Flash Fiction Challenge: Death for Sale

Photo by K.S. Brooks

The car was a 1954 Pontiac. Her first owner was Bill Keenan, a newspaper reporter for the Kansas City Star.

Bill drove the car home and his wife met him out on the front steps and shot him dead. She’d found out about Bill and his secretary.

Now, you can say that didn’t have anything to do with the car, and I guess you’d be right. Still, it seemed to have gotten the car off to a bad start. Over the years, she was owned by 13 people. Every one of those folks was murdered.

I don’t really consider myself to be superstitious, but I don’t see no reason to tempt fate, neither. That’s why I tried to talk Eric out of buying the car. It was useless, of course. He was in love with the thing.

In 250 words or less, tell us a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Then, at year end, the winners will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

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12 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Death for Sale”

  1. He’d wanted the car for years, begged the owner of the ranch for the ability to work for him as payment, and had won his acceptance.
    For two straight years he did every foul job the owner asked and in his spare time he finagled parts and restored the motor.
    When it came time to drive it away, the owner reneged, tore up the careful notes the boy had kept and then laughed in his face.
    The teen, rage and ripped papers contained, drove over the dead body of the owner as he sped off in his prize.

    1. Things got interesting the day he glided the baby blue beauty into this garage. The automatic door opener acted up and I cringed when Eric stood directly under it while pulling, cursing and banging on it. Just when he turned his back it came lose and slammed shut, just barely missing him. A metal rod wound up skewered into the floorboard where he had been standing. I tried to tell him it was fair warning, but he blew it off.
      Come to find out Eric had a taste for danger. Drugs were nothing new to us and when he revealed that he was going to use the car to smuggle bags of cocaine to dealers in other states, who were posing as antique car owners, I just knew this would lead to trouble.
      Gaining exposure was quick, but attention from competition was hazardous to our health. More than once Eric was approached and I just knew his rise to riches was going to be short-lived.
      When baby blue came up missing and Eric wasn’t answering his phone I had to get the police involved. Later that day he was found in a sidewalk, looking like Han Solo in carbonite, with baby blue’s headlights still shining on him like a spotlight. His car went to the police impound lot. They’ve had five fatalities since then.

  2. ‘The Blue’
    G Mitchell Baker
    January 11, 2014
    242 words

    The testacies operated on, were Mark’s at eighteen. Small town women then treated the stout Scotsman with, “Do not do this … Do not do that.” Challenged to concede a portion of his masculinity, Mark became owner fifteen of ‘The Blue’. He recalled the first attempt to force the sell-off of ‘The Blue’. The stocky Pontiac was deemed, “…too fast,” whined the shrew he was to marry, “It is not a family car.” ‘The Blue’ remained and there could be no marriage.

    Then there was the attempt by his girlfriend who demanded, “Please paint that car emerald green.” The girlfriend became far less polite after Mark’s reply, “’The Blue’ will stay ‘The Blue’.”

    Some thought the wreck of ‘The Blue’ would mean the end of it, but Mark fixed the front end and no sooner done, neighbor Joanie came by, looked on, and suggested, “’The Blue’s’ hood line is not quite right.” Mark looked over ‘The Blue’s’ lines, and then looked at neighbor Joanie, “Ya’ care?”

    “Yes.”

    “I dunna’ have a clue what yew refer ta’,” Mark said, with earnest.

    Then neighbor Joanie replied, “Why the hood line … right there,” she pointed.

    There and then Mark said nothing more as he decided to sell ‘The Blue’. Little known to anyone, Mark’s operation at eighteen was successful, and thereafter the Scot was always prepared to decide not only enough for ‘The Blue’, but to pass on any argument, given someone who cared.

  3. Eric’s response to my disapproval was a jeer. “You think I’m gonna be victim fourteen? No way! In fact, I’m gonna call her ‘Fourteen’ ’cause today’s Valentine’s Day.”

    “You better get insurance and name me as beneficiary then.”

    “Yeah, yeah. Look at her. She just needs someone to love.” He caressed the car the same way I once saw him caress a girl’s hair in the bar. The girl had slapped him. But I’m sure that Fourteen leaned into his hand. And her engine started to purr like a newborn kitten instead of clunking like an old washing machine filled with nuts and bolts.

    He tossed his jacket into the back. “C’mon, I’ll take you for a quick spin.”

    I tried to open the passenger door. It wouldn’t budge.

    He frowned. “Tsk, tsk, Fourteen. Is that any way to treat one of my friends? He’ll fall in love with you too. Just wait and see.” The door gave way with a harsh groan. A spring in the seat jabbed my butt. The seatbelt was broken. The heat vent on my side didn’t blow any air. But Eric thought she was perfect. He forced her up to 85 mph on Todkurven Road. He careened around every curve like a madman.

    I yelled, “Let me out. I’ll hitch a ride. You’ve turned into a lunatic.”

    The last I saw of Eric he was driving her over Lover’s Leap, locked in the old rattletrap’s embrace. And I swear the cursed car was smiling.

  4. When Grandpa Bill turned ninety years old, he finally decided to put old blue up for sale. It was hard for him to, but he knew it was the best thing to do. When we dropped it off with the for sale sign in the window, a single tear streamed down his cheek and fell onto his pearl snap shirt. The years of memories rushed through his mind like a raging river. His first date with grandma, the first time they took their son home from the hospital after birth, and when he let his oldest son borrow it to take out his prom date.

    Grandpa shook his head and walked away. He wanted to look back, but chose not to. It was breaking his heart selling the last thing that he and grandma shared. He insisted on setting it up for sale on the edge of his property so he could still see her. It was hard for him to let go, but he knew it was time.

    That car sat there for months before a man stopped by to look at it. After walking around the car several times, he came up to the house, and talked to grandpa. After sharing a cold ice tea on the porch, they agreed on a price and the man took the car away. Grandpa looked where it was sitting for several days after it was gone, shaking his head.

    A week later, grandpa died. He missed that car too much.

  5. Bit of a Poke
    by Sara Stark
    250 words

    “For Christ’s sake, Eric, as if this old heap isn’t bad enough, the steering wheel’s on the wrong side,” Fiona said. “What could possibly have possessed you to buy it?”

    “The seller told me a great story.” Eric smiled the smile, the one that, long ago, had beguiled her into marrying him. “Get this. All thirteen owners died, uncannie like. Murdered.”

    “And dunderheid that you be, you believed him. I dinnae ken what gets into you sometimes.”

    “The original awner, a guy named Bill from Kansas, well, his wee wife shot him the day he brung it home. Apparently ol’ Bill was giving his secretary a bit of a poke on the side.”

    Fiona felt her face burn.

    “The seller swears a brollachan possesses this here motorcar. Swears it pops out every now and again and enters a human’s body. Poor awners always seems to get the warst of it.”

    She clenched her fists, digging her nails into her palms. “Really?”

    “The second awner, another damn American looking to live in the Highlands, brung it over and, get this, he ended up being killt by an axe murderer. In the garage. Right beside it. It’s wickit. A brollachan makes sense.” He smiled again, darker this time. “And the murderers either weren’t caught or convicted.”

    “So why the f– Why would you buy it, you eeejit?” She watched Eric’s eyes go dark, then glow red.

    “Did I forget to tell you, you unfaithful cow, I put the car in your name?”

  6. The car needed a wash again. His excuse, his reason for leaving me alone. That damn car, always that damn car pulled him out of our apartment at the oddest times.

    An affair was out of the question, unless you counted the car. All of his time now went into the car and upkeep of the thing. Show car quality, he said. Like he knew anything about show cars.

    Earlier tonight he even mentioned that he was going to get it listed as a historical object. Imagine, the car would then have better insurance than I do and our baby… I hadn’t told him that part yet. About the baby, that is.

    Not that Eric cared. His car was way more important than anything living. “Easy killer.” Baby put a foot in my ribs again. This baby hated the car as much as I did. “Daddy will be back soon.”

    This is the worst part. He spends so much time with the car he doesn’t even notice. He hasn’t touched me like he touches the car since the night we made the baby. Wow, that was before the car too.

    One good thing that came from all this though, I started cooking again. I even sharpen the knives I use in the kitchen myself. As crazy as it is I take some satisfaction from a super sharp knife. With a good knife I can remove muscle from bone in record time.

    Was that a car in the driveway?

  7. “I’m telling you, Eric, You don’t want this car. It’s jinxed. Every one of its thirteen owners’ was murdered. I looked it up.”

    “Nonsense, Carl. She’s just a classic with an interesting history. Check her out. Hot and sexy. It’s like we were made for each other.”

    ***

    Beth watched Eric handed the cash to the seller. Anticipation rippled from fender to fender. Oh how she detested his type. She’d make sure he got his comeuppance, just like the others. Already the plan was in motion.

    Long ago she learned of her fiancé’s other wives and confronted him. He didn’t like that much. But crushing her body with the hood of that 1954 blue Pontiac before it even left the factory, didn’t get rid of her. Not even a shallow grave in the woods or a thorough car wash did the trick. Somehow she’d stayed curled around that engine. Her revenge came by way of the mail to all five women. They took care of him.

    As for her, she had a knack for enchanting betrayers. The first to fall was that two timing reporter, Bill Keenan. Funny how his wife learned about his affair. Beth’s burning hate for infidelity always helped spot the next target. Sometimes the wife did the deed and sometimes the other woman. Didn’t matter to her as long as it was done.

    Her engine began to purr as Eric slid behind the wheel. It was only a matter of time now.

  8. Life’s one sure thing is death. Hell, I done dealt my share of one shot, one kill deaths, WWII, Korea, Nam, the Gulf along with them top secret ‘jobs’ I done in between.

    Always said when my time came, let me go with a one shot, one kill. Eaten alive by asbestos cancer ain’t no good way to leave this world. Glad your ma’s not here to see this, damn morphine drippin down tubes into my arm helps, not e’nuff. God, I love that woman.

    No, son, don’t shed tears for me. Me ‘n’ death’s old buddies. We shook hands many times. Life’s been a fine ride, no regrets. Where’d that old Pontiac get to? Your mom and me use to take it up’ta Big Bear Lake. You were conceived in the back seat. God, don’t let me die like this.

    I’d come home from war or from doing a job, she’d waiting smile on her face, love on her lips. Whaddya say you done with The Blue Nunn?

    “Blue’s safe with me, dad. It would hurt too much to sell it. Mom said you paid ten bucks for Blue cause everyone thought her jinxed.”

    “That’s right.”

    I could tell he was hanging on by a thread.

    His eyes held mine as the sniper’s bullet pierced his chest.

    “I love you son,” were the last words he spoke.

    As his grip relaxed I whispered, “I love you too, dad. Tell mom I send her my love.”
    .

  9. “Thirteen out of thirteen owners murdered… How can you argue with those statistics? You don’t have to be superstitious to consider that to be some kind of omen!”

    “Well… It depends on how you look at it.”

    “What do mean, Eric?… What other way is there to look at it?”

    “She’s a Mayfair Blue, 1954 Pontiac, in pristine condition, and they only want─”

    “Yeah!… Because everyone knows the car’s history and – supposing they were giving it away – no one wants it. Hello-o-o… thirteen owners, thirteen dead people! Even if you didn’t believe in luck, and I know you do, Eric, that should say something.”

    “Exactly my point, Henry… I’ve wanted that car, that exact car, ever since the first day I saw her. You remember… it was my birthday; she was brand new and parked outside Joey’s drugstore on Main Street. When I brushed my fingers against her and told her that one day we’d be together, I felt a buzz, she acknowledged me, Henry. It’s taken a while, but she’s been working her way to me ever since.”

    “That’s crazy… you’re talking like a crazy, old fool! That was sixty years ago, if you felt anything at all it was static electricity… Thirteen dead owners, Eric!”

    “Right… thirteen, that’s the operative number. Fourteen… I’ll be number fourteen, Henry, and I was fourteen on that first day I met her… get it?… Kismet. Now, at last, my precious is all MINE!!

  10. “Wouldn’t trade for love nor money.” Eric said, edging his beloved Pontiac off the verge onto the highway, thumping the faulty stereo hard. Adele’s voice emerged, bitter-sweet.

    “Old Betty Keenan’s curse? Thirteen previous owners – all wacked. Me next? Baloney!”

    “Figure she’ll give you a break?” I quipped.

    Eric cursed, braked fiercely. An old woman had stepped out. The stereo stopped.

    “Gee M’am, wanna get yourself killed?”

    The woman scrutinized the Pontiac, then got in back.

    “It’s for the memories you see. I planned to buy her myself but you beat me. Son, you wanna make a deal?”

    “A deal M’am?”

    “Twice what you paid just to let me drive her. You come too. Deal?”

    Easy money. She’s crazy but harmless, I thought. Eric smiled.

    She drove us away.

    When she halted in a wrecker’s yard, I needed to smoke. Walked awhile.
    Think smoking kills? Wait up.

    The woman was waving ancient newspaper clippings.

    “I read these in the asylum. Billy’s car … Those terrible killings. I loved Billy, even shot him for love. But all this horror? No!”

    Eric was speechless as the Pontiac entered the crusher.

    “Mrs Keenan … Betty?” Cops, medics running, shouting. But too late.

    “I’ve no money, Son,” Betty Keenan said, hitting the remote control’s green button. “But here’s an end to all this madness. Forgive me.”

    As the crusher started up the stereo revived. It didn’t obscure Eric’s screams.
    Oh, the song? What else? ‘If it hadn’t been for love.’

    And that’s how Eric, number fourteen died.

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