Small Sample Size – “The One and Only Witness to This Collision” by ML Candelario

Thump and groove of saxophonic jazz music.

Click and whirr of electric lights and OPEN sign.

Jingle of automated electronic bells as the door opens and burps out the two women, above average height, both bleached blond and wearing sunglasses that make their eyes buggish. Far too much jewelry that tinkles and clinks. Handbags—not purses.


As the two walk into the dying electronic flicker-light of the café, they slip the glasses up their heads, resting their insect eyes on blonde coifs in unison. Sequential movements like part of some dance you don’t know. You go back to studying your laptop.

“Melodie, I’m telling you. Simon has a gift. A gift. I took one of his pieces to Mark—Mark Ellis, from down at The Red Swan Gallery. He’s not the curator there, but he’s, well, his eye for quality is just absolutely unbelievable. I mean, you wouldn’t believe it. Anyway, I took Simon’s work over to Mark and he just absolutely went ecstatic over it. Just absolutely adored it.”

“That’s fantastic, hon. I was just telling Steffie that Lindsay’s boy was beginning to be quite the artist. I was just telling her that.”

“Mm. Mark was just ecstatic. Went on talking about the ‘curls of color’ and the way the arrangement of Simon’s ‘phalanges’ were splayed perfectly ‘for letting the light play on the surface of the work itself.’ He called it akin to some of your modernists or ‘anti-orderists.’ Like a new Pollock in the making, he said. Early stages, of course.”

“Of course.”


Commercial sounds of orders and transactions.

Slide of plastic card through plastic reader. The click of register’s keys.

Steam and bubbles. The chocolate sound of water poured through coffee grounds, the metallic drip.


“Isabelle has expressed some interest in the artistic realm, did I tell you?”

“No, hon, but it sounds absolutely grand.”

“I think our playdates are really starting to bring out the healthy development you need to see in the children. What they say about them, you know. Growing their little brains into beautiful, well-rounded people. She started talking to me about Simon’s paintings the other day.”

“You know, I haven’t even thought about it before. I’m sure Mark could arrange something….”

“What are you thinking, Linds?”

“Let’s have them do it together. Yes.”

“You mean paint?”

“Yes. All of them. The Gregor twins. The Brewers’ kids. Hell, even Steffie’s little troublemaker. Did I tell you he pushed Simon the other day?”


“He did. And all because Simon was playing with five toys and he only had one. I mean, it was in Simon’s house. Those are his things. He’s lucky I let him keep the one, if you ask me. But Steffie was there, so.”

“Of course.”

“But so it would be absolutely incredible to get them all together—even Steffie’s—and have them create. Just create. Get their hands in the paint, spread it all around. We could do an exhibition at Mark’s gallery. I think I could make sure that could be arranged…”


Bellish laughter. Tinkle and clink of too much jewelry.

The soft squish-rub of leather handbags brushing up against one another.


You glance up from your laptop, see the two women, bug-eyes atop primped hair. Their faces are locked in aggressive smiles. Something unspoken hangs between them like a ghost. You can smell it, practically. Almost. Their smiles don’t reach their own eyes’ creases. They have produced from, presumably, their handbags identical iPhones—held at the ready, bayonets against the warm café air. You move your eyes back to your laptop. Stay out of this.

“Who knows what other latent artists we have in our group, Mel. I mean, really.”

“Of course.”

“That’s what Mark called him, did I tell you? A ‘latent artist.’”

“Of course.”


Slide of papery cups across glass countertop. Cordial goodbye. Polite-yet-aloof returns.

Jingle of automated electronic bells as the door closes behind them.

Click and whirr of electric lights and OPEN sign.

Thump and groove of saxophonic jazz music.


This is a short story for the series “Small Sample Size.” If you have a short story to share, contact us! 


2 thoughts on “Small Sample Size – “The One and Only Witness to This Collision” by ML Candelario

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