Writer's Digest has a section in their "Write Better" tab which offers a variety of writing prompts. Every now and then, I like to peruse the prompts, looking for one that might catch my fancy. Well, this one did:
One week after attending the funeral of a close friend, you receive a postcard in the mail with the words, "I'm not dead. Meet me tonight at Guido's Pizzeria. Tell no one."The only rule: 750 words or less. So, right now, write now! Take a moment to let your mind explore this topic like an eerie alleyway, and then reread what's written. We don't have to share what we write; we could write a little poem, burn it up, and then eat the ashes. (This will probably make us only stronger, if the ashes don't kill us.) Practice is all that matters.
For kicks and giggles, I've supplied my own version below the jump. Enjoy!
I sat low in the driver’s seat, peaking over the steering wheel at the dimly lit entrance. Glancing down at the postcard in my hand, I reread the hastily scrawled words: “I'm not dead. Meet me tonight at Guido's Pizzeria. Tell no one.”
Flipping the card over in my hand, I looked at the glossy faces of tourists smiling on some unknown Florida beach, some painted paradise. A woman walked through the door with a warm box of pizza, her husband following closely with a sleeping child in his arms. I sat up a little at their sudden appearance and tossed the postcard on the seat next to me. The wife looked my way, or at least I think she did, and then said something to her husband. He muttered a reply and glanced my way. I slouched deeper in the driver’s seat and lowered my head.
After they left, I looked in my mirrors, behind and to the sides. I leaned over the hood and peaked down the parking lot. Without looking, I clicked the radio on and listened to Bing Crosby softly crooning over some broad. Guido's Pizzeria. There’s no way that Denton would know it, but this is the place that I saw Robby mug that old guy. He just trotted over to him, and we all watched in some lost amusement.
“Does Robby know that guy?” someone asked.
“I guess so,” I said. Then Robby pushed him and he fell, his head hitting the dumpster.
“What are looking at?” Robby had said, climbing into the car, stuffing a sweaty wad of bills into his pocket. I don’t think Denton knew.
A rumbling motorcycle rolled into the parking lot. Its engine loudly growling as it pulled to a stop in front of the pizzeria door. The rider swung his leg over the motorcycle and, unzipping his dull black leather jacket, pushed open the door.
I began to fiddle with the knife in my pocket, gently clicking it open and snapping it shut. After a several clicks and snaps, the motorcyclist reappeared from the front door, looking left and right. He drew a cigar from his pocket and began flicking his lighter underneath it. Suddenly I recognized his gray hair and athletic frame.
“What the hell is going on!?” I yelled, marching towards Denton. I flipped the knife out of my pocket and pointed it at his throat. “Who are you?”
“I’m Ronald Denton,” he said, his hands in the air, his eyes fixed on the knife.
“Like hell you are,” I said, stepping towards his motorcycle. I flipped open the saddle bags, but both sides were empty. There was no tag on the motorcycle either.
“Listen, fella, let me get outta your hair,” Denton said, slowly reaching to his mouth to grab his cigar.
“Look, I don’t want any trouble,” he said. “If you want the motorcycle you can have it.”
“What are talking about?” I said, my voice cracking. “You—you sent for me! I've been waiting here for years!”
“Uh sure, pal,” he said, pulling keys from his pocket. “I wanted to, uh—to give this. Here, take it. It’s yours.”
I slapped the keys from his hand and reached the knife back towards him. “What’s going on?!” I strained to say, gritting my teeth to keep from crying. “You’re dead. I saw you dead.”
I heard Denton swear under his breath and begin to back away. “Look, guy, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I lowered the knife and felt tears dripping off my chin. Seeing the knife at my side, Denton snatched the keys from the ground and kicked his motorcycle into life.
“Look,” he said over the roar of the motorcycle. “I don’t know if this means anything to you, but I was told to come here, um, to come here to—ha, there's no way to say this! They said I left my soul here?”
Laughing nervously at his own words, he cranked the engine and shook his head. His bright red taillights cut through the darkness of the night, and I watched him slowly disappear through an eternity of space, wandering through the darkness like a lost and dying star.
Bradley Woodrum also writes for Homebody and Woman and Cubs Stats and has never been on a motorcycle.