people drinking liquor and talking on dining table close up photo

Flash No. 31 – Laura Johnson

No Names, Just Ticket Numbers

by Laura Johnson

The man at the bar — the one with glasses from the 1970s and who is sipping his second IPA — is the accountant to the couple in the corner who are on their phones to their respective lovers (it’s their anniversary, so they’re making excuses and plans for future rendezvous). That husband has two lovers — one of about a month and another for the last twenty years. His wife has known about the latter for eight years, and that’s when she began her fling with the plumber. She is not attracted to him, but he has the right equipment and comes by the house whenever she calls.

The woman with the teenager near the window is an obstetrician-gynecologist who delivered both of the couple’s children. Her teenager and the elder of those two children met once at a football game. Their high schools are cross-town rivals. Those two teens swapped spit behind the concession stand but never knew each other’s names. Over in the booth alone with a book and a martini is the physics teacher at the high school the ob-gyn’s teen attends. She escapes the monotony of her marriage and job by drinking three martinis and reading three chapters every Wednesday. 

And see the server there? She doesn’t mind her job. She doesn’t mind her studio apartment or the geriatric cat inherited from her grandmother. She has no interest in knowing anything about anyone — she likes to fit people into her invented world like puzzle pieces; everyone has a place she creates in her mind as she delivers salads and burgers and martinis.

Laura Johnson is a writer in Eastern Iowa who is a founding co-editor of Backchannels Literary Journal. Laura holds a MFA from The University of New Orleans and is a graduate (BA, MA) of the University of Iowa. Laura’s work has appeared in Goat’s Milk Magazine, Thimble Literary Magazine, and The Dewdrop among others. Laura’s chapbook, Memento Vivere (Cabin Bear Books), is available at and wherever you buy books.

Photo by Helena Lopes on

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