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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Shopping (03/01/07)

TITLE: Live to Sell Again
By dub W
03/03/07


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It wasn’t hard to find, a coffee shop at the bottom of a ravine, but getting there took some doing. I had shopped my design for a year, and that morning stood to be my last chance to sell the plans for awhile. I was told to look for a man in a hat; in this age almost all younger men wear hats, some of the hats are backward. But, I wasn’t looking for a younger man; indeed, my prospective buyer was old enough to remember the war and the circumstances under which I had formulated the designs.

My little truck braced at the steep downhill grade; I had trusty brakes, but elected to downshift in order to avoid an unintentional lock. I bought the truck off of a hot rodder; a young jackrabbit who had pulled the engine only to replace it with a Corvette block. Too much power to corner, the kid sold it for a dime.

There were two turns to go when I saw the three white crosses mounted on the side of the road. Second gear ground down, I knew shavings were flying in the transmission. Shopping the design one more time might replace the transmission though. I considered first gear.

I finally relented and gave the gears some rest; two soft brake shoes dug into the wheels and the truck began to fight. Loose sand and gravel shot in two directions and I felt the tail come out from under me. I remembered my prayer, I had to pray, cause I had long since lost my ability to swear.

On turn eight I saw the small village, five stores, no more, hardly a place for shopping, unless dealing with clandestine vendors. I eased the truck out of gear and let it coast along the road. Although I was expected, announcing my arrival could only lead to the worst of circumstances.

I looked at my watch. It was eight o’clock. Eight bells, I could still hear my old Captain say. Somewhere in the morning mist a tower chimed. I looked around and could not find the source. Finally, I eased to the front of a modest coffee house, the type of place a person misses if they blink. I backed into a vacant space.

I waited in my truck, planning my exit as much as planning my entrance. I was to look for the man in the hat; all I knew was I would know the hat. Though it was chilly I wrestled off my jacket and tossed it on the passenger side to cover my maps and information.

My rearview mirror did little to reveal the interior of the coffee shop. A couple of bright spots in a mass of black was the only evidence of any life. I swallowed deeply and left the truck; my sunglasses, I knew, would hide my glances. I opened the door and saw him in the corner, his laptop open; there was no mistaking my customer -- he was wearing a cowboy hat. Surrounding him were a half dozen of his what I believed were his toughest men – all watching my approach.

“Bring it?” He didn’t look up from his screen.

“In my pocket.” I could feel the tiny jump drive digging into my thigh.

“I wanna look at it.” He tipped his hat back and grinned.

I knew that to surrender the jump drive would mean he would have it instantly. I decided to avoid the obvious. “You wanna see a jump drive?”

“Funny guy.”

“Hey, check your email,” I watched him and his men scramble. “I sent you a corner of the design, it’s on an attachment.” I waited a minute then hedged my bet. “Cash for the balance.”

He looked at a couple of the men. “I think we will just have it now.”

I took a step backward and knocked over a chair. “Yeah, I thought as much. Don’t try to close the email without the pass-code; the worm will eat your hard drive, I’ll phone you with the code when I clear this place.”

I ran to my truck and floored the vet engine, rock and sand flew as I spun my way up the hill. Once on top, I phoned my customer. “The exit code, just hit delete.” I closed the phone and tossed it in a trash bin. Then I patted my truck on the dash. "No shopping today, we live to try again tomorrow.”


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This article has been read 826 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Leigh MacKelvey03/12/07
Yikes! This read like an action movie. It kept me right there all the way through. One thing, though .. I didn't quite understand it. Was the reader supposed to know what the design was and why it was wanted? I really enjoyed your obvious mature writing skills, but I wanted to know why that design was so important! Don't worry, I never really understand action movies!
Jan Ackerson 03/14/07
Hey, Dub--you know I love your writing, always have, and I think it's cool that you experiment every week. I gotta say: I don't get this. Guess it's too early in the morning, or my brain is fried, waiting for spring break.

It was fun to pick out the cliches, though. Hope you enjoyed your Pepsi and biscuit.
Sandra Petersen 03/14/07
Your first paragraph leaves enough intrigue to keep me reading.

For some reason I really loved this sentence: "I bought the truck off of a hot rodder; a young jackrabbit who had pulled the engine only to replace it with a Corvette block." I could picture the 'young jackrabbit', probably with a cap worn backwards.

Wonderful suspense written throughout this. I ended up wanting to know more, but am content with what you gave me. Good action, great way of foiling the clandestine buyer. You are a Master in my view.
Jen Davis03/14/07
Very interesting! While we only have a small piece of the story, it was still very engaging. I loved this: “I had to pray, cause I had long since lost my ability to swear.”
Very clever exit strategy with the email, and I had to laugh at the code, “just hit delete.”
Sara Harricharan 03/14/07
I like the twist on this. Reminds me of an old John Wayne movie. The touch with the jumpdrive was a good one. The truck reminds me of an old car of my dad's who actually fixed it up kinda like the 'young jackrabbit'. Great mystery and suspense and you didn't tangle up the action-so Kudos. ^_^
Loren T. Lowery03/14/07
I try to pick out your articles before the hinting starts but am just now beginning (I think)to understand the complexity of at least some of what I've read. Not always a "light" read, but intriguing, informative, nostalgic and sometimes illusionary- lilke a mystery novel.
Joanne Sher 03/14/07
Kept me on my toes, for sure - you have some zingers of lines in here - I love the one about having to pray because he'd long ago lost the ability to swear. Interesting as always, Dub. :)
Rita Garcia03/14/07
Thanks for the brick, I couldn't figure it out from the hint. Well worth the wait. You certainly accomplished a "parody, intentional cliche's"!
LaNaye Perkins03/14/07
Wow, such intrigue! I really enjoyed this and wish it would have been longer. Great story!
Julie Arduini03/14/07
I too loved the parts about the hot rodder and the praying because of the loss of ability to swear. This was deep, but a fun ride just the same!
Catrina Bradley 03/15/07
I hope there's going to be a sequel to this. I want to know more! Great writing - I noticed one misplaced word, but love style and your story (or beginning of one?) :)