The Contract

The used car salesman seems a little fishy, and it takes some serious convincing on his part to get you to sign the contract. And once you do sign, he seems to have a smug look on his face – more so than usual. He says you should have read the fine print. When you look at it now, what does it say? Write this scene.

Get two weeks worth of writing prompts that will inspire you to write great stories.Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

Want more creative writing prompts? Download:

The Writing Prompt Boot Camp (Free Download)



You might also like:

317 thoughts on “The Contract

  1. snuzcook

    He wasn’t like other used car salesmen. He didn’t come across slick like so many did in the 1980s, with polyester leisure suits and bolo ties; instead he acted almost shy and drew upon my compassion to not reject him. He held back the little red and white ’57 Chevy Bel Air sedan until we had looked at every other car in the lot. He did not push the car, so of course I fell in love with it. It was perfect for Mom. It was the spitting image of the car dad bought for her brand new when she got her first job.

    It ran great but there were drawbacks: It had a lot of miles on it. It would need updated seatbelts, a new set of tires, and new seat covers at the very least. But for Mom, the bench seats were easier because of her bad hip, and the heavy metal chassis would be safer in a fender-bender. In the small community where she lived since Dad died she didn’t need to drive far, just shopping, church and the doctor now and then.

    Over Styrofoam cups of really bad coffee, we haggled. The salesman seemed hesitant, almost trying to talk me out of it. I wondered if he had intended to buy it for himself. Finally we agreed on a price and he asked if I wanted time to read the contract. I glanced at it; all pretty standard terms and waivers. I ignored the fine print and signed. I reached out my hand to shake his, but he placed the keys in my hand instead with a sad, wistful kind of look.

    Mom was ecstatic when I delivered her new car. She stood with her hands clasped in front of her like a school girl, grinning from ear to ear. She spent a long time just sitting in the driver’s seat, running her hands over the wheel, the dashboard and instruments, the seats, the door handles. Then she went into the apartment and came back with a small framed photo of her and Dad standing in front of her old car. “I’m going to call it Lizzy,” she said. ‘That’s what Dad used to call the other car—Lizzy Tish.”

    That was in May of 1988. Mom drove Lizzy for nearly ten years, logging about 500 miles each year. She loved chauffeuring the other “old ladies” around, she told me. But I knew what she loved best was driving by herself out to the view point on the edge of town every week or so to watch the sunset, with Dad. When I got the call in October 1998 that’s where they said they found her. She had fallen asleep in the car and just never woke up.

    Today I came across that old contract in the back of a drawer. I looked at the faded document, the illegible fine print. I remembered the reluctant salesman. I was glad I never bothered with the fine print.

  2. mfdavis

    What a jerk I’ve been. I saw the mud on the brakes and the silt under the hood, a sure indication that this car was in a flood somewhere in the United States. But the interior is gorgeous, creamy white, with an exterior is to die for, cobalt blue. Why did I sign that contract? My husband is going to kill me. He told me to wait and let him look at the car before I decided to buy. But I was afraid of letting a good deal get away.
    This car dealership has the worst reputation around. I saw that smirk on his face when I was signing the contract. Now I have doubts about the five year maintenance agreement which is great for a used car. Well I had better confirm that it’s in the contract when he brings me my copy. He is finally returning with the paperwork. Oh no, did he just wink at his co-workers?
    “My lady, you are going to love driving this beauty. You’ll be the envy of all your friends,” said the dealer.
    “I want to confirm that I have the five year maintenance in writing. Can I see where it states that on the contract?” I was praying that he would say sure and point it out to me. But instead I saw that smug look on his face. I was stunned to hear the words coming out of his mouth.
    “You should have read the small print, baby,” the grin on his face grew wider.
    I felt like all the blood drained from my face when I heard him chuckle. Snatching the contract from his hands, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It read that the seller was in no way responsible for any damages to the car caused by prior floods. Nor did the maintenance agreement cover any of these damages. But he had said the exact opposite to get me to sign. I felt sick to my stomach. I’ve been had. Before I knew it, I had balled up my fist and punched him dead in the face.
    “You’ll hear from my lawyer”, I shouted with all the smugness I could muster and stormed off the lot.

    1. Observer Tim

      A very realistic take on the prompt, mfdavis. I love the self-recriminating tone of the whole story, and the satisfying end.

      For my sanity, please double-up the line breaks between paragraphs. People like me (with poor eyesight) find it easier to read.

  3. LizzieC

    “So what’s the 0-60 of this car?” I enquired.
    “Sonny, you would be surprised!” It was more of a leer than a smile.
    The car I had “fallen” for was an old Porsche 911 which had most likely seen better days but I really wanted it. The body work looked good for a vehicle of that vintage. The interior was, to put it mildly, a bit worn, but I could probably tart it up with a bit of love and care and the tyres looked nearly new.
    The salesman, slicked back hair, pencil thin moustache, baggy trousers and loud plaid jacket was obviously itching for a sale.
    “Would you take $3500?” I asked hopefully.
    “Nar, she’s a real beauty and worth every cent of $4000.” There was that leer again.
    “Okay, $4000 it is.”
    “So shall we go and do the paper work?”
    The office was a trailer parked at the end of the lot. Its interior reeked of stale cigarettes and was cluttered with stacks of untidy papers. Picking up a sheaf of papers, he handed me a pen with his short stubby fingers as said,
    “Sign here, here and here.”
    When I had finished he asked “Did yer read the fine print?”
    “No, I presumed everything was in order.”
    “You should always read it.”
    “Specialty Cars hold no responsibility for vehicles after they have left the lot.”
    As he handed me the keys his leer got wider than before. “Enjoy your car,” was his parting shot.
    It was all mine now and I would take it for a spin. I must have travelled a good one hundred kilometers when I suddenly heard a police siren. Flashing lights lit up my rear view mirror. I pulled over.
    The police officer finally made his way to my car.
    “Can I help you constable?”
    “Is this your car sir?”
    “Yes, I have just bought I,” I added proudly.
    “Just bought it? Hmmmm. Then I have to tell you that it’s stolen!”
    “Stolen? How could that be? It was on the lot of Specialty Cars and I have just paid $4000 for it!”
    “Well, sir, it is on the list of stolen vehicles. Can I see you licence and papers?”
    I handed over all the paper work in a haze of disbelief. My once beautiful 911 was stolen! Sure he was a bit of a sleazy salesman, and there were other cars not as nice on the lot – what was I to do?
    “We will have to impound the vehicle and you will have to take it up with Speciality Cars. We will also be checking with them for other stolen cars!”
    That line of fine print was now haunting me: ”Specialty Cars hold no responsibility for vehicles after they have left the lot.” I wondered if he knew it was stolen?

  4. ParisR

    “Lady, I think you’ve blown a head gasket, and water has probably gotten in the engine block. Better scrap this one and head to the automall.” The diagnosis was not what I was hoping for. A new car was not on my shopping list and my bank account wasn’t ready for the news.

    I called my brother and asked if I could borrow his car for a few days explaining my dilemma. Why was I always the one in the family with the bad luck?

    I drove to several lots. Who was I kidding? I don’t think any General Manager is going to give a hair dresser with $500 in her savings account a low interest, no down payment loan.

    Up ahead I saw Second Life Used Cars. Intuition told me the cars on that lot were probably more likely on their last life. As I passed by I noticed a shiny blue Camry, those things run forever right?

    I whipped a u-turn and pulled into the lot. Before I could close my door, or rather my brother’s door, a salesman was at my elbow. “Well, good day to ya? In the market for a car today?” He reminded me of Farmer Jones’ evil twin. He had the plaid shirt, jeans, and boots, but the slicked hair and gold watch looked out of place.

    “Well, I saw the Camry over there. How much do you want for it?” “That’s a real fine car there, Miss?” “My names, Deidra Jakens.” “Well Ms. Jakens, let’s take her for a spin. I’ll go get the key.” Can’t they ever just cut to the chase: how much, how many miles, is there a warranty?

    “Alright little lady, you just slip in behind the wheel and let’s take a ride.” The car seemed fine and had a 30 day warranty. The price seemed okay, he even threw in an oil change. Pulling out a contract he looked at his watch “Oh, darlin, I can’t believe the time. We’ll either need to rush through this or you’ll just have to come back another time. I’ve got a real important appointment in just twenty minutes.” “I could come back a little later if it would help.” “If that’s what you want, but I can’t hold the car for you or anything, it’s a hot one and first come with the money, first given the keys as they say.”

    Shooshing the voice inside, I signed on the dotted line, and wrote a check for the agreed $500 initial payment. The look of satisfaction on his face when I pushed the papers back across the table gave my stomach butterflies. “All right Ms. Jakens, hope you won’t be disappointed by the fine print, the interest rates and payment schedule may be a little tough to keep up with, but you do your best you hear. Got my next appointment now, here’s your keys. Best of luck and thank you for your business!”

    As he held open the door I stared at the contract. Was I reading right: monthly interest rate of 15% not annual? Miss one payment and they attach your wages and the interest increases? What kind of contract was this? “I’m sorry darlin’, but like I said I got to get going.” “Wait, you didn’t make this clear.” “Not up to me to make it clear, it’s up to you to read before you sign. Now on your way with you.”

    My brother was going to kill me, I had the sinking feeling I would be calling to borrow his car again in the not so distant future.

    1. Observer Tim

      Are you from Calgary, ParisR? For years Farmer Jones was a staple of our local (ab)used car market. If so, Diedra is in luck – Second Life’s terms are a gross violation of Canada’s usury laws, which limit interest to 60% per annum (including compounding of monthly rates).

      Regardless, this is a really good story.

  5. Svapnaavasthaa

    “The… fine print?” Lissa felt nauseous. She was late getting her license (what kind of girl waits until she’s twenty-five!?), late buying a car, and apparently late in learning whom to trust.
    “Oh yes,” he said with a sleazy smile. “There is some extra fine print, just there.” He moved a bit closer and pointed with a stubby finger. He was a toad of a man, and smelled like… no; she didn’t want to analyze that particular combination of odors.
    Instead, Lissa focused on the contract. He had pointed at what she had assumed was a little border at the bottom of the page. Upon further focusing, she realized it was awkward, tiny calligraphy. She read it aloud and felt the words pulse through her. Then she fell into the void- fell right down to hell- and was never seen again.

    Lissa shook her head. Sometimes her wild imaginings took over; she wondered if this was how shell-shocked soldiers felt and if she needed to see a doctor. She re-examined the contract, squinting with her face close to the page. “I don’t see any fine print at all.”
    “I know.” As the answer seeped its way slowly into her brain, she wondered when she had gotten so sleepy. She couldn’t resist when the man in the gas mask put a black bag over her head, or when she was dragged out and thrown into a van. She was never seen again… or, at least, what was left of her was never identifiable.

    Lissa shook the distraction from her head and tried to focus on the fine print again. “What does this mean by ‘an offering’?”
    “Well, you see…” He proceeded to explain, in detail, the ancient catacombs and caves that came to a nexus just below them, and the ancient dragon that resided there. “And, well, you’ve just signed a soul-bound contract- as though there’s any other kind of meaningful contract,” he scoffed. “That demands your secrecy and the offering of…” He smiled awkwardly. Lissa gave him a look. “Erm… one virgin per month, for the rest of your life.” Lissa laughed in his face. She laughed right up until she met the dragon, face to face. And her payment was never late, so long as she lived.

    “Oh, stop that,” Lissa muttered to herself. Her imagination really was a terrible thing: scary and awesome and wholly distracting.
    “Sorry, ma’am,” the salesman said, taking a step back.
    “No, I… nevermind.” Lissa squinted at the contract. “What’s this fine print say, anyway?”
    The salesman put on that smile again: the smile of someone forced to smile day in and day out with no respite from the jolly façade. “Well, ma’am, here at Sunshine Auto, every purchase includes the price of a smile!” He flashed her a thumbs up.
    Lissa frowned, then summoned a forced smile. As she drove off the lot in her new used car, she muttered to herself: “I think I would have preferred a dragon.”

    1. Observer Tim

      You got me, Svapnaavasthaa (or should I say Jenny). I adore the diabolical catastrophes Lissa came up with in her mind. Any of them would have made this a wonderfully creepy horror story. The real fine print is a lovely twist.

      1. Svapnaavasthaa

        Jenny works just fine, if you prefer… svapnaavasthaa is such a pain to spell. 🙂

        Lissa does come up with wonderful stories… hence the reason Morpheus chooses her later. (Also, in case it slipped past notice, this is the car-buying incident I mention in the Never Ending Dream post.)

  6. sprattcm

    “The turbocharger woke me. The clatter of that 7.3 liter diesel twisted into the fabric of my dreams like a hydrocarbon lullaby, but when the engine began to belt out that full-throated roar and she dropped into gear, the scream of the turbocharger pulled my from my dreams the same as if my heart had been chained to the bumper. I jerked up in bed just in time to see the tail lights disappear around the corner.”

    Clyde nodded slowly before sipping his coffee. He put the cup down and looked me in the eye, “Bullshit.”

    He looked over my shoulder at the ’06 Excursion parked in the driveway. It was sleek, black and lifted. He tugged his camo baseball cap askew and pulled another gulp of coffee. “Bullshit. First, cars don’t drive themselves, and second…nobody talks like that! You sound like some redneck Shakespeare…but not as good, ya know?”

    “This one does. I seen her take off in the middle of the night three times in the past month. Hell, I tried calling the sheriff but he just tells me to sleep if off, the bastard.” I ground my molars in frustration, “I never should have trusted that damn car salesman.

    “I hadn’t had a choice. When I heard of the new government stimulus car loan program, I jumped at the chance to trade off that rusty old farm truck I’d been using since I was in high school. You know it burned more oil than gas, and the passenger door had finally rusted shut and leaked like a son of a bitch.

    “The Fed bean-counter that sold me the Excursion looked more like FBI than car salesman, but he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. The interest rate was 0% for 4 years and there was only one small catch.”

    Clyde wasn’t one to pass up the chance to call me a dumbass, especially to my face. He smirked expectantly and waited for the other shoe to drop.

    “He explained it as a safety feature, but I know better. He said, ‘This SUV is equipped with a GPS-enabled kill switch. If the vehicle is ever stolen, just call us with a police report and we’ll inactivate the vehicle and give you its coordinates.’”

    “I told him, ‘What you mean to say is if I stop making the payments, you kill it remotely and come pick it up?’ He leaned back and spread his hands a gesture designed to neither confirm nor deny.”
    Clyde nodded sagaciously, “That explains why they’d risk financing your sorry ass. Still, that doesn’t quite explain the early morning joyrides.”

    I looked back at the new truck that was only half mine. “There’s more,” I said. “After I signed the contract, the bastard got a queer smug look on his face. I asked him what his deal was and he said, ‘You should have read the fine print my friend.’”

    “I flipped through the contract until I noticed something strange. An entire section had been blacked out. I looked up and said, ‘What the hell is all that?’”

    “He smiled and said, ‘I’m sorry that’s classified. Your copy has been redacted in accordance with the NSA’s PRISM program guidelines. You’re a true patriot, my friend. Your nation thanks you.’”

    “Since then, my truck has disappeared 4 times that I know of, and the bastards can’t be bothered to top her off.”
    Clyde cracked up, “Your truck has higher security clearance than you do! You are such a loser!”

    1. Observer Tim

      I guess that’s what happens when you buy a Transformer. Stoopid truck, always running off saving the world and never there at harvest time when you need ‘er.

      I like the tone and the style, and the way you leave the reader guessing as to what’s up.


      1. Kerry Charlton

        You’re on course with the dialogue, very real. The story’s a fun read also. You leave your reader with many avenues for him or her to fill the pieces in. I also like the style of writing you weave. Looking forward to your next prompt.

      2. sprattcm

        That is too funny. This is evidence that you can never account for all reader responses =) The truck being a transformer had never occurred to me – I was shooting more for sinister government overreach lol. Thanks for reading!

  7. SummerStarr

    Jocelyn looked into the eyes of the devious salesman. She was extremely nervous about what she might find as she glanced over her contract. She began reading the very small print at the bottom of her contract:

    This vehicle is sold under “as is” conditions. Once you sign there can be no exchanges or refunds. You are now solely responsible for this vehicle and its occupant

    “Occupant?” Jocelyn asked as she looked up at the salesman with a look of utter confusion.

    “You’ll see. Now here are your keys. Enjoy!”

    The salesman threw the keys to Jocelyn and quickly made his way through a door marked “Employees Only” and he slammed it shut behind him. Jocelyn picked up the keys to her new car and headed outside to do an inspection. She had looked at the car before. She and the creepy salesman even went on a test drive. Who was this occupant mentioned in the contract? She couldn’t remember seeing anyone inside the car. She decided to ignore the strange events that occurred at the dealership. She cranked the car and headed home. After driving a couple of miles down the road she heard a strange noise coming from the backseat. She turned to get a quick look but she didn’t see anything. She heard it again. Again she looked. Still nothing. Finally after hearing the strange noise again she decided to pull over. She got out of the car and began a more thorough inspection of the back seat. She noticed the noise coming from underneath the passenger seat. When she peered underneath, she saw what appeared to be some sort of little elf. He was only a couple of inches tall, wearing black and white striped leggings, a little black shirt and a pointy black hat. He even had cute little pointy ears.

    “Ahhh you’ve found me”, he said in a high pitched elfish voice.

    “What in the world? What are you and where did you come from?” Jocelyn asked.

    “I am a wishing elf who has been magically bound to this car. I can grant you three wishes, but after that I will disappear.”

    “Wow! That’s great!” said Jocelyn. She wasn’t sure why the salesman was so secretive about this hidden clause in their contract. “Is there a catch to this deal?”

    “No catch” the little elf said, “Only I can’t give you infinite wishes.”

    “Okay. I wish for a million dollars, a new house and a new fur coat.”

    “Your wishes are granted. Go to your current home and your wishes will be waiting for you.”

    And with that, the little elf disappeared into thin air. Jocelyn was so excited about what had happened. She couldn’t wait to get home and tell her husband the wonderful events of the day. When Jocelyn pulled into her driveway, she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Police cars, fire trucks and an ambulance were parked outside her home that was fully engulfed in flames. She screeched the car to a halt and started to run toward her home but a fireman stopped her.

    “Ma’am you can’t go in there. It’s too dangerous.”

    “But that’s my house! All of my stuff is in there! Oh my God! I need to call my husband at work and tell him!”

    The firefighter shook his head.

    “Ma’am your husband was in the house.”

    “No he was at work.” Jocelyn said frantically.

    “I’m sorry ma’am,” the fireman said with sorrow, “We just could not get to him in time.”

    Jocelyn did get all three of her wishes. Her husband had just bought a million dollar life insurance policy. Jocelyn moved in with her parents who had just bought themselves a new home. As for her fur coat: Well she got that too.

    A fireman walked up to Jocelyn with what appeared to be a bundle of black and white fur. Jocelyn began running up to the fireman.

    “Oh Sparky. You’re okay!” she said.

    The fireman, with a strange look on his face, handed the lump of fur over to Jocelyn and simply mumbled to himself.

    “I’ve never known of anyone to name their fur coats”.

    Jocelyn looked down at what she thought was her beloved dog, only to realize he had been turned into a fur coat. She screamed a variety of obscenities at the car salesman and the devious little elf.

      1. SummerStarr

        Thank you Tim. This was my first post and I was kind of nervous. But I really wanted to put a dark spin on it. I love plot twists. I think I’m going to like this site a lot. 🙂

    1. MCKEVIN

      Welcome SummerStarr to the forum. Nice story. We actually had a prompt about three wishes months go. Very descriptive and a nice reminder about being careful for what you wish for. Good job.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I also loved your story, Summer Starr. An easy writing style, easy to follow. You’ve been around the block before with your writing skills. I always liked a twist at the end of short stories and you certainly provided a nice one. Welcome to the forum. I’ll look forward to your next one.

    1. PromptPrincess13

      Hi! I’m new here and I don’t exactly know how or where to post this story so I hope I did this right. Sorry I’m so over the limit …it’s harder than I thought to fit this prompt into 500 words. Please comment!

      The Fine-Print Stint

      Leaning on the side of the car I was about to sign for, he kept talking: mileage, horsepower, warranty, yadda, yadda, yadda. I should’ve been listening more but I couldn’t bring myself to care enough. I didn’t want a car, I needed one, and if I had to pretend to listen to some sleazy sales-person to get it, I was going pretend to listen to some sleazy sales-person. He kept looking over his shoulder, his gaze gliding over the pin-striped fabric of his suit and moving around the car. He patted the trunk softly and the smirk in his eyes slid down to his lips.

      “This car’s got a whole lot of surprises.”

      “What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked. The way he said it was like a death-sentence proclaimed by an executioner, affectedly casual with cold eagerness behind it.

      “Nothing, it’s just a lot of bang for your buck. A car this old, this cheap, running so well…it’s surprising.”

      “OK…” I said almost inaudibly, studying him a little closer. Nothing about him screamed dangerous but something was off; the faux suave way he was trying to sweet-talk me into the deal told me that much. But I’d run out of options, the deal was more than fair and I was desperate.

      I tried not to stare as he bent over the hood of the vehicle, resting the contract on the shiny red surface, fingers sliding the pen cap off as a shiny, heavily chromed watch slid down from where it’d been hiding inside his shirt sleeve.

      “Nice watch.” I said. “What’s SP stand for? Your initials?” I asked, suddenly realizing he hadn’t told me his name and wasn’t wearing one of those handy name tags. Isn’t that like sales-guy 101? I thought to myself.

      He shoved it up higher and looked at me for a second.

      “Yeah, Simon Piquel, at you service.” He said with a soft laugh in his voice, bending his head back to the contract.

      I bit back a snicker at the pronunciation but didn’t dare joke about it out loud. It’s safe to say the guy was kind of freaking me out. His hair was shaggy down to his shoulders, the strands limp and dark blonde. His right eye had a shadow rimming it, like he was healing from a black eye and the bruise was dimming. His nose and mouth were so sharp it made him look… conniving, his tight skin accentuating a resemblance to a sneaky fox.

      Finally, he skidded the paper over to me and I could see his fingers were tense, bone-white as he “helpfully” held the paper in place for me. “Must be a good commission.” I said under my breath as I skimmed the text, reading phrases where words that seemed important popped out at me. It seemed standard so I started signing my name, taking my time with a loopy, cursive design just to tick the guy off a little.

      When I looked up, Simon was gone and the keys were on the dash inside the car, the side-doors open. I looked around but it was like he’d vanished.

      Unnerved I walked to the office and asked for Simon’s manager. He said he had no employees named Simon and I could tell he was getting uncomfortable so I showed him the contract. In a few minutes, he’d settled the necessary documents and assured me the car was safe and legal to drive. Hugely relieved, I thanked him and walked out to my car, closing the doors and starting the engine.

      The car ran nicely and the seats were comfortable but I had a nagging suspicion that something was off. My breath hitched as I heard sirens and pulled over, genuine fear taking the place of suspicion.

      When the police dogs started yipping at the trunk of my car, dread’s cold hands started pulling at me. I was almost expecting it when they hauled “Simon” and a bag bulging with cash out of my trunk.

      “Should’ve read the fine-print, sweet-heart.” He yelled at me with a smirk that peeled back his thin lips to bear chipped yellow teeth. It took two policemen to shove him into the waiting police car but finally, they arrested him. Flashing lights whirled as the police car sped into the night, Simon still twitching from being tasered.

      “Is this what he meant?” A policeman asked me, tossing me the contract that had been riding shot-gun. I found the very, very fine fine-print at the bottom of the page and read:

      I agree that I am harboring and transporting a fugitive in this vehicle which is also stolen property and was informed of this prior to purchase.

      “Yeah, this is what he meant.” Was all I answered as he put me in the back of another police car, my hand-cuffed hands still shaking a little, and started driving away. “This is what he meant.” I said quietly and put my head back on the seat, wondering who I could call on to bail me out.

      1. Observer Tim

        Now that’s a way to get an accomplice! Of course, once the police and courts start sorting things out, the trick is going to come apart like a kleenex in a hurricane. I wonder what ‘SP’ had against the protagonist. It’s an awful lot of work to go through for a practical joke.

        Welcome aboard, Princess! Good story!

        To avoid getting tacked on to somebody else’s comment, just go down to the very bottom of the page and use the reply link there. By the Law of Blogging Perversity, that’s how you get a comment at the top of the list…

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Well written, Princess. A fun story to be told. At least you didn’t have a mean elf in the back seat. Welcome to the forum. I’m waiting for the next one.

  8. msmarisa13

    They were sitting across from each other at the salesman’s desk. The door was closed which made it hard for him to feel any cool air. Sweat was beading on his forehead and slowly rolling down the side of his face. That smug grin bothered him, the salesman looked like the cat who ate the canary with his thick jowls jiggling as he tried to contain his laughter.

    Usually Jay took time to read things carefully, this time he had not. Jay looked at the last page of the contract. What was that last paragraph? The print was blurry as he looked at it closely, re-reading it a bit more slowly trying to make sense of what he was seeing.

    Jay’s head was bent over the document so he did not see the salesman’s expression change. He heard a grunt and looked up. Gone was the smug look, in its place was a grimace of pain. His mouth formed an O as he tried to speak. Blood pooled out of his mouth and dribbled on to his white shirt. He pitched forward reaching out for Jay, attempting to grab the contract and missing. His eyes rolled back into his head as he finally fell off the chair to the floor. Jay stood there not knowing what to do. He looked again at the contract he signed. He was obligated to pay the entire price of the car within 6 months, if he missed the deadline the car would be repossessed and he would lose any monies he paid into it. How could he have missed that? He had skimmed over the contract quickly, so excited about getting a car that he did not read it thoroughly.

    He looked at the salesman lying on the floor; no one knew he had signed the contract. He looked out of the office window. It appeared everyone was oblivious to what was going on in the office. He stuffed the contract in his jacket pocket, knelt down and felt for a pulse on the salesman. The skin of his neck was moist and warm. Jay was repulsed at touching him. The salesman was still alive, the pulse was very faint. He leaned in and whispered in the salesman’s ear, “Now what Mr. Salesman?”

    Jay stood up; he had a decision to make.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is an interesting take; salesman dies of apoplexy (or something like that). Jay would be best served by ripping up the contract and starting over, though he would have to negotiate all over again.

      Nicely done, Ms. Marissa.

    2. MCKEVIN

      Welcome msmarisa13. Good story and I liked that you left it up the reader to draw their own conclusion. I wish I knew what you the author thought Jay should do since it your story. In my version, Jay would have kept silent about the contract, went through the salesman pockets and kept whatever paper money was there and then go get some help. That’s just me. You did a good job with the story and you could have used the other 111 words to add to your389. Good job and I look forward to seeing more of your stuff in the future. See you at the next prompt.

      1. msmarisa13

        Thank you MCKEVIN. I was so nervous and excited. I am new to this although I enjoy writing. This is for you… Jay starts to rip up the contract when he feels something on his leg. He looks down, it’s the salesman’s hand. He is not dead… yet….

        1. MCKEVIN

          “See that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!.” Here, I picked it for ya…

          Quick thinking Jay grabbed a newly sharpened pencil and stabbed the salesman on his hand,eyes and face. Blood stained his pants, his shoes and pooled in the rug. Jay stomped and kicked the salesman’s face to a pulp and then he heard….

          Oooh.. that was like good sex and I need a drink and a cigarette. Whew! Be still my foolish heart. Lol. Welcome msmarisa13 to the forum. You’ll do just fine.

          1. MCKEVIN

            msmarisa13 I got so excited at your response and posted so quickly that I broke my own rule. Wait awhile before you post because you’ll catch things you didn’t see before. Let’s try this again.

            Thanks for the update msmarisa13, loved it. You’re going to find that you can get more words by using contractions. ie – I am = I’m or He is = He’s. Also, “Jay starts to rip the contract” becomes “Jay ripped up the contract.” You get more words to embellish or extend your story. My post should have read.

            “See that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!.” Here, I picked it up for ya…

            Quick thinking Jay grabbed a newly sharpened pencil and stabbed the salesman on his hand and in his eyes and face. Blood stained his pants, his shoes and pooled in the beige colored rug. Jay stomp kicked the salesman’s face into a red salsa pulp and then he heard…. See the difference?

            Oooh.. that was like good sex. I need a drink and a cigarette. Whew! Be still my foolish heart. Lol. Welcome msmarisa13 to the forum. You’ll do just fine.

  9. msmarisa13

    They were sitting across from each other at the salesman’s desk. The door was closed which made it hard for him to feel any cool air. Sweat was beading on his forehead and slowly rolling down the side of his face. That smug grin bothered him, the salesman looked like the cat who ate the canary with his thick jowls jiggling as he tried to contain his laughter.

    Usually Jay took time to read things carefully, this time he had not. Jay looked at the last page of the
    contract. What was that last paragraph? The print was blurry as he looked at it closely, re-reading it a bit more slowly trying to make sense of what he was seeing.

    Jay’s head was bent over the document so he did not see the salesman’s expression change. He heard a grunt and looked up. Gone was the smug look, in its place was a grimace of pain. His mouth formed an O as he tried to speak. Blood pooled out of his mouth and dribbled on to his white shirt. He pitched forward reaching out for Jay, attempting to grab the contract and missing. His eyes rolled back into his head as he finally fell off the chair to the floor. Jay stood there not knowing what to do. He looked again at the contract he signed. He was obligated to pay the entire price of the car within 6 months, if he missed the deadline the car would be repossessed and he would lose any monies he paid into it. How could he have missed that? He had skimmed over the contract quickly, so excited about getting a car that he did not read it thoroughly.

    He looked at the salesman lying on the floor; no one knew he had signed the contract. He looked out of the office window. It appeared everyone was oblivious to what was going on in the office. He stuffed the contract in his jacket pocket, knelt down and felt for a pulse on the salesman. The skin of his neck was moist and warm. Jay was repulsed at touching him. The salesman was still alive, his heart beat was very faint. He leaned in and whispered in the salesman’s ear, “Now what Mr. Salesman?”

    Jay stood up, he had a decision to make.

  10. ViMo

    “You should have read the fine print,” the car salesman threw his head back and cackled.

    Fine print?

    I snatched the contract from him, scanning the document. Everything seemed to check out. Nothing was unusual and I was about to tell the a-hole off when I saw it. There. At the bottom of the page, in a font so small I’d have missed it if he hadn’t said anything:

    As payment for the automobile, you will relinquish your soul and all rights associated with it.

    “Is this some kind of joke?” I looked up, waving the paper around and my heart stopped.

    The car salesman was gone; in his place stood a creature that was at least 7 feet tall. What was once the face of a pale and sweaty middle-aged balding man now was a head composed of hardened nobs and misplaced eyeballs. Skin stretched and pulled over a mouth with lips that were pulled back, revealing two sets of sharp, yellowed teeth. Greenish gunk bubbled out of its mouth as it stared at me with over half a dozen eyes, unblinking like some bird of prey. The color of boiled lobster, the monster had long boil covered arms with talons that served as fingers. Its legs were bent backward and ended in roughed hoofs; some nightmarish mix between a hawk and bull.

    “Joke,” it rasped, its voice gravelly like a smokers, “The joke is how you pathetic humans read nothing!” As it talked, it walked towards me, its hoofs eating up the space between us. I backed away, stumbling over my feet until I met with resistance. My back met with the side of a car, its metal heated from the sun.


    The monster pounded its heavy fist into the concrete and a crack began to form. Like a zipper, the ground split, creating a fissure only a few inches wide that ran between my legs, under the car and far behind me. Nothing happened for a moment, it was as if the world had gone silent. The only sound that existed was my heavy breathing and erratic beating of my heart. And then it happened.

    With a heavy grinding noise the earth opened up. With everything I had, I tried to jump free, but I didn’t go far enough. My hands slipped and I held on with six of my fingers. My body dangled over the side of cavern as fire and lava erupted upwards, barely missing my body. I screamed as the heat of the flames licked over my body, seeking to devour me.

    The monster walked over to me, a smile on its face that resembled more of a snarl than a friendly overture. It bent down, legs at impossible angles and I cringed as its hot breathe ran over my face, making me gag. Slowly it extended its claws towards my hands. As it pushed my fingers off the edge, it punctuated each one with a word.

    “Should. Have. Read. The. Fine. Print.”

  11. ViMo

    “You should have read the fine print,” the car salesman threw his head back and cackled.

    Fine print?

    I snatched the contract from him, scanning the document. Everything seemed to check out. Nothing was unusual and I was about to tell the a-hole off when I saw it. There. At the bottom of the page, in a font so small I’d have missed it if he hadn’t said anything:

    As payment for the automobile, you will relinquish your soul and all rights associated with it.

    “Is this some kind of joke?” I looked up, waving the paper around and my heart stopped.

    The car salesman was gone; in his place stood a creature that was at least 7 feet tall. What was once the face of a pale and sweaty middle-aged balding man now was a head composed of hardened nobs and misplaced eyeballs. Skin stretched and pulled over a mouth with lips that were pulled back, revealing two sets of sharp, yellowed teeth. Greenish gunk bubbled out of its mouth as it stared at me with over half a dozen eyes, unblinking like some bird of prey. The color of boiled lobster, the monster had long boil covered arms with talons that served as fingers. Its legs were bent backward and ended in roughed hoofs; some nightmarish mix between a hawk and bull.

    “Joke,” it rasped, its voice gravelly like a smokers, “The joke is how you pathetic humans read nothing!”

    As it talked, it walked towards me, its hoofs eating up the space between us. I backed away, stumbling over my feet until I met with resistance. My back met with the side of a car, its metal heated from the sun.


    The monster pounded its heavy fist into the concrete and a crack began to form. Like a zipper, the ground split, creating a fissure only a few inches wide that ran between my legs, under the car and far behind me. Nothing happened for a moment, it was as if the world had gone silent. The only sound that existed was my heavy breathing and erratic beating of my heart. And then it happened.

    With a heavy grinding noise the earth opened up. With everything I had, I tried to jump free, but I didn’t go far enough. My hands slipped and I held on with six of my fingers. My body dangled over the side of cavern as fire and lava erupted upwards, barely missing my body. I screamed as the heat of the flames licked over my body, seeking to devour me.

    The monster walked over to me, a smile on its face that resembled more of a snarl than a friendly overture. It bent down, legs at impossible angles and I cringed as its hot breathe ran over my face, making me gag. Slowly it extended its claws towards my hands. As it pushed my fingers off the edge, it punctuated each one with a word.

    “Should. Have. Read. The. Fine. Print.”

  12. PeterW

    Car Sales Man
    (A little weird, I guess… working on my first person narration) (Also thank you all for the feedback on my other stories).
    Something smelled fishy that morning. Like carp. Or like catfish. Yes, and it wasn’t the cars, scaly and bright in the lot. No, it was the car sales man: reeking, briny, picked moist from the quayside and so on. He was almost a fish. One of those dirty fish that slough at the bottom of ponds in the eutrophic green and silt mud. One of those fish filled with mercury and fertilizer. One of those inedible fish, that you detach from the line, kill, then throw back in.
    Still though, I signed the contract he had thrust into my hands. Call me trusting. He smelled mostly aquatic and ectothermic, but looked mostly human. Call me positive:
    It was a Sunday morning, the used car lot on off the side of dirty highway 14, everything a shimmer and beautiful, in September, me and fishman making a deal for a used Toyota Camera the color of a rose. The coffee from gas station in Mireville on the top, white and capped and steaming slightly still— perched and I was happy, despite the awful smell, I was happy and free and spinning a signature over paper on the sheened, rosy hood.
    The fishsales man worked a smirk as he turned, slightly, with the contract in hand, warped by a slight breeze; contract signed in elaborate blue squiggles that flowed way over the lines and into the printed lines of black. I hadn’t read the contract honestly, it was one of those days: gleaming and still cool and the trees just about to shutdown their phloem and let their leaves suffocate into orange, yellow, red and detachment, and flutter onto hardening grounds. The turning, working, lurking smirk was hard, like the coming season, exhaling directly onto me, closing in on me to shake my almost normal human hand.
    I took his hand: the sales man of rotting fishstink, and rot of dead fish in along concrete where pipelines spew and reek and sea and pond and polluted stream. The fishline, the bait, the boat, worm. I was the word a-wriggle through September waters; waters turning in season, waters cycling and destratifying and bringing the nutrients topside to meet the warm September morning sun. Yes, I was the worm on a current, swirling, in the nebulous green water stratified laterally by columns of the sun. Did I have a hook through me? Or did I float alone?…
    When I took his scaled hand, I laughed a wailing worm peal. Smirk to smile. Cool hand in a cool annelid squeeze. His rictal mouth warped again: fishsmile. Gills pulsing beneath his blue-starch suit coat. Fish on asphalt. Worm on asphalt. Both beside a tackle-box rosy Camry. Both very alone off dusty highway 14 outside of Mireville.
    I could’ve. Could’ve put the hook through him. The hook in me, through him. Lured him. Strung him to the rafters by a white line.
    He saw the tattoo then as he was shaking; fish eyes frozen by my perfect laugh. He said, “Do you like fishing, son?”
    “No,” I said, releasing him and his hand back to the safe depths. I sipped the coffee. Call me merciful.
    “This hook,” I nodded to the tattoo that was inked across the back of my hand, “it catches birds, and you, son…my son… are not a pretty little bird.”
    I handed him the coffee. The slimly smell was overwhelming me, then. The morning was fleeting and the sun was being reeled up and up. I got into the rosy Camry, and left Mireville and my catches— two, a robin and a magpie, hooked, defeathered, deflawed, and lifted to the rafters— behind.

    PeterW =D

    1. Dani

      I read this three times. I’m still a bit confused, you have great imagery and descriptions here that I just loved, but I’m having trouble figuring out what it means. I think the man buying the car is some sort of psychopath that loves fishing.

      1. PeterW

        Well, I sort of free-styled it =D… I guess I didn’t mean for the narrator to come across as in love with fishing… but yeah he did get more psychopathic and weird, and also the narration was more and more in his head as it went on. Thanks for the comment.

    2. don potter

      I got the fishy salesman but not the car buyer. I found your narrative fascinating but not easy to read.
      Let’s see more from you in the weeks ahead, because you seem to be developing an interesting voice.

    3. agnesjack

      I thought your take on the obvious metaphor of the buyer being a fish on the line for the used car salesman was fascinating and unusual, and your first person voice is definitely worth developing, but I, too, was confused by the actual story. It seems as if the role of “fish on the line” switched at the end, but it wasn’t clear to me how or why.

      I like stream-of-consciousness writing (and yours has some nice imagery and flows nicely), but it can’t just be random. It has to reveal something. I agree with don potter — I’d like to see more in the future.

      1. PeterW

        Thanks, I can see how its confusing when I reread it; I guess I didn’t have a real purpose or story when I started…

        And btw, I responded to the last few prompts if you like to read those

    4. jhowe

      Even though there was some confusion, I sure do like your writing style. I took it that the car salesman escaped being strung up because the buyer didn’t find his smell appealing. That may not be right but sometimes it’s best to be left wondering. Call me curious.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I like your style also, PeterW. It seems to roam around at will as if sometimes it might take over your mind and your subconscious is writing as if you were in a dream, floating overhead and remarking about yourself. Somewhat out of body form. At least that’s how I read it.

        I also think the used car salesman should count his lucky stars that he’s still alive and not added to the collection of birds.

        Keep putting the prompts out. I’ll look forward to the next one.

    5. DMelde

      Great quirky story. I would like to see more of a transition between real and the imagined. I think that’s the confusing part, at least for me it was. Good job. I loved the use of the word rosy. It just seemed so cheerful in the midst of so many fishsticks.

  13. Doug Langille

    This is a companion piece to my response from an earlier prompt. This stands alone though.


    Andy needed this sale in the worst way. The summer sales slump at the dealership continued and he’d be the first to get the axe. Marty was pretty clear on that point. It wasn’t personal. He was just low man.

    It was just Bill, Fred and himself in the office. When they returned from the fiasco of a delivery up Route 9, they found the shop locked up. Marty and the band of vultures left the place untended. Even the shapely receptionist was missing.

    “Where the hell is Missy?” he asked the empty showroom.

    Bill and Fred didn’t say anything and headed for the coffee pot. Poor Andy was oblivious. They knew exactly where Missy was, or at least who she was with. Marty played a dangerous game. Gladys would be on the horn to Big Daddy the minute she got wind of her husband’s dalliances.

    The door chime rang. In walked a young couple reeking of need, affordably priced need. Andy looked at the Dynamic Duo and they nodded. Let the fresh meat have this one. Besides, there’d be no real commission from the look of these two. Java and air conditioning ruled the day.

    Andy wandered over, flashed his best smile and offered his hand.

    “Hey folks! Hot one, eh? I’m Andy. Can I help you?”

    The man looked at him warily and shook the sweaty hand. “I’m Tom. The missus needs a car to get around in while I’m at work.” The woman didn’t say anything or even make eye contact.

    “What’s your budget?”

    “A thousand bucks, all in.”

    Andy did his best to hide his disappointment. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught Bill and Fred chuckling at his misfortune. Bastards.

    There was only one car to show Tom and his silent bride. It was a lemon, more fibre-glass repair than original parts. It was a write-off that Marty scored on the sly. It was a wonder it ran as well as it did. At the very least, it probably wasn’t road worthy. Lipstick on a pig was all the love it got.

    Of course, Andy didn’t offer these facts. He needed the sale. Besides, caveat emptor.

    Thus began the dance of buyer and seller jockeying for position. Tom took every advantage of the salesman’s apparent nervousness. Andy dickered away his commission to make the sale happen. Hopefully, it was enough to stave off execution.

    On the hood of the jalopy, the deal was done with a stroke of a pen. Andy’s hasty signature stared up at him with victory. He spared a thin smile. Tom caught him.

    “What the hell are you smiling about?” he asked.

    “Nothing. It’s just been a slim week. I appreciate the business, Tom. Enjoy the car.”

    The man harrumphed and left Andy to his paperwork. He opened the door for his wife and helped her in to the car. She seemed to be having difficulty. It wasn’t until Andy caught her in profile that he figured it out.

    “How far along is she?” asked Andy.

    “Three months. It’s our first. We’re going car-seat shopping next.”

    Andy blanched with guilt. Shit. All he could picture was the wreck of this car when he first saw it. Shit, Shit Shit.


    “What now? We gotta get going.”

    “There’s something you need to know about this car.”

    Ten minutes later, Andy stared at a pile of shredded contract with mixed feelings. Nearby, Bill and Fred were laughing their asses off. Marty wouldn’t be when he returned. Perhaps he wasn’t cut out for this business.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      A very realistic write Doug. And heartwarming also. So believable, I felt as if I were in the dealership as a invisible observer. The dialogue is right on course. It’s a little slice of live that makes an important statement.

    2. don potter

      Nice story of a man finding the conscious he had conveniently placed on the shelf in order to make a buck or two. I liked several of the phrases such as ‘Java and air conditioning ruled the day’ and ‘more fiber-glass than original parts.’ However, there were too many names for me to follow, even though they had little to do with the story.

    3. MCKEVIN

      This was somewhat a different take on the prompt and I liked all the additional info about the other activities going on in the dealership. I have read at this very forum that sometimes when an author includes many details, the story can get distracting. I don’t agree with that as long as the added details relate or highlights the story. You did that. I thought you were going to end the story with the couple dying in a car crash, the unborn child surviving and growing up orphaned and Andy going insane out of guilt because he could have prevented the accident. But I like your take too. Good job. PS. I learned a new word. Thanks.

    4. DMelde

      Good story Doug. I liked the ending a lot. It was very sweet. My only suggestion would be to tell us why Andy was so desperate for a sale. The fact that he was going to lose his job was a good reason, but a stronger one would be if he needed it because his wife was expecting, or his daughter needed dental work, or the house needed a new roof. Something that makes him stay in a job that doesn’t suit him. Conflict, aargh, it makes the world go round. Good job, as usual. 🙂

    5. Doug Langille

      Thanks all. These prompts can be pretty prescriptive and it’s a challenge to get something decent out. That’s what makes grafting a couple of them together.

      @don potter: I go through these prompt responses in a marathon session and find myself overwhelmed by the many characters. It’s all part of the fun tho.

      @mckevin: I’m curious, what word?

      @dmelde: I’ll keep Andy’s motivations in mind when I write part 3. Just waiting for the right prompt. All I know is that it’s Gladys’ story. Marty gets his comeuppances and Andy saves the day.

  14. Jen

    ‘We’re a local car show room, supporting our local community. Are you all okay with our local Ts& Cs?’ said Friendly Dave

    My wife had to suppress a smirk each time she heard him say ‘local’.

    I nodded at him and signed the contract. Dave looked me straight in the eye and said ‘You’re going to be real happy here’.

    You are Now Leaving Amana.

    Two miles later

    You are Now Entering Amana

    ‘Did you turn off the road?’ Jill said, reaching for her phone. I pulled over to let her second-guess my navigation with Google maps.

    ‘Check on your phone?’ she said. I looked over at her phone screen; the blue dot on the map pulsed unable to find our location.

    ‘Try putting in an address’ I said making no effort to reach for my phone.

    ‘No results’

    I sighed and took my phone from the dashboard. On my third attempt Jill interrupted ‘Why don’t we just ask for directions back at the car dealership?

    Without a word I pulled the car back onto the road, two minutes later we were back at ‘local’ Friendly Dave’s car showroom. Friendly Dave stood in the doorway of the office, watching the rain.

    I gave him a wave; he grabbed the umbrella by the door and ran over to my window.

    ‘How can I help you guys, nothing wrong with the Lexus is there?’ Dave said.

    ‘No, she runs like a dream. Actually Dave it’s a bit embarrassing, could you give me directions out of town. We keep missing the exit.’

    Dave looked puzzled and said ‘You can’t leave. You’re part of our community now. Didn’t you read the fine print?’

    ‘You’re a lawyer and you didn’t read the fine print.’ He chuckled to himself and turned back to his office.

    ‘Hey’ I said trying to get his attention back. I moved my hand towards the belt buckle. Jill put her hand over mine.

    ‘Leave him, I’m not sure he’s all there you know?’ she said. ‘Let’s head to the diner, get a sandwich and ask for some sane advice’

    As we came in the waitress gave us a smile and nodded to a booth. The orange neon flashed on the raindrops caught in the window, soothing and hypnotic.

    ‘What’ll you have?’ said the waitress. I saw the name ‘Shelley’ stitched on her blouse.

    ‘Actually Shelley’ I said. ‘We were hoping to get some directions. It’s the strangest thing we keep trying to leave but . . .’

    Shelley gave me a sad smile.

    ‘Dave got you to sign one of the special ‘local Ts and C’s?’ she said

    I swallowed and nodded.

    ‘This is ridiculous. I . . . I . . . we can go back there and give the car back. Tear up the contract’. I said

    Shelley shook her head.

    ‘I’ve never known Dave to accept a return. We buried our local family lawyer last week. You coming to buy a car, must have seemed like providence.’

      1. Kerry Charlton

        This is my kind of story, also. I’m usually driving around lost, anyway. San Antonio is a city of winding circles. There is no north or south. Streets are named Harry Wurzbach and then simply Wurzbach.

        Can anybody from the website help me get out of ‘Taco Village’? Help me!

  15. Dani

    “I don’t like this guy,” Stephanie whispered to me looking over her shoulder at the salesman.
    “I don’t care if you don’t like him Steph, I need a car. Like yesterday.” Looking back I could see the tall salesman watching our every move and suppressed a shudder. There was something very off about that guy, and I wasn’t easily shaken up.
    “Whatever, let’s just get this over with so we can get home.”

    Stephanie and I walked back towards the salesman, and I suppressed another shudder as his tongue flicked over his lips. Man this guy was creepy.
    “So did we decide on a car? The Mazda perhaps?” he asked as we approached.
    “Yeah, I want to get the blue one-”
    “Oh I’m sorry sir, the blue one? Perhaps I wasn’t clear, the blue one is actually $4,000 more than the black one, and from what you told me about your budget you’re going to have to go with the black one.”
    “Fine,” I said. I just wanted to get out of this place.

    We sat down in his office and he pulled out a large stack of papers wearing one of his creepy little smiles. I signed papers for what seemed like hours until finally we reached the final page. The salesman’s smile grew wider. I signed the paper and he passed me the keys and a shirt with the dealership’s logo.
    “Um, thanks.” I said.
    If it was even possible I think his grin grew bigger, “You should have read the fine print my man.”

    An awful feeling rocketed through my stomach and I looked at my sister with wide eyes as he pushed the last paper I had signed back across the desk.
    I scanned the paper quickly not seeing anything out of the ordinary, and then again slower until I saw it: The buyer agrees to work for above company with no compensation until vehicle is paid in full
    I turned to my sister who had read the contract along with me and her eyes widened as she recalled the terms of the payment plan I had agreed to and the last thing I heard before I blacked out was her soft whisper, “Sixty months…”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I hate sleze-butt used car dealers. I have a solution for your poor soul in the story. He needs to show up on the job the first day and work at the same speed that Tim Conway did on the Carol Burnette Show; especially when he worked as a butcher.

    1. Observer Tim

      He could very easily sue the car company out of business for this one. Or he could show the contract to the police and get them locked up for gross violations of labour laws. It’s amazing how something like this, a moderate betrayal of trust, offends my sensibilities more than car dealers demanding sex or slavery, or stealing patrons’ souls. I guess it’s too close to plausible.

      A well-written story, Dani. Thanks!

  16. jhowe

    Note: I couldn’t think of a story for this topic, so I wrote something else and shamelessly added a sentence that referenced the prompt. Feel free to skip this one.

    On a warm September evening Richard Spanker prepared for his Saturday night ritual. He fired up his laptop, went down to the kitchen and mixed a large Jack Daniels with Sprite Zero and ice, changed into pajama bottoms, his favorite Michigan State t-shirt and accessed the internet. He glanced at his e-mail inbox, found nothing exciting and went immediately to and accessed the weekly writers prompt, read the prompt and wondered how in the hell anyone could think to write something about that, but they did, they always did and it was wonderful.

    Richard was not a writer but he loved to read short stories and this forum was a wealth of opportunity to do just that. He always waited until the end of the week when most of the stories would be posted. That evening he read them all and analyzed the responses that he imagined would be so satisfying to receive.

    Each story was unique and brilliant in its own way, sometimes following the prompt to the letter and often going in directions unforeseen with twists and tangents until the end. He began to recognize the voices of the writers of the stories and in their responses to other stories. When he first started, he longed to log on and give it a try but his writing was mediocre at best. He now preferred to take part from afar.

    Many times Richard would speculate about the writer, where they were from, how old they might be, are they male or female, unless the name indicated this. Richard began to relate to the writers who participated regularly. He would create a visual image of each writer that he knew was most likely incorrect, like reading a novel and then seeing the movie and the character who doesn’t look anything like what was imagined. He would read a particularly good story and wonder what Carrie or Don or JR or Calico or Doug or McKevin or Smallster or Tim or the many others; what would they have to say about it. He wondered about that Jhowe guy and thought his name was probably John and now he regretted signing up as Jhowe because no one knew his name and had to refer to him a Jhowe but Richard knew it was all good. But mostly he just enjoyed the content and the impressive takes on the prompts that resulted in stories that stimulated his mind.

    But the thing Richard really liked, the main reason he came to this site, was to read good writing. He signed off that night and went to bed thinking; I better log on tomorrow and see if anyone else posts a story. He then started to nod off but abruptly remembered that asshole car salesman that sold him the 77 Gremlin that morning. Son of a bitch.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This is unique jhowe. If this is you ballywick, I’ll tell you what I do. I grab a gin and tonic and replicate your activity. I can tell you one thing I do know, The age spread between the writers here exceeds sixty years, [years], not miles per hour. My guess is almost evenly divided by the sexes and I guarantee you, they are all good.

      So keep on writing jhowe, as I intend to do. If you don’t see me for a week, check the obits. Kerry

    2. Amy

      Lol, your story had me giggling, JOHN. So many points were spot on. I often don’t go to see movies from major books, because all I can think about is, “Really? They picked that guy? That’s not what I pictured at all!” Even though it may have been just for fun, I think you really imbued the reasons we are all here quite beautifully. I spent a couple months reading others’ stories before I gathered up the nerve to post my own. Major points for being endearing, in my book. Thanks for sharing, even though it was shameless. And I highly suggest people do NOT skip this one.

      1. jhowe

        Thanks Amy. Although I had to look up ‘imbue’ I was really glad you didn’t skip my story. I was a little worried as your red pen came out a few times in other reaponses. It is difficult for me to be critical and I applaud you because it is very important for a writer to receive feedback, good and otherwise. I look forward to future responses.

        1. Amy

          Yes, my red pen comes out all the time, and I have to apologize for it more often than not. I promise, I am not an old spinster looking for ways to spite everyone else because I’m unhappy with my own writing. I do try to include at least one positive aspect of each story I review, because I do think encouragement has merit. My red pen and I are just trying to be helpful. Thanks.

    3. Observer Tim

      You realize as soon as you told me I didn’t have to read it I had to read it. 😉

      It’s a nice vanity piece; I’m happy to be mentioned even though I’ve only been here a short time. Unless I’m replacing some other Tim that you knew before, having buried his body in the back garden where there’s a wi-fi dead spot and thus no ghost writing.

      Ooh. I wrote that with my outside fingers. Oops.

      Indeed, I echo Kerry’s admonition, jhowe. Keep on writing. As to guessing your name, I’d pick John given you used it, but you could easily be a Howard who puts his last initial first. The possibilities are endless…

    4. MCKEVIN

      I’ve thought many times of coming up with a story that included many of the writers here. I could never make it make sense. The best I did was have one of my characters invite another writer’s character out for a drink. It all for fun and in jest. The writer was offended for his character and I was sorry I asked the good Major out. Lol. But you pulled off my impossible and I’m humbled to be included in something you’ve posted. Thanks for making my day.

      1. jhowe

        I came up with the idea late at night whem I couldn’t sleep. The next day, i tried to remember it and almost lost it. I hate it when that happens. I better write it down next time.

    5. agnesjack

      I loved this piece. I’m new to this site, but have found it to be fun and inspiring. I especially liked this line:

      “He wondered about that Jhowe guy and thought his name was probably John and now he regretted signing up as Jhowe because no one knew his name and had to refer to him as Jhowe…. ”

      Yours truly,

      1. jhowe

        I’m glad you liked it agnesjack. We could come up with a similar line about you.

        I stared at my screen and wondered if agnesjack’s name was Agnes, which I highly suspected, or was he Jack and Agnes was his last name, or was she A.G. Nesjack, wouldn’t that be something, but I will continue to speculate and pay attention to the hints that sometimes pop up.

        1. agnesjack

          I like the A.G. Nesjack.

          Actually, it’s a sentimental name combination that has nothing to do with my real name, which is Nancy. I guess I was too shy to post under my real name until I had a feel for the site.

  17. Ted

    The Contract or Denial

    Bill walked me into the business office. He introduced me to Kathy, the business manager.
    “She’ll take care of you, and remember, if you have any questions, just ask.”
    “Okay, Bill, thanks.”
    “Sure,” Bill said. He left the office, leaving me with Kathy.
    Kathy smiled. Sinatra’s “I did it my way . . .” blared from a small CD/radio box set between a computer monitor and the window. Kathy lifted the Sinatra CD case revealing an ashtray on the window sill, stamping it out and then replacing Sinatra. Smoke oozed up and around the CD case, some of it following Kathy’s hand as she opened my file.
    “So you’re getting the Navigator? Good choice!” She said.
    “Yes, well with such a good deal, I couldn’t pass it up.”
    “Right, honey, Bill told you all about it, huh?” Kathy said.
    “Yes. It took him a lot of convincing, but I’m here.”
    “Bill is one of our best. Now if you’ll sign here.” I signed. I signed again. And again. Twenty minutes later I was done.
    Kathy lit a fresh cigarette as Bill came to escort me from the office. Sinatra’s CD had circled back to “I did it My Way.” I looked back at Kathy. She gave me a dismissal wave, and then closed her door. Smoke billowing from her nostrils.
    “See your Navigator?” Bill asked. It was parked up front, pulled within a foot of the large plate glass windows of the showroom.
    “Yes,” I replied.
    “See your keys?” Bill dangled the keys in front of my face. A little startled, I backed away. Several salespeople sat at a round table nearby.
    One of them, a large overweight woman with dyed red hair said to the other, “I can’t believe he’s giving her the three C delivery!”
    “I can’t believe he just stuck her in a Navigator on a lease. He knows she drives 35 K a year. And a 6 year lease too?”
    Bill, like a magician performing who had been disturbed, smiled.
    “See ya’ later,” he said.
    “Now, I can drive as many miles as I want, right?” I asked.
    “Of course, don’t worry about it.” Bill smiled. “Now I have another appointment, you run along and enjoy your new car.” Bill moved away. The large red headed woman laughed. I turned and went through the showroom doors. The rich black leather of the Navigator swallowed me. The smell. The buttons. The heated seat.

    I love my Navigator. It was a 10,000 mile a year lease. But Bill said I could drive as many miles as I wanted. I’ve only had it 3 years now, and I’ve got 75,000 miles on her. She’s a good car. Strange though, every time I go to the dealership to get the oil changed, I don’t see Bill, but that fat woman with the dyed red hair is there, always laughing about something.

    1. Observer Tim

      Thanks for the story, Ted; it’s well written, but seems a bit unfinished. Or maybe I’m just too dense to get it.

      Are you familiar with the term “a touch of strange”? That’s the vibe I’m getting here. I know something’s going on, but I can’t quite figure out what. It sounds suspiciously like Bill hosed himself, though it could have been to get away…

    2. DMelde

      Subtle and well told, except for –
      –One of them, a large overweight woman with dyed red hair said to the other, “I can’t believe he’s giving her the three C delivery!”
      “I can’t believe he just stuck her in a Navigator on a lease. He knows she drives 35 K a year. And a 6 year lease too?”–
      (This part doesn’t seem to be in first person to me, or maybe it is and I”m just being picky.)
      Bad bad salesman. He gets a wag of my finger for misleading her.
      All in all, good job.

    3. Ted

      Thank you all for your input. I really appreciate it. I threw this together because I have writer’s block on another story I’m trying to write. I agree it needs a smoothing out.

      But anyway, Observer Tim is right, the inner workings of most dealerships are strange (it’s a society within itself) but jhowe, or “John” (maybe you can get WD to change it for you?) gets the award. The customer is going to get a rude awakening at the end of the lease. I should have brought this to light better in the story.

      I sold cars in a new/used car dealership for 10 years. One salesman I knew would answer any question with a vague answer. The potential lease customer frequently asks, “Can I drive more than __ miles over the lease?” and he would invariably say, “sure.” Without telling the customer that they would have to pay a 21 cent per mile penalty. But the customers too, not all, but a lot, never pried for details. It was as if they wanted to be fooled so they could get this marvelous truck for 300 a month. So the story is supposed to be a mixture of both the salesman and the customer.

      Kathy, the business office woman, knows all and sees all (true to life of the business manager in the dealership I worked in). She would know Bill’s tricks, and Bill may even had gone to her office earlier and told her not to make a big deal about the mileage penalty, and she would go along with Bill, cause she gets money with every car sold too.

      The real business manager this story is based on did smoke in her office, and yes she’d listen to Sinatra, often on a continuous loop. Sadly, a few years after I left the car business, she was arrested and charged with embezzling money from the dealership.

      The woman’s three c comment (3C delivery is slang for “get the customer out of here”) and her friend: these are other salespeople in the showroom. (there is always conversation among the salespeople in the showroom about the other salespeople, about their customers, about their ways, they all know Bill, who isn’t “offed” in the end, he just hides from the customer, and the red haired woman is laughing, maybe at her, maybe not, but she laughs throughout the day, and she has no conscience, but the darn woman is always laughing. (another character from real life).

      Well, thanks again.

        1. Ted

          Hey jhowe,

          Invoice of a new car does exist. Yes, a dealer can sell a car “below invoice.” For sake of round numbers: dlr buys car from manufacturer for 10K, invoice is 11K, the car’s retail is 13K. The 1000 dollar spread is what’s called “holdback.” This is the true money the dealer needs to make. The “overhead” monies.
          However, a dealership still makes money when they sell a car at invoice, provided the customer finances through them, (the business manager obtains a loan for the customer at 3.5 % and customer pays 3.9%, dealer will get the .4% difference. (This is why a dlrshp these days is not impressed with the “cash” customer.) And they make money through the warranty sales, “etching”, rustproofing, etc. And on the trade in.
          Basically, and I don’t think this is necessarily bad, unless done in extreme, the dlrshps job is to sponge as much money out of the deal as possible. This is probably why my own used car lot failed in the first year!

          These days, most any dealer will be happy to sell you a car at invoice. And there isn’t as much markup in new cars as people think. A 20,000 dollar car would have an invoice of around $18,200.00.

          1. Ted

            In above example, the first paragraph, the 1000 dollar spread is the spread between 10 and 11K. That’s the “holdback.”

      1. Observer Tim

        That explains quite a bit, and really helps put the story in focus. Since I don’t drive and have only ever helped with one car purchase, I’m a total noob in this field. For one thing, I didn’t know about per-mile (or per-km in the Great White North) charges.

        After reading this post I went back to the story and it makes a lot more sense. Not so much of the “I’m missing something” vibe I had the first time.

        And the story is still a well-written slice of life.

    4. lailakuz

      I think the dialogue sounds really realistic (something I’ve always had trouble with), so great job there. I feel like it could use a little more supporting descriptions/guiders and the ending needs a little clarification. But good job overall.

  18. Ptodd34

    Don raised his head and stared into Big Jim’s eyes.

    “What did you say?” Don slowly muttered.

    The Alabama pig farmers son did not like practical jokes.

    Laughing, Big Jim repeated his previous statement, “You should have read the fine print, my man”

    Don lowered his head and read the fine print again.

    Upon signing, the buyer agrees to allow any and all employees of “Big Jim’s Truck and Trailer” to have full, unconditional use of the buyer’s residence for any reason at anytime, day or night.

    Don again peered into the green eyes of the salesman. A face, Don thought earlier, resembled a hedgehog that ate too many donuts.

    “You mean to tell me that I have to let y’all use my house whenever y’all want?” Don questioned.

    Big Jim leaned back in his chair. “That’s what it say’s, brother.”

    Don, now irritated by the fat man’s tricks, sat up and put his hands on the contract.
    “You had better be joking or we’re gonna have a serious problem.”

    “No” said Jim “You signed on the dotted line and that is what the contract states”.
    “We can come over anytime”, Jim added.

    “Well that ain’t gonna happen” Don replied, crumpling the contract into a ball. “I’m leavin’”.

    Don stood up and turned around. Big Jim, who was over 6 and a half feet tall whipped around the desk, blocking Don from the office door. Don looked up at the large man, now noticing there was quite the height difference.

    “In fact, shorty”, said Big Jim, “We are going to your house right now”.

    Grabbing the front of Don’s black sweatshirt Jim opened the office door and backed out. As they moved into the waiting area of the sales trailer Don noticed two other men standing in the center.

    “Go get Mr. Hampton’s vehicle” Big Jim ordered. “We are all going for a ride”.

    Big Jim pushed the lucky customer through the trailer door and then nudged him down the metal stairs. The black van Don had just purchased as a work vehicle pulled up to the men.

    “You’ll drive”, bellowed Big Jim. “But do not try anything funny, buddy”.

    The four men pulled out of the parking lot and onto the road. Forty-five minutes later they turned down a dirt road and through an open fence. Big Jim looked at Don. There was smirk on his face.

    “Hey, I told you no funny stuff” Jim yelled. “Where are we going?”

    “This is my, well, home”, Don snickered.

    Suddenly a building appeared and then four trucks sliding to a stop surround the Pontiac Aztec.

    “What the hell is this?” screamed Big Jim.

    “Well you see, buddy” Don said in a sarcastic manner. “I work for a little company that provides materials to these nice scientist that have come to greet us.”

    Suddenly the dust from the vehicles cleared and the sign on the building became visible.

    “ Swine Nutritional Research Facility: Natural Ingredient Plant #1”

    1. JRSimmang

      Fun read, Todd. You nailed the dialect and painted the picture of the brush country well. Plus, it’s an interesting setting with an interesting set of characters. There are some nit-picky grammar stuffs to look back over, but this was engaging and thorough. Thanks!

      1. Ptodd34

        Thank you all for the kind replies. I honestly appreciate them. Now if I could just remember to edit properly and fix continuity problems before I post. A common flaw of mine.

  19. agnesjack

    First he wanted my silver necklace, and I’m like “O.K. Whatever.” I mean, it wasn’t like it was worth much, and since I was $1,000 short for the car of my dreams, I figured it was a bargain. So I give him the necklace and say, “O.K. Where do I sign?” and he’s like, “Wait a minute. I’m not done yet.” “What do you mean, not done?” I say, and he points to my hand. “How about that gold ring, too,” he says, and I’m thinking, my mom is going to kill me if I give away my birthday present, but, jeez, it was a convertible and it was turquoise blue, my FAVORITE color, so I’m like, “Well, O.K.” and give him the ring.

    Then he says – get this – he says, “The necklace and the ring are very nice, but I’ll need one more thing before the deal is complete,” and I’m thinking, “What now? The gold stud in my nose?” And he leans forward with this creepy smile and says, “Your first born.” “First born what?” I say. “Your first born child,” he says and winks, and I’m like, “This dude is crazy. I’m not even married.” So I think for a minute and I finally say, “Sure. Why not?” because I’m figuring by the time I get married and have a kid, this guy won’t even know where I am.

    That was four years ago. Then I met Mike and we got married and bought our little house upstate, and had little Tommy, and I was so happy. Until yesterday. Tommy’s napping and there’s this knock on the door, and when I open it, that little, creepy runt is standing there.

    “I’m here to collect,” he says.

    “Collect what?” I say.

    “The third payment for the car in your driveway,” and he tries to look past me into the house. “Where is the little lad?”

    “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” and I try to slam the door, but he’s got is foot in it.

    “You promised me your first born,” and he shoves the contract that I signed in my face. “Read the bottom paragraph on the back,” and in tiny little type it says:

    “I, the above-signed, agree to the following three payments to satisfy the balance of the cost of the above-mentioned car. Payment 1: one silver necklace; Payment 2: one gold ring; Payment 3: my first-born child.”

    So, I start to cry. I get hysterical and start begging him, “Please don’t do this. Please. Please,” and I guess he felt sorry for me, because he said, “All right, dear, I’ll make one last deal. If you guess my name within three days, I’ll let you keep your son.” And I’m like, Jesus, I never knew the creep’s name.

    So that’s why I’m posting this. I think it starts with an R, because the sign above his dealership reads, “Mr. R’s Used Cars. We make deals!” Can someone help me, please?

    1. JRSimmang

      Nice use of dialogue, and I like the way you exemplify the naïve voice of a young character whose only desire is to have a nice car. I wasn’t thrown by the jamming of dialogue in the couple paragraphs because you made the intent clear. And, I have no idea what the R stands for.

    2. MCKEVIN

      Dear Ms. agnesjack:
      This is to inform you I received your request for assistance. First, let me say I enjoyed your story. I, like your MC live a life that is both give and take. I’m giving you this compliment hoping you’ll take it to heart. In regards to your “R” question, Rumpelstiltskin comes to mind but I’m not sure. Good job.

      1. agnesjack

        You are right, MCKEVIN and Observer Tim, it is Rumpelstiltskin.

        I tried two versions of this that did not work. When I hit on the young girl, it felt right. I’m glad the dialogue worked. I, like, hear these young women on the, like, commuter train all the time.

    3. Amy

      I get what you were trying to do with the dialogue, but, for me, it was too crammed together and without any paragraphing or breaks in between, it left me breathless and not in a good way. Your tense shifted many times throughout the story. I liked the nod to “Grumple-stinky-pants,” as my son calls him; very creative.

      1. Svapnaavasthaa

        Actually, I think the style is extremely effective- even if it wasn’t intended.
        I envision this story as a desperate cry on a weird forum somewhere, where a not-quite-mature girl thrust into motherhood (I know a lot of the type, from my hometown) excitedly gets her story out. She doesn’t care about proof-reading and was never one for actual grammatical precision. And in a situation as desperate as losing her child, why start now? I think the voice is actually very convincing, as written. Sometimes we have to step out of our grammar-pants and into the pants of our characters- especially in 1st person.
        In summary, I don’t look at the inconsistencies as a mistake by agnesjack- I see agnesjack’s ability to convey a voice not necessarily his/her own.
        Judging by agnesjack’s reply to your comment, this may not have been intentional, but I think it works for what the story is.

        1. agnesjack

          I just saw this reply. Thanks Svapnaavasthaa. Actually, when I wrote it I was just letting the girl speak, so you may be right. How many people do we know, young and old, whose speech is actually grammatically correct.

    4. don potter

      Good dialogue but difficult to read in paragraph format. I liked the way you involve the reader to participate. So here’s my guess. Rasputin was a Russian mystic credited with helping the discredit the tsarist family, which lead to the revolution.

    5. DMelde

      R’s a fool for giving her another chance to keep the kid. Take the kid R! He’s adorable! R always was arrogant, though, so I should have seen this coming. I really liked this story. Thanks for sharing it.

    6. Observer Tim

      I noticed some folks talking about the dialog so I had to add my voice.

      I liked the effect of the close dialog at the beginning and the clearer spacing at the end. To me it seemed like the cluttered excitement of youth giving way to the more measured attitude of maturity. I would have pegged the MC for 17 or 18 when she bought the car and early 20’s when Mr. R. came back.

      1. agnesjack

        Thanks, Tim. I do think it is an interesting discussion. I have a theater background, so I’m naturally fascinated by dialogue. I knew when I wrote it that stringing together the dialogue in the beginning might be problematic for the reader, but I felt that since it’s not really dialogue, but rather a monologue, that it would be acceptable. I do see several ways, now, in which to improve it visually, without sacrificing the breathless, run-on quality I wanted the young speaker to have.

        I like your insight regarding the younger and older version of the girl. I hadn’t consciously done that, but the manner of speaking of the older girl just seemed to flow better that way.

      2. Svapnaavasthaa

        I didn’t see that you had posted this, Tim, so I replied my thoughts under Amy. But I wholeheartedly agree!

        As for agnesjack: happy accident or intended vantage point, I think it works well.


    Robyn looked at fat James and then at Sayber and wondered how she’d got caught up with these two. One’s a low life who’d stop at nothing to make a buck and the other is gold digging tramp. She couldn’t believe she’d stooped so low.
    “Why don’t we take care of our other business?” James said.
    James was a stereotypical used car salesman in that he was tacky, direct, and forceful.
    “I can pay you half cash now and half when the job’s done.” Robyn said.
    James took off his rust colored polyester suit jacket and stepped out of his white patent leather Penny Loafers. Sayber continued reading the TIME magazine she’d picked up from James’s desk. Robyn had just opened her purse and counted off ten hundreds when she noticed James unbuttoning and removing his floral shirt. She held the wad of bills towards him.
    “We’ll have time for that too little lady. You signed so-.”
    “Excuse me!” Robyn said.
    Sweaty grayish hairs covered James balding head and chest, grease spots shown on his tie and his feet smelled like corn chips. Sayber didn’t react or look up. It was Tuesday September ninth, one of the hottest days on record and Sayber wore black leather pants, a leather jacket and boots. It didn’t make sense. Robyn’s gut churned.
    “The contract’s “Eye for an Eye” clause says; “Upon the buyer’s signature, all bought cars used for a one time purpose requires the owner to relinquish control of their body one time to their salesperson.” James said.
    “What? It says nothing of the sort. Sayber, I trusted you. This is what you-?” Robyn said.
    James shoved the contract’s signature page in Robyn’s face. The clause stated exactly as he said. She looked to Sayber for direction. Sayber said nothing. James removed his trousers and Robyn got sick to her stomach.
    “Don’t you want the money James -“ Robyn asked.
    Sayber removed her white rimmed sunglasses from her red sunburned face and stared at Robyn and said…
    “You said you wanna get rid of Tracy so that you could get your husband and family back correct?”
    “Yes, but-“
    “There are no buts in life Robyn only results! This problem shoulda been taken care of a long time ago. Now James here is willing to sell you the car that he’ll use to kill Tracy. Afterwards, he’ll burn it and I’ll file the claims for insurance. All you have to do is give him a little nook-“
    “Sayber, are you out of your mind?“ Robyn screamed.
    “Little lady I don’t have all day- “ James said.
    “Sayber, say something! He’s joking right?”
    “You shoulda read the contract and this way everybody’s happy, ‘cept Tracy.”
    James cleared his wooden desk . Robin wanted her family and needed Tracy out of their lives. She didn’t believe she had other choices. So eventually, she removed her clothes and laid across James’s desk. Sayber pulled out her whip and watched James have his way with her. Problems solved.

    1. Observer Tim

      Now all Robyn has to figure out is how to get Sayber and James out of her life. These don’t seem like the sort of people who simply go away afterwards. Put otherwise, I see a certain portion of her mail turning black in the future…

      I like the story MCKEVIN. Even though I could sense where it was going as soon as James started taking off his shirt, it was still a great ride all the way to the end. I sort of wish Robyn could say the same thing.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Down and gritty McKevin. I wanted to jump into your story with a 38 police special and level the odds out to help Robyn. I’m sure life goes on like this, but it’s hard to read about and that’s because you’ve written it so well.

        1. MCKEVIN

          Well thank you very much KC (I can call you that right?). Don’t be so quick to help Robyn. (See agnesjack comments below.) Robyn is one tough cookie in a larger work I’m almost done with. These prompts and comments from people like you, got me unstuck when I didn’t know which way to turn. Thanks for reading and commenting. PS. You might want to keep that 38 special close by and not just for Robyn. Lol.

          1. Kerry Charlton

            I don’t care what Robyn’s character is. Makes no damn difference to me. She doesn’t need a sweaty beast on top of her. I’d still protect her in a heartbeat. KC

      2. MCKEVIN

        Dear Observer Tim:
        Thank you for your most recent comments regarding Robyn Young’s actions and affiliations. Out of respect to this forum, the tame version of this piece was posted. The original version is a part of a larger work and yes Sayber has an even larger role helping Robyn sort her life out. Our professional opinion is that everyone should have an Insurance Claims Adjuster who moonlights as a dominatrix at their beckoned call. Lol. Again, thank you for your time and kind words.

        PS. Jenny Goodhead says Hi. Lol.

        1. Observer Tim

          Knowing this makes me enjoy the story more. I couldn’t quite get a handle on Sayber; you may have cut a bit too much of her personality out when you made it fit for prime time.

          A dominatrix claims adjuster? That would make insurance a lot more interesting…

          Delilah says hi back, and would like to point out that she now keeps a bathrobe next to the shower stall at all times so she doesn’t make the news again…

    2. agnesjack

      I was with Kerry on this — about leveling the playing field for Robyn — until I remembered that Robyn was hiring a hitman to kill a rival. She’s really no better than they are, but it’s interesting that you feel for her in the story.

      1. MCKEVIN

        In writing, I believe the most despicable characters should have some redeeming human qualities. For example, a murderer could be the best mother or the chief of police who was convicted of rape also can win the father of the year award. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Your statements let me know I’m on the right track.

    3. Amy

      Lots of names being thrown around. It got hazy for me, but I figured it out by the end. I agree with agnesjack- it is interesting that Robyn gets defended when she is hiring a hitman to take out Tracy.

      1. MCKEVIN

        Hi Amy, long time no hear. You know when I don’t put the ID tags on the writings, people say the piece was hard to follow because they had to stop and figure out who said what. I disagreed with them stating that many too tags were unnecessary. I thought readers kind of liked figuring out who’s doing what and saying what. I sometimes have posted the same piece elsewhere and not gotten the comment about the ID tags. If the reader posts a complete story, they have my thumbs up. Grammatical corrections is the job of the editors in my opinion. We seem to bit more critical about form vs. substance at this forum and that’s okay. Thanks for reading and commenting. Note: Only 4 names and 9 ID tags are mentioned in this story. 9 ID tags divided by 500 word total = less 1% ID tags.

        1. Amy

          I know, it’s been a while, MCKEVIN. I’m not sure what percentage is acceptable in a 500 word story and I’m sure it’s completely subjective. I just got the feeling, initially, that the names were sticking out at me every few words or so, not just with who said what. No big thing. I can only give my opinion, and it is often more critical of form than most. I am a big believer in nailing the mechanics early on in a writing career, so that it becomes second nature. I have a hard time getting through a story if it is riddled with grammatical errors. Putting a polished story out there helps people see the substance, if you know what I mean.

        2. agnesjack

          This is an interesting discussion. Personally, I think it is a good exercise to try to write dialogue without ID tags. One of my favorite Hemingway stories, “A Clean Well-Lighted Place,” has no ID tags at all.

          I agree with Amy that we need to have a good, mechanical foundation, but we have to feel comfortable playing with our creativity, too. It’s all a learning process.

    4. don potter

      I found it impossible to like the characters in this story. Of course, liking them doesn’t matter if I can relate to them is some way. I had trouble there, too. Nonetheless it was an interesting read.

      1. MCKEVIN

        Despicably human huh? I actually thought it had a Monica Lewinski feel to it. Everyone wanted something, everyone was willing to do whatever to get what they wanted and prayed that no one would find out about it. Who are we to judge? I like writing about sexism, racism, homophobia, double standards, age discrimination warped religions, unrealistic marriage expectations etc. These subjects show up in my stories in one character or another. , Robyn represents those women who blame themselves and other women for the failure or problems of their marriages or relationships. I’ve always found it fascinating when a spouse cheats, the other spouse attacks the outside person rather than the person they married and broke their vows. The ringer in my story line is the outside person who Robyn feels is ruining her marriage is Tracy, a man. She’s lost and don’t know how to compete with him. So she attacks until she figures out a way to deal with her situation. These prompts are mini episodes of her journey to find peace. Thanks for reading and commenting. I promise you when I finish the larger piece about these characters, you’ll either hate them or love them as much as I do. Lol.

        1. don potter

          There is no doubt that you know your characters and how they will or might react in situations. I look forward to learning more about them in the weeks ahead.

    5. DMelde

      Bad people doing bad things but I kind of feel sorry for them. My hope is redemption for Robyn, but I don’t know, I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see. Well done.

  21. seliz

    The car lot seemed daunting—row after row of rusted, dented metal. It seemed it would take a miracle to find a drivable car in the dump. But, it was my only option at the moment, with the cost of college burning a hole in my wallet and one junk Impala sitting in my parents driveway.
    The salesman didn’t make it any better. With his comb over only accentuating his bald spot and attire from the 70’s, he was every college girls worse nightmare.
    “I know just the car for a pretty girl like you,” he said with a wide grin. “This baby right here,” he said patting a rusted Ford. “She’s perfect for you—a lot of life left in her.
    “Um…it’s not really what I’m looking for,” I said, turning my nose up at the rusting red truck.
    “Oh I’m sorry, I thought you were looking for something cheap and dependable,” he said shaking his head sadly.
    “I am.”
    “Then this is the truck for you. You won’t find a better deal anywhere!” he said cracking another smile.
    “How cheap is cheap?”

    Despite my better judgment, I found myself on the other side of his wooden desk signing for the car. As I looked up, I jumped at the sight of him.
    He was leaning on his desk, watching eagerly as I signed.
    “Can I help you?”
    He was grinning mischievously and pointed down at the contract, “Actually you can. You should have read the fine print, darling.”
    “What the-” I said crinkling my nose. As I looked down at the contract, a few words began to swim before my eyes; “forever,” “reaper,” and “death”.
    “Is this a joke?” I asked him, not find the humor in the situation as he apparently was. He was so happy he was whistling. He began to pack up his desk, whistling all the while.
    “A joke?” he asked finally seeming to hear me. “It’s not a joke at all. It’s a contract—and a legally binding one. You, my dear, are now the grim reaper.”
    I sat for a moment, my mouth gaping like a fish out of water.
    “You are crazy. I’m out of here.”
    “Don’t forget your scythe!” he called from behind me.
    I whirled around to whip a wisecrack back at him, but was silenced by the gleaming scythe that had materialized next to my chair.
    “I would hurry if I were you,” he said, all of his desk packed into a small briefcase now. “That woman is about to die—hit and run accident.”
    Before I could respond, the sound of a horn blaring and tires squealing assaulted my ears. The salesman motioned to the scythe. “Come on now, don’t keep the lady waiting.”
    “I am not killing her.”
    “Of course you are. You’re death now.”
    Feeling defeated, I picked up the scythe and made my way out to the accident. Only one burning question still on my mind.
    “Can I at least keep the car?”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I guess I’m going to need my 38 for this story also. Before the week is through I may have to rescue a lot of distressed maidens on the web site. However I’m up to the job. Nice story seliz.

    1. Amy

      I enjoyed your story, seliz. I would have liked a few hints sprinkled in the beginning to get my brain gearing in the direction of the whole “death” thing, just so that it didn’t seem so out of left field by the time it came around. Otherwise, a good read.

      1. seliz

        Thanks everyone! I had to make the last line a wisecrack, because I think that’s just how I would respond to the situation. I would have loved to add more hints and such to the story, but it can be difficult with only 500 words. I found myself going back and taking a lot out!

  22. DMelde

    Bear Sherwood was a tall, muscular man. Whenever he walked down the sidewalk, traffic would slow, as women stopped to gawk at his perfectly proportioned features. “Who needs an umbrella with shade like that?” women would say.

    Bear was equally liked for his good nature. He was 28 and still living with his mother at home, but that didn’t matter to anyone. They knew she was all alone after his father had died. He took care of her. He was also the perfect neighbor. He helped them mow their lawns, and take out their trash.

    Right now, though, Bear wasn’t feeling neighborly. He stood outside with the used car salesman, beside the car he had just bought. The aging salesman held a gun in one hand as he opened the trunk. He threw in a blanket and pillow, and then he motioned for Bear to get in.

    “Why,” Bear thought, “didn’t I read the fine print before I bought the car?” He had signed the contract, and for Bear, that was the same as giving your solemn oath. He took off his pants, gave them to the salesman, and climbed into the trunk. The salesman smiled smugly as he handed the gun to Bear, and he said “Remember, be quiet,” just before he closed the lid.

    The drive rattled Bear about in the dark, but nothing bad. After a while the car stopped and the salesman opened the trunk.

    “Sorry, I had to stop at home and pick up my box.” the salesman said. He gave the box to Bear. “Put the gun in it, and remember, be quiet.”

    “It’s full of junk.” Bear thought as he looked in the box, then it grew dark as the lid closed, and they started moving again.

    Soon, the car stopped again, and Bear could hear people talking.

    “Daddy, where’s your loot? Where’s your man?”

    Bear knew that voice. It was Jenny from the bank. She had big bottles and Bear like her, but he was too shy to ever ask her out.

    “Jenny, calm down.” he heard the salesman say. “We’re going to win this scavenger hunt, trust me. Here, hold these pants.”

    “Ladies and gentlemen!” he heard the salesman announce. “It gives me great pleasure to introduce my half-naked man for the scavenger hunt!”

    The trunk lid opened, and Bear climbed out into the bright sunlight, carrying the box filled with the other scavenger items in his hands. Everyone grew silent. When his eyes adjusted to the light, Bear could see people staring and women pointing at him. He felt uncomfortable, until he looked around and saw all of the other half-naked men. Relieved that he wasn’t the only one, Bear beamed out a smile, and the crowd erupted into thunderous applause.

    The salesman said to his daughter, “Jenny, don’t you think Bear would like his pants back now?”

    Jenny walked over to Bear and gave him a warm smile.

    “Thanks Jenny.” Bear said. Their eyes locked, and Bear smiled back.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I liked it DMelde. Nice twist at the end. Reminds me of a scavanger hunt in college, an autographed photo of a stripper appearing in Miami Beach, six coconuts in the shell, one railroad tie and twelve live crab from the beach. I’ll use it in a prompt some day.

  23. don potter

    Turning in my company car was the final insult that went with getting laid off after twenty-five years with the firm. If I was going to find a job I needed a car to go on interviews. So I decided to buy a used car with a portion of my severance pay. Nothing fancy, just something reliable. There was a used car lot near my apartment, might as well start looking there.
    “Good afternoon, sir. What are you looking for today? Something sporty or a family car?” the salesman asked as he rushed out of the trailer, which doubled as an office.
    “Some basic transportation,” I replied.
    “We have plenty of that here. Let’s take a stroll down the street of dreams,” he said gesturing to rows of shiny autos.
    After trying out a dozen cars I found one I liked. A short test drive convinced me this was the right one. We negotiated briefly and agreed on a price before going into the office to finalize the deal.
    “Here’s the agreement,” the salesman said.
    “This is ten pages long. I’m buying a used car not a house,” I complained. “Besides this is a cash transaction.”
    “Regulations, he said with a shrug.
    “Okay, give me a pen.” I signed the last page and gave it to him.
    “Now you’re ours,” he said with a devilish grin and placed the document in a safe.
    “What are you talking about?”
    “You, my friend, have just signed over your soul to us.”
    “Are you drunk or something? Give me the keys. I’m out of here.”
    “There’s no leaving except through there.” He pointed to a trap door.
    “Where does that go?” I asked, realizing he was not joking.
    “It goes straight to Hell. Didn’t anyone ever tell you to read contracts before signing them?”
    “Yes, but –“
    “Ever hear the phrase the devil is in the details?”
    “Well, now you know what it means.”
    “Let’s not waste anymore time. Someone is waiting for you below. Even though you’ll be there for eternity, the boss is anxious to get to meet all newcomers right away.”
    “You’re not the boss?”
    “Oh no, I just work here. For everyone I send down I get another day up here.”
    “Sorry to disappoint you, but your contract is null and void.”
    “You signed it.”
    “True, but I have a manufacturer’s warranty. It tops your contract.” I took the pocket Bible from my pocket and watched the salesman disappear in a cloud of smoke.
    I grabbed the car keys and hurried outside to my car. There was a newspaper on the front seat. It was opened to the classified section and one job listing had been circled.
    I drove to the company and secured a sales job on the spot. A company car was not part of the package; but, for some reason, I was happy with the one I just bought.
    On the way home I drove past the car lot. All that remained was a gigantic hole in the ground.

    1. Amy

      Enjoyable, don potter, and not what I expected when the “sold your soul” concept became clear. Just one little bit that rubbed me the wrong way: (and this is incredibly nit-picky) I don’t think you need to say pocket twice when the narrator is taking out his Bible. Just once would do the trick. Thanks for sharing.

  24. bk78

    I noticed the calligraphy at the bottom of the page. It was less “fine print” and more of a brown smudge. At first glance I had attempted to look past it for the text he referenced before I realized it wasn’t a coffee stain. As my eyes passed over the unevenly blotted ink my stomach dropped when I realized the words were written in blood.

    “Call-me-Rick” grabbed my arm. As I looked up I saw his face was different. The plastic sneer had disappeared and his skin appeared to be bubbling with boils, melting and distorting his features, growing redder and redder by the second. I let out a cry when his hand touched my skin. He was scorchingly hot. I could see my arm blistering beneath his fingertips.

    “You’re coming with me,” his voice was no longer that of the artificial dandy, but a low gruff snarl like words being spoken by a dog who’d mastered speech.

    As he dragged me into the used Ford Focus customers in the car lot continued to shop and kick tires, as if blind to the demon who was abducting me and melting the skin of my arm to the bone. I could see my radius peeking out from the smoldering flesh when he finally let go of me in the passenger seat.

    He started the car, involuntarily spitting and seizing. Fur was sprouting from the back of his neck and were it not for my fear I might have pitied the creature, who reminded me momentarily of a cat I’d seen, writing in the street from a soon-to-be-fatal brush with a Jeep.

    “Where the hell are you taking me?!” I felt the wetness on my cheeks as I cried out from the leather bucket seat.

    He seemed to find my question funny, and I felt my jaw clench as I suspected the joke.

    “Who are you?” I sobbed, as blood began flowing freely from my burned left side. His smile had turned to a full blown laugh and he cackled mercilessly at my terror and my pain.

    “WHAT are you?” I shrieked feeling my body begin to convulse with the overwhelming rush of adrenaline.

    “Your boss.”

    He dropped the clutch of the manual car and my entire body was overcome with G-force as he sped us onto Main Street at hundreds of miles per hour.

    “You just made a deal with The Devil, Cutie,” he leered at me with sharp yellowing teeth. “Try to calm down before we get there. He doesn’t like when the interns cry.”

    1. don potter

      I never read the other prompts until I post mine. It appears we both associate used car salesman with the devil. I like the way you described the salesman — from “Call-me-Rick” to his transformation. Nice job.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a creepy story, very descriptive, and just enough gross-out factor to make you feel for the main character.

      It also makes a wonderful counterpoint to the stories immediately before and after. Location, location, location.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Great Scott!

        This is a great story. The descriptions are so vivid. “Melting the skin of my arm to the bone” is as realistic as a well-bred nightmare. Perhaps your fair maiden is in a dream. However, I doubt it and she’s going to need my help with my trusty light saber. Jump in, jump in to your story and save her.

    3. Amy

      Very vivid and grisly, though I’m not sure I would be pitying the demon that melted the flesh from my arm. The way you describe that particular action makes it seem like the narrator doesn’t even feel it- not sure if this is intentional to create a sort of dissociation or just an oops, but it felt strange with no mention of the sensation.

  25. Kerry Charlton


    I had driven by Exotic Car Emporium for days now, hesitating to turn in. For under a tarp at the rear of the showroom, there appeared to be what I had been searching for all of my adult life. The canvas covered a car with a coffin nose, elevaled front fenders with shielded headlights placed inside of the fenders. Part of the distinctive front bumper was exposed, showing it’s rarified split design. The overall length and height of the car, fit my premise.

    Each time my Mercedes passed the building, I slowed down a little more. And finally last Thursday, I stopped, entering the parking lot. One of the rarest cars in the world remained hidden. ‘Why?’, I thought.

    “So you finally stopped to look at it, did you?”

    He was a kinder, older man that had addressed me. Only when I looked into his eyes, did I notice a slight sign of foreboding, but I dismissed the thought.

    “Never mind,” I said. “I’m late for an appointment.”

    “It’s never to late to admire beauty, whether it be a car or a woman,” he said. “Please take time to look at it, Mr. Harrison.”

    ‘That it,’ I though, turning the key in the ignition. ‘I’m out of here.’

    My car wouldn’t start; unusual for a three month old Mercedes. I had a feeling of stress as I called the dealership, asking for a loaner car to be delivered to me.

    “Mr. Harrison,” the old gentleman said, “there was a business article about you in the Express News yesterday. That’s how I recognized you. My name is Luther Diablo. Please take a moment to look at the car.”

    As we headed to the showroom, Luther explained the reason for the tarp.

    “We don’t want our customers messing with it. It is in pristine condition. You already know what’s under here, do you not?”

    “Yes, let me help with the tarp.”

    But I wasn’t prepared for the beauty of a 1937 Cord Phaeton Convertible that my eyes fell upon.

    “Would you like to know the price, Mr. Harrison?”

    “No,” I said. ” I just want to look at it for a moment.”

    I already knew the cost; for when I searched his eyes again, his mind told me, “I want your soul when you die.”

    “Sign here, Mr. Harrison; drive the car out,” he said.

    He handed a pen and the contract to me. Twelve words were written on the page. I opened the top of the pen and using his back for support, I signed the contract.

    Luther’s face wore a condesending look as he took the paper from me.

    “Thank you, Mr. Harrison; here are the keys.”

    “You better look at my signature, Luther.”

    “I never thought you would do it, Mr. Harrison.”

    “Can you read my hand writing Luther?”

    “It’s very clear, Mr. Harrison; ‘Up your ass, devil.'”

    “Goodbye Luther,” I said. “Thanks for the look-see.”

    “You’re welcome, maybe next time.”

    “Don’t hold your breath, Luther.”

    And I walked out, put the key in my ignition, hearing the sweet sound of the Mercedes’ purr.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Don. I enjoyed your take on the prompt also. If you’re not familiar with the car, type in 1937 Cord and click away. I actually saw one many years ago. I had not been restored but the lines of the car were beautiful to look at.

    1. Observer Tim

      I really liked it Kerry; especially how you held the point of decision to right near the end.

      The devil was awfully polite about this. But then, given how rich the MC appears to be, he’ll probably make quite a few more attempts before it’s over…

    2. MCKEVIN

      Good job. Reminds me when my grandma ma used to say “The Devil’s a liar and he wouldn’t know the truth if it set on his face!” Well as someone who have sat on a few faces, let me tell you I know a good story when I read it. This was a good story. Lol.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks, MCKEVIN, I appreciate your comments and am always glad you like one of my stories. I had a little doubt about this one in particular. I felt it might be too ‘laid back’.

    3. Amy

      A very satisfying story here, Kerry. I was not familiar with the car, but when I looked it up, your description fit quite well. I am curious what the twelve words were on the contract.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you DMelde. I’m beginning to feel comfortable with the 500 as a guide. I’m waiting for the spark to ignite me on one of these prompts and light my after-burner.

  26. JRSimmang


    The rain was coming down in sheets, and while my wife claimed to be able to sleep better through a storm, I on the other hand tossed and turned until the lightning dragged my insomniatic corpse out from under the covers and into a steaming mug of chamomile tea.

    Tonight, I gathered up my auto loan paperwork. It was prime time for investigative work.

    72 months. Fuck. That was six years. Six years I’d be paying on the car that was sitting in my driveway, getting it’s ass handed to it by some angry storm cloud. Did I roll the windows up? And that guy. Jesus, like he’d never sold a car before. That look on his face. Blech. Just, not even human. It was like… like… a car salesman.

    I pored back over the paperwork and something was still sitting uneasily in my gut. He told me I should have read the fine print, something I’m all too familiar with. Thing was, there wasn’t any other fine print. I scoured this hefty load of paper for a coupla hours, just to be sure there weren’t any liability claims, extraneous fees, or whatever the hell they wanted to lob at me. I walked away convinced. He walked away, conniving.

    The clock rolled around to 2:00 and I woke up on the couch, papers on my chest, and that’s when I noticed the shimmering border.

    “Surely,” was all I could manage. I didn’t want to wake the wife after all.

    I found my magnifying glass in my desk and went to work deciphering the border. Sure enough, there it was, in block letters, running around the border of my contract.

    I do solemnly swear that I will attend all meetings of the Nova Ordo Seclorum, meeting on the third Thursday of every month at 3 o’clock Eastern Standard Time until I am able to pass my Chevy Nova onto my progeny or facsimile. I solemnly swear that I will wear my Nova sunglasses (which will be given to me in fidelity upon purchase of my vehicle) each and every day that the sun doth shineth and the moon doth glow. I do solemnly swear to remove any and all possessions that my be construed as derogatory or offensive to the Nova name. I do solemnly swear to be a brother to Novas and to share my lover with a brother who may need comfort during tribulation. I do solemnly swear upon all mentioned, and do sign on the bottom line.

    The calendar told me it was the third Thursday of the month. I looked over to the bedroom door. “Well, what else am I going to do?” I put on my sunglasses, grabbed my keys, and locked the door behind me.

    -JR Simmang

    1. jhowe

      Loved the opening line. I enjoyed reading this a lot. Wear your sunglasses, don’t wear a Ford t-shirt and be prepared to share your wife…. two out of three wouldn’t be too bad.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        What about your golf clubs, JR? Maybe you could throw those in and save your wife any embarassment that might befall her. And then again, maybe she wouldn’t want you to. Either way, you’re in deep doo doo.

        The opening sentence to your story is magic.

  27. jcm3wd

    A little fishy, no doubt. I read the fine print and it said, “Marketed financing for select models only. All other vehicles include the normal down payment of one thousand dollars and eleven percent APR on a monthly note.” The salesman had a grin on his face resembling a banana. All day I thought I had been short handed or tricked- not this time.
    “So,” I began, “I must pay you a thousand, and the rest will be financed at eleven percent per month?” “Yes,” he said, “You must pay today, or we keep the car and report you to credit agencies.” He seemed surprised that I was not too freaked out. The original ad said, “Five hundred down and two hundred a month.”
    The salesman did not know why I wanted the car. It had belonged to a subordinate employee of mine who had been terminated by higher authority due to a malicious customer complaint. I personally thought the decision was made in error, yet the person’s car was repossessed by the bank, anyway.
    I had taken the semester off of college to work and save to go to another university; I had the whole forty five hundred in my pocket. I planned to buy the car and finance it to my buddy; I knew his whereabouts. He was looking for a new job daily; he would find one.
    “So if I give you the thousand, you will give me the pink slip, and I will get a bill in the mail?” I asked the salesman. I also had another sneaky fact he knew nothing of besides the money. “Sure,” he said, sensing that I had to know something. In fact, I did. My buddy’s girlfriend had died in the muscle car a few weeks before from alcohol poisoning. He was driving her home, because she was intoxicated. He had already rescued her from a party; he did not know she had a back-up flask. She downed it and died in the passenger seat.
    “And if I pay you the forty-five hundred, you will give me the pink slip and the keys, and I will not receive a bill in the mail?” I asked him. He was mortified. I must not have been much of an actor; he really knew something was going on. “Yes,” he said, “Pay me and the car is yours.” “And what do you think she thinks about it?” I said, pointing to my pal’s girl’s ghost staring at us from the passenger seat.
    He saw the ghost and fainted, falling to the ground. I grinned, then. I waved to the ghost, and she waved to me. I bent down to check the salesman’s pulse, and he was fine. I helped him stand and we walked in to his little shack. I paid for the car, got the keys and the pink slip, and drove her over to my buddy’s. The salesman did not say a whole lot; he sure was pale, however.

      1. jcm3wd

        I imagine that could be for the two to decide; maybe they would combine?
        Thank you for reading a story on my small blog.
        Crime does not pay; we can use it in fiction.
        As far as the fairy-tale side went, I only wish I could share a recent fantasy story of mine with you- I am saving some of my best first stories for an anthology. I have one about the devil; I am a Christian.

        Thank you again for your comment- it was one of the first five I have ever received for a short story. I approved its posting. 🙂

          1. jcm3wd

            did you read the other stories on the blog?

            are you affiliated with any form of catholic clergy?

            I will let you know when I put new stories on my blog;

            maybe I can do that about once a week or month;

            I may put really short ones on there until I finish editing my

            anthology. I am new to creative fiction writing and very to this site; it is nice to meet you- live long and prosper! 🙂

            did you read this? do you have a preferred e-mail address in Canada?

          2. Observer Tim

            Hi jcm3wd; in answer to your questions (as identified by the question marks in your post):

            Not yet. Only tangentially, I’m an educated layman. Yes, obviously.; replace -at- with the @ mark.

            If you’re e-mailing me, make sure to put your name or the name of this site in either the subject line or the first line of the e-mail; I spam-filter by quick visual inspection.

            I would also be happy to enter e-mail contact with any others from this site. Youse is good peoples.

  28. LadyCatrina

    “Shoulda read the fine print…” I hear the mumbled words echoing in my head. Fine print; I didn’t read the fine print. He wanted me to sign it, so I did.
    I slouch back on the chair in my home office. It is quiet tonight, almost completely silent. Usually the kids have the TV on or are arguing with my wife about whether or not they completed that science worksheet. But tonight my wife isn’t home and our children are eating cereal at the dinner table. I can’t get that paper out of my mind.
    Everything had seemed to need renewed all at once. The rent needed paid, all of the permits renewed, and I needed to see about cutting staff. I hated cutting people and had been putting it off. But time was disappearing and I sat at my desk and looked over the list of employees. I was scanning the list of names when Robert entered my office. He was holding The Contract in his grease stained hands. He worked as a welder when he wasn’t selling cars for me.
    “Hey boss,” he said, looking around the small room; his eyes quickly scanned over everything in the room before they settled on me.
    “We got a customer problem. They want to know that if you approve of the 2010 Toyota Prius.” I raised my head, blinking my eyes in surprise. He stood in front of me, The Contract shifting between both of his hands.
    “Do you think that there is something wrong with that vehicle?” I asked.
    “No, boss!” he jumped in, “No, the customer just wants you to sign the sale’s agreement,” This was weird. No one had ever asked for me to sign on a sale. I didn’t want to doubt Robert; he sold more cars per month than anyone. He looked uncomfortable, like he wasn’t so sure of this himself. But customers did do strange things.
    “No problem, where should I sign?” I asked. He handed me the paper and I scanned the sheet. It looked different then how I remembered; of course, it had been so long since I had handled the sales. After handing it back Robert thanked me and a look of relief coursed through his face. That’s when he said it, with his back to me and the words soft.
    “Shoulda read the fine print,”
    When I arrive home from work her note was on the table, folded and unread.
    “Robbie said that you signed the divorce papers. You’ll understand this someday.
    I’m still at my desk, and his words are swirling in my head. The fine print. Robert and Calli. On impulse I jump up and open the filing cabinet, the drawer slamming. My fingers sift through the files until I locate the employee list. Two names have already been cut. I scan the list and find Roberts name. I reach for my red pen and I run it over his name, scratching deeper and deeper until streaks of red ink stream like blood.

    1. Observer Tim

      I had honestly not thought of this take on the prompt. A great little story. Well done!

      A moderately skilled lawyer could probably contest the divorce, but this guy doesn’t seem like the type that would pay for one …

    2. Amy

      I really like the concept you have here, LadyCatrina; it just needs some cleaning up. Is the part about him signing the papers in his office a flashback? That wasn’t clear to me, and the tense changes only add to the confusion. Overall, though, an excellent premise. I also had an idea about signing divorce papers, but I abandoned mine. Nice to see yours worked out.

  29. wohisme

    Is this a Faustian bargain?

    Oh please, what you must think of us, we are in no need of your soul. Your soles perhaps but in all likelihood they’ll just be ground up for animal feed. That’s once we’ve harvested your usable organs. Hope you’re not a drinker; I have dibs on your kidneys.


    Actually it’s capital “U” capital “S” as in United States as in Washington, DC. As it happens, used car salespeople are now considered members of Congress.

    You’re pulling my leg!

    Not yet. You remember, “… we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it”. Talk about fine print.

    The Affordable Care Act allows you to dissect anyone you like?

    No, not anyone and not just the ACA it’s a joint effort between agencies and branches.

    I’ll bite?

    Cute. For starters, you’ve purchased an SUV, the EPA is tasked with reducing your carbon footprint. Strike one!

    It’s just a car, I’m buying a Gulfstream like some well heeled environmentalists.

    You’d have to be fabulously wealthy to buy a Gulfstream; hence you’d be above the law.

    What kind of car do you drive?

    Chevy Volt. There’s more, if I may be allowed to…

    Please continue.

    As for the EEOC, clearly you are NOT a member of a protected group so… Any chance you’re gay?

    No. Would it help?

    No. Strike two. Thought you might like to date before….

    Euphemistically speaking, I feel like we are dating. What gives you the right to murder me!

    The voters and who said anything about murder? We’re calling the procedure retroactive abortion, sounds better; like partial birth abortion. Can’t very well tell people we’re crushing a baby’s skulls and sucking out its brain as it struggles to live.

    God forbid.

    Unemployed, for some time now…

    I’m retired…

    …you’re not on disability, or food stamps, or welfare. Oh, and look here not even a free cell phone. That’s strike three.

    Look, I worked all my life, I scrimped and saved, for God sake I’ve never even owned a new car; I’ve been fiscally prudent.

    What I am hearing is you are not stimulating the economy and you don’t care about GM, Detroit’s inner city or its voters, I mean people, of course.

    Of course. Can I get a waiver?

    A waiver…, you…, don’t be absurd.

    You got one!

    Congress writes the laws – actually it’s the lobbyist / lawyers but that’s not happening in 500 words or less – they don’t apply to us, once again, the fine print. I could have overlooked your numerous transgressions were it not for the fact that you attended a tea party.

    Tea Party?

    Yes, according to the NSA you attended tea party on December 24th.

    It was a children’s tea party with my granddaughters on Christmas Eve.

    Was tea served?


    Tea Party.

    Whole thing smells fishy.

    That smell is the gutting assembly line, it’s next door, hired some fish handlers. Good for the economy. You sure about our date… bucket list…

    1. Observer Tim

      Okay, this one is disturbing. I’ve heard too many of these type of arguments in my time. You’ve captured the bureacratic checklist mentality far too well to be living outside it…

      Form J-227 says you must die. Please step in front of the cannon, thank you. Next!

    2. JRSimmang

      Clever, and I agree with Tim. There is some gut-wrench present. Dialogue is quick and uncluttered. Comparing car sales with governmental attitude toward the individual is thoughtful. I would recommend just some quick revision and be done with it. Good job.

    3. jhowe

      This was a very funny read with well written dialogue. The voice of the bureacrat is amazing. I like how he wasn’t pulling the guys leg, yet, until they passed a bill to find out what’s in the bill.

      1. wohisme

        Thank you – this is my first submission and all the feedback is very encouraging. I may have to go back to WD’s website’s fine print to make sure I haven’t made a Faustian bargain – eek!!

      1. wohisme

        For the love of God don’t let them (those people) know your thinking, you’ll end up in a re-education camp.

        Thank you for taking the time to read my story and for the feedback.

  30. Mrwindu

    “The fine print?” I said confused.
    “You don’t know what that means?” he said as his smirk turned to a crooked grin, “where did you say you went to high school? Hhhmm. Well, public education just isn’t what it used to be. Wow, it didn’t seem like I was gonna get ya but I seem to always underestimate myself. I’ll pull your car around front. While I’m at it, I should write a book on sales or maybe a memoir. Then again who would believe this was a true story?”
    Mr. Rider made his way down the hallway and out the door. I scanned what I thought to be a normal contract. The first time I didn’t see anything so I took another look. I got to the last page, but before I finished Rider was back. He put his hand on my shoulder and said,
    “What do you think of your new office? Stylish huh? It’s not on the corner, but hey, you get what you get. Welcome to Glenn Wood! Here are the keys to your new car and to your apartment. I’ll be moved out in an hour.”
    “Wait. What? Moved out?” I said more confused. “I just want a car. I didn’t buy an apartment. The email I was sent said you would be able to give me ten percent off if I wasn’t a resident of your city”
    “It’s all written right in front of you. I can’t wait to leave; I’ve been here for 16 years you know. Awe what a terrible time I’ve had. Oh sorry, I’m probably not making this any easier.”
    “Seriously Mr. Rider, what are you talking about?”
    “My name is actually Austin Bonk. You’ll be going by Mr. Rider from now on. You really should read the rest of the contract, it’s all there. Don’t worry; you’ll sell enough cars in no time. I’d say you’ll be done in ten to fifteen years max.”
    Sitting there puzzled, I finished reading.
    Thank you for purchasing an automobile from Aaron’s used car dealership. Also welcome to our sales division. We hope you are as excited to be a part of the sales team as we are. You are expected to be in the dealership Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm. Talk with your receptionist about getting your uniform measurements and the directions to your new home. Also at her desk will be a letter that will tell you how many cars you need to sell. You have as much time as you need to meet your quota. Once you’ve met that you may leave. Your new name is Dan Clifford Rider. The use of any other name is forbidden and cars will be added to your quota. You may not leave Glenn Wood for any reason until your contract is finished. The same punishment will be issued if you contact anyone from your former life. If you have any other questions ask Autumn Bellows.

    1. Observer Tim

      I can hear the grinding from the mental gear-shifting without a clutch. Even when I could see the end coming it remained an entertaining read. Good job.

      A formatting thing for later submissions – please double space between paragraphs, it makes the story easier to read.

  31. Amy

    The line of cars looked like a pan of muffins baking in the desert sun. Heat mirages slithered up from the domes of each car and into the sky. There was nothing around the lot but dirt and a road that led back to town; back to comfort and air conditioning. There was nothing comfortable about this place. Even the salesman kept yanking on the sweat-stained collar of his shirt, his beady eyes fixed on us as the sweat ran down his temples and soaked his sideburns.

    “So, do we have a deal, son?” he asked, flashing his too-straight, dazzlingly white teeth.

    Georgia frowned at me and squeezed tighter around my arm. She hadn’t wanted to come here and had dragged the heels of her Ariat boots the whole way. “Jake, this ain’t a good idea,” she said.

    I looked down at her with the most promising smile I could manage. “Don’t you wanna get outta here?” She nodded, reluctantly. “This is the only way,” I said, turning my eyes back to the car.

    I ran my hand along the curve of the door and down the side of the windshield. It was beat up, but it was still the most beautiful thing I ever seen. Its faded red paint glowed in the sunlight like an ember, the flames on the sides smoldering in rusty orange and gold.

    The salesman cleared his throat and pointed down at the contract on the hood, just over the signature line.
    “Just sign here, and it’s yours, boy.” His finger twitched on the page and he grabbed the pen and handed it to me.

    I took it and signed on the line, letting out the breath I hadn’t noticed I was holding in a rush of hot air. I looked down at my name scrawled on the paper as it faded from blue ink to a deep black like a burn scar. I waited for some kind of weird feeling to crawl under my skin, but nothing happened. The salesman closed his eyes and lifted his leathery face up to the sun, a wide smile spreading on his cracked lips.

    “How long?” Georgia whispered as a tear ran down her cheek and fell onto her collarbone. “How long do we have?”

    The salesman didn’t wait for me to answer. “You have one year, as it states in the fine print. You can go wherever you like, do whatever you please. Don’t worry about finding your way back here; I’ll find you.”

    “But I thought you said my bones would be old and tired before I had to settle up?” I asked. A cold fear crept up the back of my neck, despite the blazing heat. My own mortality was staring me in the face, dressed in a cheap suit and a pencil-thin mustache.

    “Boy, by the time you’ve seen what lies beyond that road, you will be.”

    He snatched up the contract and disappeared into the tiny hut in the middle of the lot, leaving me and Georgia clutching each other against the scorching hot metal of the car. I squinted out in the distance, where the road disappeared down into a valley I’d never seen, and felt the engine growl to life beneath my hand.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is an interesting beginning, in that the story can go anywhere depending on what lies down the road: is it monsters of some sort, some great soul-ripping tragedy, or just plain old squalid middle America with its small prejudices? Or is it something else.

      Oh, the places you’ll go!

    2. jhowe

      Very well written, easy to read and follow. The pencil thin mustache was a nice touch and if a girl is going to drag her heels, you might as well know what kind of boots she’s wearing.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Your opening paragraph made my skin sweat, describing the heat. And describing the car salesman made me feel like backing away from any car lot, especially one from sitting in a blazing, blistering sun, with a UV rating of 12.

    3. don potter

      You had me with “looked like a pan of muffins baking in the desert sun.” As I have come to expect from you the pictures your words draw are vivid and memorable. Great job, Amy.

  32. Mallory Terry

    I’d read the fine print. Okay, to be honest, I read most of the fine print. But come on, who reads all of that crap anyways? I was buying my new car and everything was good. I had one more signature at this car was mine – the sleek yellow, car of beauty, engineered out of the finest metal; the car I’d wanted since I was five. I couldn’t believe it. I took my lucky pen and held my breath as I signed my name on that last dotted line.

    I made the final “l” in my half cursive, half print name and looked up at the young woman who had sold me the car. She had this way, a way I can’t describe, almost a bit mysterious. It was the way that she moved her body and looked me right in the eyes with her dark yet intense eyes, which made have questions.

    She chuckled as I put the pen back in my pocket. I turned my head. She reached down into her high heeled shoe and pulled out a knife. I honestly didn’t know how something so large could have fit in that little shoe, but it sure as hell came from that shoe of hers.

    She slid it across the table. “Now we can make this simple or we can do this the hard way.” She smiled at me.

    Confused, I asked her, “What in the heck are you taking about? I just want my keys and go.”

    I got up, pushed my chair in and stood there with my arms crossed in front of my chest. She stood up and smoothed her short skirt with her hands. I wasn’t falling for her looks anymore; she had just slid a knife at me. I looked around but there was no one anywhere to be found. We were in her little office with one window and one door, both of which were closed.

    “There is fine print on everything, Jonathan Russell, and I’d advise you to always remember that. You have two choices. I expect you to make your decision before that clock,” she pointed to the clock on the wall, “says 8 p.m.” She cleared her throat, “Because then I make the choice for you.”

    “WHAT CHOICE?” I was yelling at her now and backing away.

    “Honey, didn’t you read what you signed? Don’t you know?” She laughed, it sounded evil. “There must be a sacrifice; either your own blood or the blood of someone else. You better choose quickly – you have less than 5 minutes left before I take your own blood.”

    I stood there speechless. I might have laughed, thinking it was a joke, if it weren’t for the look in her eyes. She wasn’t joking.

    “One more minute now, Jonathan.” She remarked

    I took the knife in my hands. “I’m not doing either.”

    “Oh, but you will.” She held a small handgun to my head.

    I was shaking. “Okay, okay! I’ve made my choice.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Scary! Scary! He should have jammed the knife into the ceiling and bare-arm grabbed her for the gun. As you can, I got caught up in your story. A fun read.

          1. Kerry Charlton

            Mallory, I did read the finish of this story on your website. Your writing is gritty, tight and very emotional. When I finished reading, only one thought possessed me. We have no power to save ourself.

            The only one who can save us, is the one thst created us. I would like to know if I hit the theme of your story. Kerry

  33. Observer Tim

    “Sign here, lad, and the car is yours.”

    I signed on the buyer’s line, and he signed on the seller’s. Both copies. The dealership secretary witnessed. Finally he handed over the contract and the keys. It had taken a couple of hours of bargaining, but I’d managed to get him down to a price I could afford; in fact, it was even lower than I had hoped for.

    I had a sudden thought, “What if I find out I don’t like the car?”

    “All sales final, kid. Read the fine print. In fact, I suggest you read it VERY thoroughly.”

    That caused me to worry, but I didn’t want to show it in front of him or his secretary, so I waited until I got to the car before cracking the contract. I had to turn on the overhead light because the sunlight was failing.

    I glanced over the basics, then scanned the small print. Owner assumes all responsibility, no liability to Stophie’s Used Cars, no refunds or exchanges, slave to the Dark Mistress, no warranty express or implied, yada yada … what!?

    I stared at the paper for a moment. My mouth opened and closed. I rubbed my eyes a couple of times and looked again. It was still there. A clause in the contract that I had just signed said I was now a slave of the Dark Mistress. Whoever the hell that was.

    A pale slender hand with very sharp-looking fingernails reached over my shoulder from the back seat and teased my shirt buttons, slicing the top one off effortlessly. A forked tongue tasted my earlobe just before a female voice whispered, “Take me home, boy.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Thanks for all the comments. It’s a real confidence-builder to find out people enjoy my ideas. I’ve written a middle to this story which is posted on my site (see the link in my name), and am working on an ending.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.