Flash Fiction: The Memory Hole by Gary Clifton

Charlie Patcher had disappeared.   A runt, even for age nine, he lived in a trailer park with his mama, Shena, a crack whore.   Step-daddy was biker badass “Scruffer”.  Child Protective Services had been out there and unless they were blind, should have yanked the kid.

Everybody was looking for Charlie in bushes and creeks and the like.   His mama, Shena, ramped up a yarn about a stranger at her door.  Scruffer split.

Hikers stumbled on the remains.  A court orderedDNAsample from Shena confirmed the obvious.  The pitiful cadaver with a massive head wound was Charlie.  The body showed traumatic, previous abuse.  One hand had been held under scalding water, the flesh boiled away.

Finding rodents was tricky stuff.  McCoy and Harper caught the case and jailed Shena straight away.  Then, after a ration of serious ass and door kicking among Scruffer’s riff-raff friends, kin and associates, they located him on his uncle’s abandoned farm.  They chased the useless maggot all over the place.  Panicked, he slithered through the outhouse access hole into six feet of semi-liquid shit.

“Mother of Jesus, heeellllp me,” Scruffer wailed, neck deep in offal.  “Feet are stuck and I’m sinkin’,” he sobbed, probably much like Little Charlie had with his hand in boiling water…before Scruffer brained him.

“You really can’t get out?” McCoy looked down.

“He’s among his own kind,” Harper lit a cigar.

“Be brave…you’re tough,” McCoy called out as he slid into the squad car.

“He don’t make it out,” Harper said, driving away. “Rats will eat him alive.  Or he’ll drown in crap.”

“You think,” McCoy stepped out and re-chained the gate.  “Rats gotta eat too.


Gary Clifton was forty years a federal officer (ATF/FBI).  In 1987 published a novel, Burn Sugar Burn (publisher’s title) in national paperback.  In 1987, published three short fiction pieces via Writer’s type.  Short fiction pieces in Fedruary editions of Spinetingler and The Broadkill Review, with other pieces pending by online magazines. Clifton has an M.S. from Abilene Christian University.

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R Thomas Brown

R. Thomas Brown is the Flash Fiction Editor at Spinetingler and writes the Short Thoughts on Short Fiction series. His writing appears around the web and links can be found at his website. "Hill Country" will be coming out in 2012 from Snubnose Press. When not writing or reading, he is a clueless husband and father of three inspiring and exhausting children.

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