Race Day

“Alright folks, it’s a little misty out today, but that will just make the track a bit better for those of you using mud tires. Race starts in 10 so I suggest you get them engines running!” An announcement came over the speakers, I looked around most racers were in their cars already.

I hopped into the passenger side of Todd’s skyline. It was heavily modified and the seatbelts weren’t that great, I was worried about being in his way. “I’m not sure how this is going to work babe. I’ll be crashing into you for most of the curves, won’t that bother you?”

“Sweetheart we’ve been over this. I’m not going to mind it and I’ve raced this track a billion times. Some curves, with centripital force you’ll lean into me a bit since I had to put a two seater bucket seat in. We’ll be fine you just gotta roll with it.” He gave me a kiss on my head and started his engine.

The track started on an old abandoned drag strip and that was the only road bit, the rest of it wound round the back 40 of a farm. There was curves and creeks and woods all leading back to the drag strip. You could race any car, be any age, there wasn’t a while lot of qualifications. Todd was lucky enough to know the land owners and had been out here every summer before I met him. He was a little rusty since we spent the last summer with my family on the beaches of Key West. That wasn’t going to stop him though, this was going to be the first race of it’s kind and the winner walks away with $100,000.

That’ll be more than enough to open his woodworking shop and a little something for me, he’d say and give me a nudge and a wink. The race was 40 laps and from the looks of most of these cars, last man standing wins.

The race began and I did what he said, rolled with the curves and tried hard not to mess with his arm. It was a right side driving car and old. ‘Beautiful’, Todd would call it, but it was old. One of his main concerns was the gaslines, they were low to the ground since he had to move everything around to get all of the stuff in there to boost the engine. I’m sure there’s technical words for all of that, but I’m no expert.

We we’re doing good, lap 5, and managed to maintain a steady 4th place. At one point he leans into me and says “we’ve got this.” I figure it’ll be at least one of those guys’ cars won’t make it and the other will just have some issues with the hill. That’s where I’ve seen him fall back just a bit and I’m sure that’s where Todd is going to best him. The third car, first in the race is Pierre. He’s not from around here and I couldn’t quite make out his accent. The first two laps I saw him nudge his way from the middle of the line up to first place and he got oddly close to some cars. I got the impression that Pierre wasn’t a very sportsman-like team player.

Lap 25 and Todd has managed to get to second place. As we rolled on to the old wooden bridge, something didn’t feel right. It collapsed as we were just about to hit the dirt road again which sent us tail end into the creek below. Panic set in and I’m sure Todd could see it in my face.

“Sweetheart, I love you, we’re fine. I still have a chance. But I’m going to need you to do something for me.” He lifted my chin up and gave me a big kiss. “I need you to push me out of here.”

Horror stuck my gut, but I knew he could make it if I helped. I got out of the skyline as carefully as I could. Which of course was through the driver window over Todd, I didn’t want to open the door and flood the car. The water was a cloudy, muddy mess and came up to just above my knee. I waded to the back and put my whole weight into the trunk. He hit the gas pedal hard and I’m not sure if it was the adrenaline or pure luck but he was out of the muck and on to the track before the next car even had a chance to catch up to us.

It was then that I realized no one had been behind us for a while except for one kid in a little red racer. I remember seeing it in the start up line, there was stickers on it to make it look like Lightning McQueen. I must have come to my senses because I could hear him clear as day saying “help.”

Turing around I saw wheels sticking out of the creek and the bottom of that little boys car. He couldn’t have been more than 10. I imagined my worst fear of him being trapped in that car so I waded over the bridge debris to the car. “Hey!” I shouted.

“Help!” I heard from behind me, he was on the bank of the creek. At least he wasn’t trapped. “Can you help me get my car out?”

“I’m sorry hunny, I’m not that strong.” I watched tears fall from his eyes. It hit me hard, this little boy who had gotten this far and who was in third place even! His dream was ruined. We walked back to the start up avoiding the race track.

When we got back every car still in the race was gathered around the announcer booth. Many of the drivers were sitting on the hood of their car and I desperately searched for Todd. He was in the front of the line looking defeated. I sat next to him and waited for an announcement.

“They checked that bridge before the race, Nell. It was sturdy and not going anywhere.”

“So it’s…it was rigged to collapse…you think?” I was stunned, who would do such a thing?

“I don’t think Sweetheart, I know it.” He sighed. “They were telling me you were helping Peter, did you get him out?”

He was already out of the car, we couldn’t save it. I could barely get you out with the help of the car actually running, his was belly up in that creek.

The speakers cracked a little but a voice came on. “Under out investigation it seems as if there was a small stick of dynamite under the bridge rigged to go off during the race. The person responsible is now in custody. Since we can’t finish the race officials have decided it is best to split up the winners money to the top four racers.”

Everyone was shocked. It could have been worse. I think back to the bridge and imagine things going a lot different. The boy made it out alive and Todd still managed to get first place and $25,000. I was relieved and thankful. I remembered Pierre and his struggle to get to first place and looked around. Drivers were now surrounded by their followers and family. But there Pierre’s car sat, alone and pathetic. I’m sure he was taken to jail that day.

The track was finally fixed and held races with a much smaller monatary prize. Todd had to settle for a much smaller shop, but he was able to build it onto the garage of the house we bought. The little something for me was an engagement ring, with my stipulation that I never be his co-pilot again. We heard the little boy was able to by a new racing car, they counted him as the second winner. I’m glad he didn’t give up his dream.


The Phone

When I was 7 my mother taught me how to use the black phone in the foyer. It was old timey, you had to hold a little thing to your ear. She said it was special and had to keep it but she could only hear static when it rang.

It rang and I picked up just like she taught me to do expecting static. But instead I got distorted wait music you’d probably hear in an elevator.

“Hey!” I heard after a long wait. I remember answering back confused.

“You can hear me?” The voice asked.

“Yeah, it sounds funny but I can hear you.”

We talked for an hour when my mother walked in the foyer.

Her face was stunned, as if she knew I had been talking to someone and not listening to static.

“He said he was Grandpa!” I smiled at her.

With tears in her eyes she asked “What did he say?”

“He told me all about how he got locked in there! And he had a message for you!” I smiled not understanding what I was about to say.

“What was that sweetie?” She got down on here knees to meet me face to face.

“He said don’t open the door and talk to the shadowy man or you’ll end up in here like me. No matter what!”

Just then a there was a knocking on the door. “HELENA OPEN THE DOOR. ITS YOUR DAD. I NEED YOU!”

Julie: The Artist.

Julie sat down on the brown couch in the lobby area. TV’s were blasting the news, latest things the crazy president was doing, the stock market crash, the murder in some small town with enough mystery to keep the nation captivated. The magazines on the coffee table in front of her showing happy scenes of housewives decorating the perfect summer themed parties with their husbands in a ‘Kiss the Cook’ apron and grilling spatula, the latest star and their tragic on screen romance turned real life love story, and a children’s magazine.

It seemed out of place for the office setting, maybe a client brought their child or a secretary brought her son to work. Her meeting was pushed back half an hour, they were thoughtless-only telling her after she had already walked through the door. Julie picked up the children’s magazine and flipped through the simplicity. The activity pages had been scribbled in red and yellow crayon, perhaps the child was not appropriately aged yet. She kept flipping until she got to the main article, it was short but the message was powerful. A child wouldn’t understand the moral but it made Julie think.

What was she doing here? Pitching her big idea to some soul sucking corporation? Was she selling out? Was this the right decision? Her husband might have thought so-if he had stayed around long enough for her to finish the concept drawings. She took out her portfolio and stared at her drawings. She glanced back at the magazine.

Julie stuffed her drawings and the magazine back in her satchel got up and walked towards the front desk. She told the secretary to apologize to the men she was to meet with today, but she wouldn’t be coming back.

“What ever it is that you want to do, do it for yourself. Happiness comes from your own success.”

The Empty Trolley

I entered a contest where they give you a plot and you write about it, I didn’t win. But that’s okay there’s always next time. I thought I’d let you all read my submission anyway. The prompt was “Mystery titled The Empty Trolley.”

Legend has it you can still see a lingering trolley in the middle of Leosville. It has been decades since they were in use and according to officials, they have all been decommissioned and tore apart.
Of course, no one really gets a good look at this trolley, it seems to disappear quickly. And none of the stories ever quite matched up. Frank swore he saw it one day and turned to his wife to tell her, in the instant it took her to look the trolley was gone. Young Jeramiah and Thomas were playing in the street when a police officer jumped out to save them from being ran over by the trolley once, but the other people walking on the sidewalk just laughed at the officer. Jimmy told his tale about slamming on his breaks one afternoon in fear that he would hit the trolley, no one got hurt he would say. But no one believed any of them.
The local paper, Leosville Argus, had one reporter who was always set after the ones who believed they had seen the trolley to tell their story. The article he had written about the trolley stories always got stuck in the section of the paper no body liked to read with all the advertisements. His name was Jackson Fernell and while he thought himself to be a decent reporter for the paper was only referred to as “The Trolley Man” as a joke by his coworkers.
One day Jackson decided to do a little more digging into the story of the disappearing trolley. He found contact information for the three witnesses he had spoke too before and gave them each a call.
The first witness Jackson spoke to was Frank Beauregard. Frank and his wife Suzie were expecting their first child in a short few days but had just a moment to recount his day seeing the trolley. “Clear as day, it was right in front of where that arcade is on Main Street, me and my wife were headed to the movies but decided to walk a little downtown first. Beautiful spring day it was.” Jackson wrote down all the information that he could in his little notebook and called his next witness, the police officer.
“Well, those kids had just come out of the arcade on Main Street, goofing off. I was just patrolling the town like usual and there that trolley came clear as day. Looked like it wasn’t going to stop for them kids and I jumped out and pushed them to the sidewalk. I had a lot of strange looks that day and a lot of laughs back at the station.” Officer Evanston was more than happy to tell someone his side of the story maybe because Jackson seemed genuinely interested in what he had to say.
The third witness was Jimmy. He was tough to get a hold of, turns out his wife had taken a turn for the worst and spent most of his days at the nursing home. Jackson decided to do an in-person interview and met Jimmy and his wife, Mariann, at the nursing home. They were a sweet old couple, married for 54 years.
“I was driving by the old flower shop.” Jimmy smiled.
“Such a shame Julie had to close down.” Mariann put her hand on Jimmy’s.
“Yeh, yeah, poor girl. Well so I was driving by the old flower shop. I couldn’t remember where the new one was, so I hoped driving by the old would jog my memory. And there it was, that old trolley in my damn way!”
“He got home that night with flowers for me, he’s such a sweetheart, and told me all about it. I thought I read in the paper a few years ago that they tore all those apart. Really nice of the town they made them all into benches for the parks. Anyway, I couldn’t believe it when he said he almost ran into it!” She wheezed.
“So, Jimmy, the old arcade…that used to be a flower shop.” Jackson was intrigued now. That was two witnesses that had walked by that arcade-old flower shop who had their women on the mind, but what did the officer have to do with it?
“Oh yes! Our neighbor Julie had the best blooms in springtime!” He chuckled.
Jackson got the information he needed from the sweet old couple and headed to the common place of the trolley sightings. He was missing some big information. The trolley seemed real to these people. These people mostly had romantic intentions during their sighting. Except for the cop… what had the cop have to do with it? He picked up his cell phone and called Officer Evanston again.
“Officer, I know we spoke about the children of that day, but do you mind if I ask a more personal question?”
“Uh…sure I guess.” The Officer sounded apprehensive.
“What did you do for the rest of that day?” Jackson opened his notebook to the other interviews.
“Oh. Well, I finished my shift. A pretty boring day really. Had a few phone calls.”
“Anything else?”
“I had anniversary dinner with my wife. We’re celebrating this weekend, but I surprised her with flowers and dinner.” Officer Evanston smiled.
“Excuse me?”
Jackson was embarrassed. “Sorry, I think I’ve figured out why people see the trolley! All three of the witnesses had seen the trolley outside of an old flower shop turned into an arcade. And all three of the witnesses bought their wives flowers that day!”
Jackson hung up the phone and stood there staring out into the street from the sidewalk. What did the flowers have to do with the trolley!? Just then, he saw it.
Clear as day, a big trolley with the cables and the train tracks below, it was empty. But there was a ghostly glow about the trolley as well. He stood there, amazed and pondering. A cold breeze seemed to flow from the door of the old flower shop to the trolley and Jackson concentrated. A transparent man, a ghost! A ghost had gotten onto the trolley with a bouquet of flowers.
“Who are you?” Jackson yelled out, not sure of what he was doing.
The ghost just smiled, and the trolley disappeared.
It was two weeks’ worth of more research before Jackson could but together more of a story. He researched the flower shop but didn’t get anywhere with that lead. He investigated anything he could find about trolleys. It wasn’t until he searched death records when he found the name of Paul Ramos. Paul’s obituary told the tragic tale of a trolley accident, he was on the way to propose to his love, Holly.
Jackson decided not to publish his findings in the paper he worked for. He thought it was a perfect story that didn’t need explaining. One of love and romance, hopefully a reminder to all those that see the mysterious empty trolley that their love is precious and fragile.

Flash Fiction: Hot Day

She lifted her left leg out of the car carefully. The skin on her thighs had stuck to the leather seat in the old beat-up car her father swore was a good deal. It was, he was right. He was always right.

She slowly lifted her right leg and stood up. The air conditioning in that tiny car hadn’t worked for a week but she wasn’t bothered enough to fix it. No, the windows did just fine. She was able to let her hand feel the breeze, much like her younger self. Hand out side of her parents station wagon, a giant plane taking the same road they did… if she squinted and imagined hard enough.

She made the journey down the path to the old farm house and reached the old screened door. The house had seen better days. She placed her hand on the metal door handle and stood. The moment was lost. She should have phoned to say she was coming. She used to just walk right in. Judgement got the best of her.

She knocked, instead, on the door of the house she grew up in. Waiting for her mother she hadn’t seen in fifteen years.


Trevor and Theodora had been dating for quite sometime, he was madly in love and planning a special engagement. He was ready to marry her, she had no idea but was blissfully happy anyway.

Tragedy struck when Trevor’s grandmother fell ill on the day he meant to propose. Theodora was of course willing and happy to be at his side at the hospital. The next few weeks were hard for Trevor but he managed to get by with Theodora’s warm embraces. He eventually took out the ring in a hospital waiting room, after talking with his grandmother he realized life was short and he knew he wanted this woman for the rest of his life.

The day of the funeral was full of tears for Trevor and Theodora stuck by his side all morning. The reached the funeral home and Theodora halted to a stop at the front door. “What’s wrong, my love?” he managed to say.

Theodora looked on in horror at the flower pots by the door. “What are those?”

“Chrysanthemums, they were grandma’s favorite. She always used to say they kept the witches out. Come on, we better get in there.”

“I…I can’t go in there Trevor.”

Trevor stood perplexed. Questions began to rise to his mind, how could his fiancé not go to his grandmother’s funeral. It was only a moment when the reality came to his mind and all the things his grandmother said about his beautiful woman rushed on to the tip of his tongue. His jaw just about dropped. “You’re a witch!?”

A dragon’s breath

“Well I was out eating vegetables.” Druk said as he hiccupped again.
“Vegetables?” Avina was puzzled, it wasn’t like her husband to eat anything but animals he found in the woods. But even then, he would bring home at least a small deer for her.
Druk hiccupped again. “Slim pickins’, my dear.”
“Pity.” She looked over the medicine cabinet once more. “Sorry love, fresh out of the heartburn medicine. You’ll have to go into the town and take some.”
Druk groaned, he hated bothering the villagers. They didn’t like him too much. “Well did you need anything else while I am out?”
“Not now dear, we have some meat stored in the back cave that will last us a while. Unless you stop by old Mrs. Damforth and see if she’ll let me borrow another book?”
“You disintegrated the last one.” Druk walked out of the cave with a smile on his face. Mrs. Damforth wasn’t likely to let Avina borrow another book but he’d still try. Maybe he could talk one of the other townswomen into it.

Druk made it to the town down the mountain, about an hours-worth of walking. He wanted to look ‘normal’ coming into the town, because otherwise it would scare the children if he flew down the mountain. A truth he had found out the hard way a few years ago. Edmund and Karyle never got over that one morning they ran into Druk and had to leave town as soon as they were of age, no one had heard of them since.
Druk sneaked into the sleepy Sunday village and found a house that seemed to have some movement. He tapped on the door with a claw, if he had knocked he would have tore down the door, something he also learned the hard way. He waited a short moment and tapped again. He heard a thud behind the door, which meant the person most likely fainted upon sight of a dragon outside their house and he would have to move on.
He needed to work quickly though, news would spread in the town and he would be ran out by the toughest men there was.
Druk walked a few houses down and tapped lightly again. He waited a moment and was about to tap again when the door opened. Behind it was a small child, about the age of four in a little pink dress. Druk panicked, small children usually ran crying to their mothers.
“Hi.” A tiny squeak came from the little girl. She smiled big.
“Hello, miss. Is mommy or daddy home.” For the first time he felt a sense of relief.
The little girl giggled. “Dragon.”
“Yes, I am.” He smiled back at her.
“They say you big scary. No. You cute.” She giggled again.
Druk smiled, he had never been complimented from a human before. And he thought about it, the last time Avina called him cute was when he was courting her. “My name is Druk. What is your name?”
“Anabelle.” She smiled again and grabbed for his hand.
“No, no Anabelle, I won’t fit in your house!”
She stepped back with a frown. Anabelle stared at Druk,
In a moment a woman showed up at the door. “Anabelle, we told you, Dragon bad!”
“No mommy! Druk nice!”
The mother looked at Druk. “Well you haven’t burnt down my house yet.”
Druk couldn’t help but chuckle. “No, Ma’am. Just in town looking for medicine. Modern times but we still haven’t quite figured out how to do the sort of healing that you humans do.”
“Medicine huh? Why not try a doctor?” She crossed her arms and leaned against the doorway.
“It’s best to try my luck with the people first.” He smiled. “Perhaps do you have heartburn medication Ma’am?”
She stood with a puzzled look.
“In turn I offer services. I can annoy your pesky enemies, or do some heavy lifting, or protect your home. Possibilities are of course limited to what a dragon can do.”
“Fly!” Anabelle smiled and looked at her mother.
“No Anabelle, not safe.”
“Ma’am flying is completely safe, I would guard Miss Anabelle with my life.” The truth was Druk had never given a human a ride, but he had known other dragons to. It couldn’t be so hard.
“You’d give Anabelle a ride for some heartburn medication?” Anabelle’s mother said inquisitively.
“A life time of rides, Ma’am.” Druk was hopeful.
“Okay.” She disappeared into the house and returned with two large bottles of pills. “I can always get more so I’m giving you what we have.”
Druk smiled. “The missus will be so happy I won’t have to come to the village for these any time soon. I do thank you. As for the rides for Anabelle, I know it is getting late so how about I come back tomorrow for her first ride? Do you mind taking her to the edge of the forest so I won’t need to come too close into town?”
“I’d be more than happy to. Say around 10 o’clock.” The mother smiled.
“10 o’clock it is!” Druk took his bottles and began to walk way when he remembered the other thing. “Oh! The missus, Avina loves novels, you mind letting her borrow one?”
“One! I’ve had a whole box I’ve been meaning to take to the library, but I’m sure your wife would love them!”
Not too long and Druk was walking away with a large box of books and the medicine he needed. He smiled and thought what a lovely happenstance that he was able to meet such a generous woman and happy little child. He was over joyed at coming back the next day to take the little girl for a ride. He knew Avina would be proud that he didn’t terrorize anyone this time. As he started his journey home he heard the mother talking to her little Anabelle.
“I never knew dragons could get heartburn! So fascinating, I hope he comes back!”