Flash Fiction Fridays: Anything Goes Month Concludes


Line Five 
By Karen Wojcik Berner

He was mean, the man at the DMV. You could tell just by looking at him. He did not make pleasant chit chat. Instead, he would huff and puff and blow your dreams down.

All these idiots. How many times did he have to repeat the same question? Nevermind his tendency to mumble. He played games with them. If he didn’t like the look of you, read line five for the vision test, the one so small no one without a magnifying glass could make out. Come back again and play the numbers game to see if you win the pleasure of his company on another day. Stupid bastards. What were they going to do? Pick a fight? He held the power, not them.

Look at this kid’s shirt. Why would anyone want to go to Mongolia? We have everything here in the good, old USA. What the hell was wrong with him? “Line five.”

Yeah, the Department of Motor Vehicles was his domain.

How he hated the teenagers, especially the boys wanting their licenses so they could get laid in the backseat of their father’s BMWs. The girls, well, they were different, coming in here with their tight shirts and skinny jeans, all “That’s right, old man, you wish you could get some of this.” Let’s see how proud your parents are of your straight-A ass now when you fail a test any moron can pass. “Line five.”

Then there were the old people practically decomposing as they waited in line, for god’s sake. Some could barely walk, yet here they were, trying to keep a license that should have been taken away years ago. Every day he would get stuck driving behind one of these fossils, driving frick’in ten in a thirty zone. “Line five.”

“Go grab some lunch. Betty will cover for you.”

He rubbed the girth extending over his belt and turned his chair to leave.

“Jesus, Betty. Would ya let me get up first or are ya gonna give me a lap dance in front of all these people?”

Betty shook her head and rolled her eyes. One more year until his retirement.

He didn’t see the car speeding through the parking lot, the one that sent him flying, landing with a crash through his own Ford’s windshield. Everything went blank. A white light beckoned him. He floated towards it.

What was this place? There were a few people in line ahead of him. What the hell was taking so long? Some guy, dressed all in white, was standing in front of large sparkling gates.

“Let’s see what we have here.” The guy in white stared blankly at him.


“Nothing.” He made a notation on his clipboard.

“What’s your problem?”

“Getting testy are we? Read this.”

“Can’t make out the words.”

“Line five.”

The clouds beneath him broke apart, and his body was engulfed by the flames below. 

By Kae Cheatham

She lives where neither postman nor UPS make deliveries until after 3 p.m. So she sleeps late. At noon, she shampoos her hair, polishes her nails and reads. Words bunch to black solids, resembling packages.

Her mother warns her not to hope. Last year he forgot her birthday, this father who lives so distant; she called him, plaintive and suppressing hurt.

"I'm sorry, sugar," he said. "So busy in June."

And at Christmas, she thinks, staring toward the street. His phone number has changed; it’s unlisted.

Today she turns sixteen. Her mother gave her a stereo and told her now she can date; that evening there is a party, and tomorrow she will get her drivers license. Surely he'll remember.

The postman comes at 3:10 and she is surprised only by a card from her French teacher. She displays it with others from friends, from uncles and her aunt and both grandmas.

Two hours later, the noisy sound of air brakes hurries her to the front room. A brown truck idles in the neighbor's drive—golden monogram on the side. She stares, palms damp, heart like a butterfly. The bulky vehicle backs into the street—moves out of sight.

Unclenching cold fingers, she turns away thinking, Maybe tomorrow.

This story is part of the collection, Lost News: Short Stories and Long Poems, available on Kindle. Kae Cheatham, author of twelve published titles, writes from her home in Montana, where she also works as a photographer and editor. To learn more about Kae, visit her website or her blog.


Kae said…
Thanks, Karen.
Interesting with the drivers license hint/connection between our two stories.

Karen, I think I had that same DMV employee when I last renewed my license. Thanks to him I now have "corr.lens" on my license, all because I couldn't read one little letter on the line. It must have been line five.
Kae: Coincidental, isn't it? Thanks so much for your great piece.

Jeanette: I think you are correct; it probably was line five :) Thanks for reading.

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