Don’t Believe Everything You Hear by
(90 Stories)

Prompted By Gossip

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/ Stories

One balmy night, the full moon high, I walk into town, flip-flops slapping softly, and grab a seat on the patio at the local watering hole, the Tahiti Nui, where sits Shelley, my new drinking buddy.

Halfway through our second or maybe third drink, up walks a guy she knows, Mike, who has a cute friend I’ve not seen before. He’s tall and slender with long dark hair and warm brown eyes. The four of us sit at a table and by closing time Mr. Cute is playing footsie with me under the table, leaning in close to talk to me in a low, slow voice. His sweet smoky scent, that mixture of booze and cigarettes, is, as always, an aphrodisiac. He asks me to come home with him, but I’ve turned a new leaf. Instead, I tell him where he can find me on Saturday—my usual weekend hangout, the beach at Pavilions.

In the meantime, I mention meeting him to a couple friends.

“Oh, him,” one of them snickers, “the Kona gigolo.”

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“Never mind, you’ll find out,” she shrugs.

I’m surprised when he actually shows up on Saturday. We wade into the shore break and he splashes me, teases me, tries to get me to go underwater. I don’t, but he does, diving and surfacing and looking for all the world like a frolicking seal, hair slicked back, long dark eyelashes, water dripping down his face. I am smitten. I already feel like I know him, even that I already love him.

I’m glad I listened to my intuition instead of gossip. Years later, we were still together in a loving, reciprocally warm, and committed relationship. It didn’t work out in the end, but for reasons unrelated to age, gender, or finance.


RetroFlash300 / 300 words (Just made it up!)

Profile photo of Barbara Buckles Barbara Buckles
Artist, writer, storyteller, spy. Okay, not a spy…I was just going for the rhythm.

I call myself “an inveterate dabbler.” (And my husband calls me “an invertebrate babbler.”) I just love to create one way or another. My latest passion is telling true stories live, on stage. Because it scares the hell out of me.

As a memoirist, I focus on the undercurrents. Drawing from memory, diaries, notes, letters and photographs, I never ever lie, but I do claim creative license when fleshing out actual events in order to enhance the literary quality, i.e., what I might have been wearing, what might have been on the table, what season it might have been. By virtue of its genre, memoir also adds a patina of introspection and insight that most probably did not exist in real time.

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Characterizations: been there, funny, moving, right on!, well written


  1. Marian says:

    This is lovely, Barb, and a wise warning to those who believe gossip. I’m so glad the relationship with Mike worked out for the time it did and that you followed your intuition and went for it.

  2. Suzy says:

    Love this story, Barb! So glad you didn’t pay attention to the gossip about Mike, and as a result had a wonderful relationship for years. But isn’t a RetroFlash300 just a story of a nice, middling length? Or is the challenge of getting exactly 300 words part of the satisfaction?

    • It wasn’t Mike, it was his friend…faulty syntax on my part, sorry.

      Technically, a short story is anywhere from 1,000-10,000 (!) words. Flash fiction (or non-fiction) is a story that’s 500 words or less, typically a set word count. For me the challenge and the fun is nailing the word count.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    Intuition is better and stronger than gossip, Barb. Good that you listened and had a good run with Mr. Sexy.

  4. John Shutkin says:

    Great story about you and Mr. Cute, Barb. You had me wondering up to the last paragraph. And, as I’ve learned myself over the years, even if things don’t last forever, that doesn’t mean that the other person was Mr./Ms Wrong. Plenty of very rewarding shades of gray in between. So, good for you for listening to your intuition rather than gossip!

    As to the viability of the 300 word RetroFlash, I defer to others, but it certainly works nicely here. And having dropped a 200 word “Double RetroFlash” into the mix lately, I’m hardly the one to pass judgment. (And I’m still waiting for a Prime Number RetroFlash.)

  5. Good for you Bebe, you trusted your instincts, your gut over the gossip-mongers, and those warm brown eyes!

  6. I am so glad that Nelson and you were able to have a loving relationship, thanks to your ignoring the “scuttlebut.” That harmonious outcome was not what you set the reader up for–which is good. (I have called him Nelson because others decided to give him the name “Mike.” In the story, he was just “Mr. cute” or the gigolo.)

    • Clearly I could have been clearer…it was simply my intention to not use his name. I guess Nelson is as good a name as any (although I’ve never known a Nelson).

      So, Dale, I was counting on you to notice my play on the meaning of the word “gigolo” in my final sentence…did you catch it?

  7. Laurie Levy says:

    Great proof not to listen to gossip but rather to trust your own instincts. I love how you invented a new format for me. I think I could deal with RetroFlash 300 and will try it when I have more to say than 100 words. You are so clever!

  8. Wonderful Kona story, Barb. The present tense gives a nice push to each graphic, sparse but lush scene. And once again, you emerge master of the final line “for reasons unrelated to age, gender, or finance.” It strikes me that a million wonderful stories have spun out of the classic juxtaposition between gossip and intuition.

  9. Dave Ventre says:

    My wife and I have been, since 1986, in a relationship which went against all common sense, wisdom and well-meant advice. For both of us!

      • Dave Ventre says:

        The story of Gina and me is told in

        It contradicted all common wisdom because I was just out of a marriage that resulted in a near suicide and turned me into an unrecognizable person, bitter, angry, touchy, scared, exhausted and paranoid. The very idea that I would jump right back into a relationship in a mere sixty days struck what few friends I still spoke to as insane. From Gina’s point of view, I had to have looked like a rapidly approaching train wreck. What happened in that parking lot that October night was the single most unexpected thing that has ever happened to me.

        For months afterward, I would, in all sincerity, warn her not to get too attached to me because I was an emotional Superfund site and could panic and bail out at any moment. These conversations usually happened late on Friday afternoons after the weekly Department wine & cheese gatherings. In vino veritas. She’d just nod and smile and kiss me. She still jokes about how earnest (and honest) I was about my numerous shortcomings as a romantic partner.

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