Follow That Man

You’re a taxi driver in a one-light town. You’ve arrived at the county library to pick up your passenger, a girl no older than thirteen. She says, “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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486 thoughts on “Follow That Man

  1. bilbobaggins321

    There are way too many people in this world with broken dreams. I can safely say that I’m one of them.

    The name’s Edgar. It had been many a year since I’d come to the dinky crossroads of a town called Rocket, Nebraska looking for a new start. Almost forgotten were my old friends, old mistakes, the condo I dragged myself to every night after the hours of looking through the bottom of a translucent bottle failed to give relief. Almost.

    Rain was pouring in grey sheets, disrupting all vision. I peered morosely out of the window, cranking the radio to all possible stations to get something other than static. The wipers squealed along the windshield, trying in vain to clear it. Nary a potential customer ambled along the sidewalks. I sighed and leaned back in the uncomfortable seat, relegating myself to another evening in the trenches.

    Suddenly, a shadow surfaced, and the door popped open, unleashing the sounds of the cacophony outside. I jumped, startled, hastened to turn off the radio, still static. Some girl I had never seen before rushed into the seat, eager to get out of the squall. Yes, a girl. I, myself, was surprised. The taxi business doesn’t get a lot of business from minors, does it? But I kept my composure.

    “Where you going, kid?”
    She was a lanky kid, brown hair stuffed in a ponytail, purple shirt and jeans. From out of some pocket surfaced a crisp Benjamin. The door slammed shut, reducing the rain to a low splattering again.
    “Just watch that Mexican restaurant across the street. I’m waiting for someone to come out.”
    I didn’t move a muscle, watched slowly as the bill was placed in my hand. Alarm bells automatically were ringing as loud as an enraged tornado. I cocked my head, meeting her eyes, blue pupils that refused to give up any vital information. She couldn’t be more than twelve. Probably the daughter of some semi-rich vacationer who was just passing through. But that was just what I assumed.

    “That’s it?”
    “Yea.”
    I slid the hundred into the cup holder, not even starting to count the fare. I wasn’t about to get into some run-in with Mr. RV if his kid stole his money for some joyride through the corn fields. This was all some game, wasn’t it? I half expected some scene, some half-hour wait until I drove her back to wherever she lived, needless apologies to the family until I got back to the loitering in the taxi.

    “Who’s this guy you’re looking for, anyways?” I started nonchalantly.
    She just looked the other way, out of the window, nothing to see. This was starting to get more and more absurd. I took a quick glance towards the restaurant. It was closing in less than ten minutes, could barely see the guy at the counter handing out drinks amongst the neon lights.
    “Okay, then . . .”
    I lean for the radio, when she snaps her head back and grabs my elbow.
    “There he is!” she announces in a somewhat-stage whisper.
    My pupils flew to the brown, saloon-like doors, which shortly flew open. Some short guy in a leather jacket and jeans walked quickly over to some motorcycle, swinging around like some dinghy in a hurricane.
    “What- but- he’s drunk!”
    My hands grasped the car door, but I felt her hands move up to my shoulder, almost harshly holding on.

    “Just follow him. Don’t worry,” she said, as if shrugging it off.
    I looked at her again, shocked, put the car in gear. I intended to stop him, wherever he was. The engine roared to life, belching out some combo of smoke and fumes, and I swung the steering wheel as I pulled in behind him in the left lane. The cycle revved up, and he mounted, not even wearing a helmet, crazily veering over past the divider into the turn lane. We both sped up, me lagging cautiously behind him 200 feet.
    “Are you sure I should be following this guy?”
    “I’m dead sure,” she replied, and the way it was said seemed to make me wonder a little bit more about the Benjamin.

    The wipers partially obscured my view of the mysterious target. He was miraculously staying in one lane, nearly popping a wheelie. He seemed in no way hindered by his drenched hair and face. I slowly edged up. 150, 140, 100, 80, feet behind, the license plate still just blurred beyond legibility.

    Suddenly the cycle squealed through a red light, turning viciously to the left. I slammed on the brake pedal, the girl lurching forward, still urgently peering at the drunkard. Cursing under my breath so as not to scar the child, I noticed her expression turn to a dismal sadness.
    “Go, go, go,” she urged me on.
    “What, I can’t disobey traffic, there’s cars coming!”
    For some unknown reason my foot moved to the other pedal, and I turned with each ounce of strength, wild craziness bouncing around my cranium. Why was I doing this for some stranger? I didn’t even care. The other cars edged closer, and then I was past them. The cycler pulled into a gravel drive two blocks down.

    It took me a moment to realize that he had pulled into my house. My tires moved quicker than lightning into the shoulder.
    “What the h-”
    I stopped myself again, shooting a look at the girl. She seemed unusually placid.
    I reached for the seat belt, remembered that I had forgotten to put it on, opened the car door, heard the door of my place slam, anger boiling over like some overdone pot. The rain had slowed to a dull sprinkle.

    I relaxed when she put her hand on my shoulder again.
    “Wait,” she said. I turned towards her, the stars like a canopy finally being revealed.
    “Please, come back to New York,” she said tenderly.
    I glanced back at my house, the door closed and all the lights off. A trillion thoughts were running through my head at once. The world seemed to slow around me.
    “I don’t want you to regret the past, Dad.”
    Stars burst like fireworks in the darkness, twisting and turning. All sanity disappeared, explosions in my soul. It all faded to pitch black.

    ______________________________

    And that’s when I woke up. My eyelids snapped open. Rain was pouring in grey sheets, disrupting all vision. The wipers squealed along the windshield, trying in vain to clear it. Nary a potential customer ambled along the sidewalks. The radio was still static.

    I peered to the left. The Mexican restaurant across the road was just about to close down. My fists clenched. I slowly turned my head to the passenger seat. I rubbed my dirty jeans. Crumpled up inside my leather jacket was the empty beer bottle. My head went down into my palms, and I rubbed until my forehead was raw red. Was that a hundred dollar bill still in the cup holder, or just a remnant of the old me in my head? I could not tell for sure. I cried along with the clouds.

    ________________________________________

    There are way too many people in this world with broken dreams. I can safely say that I’m one of them. Ten years ago I left the Big Apple to knock some sense into my head. Now all I am is a survivor, edging my way along the cleft of my regrets. All I am is a set of hopeful imaginations.

    THE END

    Please comment- Being only 14, I could use some advice.

  2. laurentravian

    She slid into the seat of my car. I couldn’t believe it: someone else was actualizing my childhood dream of going somewhere (alone). I squared my cap and made sure my hair was still tucked in. Why did I always get more tips if they thought I was a guy? The kid said, “Yeah, you? Follow the guy who just came out of Little Mario’s. I’ll make it worth your while.” I almost choked on my gum, but did as she commanded. It was raining, and nighttime. The poor guy was huddling to get out of the rain. I slammed on the brakes when I saw who it was. “Why are you stopping?!” The kid yelled in frustration. I turned back to her. “Listen kid, no money in the world can get me to follow that guy. You can go anywhere else for free, but I refuse to follow him.” The kid regarded me. “Lady, you can take off the hat now. You had me fooled at first, but you forgot to disguise your voice.” I obliged her, and let down my hair, popping my cherry mint gum as I did so. She gasped, but quickly recollected herself. “So why won’t you follow him?” she asked. I regarded her closely. “I don’t see how that’s any of your business.” She totally blew me off. “That’s my dad.” I whistled. “Good for him. I see he finally put down roots. Now, why would your father just leave you alone?” She ducked her head. “He doesn’t know I exist. I was put up for adoption when I was a baby, with just a photo of my parents and a name tag. I was hoping he could lead me to my mother.” I surveyed her features. “How old are you?” I asked, holding my breath in anticipation. “Fourteen.” She said bravely. I drew in my breath. Yeah, she was about the right age. “You’re small for fourteen.” I said. She squinted at me. “So?” She said. I sighed. “What’s your name, kid?” “Danielle. Dani for short.” I swallowed my gum in shock. “Look kid, I am between jobs right now, no one wants a lawyer at the moment. I picked up the only job I could find that was respectable, my life hasn’t been very good, and I had you in the middle of law school, and I had no intention of raising a family.” I blubbered hopelessly. She nodded sagely. “I knew it. Can we chase him down now?” I sighed. “Listen kid. It don’t want to see him. He just leaves people. Its what he does. I think we both know that.” She nodded again. “Okay Mom.”

  3. mshoward

    As I pulled up to the library and saw her standing there I knew something wasn’t right. She couldn’t have been older than 13, where were her parents and why was she out this late, I thought as I looked at the clock. I rolled down the window “Did you call for a taxi?” I was hoping she would say no whatever trouble this girl was in I wanted no part of it. She looked like maybe she was a runaway, hardly a privileged girl just getting a ride home from the library, especially at this time of night.
    “Yes I did” she said with a blank stare. She was eerie clearly troubled.
    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street?” she pointed over my shoulder. “In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.” She commanded
    “May I ask what for?” I didn’t want to get involved, but I wanted to know what was up with her creepy demeanor.
    “JUST DO WHAT I SAY!!!!” she screamed.
    “Ok, ok miss, there’s no need for yelling” I wanted her to hush before anyone thought I was trying to abduct her.
    “There he is!” she informed
    The man walked out, he was tall and stocky he had on dark clothes and had dark hair, he looked like he could have been about late 30’s to mid 40’s. He walked about a block down to a dark alley way it was a short cut to the loading docks of an abandoned warehouse that was used when the city would get outside shipments of goods. Looking around he went into the warehouse.
    “Turn down here” she pointed to the end of the dark alley way next to the warehouse “and stop right there” she commanded again “Just wait for me”
    “I’m sorry miss but I don’t feel comfortable” she cut me off “I’ll give you an extra 100 bucks just wait for me!” she said as she hopped out of the taxi carrying her book bag in her hand. She walked behind the car back to the loading docks. About 10 minutes went by; she came back to the car and casually got in.
    “One last stop, the bus station!” she said calmly
    Disturbed I just followed her orders hoping to hurry up and end this weird night. I was more concerned about having a minor in the taxi without a parent’s permission then I was with the fact the she just really creeped me the hell out. I drove cautiously but over the speed limit. Finally, we arrived at the bus station; I agreed to drop her off down the street just because I didn’t want anyone to see her getting out of my car, she threw me a roll of money “you’ve never seen me before and you will not speak of this night or I will find you John Hampton” she said with a stern look on her face. “Agreed” she nodded Ok shit just got really weird but I nodded in agreement.
    1 month later
    “This just in a man identified as Michael Thomson was found dead in the old distribution warehouse this morning by the maintenance crew. The coroner’s report states that the victim has been dead for about a month. Cause of death seven gunshot wounds, three to the head and four to the heart” the news reporter explained
    “There were no witnesses, but police say that the victim may have known who his killer was.”
    “The victim may have been lead to this spot by someone he knew; there were no signs of a struggle” statement from an officer
    “About two months ago the victim’s 12 year old step-daughter Alisa Johns went missing from her downtown home. The family reported the runaway 24 hours after she didn’t come home from school. There is still no updates on the young girls where abouts”

    My heart began to race as I sat on the edge of the bed starring at the picture of the young I picked from the library that night, confused I can’t fathom that I am now an accessory to murder.

  4. Betty

    “You got money to pay, little lady? ‘Cause if you ain’t got money to pay, we ain’t going nowhere.”
    The girl’s luminous eyes held mine as she nodded. “I can pay. I wouldn’t have called you if I couldn’t.”
    I’d swear those eyes were old, much older than the face they adorned. A moment later, the door across the street opened. A man stepped out.
    “That’s him,” she said.
    I frowned into the darkness. The man wore a tan trenchcoat and a dark hat. Impossible to see his face. He strode to a 1972 Galaxy 500. He unlocked the door.
    I chewed at the inside of my jaw. What should I do? The man got in the car. A moment later, the lights snapped on as he pulled away from the curb.
    “Go,” the girl said. “Go.”
    “Follow your gut,” my pa used to say. So I gripped the wheel and set my foot to the excelerator. The powder-blue Ford was easy to follow. Nobody made taillights like those any more. I whistled softly as we swung to the left around Fountain Square, then ascended the hill towards Mountain Pike.
    Near the top of the hill, the Ford passed under a traffic light as it turned from amber to red. I felt a nudge at my shoulder.
    “Don’t stop! He’ll get away.”
    I floored it, narrowly missing a guy on a motorcycle. I gritted my teeth, waiting to hear a siren. None came. A moment later, the Ford swerved hard to the right, then turned left.
    “He knows he’s being tailed,” I said to the rearview mirror. I pulled up alongside the narrow alley and peered into the darkness.
    “Please don’t lose him.”
    I tensed at the panic in her voice. My gut done clamped its mouth shut. I shifted into reverse, backed up and turned left.
    I drove real slow. I knew this area. It was not the place I wanted to be at this time of night. “Why are you following this guy?”
    “I’m not paying you to ask questions.”
    My mouth gapped open. I’d half a mind to stop right there and put her out. But I couldn’t do it. Not in this neighborhood.
    Brake lights shone up ahead.
    “There he is!”
    I sped up to follow the car as it eased right onto Base Street, then slid into another alley and parked beneath a glaring neon sign. I stopped and shut off the lights.
    The man got out and glanced around before taking a short staircase to a door. He rapped at the door and when it opened, stepped inside. What?
    The girl opened her door and ran straight toward the steps. I was right behind her. “Wait a minute! You didn’t pay me, you little―” It was too late, she pounded on the door and it opened. She dashed inside. Just before the lock clicked, I pushed it open and stepped inside, where I stood in shocked silence.
    “Surprise! Happy Birthday!”

  5. Pdomoniq

    The downtown street was still steamy from the recent rain shower that had just passed as I pulled up to the curb near one of the palm trees in front of the Library. Rachael Miller was the name that Mike my employer and the owner of the Tifton Taxi had given me. I didn’t see anyone. I pulled out my phone and called Mike. However, before Mike could pick up the back door of the van slide open. I hit the end button and turned around.

    A girl of about eleven stood in the doorway. Her shirt and jeans looked damp. Her hair was parted in crocked pig tails, and she wore a a hello kitty bag at her side. She reminded me of my daughter Stephanie when she had been that young.

    “Hello, dear. Is your mother coming?”

    Jumping in, “I requested the taxi,” she said and slammed the door with surprising strength. “Start the meter. There will be a man in a business suit and a black briefcase. I want you to follow him.”

    Feeling sorry for the girl, “Is he your father?”

    “No he is me.” I didn’t get a chance to ask.

    “There he goes,” she said pointing to the man exiting the Mexican Restaurant across the street. The man wasn’t alone. Two children who were about the girl’s age were with him.

    “Let’s give your mom a call.”

    “Go,” she ordered.

    “Shouldn’t you be at the pool or some place keeping cool?” I asked watching the man in the suit stumbled into the driver’s seat of a black sedan parked on the side of the street.

    “No. I should be in a meeting right now,” she mumbled. “Here.”She threw twenty dollars at me. The flat rate was usually 15.50.”

    If anything I was going to follow this man for the safety of the kids and the safety of the public. I gave one more pause before slowly easing from the curb. I started to dial the police when the sedan took an abrupt stop at the light almost hitting a woman with a walker. The car stopped just in time. When the light changed, the car sped through the intersection.

    I put my phone down and followed the car as it drove hurriedly through the light traffic, sighing as the car finally parked at the local water park. Before I could come to a complete stop, the little girl had unfastened her seat belt. “Hey,” I yelled. She drew another twenty dollar bill from her bag and threw it at me. “That’s not what..”

    Opening the door, she ran towards the man and tackled the man into the patch of grass. I exited the van, and looked on in horror as the little girl yanked a shell necklace from around his neck, and uttered something I couldn’t hear. The other kids looked om expressionless. The man stopped moving for a moment, and then sat up and patted himself. “I’m me!”

  6. Frostie

    It was a hot, mid-July night when I arrived at the county library to pick up a passenger. I rolled my eyes when I pulled up to an empty curb.

    Five minutes. That is all I’ll wait.

    Just when I shut the engine off, I saw a young girl dash out of the library. She stopped, taking a quick look around.

    I looked around, too, wondering what in the hell she was searching for. But the streets were empty. They were the only two on the block.

    She didn’t look any older than thirteen and had long, straight, jet black hair with wide, bright green eyes and a pale, freckled face. When she got closer to the car, I saw a few spatters of blood on her shirt, and a dark red smear on her right hand.

    She jumped into the backseat, and closed her eyes, clutching an old book against her heaving chest.

    I gulped, staring at her in my rearview mirror. After a few minutes of silence, I couldn’t take it anymore.

    “Are you alright?” I asked firmly.

    She jumped at the sound of my voice, almost as if she didn’t know I was there.

    “I… I…” She cleared her throat, catching her breath. “Yes, I am fine, thank you.”

    She spoke with an accent, one that I couldn’t quite discern.

    “Where do you need to go?” I tried hard to keep my voice from cracking.

    She squinted, and stared passed me at something on the other side of the road. She furrowed her brows, pursing her lips.

    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”

    I glanced at the run-down restaurant. It looked like it had been out of business for a long time.

    I looked in my rearview again, watching as she opened her book, poring over the yellowed pages. Everything inside me told me that this wasn’t a good idea, but I couldn’t find the strength to tell this girl to find another cab. I was too curious to turn her down.

    Sure enough, five minutes later, an older man dressed in a dark suit exited the restaurant, hopping into a black car that pulled up in front of the building.

    I waited until he reached the next block before pursuing. I followed him for about fifty miles outside of town before I looked in the mirror at her, frowning.

    “Listen, I’ve got to know what is going on. Why do you need to follow this man?”

    She looked into my eyes, studying me before answering.

    “I made a promise that I am obligated to keep-” she paused, glancing at the book that rested in her lap. “I swore on my own existence that if I ever saw this disgusting waste of a life again, I was going to kill him the same way he tried to kill me.”

  7. Chad

    “Another hard night in the mean streets. No, no good.” Barry drummed his fingers on the steering wheel.
    “Another uphill night in a downhill town, Detective Striker was ready to wash this day away. The bottle of Jack in the glove box would do just the trick, but for now duty called. The stake-out dragged into its fourteenth hour but the detective was vigilant. Eyes locked on the restaurant across the street. Tonight is the night the Corelli family goes down.” The rear door of the Crown Victoria slammed shut and Barry jumped in his seat turning to face the intruder, wielding a half eaten hotdog. His left eye narrowed and he finished swallowing the morsel in his mouth.
    Barry plucked the folded money from her fingers. She was dressed like a boy; drainpipe jeans tucked into Doc Martens and a t-shirt under her flight jacket. Her braided pony-tail hid behind her soft round face.
    “What’s the matter? Never had a thirteen year-old fare before?” She said in a dead tone, challenging his open mouthed gaze. Barry sank back into his seat facing forward.
    “So where to ma’-”
    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”
    “O-kay” Barry surrendered. He shifted in his seat and considered keeping time mentally but before he could start the clock he felt a kick to the back of the seat and his passenger blurted out,
    “That’s him! In the hat!”
    “Oh. Oh!” Barry stammered.
    “Go go!” She rattled. The man exited Juanita’s and immediately ducked down the alley between the restaurant and the pharmacy.
    “Go around.” Barry complied, easing the Crown Vic out of the library lot onto the street. A right then a left and he was parallel to the mark’s course.
    “Let me out at the corner.” Barry nodded. The car lurched to the curb. Barry let it roll a bit so he could see down Holly street. The girl jumped out onto the sidewalk and pressed herself against the wall. Exiting the alley, the man headed toward the corner where his ambush lay. The girl dug into her jacket and pulled out a shiny metal object. As he rounded the corner and caught sight of her, a bright flash caused him to throw his arm to his face.
    “Gotcha Uncle Paul!” The girl chirped with glee. The man laughed and hugged her.
    “That you did Pumpkin! Tell me you at least got my good side this time.” The girl showed him the back of the camera and he seemed amused. He glanced up and met eyes with Barry. He burst into laughter again.
    “No fair. Barry helped you.”
    “Being resourceful Sheriff!” She beamed. Barry grinned as he pulled away and returned the twosome’s waves.
    “See ya Jill!”

  8. w.r.i.t.e.r

    If you’re a taxi driver in a small town, you know just about everyone.
    As I leaned back into the torn leather seat of my cab, I prepared for a quiet night. I get the occasional drunk asking for a ride to his friend’s place to crash, but even that’s a rarity around here. I was parked in front of the one-room library next to a still gas station. It doesn’t matter where I park; if someone needs a lift, they’ll see my chipping yellow paint and find me.
    As the Beatles hummed on the fuzzy radio, I noticed a figure emerging from the library. In the dark of the night, I couldn’t quite make out her features. Upon entering the glow of a streetlamp, the person appeared to be a young, teenage girl. Her light brown hair was tied into two pigtails that cascaded against a pink sweatshirt. Few kids were left in this town, and she certainly wasn’t one of them.
    After looking both ways from across the street, the girl nervously scurried up to my cab. Curiosity winning me over, I turned to face her once she had crawled into the back seat of my taxi. Up close, I saw that she wore light freckles down her nose.
    In a tone of voice that told me she was not joking around, the girl said, “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”
    My policy has always been, “It’s not my business.” But I knew that this was not a usual circumstance.
    “Don’t you have a specific place to go?” I offered, turning so that my eyes were locked on the health-code-violating restaurant she was speaking of. “I charge by the distance, so…”
    “Please, sir,” she pried, attempting to fasten a broken buckle. It’s not my business. I ducked my head, attempting to compromise my motto and my instincts. Still unsure of how to handle the situation, I brought my focus back up to the soon-to-be-shuttered Mexican restaurant.
    As the digital clock above my broken CD player expressed the fifth passing minute, I noticed someone leaving the restaurant. Fearing regret, I started the engine.
    Trying not to attract attention to us, I slowly steered the cab forward. The man we were following was tall, with dusty, brown hair and a slouched posture. I tried to halt my inquisitive thoughts and focus on the faint, yellow lines twisting down the road.
    Eventually, the man entered a relatively small house at a fork in the road. With the bill’s amount calculated in my head, I looked over my shoulder, ready to tell the girl how much she owed. She was still gazing at the door of the house, lost in her own wandering thoughts.
    “Who was that?” I asked, ignoring my policy. Her hazel eyes distant, the girl responded quietly, “That was my father. He doesn’t know I exist.”

  9. HannahBanana26

    I pulled the car to a stop in front of the library where a girl with dark braided hair and furrowed brows was waiting on the front steps. She was so intent on studying her watch that she didn’t even notice me drive up. I considered simply honking the horn to get her attention, but I thought it would be more polite to get out of the car.
    I opened the door and climbed out onto the sidewalk into the afternoon heat. “Did you call a cab?”
    The girl’s head whipped up, revealing piercing blue eyes that caused me to stop in my tracks. They didn’t look like they belonged to a girl no older than thirteen. They looked like they had been around for a lifetime. Like they had seen things.
    “Yes, of course,” she said in an accent I didn’t recognize. She checked her watch once more before turning away to collect her things. Finally, I saw her mouth, although I had received the call to pick her up only minutes earlier. She scooped up her plaid backpack and slung it over her shoulder, taking the stairs two at a time all the way down to the street.
    Up close, the girl was even smaller than I thought. If it weren’t for the harsh facial features, I would have guessed she was even younger. Maybe still in elementary school, which sparked a question. “It’s one thirty. Shouldn’t you be in class?”
    “It’s one thirty-two, actually,” she said while tossing her bag into the taxi. “And I no longer require schooling.” She motioned for me to get into the car before disappearing inside.
    Well, she was certainly strange, but at least she didn’t seem dangerous.
    I took a moment to settle into the worn leather seat before asking her where she needed to go. She hardly waited for me to finish the sentence.
    “In approximately five minutes, a man will walk out of that restaurant across the street. I want you to follow him.”
    At first, I wasn’t sure if she was serious, but for the short time I had known her, it didn’t seem out of the realm of possibility. But even if she was serious, that didn’t mean I had to drive her. Not if she wanted me to be her accomplice in some sort of criminal activity.
    “I’m sorry miss, but I can’t do that.”
    “Why not? I have money if that’s what you’re worried about.” She leaned towards me and handed me two crisp hundred dollar bills.
    It would’ve been an excellent bribe if I were the type to accept bribes. “I won’t take that. If you want someone to drive you, you’ll have to call a different taxi.”
    She fell back, exasperated. “I don’t understand. They said the money would work. They said you wouldn’t be difficult,” she said under her breath. I was about to ask what she meant, but I didn’t have the chance. “Perhaps next time.” She pushed a button on her watch, and everything started to fade.

    * * *

    I pulled to a stop in front of the library where a girl with braided hair was waiting on the curb. She was staring at a peculiar looking watch on her wrist.
    I rolled down the window. “Did you call a cab?”
    She looked up at me, grinning. “Incredible,” she breathed. “I mean, yes, of course.”

  10. Heart2Heart

    Puella,
    Love these lines:
    Did I tell her about the day I left my wife? Did I tell her about my little girl?
    In the end, I simply told her the fare.

  11. itsme

    The mid-day sunlight washes down on the tarmac as I drive to the end of the street. The library itself seems to fold itself into the buildings beside it, the paint peels and cracks on the small wooden door, disguising the complex that lay inside. At exactly 6 minutes to 1, I park, and almost simultaneously, the girl opens the door just enough to allow her through and I glimpse a glimpse of interior. Nothing more than another set of doors. With her hair in bunches to the brightly coloured socks, she couldn’t have looked more than 13. In her hands, she was carrying a large book; but nothing else. She walks briskly to the car; her hands still sheltering the book, the spine nestled in the crook of her arm.
    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”
    “You don’t have to remind me, Miss,” I chuckle, “besides, isn’t it strange that they would use The Library out of all places, we could easily have used the antique shop when he was in town the other day.”
    “How will I know that I didn’t have to? After all you were a bit late today. Besides, this isn’t the time to question your superiors even if they were wrong, you understand?”
    “Yes, Miss, sometimes I forget that you aren’t 13 after all.”
    We watch the door of the Mexican place for a dark haired man with a suitcase travelling alone, but even more so at the digital clock.
    “He should be coming any minute now; let’s have another run through of the plan.”
    “We’ve been through this enough times, so much it’s starting to make me think that I can’t remember anything at all.”
    “WHAT?”
    “No. NO. I don’t really mean that.”
    “Never mind. A tall man with dark hair, travelling alone and carrying a suitcase in 2 minutes. We follow him to the airport and meet number 4. at the car park, and give him the book. We leave. Nothing’s going to go-”
    “He’s here.” I grasp the wheel, my foot on the accelerator almost staring as the man (everything according to our meagre description) puts his bag in the trunk…
    And turns around, pulls out a handgun and fires two shots at the passenger window and the glass shatters and rains down on number 2., her hands are still around the book as we accelerated…

  12. puella

    It’ll get me into trouble one day, but my policy is simple: don’t ask questions.
    I’ve seen a lot of things, driving at 2 am Friday nights, and I’ve seen a lot of things, driving noon Mondays. Taxi drivers do. Daylight and darkness, people are the same—strange, and people are my business. People of every shape and every color, people with eyeliner like raccoons and lips red like apples, ties tight as nooses and shirts stiff as boards, people with pink cheeks neuter smiles and hands softened only by roughness. People that whisper, whisper, people that shout, people who are tears held back, tears rushing forth, and tears denied. In a small town, business is people you know.
    So of course, when she came to me, I knew her. And when she asked me to follow the man, I knew who he was too. I knew what she needed to know, and I knew what she would know—where he went, when the dinner was done.
    Some people would say that I shouldn’t have done it, followed him, but business is business and I’ve done worse things for money that what I did today. Today—today I waited for the man to exit the town’s one, little, exceedingly white Mexican restaurant, waited for him to get into his small, old, car, and then, as he started down the little old road called Main Street, drove. Followed him out of town. Not a surprise. There wasn’t much town to drive in.
    Eventually, it got to where we were the only two cars on the road. I didn’t bother to hide that we were following him. Give him a chance to change, to cover things up. He didn’t. He went to the house. To the small cottage, to a woman with open arms and a smile.
    I stopped across the street. The girl got out, and stood in the open air for a long long second in which I think, maybe, the man with salsa stains on his blue collar shirt saw her. Then I started the car back up as she shut the door, and I drove her back to town.
    What did I tell her, the 13 year old girl who’d followed her father to another woman’s home? That it was an old story, written a thousand different ways with words more dangerous flavorful and colorful than hers had been? That it had a thousand angles, that hers was only one, one way to look at the light that, though dying now, might break out in the most unexpected ways?
    Did I tell her about the day I left my wife? Did I tell her about my little girl?
    In the end, I simply told her the fare.
    “25.50,” I said. She pulled the money out of her thin wallet, and gave it to me.
    And I drove away.
    I don’t ask questions, and I don’t give answers. One day it will get me in trouble. It didn’t today.

    1. Frostie

      I agree with Heart2Heart: I love these lines!

      “Did I tell her about the day I left my wife? Did I tell her about my little girl?
      In the end, I simply told her the fare.”

  13. Linzleh

    Morfman shoved the door of El Agave open with his free arm. A white plastic bag containing chicken nachos was swinging back and forth cutting into his hand. Rushing up the street he felt an odd, prickling sense of someone too close, yet glancing over his shoulder he saw little out of the ordinary. Quickly turning down a side street, he felt better moving among the shadows of his poorly lit neighborhood.

    “Kid, he’s gonna see us if I take the turn,” Ancho said as he braked, looking in the rear view mirror at the young passenger.

    “Do it or you’ll lose him!” the skinny, dark haired girl said peering over the seat to watch the man’s progress.
    Slowly edging the cab around the corner Ancho watched this intense kid focus on the man with the bag of food. “Watcha doin’ followin’ this guy anyway?” he muttered as he inched along the dark street.

    “None of your business…” she snarled, suddenly throwing open the back door of the cab, stumbling as she launched herself from the vehicle into the street. No one took her seriously, not even if it was their job to listen, she thought. Vaguely, in the darkening distance she could still make out the swaying white food bag. She moved quickly, sneakers soundlessly disguising her progress from shadow to shadow.

    Morfman could see his building and quickened his pace, edgy that’s what he felt. Maybe it was just hunger, but he could feel his anxiety rising and sweat was clinging to his forehead. He was almost at a jog when he ducked around the closest corner, deciding to double back and wait.

    Ancho couldn’t believe this kid, jumping a fare! Grabbing his keys out of the ignition, he slammed the cab door and followed the kid. Pounding heavily on the pavement he thought he saw her ahead crouched next to a building. Out of breath, pushing himself, car keys held tight in his sweating palm, he lurched ahead another fifty feet. He practically fell upon her and she screamed; punching and kicking at him as he tried to grab her shoulders. His car keys fell to the sidewalk as the toe of her red converse hit his groin.

    Morfman heard screaming, his stomach seized. Not again, he knew that kid had tracked him down. Relentless she was, amazing her determination to claim him, very creepy actually. He left the food and took off at a run; angling away from the commotion on the corner. Spotting an abandoned cab, he yanked the door open, jammed his pocket knife into the ignition and the engine roared to life. Throwing it in reverse, he careened over the curb onto the main road and hit the gas.

    Ancho rolled on the sidewalk as the kid calmly walked away from the crowd. He watched her stomp that guy’s bag of Mexican food to mush. Disgusted he crawled to his knees, snatched up his keys and saw his cab was gone.

  14. JR MacBeth

    TRUE STORY

    “OK, chica, so you want to follow this hombre…why?” The cabby looked at the young girl. Very pretty, but so young. What was he thinking? He pushed the thought out of his head, his abuela’s voice sounding in his head, “Degenerato!”

    “Don’t worry about why, just do it!” She pulled out a wad of cash and threw a fifty at him.

    Ay carramba, one of these. “OK seniorita, whatever you say.”

    They drove only a few blocks. A very large man walked out of the restaurant. “It’s him.”

    The driver looked back at her. “You’re serious? I hope he’s got a car…” He started to laugh. “I hope he can feet into a car, ha, ha, or I think you can follow him yourself a pie, on foot, you know what I mean?”

    “Very funny. He has a car. Watch him.”

    The man lit a cigar, then looked both ways as he crossed the street. There was no need to worry about traffic in this one-horse town, but his big city clothes probably explained it.

    “Who is El Gordo?”

    “My father.”

    “Oh, I’m sorry seniorita, perdoname…”

    “Just shut up.”

    The heavy man squeezed into an older Cadillac. For an hour, they followed, occasionally pulling over, or doing what the young gringa ordered. She didn’t want him to know they followed, but the cabby was sure El Gordo must know. There just weren’t very many other cars out so late.

    “Seniorita? Is your father een trouble?”

    “He’s a doctor. Any more questions George friggin’ Lopez?”

    Suddenly, the Cadillac was gone. The cabby was confused. He must have been too distracted. He looked back to the girl. She had a gun!

    “Ay, Dios mio!” He slammed on the breaks. He now saw the big car was behind him, coming to a stop.

    “Seniorita? A gun? Por que?”

    “Get out of the car,” she said, as she opened her door, “hands over your head.”

    “I have a green card..een my wallet!”

    “Shut up!”

    Heavy footsteps behind. “I think he’ll do.”

    —————————————————————-

    “Another one. Second one this week. Cab drivers.”

    “Looks about the same age too.”

    “Twenty-five, the oldest so far.”

    A crime scene. A body. Two officers chatting over the remains of a man, found in the desert.

    “Do we have anything on these bastards yet?”

    “Maybe. There’s the cigar butts, and the fact that they have to have medical training.”

    “I still think it’s the mafia.”

    “No. A dozen cases. Not just the cigars. I’m positive now that we have one more common denominator.”

    “The female fares. But they said this one was just a young girl…”

    “Maybe…A doctor, and his daughter…A family maybe…”

    —————————————————————–
    —————————————————————–

    ROBIN COOK’S “COMA” HELPED INSPIRE THIS PIECE. WHILE NOT A TRUE STORY IN IT’S SPECIFICS, THE ILLEGAL HARVESTING OF ORGANS IS NOW A $40 BILLION INDUSTRY ACCORDING TO HAVOSCOPE, AND GROWING FASTER THAN THE ILLEGAL DRUG TRADE. IF YOU WANT TO READ SOME REAL “TRUE STORIES”, TAKING PLACE RIGHT NOW, BE PREPARED TO BE ABSOLUTELY SHOCKED, DISGUSTED AND OUTRAGED.

    JR

    1. Naomi

      A well written episode of a kidnapping, and murder for profit, ending with a twist. Your descriptions, and dialogue, are done very well. I think you blended Spanish and English so well in the driver’s speech that using the phonetic spelling of “in” as “een” could be removed without losing any sense of the driver’s accent.

      Your story definitely presented an act of illegally harvesting human organs. What I missed was an emotional connection to the driver. Something that would take me beyond mourning a death, to mourning his (the driver) death. The horror of a human being killed for profit is enormous, but who was the driver and who will miss him, and be crushed by his death? Only a suggestion, but perhaps ending the story with the police notifying the driver’s family about his death, still including the details about the human organ harvesting ring. A way to see the impact of illegal organ harvesting on the victim’s loved ones, and to gain insight about the life that was taken.

      1. JR MacBeth

        Great suggestions Naomi! That old 500 word limit makes it tough on us, but I completely agree, we needed to connect better with the victim. I had hoped that his humor might begin to make him more “real”, and that the George Lopez reference might put a familiar face on him, but at the end of the day, it’s emotion that brings it, and I agree, I dropped the ball at the end.

        I appreciate your feedback on the accent too. I wasn’t sure about using the “een”, but one more good observation Naomi. Even though I was hoping it was “just enough” (but not too much) to ensure the accent was conveyed, now that I look at it again, it was just a distraction, I could have easily done without it.

        By the way, the minute I read your comment, the inspiration hit me that some irony was due. That person who would be crushed by the loss of this poor cabby with a sense of humor, could have been his little sister (hermanita, around the same age as the girl with the gun, who he loved more than anyone, who might have relied on his income, because both parents were dead, etc…

        Thanks so much for your insightful comment and inspiration!

        JR

        1. Naomi

          You are very welcome, JR! I’m flattered that my comments inspired you. I think your idea about the impact of the driver’s death on his little sister is great, providing an aspect of the driver’s life, and further exposing one of the many dreadful consequences of illegal human organ harvesting. The irony of taking a life to save a life (only because of $$$ involved, though) demonstrated by the drastic impact on the driver’s sister, who loses her beloved brother. I look forward to reading more of your stories.

  15. Myra

    George took his eyes from his battered taxi’s rear-view mirror and twisted his head as far as his 86-year-old neck would allow to look full-on at the school girl parked in his dusty back seat. She kept the strap of the worn backpack she had drug down the library’s cement steps in a white-knuckled grip. Her hot pink skirt flared somewhere above her knees. She really shouldn’t wear it so short – not safe these days, he thought.

    “Follow who where, missy? And while we’re at it, what for?”

    “The internet man. My name is Ticey, not Missy and I don’t know where.” She patted the backpack with her free hand. “He forgot this, so I looked to see who he was so I could give it back. We gotta stop him!”

    “I think you left something out, Miss Ticey. What do you mean ‘Internet Man’ and stop him from what?”

    “It says he’s supposed to take a bomb somewhere and blow something up. He’s supposed to pick up the money, wait five minutes and leave. Here’s the instructions.” She tossed a page torn from a yellow legal pad over the front seat. It doesn’t say where so we have to . . . There he is! Follow him!”

    George turned to see a twenty-something dark-haired man carrying a Wal-Mart bag exit Taco Tom’s, glance up and down Second Street and head to a dented Econoline van that may have been tan beneath the grime. The van spun out of the gravel lot spitting rocks and headed north toward the lone green light shining at the intersection of Main and Second Street, right next to the county courthouse.

    Something stirred to life deep in George’s veins, something rooted way back to the call of duty he had answered in 1944 the day he turned 18. “God help us,” he muttered.
    He put his taxi in gear, pulled out behind the van which was considerably exceeding the posted 25 mile-per-hour limit. He pressed harder on the accelerator while glancing down at the note. The light ahead blinked red. The van didn’t slow.

    “Holy Moses!” George cried, pulling a sharp left into the city park.

    “What are you doing? He’s going that way!” Ticey screamed, “You’re going to lose him!”

    Jaw set, eyes dead ahead, George squealed to the shore of the small lake at the center of the park. Arthritic pain forgotten, he jumped out, yanked open the back door, grabbed the backpack and splashed into the water. With every ounce of strength he could muster, he heaved the pack toward the deepest part of the lake, hurried back to the cab and threw it in reverse. The explosion rocked the cab as water shot into the air.

    “Wow, that’s crazy,” Ticey said, finally peeking over the back seat. “How did you know?”

    “Paris, WW II. Picked up a bit of French. Your little yellow note said ‘bibliotheque’ – library in French. He was supposed to blow up the library. You saved our books Miss Ticey. Check that out.”

  16. The Wired Journal

    I had just dropped what I hoped to be the last fare of the night, twelve hours of driving had earned me just over two hundred dollars. I was exhausted and strung out from the road. I was in route to gas up. I normally wouldn’t have stopped, but it was getting late and my conscience could not allow me to pass by such a young girl probably no more than thirteen at such a late hour. I pulled over and she quickly jumped in.
    “Where you going young lady” I asked. I was shocked at her response.
    “You see that Mexican restaurant over there across the street?”
    “Yes what about it?” I asked.
    “In about five minutes a man is going to come out of that restaurant; I want you to follow him.”
    “Hey, look! I’ve had a long hard day. My shift is over and I’m going home. I’ve no time for playing games.”
    “OO please Mr. I’m not playing games this is really, really important. Here look I’ve got plenty of money. I will take care of you. Please?”
    “OO really, is that so. What can possibly so important to a young girl that you are out so late and stocking grown men? Your parents know where you are? Are you in some kind of trouble?”
    “No, this man is my girl friend’s uncle and she…; OOO my god there he is. Will you help me please? Will you follow him? I’ll pay whatever it costs.”
    “Alright kid, but no funny business, and any sign of trouble and that’s it. You understand?”
    “Yes, perfectly, there’ll be no trouble I promise.”
    “So what’s this all about?” I asked.
    She barely had a chance to respond, when he spotted my taxi and began waving as if to flag me down and began running across the street.
    “O my god” she screamed hysterically, her voice cracking with fear and tears.
    “He saw us, Go, Go, Go. He’ll kill us. Step on it. Go, Go, Go, hurry.” she screamed.
    My heart and adrenalin began pumping uncontrollably. In fear for both our safety I hit the gas and sped away. She was crying hysterically and uncontrollably at this point but still blurting out “OO my god he seen us, he’s going to kill us. We’re going to die.”
    He stopped running and I could see in my rear view mirror him holding something up waving and shouting something. I wasn’t much more than a block down the street when two dark SUV’s with lights flashing and sirens blazing were on my tail. I had no choice but to pull over. She frantically jumped out of my taxi before I had a chance to come to a full stop rolled on the ground then got up and began running. Within moments, my taxi was surrounded by people screaming with guns drawn shouting.
    “Federal Agents put your hands on the wheel.”
    I quickly complied. Seconds later I heard multiple gunshots coming from down the street in the direction she ran.

      1. The Wired Journal

        I’m not sure what the ending was myself I just signed up here. I saw the writing prompt felt the stimuli and jumped on it, This was a first draft and I did no editing or revision I just clicked post when I hit the 500 word limit. I do like the idea that I can take it in many directions though. In as far as the quality and voice stuff I’m just learning so I guess it is what it is. I’m very happy I found this site though and am looking forward to learning more and trying to developing my writing. thanks for the comment JR your taking the time to read me and commenting is much appreciated.

  17. scidney57

    As I pulled the cab up near the curb to the library I couldn’t help but think that this hadta be one of THE strangest fares I ever had; at least for this week. And me a sixty-year-old toll booth collector outta Brooklyn moving to the boonies to get fresher air for my one last lung; you wudda thought I seen it all, nah, guess I ain’t. So I pulled my ball cap lower on my head, slanted it near my eyes, (I wanted my old tough-guy look) crimped out my cigarette butt in the too full ashtray, thinking what’s a spindly looking kid about 13- years-old, with a carrot-red afro, dangly jeweled earring–just one, (that looked like she borrowed it from her grandmother, nah, great-grandmother), wearing eyeglasses too big and bold they seemed like they magnified her eyes almost outside her face, doing calling a cab in the middle a broad daylight? Crap, she had a skateboard for crap’s sake too, ride it kid, ya don’t need me. But then that’s what I get for thinking; so I rolled down the window.

    “Hello, Mister, can I get a ride?”

    “Wadda needa ride fa, kid, ya gotta skatebowhd, dohwncha, uz it. Now geht atta heh, skhram-o.”

    ” But, Mister, you see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him. My mother’s a waitress there and she said that man is been talking about blowing something up. Every day he comes in he’s always talking about it on his cell phone. Please, mister, I got to follow him.”

    Whats a cabbie ta do? I’m sittin’ in a one-light town, with no udda fares, gotta whiney, red-head spouting sum B S dahrections and itsa sunny day. Gotta take dis fare I sez to me. “Aw right kid, wher ya goin’?”

    “Thanks, Mister, just follow him when he comes out, we’ll see where he goes to?”

    We? I think. I ain’t in this.

    Just then this freak ofa teenager (wearing all ripped an messy clothes, with spiky green/yellow/blue hair and tattoos up his arms in the same colors) grabs the handle of the cab, opens the door and jumps in.

    “Hey, I don let no freaks in dis cab–GET YER ASS OUTTA IT!”

    The red-head pipes up, “Oh, sorry mister, that’s my brother, ah, ah half-brother, he just looks freaky, he’s my helper. Our parents met in a bar, it’s a long story.”

    “Crap, ya cudda gihve me an attack! Kidzz!”

    “Hey, there’s the man! Let’s go!” sez the brother.

    I speed off. Like a commuter flying through the “pass lane.”

    We follows him to dis abandoned building right near the blinkin yellow light and these two kids hop outta the cab and trowa cuppla bills on tha seat and yell back ta me.

    “Meet us tomorrow, Mister, at the library. Same time. Thanks for the ride!”

    Whatsa a cabbie ta doh? Ina one-light town and no udda fares in sight? Guess I know where’ll be tomorra.

  18. mick60a

    I was sitting in my cab outside the county library admiring the latest sunset when my fare jumped in the back seat

    “Where too Miss?” I asked her as I looked in my rear view mirror.

    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes a man will be coming out, I want you to follow him.” She said.

    “Miss?” I asked.

    “Yes I know it sounds crazy but trust me, he will be coming out in five minutes.” She said as she handed me a couple of Fifty dollar bills.”

    I turned in my seat to get a better look at whom my fare was. She was no more than thirteen years old. A green rubber band held her soft brown in a pony tail that hung over her left shoulder. Her nose had a few freckles on it as well as the rest of her face.

    She smiled at me, and I saw a glimpse of her childhood still shining in her green eyes as well.

    “That’s him,” She said as she tapped my shoulder.

    I noticed a man with a slight limp walking away from the Mexican place. If I had to say it he would be in his late fifties or maybe early sixties.

    He got in a cab that was parked up the street from mine and got in, the cab pulled away from the curb. I put my cab in gear and followed.

    It stopped in front of the hospital a little while later. I pulled into the hospital waiting area. The other cab stopped at the door, the man got out and went inside the hospital.

    My fare was sitting in the back, chewing on her thumbnail.

    “Miss?” I said.

    She started to cry and told me that the man we followed was her birth father.

    “He had gotten my mother pregnant but was married and would not leave his family. But he always sent money for birthdays and holidays but Mom told me he was a special uncle.”

    “Last month she finally told me about him. That he was my real dad. He had called her and told her about his condition.”

    “So I just have to be there for him at least once in my life Sir!”

    I nodded.

    I called dispatch to let them know I was done for the day. I got out of the cab went around and held the door open for my young fare.

    “My name is Mike.” I told her.

    “Annie!” She said as she smiled and wiped away the tears.

    I took her arm in mine and walked into the hospital with her.

    She checked in at the front desk. I followed her down to the surgical wing. She hugged me as a nurse came and took her into pre-op.

    You see Annie was a perfect bone marrow match for a man she had never met.

    Blood truly is thicker than water.

  19. crazy101

    This is the first time I’ve posted and I think I messed up and my story got mixed in with earlier post instead of most recent. (My fault of course) Sorry! So I reposted. I hope that was okay.
    ______________________________________________________________________________________
    Dispatched to pick up a fare, I pulled my cab into the parking lot of Wade’s only library a few minutes before ten. The sign on the door read closed. Not surprising since most people in this one-light town turned in before the sun did.
    Camouflaged by the shadow of a Sawtooth Oak, a tow-headed girl stepped out into the moon light. She donned jeans and a black jacket and the youth of thirteen years. Not one day more. She was too young to be out alone. Even small towns have psychos.
    She opened the cab door and slid in behind me.
    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of the restaurant, and I want you to follow him,” she said with a smile.
    “Follow him? Why?” I asked.
    She dug in her pocket and extracted two crumpled bills, tossing them over the seat. “Why…doesn’t matter.”
    “It does to me. I could lose my job if my boss found out,” I said. I picked up the two-hundred dollars and handed it back.
    As I stared at her through the rearview mirror, her eyebrows kissed in frustration. “Who would tell?” she asked.
    “I don’t know? Maybe the guy you want me to follow,” I stated the obvious.
    “I’m running out of patients with you,” she snapped and threw the money at my reflection.
    “Okay…that’s it. Get out.” I snatched the money off the floorboard and slung it out the window.
    “There he is,” she said, pointing to a tall mountain of a man walking to his truck. “Just follow him.”
    “Tell me why,” I said as headlights turned south onto Main Street. And that’s when I heard a click. I heard the click of a gun being cocked. The lethal sound made me gasp.
    “I was going to kill him,” she said in a steady voice that turned my blood cold. “And now you’ll take his place.”
    “You’re the killer they been talking about on TV?”
    “Well, yeah, but don’t believe everything you hear,” she said, waving the gun about. She leaned back against the seat and laughed. “They’re trying to blame me for three murders that I didn’t do. Hell, I’ve never even been to Alabama. And that stupid news anchor woman hasn’t even mentioned the four men I killed in Louisiana.”
    “Why?”
    “Why not?” She smiled, winking.
    “Michael this is Karen,” blurted the dispatcher. My heart didn’t skip a beat. It stopped. I felt the gun push against the back of my skull. “Where you at?”
    “If I don’t answer her, she’ll call the police,” I said, trembling.
    She twisted her fingers in my hair and jerked my head back, shoving the gun in my face. “One wrong word and your dead sooner than later.” She let go.
    I picked up the microphone. I swallowed my fear.
    “Michael?” the dispatcher said.
    “Yeah Karen.”
    “Duck.”
    And I did as my father—the tall mountain of a man—shot to kill.

  20. rob akers

    NOTE: I came in at 588 words. I am sorry but I could not shrink it down any more. Next week I will stop at 400 words.

    A Captain Bill Rimes Story

    17 September 2011

    Major Jimmy Everest popped his head in Bill’s office. “Dude, the clock on the wall says that’s all.”

    Jimmy was 5 minutes early for the Pilot Meeting and Bill was not surprised. “Where is the DZ and the TOT?” Bill asked.

    “Drop Zone is the Bean Dip. Time Over Target in fifteen mikes!”

    Bill knew Jimmy had chosen the Mexican restaurant based solely on the waitress. “I am IP inbound, starting run-in.”

    “Billy, I have an eye problem.” Jimmy said.

    “You can’t see having less than 3 margaritas?”

    “No, that hottie has the afternoon off. I can’t see coming back.”

    Walking out, they were stopped by Colonel Ramirez. “Bill, follow me.”

    Jimmy looked at Mad Ram and decided to ride with someone else while Bill followed the Colonel into his office. “You are ordered to report to the Wal-Mart parking lot. There will be a white van there, get in and do what they say.”

    “What’s up Boss?”

    “I don’t know and don’t make me care. I just got off the phone with the General. Off you go!”

    Bill stopped his Jetta next to a white van and the cargo door opened. He got in and it drove off. The two men
    with bad haircuts in the front were quiet while the three Air Force Officers in the back row, exchanged semi nervous looks. Stopping at the Library across from the DZ, a teenage looking girl climbed in while the driver turned to Bill and handed over several pictures. “Captain Rimes. Do you know that man?”

    “Yes.” The girl’s appearance told him there was trouble and no one in the van was on his side.

    “We need more than that. Tell us everything you know about him.” The man in the passenger seat added.

    “Am I under arrest?” Bill asked.

    “Not yet.”

    “Am I being charged with a crime?”

    “Not yet. Did Major Everest smuggle alcohol into the AOR?”

    “I don’t know.”

    “What was in his foot locker?”

    “I don’t know.”

    “Why did you help him move it?”

    “Because of the tent inspection.

    “You admit that you knew he had something in the locker!” The passenger yelled at Bill.

    “I knew it was heavy. Look, Jimmy is the best pilot I have ever known and I trust Jimmy with my life but not my money or my wife. I don’t have a clue what was in the locker. Who are the three stooges?” Bill motioned to the back.

    “We are witness only.” One of the three spoke.

    “I am not saying anything else without a lawyer.”

    The middle Officer spoke. “Captain Rimes, I am now your legal counsel. You do not have to answer any more questions. You are not under suspicion and you are free to leave anytime.”

    “Then I choose to leave.” Bill started to get up when the girl blocked the door.

    “AC. It has been 2 years since I last saw you.”

    She spoke up defiantly. “I am Air Force Lieutenant Gloria Reynolds. I hate that nickname.”

    “Do you know what the name means?”

    “Army Chick.” She spitted.

    “Anal Cavity, as in that is what you liked Jimmy to explore. Do these men know you slept with him the entire deployment in Afghanistan? My lawyer better call it entrapment.”

    “Is this true, Lieutenant?” The Bill’s lawyer asked.

    “I caught her in the act.” Bill answered. “Now, drive me back to my car because I don’t trust you, the Salem Witch Hunt, this dirty old whore or Jimmy and his one way trip to Leavenworth.”

      1. Amy

        Still love to hate that Major Jimmy! I loved the “eye problem” lines…terrific. I hope Jimmy gets what’s comin’ to him soon. Look forward to more!

  21. radioPanic

    Sorry, I’m gonna be a jerk here, and post twice. After reading some of the posts here, I just wanted to see if I could do something with no supernatural elements, no science fiction, no weird science. And I felt an unexplained compulsion to use the word “tweenie” a few more times. (“Tweenie.”)
    ___________________________________________________________________
    I look at Tweenie in the rearview, saying, “Uh, rules say you have to give me an actual destination.”

    Tweenie peels eyes from Tequila’s front door, rolling them with a theatric sigh. “Fine. Home, then. But you gotta take the same scenic route he’s gonna take.”

    I rub fingers over my brow. “All… right… I guess.”

    She taps a staccato burst of manicured nails on my shoulder. “There he is! Don’t lose him! Go go go go!”

    “He’s walking,” I say, with a slow shift into drive. “Think I can manage.”

    We poke along behind. I pull to the curb several times to let him pull ahead, but it probably doesn’t matter. The guy’s oblivious, ears stuffed with earbuds, marching along in a rapper’s swagger, arms jerking, flapping, flinging swaths of attitude. Baggy cuffs scuff the walk, and a huge Ecko shirt waves from his skinny five-four frame.

    I glance in the mirror, and Tweenie’s got eyes glued to the guy’s back, face twisted in a look that should be controlled under some federal statute.

    “You know, I’m prohibited from knowingly being party to anything illegal,” I say.

    She looks at me like I’m something the cat left soaking into the carpet overnight, then back to the guy. Whatever. Less I know, the better. At least the meter’s running.

    At long last, the guy approaches the bike rack in the shade of the huge oak and starts patting his pockets.

    “Wait here,” the girl hisses, and jumps out, leaving the door wide.

    “The f—?” I watch, mouth open, as she sneaks up to the guy. I spread my hands. “The fuck are you doing?” I mutter. I drop them in my lap, spread them again. “The fuck am I doing?”

    I kill the fan, and July heat barrels in to erase all the AC’s headway. I swipe a bead of sweat from my face as the girl rounds the tree after him.

    Some kind of scuffle, and my hand’s on the door handle, but I can’t make sense of what little of the flailing shows around the massive tree trunk. Then Tweenie’s running back to the car, huge pink grin. She jumps in and slams the door. “Drive! Drive drive drive!”

    I pull forward, and the guy, just a kid, clutches his waistband, stuffing his boxers back in, looking at us, wires dangling from his ears.

    “You’re it, fucker!” the girl shouts, finger jabbing at the window. The kid flips her off.

    “Ahhh,” she says, settling back. “And rules are, no tag-backs for fifteen minutes.”

    Once my heart’s settled back roughly where it belongs, I ask the huge pink grin in the mirror, “Home, then?”

    “Nah, I feel like celebrating. Dairy King! My treat.”

    “Before I accept, I should point out that he’s on a bike and can make it clear across town with time to spare.”

    “I’ll take my chances,” she says. Manicured nails reach over and bounce a bike lock key onto the front seat.

    “You’re on.”

    1. Ishmael

      I couldn’t choose which was my fave, tweenie this story or your other. I think I first came across your works a few weeks ago, and haven’t been disappointed in the least. This accomplished everything you set forth to do. Totally away from all the supernat stuff…just a game of tag. Fun romp! You have an excellent way about your stories. Thanks for the second great read from you this week.

  22. mwhite1212

    The library’s a great place to start a story, wouldn’t you say?
    I’m one of two cab drivers in Prince County, so I guess the odds of me taking this fare were pretty good. Still, seems like I’ve got some really bad luck. The trouble started when I picked up this little girl at the county library. I pull up and this serious-lookin’, punky kid gets in my cab.
    Right away, I felt some kind of nervous energy coming off of her. I turned around to ask her where she was goin’ and she said, “In a few minutes, a man is going to come out of that Mexican restaurant, and I need you to follow him for me.”
    “Are you serious?”
    “I’m very serious, sir.”
    “You got any money on you, kid?”
    She showed me a twenty dollar bill, so I said to myself, might as well, right? I didn’t have anywhere to be anyway. A fare is a fare.
    “Who is this that we’re going to be following, if you don’t mind me asking?”
    “I’m sorry sir, but I do mind you asking. I’d rather not say.”
    “How old are you?”
    “Thirteen.”
    “Pretty serious for being so young, don’t ya think?”
    “I guess so.”
    I turned around and looked at her in the rearview mirror.
    “I hope you don’t plan on doing anything illegal. I don’t want to be caught in the middle of anything. You seem a little bit nervous right now, and that makes me nervous.”
    “You have no reason to be nervous, sir. I just need you to follow that man for me.”
    We waited for about another five minutes with her staring out the window at the restaurant entrance. I didn’t ask any more questions. Suddenly she jerked up straight in the back seat and said, “That’s him.”
    A short, stocky man with dark brown hair came out and walked to the small parking lot. I turned the ignition and watched until he got into his car and pulled out onto the road. There was no other traffic, so I waited a second before pulling off, trying not to be obvious.
    Now, I live in a small town, and it’s really hard to not be obvious when you’re following someone. This guy started slowing down after the first few turns, and I got the idea that he knew what was up. Then he suddenly slowed down pulled over.
    “Please pull over,” said the girl, looking at me in the rearview mirror, “I need to speak with him.”
    For some reason that I cannot explain, I pulled up behind this guy. He got out with his hands raised and was cursing me in Spanish. I noticed the girl slip out of the rear passenger door, but he never did. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her raise a pistol and point it at the man. I looked at her just as she pulled the trigger twice. I remember being impressed by how well she held the gun.
    I put the car in reverse as she reached for me and yelled, “Wait!”
    I don’t know why, but I did. She got in the back seat and looked at me in the mirror.
    “My name is Kaeda, and that was the man that killed my father.”

    1. MCKEVIN

      A good complete stoey. I liked it and I hope you continue it the future. It would be exiting to know why the guy killed the girl’s father. Good job.

  23. MCKEVIN

    Very good. I especially like the part of a story within a story. Don’t be surprised if I use that little gem in the future. See ya next time at the forum.

  24. Nicole778899

    She held out a gloved hand as I was driving by. I stopped the cab and she opened the door letting a bone chilling breeze in.
    “Thanks,” She murmured rubbing her hands as white puffs came out her mouth. She was much younger then expected, but decked out in a thick winter cost and sunglasses it was hard to tell.
    “To sunny for you?” I joked.
    She laughed, ” Let’s cut to the chase, you see that Mexican resturant right there?” I strained my eyes, but figured out what see was talking about. ” In five minutes a man will walk out of that resturant, I want you to follow him.”
    I raised my eyebrow and chuckled, “Where’s your parents?” She smiled and put her hands in her pockets. In her hands laid two hundred dollar bills.
    “Keep you mouth shut, and follow the man.” Her voice turned icy and hollow.
    A man came out the resturant, puffed a plume of smoke, and threw a cigar on the ground.
    ” Hurry up he’s gonna leave!”
    ” Listen-” A click sounded and something was pressed up to my head.
    ” If you don’t follow him I’ll blow your brains out!” She jammed the barrel deeper into my hair. I looked for the man and saw a door close on a car. I started driving and she took the gun away. ” You want to hear a story,” She paused, then continued without answer. ” A woman married a man, she wanted children so bad she didn’t care about who he was. He was crazy, mental, tried to kill her and the children. She was in that hell for years and when she got out it wasn’t done. Her terrorized her daughter, she came home every night and couldn’t sleep with fear. He turned her against her mother. ”
    The man’s car stopped and he walked into a dark alleyway.
    ” Let me out. ” The girl demanded. I stopped the car and she clambered out of my cab and walked in to the alleyway. Three gun shots rang out and the girl returned with blood sprayed on her body. She walked out to my window and spoke through it. ” That woman was my mother. ” Then held up her hand and two hundred dollar bills fluttered to the ground.

  25. aprillee

    Henry pulled the taxi up to the one stoplight in town and looked both ways. With nothing in sight, he considered going but waited until it turned green. So far today, he had taken Ms. Ashton to the doctor and listened to more detail of her ailments than he cared for, delivered a sick Elizabeth to her mother, cleaned the seats from the sick Elizabeth, and seen to it that Jimmy got home from after-school detention. Tonight, he would be at the bar to take Hugh home once he’d had enough. He hated this job.

    His young passenger ran down the steps of the library and dropped into the seat beside him. Her backpack fell to the floor, and she picked up the copy of “Surviving Natural Disasters” he had been reading.

    “Nice,” she commented.

    “Where to?”

    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”

    “Why?”

    “Are details really necessary?”

    “Does your mother know what you’re doing?”

    She threw up her hands in exasperation. “It’s always mothers with you people.”

    “You’re a minor in my taxi. I need to know you have permission to do whatever it is you’re doing.”

    “Things were so much easier when I was older and could do things myself. There he is. Sooner than I expected. I don’t have time for explanations. We have to follow him.” When Henry didn’t move, she said, “Go!”

    Why was he doing this? Henry pulled out behind the old pickup truck.

    “Not so close. Haven’t you ever followed anyone before?”

    “No.”

    The stoplight turned red. The truck zoomed through. Henry slowed.

    “What are you doing? No one’s coming! Go!”

    He stomped the pedal. No one stopped him. No blue lights appeared.

    They followed the truck for twenty minutes, getting faster as they passed the town limit. Part of him knew he was being stupid. Another part felt a rush of excitement as he glanced down and saw ninety on the speedometer.

    “There!” the girl yelled.

    The truck skidded off onto a dirt road. Henry followed. Janet was going to kill him for messing up the car.

    “Stop!”

    He slammed on breaks by a field. The girl jumped out and ran after the man who had gotten out of his truck and was running into the field. Henry followed. He should stop her. The man glanced back, smiled, then vanished. She stopped and pulled a black box covered in lights from her bag. After studying it a moment, she threw it back in and started back toward Henry.

    “Lost him,” she said.

    “Who?”

    “He’s wanted on seventeen planets.” With determination on her face, she said, “I will be the one to catch him.” She dropped back into the car, so Henry did, too. “Being young is proving difficult. I could use a parental figure around.” She gave Henry a sweet smile. “You up for the job?”

  26. EdwardPaul

    The sheer horror of feeling someone enter his mind is something that Jack would never be able to adequately describe.

    Jack saw the girl as he pulled his cab up to the curb in front of the library. She couldn’t have been more than 13 or 14 in Jack’s eyes, but he lost the ability to judge the age of anyone under 20 a long time ago. As she crossed the street in front of the cab she kept looking up the block as if looking for something or someone.

    She stepped onto the sidewalk and finally turned her head, noticing the cab for the first time. It looked like an idea suddenly hit her and she changed her direction and moved towards the cab. Jack made sure his fare light was off, but it was too late. She was already in the back seat.

    “Are you the one that called for the cab?”, Jack asked.

    The girl hesitated and ran her hand through her long blonde hair. “Yes”, she finally said.

    It was a lie. Jack knew this wasn’t his fare. “Listen, someone called for a cab. If you are not that person I cannot take you anywhere.”

    She ignored him and looked out the front of the cab up the block towards the resturants and bars. “Do you see that restaurant?”, she asked. “The one with all the colors?”

    Jack looked out the windshield and saw the one she must have been referring to. “The Mexican restaurant? Sure. You can walk there, you know.”

    She kept her eyes focused on the restaurant. “In less than five minutes a man is going to come out of that restaurant. I want you to follow him.”

    Jack turned and faced her. “Don’t know what you’re up to and, quite frankly, I don’t really care” he told her. “Please get out now. The person who actually called for a cab will be here any second.”

    Her gray eyes bored into his. After a moment it became apparent that she wasn’t going to leave. Jack was about to tell her to leave again when she leaned forward towards the thick plastic that separated the front of the cab from the passenger seat.

    “You’re not going to care if I make a scene and cry and you’re not a perv so a child seducing you isn’t going to work either”, she began. “So please understand that I am truly sorry for this.”

    Jack didn’t know if he heard he correctly as what she was saying didn’t make sense. He opened his mouth to tell her to get out when he felt it. “It” was the only word that came to his mind because “it” was unlike anything he had ever experienced before. Through his eyes he could see the girl, young, blond, childish face. But in his mind he saw images as if they were vivid memories. He was daydreaming, but the dreams weren’t his. The images and thoughts were like memories, but they were of things he never saw or experienced in his entire life.

    The memories were old, so very old. He saw houses made of stone with straw roofs in a forest, and he saw them burned to the ground. He saw children playing in a field, careless of any of the worries that adults have. And he saw them laying dead in the same field in which they played. He witnessed the destruction of cities with buildings that he couldn’t recognize. He experienced the pain and loss of love while, at the same moment, the sickening thrill and exhilaration of taking a life. He saw blood on what appeared to be his own hands, but the hands were different, scarred, and old.

    If evil where a tangible object, he saw it as a memory.

    He knew that his own memories were being displayed to the girl in the backseat of his cab. He knew what she was doing because it was now part of his own memory. He knew that there was nothing he could do to stop it because he lacked the power and the skill, even though the memories gave him the knowledge.

    In that brief moment it ended and he knew he had to follow the man who had just walked out of the Mexican restaurant. Jack turned forward and started the cab. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the student who had called for a cab coming out of the library, a look of confusion on her face as the cab pulled away.

      1. EdwardPaul

        Thank you! Yes, the word limitation drives me nuts. I couldn’t get it below ~740!

        There will be more. There needs to be more. It needs to be written. You know how it goes. I will probably start a blog that will have the results of these prompts.

    1. Ishmael

      Great story…leads me to wonder so many scenarios, and I’d love to see where this goes if/when you continue it.

      If anyone empathizes with you about the word limit, I’d say it’s me, but it’s probably all of us. Truth is, I saw many areas where you could have condensed without losing any of the integrity of the piece. Here’s paragraph two, as an example:

      “Jack saw the girl as he pulled his cab up to the curb in front of the library. She couldn’t have been more than 13 or 14 in Jack’s eyes, but he lost the ability to judge the age of anyone under 20 a long time ago. As she crossed the street in front of the cab she kept looking up the block as if looking for something or someone.” (70 words)

      “Jack saw the girl as he pulled his cab in front of the library. She couldn’t have been more than thirteen, but he lost he lost his ability to judge anyone under twenty ages ago. As she crossed in front of him, she was looking up the block for something…or someone.” (52 words)

      I tried to keep most of your wording, which is quite good, the same. General rule is that numbers a hundred and below are spelled out. I decided on an age, because when cutting, the choice wasn’t necessary. Mine could have been reduced even more, and all the elements would still be there.

      “Jack saw the girl, no more than thirteen, as he pulled in front of the library. He quit judging ages under twenty years ago. She crossed in front of his cab looking up the block for something…or someone.” (39 words)

      Yeah…sometimes the revisions aren’t as elegant or poetic, but as you can see, can be done without a great loss to your excellent piece of work. I loved the story, and like I said, feel right there with you in the editing department. And most times, the less verbose, the better.

      I look forward to reading more great things from you!

      1. jincomt

        Very nice writing and descriptions. I can see why it felt like amputation to cut! Ishmael makes some great suggestions. I think all our stories suffer for the cutting, but I think it’s a good exercise for our writing skills to learn to identify the essentials…when I do it well I’ll let you know.;) if you start the blog,let us know.

    2. JR MacBeth

      Might be the first time I’ve read one of yours EdwardPaul, but I’ll look for more in the future. Some brilliant work here, drawing the reader in from the first line. No doubt this should be a much larger story, I agree with some of the other comments, I would have kept reading, but it’s important to stick to the guidelines of course. Oh well!

  27. Amy

    This one’s a continuation of the “Owing your bookie” prompt from 6/19. I hope you enjoy it!
    I’ve written it in second person to keep up the flow of the original story. Thanks for reading!

    You have escaped.

    Home is now a tiny, one-light border town. New name, new face.

    You are brand new.

    You have no money. Villages on the border aren’t known for employment opportunities. Your best hope is to become a cliché and run drugs.

    No dice. You buy an old, beat-up sedan and a neon TAXI sign and combine the two.

    You are in business. All that’s needed is a fare or two or three.

    Life is lazy. Day in, day out, sitting in your car. On a street corner, in the town square, under the shade of the town’s only tree. Dust swirls in random breaths of air. The soil is parched and cracked. Nothing green lives here.

    You wait.

    Something vibrates against your thigh, and every hair stands on end. You are scared. You realize it’s your phone and try to still your racing heart.

    “Cappie’s taxi,” you answer, enjoying your little secret play-on-words. You’re hiding from the mob.
    “Pick me up at the library,” a small, high-pitched voice demands.

    You wipe the sweat from your brow and crank the car. The library’s across the square, a small, adobe building surrounded by a deep veranda.

    From the shadows steps your fare. She is young, pre-pubescent and slim, with long blonde curls and blue eyes. She is familiar and yet unfamiliar. You thought you knew everyone who lived here.

    She slides into the back seat. “See the cantina across the street? A man will be coming out soon. I want you to follow him.” She settles herself into the seat, arms crossed defensively across her chest, blocking further conversation.

    You both watch the cantina.

    A man emerges. He’s not from here, and your heart’s in your throat, your mind racing with the possibilities. He’s wearing a pinstripe suit and polished Ferragamo loafers. He looks like your worst nightmare.

    You watch as he gets into a Lamborghini. You know he will lose you.

    He allows you to follow him.

    Dust obscures the view, but when it settles, he is always there, right in front of you, leading you on.

    You furtively study the girl. Where have you seen her? The memories she stirs aren’t recent ones.

    “What’s your name?” you ask her, not expecting an answer.

    “Tiffany,” is the short reply.

    You grip the steering wheel so tightly your fingers go numb.

    “Why you followin’ this guy, anyway?”

    “I think he’s my father.”

    A sudden hairpin curve requires your full attention. The dust makes your visibility zero. The car begins to slide.

    The Lamborghini has stopped and so must you, just inches away from a fender-bender.

    As the dust settles, you see everything clearly.

    Freeze-frame. The suit in the fancy car gets out, armed with an Ak-47. Bullets kick up more dust.

    You are prepared.

    “Stay down,” you yell to the girl. Using the door as a shield, you take careful aim.

    Suit goes down, kill shot.

    Tiffany jumps out, runs to the stranger.

    “You killed my father!”

    “No, I didn’t. I’m your father,” is your reply.

    1. Ishmael

      Amy, I loved the cadence of this, and the (continued) mastering of the second person. Honestly, your phrasing was mind-watering…every sentence was a treat. I’m not just being nice. I’m pretty straight forward. I truly sucked the marrow out of every line. They were written very well, and the plot was great. Familiar, yet still wonderful way to end. Neat take! Thanks for a great read!

    2. MCKEVIN

      I like the pace of this very much. I swear I heard the Pink Panther song in my head as I started reading. Good job… I assume the 2nd chapter will explain the fear of the mob and the reason he didn’t let on earlier that he was his passenger’s father. Again, great job.

    3. radioPanic

      2nd person seems to have a big brass “DO NOT TOUCH” plaque bolted to it. Thanks for breaking that thing off with the butt of your gun and tossing it in the ditch.

      I’ve heard people say they don’t like 2nd person because they don’t like being told what they’re doing. I think that attitude just keeps them from fully getting lost in a story.

      Speaking of which, the mood, the voice, the feel, the pace of this are spot on. And great visuals. To really draw us into the setting in a piece this short is a work of art.

      Really liked “As the dust settles, you see everything clearly.” Several different levels to this line.

      The only line that made me pause was the “Cappies Taxi” paragraph. “You are hiding from the mob” seemed like it might have been added to refer to your earlier mob boss piece. If you want to do that, it might be better to cut this line, and maybe mention Capone by name in passing somewhere. If you’re gonna join the pieces together, the line’s probably not necessary at all. And for those who haven’t read the first story, it doesn’t really explain anything that you didn’t show us in the first few lines here.

      As usual, I could be wrong about anything. Enjoyed, and looking forward to more!

      1. Amy

        Thanks for the valuable input radioPanic. I’m starting to like writing in 2nd person alot more. It seems well suited for stories like this one. It’s the most intimate POV since the reader ‘becomes’ the character. Again, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts…it is appreciated greatly!

    4. DMelde

      You really did a great job Amy! Great cadence, masterfully done. I liked the phrases, the descriptions, the story. I want to know what happens next!

    5. Naomi

      Wow, Amy. Very well done! I agree that the cadence in the story held me tight, while your descriptions painted an excellent picture in my mind. Tying this story to the other prompt is wonderful. I hope the story continues in future prompts. I look forward to reading more of your writing!

  28. Jeanie Y

    Something about her seemed familiar, but I couldn’t quite figure it out. The crooked smile? The beautiful monarch butterfly tattoo on the back of her neck? The deep blue eyes that just seem to see right into you? She was not like any cabbie that I had ever come across, but then again, riding in cabs really wasn’t my thing.

    The dream catcher hanging from the domelight was swinging back and forth like a pendulum. “Do I know you?” I asked, as I settled myself in the back seat.

    “Don’t we all know each other on some level?” she said, her eyes lighting up as her laugh filled the cab. “Time to take matters into your own hands?”

    “Huh?” I asked.

    “No worries, Angel. Where are you off to?” she said.

    “How do you know my name?”

    “Oh, I call everyone that. Now where to, sugar?” she asked, her eyes boring into mine like a laser.

    What was I supposed to say? My mom had her hands full with dad; peg-legged and screaming at night. My sister enlisting to “fix the bastards” that did this. And now Billy. He’d never been the smartest of us Miller kids, but he was far from stupid, he just wasn’t proving that lately. But at this point, he was in over his head, and I knew it. Now the cabbie knew it too. Weird, I never talk with my counselor, but the cabbie got it all within five minutes, which was all I had before Billy came out of the Fresh Mex.

    “Well, let’s see what we can do,” the cabbie said as she reached down underneath her seat, pulling out a short, metal pipe and placing it on the seat next to her, her eyes dancing.

    “I just came out to follow him so that I can take pictures to send to the police. Then they have to leave Billy alone. Right?”

    “Good idea, but I have a better one,” she said. “Just follow my lead.”

    And I did.

    We followed Billy to the warehouse. He lifted up a piece of the metal siding and scurried in underneath. I was ready to follow, but a quick hand signal told me to stay put. “Billy knows how to drive, right?” she asked.

    “Yes,” I whispered.

    “Okay. Listen up. Climb into the front now. Billy will be out very shortly and you two get the hell out of here. I can take care of myself.”

    I started to ask whether we should call for help, but she was out of the car and into that warehouse, quick as a cat and silent as a ghost.

    Billy couldn’t talk for most of the ride home and his hands were shaking so badly. We left the cab at the library and walked the rest of the way home. He kept repeating “I don’t believe it,” over and over again. I think they call this shock. We snuck into the house and I put him to bed. He seemed to disappear into the white sheets.

    Mom made scrambled eggs that morning and my stomach told me that I had better report to the kitchen pronto. The news was on and my mom quickly turned it off as I entered the kitchen. “Oh, just another drug deal. Can’t stand hearing about these since your Aunt Sarah was killed. Best cop on the force. You were only three, but Billy should remember her. He loved her butterfly tattoo.”

    1. Ishmael

      Jeanie –

      “The Girl With The Monarch Butterfly Tattoo!”

      Of course I’ve grown to really appreciate your style and work! Something lost me around the middle of the story, and so I did a re-read. I didn’t understand how pictures would clear Billy with the police. And from that point on…well, I’m not sure what happened. Something happened in the warehouse. A drug deal that the ghost of Aunt Sarah took care of?

      Your writing was terrific! I was going to suggest “quick as a cat and silent as a mouse” for a more congruent comparison, but I think you went with “ghost” as a subtle hint. Is that also the reason for the “white sheets” line? If so…you’re really working your story wonderfully.

      1. Amy

        The word limit’s a bugger isn’t it?! I really enjoyed the story. I hope you get the chance to expand and “explain” the middle. Maybe another prompt will offer the opportunity! Good job as always Jeanie.

    2. Jeanie Y

      Hi Ishmael, Thanks for your cyber-cheerleader entries! :) The original story was 1200+ and I lost a lot paring it down. Sorry it took a re-read. Yes, drug deal which deceased Aunt Sarah came back to take care of, and save her niece and nephew in the process. Angel thought if she took the drug dealer’s pictures that the police could find them and arrest them (kid thinking). Billy was as white as a sheet, therefore he blended right in. Ghost just worked.

      Maybe I am too cryptic and I make the reader think too much? I did take liberty with the prompt as I wanted to write from the POV of the 13-ish year old.

      Thanks again for your encouraging words!

      Thank you too, Amy! I hope the opportunity arises! :)

      1. Ishmael

        Well I’m proud of you that you got it down! It’s a bear, isn’t it? Man, I had trouble going from 747 to 551 before finally giving up and throwing in the towel, and I feel like I only had bare bones left – didn’t want to go cutting off phalanges. Lots of ‘splaining ended up on the cutting room floor, and I had to revise my…tail off.

        I’ve learned that if I make a story too big with too many details that contribute to making the story work, it’s…well, tough (I don’t want to say impossible) to cut it down and still have it come through as initially intended. I had to cut a 950 story once, and the whole story ended up changing directions. Funny how the writing process works sometimes!
        :)

      2. Naomi

        Jeanie, your story is well crafted, and a truly wonderful read. Excellent! Yours is one of my favorites for this prompt. I love the flow, and the details. That you edited a 1200+ word story, and still ended with a rich, entertaining story is amazing. Kudos!

        There are only two lines that confused me, but not enough to impact my enjoyment of the story.

        ” … she reached down underneath her seat, pulling out a short, metal pipe and placing it on the seat next to her … ” I’m not clear on the purpose of the pipe.

        ” … so that I can take pictures to send to the police. Then they have to leave Billy alone. Right?” By the end of the story, I gleaned enough information to guess at the girl’s rationale for taking pictures, however at this point in the story I did not understand the meaning behind the sentence. Again, minor points that do not impact my enjoyment of your story. Great writing, Jeanie.

  29. hillsworth

    Sitting at the only light in town, I watched her struggle with the overloaded backpack, more dragging than carrying it to the curb. When the light turned green, I stepped on the gas and ‘Bertha’ responded with her faithful backfire fart, which startled the girl into a stutter-step. As I neared, I noticed the apprehension in her eyes. The mental anguish of being at that peculiar age where you wouldn’t be caught dead getting into an aging, repulsive taxi, yet knowing I was probably her only ride. Hesitantly, her arm stretched out and hailed me to the side of the road.

    I wheeled over and came to a grinding halt. “Where you headed, little lady?” She could only have been thirteen. Fourteen at most.

    “To the train station,” she said with a wavering voice. “But I need to make a side trip first.” She could hardly meet my eyes.

    “You got money for the fare?” I asked, assuming she did from the Aeropostale shirt and the faded looking jeans with the factory ripped holes she was wearing.

    “I got money.”

    She bent down to pick her pack off the sidewalk when I said, “Jump in the back, I’ll get that.” With a squeak, I opened the door, stepped out, turned and opened the rear door for her.

    “Thanks.”

    She slid to the other side and I heaved her pack in beside her, slammed the door to make sure it shut, jumped back in behind the wheel and thumbed the meter, resetting it to zero.

    “Where to first, Missy?”

    “You know that Mexican restaurant over by the strip mall?”

    “Sure.” I put Bertha in gear, eased off the brake and wasn’t disappointed when she belched from the exhaust. I looked in the mirror to see the girl slink down a little lower in the seat and scrunch up her face in embarrassment. “You gonna get a bite to eat before you take off?”

    “No. I gotta see someone. He gets off work at three.”

    Minutes later, she directed me to a small parking lot across the road from the restaurant. I checked my watch, noticed it was only two thirty, and feeling empathy for the youngster I paused the meter box. I grabbed a section of newspaper, shook it out and started to pass the time.

    At three o’clock, the door opened and a middle aged man stepped out, lit a cigarette, and started down the sidewalk.

    “There he is.” She said. “Could you follow him?”

    I laid the paper aside, turned the meter back on and pulled out of the lot, making an obnoxious racket.

    The man turned toward the commotion, saw the girl in the rear of my cab and stopped. “Lucy?” he yelled.

    “Go.” She directed. I tromped down on the gas and as I sped past the man, I looked in the mirror. The girls forehead and hand was against the window and tears were rolling down her cheeks. I heard her whisper “Goodbye, Daddy. I love you.”

        1. hillsworth

          Thank you, H2H. I also enjoyed your post and congrats on being the first for this weeks prompt. It is a small accomplishment, but it gives a great joy knowing that all posters on this site will be reading yours first. Keep up the good work.

    1. Mr.Es

      I liked the flow of the writing, and your use of imagery. Using the backfire from the cab was excellent. It feels unfinished and I’m left unsatisfied. Why is she leaving her father? I would continue reading if you were to able to extended the story.

        1. hillsworth

          I am glad to hear that you would read more if I were to extend it, and I can only say this about that: 500 word limit, I wish it were more at times. I could have written more on this (actually did, but had to cut) given a higher limit, which would have clarified more of her actions. I was meaning for her to be running away for some serious reason, but wanted to see her daddy one last time.

          1. Mr.Es

            Yes, I know. Others seemed to have agreed, and feel the same. Some have even stated they enjoyed the ending as is. I am selfish at times, and I can only apologize. :)

    2. Ishmael

      I really like your descriptions. Backfire fart. Liked. Not because of any toilet humor, but it described it so well and in an unusual way.

      Was she running away? I didn’t get why she was leaving (especially so tearfully). You left that up to the reader to imagine. Could be a number of things. Got me thinking.

      I like your work, Hillsworth.

    3. jincomt

      Nice writing. The story flowed and your descriptions of the cab, as people have mentioned, were wonderful. (I used to have an old early 1980s station wagon we named “Bessie”, rest her rusted soul.) The story was good too. I think the fact that so many felt it was unfinished is a statement of how well you lead the reader up to the end. I read somewhere that a short story is light on plot and character development, but is more like a snapshot. Not sure I have a clue how to implement that, but it’s a good thought. ;)

      1. hillsworth

        A very good thought. With the tight limit, it’s so hard to pack a left or right hook, let alone a knockout punch, which many have done here. The editing rapes so much from each of us, but it truly does make us better writers. When I read over some of my earlier stuff, posted and unposted, I think of how juvenile I was and how far I have come. May I never become complacent with my style, for I shall always strive to become better. Thank you for the kind compliment.

      2. hillsworth

        A very good thought. With the tight limit, it’s so hard to pack a left or right hook, let alone a knockout punch, which many have done here. The editing rapes so much from each of us, but it truly does make us better writers. When I read over some of my earlier stuff, posted and unposted, I think of how juvenile I was and how far I have come. May I never become complacent with my style, for I shall always strive to become better. Thank you for the kind compliment.

  30. sagarica

    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”
    I look back at this girl, too tall for her age with shoulders that slump and braces shining in between her lips. She shifts back into her seat and pushes her arms against the seat. Her knuckles are white now.
    I turn off the car and wait. Fifty dollars is now sitting comfortably in my pocket and I am in no mood to talk. But the girl starts gabbing anyway.
    “He’s my dad. Or at least, I think he is.” I don’t respond and for a moment the silence sits in the air like a knife balancing on the edge of a table. The girl’s voice tears through the air as the knife clatters noisily to the floor.
    “His time’s about to run out on the meter. That blue Corolla across the street. He’ll probably leave when the time’s out, right?”
    I look back at the girl again. Her hands are in her lap now, but she’s squeezing her wrist as if it might pop out candy if she squeezes it hard enough.
    “Look girl,” I hear myself say. “Not everybody remembers to feed the meter.” She looks at me, her eyes as big as disks and I can see her lip tremble a little.
    “He has to come out sometime.”
    The girl looks at me hopefully and I just shrug and turn around. I look over at the restaurant and see a line out the door of people waiting to get into the restaurant. A few people walk out of the restaurant and amongst them is a tall man with a grey jacket and what looks like suede boots from where I’m sitting. He’s laughing, obviously engaged in some story his friend, a pretty little lady, is telling. The girl sits up and jabs her finger excitedly at the window.
    “I think that’s him!” I turn on the car and watch as the guy walks toward the blue Corolla. I can hear the girl behind me, breathing in short rasps, almost as if she is gagging on her own breath.
    The man stops in the middle of the street, holding the lady protectively as a car rushes past. They continue walking forward when the way is clear. The girl is now sitting up straight and is gripping the shoulders of the passenger seat. She leans forward as the man gets closer to the blue Corolla.
    Suddenly I hear her gasp. The man has walked past the Corolla and is disappearing into the streets behind. Instead, an elderly lady has stopped in front of the car and is now fumbling through her purse for a set of keys.
    “You sure that’s him?” I ask, unwilling to chase a stranger.
    “No,” she says. “I don’t know what he looks like.” She is staring blankly into the rearview mirror and when I catch her glance she turns away. Maybe it’s just the light reflecting in her eyes, but for a moment I think I see tears.
    “Can you just take me home?” she asks.
    “Where to?” I ask her.
    “Sunnyside Orphanage.” I pull slowly out of my parking space and start to drive away.

    1. MCKEVIN

      I liked it. You like so many others here, offer a different take on the prompt. One suggestion:You stated “Blue Corolla” several times. As your reader, I got that the Corolla was Blue when you first said it. If you reread it where you repeated, you will find that you had more words to use to expand your story. Good job. Please continue to write because I think you have soemthing to say. McKevin.

  31. radioPanic

    Cross is somethin’, ain’t it? Yeah? Alright, I’ll make it quick.

    So this tweenie gets in at th’ library, like five hours ‘fore they even open. She points, says this guy’s gonna be leavin’ Lula’s in five minutes. Follow ‘im.

    I tell Chica, sorry, need a destination. Regulations. An’ she gives me this look, paler ‘n the moon, says when’s your break?

    ‘Bout an hour, I say, an’ she says call in, take it now.

    Now these gangbangers get recruitin’ younger every day, but Chica weren’t no gangbanger. Somethin’ ‘bout th’ way th’ moon hit her face, like a old picture from my Gramma’s day.

    So I’m like, sorry, can’t be givin’ rides on my break. Regulations. So Chica pulls out a stack o’ Benjamins thick as my thumb! Didn’t swipe ‘em with my pen, I could just tell, y’know?

    So I call in, switch off th’ meter, an’ wait. Sure enough, her guy comes out dressed like she is, black, head to toe in July, and peels out onna crotch-rocket.

    Follow him! she says. Ain’t no traffic, so I do. I can see ‘is taillight, an’ he jus’ keeps to th’ highway.

    So Chica says to me, you might wanna hurry. An’ I do, man, ‘cos th’ way she says it, mouth barely cracked to let th’ words out, an’ a voice like th’ world’s onna precipice.

    So I step on it. ‘Ventually, her guy hangs left.

    Lights off! says Chica, and I don’t argue. Moon’s out pretty big, though, an’ we follow up to Madre Cemetery. Chica says cut the engine, says Wait. I don’ come back? Vamoose! Then she grabs somethin’ from her bag and is out th’ door. I see her runnin’ for a second, then nothin’.

    All’s I hear is crickets, an’ I’m drummin’ fingers on th’ wheel, thinkin’ whadda I do? Whadda I do?

    Alla sudden there’s this flash, an’ this shriek, goes on like a hunnerd boxcars gettin’ twisted in half! An’ once my eyes recover, there’s this glow, castin’ th’ stones in shadow, an’ this column of light risin’ into the sky, looks like it’s made outta birds made outta light!

    So I’m all white-knuckles on the wheel while the light fades up inna sky an’ I jus’ wait. Finally, I hit the spotlight an’ work up the cajones to head in, ‘cos if Chica gets inna situation on my watch, I’m liable, even off the meter.

    I get there an’ still there’s some glowin’ stuff driftin’ up offa gravestones, toward heaven. An’ there in the middle? Chica’s clothes… wrapped round a bare skeleton, fingers wrapped round that cross, point stuck inna backside of the guy’s clothes, an’ ain’t nothin’ left o’ him but dust.

    Can’t say, man, but I took that cross, ‘cos I thought maybe Chica did somethin’ good that night. Somethin’ good, know what I’m sayin’?

    Th’ bag? Five more stacks o’ Benjamins.

    Well… put it this way. You got plans to visit th’ casino ‘fore leavin’ town?

    Don’t.

    ____________

    (Yeah, this was an experiment in deliberately tossing a few rules out the window and seeing if what I make using what’s left would even stick together. Cut down from 789 words. Ack.)

    1. Ishmael

      I think your experiment went over fantastic! Rules be damned! You wrote the dialect well…never got confusing or laborious for the reader. I even liked the dialogue sans quotes. Wasn’t really sure if he was hispanic or southern, though.

      Good story behind the experiment, too. The combination created a fun read. Likin’ your stuff, amigo.

          1. radioPanic

            Ishmael, Amy, thank you for your comments! Yeah, dialects are a helluva thing to pull off. If you’re going to write ‘em like they sound, you have to be careful, for sure. Last thing you want is to have people scratching their heads. Good to know I may still need some work in that department. Thanks!

  32. denka

    It had been a long night. Business had been slow since Big Cab moved into town. Ever since they built that new freeway through town business had been exploding; for everyone but him, that is. He couldn’t compete with their low prices, and he knew as soon as they ran him out of business they could name their price.

    Well, at least I had a customer tonight. One wasn’t going to save the business, but it was something I could tell my wife. I let out a little groan as he pulled up to the library and saw my passenger. It was a young girl, bouncing on the heels of her feet and holding the straps of her back pack.
    As I pulled up to the curb, the girl dashed to the cab and shrunk down in her seat, peering across the street out her window.

    “Hey there, sweetheart,” I said. “Glad to see some kids still care enough about school to -” “Took you long enough! I wasn’t sure you would get here in time,” she said, speaking at a rate only teenage girls could hope to achieve.
    “Not much problem there,” I said with a weary grin. “Business hasn’t exactly been-”
    “Listen,” she said, cutting me off again. “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”

    She hadn’t looked away from the window the whole time she had been talking, but when I didn’t respond she glanced away from the window to see if I had heard her. My eyes were closed and my head was resting on the steering wheel. I could usually deal with kids pretty well; but after this day, this week, hell, this whole damn month; I just didn’t have it in me.

    “You all right mister?” the girl asked, looking worried. “You gonna be able to drive me or should I call a Big Cab instead?”

    “Let me save you the time,” I said, getting angry at the mention of my troubles. “They don’t like their time wasted by little girls playing hide n’ seek any more than I do!”

    “Does this look like I’m joking?” she said, seemingly unperturbed by my outburst.

    I looked up to see her waving a hundred dollar bill in my face. I snatched it out of her hands in shock and inspected it.

    “There’s another one for you afterwards if you don’t lose him,” she said, looking back out the window and pointing to a man in an expensive suit, walking up to a Big Cab waiting outside the restaurant. “Besides, you’ll want to see this. If things go as planned, business might just turn around for you.”

    As I looked at her I could tell she was no normal teenage girl. She was up to something, and if the two hundred fare wasn’t enough of a reason, what she said had intrigued me.

    1. jincomt

      Good writing. I liked the description. I was a little confused by who “him” was in the first paragraph. The story seemed unfinished. Who was she– how did she get so much money– was she really a little girl– who was she following and why. Hard to answer everything in 500 words. But a bit more needed maybe for a story. Writing was good though!

      1. denka

        Had to delete a lot to make it fit, must of missed the “him.” Yea I wasn’t sure how to get more of the story into the limit. Probably should have included a little more. Thanks for the comment.

  33. Ishmael

    Good story, but I lost something in the cut.

    Okay…as I was writing my comment, I referred back to the story and got it (then deleted my other thoughts, which was just me trying to figure it out). Large idea…must have been a booger slicing it down. But you did it. Good concept.

      1. Ishmael

        Actually, Vanleraywi, my previous comment was for another story that somehow got bumped under yours.

        Your story was written very well! A few holes…like what was the purpose of it all…but I guess it was just a cabbie’s bar story to a friend. I liked it.

  34. Vanleraywi

    I had seen Sin City the night before and was doubling up when I saw this young girl walk up to cab. I half expected a bloody Clive Owen to accompany her. As she opened the door to my cab a gush of cool air came in startling me. It had been warm all day.

    “Are you parents coming?” I asked politely, while cracking my neck.

    “No.”

    “How old are you?”

    “Seventeen.”

    I knew she was lying. I flipped through the radio for a few moments before I remembered I had a customer. I pulled a back muscle turning to address her. She was staring at me with wide eyes.

    “Where to?” I asked.

    She then rambled on about some guy leaving a Mexican joint and for me to follow him. I looked across the street at the dusty fluorescent lights, flickering. There were faint sounds coming from it but I couldn’t make anything out. I was sure that my friends were playing a joke on me by now.

    “Did Ben set this up? Tell him Sam is on to him,” I said as I laughed and turned back to the wheel.

    “This isn’t a joke. Hey do you mind if I smoke?” She asked.

    I let out an abrupt laugh. She wasn’t kidding, a large amount of tangy smoke started to fill my lungs. I coughed and rolled down the window, this made her laugh. I told her I was beer drinker and didn’t smoke but she didn’t care. I really hated having this girl in my cab and I was close to calling the authorities and telling them I had a runaway when a tall figure exited the building. The girl sat up and pointed. I turned the wheel and started to drive.

    “And that was it,” I said to Ben as we slugged back a couple of beers.

    “Did you ever see the guy or talk to him?” Ben asked.

    “We followed him for a bit and he ended up at some nice house in a nice part of town,” I said.

    Ben laughed at my Sin City reference.

    “I let her out about a block away and she walked the opposite direction…That damn smell of her perfume is still in my cab though.”

  35. keirs12

    The rain has ceased in the morning, and I was already thinking about catching the Yankees game over at Malzone’s on 54th Street. I was tired of making small talk, and recently have been frustrated with the putrid smell coming from the carpets in the back of the taxi. I share my taxi with Marquis, and sometimes I swear he sleeps in it at times.
    I was just pondering who was going to pitch at Yankee Stadium when I heard a light tap on the passenger window. One of my peeves is when they tap, and I show my frustration by ignoring their presence for a while. I rolled my window down half way.
    “What can I do for ya?”
    “I want to hire you.” She made her way to the back door and climbed in.
    She sat there silently as I waited for her order, another pet peeve of mine. With a sarcastic tone and a raise of my brow, I asked her where she wanted to go.
    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”
    “Get out of here with those games Ms, I got no time for games.” I was annoyed I would miss the beginning of the Yankees game.
    She fidgeted in her backpack and pulled out a couple hundred dollars which quickly prompted me to turn off the meter.
    “Where you get that kind of money? Five minute wait? What does he look like?” I was getting a little nervous. I could tell she was too.
    “I can’t tell you about it, just follow him.” She almost did, and I was starting to get scared.
    Five minutes had passed and out strolled an older man who was being led by his protruding belly.
    “Him.” She pointed in his direction even though he was the only man on the street.
    “Gotcha”. I waited for the man to slowly wobble around the corner before making my move which worried my client.
    “Don’t let Lou get away!”
    “He ain’t getting away, not worried about it.” His name was Lou, she knew him somehow.
    “So this Lou guy, what is his deal little girl?”
    “He owes my dad a lot of money. Oh no! I shouldn’t say anything” She fidgeted in her bag again for her money and continued to explain anyway, “Here is another hundred, don’t tell anyone about this. His name is Lou ‘Clown Nose’ Vironi and he hasn’t been good to the family.”
    “I wish you hadn’t have told me that.” I kicked myself for asking, leave it to me to get involved with the mob.
    “It’s okay, you work for us now.” She sat back in her seat as I reluctantly followed Clown Nose.

  36. fbxwriter

    JUST AND FAIR
    (492 words. First draft 1047 words. Ouch.)

    A young girl wearing a backpack waved to me from the county library steps and approached my cab. She seemed vaguely familiar, though I was new to this one-light town. No more than thirteen, her eyes held a sadness too deep for her age. I shivered. Maybe she was why I was here. I needed to redeem myself.

    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street?” she said, after getting in. “In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant. I want you to follow him.”

    I lifted my eyebrows.

    “He owes me something,” she said.

    “Money?”

    “My life.”

    I hesitated, then nodded.

    “He did something bad to you, didn’t he?” I asked.

    I half-expected her to cry, but she looked at me, expressionless. She needed comforting, but not from me. I had done horrific things. That’s why I was here, to learn right and wrong.

    “I’m sorry,” I said, crying.

    “There he is,” she said, pointing.

    A man in an overcoat had stepped out of the restaurant and was walking away.

    “Follow him,” she said.

    Her voice was so hollow that a piece of my soul disappeared into it. I had done terrible things to dozens of girls but had felt nothing. Now I ached for her. I started to follow, but the man slowed and stopped. He didn’t turn.

    “What are you going to do?” I said. “Just forget about him. He’s not important.”

    One corner of her mouth twitched upward.

    “Forget?”

    She slowly shook her head, then pulled a pistol from her backpack.

    “Don’t shoot him! You’ve got your whole life ahead of you.”

    She looked at me for a long moment.

    “You’re new here, aren’t you?” she said and climbed out of the cab.

    I wanted to stop her but couldn’t. And maybe this was right. It’s what he deserved. The girl needed healing, but would this bring it to her?

    She approached the man. I gripped the steering wheel, my knuckles white. She tugged on his sleeve.

    I turned and looked down at the little girl holding the pistol. I recognized her.

    “You took my life,” she said. “But you brought me here. Thank you.”

    I saw hope in her eyes. I felt my tears. Thank you, God, I thought. Thank you for redemption.

    “I gladly trade my life for yours,” I said.

    The girl put the gun to her temple and squeezed the trigger. I screamed and grabbed her crumpling body.

    “No!” I yelled to God. “Why did you do this? Why?!”

    I hugged her to my chest. Her name! I couldn’t remember her name!

    “I’m sorry,” I whispered, sobbing.

    I fell to the sidewalk, consciousness slipping away, as I caught the smell of brimstone.

    A young girl wearing pajamas waved to me from the county library steps and approached my cab. She seemed vaguely familiar. No more than ten, her eyes held a sadness too deep for her age.

    ###

    1. jincomt

      Oh it’s hard to cut, but looks like you managed to do so without hurting the integrity of the story. The sacrificial redemption came through clearly. Well-done and touching.

    2. Mr.Es

      This is well written, but I seem to be missing something, and it is driving me crazy! jincomt and Ishmael seemed to have understood it, but the last scene loses me.

      Never mind, I think I got it!

      1. Ishmael

        That’s sort of what I did Mr. Es (l love your screenname, btw). I was trying to write why I didn’t get it, and in referring back to it, I got it. So, it takes a couple of reads…at least for me.

    3. fbxwriter

      Thanks you guys. I was a little worried about people understanding the story, but I didn’t want to make it too obvious. It was a “booger” slicing this down, but I love the challenge of the 500-word limit. It really makes me trim the fat out of my writing AND figure out the core of what I really want to say.

    4. mgb

      Trimming over half the initial draft is an accomplishment. Is it Stephen King who talks about how difficult it is to cut one’s darlings?

      You created some vivid images to convey the emotion of your story.

    5. Birdee0809

      Very well done, I felt his anguish. If you don’t mind me asking, was it difficult to write it given the subject matter and your knowledge of backstory? I feel like I have some difficulty with really tough subjects so looking for any insight I can gather. Thanks!

      Birdee (formerly Bridee, which was a typo on my part)

  37. Donalie

    I’m a taxi driver in a one-light town. I arrived at the County Library to pick up a passenger, a girl no older than thirteen. Okay, it was a slow day, so I was glad to get the call.

    Throwing her backpack onto the seat and shutting the door behind her, she said, “In five minutes a man is going to come out of that restaurant across the street, and I want you to follow him.” She was pretty with freckles on her nose, but there was a sadness about her.

    She stuck two twenties over my seat. Okay, she had my interest. Today was not exactly a money maker and I could use the cash. I took the bills and started the meter.

    Why would a young girl need a taxi in this town? She could have ridden her bicycle just about anywhere. What, 20 minute ride from one end to the other? Or maybe she had a horse. Watching her in my mirror I could tell she wasn’t poor. Nicely dressed with an expensive ring on her right hand which she kept touching.
    She interrupted my thoughts, “There he is. Don’t let him see you.”

    Yeah, okay. It’s been a boring day so I play along with the espionage game. It’s not like I have a line of people waiting for my cab.

    It didn’t take long for his SUV to reach the edge of town. I slowed and kept well behind him. I was getting into this game. Maybe I should start a new business. Cabby P.I., at your service.

    About five miles out, he turns into a farm so I pulled to the side of the road, not getting any closer. I hear low whimpering in the back seat. I could have sworn she said, “I knew it, I knew it…” I turned to speak to her but she was watching the farm house through binoculars, apparently from her backpack. This girl came prepared. But prepared for what? She looked like she was ready to break down into tears.

    Our target didn’t bother getting out of his vehicle. A man came out of the house and walked to the driver’s window. Even from the distance I could see the driver hand the man what looked like a pile of money. You could see the green a block away. I could just imagine what the girl was seeing.

    “Turn around. Take me back to the library.” Her voice was so low, I almost didn’t hear. Quietly, I turned and headed back.

    The return trip was silent. I stopped at the Library and she got out. Standing at my window she was fiddIing with her ring and I said, “I’m sorry this hurt you so much. Do you mind my asking why?”

    “That was my dad paying off the man he hired to killed my mother. I know because I was there when it happened, hiding in a closet.”

    She turned and walked away.

    1. Ishmael

      Good story and very well written! Nice way to end, except you didn’t even need the last sentence, the quote was awesome. I read somewhere to examine our ending and see how many “endings” we really have…some can go. I didn’t realize how many could be there. The use of “Okay” sort of played out the first time, but not the second. It sort of took me out of the visual and put me in the audial.

      You’ve got an excellent grasp on the medium. I’ll look for more stories from you.

  38. Jean_R

    Jenny flagged me down in front of the library. I pulled up and rolled down the passenger window. “Need a lift home, young lady?”

    “No, Mr. Roberts. I need your help. See Rosita’s across the way? A man’s going to come out of there in about 5 minutes and I want to follow him.”

    Everyone in town knew Jenny wanted to be a filmmaker when she grew up. She was never without her video camera. She posted clips on YouTube that were sometimes amusing, sometimes embarrassing. “Now, Jenny, I’m not going to be a part of your next expose’. Let me drive you home, I bet your mama is expecting you for dinner.”

    “No, this is important. It’s about Hannah.” Jenny hesitated and looked around to see if they were alone. “She’s going to meet this man down by Franklin Creek and I need to stop her.”

    “Jenny, I’m not going to drive you to Franklin Creek so you can spy on your sister and her boyfriend. How do you know she’s meeting him? That’s not the kind of thing 16 year olds share with their little sisters.”
    “I hacked into her email account on the Library computer. She’s been texting and emailing this guy for months. He’s too old for her….and he’s married. I want him arrested.”

    “You can’t have someone arrested for dating your sister, Jenny. Besides the age of consent in this state is 16. You need to tell your parents and have them talk to Hannah.”

    “Don’t you think I’ve tried that already?” Jenny’s voice raised in frustration. “I even have them on film with his arm around her. Dad said it just looked like a friendly hug. But it was more. I’m 13. I’m not a kid. I know stuff. And this is bad stuff. And it started when she was just 15. Besides, he’s a ….”

    Jenny’s voice dropped as the restaurant door opened. “There he is, we’ve got to follow him,” she whispered insistently.

    “Jenny, that’s Coach Robinson.” I was shocked. Coach was the young, popular high school football coach. There was even talk in town of a Class A state championship. “I know him from Rotary. He’s very friendly. I’m sure you’re just imagining things.”

    “No, I’m not!” Jenny hissed. “He’s a teacher and he’s fucking my cheerleader sister. And no one will believe me. Follow him and you’ll see for yourself.” Jenny turned and ran down the street in the opposite direction.

    I watched Coach get into his car turned south out of the parking lot, the direction of Franklin Creek. Nah, I thought, couldn’t be. I started after him, following at a distance. Coach pulled off onto a gravel road about a mile out of town. I hesitated. It was the road to Franklin Creek. I turned in, thinking Coach and I would have a laugh about me believing some kid’s wild accusations.

    I rounded the corner and saw them. Coach and Hannah were kissing and he had his hand under her shirt. I pulled out my phone and clicked a picture before dialing 911.

  39. Kae Lee

    Being a cab drive in a small town with one stoplight does not bring much business for me but what can I say, I’m bored and this keeps me occupied. The moment I got the call to pick someone up at the public library, I wasted no time getting there. However, I was shocked to see a girl no older than thirteen looking back at me.

    “You called for a taxi sweetie?” I asked the small fragile looking child as she approached the car.

    “Yes mam,” she responded before getting in the back seat. Polite. I loved it. With today’s society, it was rare to find a child with good manners. I followed her gaze to the Mexican restaurant across the street.
    “We waiting on someone to come out of the restaurant?” I asked hoping she would give me a clue as to why she hadn’t told me where to take her yet.

    “Yes mam,” she answered again. I didn’t have the patience to pry so I sat and waited. No more than five minutes passed before a man came out. I waited for him to approach the car, thinking he was the other passenger, when the girl spoke again. “Follow him please Miss. It’s important that you do not, under any circumstances, lose sight of him.”

    Considering most days my job was boring as hell, I asked no questions but instead did as she asked. He walked the two blocks to the bus station fidgeting with his cell phone. Good thing too because I am terrible at following someone unnoticed.

    “Thank you Miss,” the girl said again as she slid a hundred dollar bill to me and exited the car. Something seemed off and I couldn’t seem to let it go.

    I parked up the road a ways and went back on foot. As soon as I rounded the corner, I stopped in my tracks. The man was sitting on a rusted bench with his eyes wide and lifeless, mouth slightly opened. I walked up to him and that’s when I saw blood trickling down his throat. I immediately called for help.

    An hour passed as I watched the cops do their job and the Coroner take the body away before Sheriff Carter came up to me.

    “Well I think we are done here Ms. Spencer.” He said never taking his eyes off the report I had written.

    “How’d he die?” I asked feeling sick again.

    “Not really supposed to say Carrie but I’m going to tell you so you can watch yourself out there. This town may be small but we are still surrounded by crazies. The man was drained of his blood. Now go home, lock your doors and I’ll call you in if I have any more questions.”

    A little numb inside and completely flabbergasted by what had taken place tonight, I never noticed the girl sitting in my back seat when I got back to the cab. It wasn’t till I looked in the rearview mirror and saw those familiar green eyes and blood smeared mouth. “Oh shit,” was all I managed to get out before she lunged at my throat with razor sharp fangs.

    1. Ishmael

      Nice ending. Those innocent little girls. Not all sugar and spice! A few punctuation needs stalled me, but nothing major. It was a wicked little romp. Thanks for writing it!

    2. radioPanic

      Nice job! Nice contrast with the polite little girl in the beginning. And I’m partial to monsters with fangs, even if I don’t know exactly what they are. Maybe especially if I don’t.

      Only thing I would suggest, based on my limited experience, is don’t give us the surprise before it happens. We shouldn’t know that the girl’s in the backseat before Carrie sees her in the mirror. Just a thought.

      Keep up the good work! Looking forward to more.

  40. Ishmael

    No Fare!

    “…Tony? Tony!?”

    I hear Dispatch squawking, and step briskly to the cab. Struggling to put my sizable ThirstBuster on the car, the lid pops off and a third dumps on me.

    “Goddamnit!” Brown syrup pastes my t-shirt to my chest. I reach in and snatch the mic, muttering indiscernible obscenities. “Yeah, Cathy…”

    “There’s a pick-up at the county library…”

    Stretching headlong into the window, I fumble haphazardly for napkins in the glove compartment. None. “Great,” slamming the hatch. It bounces back open. “Screw it.”

    “… a dress with red polka dots…”

    “Keep talking…” I remember some garage rags, and pop the trunk. An old ZZ Top concert tee hugs the back corner. “Yeah!” Wafts of pot smoke flood my memories.

    “…be there at 1:00, okay?”

    “Gotcha. 1:00. Library. Polka dots.” I trade shirts and gun it through the only stoplight in town. The rest of my mega-drink sloshes down the back windshield. “Crap!”

    12:57 and not a polka dot around. The glove compartment, still open, offers a ratty pack of smokes. “Why the hell not?” I slap the pack to my lips and slide one out, simultaneously clicking and flicking my Zippo.

    Three sharp raps twist me around to a girl, about thirteen. It was Little Red Polka Dot. “Wouldn’t you know it.” I stub out my cig, tossing the lighter on the seat. “Get in.”

    Slipping into the back, she says, “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out, and I want you to follow him.”

    “Okay, yeah…whatever.”

    Sure enough, after five minutes, a guy exits and leaves in a Cobra.

    “That’s him. Hurry…he’s getting away!”

    “Chill already.” The impatient twit. This guy wasn’t cruising anywhere without me. Making erratic turns at every opportunity, I figure he’s wise to my tail. At the outskirts of town, he turns right. I know it’s a dead end, so I take my time around the corner. I skid to an abrupt stop, sending my Zippo flying to the floorboard.

    “What the–?” The car’s gone. Newspaper tumbleweeds billow down the sidewalk.

    “Mister, what time is it?”

    “Hmm? Oh…1:13.”

    “It’s time,” she said, opening the door, “1313.”

    “You’re getting out, even though you lost your guy?”

    “I didn’t lose him…” She scoots and closes the door. They all lock. “…you’re exactly where I want you.”

    I yank at my handle, but it’s not budging, so I slam against the panel. Ouch. “I don’t need this shit.” I stick my head out the window, “Thirteen bucks!” The glass shoots up, choking me in a stranglehold as the lighter sparks, flaring the alcohol-soaked car mat. My throat strains a scream for help.

    “Thirteen years cancer-free, isn’t it? Thirteen years more life given you? And you rape and torture women across the country.”

    She walks across the street to the long-abandoned playground and sits on the familiar carousel, just as the car explodes. My flaming noggin hurls overhead, snuffing itself out in the sandbox. Skipping a step my way, she picks me up by the ears.

    “Earlier, you told God to damn it.”

    Her arms shrivel away, dropping me on my cheek; the red polka dot dress collapses. A sleek, black serpent slithers out, hissing the last words I hear.

    “He ssssent me to do it.”

    1. Ishmael

      551 – cut it from 747, but got tired of messing with it. Oh, and I guess I could’ve axed the word “familiar” on “familiar carousel.” I cut the part that made it familiar. Oh well, can’t catch ‘em all.

    2. jincomt

      Yow– creepy ending. I love the description of the cab driver– excellent. the 1313 connection is clever. I especially liked “flaming noggin”. It made me laugh. Ssssssuper ssstory.

      1. Ishmael

        I loved writing it. I wanted a little dark comic relief there, and I thought the word noggin had a funny feel to it. “My flaming noggin hurls overhead, snuffing itself out in the sandbox,” created some fantastic imagery in my head. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      1. Ishmael

        Didn’t mean to overlook you…you just popped up outta nowhere. Thanks for reading, and I’m glad you enjoyed. Thanks for also taking the time to comment.

          1. Ishmael

            Yeah…a lot of things that defined who the cabbie was and a little of his past ended up being the part easiest to cut, but still keep the story. It had to do with the carousel, and why he was driven to that place to die.

  41. JohnBethlehem

    In small town Murray Kentucky, someone hailing a cab, especially a thirteen year old, is rare.

    Opening the passenger seat door (another rarity) she threw her book bag to the floorboard and took a seat.”

    “Where to?”

    She flashed a picture on her phone, “He will be coming out of the restaurant across the street in about five minutes. I need you to follow him.”

    “You have money?” (I had to ask).

    “Yes, I have money. He’s going that way,” pointing west down Chestnut street, “but you’ll need to stay back a little. It’s not far.” I hit the meter and we sat in silence (me staring outside, her texting). “Thanks for coming. I usually call my mom but she’s still at work.”

    “It’s no problem, that’s my job.” Silence. “You look about the same age as my daughter, Tracey Sterning.”

    “I know the name,” she responded without looking up from her phone. “I think she was a year ahead of me at Murray Middle.”

    “What’s your name?”

    “Rose Bell. My friends call me Rosabell.”

    “That’s a pretty name.” More silence (sans texting). “Is there some kind of trouble?”

    “No. It’s routine. Just helping out.” In the midst of phrasing my next question, she pointed out the window and whispered, “There he is.” Rose put her phone into her pocket. Emerging from the restaurant, an elderly gentleman followed Rose’s prediction. I put the car into gear. “You can wait, I know where he’s going.” We watched the man struggle (obviously drunk) to make it down Chestnut, Rose motioned me forward and instructed me to make the immediate left ahead of him; Murray cemetery. “You do this often?” I asked.

    “Generally twice a month. If you get him too early, he’ll freak out. Just pull over next to the Mausoleum,” she directed. Rose turned around in her seat and watched. I’m sure she could sense I had the question on my tongue cause just as I was about to ask, she looked at me and replied, “He’s my grandfather.” The old man had come to a stop by a small, almost unnoticed grave stone. “He shot my daddy in a hunting accident almost four years ago.” She paused, moving her book bag to the back seat. The old man was oblivious to the cab. “He’s never forgiven himself. After it happened he started drinking all the time and now, when he does, this is where he ends up. Every other Wednesday, he takes me to the public library and goes to eat at the Mexican restaurant. If I don’t hear from him by 7:30, I know what to do.”

    Rosabell opened the door and stepped out. “Pa-Paw!” She called. “You ready?” The older man didn’t move. I watched Rose slowly approach her daddy’s grave and take hold of her grandfather’s hand. With little hesitation, the old man gently pulled her closer to his side.

    I clicked off the meter.

    1. Ishmael

      What a wonderful story with well written character descriptions, great premise, and touching ending. I really enjoyed it. My only pause came with the use of the word ’cause’ for ‘because.’ I’m not opposed to using slang or dialect in the least, but it is the only instance where the narrator uses that voice, with all the other written in perfect grammar.

      For days your story didn’t show on my computer…don’t know why. Then suddenly, it came between mine and Jincomt’s, showing it was posted on the same day we posted. I’m glad it appeared…it was a great read!

  42. jincomt

    “Look sweetheart, it’s just not a good idea to follow some strange guy. It’s not safe.” I turned around so I could look her in the eyes. She looked about 13, just like my Lilly. The kid looked up at me with big green eyes and a face covered with angle kisses—what we called freckles, in my family.

    She crossed her arms across her tummy. “You’re not my mom,” she said.

    “No, I’m sure not, honey. I’m just a lady with a cab. Let me drop you off at home or with someone you know. No charge. Please.”

    She leaned forward, her chubby hands gripping the back of my seat. “Please, please. If you don’t go now we’ll lose him. Follow him. Just a little bit.”

    I sighed and shifted my car into drive, figuring maybe if I humored her a bit, she’d let me take her home. There were a few kids walking down the sidewalk, past the movie theater. A show must have just let out. I glanced in the rear view mirror. The kid relaxed and looked relieved. A small smile lit up her face and deepened her dimples.

    Our mystery man turned the corner. What was with this guy from the La Estrellita restaurant that she had to follow him? “Hey, who is this guy anyway?” I asked. She just shrugged her shoulders and stared happily out the window.

    When I rounded the corner, more kids were gathered—there must have been a couple dozen, all ages. It was weird. They looked happy, almost skipping, nudging each other, and giggling. They were surely up to no good.

    I caught sight of the man just ahead of them. I made a mental note of his description. Just in case. He was wearing jeans and a bright red sweater. He had a full head of white, thick hair, just below his collar and only looked about 5’2”.

    We passed a music store and a stream of kids came out and joined the crowd already following the man. I glanced in the mirror again. The little girl was chewing on her fingers and grinning as if she might burst out into laughter. I stopped the car at a red light just as the man suddenly turned around. The crowd of kids stopped in their tracks, and my little passenger jumped out of the car before I could say anything.

    The kids started towards him. This couldn’t be good. I grabbed my cell phone to call 911, straining to see so I could give a description. Then slowly, I clicked off my phone and felt my mouth drop open. The light turned green, but I couldn’t move. He had a long, white beard, a belly that shook when he laughed, and the bluest, twinkling eyes I’d ever seen. I rubbed my eyes and looked at him again.

    As the kids converged on him with laughter, he turned and looked right into my cab, placed a finger alongside his nose and gave me a big wink. No. It couldn’t be.

    1. Ishmael

      I wish I could say this was obtuse. :)

      What a delight! I sorta had a little feeler that it could be ol’ Kris Kringle. I loved the wink reference, and the whole kit-and-kaboodle. Great to have a little Christmas in the summer. Thanks for a pleasurable read, as always!

      1. Amy

        I enjoyed this jincomt! At first, I was thinking the Pied Piper, the way all of the kids were following the fellow. Santa was a wonderful surprise and far less sinister.

    2. DMelde

      Fun story jincomt. It had a Pied Piper feel to it, and I can totally see Santa munching on chips and salsa, and drinking candy cane margaritas.

  43. Wolfshine

    I pulled up to the library door where my next fair was to take place. A small girl stepped out no older than thirteen with such long hair that I wondered how she didn’t trip over it as she walked. She smiled at me friendly as she climbed into the backseat.
    I turned to look at her. “Where am I taking you today?”
    “You see that restuarant across the street?” she asked bobbing her head.
    I glanced over my shoulder before turning back to her. “Yeah.”
    “A man will come out any minute. He’s real distinctive, with black hair, a rail thin figure and a limp,” she said. “I want you to follow her.”
    I looked at her questioningly. I had never gotten a request like that. I shot some of my wondering towards the restuarant just in time to see the man stumble out. He had a cane to help his limp. But he only used it for a minute before he stepped into a gray toranado.
    “Well what are you waiting for? Follow him!” the odd girl in the backseat demanded.
    My conscious was torn but I grasped the wheel and hit the gas. I followed the black toranodo for nearly a mile before it pulled to a halt in front of a nice looking house.
    “Stop,” the girl demanded.
    Immediately I did as she directed. The man climbed out of the car and the girl watched him.
    Finally I worked up the nerve to ask, “Why did you want me to follow him?”
    “I’m buying a puppy off of him,” she replied happily before throwing money at me and climbing out of the cab.

    1. MCKEVIN

      A complete story where you answered who, what, where, when and why. That’s a writers job.

      Did you mean to change the sex in this line.

      “A man will come out any minute. He’s real distinctive, with black hair, a rail thin figure and a limp,” she said. “I want you to follow her.” If you did may I ask why?

      How does someone look “distinctive?” Describe it and include it in your story. Thanks for sharing.

  44. GMichael

    “It is very important that he not see me or know he is being followed. Here is twenty dollars. I have more”. She flashed a small roll of bills and tucked them in her pocket.
    Having just returned back to Jefferson after years on the coast, he felt O.K., he had been around.
    In about ten minutes, a very tall man with long grey curly hair walked out. He double checked his customer copy and tucked it in his pocket. The young girl said nothing.The cabbie had a feeling this might be their guy and when he turned to the girl, she sat staring at the man with a look that might resemble the anticipation of Christmas morning. “Is that him” ? “Yes. When he gets in his car, please folow”.
    He let the SUV get on its way and fired up the cab. His first thought was much too much a cliche but he said it anyway. “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this”. “You’ll see”, she said. She continued staring in the cabbies mirror until the cabbie finally stared back and she smiled and turned away.Two turns and 15 minutes later, the SUV pulled in a driveway. The house seemed familier. “Give the preacher 10 minutes”, she said.”And I will go in”. He sat staring at the house and Deja Vu thoughts flooded over him. She opened the door and started up the driveway. She ran back to the cab. ” If I’m not out in five minutes, please knock”. When she got to the door she was received with a hug and let in. Five minutes, ten, fifteen. With only 20 dollars to show for half a night wasted, he went to the door. The man who answered the door pointed a shot gun at him and invited him inside. “You’ve met your daughter, now step in line and meet your new wife”. The shotgun felt close. The man they had followed stood with a Bible. Next to him, “Oh yea, I remember now, oops”, a late night cab fair from, now he guessed right, forteen years ago. And he was married…

  45. Naomi

    I was just about to radio Gerta back, and tell her the fare was a no-show, when I saw Frannie coming out of the Colleyville library. Holding a stack of books, Frannie leaned against the statue near the library’s entrance. A large, bronze figure of a dog, poised to run off. Mrs. Hillson donated the statue, “a collie statue for Colleyville.” Being matriarch of the richest family in our speck of a town, no one had the nerve to remind Mrs. Hillson that the town is named after the founder, not the dog breed.

    Settling the books more securely in her arms, Frannie made her way to my cab, and leaned down to an open car window.

    “Good afternoon, Mr. Simmons.”

    “Good afternoon, Frannie,” I said. At thirteen years old, Frannie Harrell is in that twilight between childhood and growing up. Unlike most kids her age, Frannie shied from the teenage trappings of pretend adulthood. She’s smart as can be, and has more good sense than some adults. “Where you going?”

    “Well, sir,” she said. “In a few minutes, a man is going to come out of the Mexican restaurant across the street. We have to follow him.”

    I know restaurant, and eat there often. The owner is about as Mexican as the Statue of Liberty, but the food is good.

    “Frannie, young girls have no business following men.” I said. Of course, she would grow up one day, but that the day had arrived saddened me.

    Shifting the books to her other hip, Frannie said, “But he isn’t a man, Mr. Simmons.”

    “Oh?”

    “No, sir,” she continued. “He’s a mountain giant, freed during an earthquake. The soil calls him back home, but he wants to travel first. Mountain giants work magic, that’s why he looks human. He can raise his hand to the air, and call down a star. He can lean over a creek, whisper to the water, and the king of the catfish will dance for him, as the sunlight tries to catch the catfish’s gold crown. I want to follow him and see some mountain giant magic, Mr. Simmons.”

    “Oh, well then,” I said. “Go on, and get in the back.”

    “Thank you, Mr. Simmons,” Frannie said. She opened the back door of my cab, and got in, setting her books next to her on the seat.

    In a few minutes, a man, a stranger to town, came out of the restaurant. I started the cab’s engine up. After Frannie buckled herself in, I looked at her through the rear-view mirror.

    “Any idea where this mountain giant is heading next?” I asked her reflection.

    “I’m not sure, but I think it’s in the general direction of my house.”

    “I think you’re right.” I said. One day, Frannie will grow up. Adult demands will tie her to this world. For today, she is still a child; free to fly wherever she wants. Pulling the cab away from the curb, I hummed happily to myself.

    1. MCKEVIN

      If we were required to give our passages titles, I would name this one “Anyone’s Daughter.” I like stories where the last person I would suspect would do the worst. (I like sappy endings too. Sometimes) But I like when a writer cause me to think. You did that. Good Job.

    2. MCKEVIN

      I like this because it has a native American feel to it. The writers here took very different takes on the prompt this time and yours is truly unique. I liked the catfish description. Well done.

      PS. Please disregard the double posting below. It was meant for the passage above.

    3. jincomt

      So was the man really her father? I think I see that this was a story about a girl in transition, as you said so well with “twilight between child and growing up”. I like that the cab driver, in a small town, knew the girl, knew the man– had a sweet, family feel to it. (I live in a small town, and it really is like Mayberry sometimes.) The first paragraph felt a little awkward to me for some reason– maybe just because my mind was grasping where the story was heading. Nice story :)

      1. Naomi

        After looking at your comment, jincomt, I re-read my story. I agree with your assessment about the first paragraph. I think it is awkward because I spent too many words trying to give a feel for the town, when I think my description, “our speck of a town” says everything about the town that needs saying in this 500 word scene. I think I should have used more words to evoke the interactions of the townsfolk — the “everyone knows, and takes care of, everyone else” aspect. Such as, Mr. Simmons lives in the small town, and knows Frannie, but is not her father. The non-pertinent details in the opening paragraph can be distracting, by steering a reader away from the focus.

        I’m still honing my writing and editing skills, and I am always deeply appreciative of comments my writing receives here. Thanks! :)

        1. jincomt

          Oh boy- honing– you and me both! I learn as much by reading these prompts as writing them. Actually, I picked up on the essence of the small-town quite well. You did a nice job with that. And yes, you put your finger on it– maybe all the description wasn’t quite needed for a 500 word story. I didn’t quite grasp that. Good for me to remember too.

    4. Ishmael

      Very nice, Naomi! I loved the Statue of Liberty line. I felt her instinct to hold on to her childhood, yet experiencing those critical years that introduce a youth to adulthood.

      Thanks for the enjoyment.

      1. Naomi

        Thank you, Ishmael! I’m glad that you felt the crux of the story: Frannie’s decision to hold on to her childhood for just a little longer.

  46. Mr.Es

    Looking down the barrel of her 9mm, as she cocked the hammer, I felt both afraid and sad for this little girl. Her eyes were empty and cold, but she still reminded me of my own thirteen year old daughter. Her childhood had been taken from her, and that evening she seemed bent on finding the person who took it. “Will you help me now?”

    It was difficult to refuse at this point. I nodded my head, and she slowly got in to my cab. “Will you please lower your gun while we wait?”

    She didn’t say a word. We waited in silence for several minutes before a tall, slender man exited the restaurant. She repeated her request, “Please follow him.”

    I felt compelled to comply. He rushed into his vehicle and I followed. I wanted her to trust me enough to lower the gun, so I asked, “Are you ok?”

    “Yes.”

    That response from her felt like progress, even if it was clearly a lie. So I continued, “Where are your parents?”

    “Gone.”

    “Where did they go?”

    She paused and had to fight back tears, “Heaven I hope.”

    The troubled girl finally took her gun off me. I continued to question her about her parents and what she was doing, but she only offered silence. For the remainder of that drive, we simply listened to the radio station she picked.

    We reached our destination, a small house on the outskirts of town. He pulled into his driveway and we parked down the street. She stared at the house as he went inside. I had to tell her, “You don’t have to do this.”

    As if she was convincing herself, “I just hid in the closet, afraid. He deserves it.”

    Still seeing my daughter, my heart began to ache. “I can drive you to the bus stop.”

    “When I’m done, if you’re still here.”

    “I’ll wait.”

    She walked up to the house without hesitation. She knocked on the front door, and after he opened it, fired two shots. The man fell to the ground instantly. She looked back at me, and saw that I had kept my word. This time, she moved quickly. She entered my cab, her face remained emotionless. I sped off, and we headed to the bus stop. We didn’t share a word, only listening to the radio station she picked.

    Once we reached the bus stop, she sat for a moment. She then asked, “You going to get in trouble?”

    “I’ll tell them you held me at gunpoint.”

    She then got out, turned, and thanked me. I couldn’t think of what to say, so I forced a smile, and nodded my head. I waited for her to get on the bus before I drove to the sheriff’s station. After a couple of hours there, I finally went home. I went straight to my daughter’s room where she was sleeping, and sat next to her bed until she woke.

    1. MCKEVIN

      If we were required to give our passages titles, I would name this one “Anyone’s Daughter.” I like stories where the last person I would suspect would do the worst. (I like sappy endings too. Sometimes) But I like when a writer cause me to think. You did that. Good Job

      I accidently posted this on the passage below.

      1. Mr.Es

        Thank you for taking the time to read this and share your thoughts. They are always welcomed, my friend. I originally wanted to elaborate on the little girl, but felt allowing the reader to create their own image, they would hopefully imagine someone they could relate to themselves.

      2. wilson hara

        yes, it made me stop and think too. I liked this story very much, the way it’s written calmly, the way he deals with the girl and the end, when he goes to the police, I felt bad for both of them.

        1. Mr.Es

          I’m glad you enjoyed it, my friend. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as well, they are sincerely appreciated. I feel as if I reached you just as I intended. As I explained to our friend Ishmael, I was worried I may have difficulty keeping the reader’s attention without creating a high level of excitement. I wanted the reader to try and sympathize with this little girl, even as she acted cold and executed a calculated murder.

    2. Ishmael

      A different story of displaced compassion. The cabbie, recognizing his daughter in this little girl, felt her pain and abetted her in the crime. I loved the repetition of “listening to the radio station she picked.” It told me that there was nothing further to say…all was understood. Good job!!

      1. Mr.Es

        Thank you very much, my friend, for taking the time to read it and share your thoughts. They are always welcomed. I feel as if the story struggles to keep the reader, but that is why I share. It is the only way to grow.

  47. Quaye98

    I tap the last bit of my cigarette out the window, and check my watch for about the fiftieth time. What was taking this girl so long? First day of summer and I was stuck in a damn taxi car. Somehow, my brother, Sam managed to convince me to take a summer job as a cab driver. Watching the mothers and their spoiled children come out of the local library is not my idea of a good time. But Sam said it would help me be “less of a jackass”. Even though he knows just as well as I do, I hate meeting new people.

    I am almost tempted to honk my horn at the passing mothers; some of them are kind of cute. I resist the urge, though. If Sam’s praises about how much these rich people pay for cab service ring true, then I don’t want to risk any potential clients. Though, some people walking past give me dirty looks and, being the gentlemen that I am, I return the favor.

    Across the street, Rodrigo’s Mexican Fiesta is just opening. Hm, maybe after I’m done I can come back and get a quick burrito with my new money – yeah, I like that idea very much. I look over to the library doors again and wonder idly what my client must look like. What if she’s a mob wife or something? Or maybe an undercover CIA agent? Well, perhaps, not the first choice since she sounded kind of young over the phone… eh, you never know.

    The handle on the left side door is clanking dully – someone’s pulling it. I look over and see a small girl with a dark ponytail standing outside the door. She looks agitated, as if she was the one waiting in the library parking lot for over thirty minutes. I unlock the door, and she snatches it open, throwing her backpack across the seat.

    The car is silent for a moment – this little girl is making me nervous, shouldn’t she be home playing with her dolls or something?

    “Where to, sweetheart,” I finally ask, looking at her through the rearview mirror

    She rolls eyes and huffs, annoyed. “Don’t coddle me.” She snaps. I frown; she better be paying really good after this ride is over. “You see that Mexican restaurant?” She points straight ahead. “In about five minutes, a man with a baseball cap and a camera hung around his neck is about to come out. I want you to follow him.”

  48. RachelLusk

    I’m tired, down to my last cigarette and my half cup of 74 cent black coffee is luke-warm and I’m counting down the 17 minutes left until I’m off the clock. As I sit outside the county library a young girl about 12 or 13 gets in the back seat.
    “Your mom coming kid?”
    “I don’t have a mom, it’s just me.”
    “Whatever, where to?”
    “See that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes a man will come out and I need to follow him.”
    I nodded and we sat there in silences, as I watched her fidget nervously in the back seat. After a very five minutes a large, dark haired man stepped out of the restaurant.
    “THAT’S HIM!” The girl whispered urgently, as I put the car in drive.
    We followed the man as he drove a few miles outside of town and pulled into a driveway. The lights were on inside so we had a clear view from the road of the living room, were we could see a woman smiling as she watched two young children dance around the room. The man walked inside and kissed the woman as the kids pulled at his pant legs. I was so caught-up in the Kodak moment of this beautiful family that I didn’t notice the girl in the back of my cab was softly crying. Her eyes were sad; if there is one thing I learned from driving a cab for so long was that you can tell a lot about someone from their eyes.
    “What’s wrong?” I asked the girl in a much softer tone than I had spoken to her with earlier.
    Reluctantly she eventually answered. “That’s my dad, he doesn’t know me and I don’t want to know him, I just wanted to know if he is happy with his life now. Obviously he is, and I don’t want to hurt that.”
    Not wanting to pry too much or upset her anymore, I said the only thing I could think of “any guy that leaves a beautiful girl like you and starts a new family, doesn’t deserve to be happy.”
    She started to cry a little more but collected herself as I drove her back into town. I dropped her off at the hotel and then I drove three streets over to the gas station. I bought a new pack of Marlboro Red, and a six pack of natural light, then drove to 1456 E Walnut Street. I sat in the cab and watched the house as I took a drink of beer and a long drag off the cigarette and thought about the family inside the house asleep that I left five years ago, the family that I should talk to in the morning so my daughter doesn’t cry outside my house in seven years like the girl I met tonight. I’m just as empty and dead inside as the man I watched tonight.

  49. gotsfuzz

    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”

    Little did I realize this was the beginning of my end.

    I glanced back in my rearview and noticed only the top of her unruly hair skimming the bottom of my mirror. I stared forward. Despite her naturally young voice, a clear resonant quality pierced the command into action. I kept my hands firmly on the wheel as I stared intently across the street waiting for just another unknown factor. The old streetlights were so dim that even the untouched snow barely succeeded in reflecting what little light they offered. The restaurant was just another shadow nested in the night. It didn’t take long for her stale and cold scent to settle into the cab. If it weren’t for the scent, her presence would have gone completely unnoticed.

    My eyes glazed over as I focused my attention on the texture of the steering wheel beneath my fingers; the rough matted material roped around the wheel didn’t budge as my fingers varied the pressure they placed against it. I found it easier to keep your mind occupied rather than to let your body reflect even your most private emotions.

    We were part of something bigger, she and I; we were only cogs in a machine. We had a function. We served a purpose. Some knew more than others, and as for me, I knew nothing. I knew nothing more than what was slipped under my door and nothing more than what would happen if I failed to oblige. There was always doubt planted in the back of my head, but I knew better than to let it show.

    My shallow breathing caught as my eyes latched onto the twitching movement of the door hidden in the darkness. Only moments later did he immerge.

    “Go.” she whispered immediately.

    Fear and obligation lowered my foot onto the gas pedal. I could feel her eyes calculating and absorbing every move. It was a strain following him; he clung to the deepest crevice the shadows offered. The row of towering buildings and the alley’s integrated between each worked in his favor. His movements could only be tracked by the minor reflections that his thick body offered as it whisked through cracks of light. My eyes were glued to what little he offered. He was too swift for me. I could feel sweat blanketing my neck as I realized the potential of his escape. My foot fell heavier on the pedal. It was only an instant later that the figure made an abrupt turn into a shadowed doorway.

    Without a second spared, the command, “Pull over” calmly and icily fell from her young mouth. I pulled over. “Leave the keys in the ignition and get out”. A smirk graced her voice. I must have taken too long. “Get. Out.”

    My fingers were trembling as they fumbled for the handle. I opened the door and braced myself against the bitter cold. I slammed the door behind me and looked around as the low murmur of the engine filled the silence. I stared ahead and weighed my options.

    “Thank you for your time your efforts, and your contributions, Mr. Relver,” I jumped at the smooth deep voice,” but you are no longer needed.”

    My heart stopped as I heard the gun cock.

  50. Icabu

    The taxi turned at the light. Slumped in the backseat, Krista kept her gaze on the man walking along the sidewalk. He hunched against the cold. They’d followed him for two blocks.

    “Pull up and ask if he wants a ride. It’s late and cold.” Krista knew the man had just finished his shift at the Mexican restaurant. He hated the food but cooked it well. Like usual, she’d sat in the library across the street from the restaurant and watched for glimpses of him. Tonight was special – her wait was over.

    “Hey, mista,” the driver called out the open passenger window. “Get in. I’ll give you a ride. I’m going off duty anyway.”

    “Thanks.” The man slid into the back seat.

    “Where to?”

    Ignoring the driver’s question, the man stared at the girl sitting across from him. “Krista,” he said, “you know I have no visitation.”

    Staring back, Krista rubbed her hands on her pant legs. She’d been doing that a lot since washing her hands about fifty times. They still didn’t feel clean.

    “I know, Daddy.” Krista swallowed audibly, almost painfully. “I want to live with you and Lillian.”

    “I know, Krista, but we have to abide by the court’s decision.” He sighed loudly. “The court believed your mother’s lies that the drugs were mine and not hers.”

    “If mom wasn’t around anymore, then I could live with you, right?” Krista’s voice sounded younger than her thirteen years.

    “What do you mean?” Anger edged the man’s words. “Did she leave with one of her pot-head boyfriends?”

    “Are we going anywhere, folks?”

    “Just wait a minute,” the man answered.

    “1342 West Sycamore,” Krista directed the driver. “Fast.”

    “Where is your mother, Krista?”

    As always, it was her mother. Never his wife, well, ex-wife. Never her given name.

    “She wasn’t home,” Krista said, “so I went to the library. I didn’t want to be home when she dragged in her latest conquest.”

    “82 East Elm,” the man shouted at the cabbie. “Step on it.”

    “She won’t be there.” Krista slumped and pouted.

    The taxi turned onto Elm and slid to a stop. Half a dozen cop cars and an ambulance surrounded the small house squatting behind the faded mailbox with ‘82’ stenciled on it. The taxi occupants stared.

    “What the hell?” the man whispered.

    “I had to, Daddy.” Krista cried openly, her hands rubbing ceaselessly on her pants. She knew it was a curse from her mother. How could she have known there’d be that much blood? She could still feel it and knew it would always be there.

    1. aikawah

      Nice story, loved the build-up leading to the discovery. Especially loved the bit of planting you did with the wiping her hands on her pants thing. Great story.

    2. catbr

      Good story. Sometimes kids can have a hard time dealing with coming from a broken marriage. The girl in your story must have had a really bad experience. Good job.

    3. Ishmael

      Very well written. I’ve learned to expect nothing less from you, Icabu. Very believable. You threw in all the right details, including the fact that ‘he hated the food but cooked it well.’

  51. Bridee0809

    The Convergence

    “Pick up by six thirty. Dispatch out.”

    Bob rolled his eyes. “Dispatch” was Morey Sanders sitting on a ratty couch in his garage and watching sports on a tiny television until someone called for the only cab in town.

    Bob was a young man but he was tired. Tired of beating himself up for dropping out of college; tired of wanting to date Morey’s granddaughter but not having the balls to ask her out and so very tired of never knowing which way to turn.

    He pulled up to the county library. A teenager walked down the steps and got in the back seat.

    “Where to miss?” Bob said, looking in the rear view. She was young, no more than fourteen. Her attention was focused on the small, round object in her hands.

    He was about to ask again when she looked up and said, “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”

    “Is this a –” he said.

    “Prank? No it’s not Bob Allan Davis, not Robert but Bob, yes?” she looked up at him.

    “Yeah,” he said slowly. His eyes darted to the visor, the cabbie license and picture was Morey’s.

    The girl pressed something on the round object and the world went dark.

    “Hey!” Bob said; his heart pounding. He turned on the car lights but nothing lit up inside or out. “What’s happening?” he said, trying not to panic as he reached up and flipped on the car’s interior light.

    “The Convergence is happening.” she said, “the Lives Framework is being altered, it’s crumbling and shrinking and you’re a big part of it.”

    “Lives Framework?” he said.

    “You call it reincarnation. Operators like me are talking to all of your Aspects at this very moment. Aspects are parts of the same soul. Think of your soul as a hand with an infinite number of fingers. The fingers are separate but part of the whole. When you meet another one of your Aspects, you call them your soul mate.”

    “So I’m messing up my next life?” Bob asked.

    “There isn’t a ‘next’. Aspects are living their lives at the same time on different planes of existence. The Framework is being destroyed because not one of your Aspects, including you, is following their instincts. The little voice inside that compels you one way or another is not random, please listen to it. The Convergence is close.”

    At that moment everything made sense to him. He did actually know which way to turn his entire life but he hadn’t been listening. He felt wonderful, elevated, like his slate had been wiped clean. Just then there was a rapping on the thin plastic separating the front and back seats.

    “Hey mister, can we go? My dad left the restaurant and he’s walking to the corner to wait. We need to get to the airport.”

    1. Bridee0809

      Thank you all so much. I had to take out a lot, over 500 words, to make it fit the word count but I think I will continue it. Just one more story for me to work on and that makes me a happy girl.

      Have a great day everybody.

    2. jincomt

      I can only echo the responses here. I, too, am not a huge sci-fi fan, but this concept was really interesting. I think what made it so cool, was that it was an idea that resonated with the reader. We all wish for something that would offer us that kind of clarity in life, almost a do-over. Wonderful.

    3. radioPanic

      I really liked the third paragraph. Short, but it says so much about the character. Loved the second paragraph, too, it paints a picture bigger of the situation than the sum of its parts, as they say.

      Great concept and execution! Good ending, too. Endings are hard.

  52. sarahbecker

    Prissy. That’s what I’d call it. A little girl holdin’ a big book; hair up in one of them up-dos my wife always goes on about, wearing a pokadot blue dress with red heels. Ain’t no reason a girl needs to wear heels. Even the way she gets in my cab, palm on the door, like touchin’ full on would give her cancer.

    And her voice just bleeds goddamn privilege, “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”

    I nod to show I’ve heard. Goddamn boss pullin’ me out with orders to do whatever she says.

    But waitin’ patiently ain’t for little girls. I peer at her through the rear-view mirror. Wouldn’cha know it, she’s goddamn bitin’ her nails.

    “Stop that.” I say through the mirror. She looks up like a cat caught in a flashlight. “Stop that. You some lady, ain’tcha? Ladies don’t go ‘round bitin’ their nails.”

    I smile crookedly. I always wanted to show up the man. And she the man, if I ain’t seen a little girl so gussied up before, I don’t know what else counts.

    “Just watch the restaurant.” She authoritates back.

    My hands grip the wheel so hard. I’ll watch the goddamn restaurant, your majesty.

    It don’t take long for her majesty to start kickin’ my passenger seat.

    “Stop that.” I say, louder this time. “My cab ain’t for kickin’.”

    “What is it for then?” She keeps her eyes nice an’ level with mine.

    I meet those little blue bulbs head on, “Drivin’.”

    She nods, “Then get to drivin’. He’s right there.” She’s pointin’ through the window. “The one going bald. Follow him. When he gets to the South Bridge. Call me.”

    Droppin’ her cell phone into the passenger’s seat she then heads out the door.

    I yell, “Wait a minute! What the hell? Cabs don’t work like that!”

    “I prepaid for this reason, sir. Now if you want an extra two thousand, you’ll do as I say.” She takes a nice long look at me. “Got it?”

    Extra two thousand. Well now, she’s a goddamn liberal too.

    I nod. She slams the door. I drive away. It ain’t until two hours in that I start to wonder if she was lyin’. By the time I get to the bridge the bald man already jumped.

    But she’s standin’ there.

    “He’s dead.” She says as I get outta the cab.

    I stand still, hand on the door ‘case I gotta run. “That’s no good.”

    “Here.” She throws me the money. “You did what you could.”

    “I don’t even know what I did.” I say, my knuckles goin’ white on the door. I don’t like bein’ played with.

    “You didn’t need to. Go ahead, check how much.” She nods to the money in my hand then gets in her own car and goddamn drives away.

    I count quickly. Two thousand. With lipstick. Prissy.

    1. radioPanic

      Wow. I usuallly look for stories that haven’t received comment yet, see if I can offer something constructive.

      I got nothin’.

      I got a big, clear picture of your narrator. You gave him a distinct voice, and never faltered. Gave us good flow. Gave us some humor, then cut it with some deeper stuff. And not telling me any more than your narrator knows just puts me in his skin. And I leave with the same unanswered questions as he does. Even the girl, I get one facet of her, then you twist her to show another. And the last word, from a writing standpoint, is perfect. IMHO, as they say.

      I’m rambling, and I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: definitely looking forward to more.

    2. Ishmael

      I was totally pulled into the story. The dialogue and descriptions were real and showed a vivid picture of the characters and surroundings. Loved all of the cabbie’s details of his impression of the girl.

      I don’t really know how she knew Baldie was coming out…or going to the bridge…or going to jump…or what the cabbie was supposed to do (the cabbie didn’t either!), but I enjoyed the ride trying to find out. Great word choices!

      I enjoyed this, even with those things unanswered.

  53. PamelaPCH90

    I pulled up in front of the library and at first, I didn’t see anyone. But then a cute, young girl slowly came out from behind a pillar. I knew the girl on the phone sounded young, but I didn’t realize she was this young. She didn’t look any older than thirteen.
    “Where to?” I asked as she sat in the backseat. The girl was silent. “I can’t take you anywhere if I don’t know where to–”
    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.” She said in a voice that was so quaint I could barely hear her.
    “You got cash?” I asked. I wanted to be sure I was gonna get paid for this.
    The girl showed me a wad of money and I had no reason not to take her where she wanted to go.
    “How old are you?” I asked. She didn’t answer. “Sweetie, if we’re gonna–”
    “Don’t call me Sweetie. I’m 13, not 5.” Then her face got pale and she cowered in the seat. “Please,” she whispered, “there he is.”
    I turned to see the man she was talking about. I looked back at her. She looked so scared. Why was she scared? I started the car and tried to wade my way into traffic, but…
    “Wait.” The girl said. “He may get in a car.”
    I waited once again. Sure enough, he got in his car. A very nice BMW, at that. Lucky bastard. “So…why are we following this man?” I asked, nonchalantly. The girl didn’t answer. I was getting really annoyed with her silence. “Can I ask what your name is?” The girl looked out the window.
    The man slowly drove around town and it wasn’t long before he was taking the one highway this town had to get OUT of town. I wonder if this was in the girl’s plans. I glanced in her direction. Her brows furrowed but she didn’t tell me to stop. I just hope she knew how much this was gonna cost her.
    After we passed a couple exits, I shook my head. “I’m taking the next exit and then taking you home. This is silly.”
    The girl panicked and looked at me for the first time. “No! Please! I have to follow him! I have to so everyone will know…”
    I kept driving. “So everyone will know what?”
    “The truth. He lied. And nobody believed me.” The girl started to cry. Crap. I hate when women cry, especially little girls.
    “Is this your father?”
    The girl’s face switched from fear to anger and she looked at me once again. “No.” She said through clenched teeth.
    “Then who is he? Won’t your mother worry?”
    She shook her head. “I have no parents. He was my Foster parent. And I hate him.”
    I was in on the chase now. “What did he do?”
    “He took everything from me.” She was no longer solemn, but determined.
    “What did he take?”
    “Everything.”

    1. MCKEVIN

      Good and makes a reader want to read the second chapter. I can draw my own conclusions of what everything is but I would love to know the author’s.

  54. amyquillen

    “Sure, kid. You got money?” I ask.

    She reaches across the seat, handing me a hundred dollar bill. I hold it up to the sunlight and make sure it’s real, then looking through my rear view mirror say, “Alright, then.”

    We wait for about fifteen minutes in silence, the girl watching the entrance to the Mexican restaurant, while I watch the fee go up.

    “So am I allowed to ask who we’re waiting for, or are you some sort of junior CIA agent?” I ask.

    After a pause, the girl replies “It’s my dad…my biological dad. I’m adopted.”

    “Have you ever met him before? Does he know who you are?” I begin to feel uncomfortable. Sensitive matters are not exactly my forte, and having to be witness to a potentially awkward situation is not my ideal way to earn a fare. Pick up and deliver-that’s what I do. Skip the small talk; play with your cell phone, read a magazine and get out of my cab.

    This girl smells like trouble. But she also smells like Benjamin Franklin, so I’m willing to leave my comfort zone.

    She doesn’t respond to my questions, so I press a little further. “Look, kid. If this guy gave you up for adoption it was probably for good reason. Maybe you should just let me take you home.”

    “No!” she snaps. “I’m not leaving until I see what he looks like. You’re getting paid so just shut up and do your job!”

    Ahh, preteens are so much fun. Think they know everything, yet are still prone to child-like tantrums. I decide to listen to the girls advice, and take out some Bingo lottery scratchers from the glove compartment. Always a good time killer.

    Two scratchers and ten minutes pass, and still no sign of Daddy. I start to hear sniffling and whimpers from the back seat. I continue to “shut up and do my job”.

    “My adoptive parents are jerks! They won’t let me have a cell phone, or even go on dates. If they let me go out with friends, my curfew is nine p.m.! NINE! I don’t even have my own computer which is why I was at the library researching my biological parents. They’re afraid I’ll start social networking, get cyber bullied, kidnapped or some other stupid crap!” Exhausted from her rant, she collapses in a huff in the back seat.

    I look up from my lottery ticket just long enough to catch her eye in the rear view mirror and say, “Well, that sure is unfortunate Miss-ah Daisy.”

    The girl rolls her eyes, then suddenly sits up, focused intently on the doorway of La Hacienda. A man exits with what could only be his wife and children.

    “That’s him! It’s him, I know it!”

    I count the last of the words revealed on my Bingo ticket, do a little math, then turn to the girl and say:

    “Good. Guess what? I just won $500,000. So get out of my cab, Miss Daisy.”

    1. jincomt

      I loved this story. You did such a great job creating the cab driver’s character. It was a wonderful balance of funny and poignant. The dialogue really added to each character. And the ending was my favorite so far. Just really well done.

  55. ellalovely

    Shoulders slouched under the weight of her back-pack, she anxiously scans the fire lane through the large double-paned glass windows that line the entrance to the county library. She checks her watch.
    10:57pm.
    I wipe my hands on my jeans as beads of sweat trickle down my temples. My eyes flicker to the glove box. I signal to turn into the parking lot. I see her waiting inside.
    10:58pm
    He stands, puts on his coat and walks over to the bar. He orders a double gin and tonic, downing it in one sip. He puts on his gloves, scarf and hat.
    10:59pm
    She walks calmly down the library steps and slides into the front seat of the taxi. Her eyes are young, thirteen at most; the tag on her backpack still displays her home address – 650 Brookshire Lane. She is suddenly human. She says, “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”
    11:00pm
    I ask, “Why.” She slips me a wad of cash at least ten bills thick. I light a cigarette, put the car in drive but keep my foot on the brake. My hands are shaking. I try to hide them.
    11:03pm
    He tucks his scarf into the collar of his jacket and steps out into the night. He walks swiftly down the street, hands shoved deep into his pockets.
    11:05pm
    “That’s him. Go. Now.” she says. She leans forward in her seat, placing her hands on the dashboard, eyes glued to the man.
    11:06pm
    I take my foot off of the breaks and press the gas so quickly the car lurches. I pull out of the lot and follow the man.
    11:14pm
    He walks through a gate, leaving it slightly ajar, slips around the side of the house, sprints across the back yard and into a Town Car waiting a block away.
    11:14pm
    She watches him through the window as he approaches the house, her demeanor changes. She is frantic. She claws at the locked door handle. It doesn’t open. She is screaming, desperate to get out. Her eyes are wide; she looks like a caged animal.
    11:15pm
    Adrenaline races through my veins. Without thinking, I slam the pedal to the floor and the taxi takes off into the night. My knuckles are white. I have lost my mind.
    11:15pm
    The incendiary blast sends fiery pieces of wood, glass and metal 20feet into the air. Flaming debris rains down, mixing with the falling snow, creating a display of fire and ice that would be breathtaking under separate circumstances. He watches, satisfied. The girl is out of the way and the idiot cab driver will be arrested and charged with her murder before he can spend the 10,000$ bribe. He dials 911 and anonymously reports the explosion. He gives the dispatcher the address, 650 Brookshire Lane.

    1. MCKEVIN

      I liked it. I liked the time line thing. (I going to try this.) I would have spread the minutes out a little more but that’s minor. I had to read it a couple of times before I got all of it. Good Job! If you do a follow up, will you explain about the bribe and what does it have to with the girl? Good story that makes a reader want to see the second chapter. You should write it.

  56. DMelde

    Bob sat in his cab and studied his street map. “Come on Bob.” He told himself. “Pigeon Drop Falls isn’t that big of a town.”
    His street map looked like the lines a young child might draw on an Etch-a-Sketch, with some streets going off at odd angles, while others looped crazily around back to the start, and street names ended mid-street, only to start up again a few blocks away. Pigeon Drop Falls got its name, not from a majestic waterfall, but from the three thousand pigeons that roosted there in the town’s stately oaks. The townsfolk didn’t like to walk around much under those oaks, so when Bob opened his cab company, they welcomed him with open arms. It was only after Bob kept getting lost that the townsfolk reluctantly put their boots back on, grabbed their umbrellas, and started walking again. The final straw came when Bob got lost with old lady Kratchet as his passenger. He found himself driving around at the old open-pit coal mine, clear outside of town, and they got lost at the bottom of it. Townsfolk abandoned him in droves after that, so when he got a call for a ride from the library, Bob eagerly arrived early.
    A young girl, dressed all in black, with a pink ribbon in her hair, approached his cab. She was carrying a big book, and Bob couldn’t help but notice the book’s title, “Feeling Stabby”.
    “Mister,” the young girl said, getting into the back seat of his cab, “a man is gonna come out of that Mexican place and when he does, I want you to follow him.”
    Bob felt relieved at first. He wasn’t likely to get lost if he was following someone else, unless they got lost themselves. Then Bob started to worry.
    “Why are we going to follow him?” Bob wanted to know.
    “He killed my friend.” The words came out of her fast. “Me and Daddy were in the city, him golfing, and Daddy hit his ball into the woods. I went to look for it and then I saw a rabbit who said follow me and when I did this hunter came up and shot him.”
    “What do you plan on doing?” Bob asked.
    “We’re gonna teach him a lesson.” She patted her book and smiled.
    “Listen, Miss,” Bob tried reasoning with her, “I can’t help you do anything illegal.”
    “It won’t be illegal for long, Mister. I know he has a pet dog ‘cause I seen it when he was hunting. We’re gonna take his dog for a little while, so he knows what it’s like to lose a friend. We’ll bring him back, after he’s learned his lesson.”
    “Why should I help you?”
    “I know this town’s streets. You help me and I’ll show you how to never get lost again.”
    Bob thought about it for a bit, looked down at his Etch-a-Sketch map, looked up and said, “There he is, let’s go.”

    1. Ishmael

      Pigeon Drop Falls. When I got to that name, I sat here and chuckled. Then I began to giggle. “Pigeon Drop Falls!” I swear, I giggled for a good couple of minutes. I couldn’t get to the rest of the story until I stopped, so I could read it seriously.

      I loved the tie-in to the other prompt, too. Just a cute little reference, not really a continuation. It played really well, and was a good nod to all who wrote last week. I read some (I just got back from vacation – it was totally unplugged) when I got back at the end of the week.

      1. Ishmael

        I prematurely hit comment! Got so excited, I guess. Anyway, I liked it all. The bargain the kid strikes up was fun, and now Old Lady Kratchet won’t have to go and break a hip tripping over a sidewalk crack.

        Love your stuff.

    2. MCKEVIN

      Very good. I like the tie in to the last prompt about the rabbit. What I liked even more is it didn’t end on a sappy note. You know, like life. I’ll be watching for your stuff in the future. You have a good one.

    3. DMelde

      Thank you everyone for your kind words. When I was writing I accidentally deleted my finished story, and I wrote this story from memory. Your kind words made all of the extra work worthwhile.

  57. sarah6612

    .It was hard, being a taxi driver. I only did it because it was the only job available in town. In all actuality, I hated driving. Anyway, the story I am about to tell you is the story that changed me.
    I was called to pick up someone near the library. As I pulled up to the curb the only person sitting outside was a young girl, not any older than 13. I looked at her and asked,
    “You call for me to pick you up, ma’am?”
    Her reply gave me this feeling that she was no ordinary 13 year old young woman. She was different, a young girl who has obviously matured much faster than anyone else her age.
    “Yes, I did. Now, I am going to need you to do something for me, alright?”
    She went on to explain that a man was going to leave the only Mexican restaurant in town, across the street, in about five minutes. I was instructed to follow him. I wasn’t prepared to ask questions, because I was unsure if I wanted to know what she was up to. I looked into her eyes and saw this abyss of emptiness; she seemed deprived of a childhood. I got back into my car and she just disappeared. I glanced over and noticed a rather large sump of crisp 100 dollar bills, as if straight from the mints. The stale air was silent for 5 minutes on the dot when I noticed a man walking out of the Mexican restaurant across the street. At that moment I knew what I was going to do, so I put my car into drive and stepped on the gas. We didn’t go far, just down a block and around the corner where he entered what appeared to be his home. I watched him through his living room window; he took off his black leather jacket and laid it over the top of his reclining chair. Why I was following him I did not know; but it felt important to me. For some reason, I needed to do it. I heard what sounded like a phone ringing in my taxi. I searched the car and found it in the passenger seat floor board under the mat. I answered,
    “Hello. You picked me up approximately 10 minutes and 25 seconds ago. Did you do what was asked of you?”
    My reply was something like,
    “Yes, but why? I followed him and I am now sitting outside his home watching him through his window. I don’t know that I can do it much longer unless I am given a reason.”
    The phone got quiet; all I could hear was the rustling of what sounded like papers. It stopped, and her breathing got deeper. She was nervous for something, I could tell.
    Her reply is what changed my life forever,
    “Sir, I am an agent of the government. This is a bad man, I need your help.”

    1. jincomt

      I really liked how you opened the story. The middle got a little confusing for me. I didn’t quite follow that the girl didn’t actually get into the cab, but left a stack of money and also somehow a phone, and yet the taxi driver still followed the guy. That part didn’t quite pull together for me. Interesting twist at the end– kind of hints that the man starts a life working for the government. Would make an interesting start to something longer, if expanded.

  58. missypm

    Vincent pulled up in front of the library to pick up the last fare of his shift. As a young girl walked towards the cab he thought about taking the kids sledding that night after work. The girl looked young, maybe thirteen. She opened the door and he felt cold air rush through the cab.

    “Where to Miss?” Vincent asked eyeing her from the rearview mirror.

    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the road there? In about five minutes a man will come out of there, I want you to follow him” She pulled money out of her pocket handing me a ten.

    Vincent looked at her skeptically, and then at the money, she had enough for a few fares by the looks. He had seen many strange things as a cabbie in the city, but most of his fares in this rural town were pretty routine and ordinary, he was suddenly not sure about this one.

    Vincent grinned, the girl probably wanted to follow her crush or something, though that did not explain the cash. Before his thoughts roamed anymore she broke the silence.
    “There he is, getting into that car.” I need you to follow him but don’t get too close.”

    Vincent turned his head to see the man, brown Jacket, work boots, looked ordinary enough to him. He shook his head slightly and put the car in gear pulling out a few seconds behind the man.
    They followed the car down Main Street, stopping only at the single traffic light that hung above the one main intersection in town. They turned left going towards a section of town that was a bit more desolate. This area had held a few manufacturing buildings, but now stood vacant holding only the memories of a busier time and life.
    The man stopped at a recently bought building, rumors said a café was going in here. Vincent pulled to the side and parked as the man rushed inside.
    “Wait until I come back out?” She said it more as a statement.
    “Why are you going in there? Maybe you shouldn’t. I am not sure this is safe.” Vincent asked her with concern.
    “Wanna come?” She said waiting, she looked so young sitting there, what was this girl doing out here following this strange man?
    “Do your parents know where you are?” He asked, turning to face her.
    “Well then.” She opened the door and stepped out into the cold before finishing her sentence. She ran to the building and entered, disappearing inside.

    Vincent sat there. He decided to run after her, he felt responsible for her now. He entered the building not knowing what lay inside.

    “Surprise! Happy Birthday!” He heard in chorus.

    The lights flicked on and he saw his wife, his children, and the little girl from the car standing next to the man they had followed. Above them all hung a banner saying “Vinnie’s’ Deli”.

    “Got ya!” His boys said giggling with the girl who led him here.

  59. Ellie

    It was supposed to be the last job of the night. Go to the library, take a kid wherever she wanted to go, and then have dinner with my wife.
    The last thing I expected was for a barely visible girl to saunter up to the cab and slide in the seat. She was maybe thirteen. She was wearing sunglasses, a scarf, and a hoodie. In this town, it wasn’t like people to be secretive. But, I shrugged it off. Asking questions wasn’t my job.
    “So, kid, where am I taking you?”
    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him. Don’t let him catch on, though.”
    I nodded.
    “Alright. May I ask why, miss?”
    “No,” she replied promptly.
    “Alright. You live around these parts? I don’t think I’ve seen you around before.”
    “That’s none of your business,” she quipped.
    “Okay, okay. Not a problem.”
    The rest of the wait was silent. Soon, just as she had promised, a man wearing a trucker cap and a leather jacket slipped out of the restaurant.
    “That’s him,” she confirmed.
    I put the taxi in gear and pulled out slowly, letting him get a good deal ahead before really starting to pursue him.
    His car was just in the distance, and definitely going over the speed limit. I had to go nearly fifteen miles over just to keep up. In our small town, you rarely meet people like that; and it’s even rarer that you get along with them.
    After going off the beaten path for maybe fifteen minutes, the trip finally came to an end at a battered-up inn just outside town. The man stepped outside and embraced a woman who was lounging on the porch waiting for him.
    I heard a gasp from the little girl in back, and I remembered for the first time she was back there. When I turned around, I saw she had taken her sunglasses off.
    I turned back to the porch where the man and woman were kissing shamelessly, not even noticing the taxi that was parked across the street a little ways back.
    “Daddy, no! Daddy, stop it!” The girl pounded the glass. She slumped back in the seat. “I knew it! I knew he was nothing but a filthy cheater! Mama just doesn’t want to believe it!” Tears were streaming down her cheeks.
    “You… you can go now,” she whispered.
    “Ah, kid. I’m sorry,” I didn’t really know what I could possibly say to comfort the girl.
    She just shook her head. I pulled out, and drove away in the rainy night. I ended up dropping her at a cabin near the county library where we had started.
    I didn’t charge the kid… I just couldn’t bring myself to. She ran inside, and I went home. Sometimes, there was nothing you could do.
    Despite everything, I felt like I hadn’t helped at all.

  60. Chancelet

    Marcus dreaded the hope he held onto for so long. Marietta was four when she was stolen, he doubted he would recognize her.

    An old friend of Charlise finally admitted that she received a postcard from Charlise a year ago. Marcus immediately went looking, driving nonstop to find Marietta. He barely considered that he stole his employer’s car to do so. To Marcus, it was much worse for his wife to steal his daughter after losing custody of her because she insisted on living with a convicted child molester.

    He arrived in this Godforsaken town three hours ago, but could not get himself to end his futile search and find a place to park the stolen taxi cab for the night.

    His itchy, red and heavy eyes threatened to stay shut every time he blinked. Then he saw an open Mexican restaurant. He would park and pray that Charlise worked there. Whenever she did work, it was as a waitress, so Marcus made his prayer.

    Before turning into the parking lot, he heard a meek, shrilly, “Taxi!”

    Marcus whipped his head around and saw a little girl of about thirteen in front of a closed library hailing him.
    His heart skipped a beat, but Marietta was only eleven, and this girl had short natural hair. Charlise would die before letting Marietta go with natural hair. Marcus had to see what this young girl needed, and hurriedly made a u-turn.

    She opened the rear door, jumped in, and said, “See that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out. I want you to follow him.”

    Turning around to look at the girl, Marcus saw the layers of make-up and knew why he thought she looked older. His shock prevented tears from falling or his mouth from working. Finally, his vision blurred and he cried out, “Marietta!” She looked the same after all, only camouflaged with makeup and clothing too old for her.

    Marietta stared at him questioningly, fear coming across her face. Then Marcus saw recognition forming along with tears in her eyes.

    “Daddy?” She said it so softly, then louder, “Daddy!”

    They hugged and kissed each other, crying and talking at the same time.

    “They told me you didn’t want me anymore.”

    “I’ve been looking for you forever.”

    “I knew they were lying.”

    “Are you OK?”

    “Then they told me that you died so I wouldn’t ask to go home anymore.”

    “I was never going to stop looking for you.”

    “Daddy, that guy whose coming out the restaurant said tomorrow he’s taking me to a secret place where he would get paid taking pictures of me. I wanted to follow him and see where that secret place is so I could get away.”

    Stunned, Marcus shouted, “Buckle up!”

    They drove away, telling of every difficulty they had since the last time they saw each other. Two days later, after arriving home, Marcus went to the District Attorney’s Office to file his report.

    1. jincomt

      There was an awful lot of information given in the first paragraph that left me scrambling to pull it together with the rest of the story. Honestly, not sure all of it was needed to make the story work. Good story.

        1. fbxwriter

          Great premise! But I agree with jncomt about that second paragraph. I’ve heard it referred to as an information dump. Consider spreading out that kind of information through the story. In general, good job.

  61. tdogg369

    Life in the town of De Soto, Missouri, can leave a man wont to expect the mundane, and to even shy away from something with a tendency to quicken his pulse. Though I am aware of this fact, I cannot change it, and seldom go out of my way to seek any experience more adventurous than crossing at a busy intersection against the light. If, that is, there were any busy intersections. In fact, we have but one stop light.

    The height of exhilaration on most days was taxiing my fares past the local funeral home. Like some morbid parade of perverse interest, every car that passes slows to find out if anyone they know has passed away in recent days.

    This day I was summoned to the city library. Upon reaching my destination, the patron was not immediately visible. I pulled to the portico and parked the cab. I fiddled with my phone for a moment, sure I would see the passenger approaching from the corner of my eye. Thirty seconds passed and no one appeared.

    “There’s a man in the Mexican cantina across the street,” I heard behind me.

    I gasped; how this girl ended up in my car I will never know, for I heard no door open or close. Peering in the rearview mirror, I caught just a glimpse of a blue sundress and blond pigtails. A stray ray of sun flashed in the mirror, temporarily blinding me and obscuring the young girl’s face.

    “Umm, where are you headed? Do you know him?” I asked. “And how did you sneak up on me?” I thought.

    “Third and Jefferson, please.”

    Obliging, I shifted into gear and pulled from the building. I was intrigued by this stranger. She appeared in my cab out of nowhere and each time I glanced in my mirror to find out who was riding with me, some force of nature kept me from catching a clear view of her face. A stray sunbeam blurred my vision; I hit a pothole causing the mirror to vibrate badly enough to distort the image; she turned her head to spy on a passing car. I could never quite see her.

    “We’re following the man from the cantina,” she said.

    The man from the cantina. I had almost forgotten she had mentioned him. “Do you know him? I repeated.

    “Not yet. He’s going to hurt me. You have to stop him.”

    “I…what?” My grip on the wheel tightened, white knuckles wrapping around to pink finger tips. We reached the house she indicated was hers. At the door stood a man holding a Burrito Loco bag in one hand. In his other hand, concealed behind his back, was what looked like a steel pipe.

    Mouth agape, I looked toward the back seat and found it empty. Just as she had appeared, she had vanished. As I looked back toward the house, a young girl in a blue dress with blond pigtails and a radiant smile answered the door.

      1. fbxwriter

        I like your story, but I think you could add more tension by “fleshing” out the girl. The more real she is to the reader, the more tense the situation becomes. The 500 word limit makes this tough, but look back and you’ll find places you can cut. For example, consider your second sentence. I don’t think anything would be lost if you cut “Though I am aware of this fact,” and changed the following “it” to “this”? But cutting unnecessary words, you leave more room for the real guts of the story. (Of course, easier said than done!)

        Again, good job on the prompt.

        1. tdogg369

          Great point. I made the girl elusive in this story to add to the paranormal aspect–to really sell that she was never really in the cab–but maybe that wasn’t necessary. She could have just appeared in the back of the cab as a “fleshy” character instead of hiding her face.

          1. fbxwriter

            Actually, what I meant by fleshing out her character is to tell more of her story so that the readers care more about her.

          2. tdogg369

            Lol. That also makes sense. I’m brand new to this whole writing thing, so I’m not up on the lingo yet!

  62. kishante

    The rain is falling from the sky in an endless sheet, making it nearly impossible for the pitiful wiper blades on the taxi to make the windscreen clear enough for me to be able to see where in the hell I’m driving. It figures. The first night I finally break down and decide that anything is better than eating another retched packet of Americanized Chinese noodles, I get drawn into something crazy.
    I barely miss hitting a parked car as I pull up next to the entrance of the library. It’s way past closing time and the interior lights are all off. The girl, she couldn’t be any older than thirteen, was tiny. She hurled the door open with a flick of her wrist and it was instantly obvious that she was a lot stronger than she looked.
    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street?” She leans forward, so that she’s siting on the edge of the seat. “In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”
    That definitely wasn’t what I was expecting to hear come out of her. I looked back through the rearview to get a better look at her. She was pretty unremarkable, average in every way and for some reason it seemed like it was carefully planned, like she didn’t want to be noticed, and she didn’t want to be remembered.
    “Look kid, “ I sighed, and reached into my pocket to retrieve a cigarette. “Why don’t you give me your address so that we can get you home before SpongeBob comes on?”
    As soon as the words were out of my mouth I felt the bite of a knife at my throat. I knew I should have just stayed home and eaten my stupid noodles.
    “In two minutes thirty seven seconds a man will walk out of that bar and you will follow him. Understand?” Her warm breath tickled the side of my face and for some reason it reminded me that I hadn’t shaved in a while. If I was going to die, my mother was going to be severely disappointed. A scruffy face and dirty underwear were reason enough to die in her book and I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction. If anything I was going to live just to piss her off.
    “Okay kid, whatever you say.”
    I sighed as she slowly dragged the blade lightly to show me how easy it would have been to kill me.
    “So this guy, why are we following him?” I brought a hand up to wipe the droplets of blood away.
    “I’m going to kill him.” I could feel her piercing gaze on me through the mirror.
    “And why do you need me?”
    “ I can’t drive. Duh.”
    A thirteen year old killer, of course she can’t drive. What was I thinking?
    The doors to the restaurant swung open and a man stepped out into the street.

    1. MCKEVIN

      I liked it especially toward the end when the story is more focused. Good job.

      I think you gave too much detail in the beginning and that made hard to follow. ( I do it too.) Lol. That’s why I stuck it out until the end. What about this?

      An endless sheet of rain made it mpossible for me to see where in the hell I was driving. .

      You wrote your story in present tense. Most stories are told in past tense and are a little easier to write and read. You did good just need to tighten it up a bit. I bet if you rewrite in the past tense you’ll see what i am talking about. Good job and I am going to watch for your submissions in the future.

    2. fbxwriter

      The juxtaposition of the ideas of a 13-year-old killer (abnormal) and a 13-year-old who can’t drive (normal) is great. And having her state it as though it was blatantly obvious (“I can’t drive. Duh.”) heightens difference and the humor. I had to laugh at that.

    1. tdogg369

      Interesting idea. I did see a couple incidents of tense confusion:

      “She stiffened and appeared dead serious.” Past Tense

      “She looks over and give me a wink.” Present Tense

  63. catbr

    Couldn’t understand why I was dispatched to the county library. Hardly no one ever went there anymore. Since the factory closed down there wasn’t even much of a population left. But at least I still had my part time cabbie job. Big deal, a few fares a week. Everybody was moving on. Pulling up in front of the library there was a young girl, around 12 or 13 years old standing on the sidewalk who I figured was my fare.

    “Hello young lady. Are you the one who called for a cab? Where’s your mom?” I said.

    “Yeah, that’s me. And I’m not with my mom. Geez, just because I’m young.” She said rolling her eyes, settling in the front passenger seat. “You know the mexican restaurant across the street? In about 5 minutes a man is going to come out of there and I want you to follow him.”

    What does this kid think, she’s a private eye or something? Why me? Might as well play along, nothing else to do in this bustling one light town anyway. “Sure. But you know, I’m going to have to start running my meter in about a minute or two. Time is money. What’s up, somebody take your gameboy from you or something?” I half smile, turning my head to look over at the kid. She stiffened and appeared dead serious.

    “Look Mister…” glancing over she spots my identification displayed on the dash board. “Martin, this isn’t a joke. I can’t tell you anything other than this is very important to me. So, are you going to follow the man? I’ll give you an extra 20 dollars if you do.” She looks over at me and gives me a wink.

    This kid sure didn’t seem like any kid I knew. I could use the extra money. “Okay, fine. I’m turning on the meter now.”

    “Thanks. You won’t regret this, I promise.” Now I roll my eyes after turning my head so she couldn’t see.

    “There he is. He’s getting into his car. Start following, but stay far enough behind so he won’t suspect anything.”

    “I’m right on it.” This was starting to get a little fun. I was beginning to enjoy this little game of make believe private eye. We followed the car for about 10 miles before it turned onto a gravel driveway leading to a run down looking house.

    “Hide the car behind these trees. I’m getting out now. Here’s 100 dollars. I think that should cover it.”
    She said handing me five 20 dollar bills.

    “Hey, wait a minute kid are you going to be okay? The fare is only 33 dollars. This is way too much.”

    “Don’t worry about me, I’m fine now. Just keep it and thanks for the ride.” She smiled as she jumped out of the cab.

    The next day while watching the evening news there was story about a robbery in town the previous day. The owner of “Chico’s Supreme” was also an investor who had amassed a small fortune and was going to leave town for a while to be with his family. The suspect was wearing a disguise making her look like an innocent child.

  64. WriterInHiding

    Everyone has gifts. My mother used to be able to touch the tip of her nose with her tongue. As kids, we’d laugh like crazy. My gift is different. I help others who cannot help themselves.

    I received a call from one such person on a hot afternoon. She pleaded for me to pick her up in my taxi. I pulled up to the library a little after 3:30, wrenching the parking brake upward. Tonya, only thirteen, craned her head in my direction. What a soft, innocent face.

    “He’s in El Burrito Caliente across the street,” she said as she eased into the back seat. My taxi moaned and creaked as I released the brake and rolled across the parking lot to get a view of the restaurant door.

    “Are you sure this is what you want?” I squirmed nervously against the leather seat. I felt a single drop of sweat slide down my torso underneath my tank top.

    “No doubt,” she replied. “He stole everything from me. I can still see the eyes of my mother pleading for him to stop.” I thought of her mother witnessing what must be the worst event a mother could witness. A tear sliced a watery path down her warm face. “He knew where to strike back at my mother.”

    Just then a medium-sized man blasted through the door of El Burrito Caliente. I looked at him, then at Tonya, and returned my gaze to him. I could definitely see the similarities. It was hard for me to imagine him doing the vicious things he did; the things he did to his own wife and daughter.

    “Make sure you sing the lullaby as he closes his eyes. I want him to suffer the ultimate terror. I want him to remember his little girl as he slides away.” She shifted her eyes to meet mine. Some people just wanted to visit a relative or have me finish a benign project for them. This was personal . . . too personal.

    I slid my M1911 pistol from under my seat, clinging to the cold metal. I hefted my weight against the car door, and shadowed him around the corner and down an ally. I’ll never forget the look on his face as his eyes flickered closed to the sound of an innocent lullaby, the red stain spreading rapidly across his white t-shirt.

    I returned to the taxi and found Tonya hugging her knees and swaying back and forth. “Hush, little baby, don’t say a word. Papa’s gonna buy you a mocking bird.” She slipped the two top buttons of her shirt open revealing the now matching wound. She continued to sway for several minutes. “And if that cart and bull fall down, You’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town.”

    “Thank you, Jim. I know it wasn’t easy for any of us.”

    She faded until the back seat was vacant.

    My cell phone rang. “Is this the Taximan for the Dead?”

  65. penney

    She was gassing up at the Old Texaco as momma’s voice crackled over the walkie-talkie on the front seat. “Bo, Bo? Come in Bo?”

    She watched the numbers roll and the bell rang out as each gallon hit the tank. She lifted the switch and hung up the handle. She yelled back at the attendant inside the little stucco building to put it on her tab. She jumped into her old Chevy truck, popped off the lid to the Coca-Cola bottle and reached for the walkie.

    “Yah momma, what’s up?”

    “There’s a little girl that needs a ride from the library,” momma replied, “over and out.”

    Bo sped out of the Texaco and down the street toward the library. Glenn was a small ghost town on the boarder between Texas and New Mexico on old Route 66. The town only had two streets. The 66 ran east to west and Main Street, north to south. There was only one light the divided the town, a lazy light that flashed yellow for the last 50 years. Bo sped through the intersection, not evening looking either direction, the dust fly up and the light swung. The only things you woke in Glenn were the tumbleweeds. Everyone was at siesta time.

    She pulled up to the boardwalk to a girl in a tattered sundress. “You need a ride,” she asked.

    “You the cabbie”? The girl asked disbelieving.

    “Cain’t you read girl? Says it right on the door.” Bo reached over the passenger side, out the window and ran her index finger through the dust tracing the words hand painted on the door. “T-A-X-Y, taxy. Now get in and pay up or shut up, I’m a busy woman.”

    The girl paused, smiled looking left and right down the street. A tumbleweed slowly made way across. “Ha, yah right.” She pulled the handle and the door creaked.

    Bo was curious, “Whatcha doin’ here, you’re new in town.”

    “Yah, daddy just bought some land just outside Glenn for oil riggin. I got the luck of stayin the summa wit him.” She paused looking across the street. A man stumbled out of
    Sangrias Bar & Eatery. “That’s him, cain you follow him please?”

    Bo looked across the street, the man could barely stand. She shook her head in understanding, opened the cigar box in the middle of the seat. “Five bucks chick, where do we take him?”

    “Just to the hotel at the other end. Wait a bit, he’ll pass out. I’m Mandy by the way.” They rolled slowly away from the sidewalk. A few minutes later Bo went forward, made a upturn and came back to pull over. “That wasn’t long,” she said.

    “Never is,” said Mandy. “Cain we put him in the back?”

    “Yah, wait a sec.” Bo jumped out, pulled the tailgate, jumped in and backed up to the heightened sidewalk. “Give me a hand.”

    The girls rolled Mandy’s drunken daddy into the back of the truck and drove away.

    1. Ishmael

      Daddy’s new and already gonna be known as the town drunk. Mandy, Mandy, Mandy…people talk in a one-stoplight town, with nothing but tumbleweeds for target practice.

      Good story, Penny.

  66. imprinted

    “And when he does, I want you to step on it!”

    I was a little taken aback I had never heard such an authortive tone from someone so small I was slightly impressed I looked into the rear view mirror and met her eyes. She was small in frame and had short dirty blonde hair that kissed her shoulders her eyes were determined and she was panting softly as though she had been running.

    “So… what brings you out here at this hour?” I asked

    “I pay you to drive, not pry” she replied sharply. I raised an eyebrow and looked away and tapped my fingers on the steering wheel, then clicked on the meter.

    “Hey!” She screamed, “We aren’t moving, so neither should be the meter”

    “Sorry kid, you sit in it, you pay for it” She sighed and popped her gum in her mouth keeping her eyes fixed out the window of the door or the restaurant “come on” she mumbled.

    “Who are you waiting’ on?” I asked

    “My pimp” she stated sarcastically,

    I sighed, “Fine, don’t tell me” I said and continued to tap against the steering wheel gently as the numbers on the meter stacked up slowly.

    “You know, I have the right to refuse you a ride, and well since the meter is already rolling you are at liberty to pay me… so you may as well tell me what the problem is, or I could just call your mum” I added.

    She breathed a heavy sigh and let her head hit the back of the seat, bounced a couple of times, she rolled her head towards the window again and stared at the door of the restaurant, the car began to drum with the sound of the heavy rain as it slapped against the metal body. The girl cleared her throat; her eyes were glistening with tears as she began.

    “There’s no one to call” she began, “I have been living on the streets for a couple weeks or so now, I was living with my uncle, until he heard the reading of the will that is”

    “Who’s will?” I asked, finding myself becoming very intrigued

    “My parents” she stated, “they died last year and it was said when I turned thirteen I could cash in the savings bond, and my uncle talked me into doing it. So I did, then that night he stole my cash before I could open up my own bank account like he promised and fled into the night. This is the first time I have seen him since”

    “Wow” I said finally

    “I bet he’s in there now, drinking my money, bastard!” she added, I exhaled and ran my hand through my hair. At that moment he walked out the door, he opened his car and drove around the corner. The lost girl silently pleaded in the mirror with her eyes. I relented, turned off the meter and drove round the corner in pursuit of him.

    1. jincomt

      You did a really good job creating a complete story in 500 words– I find that difficult to do without leaving out vital plot elements. I also reread a few sentences just because I really liked how you pulled them together– like the hair kissing the shoulders, the way she rolled her head back and sighed, her comment that he’s not paid to pry, just to name a few. I felt like I got lost in the story and saw the story– your descriptions are great. There were a few commas missing at the end of quotes (before the final quotation marks– for example, you wrote,’ “Wow” I said finally’ instead of “Wow,” I said finally.– but that’s picky stuff.

  67. mgb

    “That’s gotta be her.” Clyde said to himself. “How many girls do I pick up in front of the library? Aw, that sounds horrible.”

    A blond girl embracing two books over her chest was standing next to the curb when the weathered orange-juice-colored Ford Taurus pulled up in front of the Tomball Community Library.

    Clyde shifted into park, jumped out, and ran around to open the door for the 12-year-old. For some reason, her earnest, searching eyes and Hello Kitty t-shirt inspired chivalry in the veteran cabbie.

    After they settled in their respective car seats, the unusual passenger said, “Thank you, sir. I’m Ashleigh. I’m spending the summer with my Grandma Cecilia. I’m from Houston. She said it’s ok to be friendly because this is a small town. Besides, she knows everyone!”

    “You’re right. Your Grandma Cecilia taught Spanish in the junior high. I’m Clyde. Pleased to meet you! Where to, Ashleigh?”

    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”

    Protective paternal feelings began to steer Clyde. Her? Tail a guy? He recognized one her books, Esperanza Rising, from his niece’s room.

    Unable to stop himself, he asked, “Why do you need to follow this man?”

    “Why isn’t he coming out of the restaurant?”

    “It’s none of my business, Ashleigh, but you still have to be careful in small towns.”

    “I’m on a secret mission, and I’m in a hurry.”

    His passenger’s brow ruffled as she leaned into the window with her nose practically touching the glass. “Grandma gave me cab money to come home from the library. She’s at the beauty salon. This is my only chance, and he’s late.”

    Clyde did not know what to say next so said nothing. Ashleigh’s eyes did not stray from the red door in the middle of the aqua building.

    “You know, I could take you on home . . .”

    “There he is! Follow him!” she said, forgetting her etiquette.

    “Miguel? You want to follow Miguel?”

    “Yes! You see, this weekend’s Grandma’s 68th birthday. I want to surprise her. She’s always talking about when she taught English in Mexico City. With a dreamy look in her eyes, she says, ‘Ah, cuando yo tenía veintiocho años y en México! Esos recuerdos! . . .’ I take Spanish now and know she’s saying, ‘Ah, when I was twenty-eight and in Mexico! Such memories!’”

    “What’s Miguel got to do with it?”

    “I want to ask Miguel if he can make special Ancho Chile Flan like Grandma had in Mexico City. Everyone in his restaurant knows Grandma. She told them I was coming to visit, so it wouldn’t be a secret if I went in to ask him. I heard her say he leaves at three every day to go get more flour for the tortillas. There he goes!”

    Clyde smiled and turned his attention to driving.

    1. Ellie

      I loved this! It was sweet and inviting. And, unlike most short stories, this one didn’t feel a need to throw in a freaky twist or break it off at the end without warning to be good. It was innocent, and all-around warm-hearted. Great work!

      1. fbxwriter

        I agree. This was a warm story and had a very different tone than most of the stories, including my own. I wonder what it is about cabbies and 13-year-old girls that evokes such violence and strangeness in so many?

  68. onaway

    I parked under the streetlight. It was dark everywhere else but under the streetlights you could forget about what was out there in the darkness. This city always looks dead but it was just waking up. It becomes the undead at sundown. I was waiting for anyone to get in the cab and tell me to drive away and at the same time hoping nobody would. I didn’t want to be bothered. I felt like having a beer so I did. There was nothing to lose.

    A young dirty blonde girl in jeans and a button down shirt slid into the backseat.
    She looked like a girl I would have regretted not dating in junior high school. I tried to play it cool but I’ve always been a nerd. Our eyes met in the mirror.

    “I need you to follow the man in the suit. He just came out of that Taco Bell.”
    “Taco Bell sucks.” I said, and made a face.
    “Follow that man!” she commanded.
    “Get the fuck outta my cab.”
    “Please.” She held up a roll of hundred dollar bills.
    “Ok.” I shifted the tree into drive and crept out into traffic. The man went around the corner of the library and into the crowd.
    “This is going to cost extra.” I said.
    “Sure. I got the money. Just don’t let him get away.” She didn’t look up from her phone.
    “He won’t get away.” I love a challenge. The man was walking faster now. He blurred in and out of the crowds and the lights in the dark.
    “You’re losing him!” she cried. Then she went back to texting.
    “Like Hell…” I eased the tires onto the sidewalk. People stepped fast to clear the way and the man turned, looked into my eyes and began running. I gunned the engine and raced down the sidewalk, smashing mailboxes and fire hydrants.
    “Do it!” The girl screamed.
    The man in the suit went right under the bumper. I hit the brakes and we skidded sideways back into the street and stopped.
    “Good work.” Said the girl. “Now drive away.”

    I did.

    “I’ve been texting mom. I told her we just got rid of him. That was my step father.” Said the girl in the backseat. I was alarmed.
    “What do you mean ‘we’?” I barked. “You can forget about me and pay me the twelve bucks you owe me. Plus tip. And give me something extra to forget about you, too.” I suggested.
    “I don’t want to forget you, ever, and I want you to remember me… dad.” She said.
    “Get the fuck outta my cab.” I said. Then I ran her down, too.

      1. penney

        My sons play GTA and spend most of their time hitting people with cars, living vicariously through the came(like a lot of people). Your cab driver seemed cold blooded or just random enough to not care about hitting people he didnt know or want to know, thus the reference and “mad-cabbie” due to his attitude/drinking & driving/general rudeness. You seemed to imply this in you character. In that case well done.

    1. Naomi

      Your first few paragraphs are very well written. The descriptions of the town meshed perfectly with the attitude of the driver. The driver’s thoughts about the girl are evocative, and a little creepy. Well done.

      “A young dirty blonde girl in jeans … ” I’m not sure if the girl is dressed in dirty clothing, or if “dirty blond” refers to her hair color. I’m not clear about why the driver so suddenly, and willingly, killed the man in a suit.

  69. ScubaSteve

    At 1:27am the message came in from “HQ”.

    “COUNTY LIBRARY.ALEXA”

    Dispatch only gives me a name and a location. I’d been sitting there bored for about ten minutes when the back door opened and startled me out of my reverie. A small girl hoped into the back seat. She was wearing a dark coloured skirt covering just above her knees and white socks covering everything below. She had on a white button up blouse and a small blue scarf tied around her neck. Her auburn hair was tied in cute little ponytails with small white ribbons. She was ninety pounds if she was soaking wet. She had beautiful brown eyes that were full of death. All she carried was a book. The title read “El Miedo a Los Animales”.
    The fear of animals…

    “..uh… Alexa?”

    She did not speak. There was no smile. She glanced quickly out the window towards the run-down Mexican restaurant across the street “El Aguacate”. Then back to my eyes. I turned to see what she was looking at out of habit and heard her move in the back seat. There was a light thud as I spun back, heard a metallic double click; and felt the cold steel of a gun barrel press against my neck, just below my jaw. I could see the book she was carrying on the floor out of the corner of my eye. The pages had been cut out to fit the large pistol. A whisper came hot in my ear.

    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”

    I pause, not knowing what to do or say. I feel the pressure of the barrel increase as she twists the gun as if to say “got that?” I’m not even sure if her tiny fingers can reach the trigger but there is nothing more terrifying than a child with a gun.

    “OK! ok…” I blurt out, keeping my now sweating palms on the leather wrapped steering wheel.

    My heart is beating at the speed of light and I’m forgetting to breath. My head feels light and tunnel vision is imminent, either from lack of oxygen in my lungs, or lack of blood flowing through my carotid artery. The pistol is suddenly removed from my neck and smacks me on top of the head. The girl leans back in her seat.

    “Don’t pass out silly.” She says playfully.

    A shiver makes the trek from my head to the base of my spine. I take a few deep breaths and spend the next five minutes in silence. A Mexican man emerges from the bar stumbling and dropping his keys. He miraculously finds his car and fires it up. A cloud of black smoke engulfs the street.
    The car pulls away, swerving over the median.

    “Follow him until he crashes, I’ve got unfinished business.”

    I hit the accelerator and drop the clutch.

    1. jincomt

      There is some really good description and details– like how the girls looks; you set it up nicely to get a sense that there’s something sinister about her, and the description of the book she’s carrying. You switched tenses halfway through the story from past to present which was a bit confusing.

      I need another installment so I can find out what her unfinished business is!

  70. penney

    The story itself was good, you definitely could have a longer story going into the motive for the stabbing. However, if someone else could help me on this, your useage of quotation marks is questionable. I totally got the conversation between the girl and driver but his thoughts I think aren’t part of the conversation. Also, possible third person at the end that the driver seems to be telling this to needs an introduction. Who and/or why and how is he telling this apparent story to a third person?

  71. Chilo

    This is it, the downtown library. The girl said to park up front by the book drop off at 1 p.m. So where is she?
    “Hi,” a girl no older than thirteen opens the door to the cab.
    “Where’s your mom?”
    “It’s just me.”
    “Oh, yeah? I’m not the tooth fairy kid. Scram. I’m waiting for a client.”
    “I’m the one who called, you jerk.”
    “Is that so? You have money to pay for this fare?”
    The girl pulled out a $50 bill, “Is this enough?” She waved it in front of his eyes.
    “Okay, girly. Where’s your house?”
    “That’s not where I’m going.”
    “Look, I’m not pressing the metal until you tell me what you’re doing. I’m not going to jail for this”
    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”
    “Follow some guy from that building? What for?”
    “Listen, for $50 bucks, do you really care?”
    “You’ve got some mouth, kid, but no tamales.”
    “Okay, then. You’re going to follow that man because he owes me. He owes me big for hurting my sister.”
    “In what way… not that I believe you, let’s just say I like good causes.”
    “We’re wasting time, there he is!”
    A man in a dark gray suit and tie stepped out of the restaurant. He pulled up his sunglasses and waltzed over to his car.
    “Come on! Put the metal to the pedal!”

    “So, there I was, driving behind some guy in a silver sedan. I didn’t know how we got there.”
    “Go on.”
    “Well, that girly jumped out of the cab the minute I parked behind him. She ran toward the guy and stabbed him several times. It was unbelievable. She was like, eleven or something.”
    “Do you know what the motive was?”
    “All she kept repeating was that he would pay for what he did.”

  72. creativemetaphor

    He laughed, though was somewhat irritated. “What do I look like to you, some kind of P.I.?”

    When she handed him a wad of bills, his laughter died on his lips. He gave her a suspicious look, holding the bills up to the light to see if they were fakes.

    “Four hundred,” she said.

    “Four hundred…” he repeated, hardly believing his eyes. “What’s the catch?”

    “No catch,” she said. “All you have to do is follow him, and don’t let him lose you.”

    “I’ve seen some crazy shi-stuff in my day,” he said, catching his language. “But this takes the cake. How old are you, anyway?”

    “Doesn’t matter. Do you want the money or not?”

    He frowned and shoved the bills into his wallet. Of course he wanted the money, but he also wanted answers that it did not seem he would be getting any time soon.

    She nodded, then leaned in silence against the door, watching the restaurant. He kept his eye on it as well, mumbling to himself the entire time about this being the craziest darn thing that ever happened to him and won’t the fellas down at the station get a laugh. He even briefly wondered if this was some gag they were playing on him, but a thought to the money quickly forestalled that.

    Just as she said, around five minutes later a man in a business suit stepped out and lit up a cigarette.

    “That him?”

    “Yes,” she said.

    The man gave a slow look to his surroundings before turning north on foot.

    The cabbie pulled into the street and started to follow. “Won’t he notice?”

    “No. We’re invisible now.”

    He laughed that irritated laugh again. “Sure, missy, whatever you say.”

    The man walked remarkably fast, turning the corner and almost out of sight before the cabbie could catch up. The town didn’t seem large enough for all the turns he made, going here and there, even back tracking somewhat. It was clear he knew he should expect to be followed and was doing his best to throw someone off.

    Some ten minutes later he stopped beside an alley, cast a furtive glance both ways, and stepped in.

    “Stop,” she said, and watched the man. Half way down the alley, he pulled out a glowing key and slipped it into a door that the cabbie was certain had not been there a moment before. He stepped inside and the door disappeared.

    “You can take me back to the library now.”

    He floored it.

    When they arrived, she got out of the cab and leaned through the front passenger window. “You won’t remember any of this. Sorry for the confusion you’re going to feel, but I hope the money helps.”

    He blinked a few times, then looked at the girl. “Hey missy, did you need a ride or something?”

    She smiled. “No, sorry. I thought you were someone I knew.”

    She backed away from the cab and continued down the street toward the alley.

    1. MCKEVIN

      I liked the story. Can you answer a question? Are short stories supposed to answer the question of “Why” something happened all the time?” Or, is it okay to leave the question unaswered? I did the same thing and wondered if I really should provide the reader an answer or leave the passage be and let the reader draw their conclusions. Personally, I like the reader to draw their own conclusions but is that what we’re supposing to be doing here? Just askin’ and please keep writing. McKevin

      1. creativemetaphor

        I think it depends on *which* ‘why’ you want answered. In this case, we know why she was following him – to an extent. She wanted to know where he was going, you could even presume she wanted to find the location of the hidden door he lead her to. What this story doesn’t answer is why does she want to know where the door is, what is beyond the door, who is the man, for that matter who the girl is, etc. Some unanswered questions entice and delight our curiosity. Others can feel just unfinished or confusing.

        What I feel my story answered was “Why did the girl want to follow the man?” without having to answer every other ‘why’ that would necessarily spring from the answering of that first question.

        I did read yours. It seemed to leave unsatisfying unanswered questions. Maybe the girl was high on brownies and thought the men were vampires. Maybe the girl is a spy, using the cab as cover and a get away car after taking out enemy agents. But nothing hints at or tantalizes us or makes either of these possibilities more likely than the other. Clearly she wanted to kill the first man, presumably the second, but there’s too much left unanswered, to me, to make a satisfying, rounded story.

    2. Naomi

      I enjoyed reading your take on the prompt, and I love the ending. The big questions about the man, the girl, and what’s up with the door in the alley, are great, and add to my enjoyment of the story. One small question moves me away from the story: what happens when the driver finds the money given to him by the girl? Since the driver has no memory of receiving the money, what will he think of finding the money, and how will he deal with the situation?

    3. Ishmael

      Nice one, again. I got that she was just looking for the hidden door – the fact that they were invisible (which I believed, unlike the cabbie) helped me draw that conclusion.

      Where are all these kids getting such big bucks? Tossing hundreds like Monopoly money! :)

    4. Mr.Es

      This is an excellent piece. I enjoyed the flow. The approach to the prompt is, well, creative. As well as how you were able to introduce the idea without losing the reader. Please, my friend, continue writing and sharing. This was one of my favorite reads for this prompt.

  73. MCKEVIN

    She climbed in ass first and my eyes sprinted back and forth from the restaurant’s door to the rear view mirror. Her glasses made her appear younger than what the dispatcher said, although she carried an Evil Kitty backpack over her Girl Scout uniform.
    “Carlos here, what’s your name?” I asked trying to be friendly.
    “Not your concern.” She barked watching the restaurant’s door.
    I flipped the cab’s meter knowing something wasn’t right and tried to pry.
    “Shouldn’t you be in school?”
    “Shouldn’t you have a real job?”
    Sure enough, a tall man dressed in business attire exited the restaurant.
    “That’s him!”
    I pulled out into traffic and followed slowly as he walked toward the busy restaurant district of Reddick, Florida. Population 506. He entered Moe’s pawnshop which was already crowded at eleven in the morning..
    “Park at the light!”
    I did as ordered and parked across the street from the pawnshop. I turned around to collect the fair and found her adjusting the pink and white backpack.
    “That will b-“
    She handed me a hundred dollar bill and unlocked the door.
    “Wait here!”
    “I-“
    She climbed out, slammed the door and ran across the street dodging cars. She pressed the buzzer, entered the shop and disappeared out of sight. I thought to myself, she’s just an innocent kid that could be anyone’s daughter. I reasoned, the guy must be her father who she found on the Internet. Maybe he’s a pervert? The loud sound of an alarm blew through the air. I trusted my instincts. Something was wrong. I jumped out headed for the pawnshop. A Brink’s truck almost side swiped me. BAM! The shop’s door burst opened as my Jordans hit the curb in front of Moe’s. The man in the suit fell out screaming with blood and brains gushing through his face and hands. He’d been shot. I freaked out and froze. He stumbled back in the direction he started. BAM! The door flew open again and the Girl Scout rushed out.
    “Hurry, get in the car!”
    “What!”
    “Hurry!”
    We ran out in traffic dodging cars left and right. At the passenger’s side, she snatched the door open and got in. I fumbled my keys as I repeatedly looked over my shoulder toward the shop and in the direction the man headed. I opened the door, got in and clumsily started the ignition. I threw the car in drive and sped off just as three police cars arrived from different directions. I checked my passenger in the mirror. Typical Girl Scout; cool, calm and collected.
    “What happened back there?” I hollered.
    “Not your concern!”
    Blue lights flashed in the distance as my heart pounded and continued to race.
    “Pull in the McDonald’s!”
    “For what?” I screamed
    “Pull in!”
    I turned around and she handed me another hundred dollar bill.
    “In five minutes a man will come out. I need you to follow him.
    “You’ve lost your fucking mind!”
    “Are you gay?”
    “Not your concern, you crazy bitch!”

    1. penney

      I like the story but its a little confusing why they’re following the first man or who he is. What, is the girl scout just following random men to different locations to blow their brains out? Psychotic Brownies?

      1. MCKEVIN

        Yes they were Psychotic Brownies. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Lol. Thanks Penny for stopping by reading and commenting. I really appreciate it. I was so excited with this prompt because it reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode. A lady suffers a horrific rape and hospitalized. She’s released and on the way home she points to a man and tells her husband that’s the man who raped her. The husband follows the man, kills him and promise the wife he’ll never hurt again. They continue driving a little further and she says it again with a different man. My story is a take on the episode. I did the Who, What, Where and When and forgot about Why. I could have added one line and had the Gril Scout say “They raped me!” This is why I like to wait a couple days to post after the prompt is revealed. Those couple of days give me time to review my submission and make sure I answered the Who,What,Where, When and Why. The point is duly noted and will not happen in the future. Thanks again and if you can get chance to see that TZ episode, you won’t be sorry you did. McKevin.

        1. creativemetaphor

          I think you answered your own question in a way. In the Twilight Zone episode, we know why the events happened, but as the story unfolds we find out that it wasn’t as clear-cut as all that. The husband probably killed a perfectly innocent man, the wife is probably traumatized and anyone who reminds her of her rapist suddenly *becomes* that man in her mind. There are unanswered questions left, but we ultimately get enough answers to feel satisfied with the story.

        2. penney

          I’m always learning so when I ask a question, it helps me in everyway. If I miss something the questions help me and also so me where my editing or proofing needs help. Thank you and yes I’ve seen that episode but it’s been a long time. Very good.

    2. Naomi

      I enjoy this story. An eyeglass wearing, Girl Scout uniform clad, sporting an Evil Kitty backpack, killer. That is unique. I started laughing out loud when the girl wanted to go to McDonald’s (kill a man, then go get a Happy Meal!), and I’m still laughing as I type this. I can easily imagine the girl and Carlos as a dysfunctional team in a buddy flick. Nicely done!

      1. MCKEVIN

        Great minds think alike. I showed this to several friends before posting and in a nutshell this is what they said; Are you sure you want a killer Girl Scout? (yes) 2) Is there really a place called Reddick Florida? (yes) 3) McDonalds an icon as a backdrop for murder? (yes) – I read the story over this morning and decided to expand on it. The girl’s name is “Angel” Thanks for liking my story and I hope you like future passages as well. McKevin

    3. jincomt

      I felt like the skeleton of the story was missing so I couldn’t pull the pieces together and understand what the story was really about. But you fleshed out the story with description and dialogue really well and what was there was well-written and intriguing. (What was the “Are you gay?” comment about? It seemed really out of context, to me, but maybe I just missed the connection.)

      1. Ishmael

        I agree with Jincomt about the gay comment. Out of nowhere, and didn’t serve the plot – which is nine words that could be used to clear up her motivation (that sentence, and the following one).

        BUT…I liked the concept of your story, and you did a nice, updated twist on that TZ eppy. I enjoy your stuff.

        1. MCKEVIN

          I keep forgetting these are short stories and not the first page of a novel where you should be inspired to turn the page. The gay comment is typical of most preteens where I live. They like a lot of other people, use the term negatively. So I was trying to stay true to the character as I know it. In the expanded edition, I take a negative perspective and make it positive. (Lol) Thanks again for your time.

      2. MCKEVIN

        Hi jincomt, thanks for dropping by. I sometimes think faster than I write and when I wrote this, I was thinking the girl is going to kill the man for raping her. “Maybe he’s a pervert?” I’ll have to slow down and make sure I convey what I am thinking. However, since writing this I have decided she is not a killer but something else. Maybe I’ll get to post it in the future. In regards to the “gay” line, in the area I live there are several pre teens who use the word “gay” in the strangest of ways. I included it here trying to be true to the character. Thanks again and always I appreciate your input. McKevin.

        1. Ishmael

          Yeah…that teen slang has been going on for a while with that word, and I tried to apply it like that when I originally read it. I felt it didn’t do your piece justice, but was extraneous, which made it end on a confusing note for those who didn’t read it that way…even those of us who did. You expressed her tone well throughout the story, and I thought the dialogue was extremely well written.

      3. MCKEVIN

        Thanks for the heads up jincomt – i missed one line that I had in my head and forgot to put on paper. I am revising this and I am going to make sure you see it in its expanded/corrected state. The gay comment is typical of 13 year olds in my area. I was trying to be true to character as I know it. Also, that subject appears in everything I write. Thanks for stopping by and taking time to comment. I will be better because of you. McKevin

    4. sarahbecker

      I liked the fact that you started this story right in the middle of the action. It kept me hooked to try and figure out what was going on. Which did prove a little difficult, but I enjoy that kind of mystery…particularly when you do such a good job of describing the action, non stop action really. Well done!

      1. MCKEVIN

        My favorite author said “When you write start with action and never let up. Your reader will thank you for it.” I think I am finally developing my own style. Thanks for the compliment and don’t be shy about coming back in the future. McKevin

    5. Mr.Es

      I enjoyed your story, my friend. It offers an interesting relationship between the psychotic Girl Scout and the cabbie that could be pursued even further. I will agree with the previous comments made, and I only offer criticism in an effort to help, the issue with dialogue. Dialogue is a way to carry the story along, and is rather challenging in regards to creative writing. But again, a very engaging story overall. Thank you for sharing.

      1. MCKEVIN

        No, thank you for stopping by and helping out. I wish you would have expanded on the dialogue point because I think I know what you are trying to say but I want to be sure. I made a decision I want to write like the reader accidently picked up a phone and overheard a conversation that was so good the person couldn’t put the receiver back down. (That was in the days of landline phones. Lol.) Writing for me is an overheard conversation on paper where the reader gets to agree or not agree with what’s being said. Sometimes I accomplish that and other times not so much. But, I would appreciate an expanded version of your point because I don’t want to miss an opportunity to learn how to use this medium better. Thanks again and I look forward to hearing from you. McKevin

        1. Mr.Es

          I admire your ability to welcome growth and learn as a writer. Dialogue should always be doing something, hopefully multiple things at once. Revealing characters, setting a scene, foreshadowing, etc. Rarely should it be used to simply convey information., if ever. That is what can make it tricky. In regards to your story, it was the very last bit of dialogue that others have commented on already. I cannot emphasize enough how much the rest of the dialogue was done well.

          1. MCKEVIN

            Where can I find or research this topic a bit more. I am just curious what the actual rules are concerning this issue. Thanks again. Mckevin

        2. Birdee0809

          Hi. I use this website quite frequently. http://hiveword.com/wkb/search

          It links to all kinds of resources, some good, some not so good so take what you need and leave the rest. You might see the opportunity to sign up but I’ve never done it and there doesn’t seem to be any information that’s blocked or just for “Members”.

          Birdee

          1. MCKEVIN

            Hey Birdee, I took a look at the site and it has more than enough information to research. I thank you sincerely. McKevin

    6. radioPanic

      Well, MCEVIN, you certainly have a handle on action! This piece is a whirlwind! And I like the bookending with the narrator using the same ‘not your concern’ as the girl.

      One quick line that might be cut is, “He’d been shot.” You painted us a good picture of the results, and most readers probably draw that conclusion already. Since I assume “BAM!” was the door, not the shot, the narrator might not know exactly what happened anyway.

      If this gets expaded into a longer piece, (love to see that!) you could probably reword the ‘gay’ line a little so it works better.

      Last thing I’ll say, which I’d ignore if I were you, is that this seems like a hell of a lot of action for a “one-light town.” :) Don’t really care, though, because the story is working so well.

      1. MCKEVIN

        Thanks for the compliment RadioPanic. I read this piece several times before posting and I swear each time I said “delete He’d been shot.” Let the reader wonder/guess what happened. I second guessed myself and kept it in. (It is deleted in the expanded version.) You’re right about the BAMs! being the door and not shots. I stand by my usage of the ‘gay’ word because I want to create multi dimensional characters and be true to my characters. It’s my funny way of dealing with the bullying issue and the word usage by anyone who thinks being gay is a negative. If the word stops and makes you think it doesn’t fit the piece perhaps people will look at gay people and realize they are more than ‘gay.’ I’m still tweaking the expanded version and hope I accomplish there what I wanted to accomplish here and that is to keep the reader so interested they want to know what happens next. I accomplished that with you. Thanks again and I’ll see you at the forum. McKevin

        PS. Reddick is a real town in Fl, I believe the 2010 census said population 506. What do people do in small towns on Saturdays? They go out to eat in the restaurant district. That’s why there was so much traffic. (My take on it.)
        Have a good day.

        1. Ishmael

          McKevin – This was my problem with the phraseology: As posed, it retains more of the aspects of a real question, rather than teen slang, and just didn’t fit. Like I said, I even tried to apply it as slang when I read it and it still didn’t work for me, due to the follow up (he answered her question as if it were a real one, not slang). You’ve adequately described her as a mouthy brat, and perhaps to better illustrate it as slang, use it as such:

          “In five minutes a man will come out. I need you to follow him.”
          “You’ve lost your fucking mind!”
          “Oh, you’re so gay!”
          “And that phrase is so last year!”

          I think, in this way, it doesn’t “come out of nowhere” because it’s explained, through dialogue (his retort), that it is indeed slang. And his answer to her takes the power out of the negative slur, thus having more of an impact that may lead to less perpetuation of the slanderous use.

          1. MCKEVIN

            Ishmael, you like so many of the writers here keep me thinking how can I say or do a line better. I love that process. It causes my head to hurt sometimes but that’s okay. I reread your take over ten times and it doesn’t do it for me. I can’t explain it in technical terms like you do but when I read it your way, it is not what I wanted my character to say in the moment he said it. At least in my version, the girl asks Carlos is he gay. In yours, she makes the statement that he is. It feels like your stereotyping him just like she did. I wanted to convey how crazy her statement was after a man had been shot and holding his brains in his hands. Is that all she was worried about? I respect your take but I meant it like my character said it. If in doing that a reader feel it doesn’t fit, its because they have applied their meaning to what “gay” is and where it should be mentioned. It needed “to come out of nowhere” because that’s what people do in real life situations. We judge out of nowhere and when we don’t have anything else to comeback with. You took the word “bitch” out. Is that word the problem? You could have said “And bitch that phrase is so last year!” (It would have been true to the character’s voice based on the incident that just happened.) It also gives equal footing to both (gay and bitch) since they are both considered negative. Both came from out of nowhere and no one said anything about that. Based on what you said to Cathy about being liberal minded, I know this has to be about the writing and not the subject. That being said, I respect your opinion but I still disagree. McKevin

    7. DMelde

      Good story. I liked the contrast of the girl scout image with a killer, good tempo to the story, and how she’s singling out men at restaurants–gives it a nice consistency. Maybe next time they’ll buy more cookies…

      1. MCKEVIN

        Thanks DMelde. I have gotten so many ideas from this forum. Sometimes it makes my head spin. Just so you know, the cookies are an issue in the expanded version. Have a good one and Thanks again.

        1. rob akers

          MCKEVIN,

          I echo all of the comments previously stated and I agree most with one that you made.

          You said. “My favorite author said “When you write start with action and never let up. Your reader will thank you for it.” I think I am finally developing my own style.”

          I totally agree with your analysis. Action is always good but more importantly you are developing your own style and I like it. Nice Job!

          1. Amy

            I enjoyed your story MCKEVIN. I’m looking forward to hearing more. I want to know what happens at McDonald’s. For some reason, I’m sure the psycho grilscout doesn’t want a burger!

  74. slayerdan

    “ Get out of here kid, you aint got no money for to me,” Lenny muttered, running his hand over his unshaven face. The girl, some twelve or thirteen years old, stood at the passenger window, her almond shaped eyes staring back at Lenny with the intensity of a tiger on the hunt, not a young girl.
    “Will this work for you?” she asked as her thin arm reached through the window with a hundred dollar bill.
    “Where did ya get that kind of money girlie?” he asked, sitting up and cracking a yellow toothed grin. Not waiting for an answer and with little thought, he grabbed the bill and motioned for the backseat.
    She got into the back of the taxi, the oversized backseat making her appear even smaller than she actually was. She looked around at the stained carpet, tattered seat, and Lennys taxi id displayed over the seat. Lenny Kretz. She noted he was as unshaven in the picture as he was now. It smelled like pepperoni in the car, but she didn’t know if it was the car or Lenny.
    The cab didn’t have the separator between the driver and rider, like the big city taxis do. It was open space, just like any other car. She stared at the back of Lennys head and for a moment, a burst of fear coursed through her.
    “So which guy girlie? Who do you want me to follow?” his question interrupted her fear before it could overtake her and she calmed a bit, taking a deep breath.
    “Cindy”, she said.
    “”Whats that girlie?”.
    “”My name is Cindy,” she answered him, her almond shaped eyes meeting his as he turned and looked over the seat at her.
    “Ok, Cindy, which guy?” he asked, obviously ruffled she gave him her name. He looked down at the bill she had given him, just to make sure it felt real. It did.
    “ He will be in a red shirt and jeans. He will get into that brown car over there”, she said, pulling herself fully up on the backseat and pointing to the car. The pepperoni smell was worse up front.
    As bad as before she recalled.
    “That’s him”. She said as the man exited the restaurant and headed for the car. He was an average looking guy, in his 30s, He got to his car, looked around , got in, and pulled out into traffic.
    Lenny did the same.
    “ So why we following this guy girlie-he your daddy or something?” he asked smirking to himself, proud he had called her girlie.
    “No,” she replied coldly,” he is not my father. She offered no other information.
    “You hook for him or something?” he asked, a wider version of his yellow toothed smile more obvious.
    “No. I don’t do that anymore”, she answered, as cold as before.
    “Anymore?,” he laughed out loud and followed ,” so what do you do now?”.
    “I kill people,” she said, coldly as before.
    Thats 500—sorry. :)

    1. penney

      Good intro for a story. Conversation flowed alright and the description of the cab was pretty good to, my nose crinkled at the pepperoni smell.

    2. aikawah

      She’s scary but Lenny’s interesting too. I wonder, that very last sentence, are you talking about the word-limit or is Lenny changing the price of the ride, like it’s 500 dollars if he’s going to drive her on a hit? Because that’s what I thought it meant, until I saw the smiley. Wraps it up real nice, yeah?

    3. Naomi

      Lenny and Cindy are interesting characters. I want to know more about what happens — oh, the 500 word limit. One part that snagged my imagination, and refused to let go, “The pepperoni smell was worse up front. As bad as before she recalled.” I keep wondering if she is referring to the cab, to Lenny, or to another cab ride.

    4. slayerdan

      My original thought–Lenny is a molester, and molested her when she was younger and on the streets for awhile, his pepperoni stenched self permanently in her memory. The man was her father/father figure–bait–to help lure Lenny away from town so she could exact revenge…..I could have went the extra 200 words, but I painted enough to set the base. And as always, not entirely happy w that.

    5. Ishmael

      Usually I curse the 500 limit when I’m writing. Your story made me curse it as I read. It got intense, and had me biting into the next sentence before I had thoroughly swallowed the previous one. Then, the meal was gone!

      But even so, it still worked. Thanks for a good read.

      1. rob akers

        That is great! I love the last line too…

        A suggestion: Replace “she said, coldly as before” and add…as she thrust the knife into him. still 2 words over but you get to complete the story.

        Great Job, Sir. I love how you give a voice too and constantly defend those who have been hurt. I appreciate your role in the world.

  75. Rebecca

    Lighting my fifth cigarette within an hour I sat bored under the lone traffic light in Cut-N-Shoot, Texas waiting for the influx of calls from the town’s lazy citizenry as they got ready to party in deep East Texas hillbilly style. The night after plowing and before planting was always reserved for the county’s yearly infamous Hoe-down. And no, I am not talking about the local female population falling to the floor but rather the farming tool…the hoe; you know the one that farmers use to plant seeds? It’s a local celebration, one that I find harmlessly charming even if somewhat backwards in name but then …look at the town’s name.

    A couple of minutes later I found myself answering a call for a ride from the county library/county clerk office/bus stop and when I pulled into the lot some five minutes later I almost turned around and kept on going but something about her made me pause. Maybe it was the desolate loneliness of her shoulders or the haunting echoes of pain that flashed across her face, perhaps even because she appeared to be no more than thirteen years old. My pause cost me.

    Within seconds of the tires crunching on the gravel drive my passenger yanked open the door and dived in. Unsure of the situation I waited quietly for her to tell me where she was headed but when she issued directions to follow a customer from the Mexican restaurant across the street my alarm jumped a notch and much to my dismay so did my curiosity. Damn the boredom, I thought as I hit the meter and drove out the lot, following the beat-up Chevy that the girl’s quarry climbed in. I prayed I wasn’t going to regret this.

    “Why are we following him?”

    “I needed a reason for you to drive me.” She answered ominously, the quiet tones in her voice sent shivers down my neck. That was not a promising statement. “I am Maddy and for three years now I have been searching for you.” She continued, driving my unease up a few more notches.

    “Me? Why?” I asked, innocently as possible all the while wondering what sin of mine had finally caught up to me.

    Maddy said nothing more, preferring instead to watch the scenery flash by her window. I watched her through the rearview mirror waiting for her to break the silence because the last time I did I got more than I bargained for. My patience paid off and then some.

    “My mother killed herself last week. Her last words were to you. How she had waited, always hoping you would come back. Be the husband and a father she dreamed you to be… She died of a broken heart, one so big it will consume the man who broke it.”

    Like a deer caught in headlights I stared at her, unable to break away from her gripping tale and sorrowful eyes. And when she raised the gun to my head…

  76. Imaginalchemy

    “Virginia”

    “It ain’t safe for a kid like you to be out all alone at this time of the night,” I told her.
    She stared out the window of my cab, clutching a thick book to her chest. I adjusted my rearview mirror to look at her. She was pale, with black hair tied back, and a plain gray dress. What kid dresses like that? She couldn’t be more than thirteen.
    “A man will exit that restaurant up the street,” she said, with a silken iciness in her voice. “When he appears, follow him.”
    “You got any cash?” I asked. “’Cause I don’t give free rides, kiddo.”
    She kept staring out the window.
    I figured she wanted me to drive to the Mexican restaurant just up the block. I could dump her out there, tell her she can tail whoever this “man” was by herself, and I’d only be out a buck on the meter.
    I began making my way down the street, up towards the restaurant where the neon “Open” sign was just flicking off, and in succinct timing as I was pulling up, out stepped one beanpole of a man, tall and slender and wearing a long black coat. He hunkered down into his coat like a turtle sheathing its head in its shell, but I could make out locks of black hair on his head.
    “Is that your old man or something?” I asked the girl.
    Her expression remained stoic, but she said, “Follow him to the end of the block. That should suffice.”
    And for some bizarre reason, I felt an urgent need to comply. I turned off my cab’s headlights and pursued.
    From the restaurant to the end of the block was blackness, night drenching the pavement except for one old gas streetlamp on the corner. The man got to the pool of light under the streetlamp. He stopped. He suddenly swiveled his head around, as if he were confused.
    The girl was walking up the street towards him. How did she get out of my cab without me noticing?
    “My name is Virginia*,” I heard her tell the man. “You need to come home.”
    The man turned to look at her. My eyes widened in shock as I could see his skin was paper-white, and completely void of any facial features.
    In the dimness of the streetlight, I could see something happened to the man’s face…a shift? No, a design formed on his skin…a word. His face literally read, in scrawled ink, “No! Freedom! Escape!”
    Virginia’s back was to me now, but I heard her whisper, “Nevermore.”
    She opened the book that she had been holding towards him, and I could see the cover read, “A Collection of Edgar Allen Poe Stories and Poems.” When she slammed the book shut, the man was no longer standing there, and neither was the girl. A large black bird flapped in the lamplight for a moment before flying off into the night, the book clutched in its claws.

    *Virginia Clemm was Edgar Allen Poe’s thirteen year old cousin, whom he married in 1835. She died of tuberculosis in 1847 at age 24.

      1. penney

        Regretfully havent read any Poe yet, infact “The Raven and Other Poems” is sitting on my desk from the library waiting for me to pick up. You just enticed me to read it more. Nice job.

    1. jincomt

      Since I didn’t get the Virginia Clemm connection, I had a hard time making the story work the first read through. After your explanation, I reread your story, and it made a bit more sense. Great descriptions!

    2. DMelde

      Nice descriptions. I liked the man’s face, it reminded me of the Watchmen character Rorschach and his constantly shifting ink blots. Clever girl to use a cab.

    3. Frostie

      Wow, I LOVE this! Wish the length requirement could have been longer; I would love to read more. This would make a very enticing short story.

      Edgar Allan Poe is one of my favorite authors!

  77. morty

    Just as Jack’s cab pulled up to the curb, Mrs. Wrenlow, the town librarian, came out with a little girl under her arm.

    “Hello Jack,” she said. “It seems we have a little runaway here. Would you mind taking her home for me?”

    “Sure thing. Hop in, sweetheart.” The surly little girl gave Jack a suspicious glance, but climbed in, clutching her Teddy bear tight. “I’ll take it from here, Mrs. Wrenlow, don’t you worry about a thing.” The elderly librarian waved at the little girl, and jogged back in from the rain.

    “So, where to?” The girl stayed silent, her stare fixed at the storefront across the street. “Look, sweetie, I can’t…”

    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.” The sudden order startled Jack.

    “Oh, is your daddy in there? He’s the one we’re waiting for?” The girl fell silent again. “Look sweetie, I don’t have time for games. If that’s all you’re gonna tell me, I’ll just take you down to see Chief Hannigan instead.” The girl turned and stared Jack straight in the eye. Her irises were striking discs of solid gray. She cocked her head. Jack let out a sigh. “Sure, I guess we can wait for a couple of minutes.” The girl flashed a sweet smile, and resumed her vigilant watch over the street.

    The door to the restaurant opened, and a burly man in a lumberjack shirt stepped out.

    “There he is, follow him,” the girl said. What the heck, Jack though, maybe he knows who the girl is. He pulled away from the curb, and caught up with the man. He rolled down his window. The girl grabbed his arm.

    “What are you doing? Don’t stop, just follow him!”

    “Hey mister, can I talk to you for a sec?”

    “Shit,” the girl hissed. She pulled out a long, silvery lancet she had hidden inside her teddy bear. Jack stomped on the brakes, surprised. The girl jumped out of the cab.

    “He blew it! He blew it! We have to take care of it here,” she hollered.

    A small boy, not much older than the girl, emerged from the shadows. He was wearing a trench coat and a fedora. In his hand he had a long-barreled silver revolver. The man stopped and raised his hands in surrender.

    “You got me, bitch. But you won’t get us all.” He knelt down. The boy placed his gun against the man’s head. A static crackle pierced the air. The man slumped on the pavement. With a swift flick, the girl cut him open. She thrust her hand in his chest, and pulled out a pulsating black sphere. Jack was still staring at her when she rose and walked towards the cab. She raised her lancet and pointed it at Jack.

    “We need to talk. Now.”

    1. Ishmael

      Nice and masterful. Had a modern-day “Children of the Corn” feel to it, mixed with “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

      Great descriptions, and wonderful dialogue. :)

    2. fbxwriter

      I agree with the other commenters. An intriguing beginning to a sci-fi story. But you’ve even got a minor character who intrigues me. The elderly librarian carried the girl under one arm and then “jogged back in from the rain.” Not a typical “elderly” person. After having read the whole story I wonder if she plays a bigger part in the strange events.

  78. Julia Munroe Martin

    Normally I wouldn’t take a fare that young. Not alone. On top of it agree to follow someone? Never. But there was something about her. Something on her face, in her eyes. Fear? Sadness? Desperation? Maybe a little of all three.

    She got in the front seat, passenger’s side. She didn’t ask, just got in, her eyes never leaving the door of the Mexican restaurant. I glanced at the books in her lap: Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

    I jockeyed the cab: backed up then pulled forward, until it was positioned at the parking lot entrance, facing out. Ready. When he came out all I’d have to do was pull into traffic. We sat there, a tension in the air.

    “Why?” I asked.

    She turned to look at me. Her big gray eyes made her look even younger. “You don’t want to know.”

    “Who is he?”

    “No one you know.” Eyes back on the restaurant.

    “What did he do?”

    “You ask too many questions.”

    “Look, if you don’t answer at least one of them, I can’t drive you anywhere.”

    The girl turned to look at me again, eyes wide, terrified maybe.

    “Do you have any kids mister?”

    “Yes. Two girls.”

    “Imagine the worst.”

    My hands squeezed the steering wheel. I turned to look straight ahead, staring at the restaurant door. She did the same. We were in this together now.

    One. Two. Three minutes passed. The door opened and a young man came out. Good looking guy in a white muscle tee, blue jeans, a swagger. The girl shrank back against the seat, her head down low, her eyes narrowed, staring.

    “That’s him,” she whispered. “Go.”

    But I waited. He was walking. How could I possibly follow him without him noticing? Not in the middle of the day—with everyone coming and going. Or maybe I’d lose him. Traffic.

    “Wait. He might get in a car.”

    “Go.” Her small hands gripped the library books.

    I waited a minute longer, watching him walk down the street. He stopped once to light a cigarette then continued. Another few cars passed, he got to the bus stop and sat down. Waiting.

    “Go now,” she said.

    “What will you do?”

    “Not me. You.”

    “Me?” I whipped my head around and looked at her. What was she saying? Asking?

    “You said you have two girls. What would you do if I was one of them?”

    I pulled the cab out of the driveway, turned left, drove slowly. One, two, three, four cars to the bus stop. I pulled into the bus stop zone. By now the young man was relaxed, his eyes closed, his head tilted back. Dozing? He never saw the cab pull in next to him. I cut the engine.

    “Now,” she said.

    I reached under my seat. My fingers tightened around the tire iron. I opened the cab door.

  79. Autumn

    I could see her standing there as I hit the lone light in the town. A girl no more than thirteen was waiting in a pink and yellow sundress for me to drive her to wherever she wished. Her yellow hair whirled around her face as the wind tried to knock her over.

    I pulled over to the curb and the girl walked up to my taxi. “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”

    I stared at her for a brief moment. “You’re joking right?”

    She shook her head and just stared at me with piercing blue eyes.

    Not five minutes later, a man in a black jacket walked through the door and headed down the street. I couldn’t get a good look at his face because his back was to me. I stayed in my taxi as I watched the man walk into the liquor shop. I looked at the girl who pointed in that direction. I sighed, unbuckled my seat belt, and climbed out of my cab.

    Before I could cross the street, the man walked back out carrying a brown tall paper bag big enough for only one bottle. Who was this man and why was the little girl so interested in me following him?

    I kept an eye on the man as he continued to walk down the street and into the video store. Must be one wild night. I crossed the street, heard honking, tires squealing, pain, and all went black.

    I opened my eyes and stared around. People in white coats were gathered around me starring at me.

    “You’re lucky to be alive.” One said as she pulled off her mask. “You’re lucky your brother was able to donate some blood and a kidney.”

    “My brother?” I closed my eyes and opened them again. “I don’t have a brother.”

    “That’s what he said too. However, you both were a perfect match of blood type and DNA for each other.”

    “Why would you do a DNA test?” I tried to sit up.

    “Don’t move; you’re not well enough.” The doctor looked around. “Have you not seen the resemblance between the two of you?”

    I shook my head and regretted it immediately as pain shot throughout my whole body. I cringed.

    “Relax. It’ll be alright.” The doctor grabbed something from behind her and held up the man’s driver’s license. He had the same brown eyes, same brown hair, same jawline, and even my same birthday.

    “Colby Whitewater.” I whispered. I closed my eyes. I couldn’t believe it. I had a brother. “Where’s the little girl?”

    It was the doctor’s turn to look bemused. “What little girl?”

    “The little girl in the pink and yellow sundress.” I stared at everyone.

    “There was no little girl.”

      1. Autumn

        Sorry the man he was following ended up being his long-lost brother, and the little girl was really an angel that was bringing them together. I knew I should’ve added a bit more to explain, but work got in the way. Lol. Thanks for stopping by and commenting though. I do appreciate it.

    1. Ishmael

      Neat story. I liked the premise. I liked the description of the girl in the first paragraph, and now, knowing she’s an angel, like it even more.

      Some clarifying sentences were needed about following the man on foot. It didn’t seem real that a cabbie would follow him that way, unless something like, “An extra hundred for you if you track him on foot” was written.

      Good read…neat ending.

  80. zo-zo

    ‘Where’s your cash?’ I said to little Miss Uppity, opening my palm without turning. I’d had enough of these little highschool sweethearts who popped gum in my car and used a grown-up voice with no cash to back it up.

    She stuffed a note into my hand. It was a Benjamin. I hit the gas.

    Her sweet teenage perfume was killing me. I opened the window. The man ambled down the road and I followed behind. He didn’t notice; he was concentrating on his brown suade shoes avoiding the cracks.

    ‘Stop,’ the girl said quietly. She stuck her head out the window and gave a piercing whistle. She’d crept back inside after opening the door. He frowned and walked towards us, this time forgetting about the cracks.

    He poked his head into the car. ‘Oh hello Florence.’ His smile was way too big to greet a thirteen year old like that.

    ‘Please get in, Mr Turner,’ she said, looking out the window.

    ‘Sure thing.’ He fell over his big shoes, like he couldn’t get in fast enough. He was one of those creeps who like teenage perfume. She’d scooted close as she could to her side without sticking her arms and legs clean out the window. Miss Uppity was undone.

    ‘Aren’t you living in style,’ he said, brushing my leather seats like they were his girlfriend. I cleared my throat.

    ‘Mr Turner, I need to talk to you.’ She was still looking out at the quiet street, with a kid riding his bike and his mother walking right behind him watching us. People in this town are real nosy.

    ‘Here?’

    ‘Here.’

    ‘That’s fine with me,’ he slid his hands behind his back and winked at her.

    She cleared her throat. ‘I- I know.’

    It was his turn to come unglued. He fastened his hands across his chest and gave a big smile to her, a smile you’d give a three-year-old who had answered a question wrong. ‘You know what, Florence?’

    She answered so quietly I almost didn’t hear. ‘My mother forgets to clean out her pockets.’ And then she started brushing her rigid hair down very, very hard.

    The smile was gone and his shoes started tapping the floor. He gulped in air. ‘But -no, you don’t understand.. you see -‘

    ‘Mr Turner, I have a letter in my pocket for the headmaster. If I even think,’ she paused, ‘think that you haven’t cut it off, I’ll hand the letter myself to him on Monday morning.’

    She blinked a couple of times and turned away. ‘That’s all. Goodbye, Sir. See you in Science.’

    He fell onto the pavement, those brown shoes tapping like rain in a storm.

    The girl slipped her sunglasses on and offered me a piece of gum. I thanked her and she popped another piece into her mouth. ‘Gum helps everything.’ She said. ‘105 Maple Crescent please driver.’

    ‘That’s spitting distance,’ I said and handed the Benjamin into her trembling hand.

    1. Autumn

      Very mysterious. I enjoyed reading your piece and how you describe the girl at the beginning as being Miss Uppity, but in the end, the main character sees her for what she truly is…a child.

    2. Ishmael

      “I’d had enough of these little highschool sweethearts who popped gum in my car and used a grown-up voice with no cash to back it up.” Nice sentence that gives a great tone to the cabbie.

      I thought of Violet (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) when I read the “Gum helps everything” line.

      An enjoyable read.

    3. fbxwriter

      Nice story. I like the resolution. That surprised me. I also like the story’s voice in the beginning. However, you lose the voice as the story moves along because the cabbie quits making snarky comments. I think your story would be even stronger if you kept that voice

      1. zo-zo

        Thanks a lot, Jeanie! I haven’t had a chance to browse through the stories from the people I know (i.e. you and Ishamael) but looking forward to reading your stuff next prompt! :)

      1. rob akers

        zo-zo, nice tension and story line. I kind of felt like Mr. Turner was like Jerry Sandusky, a real scumbag and it is always fun to see them get theirs. For me it got a little bogged down in the middle waiting for the conclusion but overall I think you did good.

        1. zo-zo

          Thanks Rob – that’s exactly what I was going for, a scumbag of a man!! And I appreciate the feedback – feel free anytime with my work, I cherish constructive crit!!

  81. cathymcdowell

    “You know I have the clock ticking while we wait.” I stated
    “yea, yea” says the girl, “do what you gotta but I have to see this man” she said.

    We sat watching the restaurant and waiting.
    When there no was no man I asked “what’s so important about this guy anyway?”

    Just then a man walked out.
    “We need to follow him” the girl blurted.
    “I don’t do no private eye work kid, I’m no Magnum P.I.” I told her.
    “I’m the customer here and I’m the one paying you so please do what I say mister” the young girl said.
    “If there’s any trouble, you’re outta here” I told her.
    Other than the man, the one light town was quiet.
    The lone police officer stood at the corner by the only store was there as usual.
    Finally a well dressed man came out.
    “We need to follow him” the girl told me.

    “What’s so important about this man?” I asked.
    “That’s my concern” said the young girl.
    We followed him out of the one light town and he took a turn I didn’t expect.
    We continued following him to the ranch just outside of town.
    “Why would he be coming here? I asked.
    “I’ve been told he owns this ranch” she answered.
    “Can you tell me why we followed him here now?” I asked again.
    “No, I have to find something out” she told me.

    As he pulled his car up in front of the ranch house I kept a close eye on him and saw we went unnoticed, or so I thought.

    Within a few minutes the cab was surrounded by ranch hands on horseback. The one who appeared to be in charge spoke first. “Why did you follow the boss here?”

    I stammered over my words “it’s uh, uh, it’s uh her idea” I said pointing in to the back seat.
    The ranch hand bent down to look into the car and with a quizzical look he asked “aren’t you Jessi?”

    “Yes Buck, it’s me, I want to see my father.” she told him.

    The girl told this man her mother’s boyfriend was trying to be a father figure to her and she longed to be with her real father.
    “When I heard who my dad really was, I had to come” she told Buck.
    “Your dad is going to be so happy to see you here Jessi” Buck told her.
    “We followed him from the restaurant” the girl said.
    “My mom said she heard he owned it so I knew he’d be there and we followed” she told him.
    “I called the restaurant and asked to speak to the owner last night and when they said he would be there today until 2:00, I knew I had to be there to see him.”
    Buck radioed someone and in a short time, her father came to the car.
    “Jessi? is it really you?, it’s been so long” he welcomed her with open arms.
    “It’s been my prayer to find you” she said “God made it possible and I am so glad he did” she said hugging his neck.

        1. rob akers

          Nice story about the Prodigal Daughter. But the story seems to be more about the Cabbie than the daughter. I would like to know what she is feeling about droping in on her real father. She is young, probably scared, nervous, ect. To me that is the gold mine in this kind of story. Thanks for doing a good story.

          1. cathymcdowell

            I thought how she felt finding her dad was apparent with prayer and hugging his neck.

            Also, she appeared anxious in the way she said ““yea, yea” says the girl, “do what you gotta but I have to see this man” she said.

            made her appear anxious. No?

  82. wilson hara

    She opens the back door and gets in. I decide to be charming, you know, put her at ease. It usually pays off. Like this one time I picked up a guy, real scruffy, looked like he hadn’t showered in weeks. I say “Good morning sir! Where can I take you on this fine day?” He wants to go to the liquor store, the one outside town and asks me to wait for him and bring him back. Fare came to $52 and he tipped 20. A few days later they’re doing this big book signing hooha at the store and guess what? Turns out he’s a bestselling writer – local too – never heard of him. Anyway.

    “Good evening little lady! And where would you like…”
    “Listen, cut the chat, o.k.? You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about 5 minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”

    Great. Last fare of the day and I’ve got a kid playing Nancy Drew.

    “Right. And what if he wants to go to Wisconsin? You still want me to follow him?”

    “No.”

    I glance in the rear view mirror and she’s looking at me like I’m backwards.

    “He’s going to Jackson street.”

    I am beginning to dislike this girl.

    “Yeah? Well, if you know where he’s going why don’t we get a head start and meet him there?”
    Ha! Answer that you little prissy know it all goody two shoes.

    “I’m testing something. And I’m not prissy.”

    “Whatever. As long as you pay.”

    We wait in silence. A guy, a teenager, all leather and hair, comes out of Chilli’s and lights a cigarette. He takes maybe four drags then crushes it under his boot, real cool. He gets on his bike and revs it. I turn around and look at the girl. Suddenly I understand and it’s cute.

    “O.k. I get it. You have a crush. He’s your first love, right?”
    “No. Concentrate on the job on hand.”

    I hear a final rev and he’s gone, damn that bike’s fast. But he’s not headed for Jackson.

    “He’s not heading for Jackson.”

    “He must be.”

    “Nope. Only a dimwit would take Washington to get to Jackson.”

    The guy does a sudden and illegal U turn.

    “Idiot!” I follow.

    We get to Jackson and he’s already parked.

    “What now?” I ask.

    “Take me back.”

    As she pays I give her some advice.

    “In the future I suggest you be more polite. A please and a thanks won’t kill you.”

    She takes her change and looks at me like I’m a worm.

    “In the future, next month sometime, you will stop in front of the Comfort Inn. It’s night and you’ve just finished your shift. A man will walk up to your car and knock on the window. He’ll say hey buddy! And that’s the last thing you’ll hear. I suggest that you think about this. Goodnight.”

    1. jincomt

      Hi Wilson– welcome :) . You used dialogue to move the story forward, very well. I thought it had a good plot and felt suspenseful. Even though there wasn’t a solid indication of it, the girl’s mannerism let us know something was amiss. There were a few punctuation things that caused me to stop and reread sentences (missing quotation marks, quotes from different people in the same paragraph) but that’s just typo stuff, I assume. Good story.

      1. wilson hara

        Hi jincomt,
        Thank you for replying! The line about her being a prissy goody 2 shoes is actually what the driver is thinking, he doesn’t say it out loud so basically she can read his mind. But, you’re right, it is confusing and I should have made it clearer! It’s Saturday today so I can take the time to read all these stories properly and keep my out for yours!

        1. rob akers

          Wilson,

          Nice job. You did good by keeping the story moving and allowing the reader to learn with the cabbie.

          I had to suspend my belief with the intro about the writer tipping 20 dollars. Either he wasnt a real writer or he has another job because everyone knows writers dont have two nickles to rub together, let alone 20 dollars to waste on a tip. He could have bought a case of 2 buck chuck. Ha Ha.

          1. wilson hara

            I had hoped no one would notice! That whole first paragraph was wrong and am not going to think about it until someone obliges me to! Premature submission, beware.

  83. aikawah

    There’s one thing you learn real fast if you’re a taxi driver in Nairobi’s crowded city center; Never give up your parking slot unless you’ve got a paying fare. Monday mornings sucked, business didn’t pick up until early in the afternoon. I was lying back in the driver’s seat, my cap pulled down over my eyes when the girl knocked on the half open window.

    ‘Hallo’ she said, ‘are you working?’

    She wasn’t a begging girl; her clothes were too nice for that. She was too young to be one of the working hordes however. On an errand perhaps. I lifted my cap and lowered the window some more.

    ‘Yes, you want to go somewhere?’

    She didn’t answer; instead she walked round the car and sat herself in the passenger seat next to me. She was even younger than she had seemed outside the car, not more that fourteen if I had guessed right.

    ‘I’m waiting for someone coming from Nation Centre and then we will go’ she offered, ‘I can wait here, right?’

    ‘Yes you can. Where is it you guys are going?’

    She turned to look at me, her gaze unflinching. There was determination in her voice when she spoke again.

    ‘We are not together. I’d like you to follow him sir.’

    I was shaking my head even before she finished talking, reaching over to open the passenger door. She pushed away my hand and pulled out a wad of one thousand shilling notes.

    ‘I have money!’

    ‘I don’t want to get in any trouble young lady, please get out of my car.’

    Face to face in the front of the car, I saw her struggle to swallow her tears. When she saw that I was serious too, she opened the car door without a word. Outside, she stood next to the car for a while, watching the entrance of the building. A tall man in a suit walked out, a briefcase hanging from his left hand and a cane swinging from the other. The girl froze, she half-turned towards the car then thought better of it and decided instead to follow on foot.

    She was halfway across the road when I saw the car. A grey Toyota Vitz, going too fast. I jumped out the driver’s door waving my hands, screaming like a maniac but she heard me too late. I guess the driver must have seen me though because when he hit her, he was swerving right, and braking with everything he had. She caught a glancing blow off the left side of the bonnet, bouncing off the side mirror and falling to the ground. The driver didn’t stop.

    I carried her back to the car, her body limp with shock in my hands. She didn’t seem to be hurt but I wasn’t taking chances. As I pulled out of the parking lot intending to take her straight to hospital, she got up from the back seat where I had laid her. Her hand was clutching the bundle of notes from earlier.

    ‘Sir, I’m not hurt’ she insisted, ‘Please, follow that man. I beg you, please!’

    1. Naomi

      Your story is intense, and well written, aikawah. Your take is very dramatic, and full of great descriptions that transport me to Nairobi. I think the ending does not mesh well with the flow of the of the story. Her determination to follow the man, even on foot, is thwarted by a hit and run. That is electric, and surprising. I think her sudden recovery in the back seat negates the drama of the accident, making the hit and run seem like less of a major event, and more like a minor inconvenience. Still, as usual, I want to read more of your writing.

      1. fbxwriter

        I tend to agree, unless…. She may not be what she seems. This could be the beginning of a science fiction or supernatural story. That would make her sudden recovery a clue to what she really is.

        Alternatively, she could be seriously hurt but still insist on following the man. That would indicate her determination.

        You could go lots of different directions with this, aikawah.

    2. Ishmael

      Love the first sentence – good advice for anyone in a city! Those parking spaces are few and valuable.

      I like the ending…to me, it shows the importance of following this guy – come hell or high water. But, the wording does make it seem like she just pops up, a-okay, like a movie serial killer. No wooziness or ramifications from the accident. I know with the limit, we sometimes can’t fit it all in.

      I thought this was a swell story, and now really want to know what’s up with the girl and the mysterious stranger.

  84. Heart2Heart

    A cabby bellies up to the bar at Carmen’s and spills his guts to his amigos on a daily basis. That’s me and tonight I have a story to tell, a new experience.
    So I pick up this little girl, 13 years max, at the library and she gets in my cab. Air-conditioning broken, I am sweating raindrops. It’s 110 degrees out and all I can think about is slugging down an ice cold one. I am counting down in my head the amount of time before I arrive at the bar.
    The girl, she had to be new to town. No one carries a sweater in the daytime here and she is wearing long pants and Uggs. I don’t recognize her face and so I figure she will have me drop her off at her grandma’s or somewhere close in.
    “Where to, Miss?”
    “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.” Her eyes were boring a hole in my neck.
    “Sure, right, seriously, where to?”
    “I am serious, Mister, please believe me. I need you to follow him”, her voice breaking like ice cracking and tears were forming in her eyes.
    I meet her eyes in the rearview and they spell heartbreak.
    “Okay, okay I will do this for you if you tell me why.” Every nerve in my body was turning to mush. I never could stand to see a woman cry, let alone a child.
    The words came slowly as she told me “The man I want you to follow is my father. He has an appointment to meet a man and to kill him. I was hiding on the floor of the back seat of my father’s car to get down here. I was just at the library looking up this medication that when mixed with alcohol will work slowly to end this man’s life. For the sum of $50,000 and the bottle of medicine, which he is receiving right now at that restaurant from the man’s wife, my father will go to where she tells him and put this medicine in the man’s drink while he is not looking.”
    “How do you know this?”, the sweat now coming for a different reason than the weather.
    “Because I read the email from her to my father while I heard my dad and mom arguing. My dad needs the money for my baby brother’s operation. I have to stop him”. Desperation was written all over her face.
    I see the guy exit the restaurant in the car she told me was his. We follow him a car length behind. We follow him to Carmen’s where he exits the car.
    A cabby bellies up to the bar at Carmen’s and spills his guts to his amigos on a daily basis. That’s me and tonight I have the rest of a story to tell.

    1. Autumn

      I really liked your story. Sorry that I’m just now getting ready to comment on it, but I really enjoyed the voice and how the beginning matches the end. Great job.

    2. Naomi

      I agree that your story has a distinct, enjoyable voice. My favorite sentence is, “I meet her eyes in the rearview and they spell heartbreak.” I am mesmerized by this line.

    3. crazy101

      Dispatched to pick up a fare, I pulled my cab into the parking lot of Wade’s only library a few minutes before ten. The sign on the door read closed. Not surprising since most people in this one-light town turned in before the sun did.
      Camouflaged by the shadow of a Sawtooth Oak, a tow-headed girl stepped out into the moon light. She donned jeans and a jacket and the youth of thirteen years. Not one day more. She was too young to be out alone. Even small town have psychos.
      She opened the cab door and slid in behind me.
      “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of the restaurant, and I want you to follow him,” she said with a smile.
      “Follow him? Why?” I asked.
      She dug in her pocket and extracted two crumpled bills, tossing them over the seat. “Why…doesn’t matter.”
      “It does to me. I could lose my job if my boss found out,” I said. I picked up the two-hundred dollars and handed it back.
      As I stared at her through the rearview mirror, her eyebrows kissed in frustration.
      “Who would tell?” she asked.
      “I don’t know? Maybe the guy you want me to follow,” I stated the obvious.
      “I’m running out of patients with you,” she snapped and threw the money at my reflection.
      “Okay. That’s it. Get out.” I snatched the money off the floorboard and slung it out the window.
      “There he is,” she said, pointing to a tall mountain of a man walking to his truck. “Just follow him.”
      “Tell me why,” I said as headlights turned south onto Main Street. And that’s when I heard a click. I heard the click of a gun being cocked. The lethal sound made me gasp.
      “I was going to kill him,” she said in a steady voice that turned my blood cold. “And now you’ll take his place.”
      “You’re the killer they been talking about on TV?”
      “Well…yeah. But don’t believe everything you hear,” she said, waving the gun about. She leaned back against the seat and laughed. “They’re trying to blame me for three murders I didn’t do. Hell, I’ve never even seen Alabama. And that stupid news anchor woman hasn’t even mentioned the four men I killed in Louisianna.”
      “Why?”
      “Why not?” she smiled, winking.
      “Michael…this is Karen,” blurted the dispatcher. My heart didn’t skip a beat. It stopped. I felt the gun push against the back of my skull. “Where you at?”
      “If I don’t answer her, she’ll call the police,” I said, trembling.
      She twisted her fingers in my hair and jerked my head back, shoving the gun in my face. “One wrong word and your dead sooner than later.” She let go.
      I picked up the microphone. I swallowed my fear.
      “Michael?” the dispatcher said.
      “Year Karen.”
      “Duck.”
      And I did as my father—the tall mountain of a man—shot to kill.

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