Shaken, Not Stirred

Humorous Essays and Other Stuff

Gerald Andersen

Gerald Andersen
Califon, New Jersey, United States
January 06
"“When I have one martini, I feel bigger, wiser, taller. When I have a second, I feel superlative. When I have more, there's no holding me.” - William Faulkner "I grow old...I grow old. I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled." -T.S. Eliot


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JUNE 1, 2012 8:39AM

Gone in a Flash

Rate: 26 Flag
OS Readers' Picks

Weekend Fiction

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.

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Type your comment below:'ve actually been there,done that.....
And I thought my first hour of retirement was rough!
This beats a road movie any time.
Where the hell did you come from, sir?
I call you 'sir' because in your picture, you are wearing not only
a suit & tie, like my dad used to,
but also glasses, and..
you have a fine beard.

You are freelance, you say/?
Everything you write brings delight.
This was the funniest realest most unreal thing i have
read since you last posted.
You are a talent who needs
a larger audience..

ha. survived first hr of retirement.

going backwards.

spinning out of control flashing before your eyes..actually,
your 'afterlife'...

ok u did the luxury car thing. it ended in near disaster.
now do the luxury woman thing.............
the disaster will be just as inevitable, but at know...
God I hate that feeling. Good one G.
Close call, good recovery fortunately, fun read and nice use of the prompt.
Livin' on the Edgy! This was great - but what about his 2nd Day! R
Hell of a retirement hobby!!!
tell us a story, dad. that is what i feel i wanna say when i see yer mug.
Perhaps he should try writing--it's a bit safer than a Porsche. Nice story.
I've done that same thing and it seems like a long time, but in reality it is only seconds. Great Job!
TINK PICKED!! TINK PICKED!! Why? Cause it's good fiction!!!!
I came over to read because somebody nominated this post for a Readers' Pick award. I'm still smiling after reading it and laughing my head off while you had your entire life flash in your head before remembering to double clutch ( or whatever you call that maneuver.) Loved it.

Tink is right.... It IS good fiction. Very good!

I've never done exactly that but falling asleep at the wheel of my motorhome and waking up a the right wheels hit the gravel shoulder and knowing for a certainty that I couldn't bring it back is a thrill all its own. Especially when the "ditch" was a rock outcrop.

Oh my word. This made me laugh so hard!!! This was a real gem to read, Gerald. Thank you. :)
This is good - sorry I am late to comment. I took this with me to read over lunch. I loved that you got so much back story into such a short read. Nice! /R
Clutched like the nick of time. Lucky that ARRP commercial was on the radio.
It makes you wonder, though, how many close calls has this guy had to "Always hate occasions like this?" Right? I mean, right? SOunds like me, almost.

I have to call my County Commissioner for the reason of the gravel and tar used to patch my road. Someone from the crew has repeatedly expelled oily tar on the ROW in the grasses and weeds. In my 3 mile stretch, there are no less than 12 spots where at least a quart to half a gallon of this mucky crap has been spewed. If that were you or I, we'd be paying fines for polluting with toxic waste and illegal dumping. Oh, they must come and clean up their mess.
Liked this very much. Made me smile. I'm sure my mom would say the character's kids sound just like me and my siblings. My brother was also highly favored. Fun read. ~R
Good Great Gerald! I like your short fiction. A lot.
Start writing more...a book is in the works. One a day for a year..
You have a lot of talent. Agree with James. You need a larger audience. A daily blog?
A fun read. Enjoyed the spin at the end.

I don't usually care much for short fiction but this was a blast. Thank you!
Excellent! So glad your hero survived to enjoy his retirement, Gerald. :-)
I was holding my breath there for a while.
Excellent flash fiction
rated with love
Good stuff here, Gerald. The story, the characters, the quick yet definitive insight into his children, his life, were well-drawn but it was the pacing I thought you did best. Only 512 words but you paced it thrillingly, keeping the protagonist's death hovering around until the moment it didn't happen. Well done.
Super job. Makes me want to take the Mustang out and spinn'er for some laughs. Love your stuff.
Absolutely brilliant! If I were rich, I'd buy you a fancy car for the delight this story gave me...and er make sure you got home safely!
Gerald, old boy, you have snagged the very central figure
of os, our dear alysa. she of the ocd. and the waifish wonder.
Well done.
Great. The pacing was breath taking. The ending was very unexpected. R
"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." Change the location to a construction zone on a Houston Freeway and the car to a Ford sedan and you're describing the same basic options I had in 1974... I too managed to survive... very strange reading a piece of fiction that so closely mirrors reality... and everything went into sloooowww mmmotiiioooonnnn.
Man, you are the modern Jean-Paul Sartre. My own feelings were hitch-hiking on this one. What a triumphant, defiant, and yet fatalistic downshift. Maybe we should live our lives like this all the time!