Kreative Kue 252

Kreative Kue 251 asked for submissions based on this photograph:

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John W Howell is the author of the John Cannon trilogy of My GRL, His Revenge, Our Justice and Circumstances of Childhood, co-author of The Contract, and blogs at Fiction Favorites.

Roadside Assistance by John W. Howell © 2020

“Well, folks. I have given the car a complete check over. I have some good news and some bad news.”

“Doesn’t surprise me there is bad news. That POC has been giving me fits for two years.”

“Now, darling. Let’s not be negative. Let’s hear what the nice man has to say.”

“Okay nice man. Give us the bad news first.”

“You sure you wouldn’t rather have the good news?”

“No, I’m a realist and need to deal with the downside of each issue foremost.”

“Very well, sir. The bad news is I don’t think your car is ever going to run again.”

“What do you mean? I just had the thing completely overhauled before we started on this ill-advised adventure.”

“Now, dear. We shouldn’t bother this nice mechanic with some of our petty feelings about this trip.”

“Not bother him. What about me. I said driving that heap would be a mistake. And who’s idea was it to take a trip to visit who’s mother?”

“Okay, Leonard. Now is not the time to start ranting about my mother.”

“I think it is a perfect time. We came all this way, and do you think she could have at least offered a cup of tea?”

“You know she’s not well.”

“Not well? That old warhorse is far more healthy than you, and I combined.”

“Well, she still has her challenges.”

“Challenges? Let’s call that little gin habit of hers what it is. She’s a lush.”

“Excuse me, folks, but I need to get back to the shop.”

“Ah, forgive us.”

“Yeah, please tell us the good news since the bad news says we are pretty much doomed to call my wife’s mother for help.”

“Wel,l even though your car will never run again, I can give you a tow to the garage.”

“Excuse me. Where is the good news in that? Are you saying you can tow us for no extra charge?”

“Oh, no, sir. The fee will be five hundred dollars.”

“That is exorbitant. I’m still waiting for good news.”

“The good news is I can still offer you a ten dollar coupon good on any service. The offer expires at midnight tonight.”

“Such good news, I’m overwhelmed.”

“We only have these coupons once a year.”

“Yeah, I’m not surprised.”

“You and your wife want to ride in the truck?”

“Or what? Walk?”

“Dark sarcasm in the classroom, sir.”

“Yeah, I know. How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?”

“You said it, sir.”

“Here’s my card.”


My effort was

Ah, memories…

On a trip into the country with Jean’s dad, Jean and Jean’s car started making some expensive noises and broke down.

Perhaps I should explain at the outset that English rose Jean Hartley met, fell in love with and married struggling French writer Jean Dubois. Jean is spelt the same as Jean, but it is pronounced differently which, admittedly, doesn’t come across in the written word. I have no doubt though, dear reader (yes, you know who you are), that you’ll be able to sort it out and will have no difficulty following the flow of the narrative. Anyway, together with her father, John, the couple were undertaking a motoring tour of the part of France from where Jean hailed (and occasionally rained, snowed and probably any other form of atmospheric precipitation you may deem appropriate).

“Don’t say I didn’t tell you two, Jean,” Jean’s dad said.

“Anything in particular, Dad?”

“I told you not to buy an Astra. Nothing but trouble. And you’ll not get it fixed in France, that’s for sure.”

“Why not?” Jean asked, walking away from the car.

“English, isn’t it? Stands to reason, French mechanics only repair French cars: Citroëns, Peugeots, Renaults—”

“Opel?”

“Maybe. They’re German, but the Frenchies might know how to fix them, living next door and all.”

“Opel and Vauxhall are the same, John,” Jean said, his voice tinged with exasperation.

“Only on the outside, young man. Only on the outside. See – the Germans don’t make cars like the English.”

“What’s the difference?”

“They build ’em to last.”

“Dad, we’ve had this car for nearly twenty years and it’s the first time it’s broken down,” Jean said.

“I told you it would happen eventually, though, didn’t I? What do you think the Air Force motto means?”

“What? Per ardua ad astra?”

“That’s it. Life’s hard with an Astra. And if it’s good enough for the Air Force, it’s good enough for me.”

“But you were in the army, Dad,” Jean reminded him for what felt like the three thousandth time.

“Looked up to the fly-boys though, we did. Clever bunch. Got all the prettiest girls, too – it’s the stories about flying and shooting down the enemy planes that did it. Much more glamorous than crawling around in the trenches,” Jean rolled her eyes at the repetition of made-up ‘facts’ that were about as credible as this story, “And before you say anything, yes – your mother was pretty, very pretty as it happens. How d’you think we made a stunner like you?”

Jean blushed.

“I think you’ll find per ardua ad astra means something completely different,” Jean said.

“Not to me, it doesn’t. Anyway, you’re supposed to be clever, why can’t you get the bloody thing going again?”

“I’ve reached the end of what I can do. It’s beyond me now. How’s your automotive knowledge?”

“I’ve probably forgotten more about fixing motor cars than you’ll ever learn!”

“Okay, old man. Instead of just standing there with your arms folded and a face like thunder, why not roll your sleeves up, get your hands a bit dirty for once and help?”

“Were you listening to what I said?”

“Of course, oh wise one. I always listen attentively to every word of wisdom that you grace us with. What in particular should I have taken on board this time?”

“That I’ve forgotten more than you’ll ever learn.”

“Yeah? That’s just an expression.”

“Not in my case, Son. Not in my case.”

“You mean you won’t help because…”

“That’s right. I can’t remember how to do it.”


Adam and Tania031a
On to this week’s challenge: Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at keithchanning@gmail.com before 6pm next Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.

Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries next Monday.

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