NaShoStoMo Story Number 1

This one is called Bagel Bite. It’s one I’ve thought about a little over the years. I actually see it as a filmed short.

Coppola, feel free to call me when you get a minute.

Here you go:

*  *  *  *  *

“Can I get a sausage bagel, hash browns, and a coffee with three sugars and two creams?” Karl Edwards pulled his head back into his car, lifting the automatic window button. The window screamed as it rose slowly, allowing plenty of sideways-flying rain to spatter on his slacks and sleeve.

“Great,” he muttered, “just great.”

The attendant in the Burger King repeated his order back to him.

Karl lifted his mouth to the gap he had left open in the window. “Yeah. But that’s three sugars. THREE.”

He pulled forward to the second window, digging into his back pocket for his wallet. He swore. “Stupid thing.” He jabbed his thumb onto the seat belt release button, arced his butt off the seat, and finally yanked his wallet free.

He propped an elbow on the wheel, using both hands to select a credit card, “What’s in YOUR wallet?” He snorted. “Idiotic commercials.”

Window down, glass screeching on some hidden metal thing inside his door, arm with card extended, even more soaked, “Dammit!”, “No signature needed, sir,” grab the bag and finally he was pulling out of the insanely slow drive through.

He stopped just inside the entrance to the Burger King’s lot and mixed his coffee. He took a sip. “By John Henry’s snot, that is awful.” He set the drink into the cup holder, re-buckled his seatbelt, and pulled into the road, merging quickly toward the freeway.

The smell of the hash browns was torture, but Karl knew better than to try to get at his breakfast while merging onto the I-freaking-15, especially on construction days. He punched the radio on, hoping for a quick traffic update. Tom Petty was playing. It was like the Steve Miller and Tom Petty love show every morning on every idiotic radio station out there.

“Now I’m a bad boy,” Karl sang, checking his blind spot and punching the gas. “For breakin’ her heart.” The Camry glided into the river of cars like a salmon heading for home. “Now I’m FREEEEE! Free-falli-” He punched the CD button, sick of the dude’s nasal voice.

After a moment of silence, a smooth baritone came on. “The second campaign of the offensive began…”

Karl reached for the sack containing his breakfast. Finally. Trading glances between the passenger seat where the paper bag sat and the road ahead of him, Karl extracted the Golden Fleece, the Holy Grail of every morning. The golden discs practically glowed with glorious, artery-murdering goodness.

He snagged a hash brown with his tongue—a practiced movement. He would eat only hash browns for breakfast, but then Irene would complain about his weight again. It wasn’t really a problem; the sausage bagel was pretty good.

Karl guided his Camry into the fast lane, eased it up to 72 miles per hour, and hit cruise control. “The landing,” said the baritone voice, “would prove to be more problematic than expected due to…”

Karl savored the moment. No screaming kids. No dishes to wash. Irene still had her looks—man, those legs—and they laughed at Thursday night comedies together every week, but sometimes the woman would just not let up about health stuff. Last month it had been all about the legumes. Now the family had to drink beet kvass every morning.

And that stuff was fouler than a dog with diarrhea.

Too soon, the hash-browns were gone. He squeezed the card-paper container, tossed it into the shopping bag hanging from the passenger seat, and reached for the sandwich. He tapped his brakes. “Moron! Fast lane!” Checking his right side blind spot, both hands back on the wheel, Karl slipped around the slow-moving Caprice and a moment later was back in the groove.

Trading glances again, he snagged his sandwich, unwrapped it halfway—useful, these elbows—and took a bite. “Not bad,” he said around his mouthful of sausage and bagel. A bit went down the wrong tube and Karl coughed. No good. He pushed another cough out, but it was cut short. Damn, that thing was in but good. He set the sandwich down on the passenger seat, forcing another cough. Nothing.

Holy crap. He grabbed his coffee and took a sip; tried to swallow. No good.

Mouth full of coffee, sausage and bagel, Karl began to panic. He hastily checked over his right shoulder, found a space and pulled through, edging to the side of the freeway. He tried shoving out breaths jerkily, but nothing was happening. He tried to suck in air through his nose.

Nothing.

His vision began to go red. His heart dropped, then tried hammering its way out of his spleen or kidney or whatever was down there. He slammed his chest with his right fist. All that happened was a wet, gasping sound, like a seal with laryngitis.

He swore mentally, frantic now. A thought flashed through him. I’m gonna die. I’m gonna kill a bunch of people on this freeway and I’m gonna die of a sausage bagel. He wished he could laugh.

He had to get off the freeway. An exit! He swerved, jabbing his brakes repeatedly to slow quickly without losing control. Horns and screeches faded behind him.

I need a Heimlich.

Karl stared for a moment at his steering wheel, tried to force the stuck bite out of his craw, and knew what he had to do. Red ebbed into black at the edge of his vision. Spots swam before his eyes.

He was coming to the end of the exit ramp, to an intersection with a telephone pole on the right-hand corner. Too many cars! It didn’t matter. He swerved off the road, ran onto the sidewalk and braced himself.

The Camry folded against the telephone pole- an explosion of sound and glass scattering in every direction. Airbags burst out, slamming Karl in the side and upper stomach and face. Coffee splattered all over the dash.

He coughed. Tasted sausage and bagel and sulfur or brimstone or something. It smelled like a box of matches had been lit all at once.

Karl coughed again, spitting out the bite of breakfast sandwich.

“Snot of the gods,” he said, awed. “It worked.” He looked up, taking in his destroyed Camry.

“The entrenched fifty calibers proved to be the worst the enemy had to offer…” the baritone voice continued.

“Great,” Karl said. “How do I explain this?

*  *  *  *  *

So, whatcha think? Are you doing NaShoStoMo too? If you are, and are posting your stories to your site, feel free to post your website addy in a comment.

And let me know, Coppola. Or Ridley Scott. I’m not picky.

 

About jaredgarrett

Jared Garrett is the author of Beat, a YA scifi thriller, and its forthcoming sequel, both published by Future House Publishing. A new series, debuting in January 2016 and also published by Future House, kicks off with Lakhoni, a fast-paced rescue adventure in a world reminiscent of Aztec culture, to be released in January 2016. He self-published Beyond the Cabin, a novelization of his childhood in a cult, in December 2014. Both Beat and Beyond the Cabin were Whitney Award nominees, and his story Song of the Wind, received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. In addition to writing, he's spent fifteen years in adult education and is an accomplished public speaker and workshop leader.
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