May 08

Short Story in the Wee Small Hours

In Brief—The author’s dream fades into that place between sleep and wakefulness. A story grows in that creative space.

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream—

I dream of a writing assignment. The dream segues into that space where creativity lives…

A Story Creeps In—

Last Stop subwayIt’s another skillet hot day as the black BMW speeds down the narrow road toward the distant mountains. The desert is flat, broken only by rocks, dry washes and sparse vegetation. The road shimmers with heat waves that seem to transform it into water that forever moves ahead as the car passes. A rusting sign reads LAST STOP FOR 100 MILES. Beneath it reads GAS and in smaller letters, REFRESHMENT. Beyond the sign appear a couple of dingy buildings that threaten to collapse with the next strong wind.

Glancing at the fuel gauge, the driver slows to pull up next to the aging pumps. Adjusting his baseball cap and Ray-Bans, he steps out of the shiny BMW, and begins filling the tank. Maybe middle-thirties, he has an athletic body that screams wealth and a trainer: designer jeans and snug T-shirt display a muscular frame. On his feet are boots in tooled ostrich leather. On his right hand is a glittering pinky ring. His arrogant bearing says this is a man not to be trifled with in the boardroom or the bedroom. He seeks to persuade; if he can’t persuade, he seduces; if he can’t seduce, he buys.

As the tank fills, his dark eyes fasten on a young woman who sits with an open package of Doritos in her lap sipping a soft drink. Perhaps twenty-two with sun-bleached blond hair pulled back in a pony-tail and tanned skin that speaks of ocean surf, she wears faded cut-offs, a tank top that reveals a colorful butterfly on the swelling of her left breast while aging flip-flops cling loosely to her feet. Next to her on the bench rests a backpack, her only possession. The man’s thoughts turn to seduction.

With the tank full, he ambles over. “Hitchhiking? She nods, thinking of the whiskered beer-bellied truck driver who smirked as he said, “Put out or get out.” She got out.

“Hot day. Going to get hotter.” Still no answer. “Not many people take this shortcut, so you may have a long wait.” Another pause. “If you’re heading for the coast, I’ll be happy to have some company.” At last she responds, “Los Angeles? Sure, I appreciate the offer.”

They walk to the BMW. He holds the door for her. She pauses, gives him an assessing look, then slides into the luxurious passenger seat that smells of fine leather. The car heads west toward the distant mountains.

A few minutes later, the car pulls to a stop. As in the past, the driver uses all his persuasive skills. The young woman politely turns his smooth persuasion aside, so he switches to seduction mode. When at last he resorts to buying her assent, she nods at the offered price, smiles and gets out of the car taking her backpack with her. They head for a clump of brush atop a small rise about two hundred yards away. Well-hidden from the road, he kicks off his boots and begins to remove his designer jeans while she removes her tank top and reaches inside the nearby backpack.

Sweating with desire, he turns to find her bare to the waist pointing a small pistol at him. “Well. Stud, it’s not going to turn out quite the way you expected.” Hampered by his partly-removed jeans, he lunges at her, tearing at her breast. “Bitch. I’m going to get what I want and no little girly pop-gun is going to stop me.” Wincing in pain from the assault, she jumps back out of his grasp.

POP. POP. POP. Three well-spaced little holes appear in the chest of his form-fitting T-shirt. Looking down at the spreading red stain with a quizzical expression, the man’s eyes glaze and he falls, twitches twice and lies still. Without emotion, the young woman slips into her tank top, retrieves the keys from his pocket and walks back to the car. Unseeing eyes stare at the desert sun as the sound of a BMW fades away.

The young woman pulls the shiny car to the curb in an exclusive Beverly Hills neighborhood. Slinging the backpack onto her shoulder, she locks the doors and calmly walks toward Sunset Boulevard, disappearing into the dark. Three days later, the car is towed away.

Seasons pass. A stained and tattered T-shirt blows across the road coming to rest at the base of the post bearing a rusty sign that says LAST STOP FOR 100 MILES.


Skip to comment form

    • Susan on May 9, 2016 at 20:40

    So that’s great but waaaaay too short. Please continue w this story or write a book so we can be entertained by you, brilliant writer!

      • Don Bay on May 10, 2016 at 10:47

      As Linda mentions, this can be a teaser or first chapter with more to follow. After this appeared fully formed in my subconscious, I practically leaped—well-l-l dragged—from my bed to pour it out before it faded from memory. The only part that I added from my consciousness was the last two sentence paragraph in order to give closure to the piece. The rest came from my subconscious.

      Could The Girl be a hired assassin? I don’t know. Could The Man be the intended victim? I don’t know. I’ll leave that to whomever develops this into a novel or TV script. Be my guest. I’m too old, too tired and not enough of a creative writer to carry this forward. Readers (including you) can help yourself to my little scribbling here and turn this into literature. Feel free to pass it on. Creativity is in the mind of the storyteller.

    • Kathy on May 10, 2016 at 06:25

    Very visual and creepy little story! You woudn’t happen to have had a career in TV or movies, would you? 🙂

      • Don Bay on May 10, 2016 at 10:28

      “Who knows what evil lurks in the minds of men? The Shadow knows.” This little episode gives you some insight into my subconscious at the least. The most interesting characters in literature are the villains. Is Barry Eisner’s John Rain a villain or a hero? Is Lisbeth Selander of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” evil or is she a heroine? Is Sherlock Holmes’ Moriarty a villain? Here you see fascinating characters who do bad things. Without them, the story has no interest.

      All storytellers can plumb the depths of their psyches for characters such as these. It’s a great way to learn a bit about ourselves. How deep are we willing to go?

    • Linda on May 10, 2016 at 07:59

    The imagery was so distinctly written that I could see the scenes play out in my mind. Funny Kathy mentions TV or movies because I read this as a “teaser,” the opening of an episode of a series on TV. The teaser, as you know, entices the viewer with hints of what is to come and while the teaser may seem to be a straightforward tale, if the writing is good, the story that follows is much more complex. What we saw initially as simple and direct, we may learn in the telling of the story that behind the initial actions, there is much more meaning or perhaps what we thought we saw, is not actually what happened. In other words, the teaser can begin the story by misleading the viewer.

    With that in mind, I’m with Donna, waaaay too short! Act 1, 2 and 3 need to follow. So I’m just waiting……waiting…..waiting for what comes after the LAST STOP FOR 100 MILES.

      • Don Bay on May 10, 2016 at 11:02

      You’re right that this short piece could be a teaser or a first chapter…but don’t hold your breath waiting for me (or my subconscious) to follow up with a complete story. I’m just an old guy with a modicum of talent at stringing words together. Comes from my practicing law and writing briefs.

      As someone with years in the TV industry, many friends and quite an imagination yourself, you can feel free to take this on and get it further developed. Now, I think I’ll lie down and rest. Maybe my mind will come up with something interesting…or I may nap.

      BTW, you should see what emerged from my dreams last night…complete with the smell of the scene. May be something from the past or the future. Now, back to that rest.

    • Linda on May 10, 2016 at 21:26

    And wish I could see and smell what emerged from your dreams last night!

      • Don Bay on May 11, 2016 at 10:10

      The dream I mentioned was in a bleak place where all the trees had been cut down leaving a totally denuded landscape and a few naked, bleached trees lying on the ground. I found myself in a building filled with row after row of tree slabs; the building was a cross between a museum and a lumber yard. The city outside the building was grey with only low buildings and left a feeling of sparsely-populated devastation. The smell was of olive oil as if many of the once-living trees had been olive trees.

      What does this say, if anything, about my subconscious?

    • David Lehman on May 11, 2016 at 19:24

    Thanks, Don.

    I loved it and am inspired to turn off the TV and look for a novel that can entice me as you have done.

    God willing.

    David Lehman

    ps: I think of Amory/ Lionel daily.

      • Don Bay on May 12, 2016 at 21:11

      By all means, pick up a novel and get inspired. As I can affirm after years in the TV industry, you won’t find a lot of inspiration there. I wish you dreams such as the one that inspired this little piece. Some work, some don’t. but this one stayed with me.

      I think of Lionel every day. He was an inspiration. He’s a part of me—of all who knew him—and will be as long as we draw breath Thanks for the strokes.

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