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Confidential Report on the Disturbance at Big Echo-Fiction by William Squirrell
Dwight-Fiction by Anthony Lukas
Snake Heaven-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Of the Blood-Fiction by Lela Marie De La Garza
The Liars of the Laughing City-Fiction by Richard Godwin
The Bull-Fiction by Oliver Lodge
Scratch Off-Fiction by Colt Leasure
...til I Wake Up-Fiction by Denis Bushlatov
Therapist-Fiction by Robert Petyo
Visitors-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Three Shots for a Dollar-Flash Fiction by Matthew J. Hockey
A Nun's Smile-Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
911-Flash Fiction by Karen Heslop
The Faint of Heart Work for a Living-Flash Fiction by Lester L. Weil
Another Day, Another Death-Flash Fiction by Sandor Kovacs
Jim Dandy-Poem by g emil reutter
Blind Man's Bluff-Poem by Marc Carver
Closed-Poem by David Mac
The Voice Within-Poem by Michael Keshigian
green shoots-Poem by Meg Baird
jack and jill-Poem by Meg Baird
An Outlaw in the Making-Poem by John D. Robinson
Often She Says-Poem by John D. Robinson
rogue dragonflies-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
rogue drones-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
wind through the evergreens-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
My Phantoms Hang Neatly-Poem by A. J. Huffman
The Hour of the Cat-Poem by A. J. Huffman
Owlish Eyes in the Dark-Poem by A. J. Huffman
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

faintofheart.jpg
Art by John Lunar Richey 2017

The Faint of Heart Work for a Living

 

by Lester L Weil

 

 

It has been a hard day. I've been working on old telephone wiring in the downtown area. All the new feeds are underground, but there are a lot of older buildings that have to be upgraded. I stopped for a couple beers after dropping off the work van but they have only added to my fatigue, and done nothing about my depression. I'm feeling old and my knees hurt, and I slept wrong last night and can hardly turn my stiff, aching neck.

 

I didn't have the energy or will to fix dinner, so stopped at Rosie's, the little diner up the block from the company garage. Sitting, eating a chicken potpie, my eyes and my mind stray across the street to Johnny's Bar.

 

I see it all again in my mind.

 

I'm in the back room of Johnny's Bar, trying to fix their screwed up phone system, so they can get on with running their real business—they are the largest bookie joint in town. The building is ancient, and the interior doors still have transom windows above them. From my perch on a stepladder where I'm trying to fish a new wire into the wall, I can see through the transom into the small office across the hall.

Johnny is in there, counting the money that his runners dropped off, and I wonder again if he is the original Johnny, or just another “Johnny-come-lately.” He finishes counting and banding the stacks of cash, and pushes the desk to the side. Behind it is a safe with a keypad. He punches in numbers at the four corners and opens the safe. I quickly translate the four corners into 1, 3, 7, 9.

Inside the safe is more money than I make in five years.

I sigh and finish my potpie, pay the bill, and head toward my crummy apartment. The dirty streets seem dirtier than usual, and this adds to my general funk. I'd like to retire and move somewhere warm, Florida or Arizona—not California, costs too much to live there.

1, 3, 7, 9 goes through my mind. 1, 3, 7, 9. More money than I'd ever see in one place. 1, 3, 7, 9. Added to my puny pension, it would be enough to retire on. 1, 3, 7, 9—1, 3, 7, 9—1, 3, 7, 9. It was like a mantra, my feet moving in rhythm with it.

My mind goes back to Johnny's.

Before Johnny could turn around, I got off the stepladder and moved to the  other side of the room. 1, 3, 7, 9 soaked into my brain. I could hardly concentrate on my work for the rest of the day, thinking of the safe full of cash. I made the decision that night.

The next day when upgrading the feed wire to the alarm, I wired a cut-off switch. Now I can turn off the alarm without knowing the code and I know the combination to the safe. What could be easier. Three minutes in and out. I just need one more thing.

* * *

It is six months later, and I again sit in Rosie's and eat one of her potpies. Johnny's Bar is still across the street. Johnny still runs his bookie joint and must have made a killing on this year's Super Bowl game. And I'm still working, my knees still ache, and I'm more depressed than ever.

I still lack the one thing needed to rob the safe and retire to Florida. And that's a backbone. I cannot seem to work up the nerve to just do it. I've set out to do it several times, but I always turn back and fail to take the final plunge.

I have this vision of myself. I'm 80 years old, bent, and hobbling along with a cane on my way to work at some miserable job. All because I just didn't have to heart to just do it.

The faint of heart have to work for a living.

 

 

Lester L. Weil is an ex-professional bassoonist, ex-professor, ex-custom furniture builder, ex-house builder. He is retired in Arizona, near the Mexico border. He publishes The Flash Fiction Press and is fiction editor at Silver Blade Magazine.

He has stories published by Saturday Night Reader, 365 Tomorrows, riverbabble, Doorknobs and Bodypaint, Flash Fiction magazine, The Screech Owl, Yahara Prairied Lights, etc.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2017