Paul Beckman


 This is Not Self Service   

The Fruit Corner, a greengrocer’s store, occupies the same spot in New Haven since the Amato family first opened it some forty years ago. The current proprietors are third generation Amato greengrocers. However, unlike greengrocer stores throughout the world, and especially the east coast, The Fruit Corner does not put their wares on display outside the store. They are also not given to window displays.
Inside, signs are posted around the store:      This is not self-service!
                                                Ask for help!   
                                                      Do not touch the produce! 
To make a purchase, the customer stands in front of the desired fruit or vegetable and the Amato on duty asks questions in a tone more suited to a clinic than a grocery— “What day do you plan to eat this?” — “Do you like your plums soft or hard?” — “Is this going into a salad or will it be served whole?” The Amato then makes the selection accordingly. Time could be saved if each customer were given a clipboard and form to fill out upon entering the store—perhaps the next generation.
Many people over the years have reached to pick up an apple or peach only to be yelled at from across the store. “The signs! Don’t touch! Read the signs!”
When I was in high school I worked at The Fruit Corner but I was not allowed to touch
any unwrapped food. I moved boxes into coolers, out of coolers, carried bags to cars, swept up, made deliveries, and touched young Mrs. Amato—and she me, in the back room, while the rest of the Amato family was busy keeping watch on their precious produce.



Paul Beckman‘s stories are widely published online and in print. His new collection of Flash Fiction, PEEK, came out last year from Big Table Publishing and info can be found on his website, .

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Paul Beckman


I Have This Condition

I’m invisible. Okay-not invisible in the conventional sense of the word but
I can walk by a small group of other women whispering and they don’t bother
to stop or even slow down their muckraking. I go to the ladies and pass a
couple of girls talking about who’s going to do which guy that night and the
like. Nobody turns their head even when I stand next to them washing my
hands and I’m as much a hand washing freak as can be.

I took the test to get on the police department and in the essay wrote about
my invisibility and how it would come in handy doing undercover work. When I
didn’t hear from the police department in a month I stopped in and asked
about my application and was left sitting for two hours and a shift change.
Someone new asked why I was there and I told him and he had me sit again and
I heard him call and leave a message asking about my test.

I left him my number and he said he’d make sure that someone called me the
next day and sure enough I got a call but it was from this same patrolmen
who had no news but asked me out on a date.

I agreed to meet him Friday night at Wine & Roses, a trendy restaurant mid
town at seven and I got there early and took a seat at the bar and nursed a
glass of white wine. He came in a few minutes before seven, looked around
the bar, walked into the restaurant and then came back into the bar and sat
a few stools down from me. He looked my way and I nodded and smiled slightly
and he nodded back and turned and ordered a drink. I waited for him to talk
to me while he had a couple more on the rocks and then I got up and left.

As I walked by him I said, “Excuse me, do I know you?” And he said he didn’t
think so but thanks anyway but he was waiting for his date to show up.

The next day I got a letter in the mail telling me that I passed the first
part of the policeman’s test and was told to pack a bag and show up at the
station and be prepared to stay away for three weeks for physical training.

While I was waiting in line to board the bus the officer I was to have
dinner with came over to me. “I don’t like being stood up,” he whispered in
my ear. “You better hope that if you pass you don’t get assigned to me.”

“I never saw you before in my life,” I said and boarded the bus. He had that
strange; I’d better give up drinking look on his face as the bus slowly
pulled away. He watched and I waved to him as we passed. He didn’t notice.



Paul Beckman sells real estate and writes. Some publishing credits: Exquisite Corpse, Connecticut Review, Soundzine, 5 Trope, Playboy, Web del Sol, Pure Slush, Other Voices, 4’33”, Raleigh Review, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Microw, Connotation Press, Microliterature, The Molotov Cocktail, The Brooklyner & The Boston Literary Review. Stories upcoming in Pure Slush, Yellow Mama, Metazen & Ascent Aspirations as well as the Ascent Aspirations Anthology.


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Paul Beckman



Mirsky’s Flight


Mirsky called his wife from a pay phone at the airport. He hadn’t used one in years and was surprised at the fifty cents it cost. “Hell”, he thought, “It seems like yesterday they went to a dime.” At his age, (fifty-two) yesterday to Mirsky could’ve been two years or fifteen years.

Elaine wasn’t home or was on the phone so he left a message to his own voice who said to leave one and whoever was calling would be called back promptly and thanks for calling. He told Elaine that on the way to work something was gnawing at him and when he listened to ten of his eighteen messages and saw that he had several dozen emails waiting to be returned he realized what it was.

I felt an itch to get away for a few days he told their answering machine and I’m at the airport about to scratch it. I’ll be home shortly, after I clear the cobwebs, he went on, and can cope better, but right now I’m about to board a plane. I left my cell phone at work and will see you soon. Love ya, he ended with.

Mirsky slept all the way to Toronto while the detective he hired took up his surveillance of Elaine to find out who she’d been cheating with.

When Mirsky returned he got more than an earful from two people.





Paul Beckman is a real estate salesman & writer of short fiction. Sometimes his fiction inadvertently shows up in his real estate ads and vice versa.  He has been published in Conneticut Review, Onthebus, Playboy, 5 Trope, Soundzine, Litro, Web del Sol, Exquisite Corpse, Opium and Connotation Press.  This is his website.


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Flash Fiction: Paul Beckman is taking another train ride

As we approached New Haven Station you walked up towards the front of the car, near my seat, waiting for the train to stop. It moved slowly, in herky-jerky motions. You bent down and looked over my shoulder to see out the window. My wife continued to read, but I turned my head and saw your beautiful young face—you were maybe twenty-one, tops. I saw the smoothness of your soft brown hair, the color of a cow’s eye, the same color of my Anna’s hair many years ago before it became the gray and white streaked wrapped in a bun hair. Your hair, with its incredible shininess, turned up a bit at the ends to frame a face—a face beautiful enough to be framed.

Our heads were less than a foot apart at times but my Jew Face was invisible to you, or might as well have been. I smelled your girl smell, your Wasp smell, and noticed your hair splayed across your forehead like accent marks. You held on to my armrest as you peered down the tracks. The almost invisible hair on your very white arms caused me to turn and look at my Anna’s arms.

You stood and then bent, once again, leaning over me, poaching on my space as if it were communal. Your presence implied that by looking out the window you could make the train speed up. And each time you did that I stared at you. You never noticed me, either sitting or staring, as if someone like myself with a Jew Nose much larger and so different from your own perfect little girl’s nose, was not worthy of being noticed. And, there was no possibility that your actions could be misinterpreted for anything other that what they were. They acknowledged my invisibility by suffocating me into my seat.

Those sweet and naturally pink lips, upturned at the ends, had never felt the need or desire to snarl or sneer the way my Jew Mouth had been forced to snarl and sneer back so often in my life. Your beautiful hazel eyes, with long lashes, didn’t notice me noticing you, no matter how long you stayed bent over or how close you came to my Jew Face.

Saying, “Excuse me,” was not tendered to the likes of me. It would be more like me to say it to you as my way of hoping to back you off, to give me my air, but the words remained crammed inside me.

I looked over at Anna again, at her spotted and dark arm and the discoloration right above her hand holding the book, and then I looked at your delicate wrist surrounded by several fine gold bracelets.

I knew you filtered out anything you didn’t perceive to be good and positive and of your world—which to you was one and the same. Other yous, that is all you wanted to see or associate with. That is what you were raised to see—that and nothing other, no matter how close or how many. The homeless and ethnics might just have well been accouterments to buildings, for they were so invisible to you. Yet my Jew Eyes looking through my rimless glasses, resting on my Jew Nose saw those people first.

Finally the train pulled to a stop and I watched as you disappeared into a crowd of your people, not noticing any of my people, of which there were many, swirling around you on the New Haven platform.

Anna patted my hand as if to say “I was that young and pretty once.”

With my free hand I patted her back, telling her that I knew.

* Paul Beckman is a real estate salesman, an often published writer (see
website), snorkeler, traveler and photographer. He specializes in the
short story, flash fiction & brief (under 50 word) stories. Last
year his 105 year old aunt and his dog died but he has no current plans
for replacing either.

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