Prompts · Writing

OLWG #8 – When I First Met Gertie

I had a lot of fun writing this story to introduce this weeks prompts!

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.

It was dark and the fog was heavy, like a load of beach sand that covered absolutely everything. I was on Highway 101; stationed at a ramp just south of Bandon Oregon and I had had high hopes when I first got here. My optimism was fading though. I’d been standing with my thumb out for almost three hours; I’d seen only six cars and two big rigs. In all fairness to the good people of Oregon, it was late and the weather was kinda shitty. I probably wouldn’t of stopped either and I was beginning to think that maybe I should find a spot to sleep and stay dry. I could try again in the morning. Then I saw a set of headlights coming my way and decided to give it one last shot. I put my thumb out and smiled when the oncoming car began to slow. It looked like they were going to stop for me.

I’ve spent a lot of years crisscrossing the back roads of this great country and relying on the kindness of strangers for transportation. I’ve occasionally taken a bus or hopped a freight, but thumbing is my favourite method of locomotion. I like the people I meet. I like to listen to the stories that they tell. I like to collect their stories and I write ‘em all down. I also like the stories that result from their stopping to offer me a ride. I’ve always got my ‘C’ harp in my pocket and it doesn’t take much talking to persuade me to play some ‘cross harp’ blues. I like the old stuff; the Robert Johnson stuff, the Mississippi John Hurt stuff, Blind Lemon’s stuff. They just don’t write music like that anymore.

The car that stopped was an old, piss yellow coloured Volvo station wagon. In the driver’s seat was a woman with long curly red hair pulled back in a loose pony tail tied with a couple strips of rawhide. A toddler slept in a car seat in the back. There was luggage tied on the top and the back end was full of boxes, toys, and clothes. The kid had long dreadlocks and sat in an oversized Henley necked shirt. The woman wore a flowing gauzy fuchsia coloured blouse with flowers embroidered around a scoop neck. She was broad hipped and heavy breasted, definitely the hippy earth-mother type. In the light that was cast from the ceiling I watched the freckles that were scattered across her nose crinkle up as she smiled. I plopped my butt on the passenger seat, grinned back at her and stuck out my hand.

“Hey,” I said, and I waved at the kid; who immediately threw up a peace sign, “I’m Rick. Thanks for stopping.”

“Hi, Ricky,” the woman said right back at me then she took my hand and shook it. Her grip was firm and confident, “I’m Gertrude, Gertrude Starflower. The munchkin in the backseat is my feral child. I call him Wildfish Sunsparkle. I like his name because; if you think about it the sun is a star and a sparkle can resemble the petals of a flower. See, we have the same last name but we each have our own name. Still unique. Still individual.” She looked at me for some sign of understanding. I nodded my head and she asked, “how far you goin’?”

I told her, I was hoping to get to Santa Cruz eventually and she said that she hadn’t been to Santa Cruz in years and that she wouldn’t mind seeing the place again. She rolled down the window, pulled back onto the road, and after careful consideration announced that she and Wildfish would take me all the way there. Then she asked me to reach behind my seat and find the glass jar that she had stowed back there. I rooted around and found it eventually. Upon inspection it looked to be an old mayonnaise jar about three quarters full of a clear liquid. I brought it over the seat back, held it in my lap.

“Can you take the lid off for me?” she asked. I did and when she held out her hand I gave the jar to her.

She took a sip and swirled it around in her mouth before she swallowed it. Then she made an ‘O’ of her lips and sucked in a big breath of night air.

“Hooooo,” she whooped. “This is a good batch.”

“Good batch of what,” I asked. I was interested.

“Grain alcohol,” she told me. “I make it myself. I made this batch just before I started south from Seattle. It tested out at 190 proof. It’ll kill off some brain cells, but only the weak ones. Want a taste?”

This week’s prompts are:

Bipolar, alliteration, and selective (use all three)


Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes!

7 thoughts on “OLWG #8 – When I First Met Gertie

  1. I enjoy your characters. I was actually too young to enjoy The Village in the early 1960’s when I was growing up there…
    I pondered here. Wasn’t going to add your prompts… but my mind made ’em fit in this reverse haibun with a solo renga beginning: #45 Delinquency

    Liked by 1 person

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