Weekend Prompt: Strange Happenings in the RV

The RV is full. The gas is low. From the expressway, nobody has any clue what’s inside. But that may change soon.

Hey writers,

The WD offices in Cincinnati are silent. A stack of queries sits, pensive, anxious. A few tapped keys echo. Mini notes on computer monitors assure passers-by their owners shall return soon.

Magazine/book imprint apocalypse? Quite the opposite. The majority of our staff has jetted off to New York City for the Writer’s Digest Conference: The Business of Getting Publishing. If you couldn’t make it this weekend, you can follow the goings-on live as my friends and comrades blog about the latest developments in publishing—and what it means to writers—at writersdigestconference.blogspot.com.

Meanwhile, your trusty managing editor will be holding down the fort, working on the Writer’s Yearbook 2010 magazine and the WD Interview for our 90th anniversary issue—which is, in my opinion, one of the coolest legends we’ve ever featured.

If you’re outside of New York, say, perhaps, landlocked in the great Midwest, pack up your mental RV and take a stab at the prompt above. In 500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring, your stories are welcome in the Comments section of the blog, where they’ll be entered in our monthly swag giveaway. Or, chime in with your thoughts about Dan Brown and his success here, where J. Alvey has posted some great insights about the industry and the author.

Have an excellent weekend,


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3 thoughts on “Weekend Prompt: Strange Happenings in the RV

  1. J. Alvey

    RV Times

    My wife packs away hurricane provisions if the winds get above 20 miles per hour, so you

    can imagine how she packs for a trip from Virginia to Texas in a Winnebago. Given her

    way, the passengers would not be passengers but stragglers tethered behind the great

    behemoth as it makes its way, with no room within for them but requiring them to tag along, to drag behind, to justify its existence along with all that she packed inside to replace them.

    I am the other side, the good side. I insist that people be permitted to ride inside of the RV

    and that we rid ourselves of certain unnecessary items. Eventually, threatened by the lack

    of a trip altogether, she comes around with respect to a number of items, at least enough of

    them so that we can sleep a family comfortably as well as our daughter’s best friend.

    We start off with great merriment. I love the camper and I have the jams going and the kids

    are seemingly thrilled to be together, Erin and her friend Stephanie especially, so that it is

    unfortunate that we only make it three hours along our 24 hour trip before a belt decides to

    end its life.

    Because we have planned well for this trip, I am a wealthy man and though surprised to discover that ours is not a car nor a truck but some sort of alien in-between, I am willing to pay some toothless guy in greasy garb for a ‘special’ $300 alternator that will fix our problem. The kids are bored eventually as we wait, but that is the price you pay to get it done right, right?

    Before too long we are back on the road, maybe four hours, maybe five, later, and off we are for Texas. An hour later, the belt breaks again. Fortunately, the Winnie has two batteries, both sufficiently charged before the breakdown that I can make it back to my specialist. But his shop is not just shut down but shut down for the weekend at the very least. It may be that $300 was all he needed to retire.

    I find someone else. We repeat the lovely experience and we move on. This time we make it almost to the North Carolina border before we break down. Again, I pay, again, we wait, again we move on, more hopeful than ever before.

    Sixty miles inside of Carolina, the Winnie does it again. This time, we are low on gas in addition to being short of power, so short of power that she, Winnie, she dies. I advise my wife and the young ladies to sit tight, to keep the doors closed and to stay inside while my young son and I walk to the exit sign (and, as it turns out, BACK toward the Winnie) to get gas and a new belt.

    Enamored by the help I receive, the lessons I learn, I am thinking of converting to Christianity, the religion of my youth: I am saved. They not only resolve my belt problem, they not only come out on their off day to resolve that, but they give me a ride to the closest gas station for a fillup on my gas can and then give me a ride back to Winnie, where the girls are outside, flopping about and trying to avoid the sun.

    "Someone stopped!" my wife exclaims when we are once again in a functional vehicle, on our way to Texas. "They were weird! We didn’t open the doors or even crack a window, so they banged on the window for a minute. We were petrified!"

    When it breaks down again, I manage to get off of the interstate and then get back on, headed in the other direction, back toward our home.

    A couple of miles along, she dies again. When the trooper pulls up behind me, I am drinking a beer on the stoop of the side door. He is kind enough to take the wife, the girls, my son, to a motel on the Virginia side of the border. He says he will come back for me.

    I drink beer, sitting on the stoop of Winnie. I play guitar and drink beer.

    When Mr. Friendly Trooper finally returns to pick me up, I am completely toasted, but still polite. Rather than hauling me off to jail, defeated young man that I am, he allows me to sit beside him in his squad car as he transports me to the truck stop motel where my dear ones await me.

    Swamped, completely swamped by failure and beer, I can only thank the man for helping us to be back together. I hug my wife, I gather the kids to me and hug them. And then my wife says, "It was so funny. We were in the trooper’s car headed here and we heard other troopers talking to ours, saying ‘So, Jed is the only hillbilly left in the jalopy?’ .


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