Fyodor won a frying pan. Nothing had ever come to him for free but out-of-the-blue he received a letter informing him that he had won a frying pan in a supermarket lottery and would he be available to attend a ceremony with the mayor on such and such a date. He wondered whether it was a joke, something that either Kim or, admittedly, I, would pull. But he telephoned the number and spoke to several people all of whom were polite and a little envious; they looked forward to shaking his hand.
On the day, Fyodor wore his only suit which had a button missing and a burn mark at the knee, a small black-edged hole which might have come from a cigarette spark. He arrived on his trusty moped and we applauded as he took the stage and with it, the pan. The mayor beamed in the photo and Fyodor looked the wrong way. Lucky Fyodor, I said to him with a wink as he immediately re-mounted his bike. Fyodor isn’t one for crowds so I turned my back on him to congratulate the winner of the steak-knife set.
With no particular haste, it became apparent to Fyodor that he couldn’t hold the pan and steer the bike so he tried to fit it into the box on the back. The handle was, of course, too long, and hung out the over the road. Obviously, this means the box’s top could not be secured, only an idiot would not recognise that. I’ll take it easy, he thought, swerving around a person stuck in a wheelchair in the middle of the road.
We’ll get you home safely, prize of my life, he said, as he turned to pat the lid of the box which immediately bounced up again. He was negotiating the tight streets well and at a sensible pace in between fast-moving traffic all the way up to the tram lines that jutted out of the boulevard like fallen trees. Pang! Clang! over he went and out of the box flew Fyodor’s prize pan, it bounced and came to a halt beneath the left front wheel of the car behind, bent into a tight isoscelean shape like an astonished mouth. I will definitely say deadpan. It also resembled a fly with wings ready for take-off. Everyone gawped as the driver dutifully reversed a little and Fyodor scraped up his lottery win.
Only a knucklehead would transport an important frying pan so riskily, shouted the driver of the car in front, who had stopped to have a look. I listened to the ceremony on the radio and was proud of you, he yelled from a standing position, I must admit to feeling something akin to love for you, don’t ask me why, I own a dozen frying pans. And now to see you this way, Fyodor, the truly careless you, I feel as if I have lost a dear friend who holds with me the many secrets of closely-shared lives. I am shattered. Fyodor lowered the pan slowly and burst into tears. He really was laid out to be one of life’s losers. What’s more, you don’t hear the word knucklehead so often these days.
Daniel Roy Connelly’s poetry collection, ‘Extravagant Stranger: A Memoir’,
was published by Little Island Press in 2017. A pamphlet, ‘Donkey see,
Donkey do’ was published by Eyewear the same year. Recently in ‘Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine,’ he lives in York (UK).
The NFFR and Daniel Roy Interview
It’s obviously been an insanely rough year. What’s been your
favorite artistic escape either book, music, or tv?
My favourite recent artistic escape has been the inter-war British author, Patrick Hamilton. I’ve read 6 or 7 of his novels during lockdown. He’s the Zola of grubby London pubs and boarding houses, and guaranteed to make you feel better about your own life, particularly during insanely rough times.
We’ve been thinking about the elusive definition of Flash Fiction.
What’s your working definition of it?
To me, flash fiction is like being mugged as you turn a corner: unforeseen, sharp, and over very quickly.
What was the inspiration for this story?
Fyodor comes from an unpublished collection of 70 flashes inspired by the comic absurdities of contemporary populist Europe, wherein people are selfish, recalcitrant, and thoroughly petty.