Edward Owen – Author

Monthly Archives: February 2014

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Ray Bradbury Challenge #28- Bed and Breakfast (Part 1)

Yes, I am running behind again this week. I blame it on my new iPhone. Yes, I can write on it if I so choose. But really, a shiny toy in the hands of an ADD redneck? Not a recipe for productivity. I’m getting better. I’m sure the novelty of Facebook at my fingertips will eventually wear off. At any rate, I did get this much written this week.

I’m sure I could have condensed this story down to 1000 words, but for some reason it didn’t feel right. To keep things in manageable pieces, I have chosen to split it into two parts. I’m almost done, so part two should be up by Wednesday at the latest. Hopefully I can get back on track with the Friday blog as well. So enjoy part one and be patient … oooohhhhh. a cat video on my phone …


Bed and Breakfast (Part 1)

The front wheels of the Corvette skidded on the wet pavement causing the car to lurch across the center line into the south-bound lane. Colby’s heart hammered in his chest as he yanked the wheel to the right and hit the brakes. As a result, he found himself spinning out of control like some demented Merry-Go-Round from Hell. The glare of headlights flashed through the windshield, the driver’s window, the rear window and the passenger’s window. The cycle repeated twice more before the Zr1 hit the gravel on the far shoulder and shuddered to a stop. Seconds later a big rig tore past him, the driver blaring the air horn in protest.

Colby sat in the car and shook, his knuckles white on the steering wheel.

“Holy fucking shit!”

The expletive was the only sentence his brain could form for the better part of ten minutes. As his heart rate slowed he regained control of his body. He peeled his right hand from the steering wheel and pulled a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels from the glove box. His hands were still shaking and it took him several tries to unscrew the cap.

“This is partly your fault, you know,” he said as he stared at the bottle. “The least you can do is help a buddy out.”

He resisted the temptation to empty the bottle and stopped after two swallows. He replaced the cap and tossed the whiskey on the passengers seat. After waiting a few minutes for the alcohol to work its magic he opened the door and swung his legs out of the car. At six feet, five inches tall and two hundred eighty pounds, extracting himself from the Vette was laborious process. He towered over the roof and gave the car a cursory inspection. The moonless desert night afforded him very little light but he could tell by the cant of the front tire that the car would not be going anywhere under its own power.

“Son of a fucking bitch!” He slammed his hand down on the hood for emphasis. The highway was dark in both directions as he looked for a possible source of help. He punched the button on his Bluetooth. “Triple A.”

“I’m sorry, but I am unable to complete your call as you are currently out of range.”

The computer generated voice grated on his last nerve. His cellphone traveled a full twenty yards before bouncing on the pavement. This wasn’t the first time one of Colby’s tirades had been inflicted on an inanimate object and the military grade case prevented any damage to the device. He trudged down the highway and retrieved his phone and checked to see if the impact had somehow managed to produce a signal.

“Fucking useless piece of shit,” he said as he crammed phone into the pocket of his jeans. “This sucks hind tit. Bet there ain’t even a shitty motel out here.”

He hadn’t passed any buildings that he could remember in the last fifty miles. Walking back the way he had come seemed like a dumb idea so he grabbed his whiskey and headed north, his boots kicking up small puffs of dust on the shoulder.

The sounds and smells of the desert night cut through the blackness making Colby miserable. His allergies were causing his nose to run and he jumped at the slightest noise. He was sure he was going to end up as so much coyote shit before the night was over. To top it all off, his feet were killing him. The three thousand dollar ostrich boots, while stylish and trendy, were ill suited for marching through the desert. Several blisters were making their presence known adding to his suffering.

A handful of vehicles had passed him but none had bothered to stop despite his extended thumb. Had any of the drivers glanced in their rear view mirror, they would have seen an extended middle finger in its place.

“Mother fucker!” Colby spat the words at the back of dark SUV as it sped past him. “I hope you roll that piece of shit into a ravine and the coyotes start eating you while you’re still alive.”

Four-fifteen a.m. according to his Rolex. He’d been walking for the better part of two hours already. Other than his sore feet and rabid thirst, not much had changed. He’d finished the whiskey an hour ago and shattered the empty bottle again a large rock on the side of the highway. He was exhausted and ready to lay down in the dirt and call it quits when another pair of headlights split the darkness behind him. He glanced back and made a half-hearted attempt to extend his thumb without turning around. The rumbling of the engine increased until it overwhelmed the desert’s voice. When it finally passed him, Colby dropped his hand and stopped walking. He was done.

The glow of the taillights increased as the driver applied the brakes and pulled to the side of the road. It took Colby’s mind a moment to process the information. When the passenger door opened he was shaken out of his stupor and ran down the shoulder, ignoring the protests of his blistered feet.

To say it was an old pickup was putting it mildly. He was no expert, but he guessed that it had been built well before the Second World War. Considering the condition of the body, he was surprised it was still running. The fact that it was not only running but waiting to carry him out of hell erased any misgivings he may have had about its road-worthiness.

“I sure do appreciate you stopping,” Colby said as he ducked his head into the cab of the truck.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week.