Guns and Rose
by Paul Beckman
She appeared to be swathed in her entire wardrobe, while sitting
on a folding chair in front of a modest storefront on the Lower East Side, in
front of two neon signs:
Ask About Your Future.
I was slow walking the New York streets,
seeing the sites, as I approached her. She stood and parted the curtain in the
doorway and asked if I’d like to know what my future’s going to bring.
“Isn’t that something you should already
know?” I asked, pointing at the neons.
She said, “The gun. Don’t you want to
know about the gun?”
patted my pants pocket and walked by.
“It’s worth ten dollars to know about
the gun—don’t you think?”
I turned and followed her inside. She
switched off the neon lights, locked the door, and pulled a curtain closed on
another doorway, exhaling the smell of boiling cabbage, as she lit watermelon-scented
candles around the room.
pointed to the chairs around a small, round, wooden table. “The seat you pick
will say a lot,” she said.
that case, why don’t you pick out the chair for me?”
“That’s not how it’s done,” she said.
“My name’s Rose. What’s yours?”
“Shouldn’t you know that, also?”
“I don’t know what you’re calling
yourself, but your birth name was Myron.”
“That’s the name I go by,” I lied.
“No it’s not,” she said and got up and
took a cigar box from a bookshelf and said, “Put your gun in here, and I will
tell you all you need to know.”
I took out the unloaded, rusty .22
caliber and left the bullets in my pocket.
dimmed the lights, put both hands on the box, centered it on
the table, and moved them over the box, as she hummed a song from Fiddler on the Roof.
is not a lucky gun. It was used to hold up several
bodegas, and it wounded a policeman. This will only bring you bad luck, and you
should have left it, when you saw it lying in the curb.”
Rose stood, indicating the reading was over.
suggest you leave the gun here for me to dispose of, for you.”
I paid her the ten dollars and then
lifted the top of the cigar box to get the .22. It was empty.
A large, mustachioed man entered the
room, brushing the curtain away, and stood with a menacing look. He had a Bowie
knife in his belt and the .22 in his hand.
“I told you this was not a lucky gun,”
she said. “Now give my husband all your money and your wallet.”
I did what I was told and backed to the
shadows of the entry door, while reaching behind my back. “You were right,
Rose, that’s not a lucky gun. It’s unloaded, but this 9mm is lucky and loaded.”
I pointed it at her and her husband and
took my money and theirs.
Then I took the cigar box for good
Beckman’s a retired air traffic
controller. He was one of the winners in The Best Small Fictions 2016!
His latest collection of flash stories, Kiss
Kiss (Truth Serum Press) is available at Independent Book Stores and Amazon.
Some places his stories have been
published: Literary Orphans, Matter Press,
Spelk, The Lost Balloon, Gravel, and Pank. Paul had a micro-story selected for the 2018 New Norton Anthology on micro-fiction.
lives in CT. and hosts the monthly FBomb NY
flash fiction reading series at KGB’s Red Room.
KJ Hannah Greenberg captures the world
in words and images. Her latest photography portfolio is 20/20:
KJ Hannah Greenberg Eye on Israel.
Her most recent poetry collection is Mothers Ought to Utter Only Niceties (Unbound CONTENT, 2017). Her most recent
fiction collection is the omnibus, Concatenation (Bards & Sages Publishing, 2018).