a 6-minute story
I belong to a writers’ group and every now and then we do fun little writing exercises. Last night we were told the challenge was to write a story or scene that featured a cowardly fireman, “You don’t have to love me” as a line, and a bottle of champagne; we had ten minutes to complete our effort.
I wrote this in six.
. . .
Ferdinand couldn’t take his eyes off the flickering match. Bonita smiled slyly, a hint of mirth mixed in with the evil. “You don’t like fire, do you?”
She smiled openly now -- “How ironic.” -- and blew out the match.
Ferdinand relaxed. Fire terrified him, yet drew him in like a moth to flame.
“You asked about my elixirs,” Bonita said. “I have something for everyone.”
“Do you have something to quell my fear?”
“Perhaps. Not make you brave, but to distract you.”
“I would love to be distracted,” Ferdinand said.
“You don’t have to love me,” Bonita said. “Just let others know about my elixirs and how to find them.”
“How does it work?” Ferdinand asked, picking up the bottle.
“When you answer a call, take a sip. It serves as a reverse form of acupuncture. It will cause mild physical discomfort, and that will distract you from your fear.”
“Will it harm me?”
“No,” Bonita said. “It’s sham pain.”
# # #
I stole the joke from an old George Carlin routine -- “We don’t want shampoo, we want the real poo!” -- and worked backwards from there.
Ferdinand almost started out as Fred, but that sounded too plain, too bland, so I went for something a little more distinctive. Bonita sounded like a good counter point.
Kurt Vonnegut always advised writers to give every character something they wanted in a scene, even if it was just a glass of water. Ferdinand wants to be rid of his fear, Bonita wants to sell more elixir. I never mention Ferdinand’s profession but the internal clues pretty much point to him being a firefighter.
I could tighten and polish this, but what’s the point? It’s a shaggy dog story, so I’m posting it here.
© Buzz Dixon