Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Michael Salsbury
Josip Novakovich's "Fiction Writer's Workshop" book suggests an exercise to help you practice your fiction writing. You're to take a snapshot of something you've seen and/or heard, and produce a fictional scene from it. The fictional scene below is based on a bit of overheard dialogue (the first quoted line) and a lot of imagination about what went behind it. The names, too, are imaginary (as far as I know).

Jesse dropped his newspaper on the table and looked at the others. They looked up from their eggs and bacon. Frank sipped his coffee.

"Says here this man got 18 years for killin' his wife and kids," Jesse announced. "Ask me, that's better than payin' child support."

The others looked at each other and they saw they were all thinking the same thing. What a jerk. But he's the boss, so what can we do? The waitress, wearing a red plaid uniform skirt and carrying a steaming pot of coffee, stepped over to their table.

"Can I freshen anyone up?"

Jesse looked up and smiled. "Me, honey." His eyes traced her figure from neck to knees. He rubbed a palm on his jeans.

She stepped closer and tilted the coffee pot toward his cup. Jesse's hand reached out toward her skirt. She stepped back out of reach. Jesse's hand dropped to his lap. A smile flashed briefly on his lips. She stepped forward again and started to pour, but stopped when his hand moved toward her.

She put her left hand on her hip, and cocked her head to one side. "It's hard to pour when I'm trying to stay away from your hand!"

"Honey, it ain't nothing us truckers don't do every day."

She scowled at Jesse. "Well, you're not doing it to me!" She walked over to the manager, who was now glancing at their table every few seconds.

Frank glared. "Why do you have to be like that, Jesse?"

The others' eyes widened. Did he really say that?

Jesse glared, and made a noise like air escaping from a truck's breaks. He sipped his coffee. His upper lip wrinkled.

"It's cold." He put the mug down and pushed it away.

"If you hadn't tried to grope her, she'd have warmed it up."

"Just havin' a little fun, Frank."

Frank looked down at his plate and moved the eggs around with his fork. If I didn't need this job…

Jesse chuckled. "You sound like my ex-wife..."

Frank's face reddened. "Well, it wasn't your ex-wife that got caught in bed with that stripper from Rascals, was it?"

"Lorraine had it comin'."

"How do you figure that, exactly?" He stared directly into Jesse's eyes. He had to hear the old man wiggle out of this one.

"Wouldn't give me any. Had to get it somewhere."

Frank rolled his yes. The others hung their heads. "She was eight months pregnant, Jesse. Came in the front door holding your two-year-old daughter, pregnant with your son, and found you banging a stripper on the couch. Classy."

"A man's got needs. You wouldn't know about that, I expect."

Frank wanted to jump across the table and beat some sense into the old man, but it wasn't worth it. He'd lose the job. The way the economy was, he might not find another for a while. With so many people out of work, no one was buying much, so there wasn't much need for truckers to haul things around. He needed to calm down. He took a deep breath and released it slowly.

"Don't you think Lorraine had needs, too?"

"I don't know what she needed, but I know what she's been gettin' for the last ten years. Eight hundred bucks a month of my money. Can't wait for them damned kids to turn eighteen and the court's off my back."

"They're your kids, Jesse!"

"How do I know that?" Jesse stood up. "It's time to get outta here. Frank, you're haulin' that load of manure up to Riley Farms. Joe, them TVs for Big Buy are yours. Marsha, I don't have to tell YOU what to do."

"No… Answer the phone, keep the books, and deposit the checks."

"That's right, darlin'. Lose a few pounds and maybe I can find something better for you to do." He winked at her and grinned.

Pig! They picked up their bills, and walked to the cashier.

The waitress looked over at the empty table. Three of the place settings had tips next to them. Next to the fourth there was only a newspaper.

About the Author

Michael Salsbury / Author & Editor

In his day job, Michael Salsbury helps administer over 1,800 Windows desktop computers for a Central Ohio non-profit. When he's not working, he's writing, blogging, podcasting, home brewing, or playing "warm furniture" to his two Bengal cats.


Post a Comment