Flash Fiction Friday 140: The Plumber Walks by Mark Cheatwood

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the one hundred and fortieth piece in this series. This week’s is a 498-worder by Mark Cheatwood and being Independence Day in the U.S. today, this story is on that theme. This story will be podcasted in episode 42 (with two other stories and some 6-worders) on Sunday 27th July.

The Plumber Walks

A solitary man walks, waving a small flag.  The flag flows back and forth in a figure eight motion, created by wrists which usually turn pipes and wrenches, rather than flags.

There are many other walkers—students, grandparents, mothers and fathers, infants in and out of strollers, a dog.

A tool and die man is a candidate for office.  These two hundred walkers have worked hard to get him this far.  They will work again.  Today, this walk, this is pleasure.  

Veterans are occasionally seen on the sidelines of the parade.  The leader of this band of two hundred, the tool and die man, rushes upon every veteran he sees, shaking hands, voicing his appreciation for their service, and, hence, initiating a wave of appreciative adults and children who step to the edge of the parade to shake that veteran’s hand.  

The hands of many vets are shaken on this day by the two hundred.  Once in a while the feeling of gratitude causes eyes to leak, in both veteran and hand-shaker.  

The plumber walks.  

From nearby, a programmer walks up beside him.  They talk briefly before two high school graduates interrupt, seeking for loud cheerers to join them.  The plumber and the programmer laugh, but send them elsewhere. 

Soon the graduates shout, “O – H!”  With each shout, those who join in with, “I – O!” increases.  The parade-watching crowd sometimes joins in, but mostly cheers the exuberant youths.

This band of friends, this band of supporters, come from as far away as an hour to participate in this event for their friend, the tool and die man.  He’s a good man.  There aren’t enough good men in positions of authority.  They seek to help put one there.  

Their friend isn’t a career politician.  He doesn’t walk based upon campaign contributions, but upon principle.  The walkers do not favor those whose characters are utterly corrupted, their eyes filled with money signs and a lust for power.  Such politicians tried to end his campaign, but failed miserably.  These two hundred, and more, helped to prevent the morally bankrupt, the deceivers, the bold-faced liars, the unprincipled from defeating their friend.  

This time.  But there will be more battles.  

The tool and die man walks, but he does not walk alone.  The plumber walks.  The programmer walks.  High school graduates.  Mothers.  A math teacher.  A rocket scientist.  College students.  Engineers.  Vets.  Brothers and sisters.  

Statesmen are those who look out not for their own interests, but for the interests of the people who they serve.  People who aren’t as concerned with polls as they are with the long-term good of the people.  People whose principles are not based upon whatever it takes to win the next election, but on real, strong, moral, incorruptible principles which have been true for millennia.  These are the people who are welcomed into public office by the likes of the plumber, the programmer, the engineer, the contractor.  

The plumber walks.  Resolute.  The flag still waves. 


I asked Mark what prompted this piece and he said…

I wrote “The Plumber Walks” based upon a fun experience I had in a parade in Springfield, Ohio, back at Memorial Day. The plumber is a friend of mine, and we were walking in a parade for a friend’s candidacy. When I walked up to him I said, “A solitary man, in the midst of hundreds, walks alone, waving a flag…”

He said, “Ha! You ought to be a writer!”

At that moment, I thought, “Well, something could be made of all of this in writing.” And, in a few days, I tinkered around until I got to this writing.


Thank you, Mark. I loved it, and your friend is right.

coverMark Cheatwood is many things. He is “Joe’s dad”, “Elise’s dad”, “Ian and Sean’s dad”, “William and Silas’ dad”, “Angie’s husband”, and many other roles of similarly happy obscurity. He is also a pseudo-programmer for a large shipping company, a blogger, a lover of baseball (a Cleveland fan, you may pity him), and loves biking to the office and mowing the yard. He and his wife live outside of Troy, Ohio, with whichever of their six children are sitting still long enough to be seen.

In December of 2013, Mark published his first book, “Off Center: Ramblings, Poetry, Prose, Humor, And Thoughts of a Man with a Pen.” It is a book about Life, in which he lets you come along as he sees his children growing older, spends time in his yard, makes observations of life, and generally enjoys breathing.

Mark’s blog is http://marksmeditationsandmusings.blogspot.com.

If you’d like to submit your 6-word or 500-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here, or up to 1,000 words for critique on my Online Short Story Writing Group (links below).

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