Prompt: Write a flash fiction story (500-600 words) that starts with the phrase "he had always hated occasions like this."
He had always hated occasions like this: hurdling towards his death in an out of control automobile.
On a beautiful summer day, the Porsche Boxter was heading backwards down the country road at 55 miles per hour.
He had just picked it up from the showroom on his way home from his last day at the office. It was his gift to himself to celebrate his retirement and to nurse his bruised ego after being pushed out of the corporate world. He was alone, so he did not have to justify the purchase to anyone.
Of course, his daughter hated the idea. “Just think of it as my mid-life crisis,” he told her. “Who do you know who lives to be 126?, she replied.
He hoped the neighbor would remember to come over and feed his fish.
He wondered who would come to the funeral. No one from the office because he pissed them all off with his haggling over the buy-out and because he brought in a lawyer to explore an ageism case.
His kids would come. His daughter would regale the group with tales of how he always favored her brother. Her brother would entertain them with the story of how his own father had underrated him on the little league team he coached. “Who the hell bats their own kid ninth?,” he would say, as he has said almost every day for the last 25 years.
It doesn’t matter, he is not walking away from this one. God, he loved this car and dreaded as much the sound of crunching metal as that of his own bones. He was putting the new machine through it’s paces, enjoying the wind rushing through his thinning hair and basking in the musky smell of new leather, when he touched the brake just as he hit a patch of road that had recently been chip sealed.
The county puts some tar on the road and dumps gravel on top. Eventually, most of the stone gets pressed into the tar and rest winds up on the shoulder. It’s a cheap fix for back country roads. Until that happens, trying to stop on it is like trying to brake on a hockey rink covered with ball bearings.
He was about to be killed. If he hit a tree: dead. If he hit the curb: rolled over and dead. If he hit that garbage truck up ahead: decapitated and dead.
The fight over his buy-out and pension didn’t seem so important now, just a few more bucks for the kids to squabble over.
While this was going through his head, his body was on a different track. His left foot hit the clutch and his right hand down shifted spinning the car back around as his right foot hit the gas and left hand worked the wheel. He squeezed between the garbage truck and a large tree on the other side of the narrow road.
He pulled over and stopped to catch his breath.
"Well, I survived my first hour of retirement", he said as he shifted through the gears and headed for home.