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Well Timed

This week's Flash Fiction Friday challenge was to write a story about a milestone in a character's life, including five specific words. The following was posted last Friday - 

In less than 24 hours, the month of December will be upon us.  This particular month is known for quite a number of occurrences way beyond those of Christmas and the purported upcoming one set for the 21st.  They include:
  • 12/05/1933:  National Prohibition ended.
  • 12/12/1925:  The first motel opened in the United States (The Motel Inn in San Luis Obispo, California).
  • 12/17/1791:  The first one-way street was created in New York City.
  • 12/21/1440:  Bluebeard was executed.  Our impending Armageddon is the 572nd anniversary of this particular event.  Coincidence?
  • 12/27/1947:  ’Howdy Doody’with host Bob Smith, made its TV debut on NBC.

A lot of life-altering events have occurred throughout the centuries during the month of December.  Let us in on what high drama enters the life of one of your characters.

Prompt:  Write a story about a character(s) life-changing event and include the following words:  December, blizzard, secret, clown, doughnut.

Genre:  Any

Word Limit:  1,500 words.

Mine came in at 1261 words

Well Timed

It was a typical December storm - starting as a forecast as flurries, then upgraded to snow, then a winter warning and a blizzard. By then Frank was halfway home, so decided to just keep going. It had been yet another boring party. Today kids didn't want a clown, it was always the parent's big idea. Kids wanted Wii games, followed by a trip to a splash pool, ending with a frenetic dinner at a fast food place - complete with cake and ice cream. He hated being a clown, he hated being old, and tired, and broke. Christmas was in a few days, and he was not looking forward to it at all.

Frank squinted through the windshield, trying to guess where the road was. The plow he'd been following had turned off, so now was it just him and a plain white road, with banks piled high already on either side. He carefully steered in between them.  The road curved yet again, still following high above the river. It would be so easy to just twitch the wheel and head off the road - the snow bank would carry him right over the rail. He kept an eye on the wipers as they iced up yet again - he really didn't want to get out. He wasn't dressed for this weather, still decked out in his clown costume. He hadn't even thought to take off his nose - that's how used he was to this get up. He was about to do so when he noticed lights ahead of him, pointing his way. He started to slow, and ease to the right, then noticing they were pointing up into the sky. The car looked to be over the bank on his side, part way down to the river. As he crawled closer he saw a small figure at the side of the road, a little boy.

"Great," he thought, "I can't seem to get away from kids."

He put on his blinkers and stepped out into the storm. From the faint tracks it looked like the car had been heading his way then just spun out, did a few doughnuts, and went right over.The boy looked to be five or six, shivering in just a light jacket, and crying. He stopped when he saw Frank, sniffed, then said quietly, "But you're a clown."

"No, I'm just an old man, " said Frank, "and you're a cold looking little boy. Are your parents still in the car?"

"It's just me and my mom," said the boy. "But she's sleeping, I couldn't wake her up."

Frank sat the boy in his car, cranked up the heat, turned on the radio, and promised to be right back. He  managed to climb over the snowback and down to the car, surprised that the boy had made it all the way up to the road. It looked like the boy's mother had flung out an arm to protect her son, as it was still outstretched along the dash, bent at an odd angle. She'd hit her head too - there was a big star of cracked glass in front of her, but surprisingly little bleeding. She was not breathing, had no pulse, and already felt very cold. Frank left just the flashers on, closed the door, and crawled back up to his car. 

The little boy was huddled in a corner, thumb in his mouth, staring out at the snow.

"Where's my mommie?" he asked.

"She's still there," said Frank. "Come on, lets go."

"I want my mommie," said the boy. His lip started to tremble.

Frank sighed. "She's not feeling well, so we're going to go get someone to come back and help her."

"Can't you get her?" said the boy. He somehow managed to look even sadder.

"No, she's just too sick to climb up," said Frank.

"She'll be too cold," said the boy.

Frank was about to just ignore him and start driving, when the boy reached over and took his hand. The poor kid felt like ice. Frank squeezed his hand back. "She'll be OK," he said. "I closed the door and left her coat all buttoned up. She said she'd be fine, she said she knew her big boy would be able to get help."

That seemed to perk the boy up a bit. "She told me to climb back up before my nose froze off," said Frank. "Look how cold and red it is."

The boy peered closely at Frank's nose.

"Is that a real nose?"

"I'll tell you a clown secret," said Frank. "Don't tell anyone else this, but it's a special kind of  clown nose." He slipped the elastic off his head and over the boy's. "It's a magic nose, it makes you smile. Go ahead, check it out in the mirror."

The little boy looked, smiled, and pointed to Frank's orange wig.

"Is that special clown hair?" he asked.

"Of course not," said Frank. "It's my very own - you don't think it's too orange do you?"

The boy shook his head solemnly. "No, it's just perfect," he said. "Can you make balloon toys too?"

Frank could, and did. He made a giraffe, a weiner dog, and a swan that was also a hat - all the time telling silly jokes. Once he had the little boy giggling he slipped the car into gear and headed out.

"Your job is to watch the road carefully," said Frank. "Sometimes the giraffes like to walk on the road, and we'd have to go right under them, between their legs."

The boy - Danny he'd said his name was - sat forward, hands on the dash, watching intently. Frank found some Christmas carols on the radio, and they sang along, sometimes making up their own funny words.

All too soon they got to a gas station, and Frank realized the trip would soon be over. He'd been enjoying the company. Maybe he just needed to find better audiences, ones that appreciated him. Maybe the suburbs were not the best place to get bookings - they did have the money, but not any fans of his style. He pulled up in front of the restaurant, and turned to the boy.

"Wait here," he said. "I'll run in and get them to send help for your mom."

As he ran in the door the clerk raised an eyebrow. "Lose your circus?" she said.

"I need you to call 911," he said. "I was just up the road a few miles - there's a tight curve over a steep drop - and came across an accident, a car right over the bank.  The driver, a woman, is dead, and I've got her little boy with me."

The clerk shook her head. "The highway's been closed for hours," she said. "No one's headed your way since the snow started. By a curve, you said?"

"Yes, a sharp one, high above the river. Call 911, would you?"

"Sounds like the same place where a car went over last year," said the clerk. "A year ago to the day, in fact. A local woman, killed  right away, then her little boy wandered off and was never found. Danny was his name."

Frank looked out the window at his car, but the front seat seemed empty. He ran out, opened the door, and stared down at the red nose lying on the seat.

The clerk came out beside him, hugging herself against the wind.

"Well, look at that," she said. She pointed into the back seat at the sleeping child. "Carry him in," she said, "we can't just leave him out in the cold."







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Joyce Juzwik

Hauntingly touching, yet it seems to eerily waver between illusion and reality. You gave us just enough back-story on Frank to get a feel for where he was at that point in his life. He was definitely not in a good place--aging, not connecting, almost feeling invisible. All at once, he was truly needed, and not just as someone in a costume to laugh at, but as a human being. The twist at the end brought a tear, then the extra twist brought a smile as well. Beautifully done.

Rose Green

Very haunting.

Glenn Ricafrente

Liked the way the story itself went on a doughnut spin in the end. The characterization of Frank is very vivid. Nice.

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