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Nowhere to turn (a flash fiction challenge response)

Updated on August 28, 2015

The actual Oak Creek switchbacks from the air.

These bad turns would claim a life a year up and through the 80's.
These bad turns would claim a life a year up and through the 80's. | Source

The Challenge

Sometimes you just get dragged into things you ain't got no business doing. You just follow your friends along like you got no brains at all. Like that time I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. Or the time I found myself floating toward the beginning of the worlds' largest navigable rapid -- Lave Falls in the Grand Canyon. I think maybe I have codependency issues. I really like this writer named Cam, well really he is Chris Mills. He issued a challenge. Stupid me I am now taking it. Sorry mom I think I have gone too far again.

Write a 1,000 (or fewer) word story using the following prompts:

Genre: Drama

Location: Coffee Shop

Object: A Walking Cane

(where is that stupid airplane when I need it to get out of here?)

http://cam8510.hubpages.com/hub/Five-Steps-to-Writing-a-Solid-Flash-Fiction-Story

Well I guess I will let go and begin my trip down the road to who knows where, thank you Chris, I hear this road is paved with good intentions like yours.

When the road in life just comes at you to fast and hard, there seems like there is no where to turn.

If you ain't never been there.

My road to this place was a long and windy one. Both literally and figuratively. I had come home again. If that is what you would call it. When you have led the charge to carry your own soul into the bowels of living hell going home is your last option. And when you get there and family won't open the door, you have got no one but yourself to blame. Despair just seems like too small a word to capture the essence of total helplessness.

To say I was a drunk would be to give paper sack bums on the city corner without a home a bad name. I was destructive, mean and miserable. You have heard it all before. Lost the house. Lost my wife. Lost my wonderful three little children and my career. Blah, blah blah. What the dirty grim reaper does not tell you is that you lose all hope. At least in the classic picture of hell there is a burning fire to let you feel. Nothing is nothing is nothing and it is endless.

If you know your blood alcohol levels, I needed to be at a .10 to walk or drive. I needed a solid .20 to feel like eating, not that I did. .35 would let me pass out for a few hours. I know this because of my many trips to an ER where they told me, along with "here are your drugs, there is no point in giving you a bed". Detox could be deadly. So there I was on a rainy cold night driving up the infamous Oak Creek Canyon switchbacks above Sedona Arizona. I was headed for the cabin no one used in the too cold winter months. I figured to go there to die. I had gallons of booze in the car, to draw it out for awhile. Well the damn deer jumped right out in front of my poorly maintained car and I went off the road and into the creek 20 feet below. I only lived because I was too drunk and flopped around like a rag doll instead of going through the window. I limped up to the road and across it to Garland's Cafe.It had been called Indian Gardens Market as I grew up there some fifty years ago. Our property was purchased from the same owner who was the son of the original homesteaders. I had a gouge in my leg the length and width of a butter knife and about a half inch deep.

The proprietor seemed to size me up in just seconds. Reached under the bar and tossed me a roll of duck tape. Told me to tape the leg good as the road just washed out and nobody was coming for at least the night. Right away he asked my name. And nodded and said "I thought so" as he reached for the whiskey bottle and a beer before I even asked. "Your brother who I hear you haven't talked to in years called and said he thought you were headed here and to keep an eye on you". Long dead silence as the man of about 80 watched without so much as a grunt. He stuck his hand out for the tape back when I was through, and just casually wiped off the blood and put it back. Then he said "enjoy your last drinks son". He went off into the kitchen and left me there wondering "what in the hell?", He returned with a plate of breakfast and a cane. He said eat up and then I got something to show you. I ate and drank.

I asked him what the hell the cane was for and he said he had kept it nearly forty years after he'd used it. I got up and fell flat on my face. He sighed and said "that is what it is for, you idiot". I could hardly put weight on my leg. But I followed him out the door. And then I followed him across the road to look down on a car down in the canyon, looking to be half a century old. "That was my car, does it bring back any memories?" I had a weird lightning flash in my head but in my fog there was nothing and I told him so. He laughed and said "figures but you will remember".

He began; "Forty years ago I was as drunk as a skunk, just like you are now. My wife and son in the car with me. A night like tonight. I lost control. And ended up down there. My family was thrown from the car and they both died on impact. Some young man was driving his mom back home from their cabin. Saw the wreck and crawled down to my car there. My leg was mangled like yours is now only with an artery severed. The young man used duck tape and taped it shut and saved my life and my leg."

Then he paused and looked at me in anticipation. "Wow, what a story" I said. He proceeded: "For years I hated that man as I walked with that cane you are using, made from that tree down there that my family landed on." "What the hell right did he have to save me so I could live with this misery?" "Now the reason is made clear why I lived". I was bewildered but a memory was coming back as I stood in that exact spot. As the rain picked up he sighed and said "you were that young man and now it is my turn to return that favor, let's go get some coffee and sober you up for your family."


A Wheel Inside a Wheel

We build personal temples to those we have lost.

Who knows this beast known as cause and effect?
Who knows this beast known as cause and effect? | Source

Now don't nobody go on thinking that this is autobiographical. But it parallels someones life so closely I reckon he just might wake up one morning thinking it is real. There but for the grace of God go I.

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    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 23 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Well Eric, you have done it now. Once you partake in one of these challenges you cannot stop, especially if your write a response as compelling as this one. Great story and perfect ending. Now I'll expect to see you answer more of these flash fiction challenges. Well done, I'm sure Chris will be impressed too. What perfect songs you chose to accompany it too...my favorite Pearl Jam song of all time, and my man Jimmy Buffet.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      John I am all a tingle. I was so gun shy publishing this that it had a better chance on the bonfire than sitting here. Thanks a ton for your uplifting comment. I am going to go out and watch the sunrise and smile at the birds as I sip my cup. You made my day and it ain't even woke up yet.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 23 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I do believe this is a first for you. If so, it's one heck of a high standard you have set for the future. Well done my friend.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Bill. Not one thing in particular but a whole year of taking your classes in the Mailbag, is finally getting me a bit motorvated. So if there is any blame you earned your share ;-)

    • justthemessenger profile image

      James C Moore 23 months ago from The Great Midwest

      Wow! What a fitting end to the story. This inspires me to take a shot at some flash fiction.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      James I can hardly wait. But, did you just write "take a shot" after reading about my drunken sot? LoL. There might have been something in my herbal tea but I sure had fun writing this. As much fun as reading one.

    • Paul K Francis profile image

      Paul K Francis 23 months ago from east coast,USA

      Great story, I enjoyed reading it, and I suspect you enjoyed writing it.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 23 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      It's a very good response to the challenge set by Chris Mills. Enjoyed the story a lot.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 23 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      I was very- very- very- impressed with the message here Eric. You certainly did a good job with this challenge. A beautiful story that deeply touched my heart. It reminds me of the saying " Been through something; saved for something.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Paul, thank you and you betcha I had a blast writing it. It is a very fun genre.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 23 months ago from San Diego California

      I am blown away. You really have a flair for storytelling. There was nothing forced here, it was spoken in your own natural, uninhibited stream of consciousness style, and I was completely captivated the entire time I was reading it. Awesome story!

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Venkatachari, I am glad you enjoyed this. It is fun to write a piece where the goal is just plain old enjoyable reading.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Dana, sometimes I wonder just how many aha moments I miss because they just are not dramatic enough to catch my attention. Flash fiction is a fun place to put the noticeable into life. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Mel thanks a bunch. That really makes me happy. Don't tell anyone but while I was writing it I was there. I can hardly wait to hear what my shrink says about that ;-)

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 23 months ago from Northern California, USA

      It is hard to believe this is your first attempt at flash fiction because you have done a superb job. You are quite the writer, my friend. I hope you decide to do more of this style of writing. You're good at it. You're really good at it.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Marlene, I thank you. Well my companion is off to make his way in life and has left me with time. (kindergarten) So I am afraid you will get a few more.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 23 months ago from Nibiru

      good one mr DIERKER.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thanks Clive.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 23 months ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      I came to read some Sunday sermons but realized it's only Saturday. :) Well you kept me focused here from beginning to end. I always like your way of telling stories...like river flowing, they are very natural.

      Love from the sky~

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Cris. We have a Sermon all revved up and ready to go. That sometimes crazy God has seen fit to give me time to get into writing them for a while longer. Truth be told I have to write for a living in an area that is anything but natural and this is a great pleasure.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 23 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      That's how it's done, Eric. You find your voice, find your style and just let it roll. This is a believable story that provides multiple emotional hitch points so that anyone can read it and get drawn in. The ending drew the story together and infused it with new level of emotion and meaning. Well done, Eric. Home Run.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Chris. And thank you for putting that challenge out there so I could stretch my mind.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 23 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Great response to the challenge, Eric. I too agonized over my response because of the brevity of the text required in Chris's challenge. But I too enjoyed creating my story.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      We sure are lucky Randy. What a great pleasure it is to be able to express ourselves. The challenge is just that; a challenge.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 23 months ago from southern USA

      Oh, my, Eric, this is one phenomenal write here to say the least! I am blown away ...in a good way. This may just be one of the best "stories" I have read of late. I must say that I truly love your writing style because it is uniquely your style and it so just so darn good.

      That ending is the best of the best, and I do hope you plan on entering more of these challenges because I believe you have raised the bar.

      I would up and across, but ... However, I am sharing everywhere!

      Blessings and peace

    • North Wind profile image

      North Wind 23 months ago from The World (for now)

      Very good story! I remember hearing a story similar to this and sometimes it is hard to believe but God really does make clear your purpose in His own time. I am glad you took up the challenge. I really enjoyed the read.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 23 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Eric, I just shared your story on my FaceBook page for freelance writers which just got its 100th member recently.

      https://www.facebook.com/cam8510?ref=hl

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 23 months ago from SW England

      Well, Eric! Wow! Your stories are as good as your sermons, if not better (but then a sermon's a sort of story, isn't it?).

      Such a great response to Chris' challenge should be shared around the world. The pace is great, the characters live and the ending is superb. Well done indeed.

      Ann

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 23 months ago from southern USA

      Oh, meant to say your choice in Pearl Jam is perfect too! Heck, you don't have to wait for a challenge, you should write fiction more and who knows, you could very well win next year's Hubbie Award for best Fiction writer and other categories as well : )

      Hugs

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Faith, thank you so much for your uplifting and generous comments. Be careful what you speak of as I feel another on the way. I am sure grateful to our community for supporting my efforts at growth. We are blessed to have each other.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thanks North Wind, truth be told in my little world things like this happen all the time, at least I think I see them. Perhaps it happens a whole lot more than we care to recognize. At any rate it is fun to think that way for awhile.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wow Chris, thanks a ton. I have got to get out more. I went to your FB and pressed all the buttons that looked positive and to follow, but I haven't a clue if I got anything done.

      Your writing inspires, and for that I am truly grateful.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ann, you are so right, a short story and a sermon have much in common. It seems like a good idea to spend some time on that notion. It tickles me pink that you like my short story here. Thank you

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Faith, Eddy is an alum of my 3 elder children's high school and my elder brother got to know him well while working on sound and logistics for "Into the Wild". I kind of like him, because it feels like he could just be sitting next to me on a park bench some day, checking out the birds.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 23 months ago from New York

      Wow! I mean really. What a powerful story Eric. Are you a preacher or something ;)

      Seriously, this was so well done. I never expected the ending, but then there are a lot of things in life we never expect. If there were still buttons I'd press them all.

      I am going to share and pin! Very well done doesn't say enough.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Mary. It is so nice to get positive support from good friends. I hope all is well in New York. Take care.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 22 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      That was a powerful story Eric. You do have a way with words. I love the ending him being the young man who had saved the old man years ago.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 22 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Nadine. This was a true pleasure to write and share.

    • AussieAdventure profile image

      Cassandra 22 months ago from Geelong VIC Australia

      I really enjoyed your story. I haven't heard of these flash challenges and now I think I need to go looking for some of them. Your story intrigued me and had me hanging on every word.

    • Ericdierker profile image
      Author

      Eric Dierker 22 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Cassandra,

      It was very fun to write. Maybe you can twist one of your travel hubs into a short story and let your imagination go wild.

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