Flash Fiction: Somewhere South of a Public Funded Burden by LJ Frank

Source: LJ Frank

Luciana left me a text message to meet her at an out of the way café located on a narrow, brick paved side street, a block or so from an old, exhausted looking wood plank fishing pier extending out into the harbor. The café was called El Santuario and converted from a convent in the early 20th century.

Reddish brown Mediterranean tiles, wood tables and chairs, white-washed stucco walls with a wood cross hanging from one of the walls, scattered mental ceiling fans, a few pendant lighting fixtures and candles on tables added to the ambience. There was a small bar with a brass railing towards the back of the room where two elderly, scruffy faced men with linen hooded shirts drank their pints of draft beer while talking to a black-mustachioed bartender, who was also wearing a hooded linen shirt, otherwise we were alone. That is, until a waitress in a nun’s habit and ankle strapped toeless high heels came to our table and Luciana ordered for the both of us. The drinks tasted like a semi-dry blended house red wine.

 “Thank you for the invitation. Intriguing place. It feels so…chaste. Should I be wearing a linen hooded shirt?”  I asked just above a whisper, my mind acknowledging where I was at. 

She laughed. “I desired a private place for our conversation. I knew being a vagabond is in your blood and you had to spend a few days away from the lies.”

 I nodded. “As for lies, I believe it was Samuel Butler, the English author and satirist who said something to the effect, ‘I do not mind lying, but I hate inaccuracy’.”

“Ha! Ha!”

“Is there more I should know?”

 Luciana’s thick lips turned up slightly caught somewhere between a smile and grimace. “This was delivered to me a few days ago,” She said handing me a manila envelope. “There was no return address on it.”

“Stamps? Country?”

“There were no stamps. Nothing…but your name and mine were written above my address.”

“Good grief. I wonder…it must’ve been hand delivered?”

“I assume so…how else? I found it on my doorstep.”

 I took a deep breath. “I enjoy intrigue now and then.”

“I know you do. Please go ahead and open it.”

I opened the envelope and retrieved a photograph. “It appears simple enough. Strange looking gargoyle affixed. What does this mean?”

“You know I’m a pragmatist. I try to experience the moment for what it is. And yet, I sometimes think that what I see is not the reality I wish to recognize. The question is whether to believe what I see and even hear especially if it doesn’t coincide with other evidence, or is in direct opposition to what I knew to be the case.”

“Interesting.”

“Might a photograph represent something other than the obvious?”

I looked at the photo again. “Perhaps….it’s what’s on the other side of the obvious. Do we alter what we think based on what we think we will see to coincide with our own bias?”

 “Why would this be sent to you and me at my address? Is there something hidden.”

“As I age I’ve become a fan of uncertainty. I guess there is one way to find out.”  I said.

“What if you pursue and you don’t like what you see?” Luciana asked.

“There’s always the humors of the spirit and the flesh,” 

“Are you suggesting what I think?”

“What are you thinking?”