Friday, September 5, 2008

Last Dollar

Excellent word of the week this week from Mona: gas. Excellent because it's back to school and back to work and everything's go go go! Anyway, here's my contribution.

The week gas went up to five dollars a gallon Toby set his car on fire.

He had been drinking over at the Tip Top in Elmore, and was driving home 2 am-ish, using country roads all the way to avoid the local police. He ran out of gas about three miles from town. He'd left his last dollar on the bar as a tip, so even if he could hitch a ride at this hour, he'd have no money to fill the damn thing up. No money til payday on Thursday.

He got out of the car and lit a cigarette, regarding the situation, and when he was done he just flipped the butt through the window into the back seat. Made sure the upholstry caught the flame, even blew on it a little, grabbed the pint of Wild Turkey from the glovebox, then backed away to watch the fireworks. One of those big explosions would improve his mood. Like on TV.

It never happened, of course. The car was out of gas.

It took Toby about a half hour to realize this. Once he did, he stood up, thinking about how different TV was from real life. He finished off the bottle of Turkey with one pull, lit up his next to last cigarette, and began the long walk home.


Eric Shonkwiler said...

His next to last cigarette. Like that.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

That's perfect.

Completely ironic... I always say irony is the spice of my life.
That would have been exactly the way it would've happened to me.
Except the bottle of Wild Turkey would have long ago leaked all over the inside of the glove box.

Of course.


Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Irrelephant said...

I love how you write, old bean. It's not the stacatto spray of bullets that Chandler used, it's more of a tight-bore shotgun--effective but not as singular as a pistol round, a little dressier, a little more messy. Heh. Excellent, as always. Guess now I need to get off my arse and fulfill my ancient and terrible Poetry Friday Challenge oath, eh?

meno said...

Good thing he didn't spring for marshmallows.

Noel said...

From all these exercises you do, I can completely see you taking them and doing a collection of short shorts. The characters seem to all have ties that tether them. I agree with Eric and I love that detail, next to last cig. Very keen eye to detail.

Mother of Invention said...

Guess he'll be headed to the mountain bike store! Much better gas mileage.

Maggie said...

you're so good at setting mood in so few words. I'm jealous. I love that about your writing.

Nancy Dancehall said...

"It never happened, of course. The car was out of gas."

lmao! I love this.

A friend of Metcalf's I'm assuming?

Mona Buonanotte said...

The thing I love about your writing is it makes a movie in my head. This one had a morose-looking John Cusack in it.

Great stuff, man!

gary rith said...

Next time, Toby, get the BIG bottle of wild turkey....

Jo said...

Poor Toby...I get the feeling empty tank sums of his way of life.

Fine writing. You really have a talent for delivering the meat of a character. I can smell him. It's not pleasant LOL

Nancy Dancehall said...

I got John Cusack too, Mona. With a little stubble and really slumped shoulders. Cue the Plimpsoles.

Clowncar said...

Thanks, E. I liked that detail too. I remember from my smoking days mentally counting my cigarettes whenever I opened up the pack.

I imagine a glovebox smelling of Wild Turkey would be a problem if you got pulled over by a cop and asked for your registration, Scarlett.

High praise indeed, Irr. I'm less dressy and more messy than most, I think. I like messy. Life is messy. Love is messy. Art is messy. Parenthood is very messy.

Meno, Jiffy-pop mighta been fun, though. Do they still make that?

Thanks, Noel. Someday perhaps. Most of the characters in these little vignettes I've written about before. I kinda feel like I borrow their lives for a couple paragraphs, then give them back when I'm done, to live their own lives again.

Moi, I'm guessing the only place he's going is another bar.

Thank you, Maggie. Trying to cut away all the unnecessary words. I wanted to describe his car as a "1981 birdsh1t white Monte Carlo" but left the phrase on the cutting room floor.

He doesn't know Metcalf, Nancy. He was the manager of the mini mart that kept getting the prank calls about Prince Albert in a can. Let him out, it's dark in there!

Mona, you mean my good friend John Cusack who once bought me a beer and exchanged almost 10 words of conversation with me? Nah. Too pretty.

If he had a big bottle, Gary, he'd woulda just passed out next to the car. And I wouldn't have an ending.

Yep, Jo. No gas, empty bottle, next to last cigarette. He's running on fumes. Thanks for your kind words.

Nancy, will you and Mona please quit inserting your fantasy boyfriends into my stories? Next you'll be telling me he looks like that little hobbitty guy from Lord of the Rings.