Florida Man

By Ron Burch

Florida Man is always shirtless, occasionally in torn jeans, either long or short, but if short, too short, and if flip flops, broken. Sometimes he wears only a black thong.

Florida Man breaks into someone’s house while they’re asleep. He’s caught on camera, naked. He washes the dirty dishes in the sink and eats two small containers of vanilla yogurt with ultra-filtered milk. After, he washes the spoon.

Florida Man drinks half a bottle of Jack and tries to wrestle an alligator that lives in the creek behind his house.

Florida Man gets eaten by alligator.

Florida Man breaks into the county jail so he could hang out with his two friends.

Florida Man beats a stranger with a fried chicken drumstick. Luckily, only the stranger’s clothes are soiled with oil and the “Secret Special Seasoning.”

Florida Man gets high and shoots Hurricane Michael with his Stevens 311 double-barreled shotgun. Florida Man misses and gets swept up into the hurricane and thrown out near the boarded up QuickMart, which he breaks into and steals three bottles of Jagermeister and one bag of Cool Chip Chips. Florida Man then hotwires an abandoned black Caddy and is caught by two police officers who share the last same name after Florida Man runs into a billboard for Tats!, a local tattoo shop and dance club, and, in the back seat, eating the last chip, they find a Capuchin monkey. Florida Man doesn’t remember the monkey.

Florida Man feels that, in general, he’s a pretty decent guy. He’s been married to the same woman his entire life, losing his virginity to her, and has two wonderful daughters.

Florida Man tires of the phrase “Florida Man” being thrown around as if they are he.

He is Florida Man. Not all these other pretenders. Why doesn’t ever hear the nice things about Florida Man?

Florida Man saves two elderly women from house fire.

Florida Man rescues drowning Chihuahua in the Everglades.

Florida Man gives a kidney to a total stranger in order to save the fellow’s life.

Florida Man did all this too.

Florida Man nods. Where’s all the good news? But no. It gets worse from there.

Florida Men, those others, do some really dark, dark stuff.

But Florida Man can’t bear to think about it.

Florida Man sometimes doubts humanity.

Florida Man wishes that the other Florida Men wouldn’t sully their name.

Florida Man couldn’t live with it if it were all true.

One night Florida Man stabs himself multiple times because he no longer wants to be Florida Man. He has eight wounds, one that narrowly missed his right lung because the knife bounced off his costae verae, one of his true ribs. Despite the internal bleeding, the paramedics say he’ll live as they place him on the gurney. They ask him why. The man says that he, his name is Jim, needed a change. As the medics roll him toward the flashing ambulance, the back doors open like arms welcoming him.

Ron Burch's fiction has been published in numerous literary journals including South Dakota Review, Fiction International, Mississippi Review, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His novel, Bliss Inc., was published by BlazeVOX Books. He lives in Los Angeles.

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