Monday, March 22, 2010

magpie tales: flat tires & buzzards

who's to say what would have been different about that day if the nail would not have nestled deep into the rubber teeth of the tire, leaving us stranded by the side of the road to bake in the sun. frankly, i don't like to think about, but i do.

late is something we never were. early or on time, but never late. even vacations were discharged with clinical precision, suitcases piled neatly by the door until the appropriate time to be put in their appropriate place so the door would whumpf shut and we could be on our way, on time.

tires hummed, siblings argued, mom navigated by torn map pieces, and dad stared ahead hoping it would all be over soon, or my sister at would wait at least 30 more mile before needing to visit another gas station just to inspect the interior decorating of their bathroom. there really is no way she could have actually used the bathroom that much.

pshwapt...balarubprubprupt...the sound of a cat trapped in a box followed by a small earthquake shaking our car, and we found ourselves drifting off the road into the scrub, where highwaymen hide the bodies. at least that is why we stay in the car with the doors locked, watching the shadows of birds circling overhead. so much for being on time.

even though the windows are sealed tight, we still heard dad teaching the lug nuts new vocabulary as his shirt darkened from white to a wet grey. surely some kid left the nail balanced perfectly on its head, just for him. mom turned a brilliant shade of red, though she said it was the sun. when i try them out later, i end up with a washcloth full of ivory soap on my tongue. evidently it was not the sun.

the crunch of the tires in the dirt and stone signaled our return to the road, and as we crested the hill, blue lights greeted us, slow hands signaling us through the wreckage. faces pressed to the windows, life rolled in slow motion, etching our minds with pictures, then the wind blew through the golden fields and its was all behind us.

some song played on the radio and being on time just didn't seem important any more. flat tires, not so much of a curse. nothing is random, not even the nails. sometimes i think about that.

This story was written for the prompt at Magpie Tales.


91 comments:

Catalyst said...

Ah, nicely done, Brian. "For want of a nail the shoe was lost . . ." etc.

Lorenzo at the Alchemist's Pillow said...

I love that "we still heard dad teaching the lug nuts new vocabulary". Very well done.

THE BEATY said...

awsome phrasinng of things

THE BEATY said...

awsome phrasinng of things

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I loved this vignette. Very "but for the grace of God go I".

Michele said...

Very well done, Brian.

I absolutely loved it ;)

Tracy said...

Very nice, Brian. I bet you could write a very good novel. (Or have you already?) :-)

Eva Gallant said...

You do have an amazing way with words. I am humbled every time I read one of your posts.

Lisa said...

how life can change with a turn to the left instead of right, a yes instead of a no, a flat tire making us late instead of "dying" to be on time.

Great, great post. Shows there is a purpose in all things, even though we might not always understand.

joanny said...

the cat in the box pshwapt...balarubprubprupt. and dad teaching the lug new vocabulary -- great insights -- made one feel like they were there,,

Is there some truth to the story -- reason why I say that because a real life situation happened to me -- can only explain it by divine providence.

Joanny

Queenmothermamaw said...

I liked that. Great writing and imagination.
QMM

steviewren said...

None of ever know how close we're dancing to the edge of the world do we?

The Retired One said...

We have had that happen too...seeing an accident and turning to each other and saying: "if we hadn't had that one wrong turn, that would have been US"....I know there have been times where our Guardian angels were riding on our roof,too.

Vicki Lane said...

Wonderful writing and pacing -- almost a prose poem. I really loved this, Brian!

Brian Miller said...

steviewren...you just cant let it keep you from dancing...

LadyCat said...

It all happens for a reason, we just don't usually know what the reason is at the time. The big picture is not for our eyes to see.

Bernie said...

You continue to just get better Brian, you amaze me my friend and I love all that your write....Hugs

Green-Eyed Momster said...

You painted this so well with your words. I could picture every image clearly.
Sorry about the nail and the soap. My parents used Lava soap on me.

CottageGirl said...

Awesome pictures you put in my head, Brian ...

we still heard dad teaching the lug nuts new vocabulary as his shirt darkened from white to a wet grey.

And then ... as you most masterfully do ... you put it all into perspective.

Thank you.

slommler said...

Yes! Being all worried about tardiness when a date with death was averted! Well written!
Hugs
SueAnn

rxBambi said...

wow nicely done, as usual. Reminds me of the 911 stories about the people that over slept and were late for work... they were the ones that lived.
You are amazing (in case I haven't told you lately...)

Teri said...

Brian--I am in awe of your writing and am excited each time I come to your blog to see what you have written. This is no exception, again! I am a true believer in "there are no accidents in life". I think you are too by the sound of this!

Magpie said...

You grabbed me with the title on this one...
The story is so very true as was shown in the many stories told after 9/11.

Mmm said...

this is so so so well done Brina. you are a true writer. I loved every bit of the story that I'm not sure what is my fave here.

this part is one of the many that stuck out for me. Sn nicely put:

"and we found ourselves drifting off the road into the scrub, where highwaymen hide the bodies."

Great Magpie tale.

Ronda Laveen said...

Well told. I try not to curse the slow person holding me up or the line of traffic or the extra red lights even when they are pressing me late. Just for that reason.

spacedlaw said...

I love that scene. You have an excellent way with words.

Selina Kingston said...

Amazing writing. Thank you.

little hat said...

Enjoyed this one brian. Your childs voice is a good vehicle. Particularly liked the 'rubber teeth of the tire'. Some images just work don't they.

Katherine said...

So beautifully written! As you say Brian, a flat tyre is but a small inconvenience. I believe ,as you do, that things happen for a reason.
My eldest son hates it when I say that but I do believe it to be true. I also believe that inner voice (intuition) should never be ignored, it's there for a reason.

Peter Goulding said...

You describe it so well, it reads like a voice over for the start of a movie. The conversational tone, lack of proper sentences etc all work wonderfully.

Protege said...

A perfect example of the fact that everything happens for a reason.;)
Your writing only gets better with time, like a great whiskey.;)
xo
Zuzana

Anya said...

You are always so CREATIVE with your words :-)
Lovely written today !!!!!

the walking man said...

Never bemoan fate for it may your life that it is saving.

Nessa said...

your descriptors are placed with such intentional nonchalance, unique and yet so oddly familiar.

even nails can be guardian angels.

Tales on Tuesday - Lost in Space

Nessa said...

your descriptors are placed with such intentional nonchalance, unique and yet so oddly familiar.

even nails can be guardian angels.

Tales on Tuesday - Lost in Space

evalinn said...

Nice story! :-)

Brian Miller said...

well, this one went over like a lead balloon...lol.

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Brian, Well done. I do find it interesting when using only 'lower case' how this work reads different in the mind. -J

Lyn said...

There but for the grace of God...
and, yes, you can use the bathroom every 30 min., more than you want to know..
Great tale!

TechnoBabe said...

You crack me up. Ivory soap on a washcloth. Your mom was much too nice. My mom put the bar of soap in our mouths and made us take a bite. Yuck. It is good that you are reflecting on the timing of things in life. You just never know when your little detours in life are life savers in disguise.

Daniel said...

I like the feel of this one, as seen through the eyes of a youngling. New sights seen, new experiences experienced, new lessons learned. Perhaps, too, a bit of innocence lost.

mo.stoneskin said...

I've never heard the sound of a cat trapped in the box. Hold on a minute...

*here kitty kitty*

*scratch, scrabble, meowwww, scratch, scramble*

Nice sound, I like it.

Life with Kaishon said...

Very good. Like always. You are such a wonderful writer : )

Hater Von G said...

I love how your mind works.

Chhaya said...

haha. loved the reference to the moms making us wash our mouth with soap after the experiments with colorful languages :D

PS: can i borrow ur mind for a few days? man! u write awesome :)

Pat transplanted to MN said...

I loved every bit of it...a great way to use the prompt....the ivory soap reference brought back memories of cousins who suffered the same from "improper use of language" my aunt said! Very well done...

william said...

brian you "nailed" this mate, well written, very good at these tales :)

Crystal Jigsaw said...

As always, enjoyable post.

CJ xx

Angie Muresan said...

Incredibly powerful. Your story and your way with words.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

Your words have enlightened, inspired and just plain touched me! Thank you!

Safe Home Happy Mom said...

hi there, I am your latest follower. You can also follow me at www.safehomehappymom.com

Your blog is really informative, I will be hanging around for awhile digging into archives.

Raven said...

So well written, like all of your writing. You are a genius with a pen, well, keyboard. A tale I enjoyed very much.

buffalodick said...

I got "pot holed" a few weeks back...

G-Man said...

No On-Star?
Chevy Roadside service?

Rajlakshmi said...

brilliantly written :D amazing phrasing of words :)

Jessie said...

i agree with Lorenzo, that was a great line "we still heard dad teaching the lug nuts new vocabulary." you have a talented way of putting the reader right there in the story.

fate does seem to have its way sometimes...

i'm glad you're enjoying the change in pace...sometimes it's okay to free yourself from the norm. (usual writing patterns)

willow said...

I used to wonder at the number of times my mother had to take a bathroom stop on road trips!

Brilliant bit "where highwaymen hide the bodies".

Jingle said...

"the crunch of the tires in the dirt and stone signaled our return to the road, and as we crested the hill, blue lights greeted us, slow hands signaling us through the wreckage. faces pressed to the windows, life rolled in slow motion, etching our minds with pictures"

Good Morning, Brian:

I am with you on this vacation when I read your words, the anxiety, the mindset, the sound of the wheels, and the facial expressions of kids and adults alike, are all so vivid and fun...

thank you for taking reads into a adventurous vacation...you know all the elements in creative writing, which is impressive and incredible!

Jingle said...

I have waited until i have the time and mood to read your post in great details and truly get into your story so that I give an authentic and responsive comment,

I enjoyed it, honestly,
and I have been in most of the moments in my own vacations...

cool post,
professional style!

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Makes one wonder doesn't it? But I always wonder what the people in the wreckage are thinking, if nothing is random.

Jingle said...

I have a laugh when I think about bathroom breaks in your post,
people are funny when they have some intentions hidden but act out on something different...

what humorous, educational, insightful and enjoyable post!

Happy Tuesday!
Happy Writing or blogging!
smiles!

Cop Mama said...

I always read through twice, once just for the story, twice for the real meaning. Wonderfully written, as always.

I'm starting to wonder, unfortunately, what tragedies you haven't witnessed?

Enchanted Oak said...

Oh, yes. A finely wrought parable.

PattiKen said...

You have a way of transporting me to another time and place with your writing. This trip was exceptional! Thank you.

JennyMac said...

Love the image of the mouth full of ivory soap...I have lived that image once before as a young lady.

Kat_RN said...

A timely reminder. Very good.
Kat

Suz said...

Good grief...where highwaymen hide the bodies! I loved that!
You did such an excellent job of having the narrator recalling this incident from his youth
What I liked best was your ability to sustain the narrative with the present feeling of remembering surviving...make sense?
4 stars

ModernMom said...

Wow Brian! Every turn we take, every yellow light we stop for that someone else runs...it really can make a difference. Timing, fate in the hands of a nail?
Fabulously written!

Suz said...

And dang,Brian, from you that's a compliment...thanks

Liza said...

I love the way this piece opens Brian.
"we still heard dad teaching the lug nuts new vocabulary"
Of course, I love that too!

"nothing is random, not even the nails. sometimes i think about that."
Me too.

tori said...

"the sound of a cat trapped in a box" yes, it does sound like that. I never thought about it before but yes it does. Made me think of the road trips with my family when I was a kid.

Baino said...

Sweet. I think we've all been in that packed car and thanked our lucky stars that we missed the frey through a twist of fate.

Everyday Goddess said...

It's a great story now, but it must have been a real bummer back then.

dopey said...

btw...I always had to go...everytime.

lakeviewer said...

How perspective changes when we have lost control!

jingle said...

http://jingleyanqiu.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/which-type-of-blogger-are-you-awards/
an award,
Happy Wednesday Ahead!

Captain Dumbass said...

Love it. I think we all have one of those events, or even many little ones. I'm reminded of a stick that would have taken out my eye if I hadn't been moving at just the right speed or that stick had been a hair shorter.

CatLadyLarew said...

I love the part where you talk of "...drifting off the road into the scrub, where highwaymen hide the bodies." Well done, Brian!

Buzzard said...

Memory lane, takes me back to trips in our family car. Your words are a visual treat for the mind.

secret agent woman said...

I often think about what it was that made me just a little later when I come upon an accident.

Jennifer said...

Brian - a moment after which nothing was ever the same. I never tire of them. And life rolls on in slow motion. Beautiful. Again.

The Bug said...

I want more! Where were they going? What did they do when they got there? You're a great story-teller!

For some reason it reminded me of No Country for Old Men (the book, not the movie).

Matty said...

Sometimes the troubles are really blessings in disguise.

Marla said...

I had to laugh. This reminds me of The Christmas Story. Great job as usual, Brian.

SUN DANCE HILL said...

Amazing Brian, you are so talented. This piece was very visual for me, I felt like I was there. So true that, 'nothing is random' - nicely done! Thanks!

LadyFi said...

So evocative of all those long childhood journeys... and a narrow escape - lucky or not!

Goofball said...

trust me: it is possible that your sister had to use the bathroom that often. I'm a hands-on expert on that matter and trust me...it is possible.


so if you are ever looking for me...post yourself at the bathroom exit and I'll show up after a few minutes :D

chiccoreal said...

The prose is intensely personal which gives the words a direct conveyance. The last stanza portraits the child as philsopher, wise with the years now, in hindsight the real important issues come to light; being there at that moment with those you love is priceless. And so much more important than a flat tire cause by a nail. Love the verbage by the father; how I can relate!

mama-face said...

"the interior decorating of the bathroom"-you are obviously a man. (Not that I was wondering about this).

So, are you writing about things that are meant to be vs coincidence? I wonder what about that all the time. I thought of how interesting it is that these little bumps in the road of life are what we remember.

btw. One time we had to pull over, and some scary guy DID pop out of the underbrush. Funny now, not funny then.

Mighty M said...

Very descriptive! But for some reason I am totally wanting to watch "A Christmas Story" now. :)

JML said...

My dad teaches EVERYTHING his vocabulary. I love your stories!!