11 April 2005

The last gas station on earth


The Pontiac thumped over a pothole and Frank watched the fuel gauge lift then settle on 'Empty' again. "Fuck it," he breathed and hit the steering wheel hard. They had passed a Texaco 10 miles back and were now running on vapour. "Look," cried Paula, "Gas ahead!" She launched her finger toward a run-down gas station and general store in the distance.

Frank pulled onto the cracked cement beside a solitary ancient pump. Is that gas or paraffin he wondered. His gaze took in the peeling paint, ice machine and an ages old Coca Cola sign hanging by one screw. "Stay here Paula." He shut the car door slowly and stepped past a deck chair faded and stained with age. Through the window past the hand-written 'Open' sign he could make out an old boy, a wad of chewing tobacco in his cheek.

A bell clanged loudly as he pushed the door and somewhere out back a dog started barking gruffly and ominously. The skeletal figure waved a thin hand and in a barely intelligible accent rattled, "If it's gas you want, go through and talk to Billy." A fly buzzed in Frank's ear and he slapped it away as he nodded, "Thanks."

In the back sat Billy and three friends grinning with menace. A rotting Plymouth Fury sitting up on bricks was visible in the back yard and a German Shepherd sat in its shade, tongue out panting. Frank thought of Paula sitting in the Pontiac holding the battery powered fan to her pretty face.

Suddenly Billy shrieked, "It's party time!" His pals stood up, chair legs scraping on the bare wood floor. Frank turned and saw his way back blocked by the muzzle of a 12-bore shot gun in the hands of the old boy. As his eyes darted frantically for another exit he heard Paula shouting. The shout became a siren winding up to full scream. Then silence.


"You fucking bastards! What have you done?" The gun barrel pushed closer and touched his temple. Frank screwed his eyes shut and a sharp metallic click rang out. When Frank opened them Paula was sitting in the passenger seat of the Pontiac lighting a cigarette and smiling. "Wake up hon', rest over. We need to drive on and get that gas now or we ain't never gonna make it to Huntsville!"

15 comments:

4005 N 24th said...

Wonderful story. Really enjoyed it.

I have an idea for a post but I am having writer's cramp. See if anybody is interested and especially you, PV.

It is about this aging playboy approaching mid-life. He is finding it harder and harder to get lays. He thinks of a fab way to meet new possibilities. He reads all of the obits and selects ones to appear at the funeral home where he claims to have been a great old buddy, business associate, confidant of the dead one. He preys on some of the mourners (all grief stricken unattached females with nice jewellery and rags) and lends a shoulder for them to cry on to get them through their sad loss. This leads to nice sojourns at chez elle, his pad, et cetera. Imagination required. Perhaps sometime way out in the future the "corpse" will return to blow his cover so he can be "taken out" by one of the scorned femmes wielding a 45.

Let me know if there are any takers and I can act as a consultant. And you, PV, would be the best qualified writer I know to pick up on it if it is in your interest zone. You are a great writer and you must go further with your talent.

Denis in Tacoma, WA, USA. e-mail: quaternion1@hotmail.com

Perfect Virgo said...

Denis that's a great plot for a story! Wouldn't be faintly autobiographical would it?! If I get time to develop the notion be sure I'll let you know!

I have a few ideas knocking around at the moment, mostly for short stories. There may be an abrupt end to my desk job this year so I might try writing for more than just pleasure.

Your encouragement is very gratifying.

4005 N 24th said...

Yes indeed....might have its genesis from within since I am turning 57 this June. How long before I am the guy in the box? That is what you begin to think about as you approach the three score mark.

The other idea I have for you to cogitate on is the concept of a cooperative writing community whereby the copy begins to hit a wide audience for edits and feedback during the actual creation. It might even be tailored to different cultural and geographical interests thus producing many versions ab initio. I am sure our big boy Publishing companies are already in on this. On second thoughts this is probably not such a great idea however since most authors want to express their own ideas and not have a collage of diverse notions. However there are some efforts that could benefit such as Biographies etc. Wikipedia is in some ways already doing this for an Encyclopedia. Blogging is a vehicle to enable all of the above.

I see that JK Rowling in on the Forbes 40 list. Perhaps you should look forward to your desk job allowing you to be released for bigger and better things.

If you want to study a good short story author take a look at the works of Guy Du Maupassant. His story called Boule de Suif and his one on the Necklace are classics. Forgive me if I have misspells on the French names. He lived during the Franco Prussian war and worked at a horribly boring job with the French Ministry. It has been some years since I read him.

Perfect Virgo said...

I'm a decade behind you but know what you mean about mortality. I read several French authors at school including Camus and Flaubert (largely tedious) but I missed out on Maupassant.

I always understood he was linked in literature with Poe in terms of stories of the macabre. I love Poe (I did a post a while back called "The Pit and the Pendulum." I need to check out Messr Maupassant.

Cooperative writing does have its drawbacks as you say, also I feel there may be an element of pressure to write something instead of letting it out when the muse really hits you.

Grace said...

Great story, those old gas stations really made an impression on you? I wish I had more of an imagination, I'm just too logical to let my mind wander!

Perfect Virgo said...

Grace - I find I have developed more imagination as I've grown older. I think I see through things more. Couple that with all the influences soaked up along the way and you have a story!

There is nothing wrong with logic, you need that too.

recoveryroad said...

Good to see you back, PV. I've enjoyed to pics and posts.

Perfect Virgo said...

Thanks roots. The pics are a fair reflection of what I did and saw. I was grateful to get some internet access to maintain the diary.

Back to reality now. And well done to you.

4005 N 24th said...

Grace:
I see more about insecurity than lack of imagination in being too logical to let one's mind wander. I use imagination to mould reality into what I want it to be whenever possible. Like PV it is a skill I have developed with age. It is now illogical for me to not do this. See how seductive we are. Perhaps a male thing.

I like your blog also. There is a C/W song....'tonight the bottle left me down'.....indeed a well trained imagination is a more reliable way to survive and there are no hangovers. My wife has to deal with the fallout. That is her problem as I continue to inform her!!!! I continue to work on my imagination and that is how Du Maupassant managed to make it through inasmuch as he could be considered to be a success. His final demise was tres sad however.

Denis

superflywebpimp said...

i see our beautiful country gas stations have instilled the same fear in you as they have in me. its party time indeed!

"It is better to deserve honors and not have them, than to have them and not to deserve them." mark twain

Perfect Virgo said...

Superfly you just knew I would be inspired and I do believe I took a leaf from your book with the trick ending.

Oh yes, party time!!

Jen said...

Just missin' you so I thought I would stop in.

Perfect Virgo said...

I'm touched Jen, thanks for calling in. Not stopping for gas then?

doughgirl said...

Perfect

I have been so wrapped up in school vacation, that I hadn't had time to get here. It's 130am here in the us and I have just read a perfect ending to an old gas station story.

Yep, I knew you could and would change the ending so as to realize that your fears were indeed just a dream :)

Great job :)

Perfect Virgo said...

Well spotted Doughgirl, I thought you would like this one. Even at 1:30 in the morning!

I noticed you weren't around for a while but your own posts explained how busy you've been.

Just a dream...