Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: The First Half Of A Story Only
Upon the recommendation of a good friend and fellow writer (thanks, Lynn!), I decided to accept Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge this week. His challenge is to write 500 words of a story, but don’t end it. Apparently, someone else will write the ending to my story next week, and I assume I’ll be writing the ending to someone else’s story as well.
So, without further ado, here is the first half of my story:
It was the summer of 1986. I had just turned 21 years old and was working on becoming a famous rock star/movie actress. I had applied to American Conservatory Theater, and while I didn’t get into their year-round program, I had been invited to attend their summer program. That’s how I found myself sitting in a bar on the edge of the Tenderloin in San Francisco on a week-night in July.
It looked like every seedy, little neighborhood dive bar looks – long, narrow and dark, with a bar running most of the way down one wall. There was a gigantic mirror that ran along the wall behind the bar, the better to watch yourself while enjoying your Budweiser or your bourbon and branch. It was populated by a group of regulars – folks who were drinking their way through their disability checks or needing an escape from the monotony of their one-room flat downtown. On this particular day, I was sitting at the bar on a stool near the door, nursing a Cuba Libre and watching my aunt, her girlfriend, my friend Tom, and Three-Finger John play Liar’s Dice.
Liar’s Dice is like poker except that instead of cards, you shake dice in a cup and then try to bluff the other players about your “hand.” The players had agreed that whomever lost would buy a round of drinks for the entire group. I was a broke theater student, so I’d declined the invitation, but Tom insisted that I be included in the round of drinks, even though I wasn’t playing. The group agreed and the first round of the game was played, which Tom won and Three Finger John lost. John good-naturedly bought the round of drinks and started pressing the group to play again. They played, Tom won and John lost again, so he bought the second round of drinks, begrudgingly. For the first two rounds of the game, Tom had me blow into the dice cup before his turn, and he joked that my “lucky lime breath” was the reason he had won the first two rounds. When they played the third round, I blew into the dice cup as before, and sure enough, Tom won again. Unfortunately, John lost again, and he was not happy about it.
Three Finger John was an alcoholic and a compulsive gambler. I never saw him in that bar when he wasn’t lit, and the gossip was that he’d lost those two fingers on his left hand when he couldn’t pay off a gambling debt. I don’t know why he lost three rounds of Liar’s Dice in a row that day, but it probably had to do with the several beers he’d enjoyed before the game started, compounded by a bit of bad luck. Whatever the cause, by the time he had to shell out for the third round of drinks, he was pissed, particularly about having to pay for my drinks since I wasn’t even playing the game.