Looking for a prompt escape from football recaps and snow?

Looking for a prompt escape from football recaps and snow?

Feel free to take the following prompt home or post your response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below. By posting, you’ll be entered in our occasional around-the-office swag drawings. If you’re having trouble with the captcha code sticking, feel free to e-mail your story to me at writersdigest@fwmedia.com, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll make sure it gets up.

You go on a test drive in a new car. With the dealership representative in the passenger seat, you pull to the side of the road, turn off the engine, and lock the doors.
“There’s something I should tell you,” you say.

Also, it’s not to late to Reject a Hit. Write a humorous rejection letter of a classic or contemporary bestseller for a shot at getting published in Writer’s Digest magazine.

* * *

And now, after using my high-tech, bias-free methodology of putting the name of every commenter in a bowl (secret formula: as many posts as they commented, counting one comment per post, and assuming they didn’t win the previous month) and dunking a hand in, we’ve got a name.

Laying claim to the pile of Promptly swag this time around: Dorraine.

Dorraine* will be taking home Diane Wei Liang’s Paper Butterfly, Allie Larkin’s Stay, Robert Hass’ The Apple Trees at Olema, William Dietrich’s The Barbary Pirates, Laura Munson’s This Is Not the Story You Think It Is, C.J. Box’s Nowhere to Run, Michael Moorcock’s The Jewel in the Skull, Christine King Farris’ Through It All, Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation and Robert J. Ray’s The Weekend Novelist Rewrites the Novel.

To everyone who wrote a story, stories, or shared their thoughts in any form in the last month: An honest thank you for being a part of Promptly.

*Dorraine, can you contact me and provide your address so I can get the swag shipped out?

* * *

Great Creative in 2010: Tap into inspiration. Learn strategies for making time to write. Plan your own low key writing retreat. Check out 26 writing contests that can get your book published. Create a book trailer with cinematic flair. Learn Sue Grafton’s writing secrets. Click here to check the February 2010 issue of WD out!

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5 thoughts on “Looking for a prompt escape from football recaps and snow?

  1. Stacy Christian

    Congrats, Dorraine!
    Love it, Martha!
    I positioned myself in front of the wall of windows so that the sunlight would hint at my shape beneath the sheer skirt. The GQ salesman took the bait and approached, his smile doing laps around his face. I tried not to roll my eyes when he pointed out the vanity mirrors and cups holders.
    “Does it carry the AJ34S or the new V6 III?”
    His surprise registered noticeably. Oh, this was going to be good. A few more minutes of the necessary shop talk and he scooted off to fetch the keys.
    I’ve always been a sucker for wild cats; and it was a magnificent car. Guilt flickered for a moment. The card in my wallet said his name was Jeff. He really was quite charming. Sometimes the end does justify the means, however, and the guilt vanished when I imagined how this was going to end.
    The car squirted through traffic like a bead of liquid mercury. When I slipped it into the lot at the prearranged gas station, Jeff exuded reassurance.
    “Oh, there is no need to purchase fuel, Ma’am. The dealership will take care of that when we return.”
    “We’re not going back.”
    Uncertainty clouded his eyes and I could see that he was composing his response.
    “Of course, I meant when you were satisfied with the test drive, Ma’am”
    “That’s just it, Jeff. This isn’t a test drive. My husband and I are borrowing your car.”
    He reached for the door, but I put my hand on his arm to get his attention as my husband, what’s his name, slid into the rear seat. I pulled away from the station, and the precariousness of his situation finally dawned on Jeff.
    “You…you’re stealing this car? But your ID and vehicle are back at the dealership!”
    “Ever heard of fake IDs, Jeff? And we borrowed that car only this morning. It probably hasn’t even been reported missing yet.”
    “Your faces will be all over the news by suppertime!”
    “Maybe. But we have dinner reservations in Havana, don’t we, Honey?”
    “You can’t do this! You simply can’t steal this car!”
    Jeff was starting to sweat. Please, don’t let him do anything stupid.
    “Borrow, Jeff, we’re just borrowing it. We have to make a quick run at the bank. I mean to the bank.”
    His face had gone from blush to beet and his voice was a taut guitar wire. We had him.
    “You’re not. Please tell me that you’re not going to rob the bank.”
    “Not without your help, Jeff. See, we need somebody to drive for us once we get the money.”
    The poor salesman slumped in his seat, his face now ashen. I was beginning to worry he wouldn’t make it through this. I glanced at my partner and saw him nod.
    “I’d rather you just shoot me.” Jeff said.
    “They’ve been shooting ever since we met. Ever hear of Candid Camera? The new season starts this fall and you’re our pilot episode, Jeff.”

  2. Martha W

    Congrats, Dorraine!! WooHoo!

    Loved the piece, Mark… 🙂 and I wondered… Hummer…

    Zac, avoid football? What? No way! The Saints rock!


    John walked casually into the Ford dealer, like his heart wasn’t racing out of control. He loved this car more every time he saw it. It always seemed different under the spotlights. Shinier, faster somehow.

    "Can I help you?" The salesman, scrawny and in need of a haircut, appeared at John’s elbow.

    John scanned his nametag. Bob.

    "Well." John smoothed his hand along the fender of the grabber blue Mustang GT500, careful of leaving any smudges on the beautiful finish. "I’m interested in this machine here."

    Bob raised an eyebrow, looked him up and down. "I have a plain Mustang GT in the lot. How about that one?"

    Anger clawed at John’s gut. Who did this jerk think he was? He leaned in the open window, inhaled the new leather smell of the seats. His irritation disappeared – the decision made. "Oh no. This baby right here."

    A heavy sigh greeted his statement. "Let me get a plate then."

    John pulled back out of the car. "Don’t you want my license so you can make a copy?"

    "Not necessary. I’m going with you."

    A small smile tipped the corners of John’s mouth. "Perfect."

    The salesman sniffed like there was a bad odor emanating from John’s direction before leaving to retrieve the plate.

    John watched him leave before giving himself a once over. Jeans, sweatshirt, running shoes. Nothing unusual. He could have been a typical customer.

    "Okay. I’ll pull it out. Wait by the curb."

    John said nothing, simply walked out the door. Fifteen minutes later, the blue bullnose of the Mustang peeked out of the showroom doors. Finally, John thought. His baby.

    "Are you sure I can’t interest-"

    "No." This time he brooked no argument. The guy was already toast. "Get in the passenger seat if you’re going with me."

    It took less than five minutes. John was buckled in and speeding along I696, short shifting and having a blast through the tunnels out near Southfield. It was perfect.

    Except for the squawks of the idiot next to him. The guy was like a limp noodle. If he stiffened his spine a little he wouldn’t get flung around like that, John thought.


    "Shut up."


    "Shut up."

    "Pull the car over!" Bob yelled.

    John downshifted into fourth, slowing the car with the transmission while he stared at the salesman screaming at him. He nodded, pulled to the side of the road, turned off the engine, and locked the doors.

    “There’s something I should tell you,” John said.

    "Oh Lord. You’re gonna steal the car, aren’t you?" The man half-muttered, half-bleated the question.


    Bob glared at him. "What then?"

    "We haven’t been properly introduced. My name is John."


    "John Vermeersch."

    "Oh. Oh no. Not the John Vermeersch from Ford SVO."



    "Fired, Bob."

  3. Mark James

    Dorraine – congratulations!

    “It drives good,” I said.

    “I’m glad you like it, Mr. Hartley.” He checked his watch. “But I’m afraid we’ll need to head back.”

    “Yeah? Why’s that?”

    He met my eyes in the mirror, made himself smile. “It’s a test drive. Not a drive through the country.”

    “You don’t like the country, Fritz?”

    Everybody thinks New York is a big city. It is. But as soon as you get on Ninety Five and head North, the city falls away pretty quick, and there’s trees. Lots of them.

    “Mr. Hartley,” he said. “I’ll really have to ask you to take the nearest exit.”

    I changed lanes. “I don’t think so.”

    He sat back. “If you’re planning to steal the vehicle, it has a tracking device.”

    Not anymore it didn’t. I saw him feeling around in his jacket. “There’s something you should know.” I pulled over, shut off the engine, locked the doors.

    “What are you doing, Mr. Hartley?”

    “I’ve got your phone.”

    “When did you – – ”

    “Doesn’t matter.” I started the car, pulled into traffic.

    “You’ll be very sorry you’ve done this.”

    “You got any sisters, Fritz?”

    “No. I’m an only child.”

    “I got two little sisters. Love them to death.” Outside, the trees grew thicker, closer together. “There’s something they can’t figure out.”

    “Your sisters?”

    “Cops told Keith, your brother-in-law, that they’re pretty sure you buried her up here, but they can’t figure out how a skinny guy like you dug a hole seven feet deep. Digging’s hard work.”

    “I don’t have to answer any police questions about my wife.”

    “How’s the murder mystery coming?”

    “The what?”

    “That’s what you told Keith. Said you were starting a book, about someone who died. I figured it was a mystery.” I glanced at him in the mirror. A bead of sweat rolled down the side of his thin face. “Good idea. Asking a lawyer.”

    “I know my rights. Turn around. Immediately.”

    “Keith, he helped me stay out of prison a while back.” I signaled, took the next exit. “I did it. But he’s good. Told him if he ever needed anything, look me up.”

    “Where are you taking me?”

    “I know how it is.” The Hummer rolled over the rocky dirt road like it was brand new asphalt. “You bury them. Think nobody’s ever gonna find them. Not even you.”

    “This isn’t going to work.”

    I pulled over, got out, opened his door. “If you dig around, you never know what you could start remembering, Fritz.”

    “I’m not getting out.”

    “Yeah you are.” I dragged him out, flung him to the ground, and got two shovels out of the back.

    He got up, dusted himself off. “If you think – -”

    I threw a shovel to the ground at his feet. “I gotta tell you. Keith, he’s a real good guy. Because if it was my little sister’s husband who offed her, I wouldn’t be calling the freaking cops.” I grabbed his jacket, drew him close enough to smell his sweat. “I’d take care of it myself.”

    “It’s a big place.” He licked his lips. “I don’t know if I can find it.”

    I let him go, started digging. “No problem. If you don’t remember by the time we’re done, your grave’s gonna be nice and deep.”


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