Guest blog on the concept behind "Texas Pancakes," flash fiction by Mark Asher

He was using his knife and fork like he was a surgeon rather than a man having breakfast, carving off a very precise portion of his pancake. He seemed more interested in the pancake left on his plate than the piece poised on his fork. The counter girl, Madge, was watching.

“I couldn't help but notice,” she said, “the rather odd way you eat your pancake. You cut it up so carefully. It's like you're a food artist or something.”

The man looked up at her. “It's Texas,” he said, and pointed at the pancake on his plate. “Let me show you.” He rotated the plate so that she could see it from the proper perspective.

“Yeah, I can see that now,” She said. It did resemble Texas. “Do you always turn your food into geography lessons? What's that strip of bacon supposed to be? Chile?”

He smiled. “I hadn't gotten to it yet,” he said. “But look at it now.” He broke it in two and laid one piece back down on the plate and popped the other piece into his mouth. “It's Rhode Island.”

“And no, I don't do this all the time. I'm trying not to think about my girlfriend – I mean my ex-girlfriend, Tina. She broke up with me last month,” he said. “I can't get her out of my head.”

“I know how that is. I broke up with a guy last year, but I kept wanting him to want to get back with me,” she said. “I'd leave the bathroom door open when I showered in case he called. One time I nearly broke my neck making a dash for the phone from the shower. There I was, naked as a jaybird, dripping all over my floor. It was a telemarketer.”

“Ha! I would have liked to have seen that!” the man said, and then realized what he had said. “I mean, well, not that I want to see you naked or anything.” Madge just looked at him and opened her eyes even wider. “But I'm sure you look good naked too, I don't mean I wouldn't want to see you that way,” He was desperate for a new topic. “I still haven't emptied the ashtray.”   

“The ashtray? How did we get on that? Tired of me naked already, huh?”

“Hey, I'm sorry about that. You know what I meant,” he said. “Yeah, the ashtray. Tina smoked. It still has her cigarette butts in it. I don't clean it because I don't want her to be that gone.” He looked up at Madge. “So what's your story? Why are you here?”

“Why am I here?” She shook her head and frowned slightly. “Why, I'm the Queen of France, I am! But every once in awhile I put on this waitress outfit to check on the peasants, make sure they're eating enough cake. What do you mean why am I here?”

“I meant you seem nice and everything, so why...” his voice trailed off. “That wasn't exactly very nice of me. Let me start over,” he said. “What I meant to say is would you, maybe, like to have dinner with me sometime?”

Madge looked at him. He does have a cute smile, she thought. And he seems nice. Those are positives. On the other hand, he doesn't clean ashtrays and he plays with his food. I think there's enough to work with here, though, she thought. So sure, why not? “Ok,” she said. “But under one condition.”

The man's smile was broader now. “What's that?” he said.

“Neither one of us orders Baked Alaska.”

Guest  Blog:
Texas Pancakes was a piece of flash fiction borne out of a desire to be in love. I had recently gone through a breakup with a woman and I don't do breakups well. What I do know is that the best way to get over a woman is to get over another woman, and that's a paraphrase of a famous Mae West quote. So this piece of fiction was imagining meeting someone new. 

The dirty ashtray was real -- I stared at that for weeks in my place. It really was the presence of the very recent ex-girlfriend. The bit about rushing out of the shower I got from a friend who consoled me with tales of his past breakups. 

All I really wanted to do in the story was show a moment in time when two people meet. That seems perfect for flash fiction, to write about a moment. You, the reader, are given that and then you can imagine what happens after. I hope that's more fun for the reader, and it's certainly less work for me, the writer.  

I don't currently have this story in a published collection. Maybe someday. What I'm working on now is erotica. I hope my erotica is both well-written and a hot read. I just started a writer's blog and you can find it here, including links to my books:

Thanks for reading! 


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