Monday Writing Challenge: Milk jugs, tires and a box of jewelry–how'd it all get there?



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On the side of the highway: Milk jugs, tire chunks and an open box
of jewelry, glistening in the sunlight. Explain how it all got there.

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7 thoughts on “Monday Writing Challenge: Milk jugs, tires and a box of jewelry–how'd it all get there?

  1. Atonia Walpole

    "The Treasure"

    The retread had come apart leaving chunks for a quarter of a mile behind him. Danny Rowe stood behind his vehicle with his hands on his hips. It was an old jack and not one he was familiar with. By the time he got it together and pumping sweat was running down his face and down his neck soaking into the faded blue tee shirt he had on.
    “Whatca doin?”
    Danny looked up to see a boy pulling a rope with empty milk jugs tied onto the end of it.
    “What does it look like, changing a tire.” He scowled at the boy, “what are you doing?”
    “Goin’ for some water.”
    Danny looked up and down the road, “No water out here you’d better get on back home.”
    “There’ll be some water, I know where to go. Down to Miss Parson’s old place there’s a well.”
    “Yeah, how far is it?” he let the jack down hoping there was enough air in the tire to get him to a gas station.
    “Just yonder…”
    “How come you don’t have water at home?”
    “We had some water but a man came and turned it off.”
    “I’ll give you a ride if it ain’t far.”
    “It ain’t far.”
    Danny stowed the jack in the trunk and opened the passenger door, “Get in.”
    The wooden gate was laying on the ground and Danny drove over it, “what’s your name kid?”
    “Henry,” he answered looking around in the car, “This is an old car.”
    “No shit, it belonged to my Daddy. He don’t need it no more.”
    The old tumbledown house set about fifteen feet off the highway, you could see where the road had cut into the front yard. Danny waited while Henry tossed a jug down the well. Looked like the boy had been doing that for awhile.
    The car came flying down the highway swerving this way and that, Danny dropped his cigarette and ran out to the old mailbox post just in time to see it flip over twice before coming to an end upside down partially in the field. He ran towards the wreck, there was a woman half out of the driver’s side, smoke coming out of the engine he backed away, the smell of gasoline strong.
    He stumbled along running away before it exploded and he hit the pavement. When he raised his head he saw the boy squatting a few feet away.
    “Look what I found?”he said holding up something shinning in the sunlight.

    Danny jumped up and grabbed the boy, “Let’s get out of here.”
    Henry picked up the jewelry box and ran back to the old house. His mother would like that, he thought.
    The empty milk jugs were left in the drive as Danny sped away taking the boy home.

  2. Tom Tangretti

    An Unwasted Memory

    The Lincoln Highway was America’s first intercontinental auto path that ran directly behind the house I was raised in. In its heyday one might expect to see hundreds of cars and trucks crawling up the hill, on which our house was situated. Once they accomplished this task it seemed all who made the climb in their Desoto’s or Edsels or GM trucks would lose all sense of self preservation and let loose down the other side, screeching around winding corners as if it were an amusement ride. Now days, the new bypass has made the Lincoln Highway an all but forgotten memory of a bygone era.
    That’s what brought me back today. I wanted to look at and feel my boyhood, my adolescence, the place where I grew up. I’ve have created in my mind this mystical attachment to the top of Corbell’s Hill, for some unexplained reason. And lately it has become stronger and stronger; calling me back to my youth. At times I feel like Richard Dryfus in Close Encounters.
    So here I am after a three hour flight and a two and half hour drive in a rented Ford. Surprisingly the road is still usable and still passes by the rear of our house, which is no longer there. But it’s easy to locate because when the wind separates the golden rod from the rag weed the century old stone foundation appears. How many days I spent in the backyard with my brother and cousin watching the cars and trucks pass and guessing what kind would be next while leaning against that stone foundation.
    Joey would have been forty this month. He was only ten when he died right down there as I looked passed the wooded area across the road and down the other side a bit. He and I and Butch were playing catch and the ball went through Joey’s legs and started down the slope of the road. Without thinking he started after it, as he had a hundred times before. But this time, thirty years ago, he was struck by Al our Milkman in his Swan Dairy truck and knocked ten feet in the air, who was looking at his delivery sheet instead of the road. He swerved too late to miss Joey but not too late to hit a Hudson convertible head on. Milk jugs, broken glass, tangled metal, tire pieces and two broken and twisted bodies were all that was left scattered down the high embankment that the Hudson spewed as it rolled over and over. And right beside Joey’s broken body was a makeup case full of costume jewelry, , what must have been the blond lady driver’s, just sitting there, open as if placed by someone who would be coming back for any minute, glaring in the mid day sun, reminding me of Joey’s smile.
    Although, this past disturbing memory was never far from my conscienceless just being here brought Joey back to me in an unexpected way, the frozen in time picture frame of his grin. Now I know why I’m here!

  3. Mark James

    Zac. . welcome back. This was a really interesting one.

    Great to see everyone posting.

    A highway cut through a field of sickly weeds and razor grass that surrendered nothing to the punishing sun and searing heat. Dust blew across the cracked asphalt whose white line had long since turned grey.

    “You’ll pay for this delay.”

    “I pay for everything I do.” Michael, looking nothing like the warrior angel he was, kicked a shower of pebbles onto the road. “Even when I don’t do it. ”

    Raphael appeared in front of Michael, matching his moves step for step, blocking his way.

    “Stop,” Michael said. “You can’t do that forever. You’ll have to go save some kid’s puppy, or rescue a politician.”

    “It’s fate,” Raphael said. “The stars. Believe what you like.”

    “I believe you need to get out of my way.” Michael tried to dodge around his brother, but Raphael was there, like a shadow of light.

    Too fast for mortal eyes to follow, Michael drew his flaming sword. “I can’t stop it,” he said. “But I can slow it down.”

    Behind them something crept through the stunted grass, its black fur catching burs from the tall weeds. With a flash of oily black smoke, Lucifer, crouched low to the ground, replaced the jackal. “Nothing is more powerful than fate,” he said.

    “They’re kids.” Michael spun in a circle and flung his sword across the road. It twisted through the air, spun end over end and burst into flame. “What’s two decades?” His sword reappeared on his back, glowing red inside its sheath.

    “You are what you are,” Raphael said. “Be at peace with it.”

    “I’m fine with it,” Michael said. “But not tonight.”

    Lucifer glanced at Raphael, chose words slowly. “Their bodies are temporary, Michael. You know that.”

    “Their souls are no different than ours.” Raphael looked into the blood red sky. “Eternal.”

    “Dark roads,” Michael said. “Empty bellies, and for the kids who make it, dreams of things they never had.”

    All three angels looked at the talismans Michael had brought into the world: chunks of worn out tires, an empty milk jug, and a cardboard box of diamonds and emeralds that glistened in the fading sunlight.

    A car slowed on the highway, then stopped. The girl who got out of the rust eaten metal carcass couldn’t have been more than seventeen. She gathered the milk jug, the jewels and pieces of the worn rubber, carried them back to her wheezing car.

    “It starts with her.” Michael spun in a circle and faded to nothing.

    Dru had planned on telling her mom about the baby, the one that wouldn’t be born. But these things, sitting on the side of the road, they were like a sign. She drove through the night and took it as another sign when her car ran out of gas at the gates of the convent.

    Twenty years later, almost to the day, Dru, the Typhoid Mary who would end the latest cycle of mortal life, abandoned her vows to God, and went out into the world.

    Lucifer, who’d watched Dru from a distance, reflected on his words to Michael. There was one thing in the mortal world more powerful than fate—free will.

  4. Rebecca L. Gillan

    “This is the most bizarre case of hording I’ve seen in my life,” Sara said to herself. “How did I get this call again?” As a social worker, Sara was well accustomed to receiving unusual welfare check calls at all hours of the night. But this wasn’t her night to be on call!
    “You have me to thank for that,” a deep voice came from behind her as she picked her way through the maze of rotting car and tractor tires. How did they get tractor tires in the front door of this tiny condo, anyway??? Sara turned and glared at the speaker.
    “Robbie. I should have known. So how does this call fit in with your unique sense of family pride? Figure I picked up after you after Mom died, so I’d be right at home in this mess?” the older woman snipped sharply. Robbie chuckled, refusing to be baited.
    No, Sis. Look back under that toppled stack of milk jugs,” he urged mischievously. Sara looked him over suspiciously, the moved to where he’d indicated. All she found was an old packing crate.
    “Now what,” she huffed impatiently.
    “Open at the crate, Sis,” Robbie urged. “This house, in case you are wondering, has sat vacant for the last two years.”
    “Then it isn’t really a case of hording, is it?” Sara huffed as pried open the box.
    “Nope,” Robbie said smugly when Sara froze. “But I figured you like to be in on this one.”
    “Sara nodded her head dumbly, staring down at the contents of the crate. Mom’s lost jewelry case, still full. Who would steal a case of jewelry twenty years ago and not pawn any of it?

  5. Martha W

    Alice – OMG. I literally LOL’d at the milk jugs.

    Zac – welcome back!


    Ginny hunched over in her seat. Sweat rolled down her face, dripping onto her shirt, saturating the cotton tee. Simon glanced at her pale face, nervous like never before. What was wrong with her?

    "I think I’m gonna be sick." She clasped her hand over her mouth, scrunching her eyes shut.

    "What?" More desperation over his car than her.

    "I’m gonna-"

    Suddenly the car jerked sideways with a loud bang. Simon fought to keep the car out of the ditch, bringing it to a halt on the shoulder. "Out!"

    He leaned over her, shoved the car door open.

    Ginny jumped out of the car, throwing up in the high weeds along side the dirt road. Dirt floated in a cloud around her, obscuring her from sight. Simon squinted through the thick air then turned his attention back to his car.

    "Dang it." He smacked the fender, kicked a piece of ragged black rubber. "Blown tire."

    Ginny appeared at his side, wiping her mouth on her sleeve. "Got a spare?"

    "Yeah, in the trunk." He walked around the side of the car and leaned in the driver window to push the release.

    He hauled the spare tire from the back along with his jack. It didn’t take long to have the thing changed out but his shirt was soaked with sweat from the heat of the day. He slammed the lid shut just in time to see Ginny chucking three one-gallon jugs of milk to the side of the road. "What’re you doing?"

    "That’s the last thing I had, a slug of milk from that open one." Her eyes narrowed as she looked him up and down. "You forgot the ice in the cooler."

    Simon groaned. Crap. He had been in charge of that.

    A low rumble from behind them grew louder and a pickup truck slowed to a stop. Simon barely stopped himself from rolling his eyes. If ever there was a country bumpkin, this was him.

    Blond hair, blue eyes and tanned all over. Denim overalls with no shirt. Baseball cap knuckled back when he got a look at Ginny. "Y’all all right?"

    Ginny looked between Simon and the hick. Once, then twice. She nodded her head. "I am now. You give me lift?"

    A lazy smile spread across his face. "Sure can."

    The southern drawl made Simon want to punch him. "The tire’s changed, Ginny. We’re about to get on the road to mama’s."

    She opened the passenger door of his Focus, pulled her jewelry box out, pocketed the cash they’d tucked inside before dropping it on the ground. "You go on to your mama’s. That’s who you really want anyway. I’m falling on plan b."

    She climbed into the cab of that truck and didn’t even turn around as they left him choking in the dust, ready to be sick.

  6. Alice Fusco

    When my sister mentioned a genie, I was sure it was one of her stupid jokes.

    Debbie was so insistent – “I’m not kidding. Put on this sock and ask for what you want.”

    A sock genie?

    “DO it!”

    “You’re not going to let go of this until I do it, are you?”

    “No, I’m not.”

    “Do you need medication?”

    “Not any longer.”

    “Great.” I knew when it was time to just give up. I put the sock on my left foot.

    “Ask for what you want.”

    “I can’t believe this.” I looked down at my flat chest. “Okay, I want big jugs. Big ol’ milk jugs on my flat chest.”

    A loud CRACK-BANG and my sweater was stretched to its limit. I started screaming, Debbie was screaming, and everyone was looking at us. I jumped up and the jugs stuck to my chest. I didn’t care what anyone thought – I lifted my sweater and there were two jugs of milk stuck to my chest! I couldn’t get them off.

    Now I was jumping up and down, screaming “Get them off!! Get them off!!” People were staring and poking each other in the ribs. I ran out the door with Debbie right behind; we jumped in my car. I still don’t know where I was going – I was in absolute panic. I floored it and sped down the highway. It’s not easy to drive with two gallons of cold milk stuck to your chest.

    After some minutes, I was aware of Debbie’s voice. “You have two more wishes! Listen to me! Two more!!”

    Two more. Okay fine. “I want these jugs off my chest.” They dropped to my lap leaving me more grateful for my flat chest than I had known I could be. I backed off of the accelerator. The car wouldn’t slow down. I tapped the brakes. Nothing. Back in full-out panic, I stood on the brakes to no effect. Here came my last wish.

    “I want the car to stop!”

    Ahead appeared a series of spike strips. I saw cars stopping and had to move to the shoulder. The spikes shredded my tires completely, leaving me in dirt with the rear rims spinning. I then thought to turn off the motor.

    I was so sick of that damn sock I yanked it off my foot and threw it at my sister. “Don’t EVER do that to me again!”

    “I’m sorry! I really am. I’m so sorry, Sis. Look, I have one more wish – I’m going to get you something nice.”

    She donned the sock and said “I want a box of jewelry for my sister.”

    Instantly, a box of the cheapest costume jewelry I had ever seen appeared on the front seat. I couldn’t believe it. I threw the jugs and the stupid box out the window and called AAA on my cell.

    When the tow came, the driver asked about the stuff on the side of the road. We feigned ignorance.

  7. Kevin Askew

    My girlfriend and I have been having relationship issues lately and today was just one of those days. I was doing the dishes when she walked into the kitchen to pour herself a glass of milk. When she went to grab a glass she pulled out one of the glasses that I’d just put away and it was still damp. We have had the conversation before about how much she hates when I put wet glasses in the cupboard but I don’t like leaving them out on the counter to dry. The wet glass pushed her over the edge and she flipped out.

    She threw the jug of milk that was in her hand at me and I nearly dodged getting decapitated by a gallon of 2%. I started yelling at her but she was in a fit of rage. We argued for several minutes in the kitchen when she stormed off into the bedroom while I followed. Still angry that she over reacted about the glass I got in her face about how she almost killed me. She took a step back and she was red with fury. Angry, she grabbed one of her jewelry boxes from on top of her dresser and threw it at me; hitting me in the chest.

    I was absolutely livid at this point and yelled as I pulled one of her earrings out that had stuck in my chest. I knew I needed to get away before I did something I’d regret so I called her a bitch and stormed off, grabbing my keys as I left the house.

    She followed me and refused to let me leave as I tried to get in my car. As I went to put the key in the ignition, she swung open my door almost breaking it off its hinges; tearing off my seatbelt and pulling me out of the car in one swift motion. With the power of the Hulk inside her she knocked my car over and ripped off the wheels. I ducked as she threw them at me and they crashed into the house.

    Scared for my life I quickly apologized for calling her a bitch and told her I loved her. She calmed down eventually without causing too much bodily injury. We went back into the house to examine the damage she’d caused.

    I had learned a very important lesson that day. Never, EVER call your girlfriend a bitch if you’ve put damp glasses in the cupboard. She will go psycho on you and start flinging car parts at you.


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