The thirty-second prompt from online writing group Tuesday Tales (my twenty-sixth story for them) was a photograph of the trunk and below is the result.
Tuesday Tales provides a new prompt each week, the members write a story inspired by it and post it on our blogs / websites. Then we email the link and first two or three sentences to Jean Joachim. She then posts them on the Tuesday Tales blog (on a Tuesday ), gives us the link then we go out and shout about it. So, without further ado, here is my 619-worder, at Jean’s request, a follow-up to last week’s story Ocean drive.
“Surprised you got here at all,” he said softly, kicking her flat tyre.
Rosie had watched enough TV to know his American accent to be Californian. “Me too,” she said, not meaning the car.
“But we’ll have away in no time.”
“No hurry,” she said and hoped he’d take all day. With the choice of views being him or the sea she could think of nowhere else she’d rather be.
“Do you have a spare?”
“No,” she said, knowing that her model of car didn’t come with one. “I thought they had to, by law, but apparently…”
“No problem,” he said. “You’re travelling a bit back-heavy? Got a body in there?” He laughed, exposing brilliant white teeth.
Rosie had never been good at spontaneous laughter and didn’t think now was the time to try so just smiled and shook her head. “Moving house.”
“Oh, all your worldly possessions.”
The man stopped smiling. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s OK, really it is. New life, new start.”
Rosie didn’t reply.
“I’m sorry,” he repeated, “just here to fix your wheel. I’m new… I’ll shut up now and…”
“It’s OK, really it… I’ve said that already.”
“Don’t be nervous. It’s the uniform, I know, even makes me nervous.”
She laughed then, a natural laugh, and enjoyed it.
“That’s better,” the man said and held out his hand. “Bryan… Josh Bryan.”
As Rosie looked at him, she imagined him not in his uniform but in a dinner suit, sipping a cocktail that had been shaken not stirred, with a gun tucked discreetly under his jacket.
“I have some stuff in my trunk that’ll fix your car… what is it you Brits say? In a jiffy?
Rosie laughed again. “We’ve not said that since Jeeves and Wooster.”
“PG Wodehouse! You read?”
“I do… try to, when I have time.”
“I love the old ones. Really funny. Not as far back as Jane Austen, the romance, but…”
“You don’t like romance?” Rosie surprised them both with that question. “I mean, the classics.”
“20th Century is as old as I get. Still living there so my wife says.”
Rosie’s shoulders slumped.
“Ex wife, I should say. She’s still in the States. Couldn’t see why I would want to live here, but just look… the sea, the beach, the sun…”
“But don’t you have all that in California?”
“How did you know? Oh, the accent. Giveaway isn’t it. We do but it’s a different kind of sun. It’s… anyway, you’ll be wanting to go and we do need to fix your car.”
She watched him go the back of his patrol car, return with a yellow and black can, connect the tube to the air valve then reinflate the tyre. “Is that it?” she asked when he screwed the caps back on both the tyre and can.
“Not permanent. Should get you to the gas station.”
“Of course, you won’t know one, will you? I’m finishing in a minute anyway, you can follow me.”
“Sure. There’s one just down from the PD… I mean police station, just down the road from the garage not gas station. I said I was new.”
Rosie smiled. “Thank you for everything. You’re very kind.”
Josh nodded and they returned to their cars.
Rosie followed him at just below the speed limit, without the sirens she’d hoped for but knew wouldn’t be warranted. It’s not every day you get a police escort and Rosie hoped it wouldn’t be the last.
The links to the earlier prompts, and resulting stories can be found on this blog’s Tuesday Tales page. Do go and check out the Tuesday Tales blog – it’s a wonderful idea supported by talented writers.
So, not only can you read these stories but you could also write your own using the prompts given each week. There’s no word count limit. Single-word prompts are something I regularly give my Monday night workshop and it’s amazing how different our stories can be.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.