by Michael Shay

My dying father found comfort in morphine and Abba. Same thing, I thought as I listened again to “when you’re near me darling can’t you hear me? S-O-S.” The song ended. “More” he said from the bed. More morphine? More Abba? He once hated our Hendrix and Morrison. “Turn off that noise,” he yelled, bobbing like a fishing lure in the backyard pool’s shallow end. He never learned how to swim. Lived half of his 78 years in Florida a block from 100 billion gallons of sea water. Turn it off, Dad, I thought about the band that soon would become “Mamma Mia” famous. “More,” he muttered. This man who once crouched frozen in Ardennes mud trying to raise someone anyone S-O-S on his Army Signal Corps radio as the Bulge collapsed. This lonely boy who built crystal radio sets in his Denver basement, played trombone in the marching band. This father who built his own hi-fi set in a Kansas basement, hiding from his rowdy kids. This devout Catholic who, at the end, yelled for Abba. Not a shout-out to his heavenly father. His plea to crank up the volume, dammit, hear me – S-O-S!

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I write longer-length short fiction. I now challenge myself to condense 5,000-word stories into much shorter lengths.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: New Flash Fiction published Michael Shay’s “Welcome to Zan Xlemente” in its December 2014 online issue. His book of short stories, The Weight of a Body, was published by Denver’s Ghost Road Press in 2006. One of those stories appears in the 2010 anthology from Coffee House Press, Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking out the Jams. An essay about his son’s ADHD, “The Great Third Grade AIDS Scare,” is featured in a 2011 DRT Press anthology, Easy to Love but Hard to Raise. An essay about rock climbing with his son is included in a new MIT Press anthology about families in the outdoors. His fiction and essays have been published in Northern Lights, High Plains Literary Review, Colorado Review, Owen Wister Review, Relief: A Christian Literary Expression, Visions, Manifest West: Even Cowboys Carry Cell Phones, and In Short, a Norton anthology of brief creative nonfiction. He was co-editor of Deep West: A Literary Tour of Wyoming, published in 2003 by Wyoming’s Pronghorn Press. A Colorado native who grew up in Florida, Michael now lives and works in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Michael Shay, Ormond Beach, Florida  (November 2013).