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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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CharliMills

Day 12 – Rt 66 trip

I want to take a minute to thank a couple of people that have helped make this blog process a fun thing to do. I belong to an international writing group called Carrot Ranch Literary where we write 99 word flash fiction stories. Charli Mills is the lead buckaroo. She led a writing retreat in Vermont this past July that I was lucky enough to attend and she introduced me to an author by the name of Craig Childs. Craig’s books are step by step “walks” through canyons in Southwest USA. He wrote about a time his walking partner looked for him and he was scribbling in his notebook. From that example I learned to scribble in a notebook at all our meals, during tourist breaks, and in the hotel room. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to give you all the details I do, sort of in the right order. Also at that retreat was Ann Edall-Robson. She had a camera with her and took many pictures of the same thing then later picked one picture to share. So I take many shots, and before I send the pictures from my phone to my computer, I check for the best ones and delete the extras. You, my friends, get the details and the best. Thanks for sharing our trip with us and thank you Charli and Ann for teaching me.

Bob and I live in a suburb of Rochester, NY. The Monroe county population is 748,000. We have nice neighborhoods and not so nice, but I have never seen the number of examples of expected crime as I have since we hit Oklahoma. The below sign was at our hotel in Amarillo, but we have been noticing bars on windows, businesses with not only fences, but barbed wire on top of the fences. The farther into the southwest, the more noticeable the security becomes, even on personal, inexpensive real estate. What a sad testament to our current society.

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We enjoyed our dinner at the Big Texan last night so much, we went back for breakfast. Once again there were big rigs parked along the side street. If the truckers get off the highway to eat someplace, you can bet it’s good. We could get close enough to the building for good pictures this morning.

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Just west of Amarillo, Texas is the Cadillac Ranch. The story goes, a rich man bought a Cadillac years ago and it was a lemon. He got mad and buried it nose first in his field. To prove his point, he continued doing it. I don’t know when the “tagging” started, but found out today you have to take your own paint, park 200 yards away and walk to the site. Last week some “person” decided to burn one of the cars. Today it is almost all covered in paint again. The only real damage was melting the tires off the rims. (Rhonda, it’s all right!)

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Below is the line of cars. All but the front one have their tires.

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We have seen little trash in the fields and along the roads, except here. Loads of empty paint cans and smashed remnants. Sad, but almost expected.

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You never know who will talk to next on the Mother Road. The fellow that owns the van shown below is from Switzerland. We figured him to be in his mid to late thirties. He shipped the vehicle and his Rhodesian Ridgeback (hound) dog over so he could travel Rt. 66. We didn’t get a chance to ask if the dog had to go through a quarantine process. We did ask which language the dog answered better to. The answer was, “It’s about equal.”

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As we left Amarillo, the speed limit went up to 75 mph. Among the windmills, cows, and brown range, here goes a UPS truck down the road in front of us at 75 mph.

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We made our first stop in New Mexico in the town of Tucumcari. Below is a typical RV park. Really! No trees, no pool, no nothing, except a place to park. Not to my liking. And my niece and her husband are now traveling through the mountains in Washington state. Now that’s some scenery compared to this.

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Below is the inside of the Pow Wow Restaurant and Lizard Lounge also in Tucumcari. Take a look at the booth and figure out how many people are eating. Four, right? Wrong. The older couple are painted on the wall. They fooled us too. The paintings above the booths are top notch. The next picture is a mural of the Lizard Lounge. We were disappointed we didn’t get to experience the night life there.

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Below is a new apartment building in the same town. Bob works in construction so we are always interested in buildings, bridges and steel structures. He sent this picture to his office to see if they were interested in building this type of structure in New York. You can guess the answer. Next to our car, on that truck, is our needed Wyoming license  plate. We are still missing some of the east coast states and Hawaii.

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Below is a good example of how, even residences, are barred and locked.

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Our three hundred miles to cover today, that we thought would be a grueling day in the car, turned into only 4 1/2 hours with the 75 mph speed limit. The roads might be a little bumpy, but they are straight for the most part. We did change elevation gradually, which I only realized because my ears popped a couple of times. We got in to Albuquerque about 4 pm. I took a quick nap, a shower, and now I am writing this is in a jumping hotel lounge with live music as an accompaniment. The bar tender is ridiculously slow, but the “floor show” is great, and we even got to dance to a Patsy Cline song, before dinner!

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Ray and Eva performing in the lounge with only a lead guitar and a tamborine. They played old country, spanish folk songs, and other songs the crowd knew.

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The crowd, some from a tour traveling on a Carolina Tours bus, some from the local area, and us. What a blast. Now we need some dinner in the restaurant located in the hotel. And I’ll get to bed before 11 pm. Yeah.

She Learned What Not To Do- flash fiction

The business man built the mansions, the banker financed them and when the safebreaker was notified, he robbed them. The three men didn’t care about laws, nor who they hurt. Years went by. The builder’s and banker’s sons took over for their fathers. Having not been taught a work ethic, nor adequate skills, the sons faltered. They were at constant odds with the safebreaker’s daughter who had decided it was up to her to break the ill-gotten chain of control. The young men never recognized their own foibles and blamed their troubles on that woman. She hadn’t underestimated herself.

Written in response to Charli Mills August 29, 2019, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the safebreaker’s daughter. Who is she, what did she do, and where? Go where the prompt leads you!

That’s One Old Building – flash fiction

While touring a small British town my aunt pointed to the historical plaque on the outside wall of a pub. It said 1158. We commented we didn’t think there was a building in the US that was 700 years old because we tear everything down and build new. We went in for lunch and a pint. The old-world charm was a respite and matched by the personalities of the young owners who asked where we were from in the states. When we questioned how they knew, the answer was, “You are wearing bright colors. Gives you away every time.”

 

In response to Charli Mills August 22, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about old world charm. It can be nostalgic or irreverent. You can invent an “old world,” return to migrant roots or recall ancient times. Go where the prompt leads you!

It’s a Trust Issue – flash fiction

A month before my wedding, Gran advised, “You will discover marrying into a large family can have its pitfalls.”

“I already feel like I belong.”

“Let’s hope that lasts.”

Years later I remembered those words when a member of my husband’s family stated, “No in-law would know the family history we are discussing.”

I replied aloud, “I take umbrage with that,” and was ignored, so I left the room.

A few days later I received an e-mail from the speaker. “I was out of line. Sorry.”

The words felt like swallowing sweet jam, with a hint of invisible mold.

 

Written in response to Charli Mills August 15, 2019, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a sweet jam. It can take you to the kitchen or the smokey room of a back-alley bar. What makes it sweet? Go where the prompt leads you!

 

If the Mirror Said More – flash fiction

The Queen questioned her reliable magic mirror but this time the answer was different. Snow White was deemed more fair.

“Why?” screamed the angry queen.

“Your beauty is still supreme but not your heart. Snow White cares for others more than herself. She is loyal without being jealous. She works hard, without complaining, nor expecting return. She follows the laws while still helping the less fortunate and she sees her near empty glass as replenishable with good fortune.”

“I shall kill her with a poison apple!”

“No, my Queen. Learn from her or the poison will surely kill you.”

 

Written in response to Charli Mills August 8, 2019, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a poisoned apple. Let’s explore dark myth. Deconstruct the original or invent something new. Negotiate the shadows, shed light, but go where the prompt leads you!

Living Like A Rock Star – Flash Fiction

OMG being involved with someone famous is hell. I’ve been followed by paparazzi, and can’t go shopping or out to eat with my own mother without security. I can’t buy anything, at any price, without people saying she paid. She wouldn’t date me if I didn’t have my own money. Why didn’t I listen when my friends told me living like a rock star wasn’t going to be all that easy? I’m just realizing, if I can get out of this relationship, I will always be HER ex and it will be years before I’m known as anything else.

 

Written in response to Charli Mills August 1, 2019, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rock star. You can feature a central character or write about the feeling like a rock star. Go where the prompt leads!

Not Missing Another One More Day

The thirty-something travel agent looked from the woman to her computer and back again. “Ma’am, to add that leg to your trip will triple your cost. You would be smarter to make a second trip instead of paying this price to only stay for one day.”

The seventy-something client sighed. “You haven’t lived long enough to realize how important one more day can be with someone, or doing something you love.  I don’t know when I can plan another trip but I can afford to do this and seeing my  friend is worth it, so book the leg please.”

 

Written In response to Charli Mills July 25, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the phrase “for one day.” The words single out a special occurrence. What is the emotion and vibe, where does it take place and why? Go where the prompt leads!

Peace of Mind

When young I could stare at lake water long spans of time noticing the passing boats, the size of or lack of white caps, or a splash made by a fish jumping to catch its supper. Often there would be just the surface to watch; the ripples changing direction with the breezes. This past week I got to do the same in an unfamiliar, beautiful location. I again experienced a peace of mind, free of all other thought. I wonder if it’s the same peace a koala might experience in its kingdom in the tops of a eucalyptus tree.

 

In response to Charli Mills July 11, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: “My kingdom for a koala!” In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a koala in a kingdom. You can create a character out of Norah’s koala and give it a Vermont adventure. Or you can make up a story however you want! Can you pull off a BOTS (based on a true story)? Go where the prompt leads!

Location, Location

William Butterfield sat across from his wife Phebe. “This is the best chicken and biscuits I’ve ever eaten.”

Phebe laughed, “You didn’t know you married the best cook on the peninsula, did you.”

“I didn’t. In my travels here I ate bad meals and stayed in flea ridden rooms. What say you to the notion of us building a new hotel and you cookin’ for the guests?”

“We won’t be able to surpass the Douglass House.”

“No, but with our location we’ll have a better veranda view.”

“I’ll do it if we have our own private sitting and bedroom.”

July 4, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using your choice of microhistory from Keweenaw National Historic Park. Be historical, funny, or flagrantly fictional. Choose a character, time, place, or event. Be as creative as you want in telling the story (for those doing serials, how can you meld this into your own storyline?). Go where the prompt leads!

 

 

Natural Beauty

The bride stared at herself in the hotel room mirror, horrified. Her soon-to-be mother-in-law had insisted they go for a makeover. They had their hair painted with highlights and their faces painted to clown level, or so the bride felt as she never wore make-up. She and her fiancé were naturalists, working and playing in the wilderness.

The door flew open, her benefactress strode in and handed her make-up removal towelettes. “My insistence you look like me was wrong. I apologize; we have enough time to get you back to natural, how my son loves you.”

“Thank you. Mom.”

In response to Charli Mills June 27, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves paint. It can be fresh, peeling or in need of a coat. What is being painted and why? Go where the prompt leads!

Some Wait

The couple watches the birds. The cardinal pair arrives together but she eats first while he waits on a near-by branch. The Flicker waits for no other, he lands at the suet and others skedaddle. The chickadee waits; darts to the unoccupied feeder then takes his prize elsewhere. The squirrels try to invade the feeder but fail, falling to the ground and making a thumping sound that satisfies. The husband waits also; for his wife to stop complaining about something that happened days ago. If only he knew a way to help her let go of what angers her.

 

In response to Charli Mills June 20, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about having to wait. Who is waiting and what for? Think about how the wait impacts the character or the story. Go where the prompt leads!

Many Hands – flash

Many hands

   thank God they don’t all have a brain

A small group of people

   all with the same interest form a club

They have officers and by-laws

   they don’t follow them

They bicker and take stands on what’s good for the group

   common sense stays at home

They gather in their cliques

   with misplaced loyalties

Change is the enemy

   when someone new is asked to lead

Maintain the status quo

   whether it’s a good idea or not

   because their hands can’t see

So many hands

   showing a microcosm of government

   bogged down by half the number of opinions

 

Not my usual post, but I needed to vent. In response to Charli Mills June 13, 2019, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the work of many hands. Is it a cooperative effort or something else? Go where the prompt leads!

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