The Surprise

For Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #197, based on the image above from Max Whittaker for the San Francisco Chronicle.


“They’ll be ticking over nicely”, thought Mark, as he enjoyed the winter sun. Then… the shock of his life as the air-horn blew. “What the…?”

Instinctively glancing into his rear-view mirror, a massive truck loomed behind him. Black, with flames stencilled on its hood. What does this guy want? A quiet suburban road, Mark had just backed his e-car out of his driveway. While admiring his new solar panels this beast had appeared from nowhere.

Mark motioned him past, but as its engine roared, the truck stopped as it rolled alongside. Its tinted window lowered, the driver obviously wished to speak. Mark lowered his own window in response, stretched across the passenger seat and craned upwards toward the cab.

“Hey, buddy, ya like my new toy?”

It didn’t really matter that Mark could hardly see the top of his head; he recognised the nasal tone of neighbour Harry instantly. Instinctively, he glanced at Harry’s house, already adorned with a layer of Christmas lights.

“How you doing, Harry?” Mark feigned politeness. “Jeez, you sure gave me a start when I saw you in that. New truck?”

“Ain’t she a beaut? State of the art. Got me five litres and four hundred horses under this hood. You should forget all this climate bullshit, should’ve got yourself one of these babies and gone out and enjoyed yourself.” Mark’s own car had been new only four months ago. But the two men had different priorities.

“Yeah, but I bet my fuel consumption is better than yours.”

“Gas don’t mean shit. You gotta understand how the world works. No way will that lame-ass president fuck with gas. For one, he’ll be out on his ear next election. Hell, he’s headed that way anyhow and good riddance. For two, Exxon won’t goddam let him! He’s just chicken shit in their hands. All you do-gooding Greenie fucktards gotta wake up and smell the roses. It’s the mighty dollar rules in the good ol’ U S of A.” For good measure, the horn spat out “Dixie” one more time.

Mark remained silent.

“Anyway, just so you know, Trix and I will be going away next weekend. Bit of skiing. I’ve programmed all the lights to switch themselves on and off, but can you do a favour?” He didn’t wait for a response. “Just keep an eye on our place, will ya? Make sure you don’t see nuthin’ unusual?”

“Where you headed?”

“Fifth anniversary, big surprise. Just Aspen for the week, but got me a deal on a private jet.” Mark vaguely remembered that Harry was in the business.

“Anyhow. Out next weekend, back in two. Watch the place?”

Without waiting for a reply, Harry’s foot hit the gas as the truck roared once more. Only a hundred yards on, it’s brakes squealed and, almost to show off, Harry sped into his driveway.

17 comments

  1. Neighbors, yet worlds apart. Great story, Pete. Most of my neighbors drive big Ford, Chevy, and Dodge pick up trucks. I’m the guy in the little electric car. But we all live in peace and harmony. At least I think we do.

    Liked by 1 person

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