Mysterious Photograph

Each issue features a Mysterious Photograph. Readers are invited to submit a 250-word (or less) flash fiction story based on the photo. The person who invents the best mystery story receives a prize of $25, and the story is published in a future issue.

The Story That Won the July/August contest:


© grafvision/


by Margaret L. Welch

Nate needed this job. His family depended on his paycheck. Suddenly Nate had another problem to solve.

Landing the job with Dumpvalley Waste solved Nate’s first challenge. “Problem Solving” dominated the school curriculum. Nathan remembered those lessons when his dreams of using education to rise from poverty shattered. Both his parents became ill; therefore, he, the eldest son, had to earn money. Few jobs were available to anyone with limited skills. Nate solved this problem by becoming a trash man.

With the aid of an excellent work record in trash collection, Nate got a landfill job which meant extra money. Work had been a living hell since his promotion. Frank, his immediate supervisor, was unbearable. He saddled Nate with demeaning jobs hoping the youngster would quit because he feared Nate was the only one who suspected Frank’s love of liquor.

Administration decided converting older parts of the landfill to a meadow with bee hives was a good environmental move. Frank solved two problems at once. He was allergic to bees. Nate despised all insects. Frank immediately assigned beekeeping to Nate.

Everyone suspected Frank was on a bender when he failed to report for work on Monday. Nate knew different. It was easy to plant bees in Frank’s lunchbox. Frank always enjoyed his dessert in a flask within the privacy of his truck. To stealthily deposit the body in the shredder was more challenging.

Nate might be uneducated but life, not school, had taught him “Advanced Problem Solving.”


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