Friday, November 20, 2009

Just another night in tight jeans -- flash fiction

Invest in a great sound system was the best advice I ever got when I became a long hauler. I don't know how truckers who prefer silence get by on the amount of sleep we live on without "It's raining men" blasting in their cabs in the wee hours of the morning.

I know that I would have plowed this road train into a couple of mountains by now if I didn't own Disco's Greatest Hits. When my eyes start to droop I just crank up the Weather Girls, channel my inner gay boy from the eighties and sing my imaginary, flamboyant, magenta silk covered heart out.

It keeps me awake long enough to get to the next greasy spoon.

Speaking of which, I could see the lights from Sal's up ahead. And not a minute too soon. I was starved and really in need of a bathroom. I wanted the bathroom to be followed in short order by a huge plate of eggs benedict served with a nice glass of dry chardonnay.

Since what I was pulling my rig into was a truck stop, not a cozy little bistro, what I would settle for is a semi clean bathroom, a strong cup of coffee in a mug that might as well be a tin cup for all of the elegance it possessed and enough fat, grease and gristle to choke another couple of my arteries into oblivion.

At a truck stop a semi clean bathroom all by itself earns four stars; strong coffee adds a fifth. Sal's gets five stars. I like Sal's and I like Sal. She's a pip. And she always has a story for me.

As I stepped out of my rig, two teens looked up and checked me out. I smiled at them and one smiled back while nudging the other.

They walked along behind me, apparently thinking that being sixteen also makes your conversations inaudible by anyone over the age of forty.

I didn't hear part of it, but the part I heard made me laugh to myself. The smiling one said something, and the other replied "No wedding ring, but dude, she's old. She does have a sweet little ass though."

I filtered his statements through the appropriate brain waves and took the good away from the encounter.

Smiling, I swung my sweet little ass through the door and saw Sal behind the counter talking to a big hairy yahoo in a ten gallon hat.

Sal looked up and grinned.

"Hey, Chelsea! You got one?"

"Yeah, 'We Polka' - just saw it though, didn't talk to them, but I think it speaks for itself. You got one?"


"Nice. Back story?"

"You know it. I'll tell you while you eat. You want coffee?"

I nodded and went on into the ladies room. I took the grease pencil hanging on a string and added "We Polka" to the wall.

Sal had been collecting vanity license plates for years. If you saw one and put it on the wall, you got a free fill up on your coffee. If you had a back story, real or made up, you got pie.

Sal made great pie and truckers have a lot of time on their hands. There are a lot of pretty wild tales floating around about some of the people who own vanity license plates.

I did what I needed to do and went back out to the restaurant.

The big hairy dude had something sitting at his table perched on a couple of old newspapers. As I got closer I thought that the something he had looked like a numbat. But then I decided it couldn't be a numbat. They're protected under law since they're endangered. But, no when I got right by his table, sure enough, it was a numbat.

The yahoo leered up at me and said, "Hey hot stuff. How are you tonight?"

I decided to ignore the hot stuff remark and asked him about the numbat. He explained to me that he was working on a plan to breed them and sell them to business owners to use as natural exterminators for cockroaches.

He said that Sal had asked him to wait while she looked over his proposal so she could give him a down payment.

Curiosity satisfied, I disengaged figuring Sal had called the cops by now on this looney toon since a) he was trying to illegally sell protected animals b) numbats only eat termites and c) Sal didn't suffer fools gladly, especially big dumb hairy ones trying to part her from her hard earned cash.

I sidled on past him, retrieved my coffee from the counter and selected a booth in the back that was out of his line of sight but had a great view of the parking lot. I grinned when I saw the cops arrive and leave shortly thereafter with the protesting numbnut in cuffs, the numbat in a big have a heart carrier.

Sal came with my free refill, took my order and gave me a paperback to read while I waited.

She came back with my food and told me the back story to "snouts."

Apparently the couple who owned the license plate raised pot bellied pigs and in their house on any given day there were snouts and arseholes as far as the eye could see.

But arseholes was already taken.

I enjoyed that idea, my food and the rest of my conversation with Sal.

Full and empty in the right proportions, I hauled my rig back out onto the open road, Weather Girls raining men all the way……

The list of 46 stories at Mad Utopia


Karen from Mentor said...

For anybody experiencing deja're not nuts....this flash is a rework of the Bare Bones story I created from the GREAT random word list Merrilee provided me with back in July.

Anonymous said...

Okay, now that I was reassured of not being nuts, I'll only say: it's very nice!
Love how you could create this just from a few words Merrilee wrote you :)

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

This was great fun - love "the inner gay boy"!
The exchange with the teenagers was hilarious, as was the Snouts story.
Much much fun :-)

Karen from Mentor said...

Mazz the exchange with the teenagers happened when I was exiting my apartment building one day. I just HAD to work it into a story.

And doesn't EVERYONE have an inner gay boy?

Thanks for tweeting my link Estrella! I'm glad you didn't mind the recycling especially since the story is NEW AND


Marisa Birns said...

You wrote this from just a few words mentioned to you? Wow!

Loved Chelsea's breezy voice and attitude.

"Raining Men" NEVER disappoints!

Karen from Mentor said...

I had a bit I did for a few weeks where I challenged my readers to give me random lists and then I made stories from them. Look under the label "Bare Bones Stories" Marisa. They're all there. It was a lot of fun.

I had It's Raining Men on while I was doing the edits this morning...but quietly since it was 6:00am.

Kris said...

I must admit, I had to go look up what a numbat looks like! I'm not exactly up on my marsupials.

Cool story! Now every time I pass a big rig, I'm going to wonder what 80's gay boy songs are running through their heads!

Anonymous said...

I had to look up numbat as well!

I was momentarily confused when I read this:

"Invest in a great sound system was the best advice I ever got when I became a long hauler."

I thought it was another personal blog entry...

I haven't been complimented on my fine ass in over twenty years. :(

Karen from Mentor said...

Oh that's funny Anton. I've had a lot of jobs over the years....but trucker was never one of them.

Merilee is from Australia so her list had a couple of terms unfamiliar to me as well. I had to look up road train and numbat when I wrote the original story. I've never seen a numbat in person, but from the pictures they're pretty darn cute.

Karen from Mentor said...

Sometimes you can read their lips Kris.

I was sitting next to a guy the other day who was belting out thriller. I couldn't hear a thing but I could see his mouth moving.
It was hysterical.


Laura Eno said...

This was fun. I love "It's raining men" :) Leave it to you to come up with 'a day in the life of a female truck driver' and have it be a funny read!

Karen from Mentor said...

Ha! And you couldn't call me twisted this week Laura!

I love Chelsea, she's a lot of fun to write.
I've been noodling with a couple of other stories for her. I love a sassy chick with attitude. Especially when she's over 40 and still hot.

Melissa said...

I love this world you created! I want to sidle up to a booth at Sal's and chitchat with Chelsea, Sal, sixteen year-olds not aware of how young they are, and hairy men doing weird and/or illegal things. (Okay, maybe not chitchat with the sixteen year olds.) I love how Chelsea is so at home in her world even though, being female, she is a tiny minority in her profession. She sees the humor, the beauty, and enjoys it all.

Karen from Mentor said...

Wow Melissa, that was a great summing up of everything. I'll write you into Chelsea's next adventure if you like and then you can experience her world [kinda] first hand.

I loved your story today.
Thanks for stopping in.
Karen :0)


That was really greeat, it left me wanting more.

Karen from Mentor said...

Thanks Al!

Speaking of great reads....holy cow I just read THE BERSERKER by Kat a writer who just joined friday flash today

here's the link :

It left me speechless...

Michael Solender said...

I like the voice in this one and the whole transient feel..nicely written.

Jim Bronyaur said...

Two big thumbs up!


Deanna Schrayer said...

This is great fun Karen! I'm especially fond because my dad is a truck driver, and has been for 40 years. Oh the stories he comes home with! I love Chelsea's carefree attitude and glad to hear you may be telling more of her stories.
Thanks for the entertaining read!

Anonymous said...

Very cool, nice atmosphere, and I've been fond of truck stops for many, many years. What could be better than all of them in one story? Nice job on this!

PJ said...

very nice story, Karen - and then so nice to find out that it was written using prompts! well done. I like Chelsea's character. I'd like to sit down and share a chardonnay with her ;-)

Karen from Mentor said...

PJ I'm sure Chelsea would enjoy the hell out of you...she wants to know who's buying the wine?

@ jdanetyler thanks for stopping in. I'm a fan of truck stops too. And vanity license plates. And pie. What's better than pie? Oh I pie.

Karen from Mentor said...

Thanks Deanna. I was sad you had no flash this week. :0)

Thanks for the two thumbs up Jim, welcome to my space! Come back anytime.

Thanks Michael. Chelsea is clear as a bell in my head. She's really easy to channel.
Thanks for stopping in.
Karen :0)

Karen from Mentor said...

Thanks to Estrella and Cat and Al and Jim and PJ for tweeting my link!

You guys rock!

Anonymous said...

You're very welcome!
(and hey, I noticed the changes...) :P

Lou Freshwater said...

What a great character!

"She's a pip," And what a great line. Really enjoyed this. I've spent a lot of time (too much) on the road, and this feels very authentic.

Rachel S said...

So...... what you're saying is.... you can hook me up with a numbat dealer. Right?? That's the hidden reason behind this story? (hopes)

Unknown said...

Lovely re-work!

~Tim said...

Love it, but does she have to listen to disco? [laughing]

My parents had a vanity plate for a while: 2OMEGA. They expected the vehicle to last till the end, but everyone thought it was some kind of computer reference.

Deb said...

Love the disco! And the fact that the MC is a female trucker -- fun stuff.

Karen from Mentor said...

I know Deb. Disco is such fun! I like to shake up stereotypes. Thanks for stopping in.

See Tim? Girls aren't afraid to stand up and say we like disco.....

Karen from Mentor said...

So glad you like the rework Merrilee!

You gave me a great random list to work with:
Chardonnay, numbat, road train, eggs benedict, magenta silk, wedding ring, two old newspapers, a tin cup and Disco's greatest hits.

Thanks for stopping in, I know your schedule is nuts right now.
Karen :0)

Karen from Mentor said...

Sure Rachel, I can get you a numbat. No problem. Just send me your pin number. You'll have it by next friday.... saturday at the latest.....

Karen from Mentor said...

@ The Blockhouse I'm glad I captured the feel of the road for you.

"The feel of the road"...sounds like a song title....

@ Estrella pretty sure you would...some of them are obvious, especially the fact that I changed the whole opening sequence ...


Cat Russell said...

I love the trucker voice you wrote with throughout the story. Great style. Thanks.

Karen from Mentor said...

Thanks ganymeder, I was WOWED when I saw your NaNo word count this morning!

Chance said...

Really got into this and now fancy a greasy egg sandwich

good stuff,

Karen from Mentor said...

Thanks Chance.
Well it looks like your choices to quench your craving are a) stop writing and get dressed and go to a diner or b) eat whatever you find in the fridge. Depending on what time it is at your place I'd vote for the diner cause then you could follow your egg sandwich up with PIE.

Alex Carrick said...

Nice atmospheric piece. Like the detail about what might happen in Sal's diner. Interesting characters with interesting lives.

Karen from Mentor said...

Thanks for stopping in Alex it's always nice to see a new face.
Chelsea's world is a lot of fun to go gallivanting in....


Eric J. Krause said...

That was a fun story to read. A nice little look in at her life.

Karen from Mentor said...

Thanks! And she didn't get kidnapped by little men in green suits who use giant spiders as their evil slaves.....[still creeped out by that!] lol

You really need to give spiders a break Eric....or I'll have to start reading your flash through my fingers....
thanks for stopping in.

Susan Cross said...

Great slice of life. I like reading glimpses -- moments in time...something like the way a photograph captures an image.

KjM said...


I like the voice of this character and, I have to admit, I loved " my inner gay boy from the eighties and sing my imaginary, flamboyant, magenta silk covered heart out." Priceless.

You have room to take Chelsea out on the road in a story a lot longer than this one - or a series of her experiences behind the wheel of her big rig.

I hope you do. Thanks for introducing me to her.

Karen from Mentor said...

Well Kevin I can say for absolute certain that that was my very FIRST yee-haw. I laughed a lot at that.
I'm glad you liked it.

And Susan? That's what I always say about my sensual sentences...that they're little frozen snippets of time. I'm glad this story played the same way for you.

Thanks for stopping in guys.
Karen :0)

Laurita said...

Love the easy, breezy flow of this.

Mark Kerstetter said...

Breaker 1-9, this is Fluffy Pink Pillow in new territory and wondering if anyone out there knows of a nice clean vegan restaurant where a hungry trucker can chow down...

Karen from Mentor said...

Mark while it's absolutely true that I could pretend that I don't know what the heck you're referring to, the fact of the matter is I now have the song "convoy" running around in my head....[so thanks for THAT]

A vegan truck stop? Are we writing scifi?


Karen from Mentor said...

Laurita thanks for stopping in. I've been enjoying your "downtown" series.

And I just have to say again that I LOVE the name of your blog.

"Brain Droppings" is an inspired name for a writer's site.