This week’s free Fiction Friday story from UnWrecked Press is “Waiting for Joey.”
I wrote this story to address poor Joey from “Peterson & Son Automotive” and delve deeper into the relationship issues with hapless, down-on-his-luck Chris Simpson and his wife Ellie from “After the Storm.” It was first published in PIF Magazine, November 1999.
UPDATE — this story and the three other connected stories that I ran at my site are now available as an ebook entitled What Was Left Standing: 4 Stories for just $2.99. You can download the ebook from Amazon or Smashwords and read the stories on your laptop, desktop, Kindle, iPad, Nook, iPhone, or whatever device you use to read ebooks. Enjoy!
Waiting for Joey
Chris Simpson walked out of the diner without eating, leaving his wife behind. The look on Ellie’s face when he left her had been priceless, he thought to himself as he climbed behind the wheel of his truck. Why, he thought to himself, should a woman be surprised when her husband gives her a big old kiss and walks away? He maneuvered through the light traffic of early afternoon Goldsboro, singing softly along with the radio, and stopped the truck in front of Gregson’s Hardware. He sat in silence with his hand on the door, his good feeling draining away as he faced the challenges of the day ahead of him.
The truck must be burning more oil, he thought, sniffing a burnt smell from under the hood. His hand dropped from the door handle. Have to take it in someday soon, and pay more money to the guys in the shop. Then the doubts swept in: I may not have the frame of the house planned right, the wood could be all wrong, the foundation was off, the money was tight, Ellie’s mother was probably right about us after all. Without ever getting out of his truck, Chris drove out of Gregson’s parking lot and ended up, as usual, in front of Hank “Pop” Peterson’s combination trailer and auto shop.
Pop sat on the front steps, white forearms resting on skinny knees, baggy work shirt tucked into scuffed jeans. A black hose snaked through the front yard, where Pop had replaced the front lawn with a gravel drive-up for his customers. The old man sat as if he expected someone at any moment. Chris almost kept driving, not wanting to have to deal with someone else’s problems today. Instead, he killed the engine and walked up to the thin older man waiting on the steps.
“Pop.” Chris leaned against the shaky metal railing next to the steps and looked out over the rest of the trailer park. Next door, where Chris and Ellie’s trailer used to be, stood a fifty-footer with a broken window and a lawn full of faded kids’ toys. The view made him want to clear his throat.
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