Most of the time when I’m writing flash fiction I have no idea where the story is coming from. I just start to write and something unfolds before me. Usually, at around 250 words, I kind of have an idea of what’s happening and how to bring it to a close. Then I tinker with the end until I have it near 500 words, within 20 or so, and I’m done.
Today was absolutely a normal flash fiction writing experience. I have no idea where this story came from or why Frankie only speaks in Lord of the Rings quotes. I only know that it started with the prompt from the gang over at the 500 Club. Prompts, actually, as I decided to try to squeeze both into one piece. Here they are:
1. Write a suspenseful scene, using tone, setting and dialogue as your building blocks. Avoid being heavy-handed and obvious. Whether or not you resolve the tension at the end of the scene is up to you.
2. Write a cafe scene. Avoid any and all clichés.
It’s always trouble when I try to satisfy both prompts. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But since this is, perhaps, even more stream-of-consciousness than my normal flash fiction stuff, maybe you can cut me a little slack.
one does not simply walk into mordor
Jack set his coffee down carefully. “Frankie, I swear if you don’t stop quoting Lord of the Rings I’m going to take this coffee mug and break it on your nose.” He looked to Lucy.
“He’ll do it, Frankie. Please, just give it a rest.”
Frankie made loop-d-loop motions in his oatmeal and blew bubbles in his orange juice. He seemed entirely unconcerned about the prospect of a violent encounter with Jack’s mug. Lucy waited a few seconds and then lay her hand across Jack’s. He didn’t pull back. “Jack, baby, let it go. It’s just Frankie being Frankie.”
Jack nodded. It was a curt, quick motion. Then he pulled his hand back from Lucy, careful to squeeze her fingers once before disengaging, and reached for his cigarette.
“You smoke too much, Pip,” Frankie said.
Jack took a drag and then turned to face Frankie. “I smoke too much what?”
“Old Toby. The finest weed in the Southfarthing.”
Jack took another drag. Still looking at Frankie, he said, “I don’t smoke weed. Haven’t in years.” Then, to Lucy, “You know what the hell he’s talking about?”
Lucy shook her head.
“It is folly,” Frankie said.
Jack nodded to himself and then scooped up his coffee mug. He drank the last of it and set the cup down. His arm flexed as he lowered the mug. Next it was another long, slow drag of his cigarette, the inhale lasting a good 3, maybe 4 seconds. Before he exhaled, he set the cigarette down on the ash tray and placed his hand, palm down, on the table. Then he breathed out slowly.
But before he could speak, Frankie said, “The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume.”
Lucy wrung her hands together. “Frankie, please. Jack’s getting real irritated. We don’t want to have to cut the day short, but you gotta watch what you say.”
Jack looked from Lucy to Frankie. Frankie was busy stacking sugar packets on the edge of his plate. He had at least 15 of them teetering on the lip when he stopped and looked up. He met Jack’s stare, meeting his intensity as well, and with absolute conviction said, “One does not simply walk into Mordor. There is evil there that does not sleep.”
Jack’s jaw clenched. He inhaled sharply and Lucy didn’t know if he would hit Frankie or yell at him or perhaps do something worse. But he did none of these things. Instead, he grabbed his cigarettes, dropped a twenty on the table and marched out of the café. “Take the kid back on your own,” he said as he walked away. “I don’t care when. Now or this afternoon. Just don’t make me spend any more time with him. He belongs in that loony bin.”
Lucy looked at her son and began to cry, but Frankie remained calm. “What Grace is given me, let it pass to him,” he said. And then he finished his breakfast.