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Stark Against the Sky (flash fiction)

April 5, 2013

Gnarled tree

Stark against the sky. Memories echoing, Travis watched the branches.

“We have to let you go,” Charlie said.

“Thirtyseven years here, that’s all you got to say?” Travis roared.

“What did you say?” The surprised man in the SUV. Stopped at a gas station last night and here was Travis holding a gun at his open window.

“Fifty dollars.”

Stirring in the backseat. The dog and Travis stared quizzically.

Slammed backward, thudded on asphalt. A blast, hot pain in his shoulder. The SUV’s door slammed shut, vehicle roared off.

He ran into countryside and day’s heat. Finally, the stark tree.


Friday Fictioneers prompt given by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. For other stories inspired by this photo, click here.
Photo from Scott Vanatter with permission and copyright Indira.
Story copyright Dave Williams

23 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2013 10:04 am

    Wow, gritty stuff, loved it!

  2. April 5, 2013 1:51 pm

    This is a bad deed… Love it

  3. April 5, 2013 4:31 pm

    You put a lot of story into a few words. Even though I knew better, I felt as if the dog shot him, which I found amusing. 🙂 Good thing not all people who are suddenly let go do this or we’d have an epidemic right now!


  4. April 5, 2013 5:45 pm

    Wow…Indeed…quite a strong story in so few lines…well done IMHO.

  5. April 6, 2013 8:53 am

    Dear Dave,
    A lot going on here. So Travis turned to a life of crime? Seems to me after 37 years you’d call it retirement. Sorry if I’m being dense.

    • April 7, 2013 5:31 am

      Hi Rochelle, no you’re not being dense at all. I imagined that Travis became desperate after losing the only job he knew and after living paycheck to paycheck, then yes, turning to a life of petty crime (only asking for fifty bucks). I had written more than this, and some of the more explanatory stuff got cut out to get to 100 words. It’s a neat challenge to make the word count, but I need to be sure the story still comes together after editing! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. April 6, 2013 1:04 pm

    I find myself feeling a bit sorry for this guy, he’s obviously gone over the edge. Good story Zooky.

    • April 7, 2013 5:31 am

      Well put that he went over the edge from desperation. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. camgal permalink
    April 7, 2013 1:12 am

    Wow, that was epic and in so few words. That my friend is talent 🙂

  8. April 7, 2013 10:03 am

    Good read 🙂

  9. April 7, 2013 12:03 pm

    Sad commentary on the downturn in the life of an everyday man. Well done.

  10. April 7, 2013 5:46 pm

    My hubby almost worked at one place for 30 years. Then it went belly up. Glad he didn’t belly up to a life of crime. They say the economy is picking up…but I don’t think Travis heard that…

    Thanks for your visit.

  11. Mystikel permalink
    April 8, 2013 2:52 am

    You really get his desperation reading this story. My only confusion was that he robbed the man through the open window but then hears the Suv door slam after he is shot. I kind of pictured him being shot through the open window while distracted by the dog? Altogether a good read.

    • April 8, 2013 5:37 am

      My initial story had the SUV driver open the door to push Travis backward, then shoot Travis on the ground. However, I think the confusion seeped in while I was cutting the story down so it would be 100 words. It’s a skill I’m learning to avoid being too complicated in these flash fiction pieces: Well-chosen details can hint of a larger story, but complicated action can lead to confusion. It’s neat to have this weekly exercise to keep at it. Thanks for stopping by!

      • Mystikel permalink
        April 8, 2013 6:54 am

        You really did bring a greater story into a very small space.

  12. Mystikel permalink
    April 8, 2013 8:17 am

    This sent before I had finished actually. I was meaning to say you did a good job of capturing your goal which was to suggest the larger story 😉

    • April 10, 2013 5:36 am

      Thanks! I was hoping to suggest a larger story — but I do need to work on cutting too much that takes away meaning from the story so readers can make sense of it.

  13. April 8, 2013 8:43 am

    Poor Travis! Interested as to the symbolism of the tree, the one constant in his life?

    • April 10, 2013 5:38 am

      I felt the tree was where he stopped to rest after struggling from the gas station… but I guess what happens from there is up to the reader. He’s out in the country side after being shot, but you never know if a hiker would happen to walk by and help out. Thanks for reading!

  14. April 8, 2013 4:36 pm

    Poor Travis picked on the wrong guy. Still, I’m glad it wasn’t me 🙂

  15. April 9, 2013 1:15 am

    yes, loved the grit. felt sorry for travis though…the poor man was practically pushed to resort to such things 🙂

    • April 10, 2013 5:38 am

      I’m glad you liked the feel of the story. Thanks for stopping by!

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