Brilliant Flash Fiction 2017
June 30, 2017
By Paul Beckman
They were sitting around a fire pit talking and chewing pepperoni sticks and eating bruschetta when I walked into my cousin’s back yard in Lucca, the great walled city in Tuscany. We had been out walking the wall—people watching and catching up with family stories and horrors. I knew nothing of most of them but he was familiar with my New York branch of the family.
I saw the dead family members whose funerals I hadn’t been to over the years. My cousin gave me names and family connections. They were chatting away and there were women in maid’s uniforms taking orders and bringing out appetizers and drinks. The big deal was the pigs in a blanket (the pigs being kosher of course) and shrimp—they couldn’t bring out the 12 to15 shrimp size fast enough and there was a raw bar with clams and oysters.
A bell tolled and all the dead materialized over at picnic tables for the main course and dessert. They only spoke to the servers and not to each other anymore. There was a pasta station and a porchetta cutting station, a mac and cheese station and a dessert station with cannolis, panna cotta, sfogliatelle and gelato. I noticed people putting food in their napkins, like in the old days, for a late night snack or breakfast.
I sat on the back steps watching and smoking unfiltered Camels one after another and stopped one of the servers and asked for a drink and was told sorry, you’re not on the guest list so I went inside my cousin’s house where I was staying and poured myself four fingers of nasty grappa and went and sat down again, but decided to leave when the accordion players and the harmonica group showed up