Joseph Clay – Author

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Archive for the category “Flash Fiction 1-2000 Words”

Night of Dreams-Flash Fiction

This story was entered into the 2013 Writer’s Digest Short Story Competition, with a maximum word count of 1500. I had written one piece of flash fiction before, titled Memories, and enjoyed packing a basket full of emotions into a small package, so I figured what the hay, you can’t win if you don’t enter.

Night of Dreams
Author: Joe Clay

Joey was awakened by the sound of the alarm clock blaring old classic rock. He rolled over to turn it off as the bright red LED lights informed him it was six thirty and another day had rolled around. He flipped back over to make sure the alarm had not woken Lisa. She was still asleep in all her beauty. Joey sat on the side of the bed clearing his eyes and his head. Joey’s sleep was always so restful and filled with dreams of pleasure and accomplishments. Last night was different: his dream had become a nightmare which caused him to toss and turn all night. He felt as if he had not even been to bed. The nightmare was so realistic he had to shake his legs just to make sure they were still there. After some stretching and grumbling about why it should not be this cold in South Georgia in late September, his feet hit the soft carpet and headed down the hallway to the kitchen. His athletic body needed some fuel. He would go ahead and start breakfast and have it ready by the time Lisa began to stir. Two scrambled eggs, toast with strawberry jelly, and a protein shake to wash it all down was his normal breakfast. He prepared Lisa her favorite: toast, eggs, and oatmeal with strawberries. The smell of her coffee brewing would bring her out of her deep slumber. Joey placed the morning meal on the small two person round table in the breakfast nook. He looked up to see Lisa coming down the hall wearing nothing but his long sleeve blue Oxford shirt. Her long black hair was all over her head and face. She was moving it away from her brown eyes so she could place the thick, black framed glasses on. Without them she could not see down the hall. Lisa continued walking and began buttoning the shirt from the top down. The task was complete as she reached the nook and kissed Joey on the cheek. They had plenty of time to enjoy the food, relax, and spend some time together. Joey did not have to be at the ball park till ten for the team meeting. They ate in total silence, only with glances of love being shared. Joey was a lucky man and he knew it. Lisa was not a typical jock’s idea of a perfect girlfriend. When they met in high school, most of his teammates were with cheerleaders. For some reason, Joey was drawn to Lisa. They had met in American Literature. She was tall but not fully developed and was a little clumsy. At that time she kept her hair in a bun with a pencil stuck through it. Joey thought she looked just like a librarian, and the glasses just added to the fantasy. Lisa loved to read and planned on penning a novel herself after college. They continued dating and attended the same university where Joey excelled in baseball earning him a first round draft pick by the Georgia Thunder in his senior year. Lisa majored in business with a minor in literature. While in college, she also developed into the prettiest creature he had ever laid his eyes on. They married when Joey got promoted last year to AAA ball after shooting up the ranks in A and AA in less than a year.
“Joey, you appear a little troubled this morning. Are you worried about the final game of the series tonight?” Lisa questioned.
“Not at all: with our win last night our team has a one game lead. The worst case scenario would be a one game playoff. My stats this year against them are phenomenal.” He answered.
“Being that confident, why were you so restless last night?” Lisa inquired.
“I had a dream, well a nightmare. I lost the use of my legs in a freak accident. The left one was broken in three places with a crushed ankle.” He answered.
“What happened?” She inquired.
“I can’t remember how it happened. The doctors were able to save it, but my speed was gone and so was my career! My legs were going to make us rich and me famous next year! You could stop working at the book store to make ends meet and work on your dream. Instead we both had to work. I was working in a steel mill and was in constant pain daily. My only comfort, you stayed by my side through it all.” Joey explained.
“Honey it was just a dream. I attribute it to the pain injections you took after being hit by a fastball in your left thigh last night. You should never have stolen home. No need to worry either way. My dream of a book deal is in the works. I should be hearing something soon from the publishers. When it comes to pass we can have it all plus more.” She replied.
“You are right, I’m sure everything will work out for the best, and we both will be celebrities.” He said.
They had finished breakfast and Lisa cleared the table and started the dishes as Joey prepared to shower and head to the ball park.

The game would be decided in the last inning. With Joey at bat he felt he was living his dream. The situation was not just like it, but close! The count was 2 balls 2 strikes. The runner on third led off the inning with a triple and had been stranded there. The game was tied 4-4. Joey looked down the third base line to get the sign from the coach. He was given the hit and run sign on the two/two pitch. Joey knew he would need to place the ball in a perfect spot on the ground. A fly ball could be caught. In the back of his mind he just had to get it past the pitcher and make the third baseman field it. The infield had moved back with two strikes; no one in their right mind would try to bunt. The pitch was delivered and as Joey started his swing, the ball began to break. He lunged and made contact. The bat connected with the pitch at the very end of the wood. The runner on third broke towards home! The hit was weak but hard enough to clear the pitcher and was headed up the middle. Joey was in disgust as he bolted down the first base line. He hoped the weak grounder had enough speed to get through the infield. All he could do was pray that his speed would get him to the bag in time. The diving shortstop made the play. His only chance was to throw Joey out at first as the runner was almost home. His arm was considered to be the best in the league. Would that arm be a match for the cheetah-like speed of Joey? The shortstop sprang to his feet quick as a cat. He planted and cut the ball loose rifling a fastball strike to first. Joey’s speed was too much for the strong and accurate arm of the gold gloved infielder. He beat the throw by steps, driving in the winning run. They had clinched the division and were playoff bound. The celebrating was pure chaos as the fans stormed the field as the players were gathered on the mound congratulating each other. They lifted Joey up on their shoulders and headed to the dugout through the crowd. Joey spotted Lisa in the front row. He blew her a kiss.
“I love you, see you at home.” He shouted
She blew a kiss back and headed out to her car. She would wait to tell him about her phone call and the book deal she had landed. Lisa wanted him to enjoy his moment in the spotlight.

The team continued the rejoicing in the club house. The manager came by and pulled Joey to the side.
“Good game.” The manager said.
“Thank you Sir.” Joey replied.
“Hope you can do that in the majors. I just got the call; they want you on the big league team for the remainder of the season. I do not want to see you back down here.” He said.
“Holy crap. Thank you Sir, I will make you proud!” Joey screamed.
He could not wait to tell Lisa. He rushed to shower and prepare to leave the club house. Joey exited the stadium and mounted his Harley and headed home to inform her that the struggles were over. They would be rolling in money!

The morning paper headline read: ‘Star of Last Night’s Game and Top Prospect Involved in Near Fatal Crash with a Semi on I-85.’ Tucked in the lifestyle section was: ‘Local Author Signs Major Book Deal’.


Memories- Flash Fiction

My first attempt at flash fiction was an inspirational tale penned for  the The Matthew 2535 Initiative. They wanted to show that bad memories are just as valuable as the good ones. Both help us realize God is in control and has us by the hand or on his shoulders.

Author Joe Clay

Sam was shopping at the local mall when she picked up a small vase at the Christian Store. It looked just like the one her mother had sitting on the table by the front door. She began to examine it, rubbing her fingers over the painted flowers, as she did ever day when coming home from school. She could remember putting her book bag down and placing her pencils in the vase. The smells coming from the kitchen were divine. Sam took a deep breath; there in the store she could almost smell her mother’s cornbread cooking in the kitchen. Sam felt at peace as those memories flooded her thoughts. She felt warm and comfortable from her head to her toes. She began to smile from ear to ear and was sure the people around her wondered what she was up to.

Sam turned down the next aisle after she placed the vase in the plastic tote she had picked up as she entered the stained glass doors. Fear took over her as she saw a gentleman that looked just like her ex-husband. She had got the nerve and strength to leave him five years ago. She began to tremble as tears rolled down her face. Her knees became weak as she fell to the floor on them. The memories of the abuse, cheating, and drinking flooded her mind. The lump in her throat was getting thicker almost cutting off her air. She still could remember those lashes across her back with a leather strap as she lay on top of the kids to protect them as if it was just yesterday. Sam was about to turn and crawl away when the gentleman turned, smiled, and tipped his hat.
“May I help you up? Are you OK?” He asked with a warm smile as he extended his hand.
Sam reached for the hand and returned to her feet. Her breathing had got back to normal as she thanked the older gentleman as he went about his shopping as if nothing had happened.

Sam’s brown eyes caught sight of a wooden cross on a shelf directly in front of her. Her dad kept one on his desk at the office to remind him what God had provided for him and his family. Tears once again welled up in her eyes as the sadness and hurt overcame her. Losing her dad to cancer only six months ago was a fresh wound that had not yet healed. She picked up the wooden cross and kissed it.
“I love you Dad,” she whispered as she placed it in the tote.

She finished up by gathering the supplies she needed for the Sunday school class she was teaching. Sam approached the counter. She was staring straight at the famous Foot Prints in the Sand poster. The memories that Sam had just experienced let her realize the times God was with her and the times God was carrying her. She pointed at the poster with trembling hands.
“Two please,” she said as a peace filled her soul.
She knew God had brought her through the fire and was with her now in the calm of the storm called life.

Texas Chili Cook-Off

I did not write this originally; the little gem came to me by email from a good friend of mine. I found it so hilarious I fell out of the chair several times holding my stomach and wiping the tears out of my eyes from the laughter. Once I regained my composure I spiced it up a little by adding a few lines, some rewriting, and corrections to make it read a little smoother. In order to get the full story make sure you read the comments from Judges One and Two. Reading those will give you the complete story of this tale from a pasture in Texas.

Texas Chili Cook-Off
Author: Unknown
Re-write: Joe Clay

Frank was sore from all the riding, roping, on roughing it at the Lazy Cougar dude ranch. He knew he had made a mistake by the second day there. Frank had fallen from his horse as he was trying to mount it, screamed like a girl and peed his pants at the sight of a stuffed rattler in the mess hall, tripped and fell backwards on a cactus. That little fall prompted a trip to the local doctor. The prettiest nurse he had ever laid eyes on giggled the whole time she was pulling the needles from his butt. He was glad this was the last day and was thrilled he would be back in Illinois in the morning leaving Texas to the cowboys and steers. The big Chili Cook-Off was scheduled for the last day. Frank figured it would be a safe activity for him to attend. Frank left the bunk house in his plaid shorts, tennis shoes and Hawaiian shirt. He double checked his front pocket to make sure he had his roll of ones for the dollar beer and food. He decided to walk; the last thing he wanted was to ride another horse, as his thighs were raw enough. Frank made it to the pasture where the event was being held. He headed to the nearest table to find out where the beer tent would be located so he could stake his claim. He approached the table where two men were sitting and talking. “Howdy, how can we help you?” the two men stated with a devilish grin. “Looking for the beer tent. I hear you all have all the Coors Light Draft I can drink for a buck.” Frank answered licking his lips. “Yes we do. How would you like to drink all the Coors Light your northern heart desires for free?” The older of the men stated wearing a big number one on his checkered shirt. “Free, what do I need to do?” Frank shouted giving each man a high five. “Well let me tell ya, we are two of today’s Chili Cook-Off judges. The third judge has called in sick. You can consume all the beer you want if you will step in and fill his boots. What do you say whippersnapper?” The younger man, who wore a number two, spoke in a Texas drawl. “I have never been a judge before, but if the beer is free I can learn.” Frank stated while watching the kegs being unloaded at the beer tent. He could see the frost on the aluminum barrels from where he was standing. “It is easy, we go around to each set up and taste the chili, then we write on these 4 x 7 index cards what we liked and disliked about it. Now you can’t eat without drinking. Since Coors is sponsoring the event an endless supply of Coors Light will be at your disposal.” Judge One replied while stroking his gray whiskers. “There are only eight entries this year. The chili will not be all that spicy, over the years it has become milder with no kick at all.” Judge Two stated shifting his cowboy hat to block the sun. Frank thought for a second while watching the cold adult beverages being tapped into the serving pitchers. “Hand me the index cards, let us get this show on the road and bring on the beer.” Frank stated as he held out his hand. The two judges who were native Texans just smiled, handed Frank a stack of cards, a pen, and a tasting spoon. “Let’s ride’em cowboy, welcome on board Judge Three.” Judge Two stated as they began the walk to taste the first sample. Note: The cards with the comments below were given to the paramedics in order for them to diagnose the condition of their patient.

 Chili #1 Mad Mike’s Manic Monster Chili

Judge One: A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick. Judge Two: Nice, smooth tomato flavor, very mild. Judge Three (Frank): Holy crap, what the heck is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway. I needed two beers to put out the flames. I hope that’s the worst one. These damn Texans are crazy.

 Chili #2 Austin’s Afterburner Chili

Judge One: Smoky, with a hint of pork, slight jalapeño tang. Judge Two: Exciting BBQ flavor. Needs more peppers to be taken seriously. Judge Three: Keep this out of the reach of children. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to taste besides the pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver as they thought I was choking to death. Good thing they saw my face and rushed more beer in.

 Chili #3 Fireman Fred’s Famous Burn Down the Barn Chili

Judge One: Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick. Judge Two: A bit salty, good use of peppers though. Judge Three: Call the EPA, I have located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Liquid-Plumr. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back, now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I am starting to get shit-faced from all this beer, but it is free.

 Chili #4 Big Bubba’s Black Magic Bean Chili

Judge One: Black bean chili with almost no spice. Very disappointing! Judge Two: Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili. Judge Three: I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Thank God in heaven Sally the barmaid was standing behind me with fresh refills. This 200 pound woman is starting to look HOT… just like this nuclear waste I’m eating! Is chili an aphrodisiac? Because Sally stretching those Daisy Dukes to their limit is starting to turn me on!

 Chili #5 Lisa’s Legal Lip Remover

Judge One: Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground adding considerable kick. Very impressive! Judge Two: Chili using shredded beef could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement. Judge Three: My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead, and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted, and four people behind me passed out. The contestant seemed to get offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. I wonder if I am burning my lips off. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. She is so sexy and sweet, I can look over her facial hair and the sound of her thighs rubbing together as we go from table to table. Maybe I take her back to Springfield with me. The other judges are starting to piss me off. They keep asking me to stop screaming so much.

 Chili #6 Vera’s Very Vegetarian Variety

Judge One: A thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spices and peppers. Judge Two: The best yet: aggressive use of peppers, onions and garlic – superb. Judge Three: My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. I crapped myself when I farted. I’m worried if I sit down it will eat through the metal chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except Sexy Sally. Cannot feel my lips anymore and I need to wipe my butt with something cold like a snow cone.

 Chili #7 Sexy Susan’s Screaming Sensation Chili

Judge One: A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers. Judge Two: Ho hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. I should also note that I am worried about Judge Three. He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is cussing and screaming uncontrollably, even after we have asked him several times to stop. Judge Three: You could put a grenade in my mouth and pull the pin and I would not feel a thing. I have lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy, they will know what killed me. I have decided to stop breathing. It is too painful! To heck with it; I am not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I will just suck it in through the 4″ hole in my stomach.

 Chili #8 Tiny Tom’s Toenail Curling Chili

Judge One: The perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili. Not too bold, but spicy enough to declare its existence. Judge Two: This final entry is a good balanced chili, neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 farted, and with a scream shouted ‘catch me Sexy Sally’. He passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he’s going to make it. The paramedics are headed down the hill with a stretcher. Poor feller, makes you wonder how he’d reacted to hot chili! Judge Three: NO REPORT.

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