, unannounced, unexpected, hopefully bearing gifts. Calls himself, Spark. Says he comes to fire me up. He sits in the wooden rocker, as he always does, which isn’t often. I’m pissed and thankful at the same time.


“Would you happen to have any of that wonderful chamomile and licorice tea you served me on my last visit?”

I go into the kitchen, set the kettle on the stove and return to my couch. I notice that three pieces of salt water taffy in the candy bowl have become two.

The drifter reaches into his tattered backpack, pulls out a handful of envelopes and tosses them onto the coffee table. I knock them apart with my middle finger so I can see what he’s brought me this time.

“Junk mail, like I don’t have enough of my own.”

“You don’t wike it?” His teeth are stuck to the taffy, so he has to talk with only his lips.

“Like it? It’s meaningless, impersonal garbage sent out to convince us to buy junk we don’t really want and certainly don’t need. No, I don’t like it. Is this a joke? Where’s the good stuff?”

“Try making lemonade.”

“And to top it all off, I get a cliched bit of your two cents worth for which, I’m sure, you’ll want a sizable tip.”

“I work for free.”

“If productivity is an indication of work done, you don't work at all."

“That goes for both of us.”


I pour hot water into the cups, and the teabags float to the top. I set his close enough for me to reach because he never takes even a sip after he’s been so bold as to ask for it.

“Would you at least take a look at one piece?” He sits back and crosses his arms, further widening the chasm that separates us.

I pick up an envelope and act as disinterested as possible. A glance informs me that there is important information inside about a special sweepstakes. I could already have won millions.

“So?” He leans forward and takes the next to the last piece of taffy.

“The guy needs the money.”

“You'w bwiwiant.” Lips only, again.

“Gambling debts. He’s been getting calls in the middle of the night.”

“What’s he going to do?” He actually takes a sip of his tea.

“He’ll fill out the sweepstakes form, but his backup plan is to pull off a robbery of one of the casinos.”

“That’s not likely to turn out well.”


“It has about the same odds as winning big at their tables.” I pick up a pen and make some notes on the back of the envelope. I keep writing and the drifter sips more tea. "He actually wins the lottery. The money is waiting on him when he gets out of prison." I make a few more notes. When I finally stop writing and look up, the drifter is gone. He brought me junk mail and took the last piece of taffy.

Muses are like that.


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