Friday Fictioneers–one picture, one hundred words, countless different interpretations. For further explanation or to play along, go here.
“Hello?” Tex squinted against the sun streaming off the rusty tin roof. A man with a beard blackened by either grease or tobacco appeared, hiking up a pair of pants that had seen better days. In the 1930s.
“What can I do ya for?” the man asked.
“Just directions back to the highway.”
“Ah,” the geezer looked disappointed. He sketched out directions on the back of a greasy envelope. Tex thanked him and turned to go when a young woman appeared at the screen door.
“Some water before I go?” Tex asked.
He didn’t need the man’s map after all.
P.S. No one died this week, a rarity at this blog for FF.
33 thoughts on “Directions”
This was a good story, but I’m not sure Tex should enter that house.
Thank you! If only we could warn him.
At first I thought that Tex was the predator — that perhaps the young woman’s virtue was at risk — but then, after a second reading, your carefully placed word “disappointed” changes everything — the young woman becomes the honey pot.
After a third, fourth, and fifth reading, I’m convinced this may be one of the most clever little pieces you’ve ever written, darling — and knowing you, you’ll laugh that off modestly, but truly — the subtleties here are just brilliant. You repeat the word greasy, and with just a few words, you paint a picture of backwoods creepiness. The very fact that the man is lost and has to ask for directions speaks volumes about the isolation and OUTSIDENESS of where Tex is.
Your talent lies in not OVER-telling. Me, I over-tell almost as a rule and write it off as post-modern irony (when really, it’s bad writing, but don’t tell anyone I admitted to that). Your genius lies in letting the reader fill in the blanks, often getting them lost in the woods, and leaving a breadcrumb trail that never leads anywhere pleasant.
All this to say — fucking BRILLIANT, daring. Loved it.
I can only say (again and again) thank you! I usually feel like my FF contributions play too much on ambiguity–and sometimes it doesn’t work–so I’m glad it did this time!
And Texas Chainsaw Massacre was definitely on the brain for this one—good catch.
Reblogged this on Being the Memoirs of Helena Hann-Basquiat, Dilettante. and commented:
I didn’t write this week, and there were a lot of good stories I read, but, being in a dark mood lately (Methinks I’m more Jessica than Helena in these cold winter months!) THIS THIS THIS is the story I wish I’d written. If you haven’t read it yet, read it now. If you only read it once, read it again — There are nuances here that you may miss at a casual glance — that’s just how Hannah works — she expects a lot out of her readers — but believe me when I say (and go read her other work if you don’t believe me) that the work is worth it — the reward is usually a punch to the emotional guts — but it’ll remind you why you love being alive!
I’m Helena Hann-Basquiat, your favourite dilettante, and I heartily endorse this message. No, I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV — just go read the story, dammit!
You mean people usually die? Neatio!
I have the bad habit of using my 100 words to kill someone off…it’s cheap shock value but…I really have no good excuse!
The professor would like it. Have you ever written about me?
Not that I know of, but I can make no promises
What would you write if you did?
I really like this piece too. A person can read a lot into it–or not. I used to write a lot of poetry and I always felt a good poem should leave enough leeway that each reader might find their own personal interpretation. It’s much harder to accomplish that with short stories, and especially Flash Fiction, but you did it brilliantly. Kudos!
Thank you so much! I said in a reply to another comment that my modus operandi for Friday Fictioneers is ambiguity. I feel it’s the only place I can get away with it–and I’m learning about the balance between ambiguous and confusing, which is important to distinguish!
An intriguing ending. Leaves you wondering what happens next.
That’s what I was hoping! Thanks for reading.
Funny, I’m picking up shades of The Postman Always Rings Twice with Tex an interloper who comes between the young woman and the old man. I can see how others feel differently. Nicely done suspense and ambiguity!
I actually haven’t read The Postman Always Rings Twice, but I like that you got that impression! Thank you!
And did they live happily ever after?
They may have! Or they may have Texas Chainsawed him. It’s really up to you. Thanks for reading!
Hannah this one is fabulous. I love that I can’t decide who is the predator and who is the prey. I think this is true of life in many ways. Years ago I was driving the back roads in Texas. One night we got stuck in a tiny town (if it could be called that) with nothing but a 5 room motel and diner waiting till morning when the gas station opened. As close to the Bates Motel as I’ve ever been. You recreated the feeling of the creepy isolation in so perfectly placed words I wanted out.
Oh my goodness, thank you, thank you! I have driven through my share of creepy southern towns–nothing quite like your experience though. Glad it worked for you and thanks for reading!
I think the Coen Brothers should have a look at this. Nice.
Thank you–high praise indeed!
I really was in the mood to interpret darkness into that last sentence, and just maybe you should add a yet into that comment of yours.
I was going dark originally but then I was afraid it was too obvious. But, you’re right, no one died AS FAR AS WE KNOW. Thanks for reading.
(Sounds much nicer than Wanderer 😉 ) Intriguing tale that, as has been said already, could go either way, dark or upbeat. Could see it played out as an episode of the Twilight Zone. In black and white of course. Nicely done.
Ah,wonder what happened-was he seduced by that lass or did he seduce her?Did the old man chop his limbs off and feed him to his dogs or was he the one to get wiped off?Questions,questions and my dark mind wants all dark answers ,he!he!Enjoyed this and loved that you left the end open to the reader’s imagination 😉
Romantic that I am I choose to believe it was lust at first sight.
Brilliant! Initially I thought it might be a new romance or something of that sort, but then I reread the piece and was thrilled to catch the wicked ending. Great job!
Thank you! I was hoping the ending would have that dual sense and throw people–guess I was feeling a bit wicket myself. Thanks for reading.
Thank God for good directions and door screens……………………