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A Clear Problem

Riley Carpenter felt like hell, and he hadn’t seen the sun in nearly a week.

He’d been on a bender since Sunday night, when he stumbled on the still in the basement of old man Stoker’s bank barn.

Monday was lost trying to sleeping off the aftereffects of that windfall. It didn’t work, so Riley made his way to Salty’s Saloon that night.

Somehow or another, he ended up back at Stoker’s place Tuesday morning, with his head pounding and his body aching deep down, like someone had bruised his blood.

And so the cycle continued, Riley sleeping all day and drinking all night, until he found himself back at the bar on Saturday evening. Most of the body ache was gone, and his head didn’t hurt … but he couldn’t remember much of the last week.

Riley decided there must be an infestation of spiders in the barn, too, because there were itchy bumps on his neck.

As he sat nursing his whisky, Riley felt movement beside him and glanced into the mirror behind the bar. There on the stool next to him sat Colby Delish, a good ranch hand Riley had known for years.

For some reason, Riley’s belly grumbled for the first time all week.

That lasted until he took another drink and noticed the glass floating, unattended, in the mirror in front of him. Apparently, Riley had lost his reflection.

“What’s the matter, Carpenter?” Delish said. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost … white as a sheet!”

“Not quite a ghost,” Riley said. “But you’re not far off.”

Riley stood and clasped his friend on the shoulder. “Come on out front with me, Colby, and I’ll show you.”

Colby looked unsure but nodded. Riley’s stomach roared like a bobcat as the men stepped into the night.

Published inFlash Fiction

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