Honorable Mention – Flash 405, April 2018: “Magnetism”
We stand in the backroom of our grandparent’s house and my older brother turns up Too $hort on the Magnavox stereo and bobs his head to the beat while I listen to the lyrics and grow more confused by the minute. He, Too $hort, speaks in the cryptic tongue of Parental Guidance: Explicit Lyrics, the kind that my grandpa would beat our backsides raw about if he knew we were absorbing them right here, right now, in his house. Too $hort says something about pretty ladies and cherries and images flutter in my mind and I nod my head like I know and my brother catches my false sense of understanding and he’s sure to point it out like he always does to prove he’s older. He motions toward the stereo and says, “You know what he’s talking about?” I can tell it’s rhetorical because he knows I don’t know, but I go ahead and say, “Maybe, yeah,” anyway. He just shakes his head and pulls out something shiny from his cargo pocket. It’s a buffalo nickel. “Allow me to give you a demonstration,” he says. He makes the symbol for A-OK with his thumb and forefinger and places the nickel in, buffalo side out. “OK,” he says, “this is the cherry”—he means the nickel— “and this is the wiener”—he means his other forefinger that’s sticking out straight like a hard wiener. He sticks his finger into the nickel, at the buffalo, and it pops out and lands on the carpet and goes rolling under the bed. My brother waits for a look of acknowledgement, waits for me to give a sign that says his wisdom has been duly imparted on his dipshit of a little brother, so I ask, “That’s sex?” He laughs. “That’s the cherry harvest. It only happens once. To virgin girls. You know what a virgin is, right?” I look at him and nod. Then we both don’t say anything for a minute as Too $hort’s voice fills up the room with all that esoteric sexual smoothness. My brother kneels down, and I kneel down beside him, and we tilt our heads and reach our arms beneath the bed and pat our hands around as my grandpa walks up and stands behind us in the doorway and listens to the lyrics while he stares angrily at my brother and me—two virgins searching for the cherry.
Cameron Snyder grew up splitting his time between a factory town in Kansas and Corpus Christi, TX. He now lives in Denver, where he resells clothing and other household oddities on the Internet. He is a staunch supporter of autodidactism and he is a believer in the power of libraries. His writing has appeared in BULL: Men’s Fiction, and is forthcoming in The Normal School. He is currently at work on a collection of essays.