There's a Rule for That by Jim Harrington

Rule: As that singer said, you gotta know when to hold 'em.

Chester tromped down the street toward me. I could see he wasn't happy, even from a distance. I smiled from under the beach umbrella planted in the ankle-high grass of my front yard and saluted him with an O'Doul's. He gave me the double finger. I guess he found out I was living with his ex. The problem was Chester didn't consider Melanie his ex. My brother had called to warn me Chester was back in town and on his way to my place. That's why there was a revolver resting next to my leg.

Rule: Obey all restraining orders.

I didn't know much about Chester other than he'd spent two years in prison for assaulting Melanie, and she was still afraid of him. I could tell by the way he pounded his feet into the sidewalk he wan't interested in talking. I wasn't the fighting kind, but I wasn't about to run neither. He needed to realize there were rules, and he hadn't followed them. One important one was to stay away from Melanie, who was inside hiding in the laundry room.

Rule: Sometimes it's okay to ask for help.

Now, I realized there were some rules that didn't make much sense and some that were plain stupid; but rules were rules, as my daddy always said. We couldn't ignore them because we didn't agree with them. Well, maybe some of the stupid ones. Anyway, Chester had violated every rule of being a good husband and a loving man, and someone needed to tell him so. As he stepped onto my yard, I wondered if it really had to be me.

Rule: Compromise whenever possible.

Panting, sweat dripping from his chin, his t-shirt soaked, his eyes cold in the heat, Chester headed my way. I thought about getting up, but decided that would only enrage him more. Instead, I gripped the pistol and waited.

Rule: Never try to choke a man who's holding a gun.

Flash fiction bewitched Jim in early in 2007, and he’s read, written,
studied, and agonized over the form since. His Six Questions For blog ( provides editors and
publishers a place to “tell it like it is.” In his spare time, he serves as the
flash fiction editor for Apollo’s Lyre (


Paul D. Brazill said...

Great stuff.

Anonymous said...

Oh, what a great read.

Larry W. Chavis said...

Great story, Jim.

Patricia Harrington said...

Fun, fun, fun. Like the pacing and the set-up. Good reading, for sure.


Chris said...

Great idea--fast and punchy reading.

Anonymous said...

Very effective with the "rule" captions. That added a lot.


Jimmy Callaway said...

Solid, solid, solid. I love stories like this that give vent to all those times I wanted to fuck some guy up, and also doing it in a new and creative way. Excellent work.

Bill said...

short and just perfectly done...

Bill Baber said...

very good stuff. not a wasted word here.

Ben Sobieck said...

Rules are sometimes made up as the situation changes, and this piece shows why. I really appreciate formats of storytelling that go against traditional methods, and this piece hit all the right spots. Bravo.


M C Funk said...

Clever, with enough character to be savory.

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