Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Prompt: Abandoned cars

As soon as the red pickup cleared her front bumper, Jessie swerved behind him and pulled around the slowpoke who’d held her back since the onramp. She grimaced, glancing at the dash clock. Late on her third day. Great. She barely noticed the SUV angled in the median on the other side.

She still felt out of her depth in the busy police department headquarters. People were nice enough, and a few of the cops were flirty, but it wasn’t like she had thought it would be. It wasn’t like on TV, that’s for sure. By the end of the day, all she wanted to do was go home and crawl in bed with a bowl of ramen and the TV remote.

Traffic was stalled on the highway, and as she crawled past the SUV, she noticed the orange sticker. While she tapped her thumbs and mindlessly hummed along – she couldn’t even tell you the name of the song they were playing – she realized that car had been parked there since at least the beginning of the week. She’d seen it every day she came home from work.

She felt a little shiver across her shoulders and almost laughed aloud. “Don’t be silly,” she admonished herself. “You work in records. You’re not a detective.” Still, who had abandoned their car for so long? It was a nice new one, with a good paint job. She didn’t know cars at all, but a big SUV was not cheap. And why hadn’t it been towed, with the sticker on it for at least day? Well, she shrugged it away as the traffic cleared near her exit. It would probably be gone tomorrow.

She noted it in the morning, but thought the towing companies probably don’t work 24/7. Surely it would be gone when she came back this way at the end of the day.

When she left the building and climbed in her car, that same song was playing again. Why would she even remember that, except she knew the lyrics and remembered singing them when she passed the SUV before. She pulled a piece of mail from her big purse and found a pen. If that vehicle was still there, she was going to get the license plate and look it up. She chuckled. Vehicle. Now she was sounding more like a cop.


Attempt at brevity:

Jessie noticed the SUV in the median on her way to work, and again on her way home that night. The new job in police records wore her out, but when it was still there the following evening, it piqued her curiosity enough to write down the license plate number.

“Hey Adam. Yeah, I’ve been meaning to call you back. Listen, will you do me a favor? Could we ride over to check on someone? You know that SUV sitting on 147 all week? I just want to see why they’ve left it out there so long.”

Jessie woke with a start. Adam Wilson was the cutest cop she’d met so far, and he hardly gave her the time of day. She sure wasn’t going to give her a ride over to some random house. What was she dreaming? She groaned and pulled the pillow over her head. But…why was that SUV still sitting there? Why hadn’t towing picked it up by now?

She looked it up the next morning. Why would a guy leave a brand new SUV sitting by the side of the road? More like run off the road, halfway into the broad median. He lived in a nice neighborhood. Wait…the tag expired five years ago? What was this guy’s deal? She looked around the quiet records room. She really wasn’t supposed to go into any records without express authorization…

Dogs in house
Houdini, Brindle

Time writing:
35 minutes

October word count:


  1. Prompt: Abandoned cars

    Thomas stopped at the top of the hill, panting. He rested his palms on bent knees and examined the grass at his feet. It was autumn grass: long and green mixed with yellow.

    “There’s millions of them, man!” said Yener, beside him. The young man wasn’t even winded.

    Thomas stood up and squinted down into the valley. Not millions, but perhaps close to fifty. Old cars, new cars. Shiny cars, rusted cars. The reports were right. What the hell were they doing here? He couldn’t tell from up here if they had license plates. But even if they didn’t, they’d have VINs. “Let’s go.” He started down the hill.

    The far side of the valley looked even more inaccessible than their current trek, with a rocky outcrop bursting through the grass and a short space of sheer dirt right at the top. Something bugged him about the place. They were halfway down the hill before he figured out what it was. Not only was this gathering of cars inexplicable in terms of purpose, but how had they gotten here? Driving would have been impossible, especially for little numbers like the lime green Smart car off to the right. And someone would have seen some kind of airlift. His palms started sweating.

    Time writing: 15 minutes

  2. Hmm, I like the slower one better -- little details like "It wasn’t like on TV" and "Now she was sounding more like a cop." I wonder if it is possible to weave some of that flavour into the speedier opening.