New flash fiction by John Sheirer

Mr. Boots

The last thing Bruce wanted to do while driving though upstate New York was stop at the highway rest area – but he had to. He brought in a book, locked the door, and sat down.

After a moment, someone came in and sat in the next stall. The new neighbor was wearing huge work boots that must have been about size sixteen, so Bruce named him “Mr. Boots.” After a moment, the man began whispering very softly. Bruce couldn't tell if he was whispering to him or himself or someone else. Bruce couldn't make out any of the words. He wasn't even sure they actually were words.

Then Bruce heard a strange crinkling sound, followed by repeated crunching and more crinkling. He was confused for about half a minute, but then it hit him. Mr. Boots was eating chips while sitting on a public toilet.

Without warning, a chip fell to the floor and skittered a couple inches into Bruce's stall. It was one of those curlicue corn chips that Bruce really liked, salty and satisfying.

They both sat in silence for a long ten seconds.

Finally, Mr. Boots asked, “Are you going to eat that?” in a clear, intelligent, almost refined voice.

“No thank you,” Bruce replied.

“Okay,” Mr. Boots said, and he reached down to pluck the chip from the floor with a large, clean, well-manicured hand. The hand and the chip disappeared from Bruce's view, moving upward.

A fraction of a second later, he heard the crunch.

* John Sheirer lives in one of the last sane states in American (Massachusetts) and teaches in another (Connecticut). His most recent book is Loop Year and he can be found at

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