90 minute flash exercise. Sorry for the roughness of it but that’s that nature of a flash fiction challenge.
Our hostess with the mostest was Regan Leigh and her post with a list of other players and links to their sites is here (read the comments for links to their sites). Give their pieces a read too, please.
Jimmy slammed his hand against the steering wheel. The traffic had ground to a near standstill. “I’m sorry Grandpa. We hit it at a bad time.”
“Is there another way we can go?” Melvin leaned back in his seat, his hands folded neatly on his lap.
“Yes and no. There are the side streets of course, but to detour that way might take us as long or longer as mucking our way through this.”
Melvin cast a sideways glance at his grandson and chuckled. “Take the next exit, Jimmy. Let’s take a chance.”
Jimmy furrowed his brow. “Grandpa…I dunno…I don’t really know the way that well. We’d probably get hopelessly lost. We should just stick to what I know, for better or worse.”
“Pish-posh, Jimmy. Sometimes the detours are where you’re meant to go. Did I ever tell you about the time I got on the wrong bus?” Melvin pointed to the exit sign. “There. Take that one. Take a chance.”
Jimmy sighed and gave Melvin a dubious look but took the exit. “Okay. Here we go. We might make it in time for dessert.” He punctuated his statement with a nervous chuckle.
“It was when I lived in Fargo back during WWII. I was going to enlist in the Army but needed to catch the bus to Minneapolis. Only I misread the sign and got on the bus bound for Minnetonka.” Melvin shook his head, a sly smile curling the sides of his mouth.
“Minnetonka? When’d you figure out your mistake?”
“I was so tired, I fell asleep pretty much as soon as I boarded so it must have been two, maybe three hours before I woke. The highway signs were all wrong, said we were heading north when we should have been heading south.”
“What did you do?”
“I had the driver put me out at the first town that had a bus station. Glazier. Ever heard of Glazier, son?” From the corner of his eye, Jimmy saw Melvin dip his head as if to catch his eye, but Jimmy merely shrugged and continued to watch the road.
“You probably haven’t. I hadn’t. But that’s where the driver let me off, but I realized too late that the station wasn’t open on Sundays. There was snow everywhere, great banks of it along the road that I had to climb through to get to the door of the inn. I knocked and the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen…” Melvin closed his eyes. He pressed his lips together and gave a low moan. When he re-opened his eyes, Jimmy’s shoulders shook with silent laughter.
“She got your engine revving did she, Grandpa?”
“Oh, yes sir, she sure did. Mmm, mmm, mmm. So anyways, I asked her if I could use their phone, figured I’d call home and tell ’em about my unintended detour so they wouldn’t worry when I didn’t call from Minneapolis later that night.”
” ‘We don’t have a phone,’ she said, her hands on her hips all sassy-like. But I persisted. ‘Does the restaurant have a phone?’ I asked. She heaved this big ol’ sigh then looked me up and down. ‘Come on. I’ll take you to the nearest phone, but I can’t guarantee you it works. The weather’s been taking its toll so it’s a 50-50 chance at best you’ll get through.’
“So I followed her down the road. And we walked and we walked and we walked. My shoes were ruined. I was cold and wet from the snow, starving, and hadn’t a clue where I was other than some place named Glazier.”
Jimmy interrupted. “Oh, I think I know where we are now. If I take this road, it’ll intersect with Clemmons then I can…oh, sorry. Go on, Grandpa. You were saying?”
“We finally got to this one story house, very small and she didn’t knock or nothing. Just walked right in and went straight to the phone. She picked it up and jiggled the switchhook before she shook her head and said, ‘Sorry. This one’s out now too.’
“I didn’t have enough money for a hotel room and the bus station was closed so I asked her how late the restaurant stayed open and she said ‘It just closed ten minutes ago.'”
“Yikes, Grandpa. What did you do then?”
“I explained my situation to the lady, told her I didn’t have the money to pay for a hotel room but if she’d let me stay on credit, I’d mail her a check as soon as I could.”
Jimmy snorted. “Right. Did she throw you out on your ear?”
“Naw, she offered to let me stay at her house, which is where we were, so that’s what I did.” Melvin got a mischievous look in his eye.
“Then what happened?” Jimmy asked as he made a right turn onto Clemmons street.
Melvin looked around the car, his eyes wild.
“Did you make it to Minneapolis?”
“Where you were headed to enlist.”
They had stopped at a red light. Melvin’s glazed face focused on a spot somewhere out the side window. “Turn here, son,” he said in a soft voice.
“Here?” Jimmy looked at the cross street. “Oh, yeah, you’re right. Thanks. But finish your story, Grandpa.”
Melvin jerked in his seat then chuckled. “Oh yes, we were in Glazier weren’t we? I never made it to Minneapolis, never joined the army.” He reached over and patted Jimmy’s knee. “I stayed in Glazier for the next six months, which was as long as it took to convince that girl, your grandmother, to run away with me.” His guffaws boomed through the car.
“Ah look, here we are. Home sweet home. Good thing I listened to you and took that detour.”
He exited the car and strode up the sidewalk to be met by his wife who had rushed out to greet him.
“Oh thank goodness!” she cried as she hugged him.
“Did you take the highway home from work today?”
“No, I took a detour.”
She hugged him tightly again. “The bridge just collapsed and thirty cars fell into the river. I thought for sure you’d…oh thank God!”
When he’d freed himself from his wife’s embrace, he turned to look back at his car. The passenger seat was empty. He lifted his head and saluted the heavens, whispering, “Thanks for both detours, Grandpa.”
I like that! A lot of fun – good story within a story too, with a poignant little twist at the end.
Oh, I looovvveedd this! The twist brought tears to my eyes!
Ah, how sweet. 😀 Great story. 🙂 Very good twist. 😉
A happy, non-sarcastic, full of moral story! LOL Yeah for detours!! 😉 Great one!
Thanks everyone. This one definitely challenged me and I started to panic when my time had almost expired. I had so many different ideas about where I might have taken it. Sometimes picking that single path you can effectively tell in a short piece is greater than the challenge of writing it well. LOL
Thanks for the fun exercise, Regan.
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