A Real Doll

An offering of Flash Fiction where a traveler indulges in the fancies of his hypocrisy…

by: Karen Schauber ((Header art by Nicoletta Ceccoli.))

Candy red lipstick stains his starched white collar from left to right. It is clearly visible from meters away, but he bears no shame. The plump Russian belle who deposited the swak, ekes out a high-pitched laugh as he pulls her toward him for a repeat performance. Whacking her behind, he announces brazenly, “My Prize,” and slips his stubby fingers deep into her cleavage to retrieve the shiny coin. Laughing that god-awful sound, she grabs it from him, and drops it in the slot setting the dials a-spinning. Her finger, fast to her lips, shushes everyone to listen for the Double Diamond payout. But there is no ding.

They’ve been partying hard since Tuesday. She’s kicked off her ermine slippers and is bent over, looking for them. He takes in the view and smacks his lips, Yum, Yum. But the clock is ticking, and he knows it’s time to pack it in. Summer’s end is drawing near. Raking his hands through shiny cobalt hair, he pushes away the last dregs of beer and drags his coat up off the floor. “I’ve got to go, doll.” 

The doll turns on a dime. It’s as if he tossed her a stinger; her look, now bitter and dour. “Hey, where’s my party girl gone?” He hands her the bucket, weighted with coin. It seems to appease, a bit.

A quick change into a clean shirt and he’s motoring out of the lobby. No looking back. He fingers the smooth surface of the pink cockle shells in his coat pocket. The ones he picked up in the gift shop on the Strip, for his daughter. He’ll tell her he found them at the seashore on his Faith Mission Retreat. Her smile, sweet, and innocent; she’s Daddy’s little doll. 

Pushing the pedal to the metal of his luxury sedan, he hums a dandy tune. It’s been drizzling on and off for hours and not much is visible. He makes haste. Salt Lake City is just over the horizon and his congregation awaits.


Karen Schauber is a Flash Fiction writer obsessed with the form. Her work appears in 35 international literary magazines and anthologies, including Brilliant Flash Fiction, Bending Genres, Carpe Arte, Ekphrastic Review, Ellipsis Zine, Fiction Southeast and New Flash Fiction Review. The Group of Seven Reimagined: Contemporary Stories Inspired by Historic Canadian Paintings (Heritage House, 2019), celebrating the Canadian modernist landscape painters, is her first editorial/curatorial flash fiction anthology. Schauber runs Vancouver Flash Fiction, a flash fiction Resource Hub and Critique Circle, and in her spare time, is a seasoned Family Therapist. A native of Montreal, she has happily called Vancouver home for the past three decades.

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