Yesterday I was stuck in construction traffic, which is getting a little old by the way, and to entertain myself I memorized as many details about the car in front of me as I could. I thought I’d list them and see if I could use them to write a story.
1. It was a gray, two wheel drive Toyota pickup.
2. There was a big dent in the tailgate
3. The mud flap on the driver’s side was missing.
4. There was something large hanging from the rear view mirror. It looked kind of like a transistor radio.
5. There was a big blue cooler in the bed of the pickup. It was old and filthy.
6. There was a man driving.
7. He was wearing a porkpie hat.
8. He had very curly hair which he wore a little long.
9. While he waited he twisted one of his curls around and around.
I guess that’s all I can remember. It’s funny in all those details that I didn’t look once at the license plate. I can’t even say which state the truck was from. I guess I wouldn’t make a very good witness in a crime.
Anyway, here goes nothing.
Victor leaned his head against the window of this truck and drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. Up ahead he could see the woman in day glow orange with the stop/slow sign, letting cars onto the highway one or two at a time. He silently willed her to hurry up, but she didn’t move any faster.
He turned up the volume on the radio.
“We just have $12,000 more to raise in the next five minutes, so please call now to support Public Radio.”
He spun through the rest of the dial but only got static, so he turned the radio off as he inched another car closer to freedom.
If he had a cell phone, he could call the babysitter and tell her that he was going to be late. Melanie was only a freshman in high school and he was afraid that she’d freak out if he wasn’t home at 5:30 like he said he would.
Victor twisted one of his curls around his finger. Of course, if his wife had stuck around he wouldn’t have to worry about getting home exactly on time. The kids would be with their mother, not a fourteen year old sitter.
Victor had met Holly while volunteering for the Obama campaign. They were seated next to each other on the phone bank, making calls to registered democrats urging them to vote.
All evening long they had smiled at each other, but hadn’t spoken. Between calls, Victor overheard Holly talking to someone on her list.
“No, ma’am. I’m not paid to do this. I volunteer… Because I believe that Mr. Obama will bring change to the country… No, ma’am I’m not old enough to have voted for Kennedy… “
The conversation went on long enough for Victor to make four calls.
When Holly hung up, she looked at him and shrugged. “She was lonely.”
Victor knew that any woman who would spend twenty minutes talking to a lonely old lady on the phone was for him. He asked to out for coffee after their shift. By election night they were sleeping together.
In retrospect, Victor knew that things moved too quickly. In the three years President Obama had been in office, Victor and Holly had gotten married and had twin boys.
Then four months ago, Holly had hired a babysitter for the boys and left a note for Victor taped to the bathroom mirror.
Ok, this sucks. I don’t like Victor, Holly or anyone else in this story. Blech.
I guess memorizing stuff in a traffic jams doesn’t make a good writing prompt. Oh well, it was worth a try.
There are a couple of things I wonder about the guy in the truck, though. The real guy, not Victor.
First, if someone is fashionable enough to wear a porkpie hat, why does he drive a dented up pickup truck? Men in hats, not baseball caps but actual hats, are cool. Old pickups? Not so much.
Maybe he’s the kind of guy that doesn’t really care about appearances, but hadn’t washed his hair in a couple of days and just threw on the hat to cover it up.
I definitely got the hippy vibe from him and his truck. I bet he works on an organic farm or at a food co-op. Something crunchy like that. It might explain the cooler too.
Also, why in the world would anyone have a two wheel drive pickup in New England? They’re downright dangerous in the winter. If you needed a truck and could possible afford four wheel drive, you’d get it. So Mr. Pork Pie isn’t rich. The unrepaired dent and missing mud flap support that supposition.
So we’ve got a poor organic farmer who hasn’t had time to wash his hair recently.
Now, what’s up with the thing hanging off the review mirror? I really don’t think it was a transistor radio. Do they even make those anymore?
Could it have been one of the police tracker thingies that warns you of speed traps? A radar detector, that’s what they call them.
I don’t seem Mr. Pork Pie having one of those, though. It’s too high tech for his crunchy lifestyle. Unless he was growing something illegal… That actually works. He’s a marijuana farmer! And he has the radar detector so he doesn’t get stopped for a speeding ticket and it’s discovered that he has a color full of pot in the back.
That would also explain the hair twisting. There were a couple of cops with the construction. They were making him nervous.
And he isn’t actually too broke to fix his truck. He just uses it so he won’t stand out while he’s selling. He has a Jaguar XJ in his barn.
Ok, this guy is much better than Victor. I could write a story about him. Maybe tomorrow…