Thursday, July 10, 2008

Entry #1

Precious Cargo
by Charles Gramlich


No moon.

A sky flecked like mica with stars.

I had my Harley redlined, the V-Twin burning between my legs. Dangerous. Riding fast at night. But I had nothing to lose, no one to care if I lost it.

Then I saw her lying across the blacktop.

Dead, I thought.

But she moved when I swerved to avoid her.

I got the bike stopped, u-turned, winced as I saw… Her back was broken.

I hung the bike on it’s kickstand, the headlight painting her, refracting jewels from her liquid eyes. I rushed to her, knelt.

She opened her mouth but made no sound. How could she be alive? How could she breathe with a chest half crushed? What was she doing so far from town? What sick fate had sent a vehicle to rendezvous with her at this lonely spot. There were no signs of burnt rubber. Whoever had hit her hadn’t even slowed down.

I tried to force, “It’s OK,” through my lips. The meaningless words wouldn’t come.

Then she looked past me toward highway’s edge. I turned, saw something, some shadow. When I turned back she looked like she was sleeping but her chest no longer rose and fell.

I followed where her gaze had led, and saw why she’d been crossing this road, what she was returning to.

It wasn’t easy getting six newborn puppies tucked into my leather jacket but I managed. And no hot-rodding now as I rode away. For once, I carried precious cargo.

42 comments:

JaneyV said...

Charles, your piece made me sad and smile all at once. So very sad at the careless way the dog had been left for dead at the roadside - so happy that the big hearted biker gathered up her babies to take care of them. The end was a wonderful surprise. I have a wonderful image of him driving away with six little heads peeking up out of his leathers.

A sky flecked like mica with stars
Gorgeous image! A truly great start to the competition. I loved it!

Sarah Hina said...

Such storytelling right out of the gate. This was magnificent, Charles.

I particularly enjoyed the bittersweet surprise of the last paragraph, and the image of the transformed biker rescuing the orphaned pups. His character and compassion linger.

You've given us all something to shoot for--what a start!

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

This had me in tears.Beautiful story!

Charles Gramlich said...

Thanks everyone. I'm glad folks liked it. The comments are most appreciated.

Bernita said...

Made me cry.
Beautiful, Charles!

HavasuSharon said...

Clever use of suggestive writing. Of course you had this reader thinking human and it was so very sad. The revelation that it was a new mother with puppies did not ease the saddness, yet the caring attitude of the biker saved the story. Thanks for the bittersweet read.

Charles Gramlich said...

Thanks Bernita and HavasuSharon. I appreciate it.

BernardL said...

I enjoyed your story very much, Charles.

calderwoodbooks said...

Lovely story!!!
*sniff*

Sam

Aerin said...

DAMMIT Charles. Please post "Tissues Needed" Warnings!!

I was thinking deer, but I loved puppies. "No moon." *sigh*

Excellent, excellent beginning to this contest!!

ChrisEldin said...

I'm soooo glad you got to be first with this flash fiction piece on motorcycles!

Your ending caught me way off guard. I love surprises like this, especially good ones. Such a powerful story in so few words. Beautifully written, all around.

Barbara Martin said...

Excellent, Charles. I really liked the twist in the story, at least it was for me. I thought person while the tender hearted biker bothered to stop, and when the puppies appeared...wow!

Charles Gramlich said...

Much appreciated everyone. I've got to get over to read the other entries.

Beth said...

I thought deers too and it was like a sock in the stomach to read puppies. This was superb and sad.

Mary Witzl said...

Aw, I LOVE this! You caught me -- absolutely. And how heartbreaking -- the thought of her trying to get across the road to feed her puppies -- and the title, too, is lovely. Beautiful work.

wrath999 said...

A very nice twist. Didn't expect puppies. Show a great side of humna nature. Excellent read.

Charles Gramlich said...

Beth, Mary, Wrath, thanks. You know a deer didn't even occur to me, but it should have. I've seen them hit on the roads. Might have been pretty hard to get a fawn into his leather jacket though? LOL

Barrie said...

Love this. Nothing better than a surprise when you're reading. ;)

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Great flash piece. You told a good story with a minimum of words
I loved these lines:

"I hung the bike on it’s kickstand, the headlight painting her, refracting jewels from her liquid eyes. I rushed to her, knelt."

Poetic.

K. Lawson Gilbert

Charles Gramlich said...

Thanks, Barrie and K.

CrazyCath said...

At last. I have read something you have written other than your blog and I am so sorry I haven't read before!

Your use of description and metaphor just appeals to me soooo much. Great story evoking many emotions.

The Anti-Wife said...

LOVE this! Nicely written and poignant.

Ello said...

That was wonderful, Charles!!! My absolute favorite that brought me tears and a big smile. Perfect storytelling!

September said...

Oh, Charles...this was beautiful. It made me cry. I kept wondering if girl or animal but the ending got me.
Very, very nicely done!
Now I'll have to go visit your site and learn more about your writing.

HavasuSharon said...

The strength of this story is your descriptive words. Well done. Now let me go get a tissue.

Charles Gramlich said...

You guys are making me blush. Thanks so much for all the kind words.

Lena said...

i loved the end, almost made me cry, so bittersweet. Great work done!

Posolxstvo I said...

Riding with puppies - no mean feat. Hope he didn't have to go far.

24crayons said...

This was awesome! I loved the puppies at the end. It really made an impact.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Charles,
You're a tough act to follow--and you went first! Excellent flash.

Charles Gramlich said...

Lena, thanks. Much appreciated.

Posolxstvo, I've ridden with a small dog in my jacket before. But yeah, not easy to do with puppies if you've gotta go very far. A big problem is that they are likely to piss inside your jacket. But hey, it's fiction eh?

24crayons, I'm glad you liked it. Thanks.

JR's Thumbprints, thanks. Looking forward to your piece.

Sheri said...

Hey Charles,
This was... the first one I read, but I was knew to this all and didn't leave a comment. Then I saw how many entries were added day by day... Shish! Anyway, I wanted to come back to say... I thought this was very clever - your ambiguity with the "she" in the road. I was filled with so many questions and HAD to read to find out... is it a woman, a deer, a dog... Then with the look and the puppies... it was very gripping.

SzélsőFa said...

I thought it was a woman...
Great storytelling, it touches the reader, Charles.

the walking man said...

I am glad I submitted before reading this Charles, I may have been dissuaded. Well done! Love a story that puts the ending at the right spot.

Scott said...

What a starting entry to this contest. Loved the descriptions, but what got me the most was the helplessness he felt when there was nothing to say to help. Man, I've been there before--we all have. Nice touch at the end.

Charles Gramlich said...

Thanks everyone. I appreciate the good comments.

laughingwolf said...

dang... thought i'd left a comment when you first to me, charles :(

your tale blurred my vision, but just for a bit ;)

Vesper said...

Beautiful images and a heartwarming story, Charles. I like the deep contrast between his tough biker persona and his sweet caring gestures.

c.s. said...

you had me glued to every word, Charles.

how do you conjured up such charm in your writing?

really love it!

Danette Haworth said...

Oh, Charles, wonderful. Unexpected ending. Very good!

Aine said...

Perfect pacing, perfect tension, perfect twist...

Superb storytelling!!

I'm so glad you entered. A well deserved winner-- congrats!

(now I'm off to put Swords of Talera on my "to read" list...)

jason evans said...

I especially like the tie-in, the beginning with the end. A reson beyond himself to care. A responsibility.

Great pacing and unique touches of description. High marks!

Congratulations on the Honorable Mention!!