This week’s prompts are at the bottom. The flash fiction, below, was written for practice. Practice makes perfect.
Gary had lived in Westerfort for almost thirty years and on Alden Avenue for twenty-three of those years. Alden ran parallel to and was two blocks off the Boulevard. There was always plenty to do. The Boulevard had theatres, restaurants, and bars of all types. There was a lot of shopping; three bookstores and two music shops in a four-block span. There were sporting goods stores, clothing stores, toy stores.
Two blocks in the other direction was the Back Bay, a nature preserve consisting of brushlands, wetlands, hiking trails, equestrian trails, and bicycle paths. Gary didn’t have a view of the water from his house but he didn’t need one, really. He could walk two blocks and have one worth a million dollars. If Gary didn’t have to get to work he wouldn’t have to drive anywhere. It was all within walking distance of his house on Alden Ave. It was the perfect place for him.
It all started to fall apart on a Friday morning when Gary was drinking coffee and reading the local paper, he noticed a story announcing a new Starbucks that would be opening on the Boulevard. They planned to replace his favourite coffee shop, HuggaMug Café. HuggaMug was owned by Mrs. Linkseller and she had been a fixture on the Boulevard for as long as Gary could remember. He had never had a bad cup of coffee at HuggaMug Café.
Now Gary had tasted a cup or two from Starbucks and no matter which shop he bought the coffee from, he always tossed it in the trash after a few sips. It tasted burnt to him. He liked strong coffee, he liked full-bodied coffee. He didn’t care much for burnt coffee. The news that HuggaMug was to be replaced with a Starbucks was the worst news Gary had received since the vet told him that he had to have his old cat, Mr. Stitches, put down.
Why would they do this? There were already three Starbucks on the Boulevard. They didn’t need another.
Gary made it his mission to stop Starbucks. He circled petitions around the neighborhood. He attended council meetings. He wrote letters to the Editor of the paper. Starbucks was a juggernaut. They were unstoppable and before he could say Jack Robinson the warm and comfortable HuggaMug Café became a cold and institutional Starbucks.
Gary would stand out front of the new shop and try to talk people into boycotting – nobody cared. He tried using a bullhorn and accused Starbucks of trying to take over the world. He fell in with a hippie chick named Bittersweet who would come and help him with picket signs sometimes. He had no idea that she was an anarchist. She believed in sex, drugs, and firebombs. She just didn’t tell Gary about the firebombs right away.
It happened slowly, usually with pillow talk, and over the course of a few months, Bittersweet convinced Gary that Starbucks was the spawn of Satan. They were evil incarnate. They were ‘the man.’ She convinced him that if he were to destroy the new shop, society would recognize his contribution and shower him with adulation. She suggested that the city fathers might even erect a statue of him at the entrance to the Back Bay. Gary thought he was in love, thought he could be immortalized in bronze, thought he was contributing to the good of the community. He fell for it; hook, line, and sinker.
It was the weekend after Thanksgiving when Gary finally took action on behalf of his neighbors, the Proletariat. He tossed bricks through the front windows of the offending business and when the alarms began to sound he followed the bricks with Molotov cocktails. He stood on the sidewalk and watched the fire take hold as sirens screamed closer and closer. Then he ran for home, the only place he could think of to hide. Bittersweet would be so proud of him. He burst through his front door, excited to tell her, but she was gone. She hadn’t come with a lot of possessions. Some bell bottoms, a couple of empire dresses, a silver barrette that she wore in her hair, a pipe made from an old soda can, and a toothbrush. Everything was gone. It was as if she had never existed.
The red and blue lights from the police cruiser flashed through his kitchen window when the cops pulled up outside. It made him understand the impact of his actions. Their knocking on the door made him question his actions.
Where is Bittersweet ? What the hell have I done?
Gary realized then that he would give anything to turn back the clock. Turn it back to right before he had stuffed that rag down the neck of those bottles filled with gasoline, before he had loosed that first brick.
This week’s prompts are:
- an unmarked grave
- a high forehead
- “you’re early,” he said
Go ahead and dive in, set your imagination free!
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.