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Merkin

Cutting Edge

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Cutting Edge

by Merkin

"My God, is that you, Asher? We thought you were dead!" The short fat man stopped before the bench as people swirled through the huge lobby. The Johns Hopkins hospitals were known throughout the world, and all nationalities appeared to be represented in the crowds coming and going.

The gaunt, sandy-haired man looked up from his newspaper. "It wasn't for want of trying," he said coldly.

Benton sat heavily, wheezing. He put down his briefcase. "I had nothing to do with it, you know."

"You were there, Benton," said Asher. He folded his newspaper and sat looking levelly at the other man.

"But it was a tradition," Benton whined. "It was part of the initiation."

"They put me out of the car with no clothes in the middle of the Connecticut countryside on the coldest night of the winter. It was a blizzard."

"They were supposed to leave you a blanket."

"Well, they didn't," Asher snarled. "Let's not mince words. Clarke did it because you all knew I was gay. He said so when they threw me out. 'Die, faggot!' is what they yelled when they drove away. I spent two weeks in the hospital and lost three toes."

"I'm sorry," said Benton. His face reddened as he gasped for air. He coughed violently and swallowed. "You know, they found the car buried in the snow two days later. It had gone off the highway into a ravine. The bodies of both Clarke and Dennis were still inside, frozen stiff."

"Good!" Asher hissed. "I wish you all had been killed."

"We thought you?d been thrown clear. The police searched the entire area but by then the snow was so deep they couldn't find anything. You never came back."

Asher got up and straightened his long white coat. "The moment I got out of the hospital I transferred. I finished school here at Hopkins," he said.

Benton struggled to his feet. He gasped for breath. "They say I have tumors throughout my lungs. I'm here to consult with some high-powered cryosurgeon."

"That would be me," said Asher. He turned and walked away.

______

This story was written for the 2011 New Year Flash Fiction anthology on the theme of 'Cold' at The Authors Haunt. The entries were limited to 500 words or less.

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James, I must say that that was probably the most powerful piece of Flash Fiction that I have ever read. In 351 word you were able to develop such a conflict that you have us (at least me) wanting to know how it will turn out. That was just...just...one of the most intriguing pieces from you that I have read.

You did your job, as a writer...just...amazingly. My hat's off to you.

Richard

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Thanks very much for those uplifting words. I am so besotted with Flash Fiction as a writing form I just can't put it aside. It seems like the perfect medium for genuine audience involvement, since the reader is asked to contribute so much in response to the scanty hints and sparse development from the author. It becomes a truly joint undertaking, and any praise for the writer is also praise for the reader.

James

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