What the Fork?
This is my round two entry in the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Competition. The required genre is action/adventure. Setting: taxicab. Object: plastic fork. Word count: 1,000.
Synopsis: A broken, plastic fork can be a beautiful thing. If you don’t think so, just ask Evie.
The moon was high in the sky when Evie Jameson drove a couple to the airport in her taxicab. She had no return fare, per usual. Uber and Lyft were killing her profit margin. Sitting at a stoplight after dropping off the passengers, she mentally calculated how long she’d be able to keep the power and water on in the small house she shared with her daughter, Kim. Sober since her overdose, Kim was slowly returning to the girl who’d been the light of Evie’s life. Kim had gained weight, found a job waiting tables, and was attending daily Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
The mountain of hospital bills, incurred from the overdose, was now only a hill. The hard knot of anxiety in Evie was unravelling. Her relationship with her daughter was on the mend, as was Kim.
The car behind her honked when she didn’t immediately hit the gas after the light turned green. Evie glanced in the rearview mirror at a bald man sneering at her. He passed her on the left, shooting her the finger before almost crashing into her cab as he swerved back into her lane. She wanted to turn the taxi into a bumper car and ram the hell out of Baldy’s car. She didn’t do it.
She noticed Baldy was driving a silver Honda. It looked a lot like the used Honda Evie bought for Kim to drive when she got her license. She looked at the left bumper for the yin and yang symbol Kim stuck on the car the day Evie gave her the key. It was there! Baldy was driving the car that legally belonged to Evie.
Three months ago, behind Evie’s back, Kim traded the Honda to a skinhead drug dealer for just enough cocaine to send her to the emergency room. Kim’s heart seized and stopped beating for two minutes before the trauma team revived her. For Evie, the only thing worse than having a drug addict daughter was knowing she could’ve had a dead daughter.
The Honda sped up, flew through a yellow light, and turned right at the corner of Holly and Oak. She needed to GO GO GO. The light turned red. She had to stop for what felt like an hour. Adrenaline pumping, it was hard to wait for the light to turn green. The instant it did, she floored the taxicab rounding the corner in time to see the Honda pull in at the Desert Inn, a rent by the hour/day/week motel. She tapped the brakes, easing the cab into the parking lot of the Dairy Queen next to the motel. Evie watched Baldy get out of her car. He unlocked the door to room four, stepped inside, and shut the door.
Evie touched the spare Honda key hanging from the key chain in the ignition of the cab. She debated using it to get in the Honda and drive away. Did she have the nerve? What she really wanted to do was kick in the door of room four, Terminator style, and show the drug dealer her middle finger before beating him to a bloody pulp. That wasn’t going to happen. He had at least ninety pounds on her. She thought about calling the cops. She’d wanted to do that from the beginning.
Laying in the hospital, tears streaming down her face, Kim had pleaded with her mother not to involve the police. “He’ll kill me, Mom. Even if he gets arrested for dealing, he’ll make bail and come after me.” Pausing to wipe the wet away, Kim continued, “I’m sorry. It’s all my fault. I promise you, I’ll stay clean and pay you back.”
In the parking lot of the Dairy Queen, Evie sat in her taxicab staring at door four. She decided she did have the nerve. She was going to take back what was taken from her.
Evie heard the sickening crunch. She leaned against the wall of the motel. Examining the bottom of her shoe using the flashlight on her phone she didn’t find cockroach guts. The flashlight revealed only thick, white letters that spelled Adidas. She swept the phone across the ground until locating the source of the sound. She’d stepped on the handle of a plastic fork. Garbage overflowed from the trash can leaving the remains of a Dairy Queen chicken strip dinner near the fork. Cockroaches scurried out of the leftover gravy.
Evie smirked at the thought Baldy wasn’t the only vermin frequenting the motel.
She stepped over the gravy on the sidewalk, headed for her Honda, heart racing. She unlocked the door with a trembling hand, slid in and took a deep breath. It took two attempts to get the key in the ignition. After another deep breath, she cranked the engine. The Honda didn’t start. No, this can’t be happening, she thought.
Cranking it again, the engine roared to life. She looked behind her, shifted to reverse, touched the gas, and backed out. She didn’t see Baldy peering through the curtains.
Shifting into drive, she took a last look at door four. A nearly naked Baldy was pointing a gun at her. She stomped on the gas. Evie heard a gunshot as she negotiated the turn out of the parking lot.
The next evening, mother and daughter watched the news. A reporter said, “An armed man wearing only underwear was found dead outside the Desert Inn. He’s been identified as Michael Evans, a reputed drug dealer and Nazi sympathizer. Motel patrons heard a gunshot; however, Evans wasn’t shot. One bullet is missing from his gun. The bullet hasn’t been located. One empty shell casing was found among the trash and blood he was laying in on the sidewalk. A plastic fork was embedded in his bare foot. Gunpowder residue was found on his right hand. He appears to have suffered a head injury. Authorities speculate he fired the gun while falling. Autopsy results are pending.
Evie looked at Kim. They smiled at each other.
Thanks for reading. If you'd like to read my round one story, "The Couples in the Catacomb," click here.