Flash Fiction by David Ricchiute

His body drained from the night before, he shirked on cartons packed with product, on window sills, in vacant stalls. Dozed in an oversized dumbwaiter-lift he brought to a stop between two floors. And slept—we’re talking deep-rem sleep—by a furnace that raged with flaming heat, feet away from a stack of coal he’d shoveled there himself.

He’d worked—he had—to get things done, then shirked the rest of the grueling shift, his body run-down from sleepless nights plotting to arrange clandestine dens to manage the winter cold. Some knew he’d taken to slacking off, but they also knew his work got done. They’d taken to looking after him, to looking the other way.

End of the shift, he punched the clock and walked through snow to the parking lot. Heavier now, the snow had begun at noon, slow. Others rushed to get home quick—meager homes for sure, but still. He did not rush, or speak, or smile, or look in the direction of those who know. He opened the door, wiped the seat, and sat in the car with his hands by his side with all that was his in the trunk.

David Ricchiute is the author of two poetry collections, Uncertain in the Worst Way (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2020) and So Everyone Else Will Know (Aldrich Press, 2018). Fiction and poetry appear in NOON, The Massachusetts Review, Tampa Review, The Louisville Review, and The Heartland Review, among others. Born in Rhode Island, he lives now in Indiana and in Kentucky.