Hello everyone and a warm welcome to the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #4.
Last week I set the following Challenge:
Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction piece inspired by that image in a genre of your choosing. Maximum word count: 750 words.
Please put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at My email address. by 4pm on June 18th. Subject: Fiction in a Flash Challenge. If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be much appreciated.
I’ll be sharing all entries received, and, my own contribution here on June 19th.
AND Here’s the prompt image and ENTRIES…For #Week 4.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
My name is Willie Nelson Johnson. Obviously, I was named for the famous country-western singer and actor. He was my mother’s favorite singer and his music played all day, every day. I know by heart every song he ever recorded.
I cannot sing or play an instrument, my hair is short, there is no beard, I am not an activist, nor have I ever smoked marijuana. The only thing I have in common with Willie, besides my name, is the love of the open road. The day I got my first car was the first day of being on the road. Over the years I have driven to as many places as my wallet and time would allow.
I grew up and now live in Wilmington, Illinois along with about 6,000 other folks. It is called “The Island City” because it is bisected by the Kankakee River. As you can see, Route 66 goes right through Wilmington.
We have Route 66 Antiques, Rte. 66 Bar & Grill, and the famous (or infamous) Launching Pad Drive-In where you will see one of the many giant statues based on the Muffler Man along the famous highway. These statues of fiberglass were constructed for advertising or purely decoration. Here you will find “Gemini Giant”, a 28-foot spaceman commemorating the Gemini space missions.
On July 4, 1998, I took a three-week vacation and drove the entire 2,448 miles of Route 66, also known as Mother Road. I first drove north to Chicago where it begins (or ends depending on your starting point), and then headed south and west all the way to its final stop, the Santa Monica Pier in California.
Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again
In St. Louis, I saw Eads Bridge, the oldest steel bridge, the McKinley Bridge, New Chain of Rocks Bridge, and McArthur Bridge. They are all part of Route 66. Of course, I stopped at The Arch and took the ride to the top marveling at the vista below.
One of my fondest memories is spending two days in Lebanon, Missouri. I stayed at the Munger Moss Motel and visited the amazing Route 66 Museum.
Like a band of Gypsies, we go down the highway
We’re the best of friends
I met many people from all over the U.S. and the world. They were of all ages, races, and religions, and some of us became friends and we have stayed in touch. Sometimes we caravanned looking like a band of Gypsies.
I stopped in Catoosa, Oklahoma for only one reason: to see the “Blue Whale”, which is one of the statues along Route 66. I drove the additional 120 miles to have a delicious meal at “Ann’s Chicken Fry House Restaurant” in Oklahoma City.
Playing my Willie Nelson tapes, I sang my heart out while I drove across Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona making a few stops to see more of the Muffler Men statues including the two Paul Bunyan’s in Flagstaff, Arizona and in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I stopped at The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo for a massive meal and visited the shooting range.
I finally crossed the California border into the very small town of Amboy. When I was there in 1998, the population was 5. It was up for sale on Ebay, but it never sold for the asking price of $1.9 million. A group of motorcyclists invited me to join them on their way to Santa Monica. They were a rough-and-tough looking group but as kind as the day is long.
The most famous place in Amboy is Roy’s Motel and Café. They refused to have their picture taken, so I snapped a photo of their motorcycles lined up.
We traveled from Amboy to the Santa Monica Pier, traveling the two-hundred miles in one day. The eight of us parked our seven motorcycles and one car. We walked to the very end of the 1909 pier. We cheered and broke out into chorus singing On the Road Again.
Karen Ingalls can be found on
This Entry by Gwen Plano:
John Steinbeck famously called Route 66 “the mother road, the road of flight” because thousands upon thousands fled the Dust Bowl for the hope of something better. His Grapes of Wrath captured the dire poverty that so many experienced and helped later generations understand why there was an epic journey West.
Though the road is now decommissioned, it basically follows Interstate 40 from Santa Monica to Oklahoma City where it changes to Interstate 44 through Missouri and Interstate 55 to Chicago. For those of us who have traveled this road, there’s a reverence for its history. My tanka poem (5-7-5-7-7 syllables) tries to capture that sentiment.
This Contribution by D.G. KAYE
From the first time I ever visited Las Vegas, I felt an inexplicable energy through me, an unfamiliar state of feeling that I should be living on the west coast. This feeling had nothing to do with the fact that Vegas is like a Disneyland Mecca playground for adults but more about the atmosphere – desert, climate and just being in the southwest.
It must have been my colorful childhood education from some of the shady characters I’d met in my mother’s circles that began my fascination of mobster stories. After my first Vegas experiences there were plenty more visits there, sometimes 2 and 3 times per year. After so many years of going to Vegas, and one helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon, I had an instant feeling that I needed to relocate our vacations to Arizona, more evidence to myself that it was the southwest calling me, more than the casino attractions in Las Vegas.
The first time I landed in Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, I remember strolling the carry-on through the airport with hub, on our way to grab a taxi, when I stopped myself in my tracks and took a pause when this incredible feeling of something inexplicable came over me and told me this was where I needed to be. A familiarity ran through me as though I were home, like I was familiar with a place I’d never before been other than in a helicopter landing in a canyon.
My long fascination with everything southwest, from the climate to the beauty to the rich history of the various Native tribes and cultures, felt familiar and I’d always had this longing to drive Route 66, pretty much inspired by Thelma and Louise. I’d flown over the spot where the movie ends and their car goes off the cliff, while in the helicopter, the tour guide made it a point to announce.
Our first trip to Phoenix was fantabulous. My husband loved all the cowboy stores, venues and paraphernalia, and me, well, I couldn’t get enough of the views, and of course, shopping anything southwest. Don’t even get me started on beautiful Sedona, but those are other stories for another time. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t going home without something ‘Route 66’ and it seemed only fitting when I spotted a set of luggage on discount while I was in the market for a new bag to return home with since what I’d come with was already overflowing. The luggage was colorful with Route 66 plastered all over. And along with some other goodies I found at a flea market when our new friends had taken us to in Mesa, I picked up this sign.
Here I am living in the east, still living in the dream of being a southwest coast girl someday. Who knows what will come when the new world opens up. Never stop dreaming!
DGKaye may be found here:
My own Contribution:
FBI Field Office Chicago.
Special Agent Daniel Paterson raised his hand for quiet, “Okay, people, listen up! On all five case files, we have death by Asphyxiation. 5 Different states, 5 Different dates. The order appears random. But look at this on the map.” He illuminated the screen behind him.
“The small towns where the murders occurred can only be accessed from Route 66. The states however are in random order. This unsub could have begun his killing spree from either Chicago or Los Angeles. Traveling from Chicago to L.A We have eight possible locations … Illinois, Kansas, Texas, Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, exiting in California.”
He stopped and faced his team, “However, our unsub selected five victims, located in crime scene order, 1. Illinois, 2. Missouri, 3. Kansas, 4. California and 5. Arizona. That leaves us with three possible locations to watch,” He circled them, “New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. The profile suggests that if this perp moves to victim 6 it will be in one of these states. Questions?”
“Dan, given this info, we need to check all available footage on the exits and access from Route 66 to those town locations.”
“Good call, Tracey. Get on it.”
She nodded and hurried back to her laptop.
Two hours later:
Agent Tracey Prentice watched and re-watched the footage. She suddenly sat forward. “Dan! We may have a hit!”
Dan and several of her colleagues hurried across.
“Okay, we have the same vehicle exiting and re-entering Route 66, at the murder locations, in all five states! The dates correlate to the day before and the day after the murders took place. We have details on the RV plates. I’ll have them in a moment.”
“Yes! The RV is registered to Thomas Cranston. Thirty-six years old. Male Caucasian. I’m running facial recognition …”
“Jesus! This guy is a Lt. Commander and a former Navy Seal!” She read further … “Medically discharged, six months ago. Two weeks before our first victim. The last known address was here in Chicago.”
Dan spoke up, “Any request to access that file needs to come from The Director. I’ll arrange that now.”
“Dan, we’ll need teams moving into these last three locations. Let’s hope this guy hasn’t changed his M.O.”
It took thirty-minutes to be granted limited access to the Medical file of Lt. Commander Cranston. His mission briefs were classified as Top Secret and access to them was refused.
Dan and his team read through his discharge details, much of which was edited out. The commander was severely injured on his last mission. The collateral damage was high. Six of his team were lost. He began exhibiting signs of PTSD and was considered medically unfit for further active duty. His ramblings about retribution caused concern. He blamed the Government in Washington for the cost of his team.
Tracey shook her head. “None of our victims were employed in any capacity by our Government. Jesus, what if these victims are meant as a distraction? What if he has another agenda. But what, when, and where?” She stood, something was nagging at her and she couldn’t place it. She stepped outside, lit up a smoke, and felt the chill of the November air invade her lungs.
She glanced at her watch and the date suddenly registered. “Oh, hell!” She ran inside, “Dan! It’s November 22nd! The date President Kennedy was assassinated! Where is POTUS currently located? Please don’t let it be Dallas!”
Dan checked the morning’s National Security briefing. “Oh, sweet Lord. He is in Dallas, doing a meet and greet.” He grabbed for the landline and made an urgent call. Then turned to his team, “Tracey, what exact time did JFK go down?”
“12.30p.m Eastern standard time. It’s now 12.18!”
Dan made a grab for the ringing phone and put the call on speaker. “In response to your call, ‘Operation Lockdown’ has been initiated. POTUS will be extracted. Secret service agents are en-route to the Book Depository on Dealey Plaza.”
“Copy that.” Dan ended the call.
He turned on the live TV coverage of the Presidential motorcade, and they all watched with hearts pounding.
The CNN reporter suddenly spoke up excitedly. “Something is happening here! The Presidential Motorcade has stopped! The escort vehicles and the one carrying the President have just slammed into reverse. Something is clearly very wrong! We have secret service agents and a swat team swarming the book depository! The motorcade is no longer in view! … We have a shot fired!” The reporter moved closer to the shelter of her camera van.
She continued moments later. “We’re all praying that the President has reached a safe location.”
Dan turned from the screen and responded again to the ringing phone. He hung up and faced his team. “The President is secure. Lt. Commander Cranston was found deceased at the scene, apparently dead by his own hand.”
His voice shook with anger as he continued. “By order of The President, these case files are now closed. They are to be designated Unsolved and moved to the Cold-Case register.”
“The order is not open to question! Is that clear?”
Tracey’s face paled. She walked over and placed her ID and her gun on Dan’s desk.
She turned as she reached the door and glanced back at her colleagues as they sat in stunned silence “Déjà Vu, anyone?”
This contribution shared with us by Marsha Ingrao .
Get Your Kicks Right Here.
“Cinnie, settle down back there. Where’s Teddy?” Bobby smiled at his two-year-old bundle of energy. “Put your blankie over you and cuddle up with Teddy.”
The bathroom break took forty-five minutes but Bobby didn’t care. He winked and grinned at his wife as they pulled away from the gas station. He was going to be a movie star.
“Are we almost there yet?” Cinnie asked bouncing up from her mattress laid across the back seat of the 1941 Buick.
“Honey, sit back down. Do you want a fruit cup?”
She and Bobby dreamed of going to California. He wanted to write songs after he got out of the military.
It was early May of 1946. Cynthia was due in late June. Bobby suggested they take a cross-country trip and check out Hollywood possibilities before she had the baby. Cynthia could barely turn around and touch Cinnie in the back seat.
“How long do you think it will take, Bobby?”
“It will be quicker if we take US 40 all the way to San Francisco,” he answered.
“True, but I’ve always wanted to see what the big deal was about Route 66, too.”
Cynthia handed Cinnie her book, The Carrot Seed. Tiny fingers thumbed through the well-worn pages as Cinnie recited the words to herself.
“She’s such a good girl. I can’t imagine doing this trip with a baby, too,” Bobby smiled, his white teeth flashing as he handed Cynthia the map.
“I can’t imagine trying to get this map to lie down flat on a stomach bigger than all of Cinnie.”
Cynthia punched the map, wrestling with the folds, turning it right side up to read the names all the small towns they would be going through. She trailed her finger trail along Route 66 reading the names out loud.
“Galena, Tulsa, Elk City. I wonder if we could get some pictures of elk. Shamrock, Amarillo, Tucumcari. I really want to go on Route 66, Bobby.”
On the third day away from home, the threesome drove through the green corridor from Pennsylvania to the Smokey Mountains. At lunchtime, they pulled to the side of the road and took out their sandwiches. Other lunchers stepped out of their cars and snapped pictures of their babies on the backs of the wild bears who had come to the road for food.
“Me want big bear, Daddy.” Cinnie jumped on her mattress, hitting her head on the headliner of the Buick.
“Too dangerous, Cinnie. We need to go. Let’s sing a song. Better, let’s write a song about our trip. Which one, Westward Ho on US 40 – Let’s Go or Motor Best on Sporty Forty?”
Bobby couldn’t get the crazy tune out of his head. Over and over he sang, “If you ever plan to motor west, Travel my way, take the highway, that’s the best. US Forty, Forty, Forty it’s so sporty, sporty, sporty.
Cinnie chortled. “No, no, no. Sing journey song.”
Bobbie cruned, “‘Gonna take a sentimental journey. Gonna set my heart at ease.” That one, Cinnie? That’s what we’re doing.”
Cinnie sang along until she fell asleep.
Two days later they had to make a decision, to finish the trip on US 40 or veer off onto Route 66. A cool, dry breeze blew through the open windows. Cynthia felt bigger than when she had left home. Cinnie woke up from a nap and laughed as a gust of air blew up Cynthia’s skirt almost blowing the rumpled map out the window.
Cynthia patted her map and started reading city names, “Winslow, Flagstaff, Oatman, Amboy. What about Get Your Kicks on Route 66?” she said humming the first strand of Bobby’s song. “If you ever plan to motor west, Travel my way, take the highway, that’s the best. Get your kicks on Route 66. It rhymes.”
“It shore do, beautiful lady.” Bobby reached over and took her hand. “It winds from Chicago to L.A. More than 2000 miles all the way,”
Five days later they arrived in Los Angeles. Bobby and Cynthia finished the song.
“I have a feeling this is going to be the one,” Bobby said as he wrote the last words in his journal. “Won’t you get hip to this timely tip When you make that California trip? Get your kicks on Route 66!”
And he was right.
Contact Marsha here:
Thanks so much for stopping by. The Challenge Photo-Prompt for Week #5 will be posted on June 19th.
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