His Dull Countenance by Edward N. McConnell

A man wearing a multicolored curly wig with star-shaped oversize sunglasses and a bright blue shirt with a multicolored beaded necklace
Image Source: Canva Pro

Uncle was visiting his nephew, a famous fashion designer. Nephew, always armed with opinions, delivered them without regard to the wounds he inflicted. Now that Uncle had arrived, Nephew was intent on accosting the older man about the manner of his dress.

    After Nephew was seated, the men stared at one another for about a minute without speaking. Then Nephew asked, “Uncle, why do you always wear black and gray? A primary color would brighten up your wardrobe and overall appearance. It also would provide a lift to your dull countenance.”

    Annoyed, Uncle said, “Nephew, I wasn’t aware my countenance was dull. I come here to visit and your first statement to me is to be critical of my looks and the way I dress. Under the circumstances, I find that odd. Tell me, why do you think what you’re wearing now is so much more fashionable than the way I’m dressed?”

    Nephew leaned forward in his chair and squinted slightly, then answered, “Because I know how to cut a bella figura. That’s something I doubt you have ever been able to do.”

    He followed that with, “Every day, I dress in bright colors. Those around me follow my lead and do the same, although never as well. I can tell by how the people here look at me that I am the envy of each of them.”

    Uncle paused to consider his words, then said, “Nephew, as I have aged, I have replaced my young man’s physique with the soft, portly figure of an older gentleman. Given my diminished physical abilities and lack of will to exercise my way back to a slimmer, more vigorous  ̶  what did you call it  ̶  bella figura, I have been forced to accept this transformation.

    “Still I have the memory of the time I walked the Champs-Elysees in a candy red shirt, navy blue pants wearing a canary yellow jacket. I was proud to peruse the panoramic view of Paris from the Eiffel Tower in my stylish attire. I drew many looks from the throngs of people at Notre Dame and the Louvre. The splendors of my primary color display must have left a lasting impression upon the French.

    “Once, on a Halloween night in Dublin, wearing a shamrock green jacket with a fine sheen, five girls dressed in leopard skin dresses clamored to get a photo with me. After the photo was taken, each kissed me on the cheek, which I believe was because of my fine green jacket. I will always remember them as delightful young ladies.

    “Yes, my boy, primary colors served me well once, but alas, those days of colorful male plumage, attracting attention and admiration of both women and men, have been consigned to time’s dust bin.

    “Aging, as a general rule, has bestowed upon me the wisdom to ignore the shallow insults of opinionated snobs, like you. Although, I do have to admit, on rare occasions, your comments can still land a blow.

    “Notwithstanding your view, for me, comfort now supersedes style. By abandoning the lively primary colors of my younger years and adopting a subdued wardrobe of grays and blacks, I believe I look and feel better. I have been very pleased with this conversion.

    “These days, when I have the occasion to mix in the company of younger professional people, like yourself, I smile and enjoy my time. I am secure in the knowledge that, while they wear a rainbow of primary colors, all fashionable and, so au courant, their extravagant eating and drinking will soon make shifting to my style of wardrobe a necessity.”

    “That’s rubbish, Uncle. You’re a dowdy old man with no panache. Admit it.”

    Realizing that his attempts to get Nephew to understand were falling on deaf ears, he checked his watch to see how much longer this conversation had to continue.

    Uncle paused and thought through his response, “Nephew, I find your digs, cracks and naked insults drain the enjoyment from our meetings. Yet, I return each week on Tuesdays, only to encounter your bile driven opinions. Maybe it’s time I stopped coming.”

    Uncle was about to say more when a large man, dressed all in gray with a silver and blue badge, tapped Nephew on his shoulder, saying, “Time’s up, boy.”

    Nephew got up from his chair, took one step back, revealing the fullness of his ill-fitting, faded orange jump suit. In the glare of the fluorescent lights, the shabby garment showed its wear and tear.

    Looking through the glass, Nephew asked, “See you next week, Uncle?”

    He nodded in the affirmative, returning the phone receiver on his side of the glass to its cradle. While doing so, Uncle thought, “I sometimes think he doesn’t realize I’m all he has.”

    You see, Nephew stands accused of murdering his fashion model wife. He was allegedly found standing over her body, holding a bloody knife. Her crime appears to have been a style violation, wearing a black evening party dress with no hint of primary colors.

    As he left the jail, Uncle thought, “Oh, I forgot to tell him. I’ve given his attorney a black suit with dark gray pinstripes to wear at his trial next month. I’m sure it will improve his dull countenance.”


Edward N. McConnell is a happily retired trial lawyer, a former adjunct professor of trial advocacy and a former State Archivist of Iowa. He started writing flash fiction and short stories in 2020. He enjoys a good story with a twist and tries to write one every once in a while. His flash fiction and short stories have appeared in Literally Stories, Terror House Magazine, Refugeonlinejournal.org, MasticadoresIndia, Mad Swirl and, soon, in Rural Fiction Magazine, Drunk Monkeys, and Down in the Dirt. He lives in West Des Moines, Iowa with his wife.

We would love to read your work. Interested? Please READ our SUBMISSION GUIDELINES.



12 Comments Add yours

  1. Terveen Gill says:

    Edward’s short story is a witty representation of a fashionista and his killer instincts. The dialogue plays out with vivid visuals, of days long gone when colors were an integral part of a person’s wardrobe. I like how the reader is led along without any inclination of the twisted ending. Maybe this fashion designer is unaware that orange is the new black now.
    Congratulations Edward!


    1. mcconn41 says:

      Thank you for your kind comments and for publishing my story. I am so glad you liked it.
      My best,

      Liked by 1 person

  2. haoyando says:

    What a surprise ending. It is funny and interesting indeed. If there are fashion police, there are surely fashion crime and fashion jail as well to make up the the fashion world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mcconn41 says:

      Thank you for your kind comments. I am glad you enjoyed this story.
      My best,

      Liked by 2 people

  3. michnavs says:

    I was really smiling reading the lines which the uncle and nephew were discussing both of their fashion style. I thought the story was going to end with the uncle making the nephew realize that as we age we become more concern of our well being than style….but the ending caught me off guard…a really lovely tale.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mcconn41 says:

      Thank you for your kind comments. I glad you enjoyed the story.
      My best,

      Liked by 1 person

  4. jonicaggiano says:

    Congratulations on your publication. What an interesting story. This story really had me going and I was completely surprised at the ending. Nicely done a great story, Have an amazing weekend, Joni

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mcconn41 says:

      Thank you so much. I am glad you enjoyed it.
      My best,

      Liked by 1 person

  5. byngnigel says:

    Oh man ..😂😂.. I never saw that coming. Golly mate. Great writing. Lol lovely interaction. I was all in.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. mcconn41 says:

    Thank you very much. It was a fun one to write.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Cassa Bassa says:

    Awesome write! A great twist at the end. 👍

    Liked by 2 people

  8. mcconn41 says:

    Dear Cassa Bassa,

    Thanks for your kind comments. I am so happy you enjoyed this story.

    My best,



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s