One Dark Quiet
by Paul Beckman
The knock on the
door followed the ringing of the doorbell. No one comes to my house tucked away
in the woods, Mirsky thought.
He peered out the
dining room window, and in the moonlight saw three shapes—two adult and one
He flicked on the
porch light, left the chain on the door, and opened it. Standing there were
three gypsies—the one he thought a child was a little person. Mirsky had never
met a gypsy, but he had no doubt in his mind that these were authentic gypsies
and would clean out his house in minutes.
“Yes?” he said.
“Our van broke
down near your driveway, and we’d like to call a garage,” the gypsy woman said.
“It’s late. All
the garages are closed. Do you have AAA?”
“No.” said the
“I’ll call them on
my card. Go wait by your car.”
“Can we use the
“Sorry, pipe burst
so there’s no water.”
“Can we come in
and wait?” she asked.
wife is ill and contagious, so we can’t take a chance on anyone catching what
“We haven’t eaten
in a while. Do you have any food?”
“I’ll look, but
we’ve been stuck in the house and haven’t been able to get to the store for
with a bag of food, but it wouldn’t slip through the chained opening.
“I’ll fit if you
unlock the chain,” the gypsy lady said.
“I don’t have my
key handy,” Mirsky told her, as he began to unload the bag and hand food items
through the opening, one by one.
and can’t eat these cold cuts,” the gypsy lady said.
Mirsky took the
cold cuts back and went into the kitchen to get some cheese and crackers. He heard
the chain snap and creak of the door opening. He ran out the back door, leaving
his empty house to the gypsies.
By the time he got
to his neighbors, some distance away, he saw the gypsies walking down their
He hid in the
bushes, not knowing which way to turn, since now he was cold and hungry, and
wishing he had the cold cuts with him.
collection Kiss Kiss (Truth Serum Press) was a finalist for the Indie
Short Story Award competition. Paul had a micro story selected for the 2018
Norton Anthology, New Micro Exceptionally Short Fiction. He was one of
the winners in the 2016 The Best Small
Fictions, and his story “Mom’s
Goodbye” was chosen as the winner of the 2016
Fiction Southeast Editor’s Prize. He’s been published in the following
magazines, among others: Raleigh Review,
Litro, Playboy, Pank, Blue Fifth Review, Matter Press, Pure Slush, Thrice
Fiction, and Literary Orphans.
A. F. Knott is a self-taught
collage artist focused on book layout and book cover
design as well networking in conjunction with Hekate Publishing, one of its missions, bringing
together artist and writer. Sometimes seen selling in New York City's Union Square Park.
Work can be found on
exchange of ideas welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org