Saturday, August 10, 2013

Prompt: Car with no headlight, candy machine with strange items, mysterious coin

I pulled up to the convenience store and saw my reflection in the window. Popeye. Great. I can’t afford a new headlight. I saw the reflection of the police cruiser and quickly turned off my lights. I couldn’t afford a ticket, either. Or the notice. I sat in the car and watched the cruiser, but it just drove through the parking lot and back onto the street.

I pocketed my keys and headed into the store, yawning. Time for a little pick-me-up.

“Welcome to Pychyville, hon. Let me know if you can’t find what you want.” The lady behind the counter didn’t even look up from her magazine. I saw the cover and looked away. They kept those behind a covered rack at home. A cigarette dangled from her lips. As I yawned again, I got a whiff and coughed in surprise. That wasn’t a cigarette.

The bathrooms were labelled “Single”, “Family”, and “Couples”. The Single was locked, and Family had an Out of Order hand written note taped to the door. I couldn’t quite decipher the mock international symbol on the Couples door, but it was the only option, so I pushed the door open and the lights came on automatically. It was clean inside, I’ll give them that. I tried not to stare at everything in there. I didn’t even know what some of that stuff was for.

Back in the store, I decided to treat myself to a soda – I never drink the stuff – and a snack. I walked past the coolers full of beer, looking for the sodas. After beer came wine, then mixed drinks, then the hard stuff. I looked around the store. There was a small cooler near the checkout counter with a handful of sodas and water bottled. Okay, I’d pick one up there.

Snack. Peanut M&Ms – my guilty pleasure. A candy machine stood against the far wall, but as I approached, I saw it wasn’t filled with candy. “For Her Pleasure”, “For His Pleasure”, and “Ten Lines Is A Party” were all I caught before I turned away.

I pulled a soda from the short cooler and put it on the counter, fishing in my pocket for change. The woman glanced over the top of her magazine and sucked on the end of her joint till the tip glowed orange. She inhaled. I watched, mesmerized. She raised her eyebrows at me, then said without releasing a single puff of smoke, “Fifty cent, hon.”

I’d found two quarters in my pocket, and I laid them on the counter, sliding them across to her. She picked one up and looked at it carefully, turning it over and over in her fingers. She put it back on the counter and slid it back to me with one long, red fingertip.

“You’re gonna wanna keep this one, hon.” She blew a series of smoke rings toward me. I coughed, nodded, grabbed my soda and the coin and tried not to run out of the store.

Safely in my car, with the doors locked, I flicked on the overhead light and looked at the coin. It was silver, and the size of a quarter, but I didn’t recognize the design. It had no words, no logo, no value. I tucked it in the dashboard and pulled away from the store before I turned on my single headlight.

I decided I couldn’t get out of Pychyville fast enough. I didn’t know how this sleepy little town had evaded the notice of Vegas devotees, but I wasn’t sticking around to find out.

Back on the two-lane highway, I continued the direction I had been going. My headlights picked up the city limit sign. As I got close enough to read it, my heart skipped a beat. “Seven big reasons to stay, and a whole lot of little ones.”

Just past the sign stood a small church with a traditional steeple. My car sputtered, and the check engine light came on. I pulled over in front of the sign, and the silver coin on my dashboard started to glow. I stared as the light brightened, shooting out the edges like a covered flashlight. I looked up at the sign and down at my check engine light. Just before I cut off the engine, I rolled the car forward a few more feet, passing the sign and stopping in front of the church.
My car engine died before I could turn it off. The coin stopped glowing as if it had an off switch of its own. I looked up at the church, and all its lights were on. The front doors stood wide open. I looked around and didn’t see anyone. I grabbed my cell phone and thought it might be a good idea to get inside that church, even if I hadn’t been in one in years.

I opened my car door, and the wind picked up, swirling dust over my feet as I climbed out.

Dogs in house
Houdini, Brindle
Time writing:
~45 minutes
August word count:

1 comment:

  1. I'm going for creepy. In the vicinity? Falling flat? Too obscure? Pychy is French for sin, if that's helpful...