Weekend Writing Prompt: Poking out of the back of the dump truck …

WRITING PROMPT: Dump Truck Dilemma
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In front of your car, the dump truck stops. Your heart nearly does, too, when you see what’s poking out of the back of it.

(Image: Via)

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24 thoughts on “Weekend Writing Prompt: Poking out of the back of the dump truck …

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  3. Donna Morang

    Poking out of the back of the dump truck as it passed by me on the side street of Zihuatanejo I saw what looked like my husband. I knew he had been very borracha (drunk) when I left for work this morning, but what could have happened to him in the meantime?

    I started honking my horn and waving like a crazy women to stop the truck. They ignored the noise and my crazy woman act. I could see the driver had ear-plugs and was probably listening to his favorite music. He drove merrily along until I finally passed him and put on my emergency lights. Now, I have his attention but he doesn’t seem to care about me one way or the other. All I can think of is that my poor husband is in the back of this stinky, filthy dump truck? Finally, I got right in front of the truck, hit my brakes and made him stop or drive over the top of my little old car and me.

    The driver jumped out screaming about crazy Latina women drivers and almost killing him and who knew who else. He was on his phone calling the police. Good, now I had everyone’s attention, maybe I could save mi esposo ( my husband)!

    I ignored the driver just as he had ignored me. I raced to the back of the truck, searching for my Gerardo. The truck was so big all I saw was the tail-gate and stinking plastic garbage. The smell was so terrible, I started gagging, and then my breakfast was adding to the stench, and my tears were unstoppable. At that moment I hated that dump truck and it’s driver.

    I knew the police were on their way because I could hear those dreadful sirens. I knew help was only minutes away. Gerardo’s sister is a policewoman and I know they are used to helping people in need.

    The truck driver is telling the police about the crazy woman and about almost being killed. Then the nicest policeman asks me, “What seems to be the matter, Senora?” When I explain that I think my husband is in the back of the truck. Finally, everyone is concerned and doesn’t think I’m so crazy.

    The nasty truck driver quickly lifted the tail-gate. The police, he and I are pawing through garbage searching for my man. I am screaming for Gerardo, and waiting for an answer. “I see him, I see him,” I yelled. The police grabbed at me and told me, “Wait Senora, wait for us to help you!”

    The first policeman pulled and pulled on the legs of my husband. I screamed as they pulled a life sized rubber doll from the back of the garbage truck.

    My darling Geraldo wasn’t in the back of the truck and I guess the driver was right. I am one crazy Latina woman.

  4. Beti Spangel

    It came out of nowhere, this ancient behemoth of steel and oil, rust and hydraulics. It was just suddenly… there, making no sense. Hadn’t I just been driving along, enjoying the mountains and gently turning fall leaves, careful of the pine needles’ slipperiness in the damp morning? The road had been empty, all mine, quiet on this overcast day. Now, without warning, this tank of a vehicle sat in front of me, blocking my passage. I leaned on my horn, but no sound came forth.

    The smoke from the diesel engine drifted quietly from its exhaust pipe above the driver’s door, floating towards the sky, swirling, disappearing. A large orange sign covered the gate of the truck – “CONSTRUCTION VEHICLE, DO NOT FOLLOW” – a sentiment I never understood. Why would I follow it unless I needed to? Do a lot of drivers have construction vehicle fetishes that needed to be discouraged by a sign?

    I tried to look around the wide vehicle on this curvy mountain road, hoping for a clear passage around. The road looked open, the sky ahead brighter. I stepped on the accelerator but my car didn’t move. The engine raced from the pressure of my foot yet the vehicle remained where it was. I glanced at my dash; the “D” was illuminated. Transmission problems? You must be kidding me.

    The low cloud cover and mist of the earlier drizzle began to burn off and the light around me grew yet brighter. Movement from the top of the dump truck’s gate caught my attention. A large brown head, long nose, and floppy ears peeked over the metal. My breath caught in my throat as I recognized the features of Teddy, my childhood dog. He had been dead thirty years if a day. I blinked and looked again. He panted and looked at me, then gave a bark.

    I felt like a deer caught in headlights – unable to look away, unable to move. To Teddy’s left, the small orange head of my long deceased cat Cagney suddenly popped over the gate, then his whole body was suddenly walking along the top of the truck’s gate, perfectly balanced, tail curling. He looked much different now from the way he did when I scraped his broken body off the road in 1980.

    The air continued to brighten around me, but that realization was purely peripheral. I could not tear my eyes from the display over the top of the dump truck. I felt I had stopped breathing when I saw the slow reach of a human hand come over the gate. No, no. Slowly the head of my grandfather showed itself, but a much younger, vibrant version of the old man who passed some years ago. He looked directly in my eyes and smiled, warm and loving.

    The gate to the dump truck slowly started to swing open from the bottom, as all good dump truck gates do. There were no longer trees and leaves and mountains surrounding me; all was brilliant white. The dump truck that had backed out of the driveway on a blind curve and into my path was someone’s way of saying that all seemingly good things must come to an end. I would soon find out what lay ahead. I thought, Wow!! Wait until I tell people that your pets and family who have passed before really DO come to greet you! But then I realized the irony that that would not be possible.

  5. Robin Leonard


    I must stop; the urgency has hit critical stage. Nineteen hours of driving is insane. Why didn’t I fly? Because I wanted to sight see along the way. Well the joke’s on me. All I saw was straight road, vehicles of all sizes and something so strange it will be etched on my brain for a long time.

    Parts of I80 through Pennsylvania can be a long godforsaken stretch, especially at three in the morning. Tractor-trailer rigs from all over the country are hauling goods into the northeast. But this one dump truck was chocked full of broken and busted building debris; I’m clueless why I noticed it other than its enormous size.

    Road rhythm is a strange phenomenon. After about 10 hours of driving with only pee, coffee, and gas breaks, I was lulled into a smooth catatonic tempo. Now nine hours later, I was into my nineteenth hour on that long stretch of bleak black ribbon when the Kenworth blew by me doing at least eighty-five and then just cut in front of me. Suddenly junk from the truck started bouncing off the Land Rover’s hood and it was then I realized that beastly thing blew a tire. The truck, me, and several other vehicles started to slow down and finally stop.

    My road rhythm had suddenly taken a ninety-degree turn for the weird. If there was any doubt about falling asleep it was now gone baby gone! My heart had slipped up into my throat and I started to shake. Whew, that was close. While sitting there behind the dump, all of a sudden, my senses took note of the Land Rover’s headlight beam on the back of the truck. There it was, a huge window sticking up, wedged in behind the tailgate. The freaky part of my vision was the broken glass pattern resembled a leaping cat. More scrap was piled behind the window and I caught a glimpse of what looked like drywall and some kind of shiny black strapping. The night breeze was lightly fluttering the strapping and my headlights made the light and reflections dance all over this absurd canvas in front of me. This crazy broken window now took on the life of a white tiger; the shiny metal strapping simulating the black stripes of this wild thing were rippling and the whole spectacle looked like it was trying to leap out the back of the truck. Can’t be, I told myself. I sat there for what seemed like an hour, before the police arrived but in real time, it was only about fifteen minutes. The police asked if I was okay. Yes, I told the officer but something hit my car when the tire blew and that was why I pulled over.

    Thank God, a sign ahead. Food, Gas, Lodging next exit. I believe the time has come to take advantage of some of what it is offering.

  6. Mark James

    I want to say I kept driving because I’d left the oven at home and I lived upstairs from a single mom with three kids, or that my car was making funny noises or even that I was late for work; yeah, even that. None of that would be true.

    The dump truck was in front of me. We were both stuck in traffic. It was summer in Dallas, over a hundred degrees out. At first I didn’t see anything. A black cloud was of flies was crawling over the garbage. The stench coming off the truck was enough to make my eyes water, and it was blowing right into my face from my car’s a/c vents. I had two choices: turn off the air and roast in the stink, or leave the windows up and get the stink blown in.

    Storm clouds crept through the sky. A strong wind blew down the highway. The cloud of flies lifted, and her eyes were on mine. Seeing eyes buried in all that filth wasn’t the worst part; recognizing them is what almost made my heart stop. I should have stopped, called the cops. My cell phone was on the seat next to me, and for once, the battery wasn’t dead.

    The coming storm brought a break in traffic. The truck pulled away, like it had dumps to visit, bodies to hide. As soon as a gap opened in front of me and I wasn’t moving, every horn for three miles back was blaring, like they wanted blood.

    I edged over, took the exit that was next. After that, I kept driving. If I hadn’t filled up my tank the day before, I would have been caught halfway between Dallas and Forth Worth running on empty. When I started seeing things around me again, I was on a long dark stretch of road. The nearest brake lights were two shrinking dots in the distance.

    In the darkness I thought about trials and witnesses and how nobody would convict a gangster politician if the last witness was riding in the back of a dump truck.

    By midnight, I’d made it home. I slinked past the dark window of my flat screen television like a grave robber carrying the goods. Someone would have reported her missing by then. I didn’t want to see it; didn’t want to see her eyes again.

    What Frannie Vailey couldn’t do in real life, she did in death. Someone saw Frannie, called the cops. Her body didn’t make it to the dump. The morning paper headline screamed at me like an accusation, “Murder Investigation Into Death of School Teacher Witness”.

    They convicted the politician. I sent flowers to Ms. Vailey’s funeral. Now I go around doing my life, telling myself I wasn’t scared, and that, if something like that happens again, I’d be the one calling the cops. But some nights I wake up out of a nightmare where Frannie Vailey is reaching her dead arms out to me. On those nights, I wonder how much longer I can go on living with being a coward.

  7. Dare Gaither

    Dan slammed on the brakes.
    The curves of the mud-flap girl had
    captured his imagination and nearly
    caused him to hit the dump truck
    now stopped in front of us.
    He flashed me the same grin that had
    won my heart and said cheerfully,

    “Man, those are some big tires.”

    I rolled my eyes and peered up at the towering
    load of debris that filled the back of the truck.
    As my gaze reached the top, my jaw dropped.
    “Oh my God! It’s Uncle Mitch!” I screamed, grabbing Dan’s arm.

    Dan wrenched his eyes from mud-flap girl and turned
    with a worried look to scan the back seat.
    He had reason to worry. He still owed Uncle Mitch
    two hundred dollars from last month’s poker game.
    Uncle Mitch took his poker very seriously.

    “Up there.”

    I pointed to the familiar face staring down at us
    from a pile of tree stumps and dirt. I recognized every line
    I had so lovingly painted in honor of his 80th birthday.
    Everyone at his surprise party had been speechless with awe
    when I presented the finished portrait to him. He was still
    trying to decide on the perfect place to put it.

    Before Dan could stop me, I flung open the door and
    marched up to the front of the truck.
    Dan walked up behind me and shook his head
    at the driver’s questioning look. I shouted over the
    growling truck engine, demanding to know why he had
    my painting. He obviously though I was insane.

    “We’re clearing some land for a man who wants it for pasture.
    He asked us to get rid of that thing when we hauled off the last load of brush.”

    “No,” I said fiercely, “there must be some mistake.
    I painted this myself for my uncle’s 80th birthday.”

    The driver shrugged.
    “He told me to burn it, bury it or take it to the dump…
    He didn’t care which, just get rid of it.”

    Dan erupted into a spasm of coughing.
    It must have been dust from the truck.
    I stood with my mouth open, unable to grasp
    what this all meant. When Dan recovered, he
    asked the man if we could have the painting.

    “Suit yourself,” the man said as he climbed back in the cab.

    Dan pulled the car up close to the back of the truck and crawled
    on the hood to reach my painting. God, I love that man.
    Chivalry is not dead. He grabbed the frame and pulled it out
    with a loud grunt. He handed it to me and jumped back
    to the ground. I threw my arms around him in thanks with kissed
    whispers of more gratitude when we got home.

    It was completely lost on him.
    My vision of a knight in shining armor evaporated
    when he gave a triumphant chuckle and said,

    “Well, Uncle Mitch…I think we can call it even.”

  8. Nathan Honore

    We are completely stopped. I release my fists and sink into my seat. My heart was racing with the adrenaline of a bloodthirsty Mongol for a minute. Now the body attempts to return to normal. It takes a while. I chalk it up to the family blood pressure problem, which may or may not have something to do with our quick tempers.
    The green corn fields around me are at hip height. I try to think about how much they’ve grown since last week, but I really don’t care. My focus returns to the dump truck in front of me. Out of nowhere this jackhole just stopped in front of me. I can’t see a thing beyond this bulky tank of a questionable stench. What the hell is going on? My frustrated fist finds the steering wheel, discharging a small honk.
    The garbage is overflowing. Bags upon bags of refuse just wait to be opened, a raccoon’s wet dream. I hope they all stay in the truck and off my car. There is a healthy mix of white and black bags, a couple of vacuum cleaners, random pieces of wood, and a life-size replica of Han Solo encased in carbonite. My eyes widen, my posture becomes upright and attentive, my hands start to sweat, my heart explodes from my chest. Han Solo’s frozen hands are held up to me, his mouth slightly open. The off silver and pewter of the casing looks identical to the one used in Jabba’s palace. Not so much Cloud City, it was much more metallic and fresh there. But oh my sweet baby Jesus! I must have it, no matter how bad it smells or whose cat peed on it.
    I unbuckle my seat belt and slowly let it pass through my hand. Traffic doesn’t show any signs of moving. The cars are lined up as far as my mirrors can see. I put the car in park and steadily open the door. I try to stay focused, blocking out the curious faces behind me. Crouching and keeping one hand on my car for balance, I slowly sneak towards the imprisoned Captain Solo. A few horns go off behind me, but they are merely the John Williams orchestration of my own Star Wars adventure. Play on my friends, play on.
    It stinks worse than I imagined. I try to breathe through my jacket sleeve, but I need both hands. I grab the rectangle replica on opposite sides and pull. It won’t budge. Wiggling it does nothing, but I keep trying anyways. I am so focused that I don’t even hear the sound of air brakes being released. More sound effects to me. The dump truck backs up suddenly before jerking forward. Those tiny movements send me backwards into my car. My hood makes the horrible sound of caving plastic as I slowly lose consciousness. I’ve let Han Solo down. Looks like it’s up to Lando and Chewie.