Bath Salts

Lately, I’ve been submitting flash fiction and short stories to small press literary magazines, “lit mags,” for those in the biz. I’ve dusted off and re-edited some old stuff and I’ve written some new stuff. While I think most of it is pretty good, there are a few pieces that are too short for longer flash-fiction journals and too long for short flash-fiction journals. pexels-photo-113776-medium-jpegThey’re over 150 words but shorter than 300. I’m sure that sounds confusing but the point is this: I have a bunch of little pieces for putting out here on the blog.

I wrote the following short story as a writing exercise during my summer residency in Lisbon, Portugal. Enjoy!


Bath Salts


“Cocaine?” he asks.



“Get outa here,” I say waving my hand brushing past the street dealer, pick pocket, young man in a white t-shirt with a sleeve rolled up and his hair pasted to his head. Not from hair gel. From a week in the street without a shower in the hot Portuguese sun.

He follows me.

“Cocaine?” he asks again and I turn around.

“No,” I say. “Bath salts.”

“Wha? Yeah. It’s good. You want cocaine?”

“No. Bath salts. I have bath salts. You want bath salts. I’ll sell them to you.”

“No, hashish?”

“Or crystal meth. I got meth. You want meth?”

He stares at me, his eyebrows knitted and a half smile. Standing beside him, another dealer stops another man. food-kitchen-cooking-spices-mediumOn both sides of the street, young people stand in front of bars, pubs, convenience stores with plastic cups in hand, talking loudly or standing in circles, sitting at little café tables or walking back in for another drink.

There’s someone else to stop, hundreds and thousands of someone else’s to stop and they, not all of them but some of them, are passing by as I ask him again.

“Come on man, I got bath salts, crystal meth. You want? It’s good.” I pat him on the shoulder. I’m lying, of course. It’s true that I’m from West Virginia, but I don’t have crystal meth, and I certainly don’t have bath salts.

He isn’t smiling anymore as he walks past me and I hear him say, “hashish, cocaine,” but he’s saying it to someone else.


Thanks for reading. And if you haven’t checked out the EJO series, click this here link


About Eric James-Olson

Eric James-Olson writes novels and short stories. Currently, he's working on a coming-of-age novel set in the Panhandle of West-Virginia. Check out the "Novels by Eric James-Olson" tab above for the titles of his other books. In addition to writing, James-Olson is a high school English teacher, an amateur woodworker, and an outdoor enthusiast. He lives with his wife and daughter in West Virginia. View all posts by Eric James-Olson

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