Here is a sample of Liam Sweeny’s short stories.
“Knuckle Sandwiches” — Shotgun Honey
“All I Need Is a Day” — Near to the Knuckle
“Don’t Blow It” — The Flash Fiction Offensive
He Was a Good Boy
Disinfectant vapors stung the corners of her eyes, dampening her cheeks with fresh tears. The crumpled tissues in her hand were soaked; she might as well have dried off with a wet-nap and blown her nose on a dishrag. She had a big purse where she stocked life itself, so should the world around her become a desert isle, she’d be able to fashion a hammock and a sushi dinner in time for the sunset. She reached in and pulled out a half-pack of travel tissues, her last. If she had another fit, the bathroom’s rough pulp would be poor comfort.
Anthony’s graduation, she cried as much then. A happy, gangly kid who had a gown and cap one size too big. She was in the hallway, waiting with him and his best friend, Gary, in line with the rest of the Class of Twenty-Sixteen, and Gary flipped his tassel, knocking his cap right off. How goofy his laughter, ’cause he was going to college in a hip town and he could do anything and he had a good best friend that would, in time, bring his kids to Anthony’s house for weekend barbeques. She blinked hard and her cheeks felt the cold of evaporation.
She felt cold.
The double-doors slid open, revealing a young woman on a gurney, clutching the rails. The EMTs guided it forward while the nurses, well-practiced, glided backwards and a young doctor in a wrinkled white coat, stethoscope swinging wildly, shouted orders as he sidestepped down the hallway. Every reflective surface in the ensemble glinted with the emergency lights which should have been off, she thought, but weren’t. They turned them off for Anthony.
But his ambulance was long gone.
“Momma?” Cherie’s voice carried over the television in the waiting area. It carried over the murmurs of a husband to his wife, a mother to her flu-stricken kids and tinny hip hop streaming from the earbuds of the man sitting next to her. Did Cherie know? Did she get the message, or did the neighborhood tell her where to go? Her vision started raining as she got up and made her way for the maroon of Cherie’s coat.
“What happened, momma? Where’s Anthony?”
“They took him. I don’t know if he’s—”
Cherie squeezed her frail frame tight. She buried her face in the fabric, inhaled the perfume she got her daughter for Christmas, the brand Cherie pinned to that internet site. She cried. She cried into her daughter’s hair. She cried out because she didn’t cry out when she heard the shots and saw Anthony’s coat and jeans wrapped around a kid that wasn’t picking himself up from the pavement. She cried out because she was numb when the cops asked questions in between squawks of static-laden voices coming from their shoulders.
Cherie walked her outside for a cigarette. They stayed by the window, peering in, in case a doctor came from the double-doors, they could run back inside. The rain was starting to slow, but the wind picked up, sending drops sideways through the port-cochere. Cherie cupped her hand against the lighter and the light from the flame made the edges of her fingers translucent.
“What did he do, momma?”
“I didn’t have to watch it,” she said. “It was a rerun. I could’ve watched it later—”
Cherie held the sides of her momma’s arms gently.
“You’re not making sense. What happened? What did he do?”
“I just sent him for cigarettes and a scratcher… I never win off those. I could’ve gone, maybe then he’d have been…”
“Momma, you’re not making a lick of sense. They took Mr. Klatsky out of his shop in a cop car. Did he do this?”
“Anthony’s a good boy—”
They heard a tap on the window. The husband was waving them toward the opposite side of the waiting room. Cherie threw her cigarette and guided her momma by the arm, bringing them inside. A doctor was standing at the end by the double doors to the OR, with wispy, balding hair and a white lab coat and powder blue shirt and a thousand-yard stare.
He had a thousand-yard stare.
Copyright ©2018 Liam Sweeny. All rights reserved.