Friday, 1 July 2011

Safety First, Friday Flash Fiction Challenge

Chuck Wendig announced the #fridayflash  Fiction Challenge for 1 July 2011, this time the prompt was: The Fourth of July.   I wrote two but am posting only this one.

Safety First
995 words
By Angie Brooksby Arcangioli
Flash Fiction Challenge 1 July 2011

Ding !

The no-smoking light went off.  Jake lit up without thinking, he’d waited anxiously for the signal, idling himself with a newspaper he found on a chair before boarding the plane to Vegas.  He flipped open and closed his new flint lighter, fondling the smooth metal and admired the long flame.
The article that caught Jake’s attention spoke of the helmet law. Shit like this pissed him off  like when they made him pack his gun in the check-on luggage.  He wasn’t going to shoot anyone, why didn’t they let him keep it in his pocket?
“Hey Rosy, did you read this?”  He pushed the article onto his wife’s lap, but she was busy trying to calm the kids across the isle in the no-smoking side of the plane. 
“I told you to put that under the seat in front of you.”  She scolded their ten year-old boy who handled the bottle rockets they were transporting to their cousins.  Fireworks were expensive in Vegas. 
“Put it back in the paper bag and shove it under that seat.” 
He frowned but did as she told.
“Damn, they never listen.”  She turned to Jake.  “What’d you say?”
“They gonna make us wear helmets.”
“Just read it, will ya?”  He tapped the newspaper on her lap and lit the Salem menthol she pulled from her leopard pattern cigarette holder.  She put on her reading glasses then concentrated on the newspaper.
“Is Uncle Jimmy gonna light the dynamite?”  The son asked. 
“Hell yes.”  Jake answered. He was looking forward to seeing his brother, it had been since July 4th last year, an entire year.  Damn, time flew.  He snapped open the lighter and admired the flame.
“Can I light a stick, Pa?” 
“No son, that’s dangerous.  Remember what your teacher said: safety first,” Jake responded while lighting a cigarette in the tall blue flame next to the burnt butt in his mouth. Flying made him nervous. 
“Helmets,”  Rosy complained.  “Do you remember the last time I put one on? A wasp got stuck in my hair under it and stung me five times before you could find a place to pull over and then when you took off the helmet it stung me again.”
“Oh yeah, that was nuts.”
The fasten seat belt light went on as the captain’s voice announced, “This is Captain White,  please fasten your seatbelts, we are starting our descent to Las Vegas.”
A loud noise rocked the plane. 
“What was that?” Rosy worried. 
“No fear M’am,” The stewardess said with a twang as she offered to light Rosy’s cigarette then handed her the box of matches as a souvenir. “That’s the sound of the landing wheels coming out of the plane.”
The airplane landed with a thump.   Everyone stood up to remove objects from the overhead compartments while the plane taxied to the airport buildings.  The stewardess thanked each passenger before they descended the steps into the dessert air.  Rosy handed Jake’s boy his baseball bat when he exited, it wouldn’t fit under the seat or in the overhead.  Jake, wife and kids crossed the tarmac to Uncle Jimmy’s Chevy pickup that was easy to spot among the others because his German Shepard was barking like crazy.
“Happy Fourth of July,” Uncle Jimmy roared hugging everyone. 
Jake carried two suitcases.  “Damn, Rosy, what’d you put in here?  Someone should invent a suitcase with wheels. My arms are falling off.”
Uncle Jimmy helped fit the luggage in the truck bed around the cases of dynamite that he proudly uncovered the then cushioned with wool blankets to make seats for the kids. 
“First stop, ice cream and root beer floats.”  Uncle Jimmy announced their yearly ritual.
Jake unpacked his gun then helped Rosy and the kids climb in the bed of the truck with the dog that licked everyone in the face. He mounted into the cab next to his brother.  Uncle Jimmy left the parking lot and soon was speeding South towards the ice cream parlour.
“I scream you scream we all scream for ice cream,” Rosie and the kids sang accompanied by the wildly barking dog.
The truck bounced up and down jostling everyone.
“Hey Bro, you know we gonna have to start wearing helmets?  I read it in the newspaper,”  Jake yelled over the din.
“What?”  Jimmy hollered turning his head towards Jake who played with the lighter. 
“Hey, look out,”  Jake shouted pulling the wheel to avoid a roadrunner crossing the highway.
The truck swerved and missed the bird.  Everyone screamed with laughter.
“Watch this, the kids will love it.  Grab the wheel, Jake.”  Uncle Jimmy was already snaking out the open driver’s side window while the truck sped down the deserted highway in fourth gear.  He was halfway out when Jake took command of the pickup.
“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream,”  The kids yelled. 
Jake looked in the rear view mirror to see Rosy’s skirt whipping around her butt that was plastered to the glass of the cab.  Flashes of her panties distracted him from the road -- they were his favourite.  His brother hung out the window backwards and shot the gun.  Pop, pop, pop.  The kids wailed.
The straight road was boring so Jake watched his lighter, flipping it open and closed.  His hand jerked when Jimmy’s foot slipped and kicked the lighter to the floor of the cab.
“Damn,” Jake yelled, reaching between his feet, the straw lining in the truck’s seat was  aflame. He jumped to the passenger’s side letting go of the wheel and closed his eyes as he banged his head on the dash.  When he opened his eyes, Jimmy stood next to him. 
“Man, that was cool.” 
Fire blackened the overturned truck next to a big hole in the dirt.
“Can we do it again Pa?”  His son asked. 
“What’s wrong with the dog?”  Rosy asked. 
“She’s dead.”


  1. Hee hee. Lots of irony in this one. I remember riding in the back of a pickup truck to get ice cream when I was a kid. I think my heart would stop if my son tried that.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Angela.

    The good old days riding on the 4 lane highway in the back of a pick up!

  3. Reminds me of my mom's side of the family. Heh.

    I enjoyed your story!

  4. Hey Chadwick, thanks. I think many of us have great memories of life before digital and safety regulations.

  5. A day in the life, brother. A day in the life. Good story, with a vivid picture painted of the characters through words and deeds.

  6. Thanks for the nice comment, I'm such a rookie.

  7. This was either a generation ago, or awhile in the future. Very interesting build of action and description :)

  8. Oh, I enjoyed that! Somehow my mind automatically supplied suitable voices for everyone and it played out in my head as I read it. Very vivid story, just gave me the picture clearly even though I have never experienced any of these things.

  9. Hey Epicurean, thanks for the words. I tried to let the reader fill in the details, sorry to hear that you never got to experience travel before safety regulations.