this is just bananas

I’m watching “Reds,” that movie Warren Beatty made. it seems that idealists with open marriages make poor decisions, just like the rest of us. but anyway, here’s the beginning of a short story that I’m working on:
here was another friendly town. its public works a display of collective modesty: high curbs and wide sidewalks, lined with underused benches. a gazebo in the half-acre park under the water tower. the flags on the lampposts on main street waved: “Amish Days.” the signature stores: an antique mall, unisex hair salon. on the side of the Coffee Cup was a mural, celebrating a homegrown astronaut. he had returned in 1984 to lead the July 4th parade. he had been well received.
north on main street, on the way out of town, was the Kennesaw Shopper’s Plaza, with its pizza parlor, its florist, its family video and a Food Lion. in the plaza’s wide, placid asphalt parking lot a station wagon grew. immobile as it was from a period of disuse, its stature was not unorganic. it looked settled, just like anything that hasn’t moved in a while. 
from his seat behind the Food Lion service counter, Jerry could see his station wagon. its keys were on a chain that hung from a hook in his kitchen. they keychain was a tiny plastic barrel on which was printed “Come Ride Niagra Falls!” Larry had gotten it at a gift shop in Niagra, New York during a family vacation some years earlier. the station wagon had taken them there, where he hadn’t seen anyone taking the plunge in a barrel, but he had taken a ride on the Maid of the Mist and had been impressed. so much water making so much noise.
he hadn’t thought about barrel rides much, though, as the wagon hadn’t moved in close to a year. it sat, quietly baking and peeling in the sun, its casually placed bumper stickers bleached of color and curling at the corners. the bumper stickers read: Wall Drug, South Dakota. St Louis! the gateway to the West. Welcome to Dollyville! each one an earned badge for a vacation completed and successfully endured.
but no, he hadn’t thought about those stickers, or those places, or that car. one day, a Wednesday, probably about a month after his wife had taken the Chevy and moved in with family three hours away in Ohio, Larry had come out of the Food Lion after work and the engine didn’t turn. he had sat at the wheel and turned the key again, and still nothing. he had popped the hood and looked stupidly around under it for something to fix, found nothing. so he tried the engine once more, had been disappointed, and had walked home. and the station wagon had sat. and fine-grain farm dust had collected on its windows.
this was not something the business association at the Kennesaw Shopper’s Plaza would normally allow, this vehicular abandonment. but it was only because of the depths of goodwill that he had accrued that the management hadn’t had Larry’s wagon towed and scrapped. Larry was liked. his grown kids and missing wife, they were liked. he was liked at church coffee hour. he was liked at the unisex hair salon where he got a trim once a month. Larry was a known commodity, and if Larry’s car was rusting in the Kennesaw Shopper’s Plaza parking lot, then Kennesaw could tolerate this for a member of the community in good standing. we all fall on hard times.

4 comments so far

  1. mowgli on

    love it. now finish.

  2. legit on

  3. Mary M. on


  4. […] very slowly writing a short story. first two installments here and here. note the changes in tone – because every 300 words I take six weeks off. but […]

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