Terribleminds? Terribleminds? It rings a bell, but what could it be, the fevered dreams of a lunatic, maybe; a slice of dream that remains in the waking world. Just kidding. Of course I remember TM, though it’s been months since I’ve taken part in one of their Flash Fiction Challenges.
Now is the time to rectify that, and today’s challenge is ‘The random Title Challenge’. There are two lists of 20 words. You generate a random number for each, put the words together and hey presto, there’s your title. Now you just need to write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 1500 words.
I did the deed with this site and I got the numbers 5 and 3, which means that my title is…
…The Dead Waitress
Sounds interesting enough and I have the time and the inclination to be challenged today. So here we go.
The Dead Waitress
Annie wiped her cloth over the 50’s style table, wiping up left over crumbs and sauce stains. It seemed that she was always destined to work in a diner, not even her death changed that apparently. Despite the lack of magnificence her afterlife had, she had learnt to accept this situation. After all, this wasn’t so bad. She was rarely busy and her boss was absent most of them time, so she worked at her own pace, chatting to the few customers who walked through the doors. The diner looked like the place she had worked when she was alive, even down to the bar stools, the red leather upholstery, and the juke-box permanently playing hits from the 50’s.
She walked back to the counter to deposit the cleaning rag, and spray bottle out of sight when she heard the door swing open. A man entered the diner and sat down in the booth closest to the doors. She couldn’t make out his features. Everyone in the afterlife was ethereal and without any definition, though she could see he had blonde hair,had worked out a lot, and was wearing a white suit.
She took the pencil out from behind her ear and walked over to him holding her notebook.
‘What can I get you?’ she asked through a strained smile she hoped he wouldn’t notice.
‘Bad day?’, his voice slightly familiar but not recognisable.
‘Yeah, I’m dead on my feet’ she quipped dryly. ‘What can I get you?’
The man appeared to smile. ‘I’ll have a coffee. Thanks.’
Annie left and returned holding a coffee cup. ‘Is there anything else I can get you?’
‘The breakfast special looks nice.’
Annie scribbled his order down on her pad, and started to walk away.
‘Are you alright?’ he asked. ‘You look unhappy. I know it’s not exactly heaven here, but it ain’t hell either.’
Annie sniffed. ‘I know. I guess I just figured things would be different after, well you know, after I died but I guess it’s no more than I deserve after what I did.’
The man took a sip of coffee. ‘What you did? Dear me. So how’d it happen, if you don’t mind me asking?’ What did you do that was so wrong?’
‘It’s a long story’ she said returning the pencil to behind her ear.
‘Well, I have a full cup of coffee, and no one else to talk to and you have no other customers or your boss to worry about so I think we have the time’.
‘Fine. Why not.’ Annie sat down in the booth opposite the man and started to tell her story.
Annie had moved from home to attend university. To professor and student alike she was the perfect student. Annie’s head for facts kept her at the top of all her classes, and her beauty kept her at the top of the social scene without succumbing to any of its vanities.
Though she did succumb to love and like so many people, she was too blinded by love to see him for what he really was. His behavior which started as little more than too much partying and fighting soon lead to drug taking and crime. She gave him money and covered for him, because she felt in her heart that he was a good person and that she could change him. He was simply misunderstood, and even when his ‘misunderstanding’ loosened one of her teeth she loyally stood by him.
Any money she had went to keep him afloat, paying off people nastier than him, and keeping him in booze. So much so that she had to take a second job in an old diner just to pay the rent.
Calvin soon got himself a job as a bouncer at a night-club, the hours weren’t great but the money was. For the first time in years, Annie felt they were both turning a corner in their lives and things were finally going right.
Annie’s final day started off well. She and Calvin had made love in the morning, and he seemed more attentive to her than usual. He had even remembered that she was covering for the boss today, and had given her some money to go out for lunch to congratulate her. She should have suspected him at that point, but motives are an easy thing to see in retrospect.
When they had stormed into the Diner, Annie was in the storeroom at the back. She heard Calvin’s voice order everyone to stay quiet or he would ‘shoot the fuck out of everyone!’ She had to stop him, people could get hurt; he could get hurt.
‘Please, don’t do this.’ Annie said, her voice wavering as she walked out into the diner to face the gunmen. There were four of them and she recognised which one was Calvin through his balaclava by his build and the eyes that had snared her.
‘You shouldn’t be here.’ Calvin responded, with fury in his voice.
‘Calvin, Don’t. Please.’
‘Dumb Bitch! Don’t say my name. Just give me the cash’
‘I’m sorry, my love.’ Annie slowly opened the register, and stepped back. ‘Take all the money, just don’t kill anyone.’
The door opened and a man wearing a suit and dark glasses walked in, talking intently on his mobile phone seemingly oblivious to the situation. He looked up and saw what was happening. Then he made a decision, a poor decision that would resolve everything. He reached into his jacket pocket and drew out a gun. One of the gunmen saw the movement, and turned and fired his revolver, just as the man fired. The two shots rang out almost simultaneously.
The suited man dropped to the floor dead. Calvin held his bleeding arm, as blood dripped on to the floor, before he and the other gunmen ran for the door. Calvin looked back over his shoulder at Annie. She was looking down at the growing bloodstain on her shirt. The last thing she remembered before she fell to the ground was seeing Calvin run out of the door.
‘Well, that’s my story. Good, eh?’
The man opposite her, continued to sip the last remnants of his coffee. ‘It does have everything.’
‘Yep, everything you need for a good tale, a conniving, thoughtless bastard and a girl too stupid to see who he is, responsible for the death of an innocent.’
‘Is that how you feel? Responsible?’
Annie didn’t say anything.
‘Hmmm, well I know more about this than most, and I can assure you that you are no more responsible than your boss who went away on holiday.’
‘Yeah, well he’s not here in purgatory, is he? I’m the one suffering here because of my actions.’
The man finished his coffee. ‘I can assure you that Calvin is the one who’s suffering. You think you’re not going to heaven because of the wrong’s you have committed to an innocent. How can you be to blame? You never held a gun, certainly never fired one. The only thing you are guilty of believing in someone who deserved no such faith and the only thing keeping you hear is your misplaced guilt.’
Annie looked back at the man sat in front of her. ‘What did you mean when you said, you know more than most about this? Who are you?’
‘Let’s just say I’m an interested party who can help you with your current predicament, well as much as anyone can. Annie? What would you say you want most?’
Annie’s spirit lifted. Who was this man? Did he really have power. Was he someone who’d to be able to help her? ‘I’d like to go back and stop that whole situation, so no-one dies’.
‘Yes, I’m sure many people would, though even her upstairs or him downstairs would find it tricky to do that.’
‘Then what use are you?’ She snapped. ‘Just go. Leave me alone. Leave me to me pathetic afterlife’
‘I’m sorry to have upset you.’ The man stood up dropped a few dollars on to the table and walked towards the door.
‘I’d say sorry.’
The man stopped at the door and turned round.
‘That’s what I want. To be able to apologise to him.’ Annie said.
The man nodded slowly.
‘Who was he?’ Annie asked.
The man smiled ‘He was a cop, He worked at the precinct just up the street from the diner. Nice chap, a bit single-minded. He was single, and he didn’t have any kids just a dog named Buster. When he entered the diner, he was very distracted, talking to someone on his phone. Remember?’
‘Well, he was speaking to the hospital, his younger sister was pretty ill. Her kidneys were failing and the doctor’s had given her only weeks to live unless they could find a donor. When that man died, he saved his sister’s life.’
The man turned back around and opened the door.
‘Thanks.’ Annie said after him. ‘You’re a good guy.’
‘My sister certainly thinks so’ the man smiled at Annie and walked out of the Diner.
- Flash Fiction Challenge – Week 46 Submissions (thaininvain.com)
- Flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig (wtfaioa.wordpress.com)
- Flash Fiction…? (kcrawfordfiction.wordpress.com)
- Friday Fictioneers: Encased (josephelonlillie.com)
- Flash fiction- Finish the Story (douglasdanieldotcom.wordpress.com)
- My Last Sunrise – Sunday Photo Fiction (salmonfishingqueen.wordpress.com)