Thursday, June 04, 2009

Flash Fiction Thursday

The challenge was to write a flash story using a wedding cake in the middle of the road as a motif. It didn't have to be the main thing though.

The links to writers with blogs are below. Some may come up later or not at all.

Then slip over to Powder Burn Flash where Mystery Dawg has a few more cakes on his road. Or will.

My story comes last. I may try it one more time. Flash is tough.

I'll be back this afternoon to read them all. Babysitting Day. Thanks to all who participated. I found it damned hard.

Sandra Seamans
Sandra Scoppettone
Keith Rawson
Dana King
Kieran Shea
Paul Brazill
Cormac Brown
Todd Mason
Gerald So
Eric Peterson

The Wedding Cake in the Middle of the Road

It was a pussy name—The Wedding Cake—but that’s the name Ava stuck on it. Barker was still trying to lay her back then, still knocking himself out to make her—amendable. He had dreams of her long legs twining around him like the ivy on his oak trees.

“Oh, it looks just like a wedding cake,” Ava squealed when she saw it. “The chimneys on top look like a bride and groom. You have to name it that, honey: The Wedding Cake.”

Barker peered up from the road. It was a butt-ugly, round white building in the middle of nowhere. Exactly the thing he’d told the realtor to find. Might have been a silo before fate took a giant hacksaw to it. Someone later had thrown in a stove, a large freezer and booths; he’d have preferred a Laundromat but he flipped his coin. Heads told him to go ahead.

Ava bought a boatload of crap to decorate it. The salt and pepper shakers were ceramic brides and grooms; the sugar bowls, champagne flutes. Fuck me, he thought, watching Ava tie flouncey bows around the ice-cream chairs. No way my ass will fit there.

Well, he had to do something with the three-hundred grand. A year after the job, and it was still sitting in bank accounts waiting to be layered. And then the fuckin’ banks began going belly-up. So he yanked it and bought the café. Picked a lousy location, right at the crossroads of a couple of no-name country lanes, a place where no one would notice him or his money. A spot where any business was bound to fail from lack of traffic alone, never mind the recession. He’d told the realtor something vague about needing a write-off. She was too busy figuring what her commission would be to listen carefully.

Barker hired a cook, a waitress, a manager, a dishwasher. Planned to stay as far removed from the situation as possible. Especially after he’d banged Ava a few times and found out she wasn’t so hot. He’d never met a woman who liked it, would probably be suspicious of one who did.

But the name on the café stuck. His wife overheard a phone call and insisted on bringing the kids out one Sunday. The four of them sat on those damned ice-cream chairs that hurt his ass, the waitress hovering over them. “That vanilla might have a little freezer burn. How ‘bout I throw a little chocolate syrup on top?”

His wife frowned, pushed her dish away, and started gathering up their things.

“Boss, you sure you wanna open the place on Sundays? This here’s been our biggest crowd.” The cook stood in front of them now, his apron looking brand new.

“Just shut your trap unless you got another job lined up.” He wasn't used to being embarrassed in front of the kids.

The Barkers went home, none of them impressed with The Wedding Cake. Barker, least of all.


And then it happened. Money began to trickle into the State from somewhere—he didn’t follow politics. Most of it went into roads since nobody south of Alaska objected to hanging on to their tires and shocks. The country roads that met at The Wedding Cake became four-lane highways. Big trucks and vacationers headed for the Badlands and not wanting to pay tolls began winding their way past the door. Even the locals began to show up.

“Fuck me,” Barker thought when the parking lot was half-full. His manager had hired two more waitresses and a short-order cook. A blackboard with “Special of the Day” hung festively over the counter. The place was noisy, rowdy even.

No one but Barker knew how things were supposed to go. How he had meant to lose money, remain anonymous, stay out of sight. Was it lucky or unlucky to succeed in something like this? He flipped a coin as he considered it.

Inside he told the cook. “Changed my mind. Let’s shut the place on Sundays. Nobody should have to work on Sundays.” He was pacing the kitchen.

“We’ve booked wedding receptions every Sunday for the next two months, Mr. Barker.”

“Wedding receptions?” He stopped in his tracks.

“The first one’s for the daughter of the Mayor over in Souderton. He was out here looking around one day, real interested in how this place came together. Said if things went well, he’d pass the word along. A lot of business might be coming our way.”

Barker flipped his coin again, trying to decide what to do. The coin rolled out the door and under the counter. The big foot of man in uniform came down on it.

“Got yourself a nice little place out here, Mr. Barker,” the cop said, returning the coin. “We’re all gonna make sure The Wedding Cake is a big success. We've been needing a place like this for some time. A place of our own.”


He started his carpentry in a field he’d purchased on Ridge Road. He worked from his skill using nothing more than a picture for a guide. The land was good. The parcel sat high and viewed the surround allowing for unobstructed vision of the countryside. The well he dug was deep, the water clear and cold when it hit the pump head.

He worked mostly alone. He found all of the architectural details pre-made in catalogs or had them custom made. His fiancé knew he was building their house but she was never allowed, after approving the land, to visit him as he worked. It was his gift of his love for her. He intended it to be opened on their wedding night.

As the wedding approached he worked with determination to finish the house. With each detail completed his love for her grew with the structure.

The day came, the ceremony and their duties done at the reception they left in time to get to their house in the softening light of a color filled setting sun.

The white paint reflected the rose hues from the sky. Even in the shadows cast through the filigree she could see the attention he’d paid to each detail. Every exterior line had been lovingly replicated.

She was stunned, by the structure the placement of it and the detail he'd put into it.

“Oh! It's beautiful. It is exactly like our wedding cake.”

“I did my best honey; care to take the tour of our home?”

Together they walked through the front door and made their way to the roof top deck where they stood holding each others hands as the sun went down behind the ridges.

“I love you” each heard the other say.


Scott D. Parker said...

Oh man! Love this ending! I was expecting a shoot-out or something but this ending was much, much better. And so topical. Bravo!

r2 said...

Patti, you never write a bad story. Nice one.

sandra seamans said...

Ah, the best laid plans...Loved this, Patti!

And thanks so much for putting out the challenge and hosting.

Charles Gramlich said...

Good stuff. I was hoping to take part but I just never could find a free moment to focus on it. A great idea though.

Unknown said...

Tons of room to move in this one, Patti. I like the flash piece, but I could easily see you packing another 1000 words onto it and really fleshing it out. Great as always.

Iren said...

I see a little Two Face from Batman in there-- and I really like the line "A year after the job, and it was still sitting in bank accounts waiting to be layered." please tell me you were smiling when you wrote that one.

pattinase (abbott) said...

No, I was holding a page I downloaded from a site that explained money laundering. Put a dollar in front of me and I go brain dead.

Eric Beetner said...

This proves that I need to start reading the blogs more regularly. I missed this challenge. Sounds like it would have been fun. I like the story too Patti. Looking forward to reading the others. I love seeing how different people can interpret the same image through their own lens.
I'll stay on the lookout for the next one!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Hey, Eric. Thanks. Some pretty cool stories. I'll try to remember to send you an email next time. Figure September.

Todd Mason said...

I was waiting for this curdled neighborhood guy to say "OK!" rather than "Hello"...but, then, only the nice Philly neighborhood guys do that.

Two-fisted, Patti! Now, if you write one about a woman as tough and grumpy, you'll be commercially set.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I did and I wasn't.

Cormac Brown said...

Dang, becareful what you don't wish for, Barker, that might come true as well. Way to go, Patti!

the walking man said...

I liked this one very much. Loaded with a twist but ain't that the way things never work out the way you want so you may as well roll with it. Now if he can just keep his hand out of the till.

I didn't know where to put mine so I put it where I did *shrug*

the walking man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul D Brazill said...

I don't know what happened to my comment but... that, Mrs A is a classy piece of work.

Nice work from the walking man, too!

pattinase (abbott) said...

I wish I could publish them all in print anthology. Wouldn't that be cool.

Todd Mason said...

Actually, a chapbook would be pretty easy to produce.