Thursday, May 16, 2019
Flash Fiction Friday, Week 20 - Reserved Seating
The prompt this week was to pick, at random, three adjective-noun combinations, to use in our story. We were given the following nine to choose from:
1. Approachable bunny
2. Creepy train
3. Sympathetic mobster
4. Crest-fallen bear
5. Blind demon
6. Crabby corpse
7. Sensual dinosaur
8. Exceptional banjo
9. Absent-minded surgeon
I ended up with #2 (creepy train), #8 (exceptional banjo), and #9 (absent-minded surgeon), and they are highlighted. We were also told to feel free to make it a little weird. Well, I went way over-the-line weird, and had a blast. I hope you have as much fun reading this as I had writing it.
“I can’t believe we’re getting away with this. How long before somebody notices we’ve got a dead guy in the seat. We probably should get back, Jimbo. Benny’s propped up, but what if he starts to tip…”
“Relax, Petey. Finish your drink. He won’t tip. I propped him up good with pillows. Plus, remember when we got on, we talked loud about how sick our friend was?”
“Yeah, and not one of the other passengers paid any attention. Don’t you think that was strange? I mean, we were so loud and everybody was just staring straight ahead. And that conductor…”
“He’s a weird duck. Don’t worry about the other passengers. Nobody gives a hoot about anybody else in this world.”
“I know. It’s just this feeling I got when we got on. We’re dragging a dead guy down the aisle, and nobody blinks? This is one creepy train, Jimbo.”
“I’m with you on that. But, I told you this was the best way. When we stop at a station, we’ll get off with Benny, put him on a bench, then you and I get back on and ride to the next city and disappear. It’s perfect.”
“I guess, but there’s one other thing that’s bothering me. I remember us getting Benny from that crazy doctor, and getting on this train, but I can’t remember anything in between.”
“Stress, my man. After we picked up his body, we got into…I mean, we took…well, I can’t remember either. Guess we were both weirded out. Doesn’t matter though. We got out of there and onto this train and soon, our troubles will be over.”
“Did that doctor get anything from Benny about where he hid the money? I don’t remember.”
“I don’t either, but I don’t think Benny said anything before he bled out. If we retrace his steps, we’ll find it. By the way, Dr. Bob isn’t crazy. He’s just good at getting information in the most painful way possible. He’s known as an absent-minded surgeon because he slices folks over and over as if he forgot which part he’s supposed to be operating on. Nifty, right?”
“Sure. Nifty. Listen, let’s go back to our seats. This bar’s giving me the willies. I only had two gin and tonics but I feel woozy.”
“I know what you mean. I only had two whiskey sours, and I feel strange. I’m going to ask the conductor where the next stop is.”
“Thanks, Jimbo. You know me, I’m no lily-liver, but I have to admit I’m scared.”
“Repeat this, Petey, and I’ll snuff you in a heartbeat, but I’m scared too. Where’s that conductor?”
“Next stop, Sheol.” The conductor walked slowly up the aisle, passing Jimbo and Petey, looking straight ahead as he moved toward the next car.
“Sheol? Jimbo, what kind of a name…”
“I don’t know, Petey. Grab Benny. When we stop, we’ll say we’re getting off for a second to drop off our friend.”
“Okay, but maybe we should just stay off.”
“Excuse me, conductor, but we just sailed right through the station. Why didn’t we stop?”
The conductor stopped, but never turned to face Jimbo. “Sir, we don’t stop at that station.” He continued down the aisle.
“It’s fine, Petey. We’ll get off at the next one, sit Benny down somewhere, and stay off. We’ll find a phone and get a taxi to the city.”
“Next stop, Gehenna.” The conductor entered from the adjoining car and walked toward Jimbo and Petey
“What kind of names are these, Jimbo? I’m flat out terrified now.”
“Me too, Petey, and we just blew through this station too. Hey, conductor? What line is this with these nutty town names? Why aren’t we stopping?”
“Skipped Sunday School, I see. Those names are in the Bible. Sheol and Gehenna are entry points.”
“Entry points to where?”
“To Hell, gentlemen. Where did you think this train went?”
“Hell, what the…I mean…I don’t…God, Jimbo!”
“Too late for prayers, Petey,” the conductor frowned. “Knock it off.” Here we go again, the conductor thought. He wondered why folks weren’t told where they were headed before they got on.
Petey couldn’t believe this was happening. “I don’t under…”
The conductor shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know why it’s always left to me to explain. It’s not like I’m nobody here. I am seventh in command after…”
“Hey! Focus!” Jimbo didn’t feel he had anything left to lose.
“Oh yeah. Your boss, Big Charlie, had you whacked. First, you kept the money from the bank job instead of turning it over to him. Second, you had his cousin’s brother-in-law tortured and killed.”
“Benny? But he double-crossed Big Charlie by agreeing to split it with us, and then tried to double-cross us by hiding it. It’s Benny’s fault. Why are we here?”
“Oh, like you’re a couple of saints? Jimbo, you knifed your old man when you were 12. Petey, you did in your old Ma’s boyfriend when you were 8. And that was only the start for both of you. Your seats have been reserved for a long time. Oh look, Benny’s back with us.”
Jimbo and Petey stared in horror as Benny sat up in his seat. He looked confused.
“It’s okay, Benny,” the conductor said. “The end of the line is coming up soon.”
Benny smiled, leaned back, and closed his eyes.
Jimbo had never felt such fear in his entire life. “But, wait, I…”
Petey chimed in with, “Yeah, maybe we can…”
“Now, you two sit back and relax like Benny. There’s not going to be any negotiating here; I mean, we’re not at the Flea Market. Hey, how about some music? Believe it or not, I’m an exceptional banjo player”, the conductor smiled widely. “Want to hear me play Highway to Hell? I just love ACDC. I can hardly wait to escort them to their seats. I’m sure I won’t have to explain a thing to any of them…”