Kreative Kue 59, issued on this site last week, asked for submissions based on a photograph showing a man seated in a tuk tuk in a French car park. He was lighting a cigarette, and a child was seated behind him.
John W Howell, author of MyGRL and His Revenge, who blogs at Fiction Favorites, was the first to arrive:
“How long are we going to hang out in this parking lot?”
“Till we finish our lunch son.”
“You know we must be out of our skulls eating lunch in a parking lot.”
“Why so son?”
“We could have gone to a park or even home for heaven sake.”
“Now you know we can’t go to a park.”
“I still don’t understand why not.”
“You are twenty-one years old, and you look three. Do you remember when you told that lady to keep her effing hands off your cheeks.”
“She was pinching me. What else could I do?”
“Secondly, we can’t go home until I figure out how to tell your mother I traded her car for this thing.”
“Yeah why did you do that?”
“The guy made it sound so great with the savings on gas and everything I couldn’t resist.”
“I think Mom is not going to understand the fact that you gave up her Escalade for this pregnant roller skate.”
“But the guy gave me cash money in addition.”
“Well, I would say it’s your story, and you’ll have to sell it.”
“You could at least give me some encouragement.”
“I could, but I think you’re doomed. My doobie went out. Do you have the lighter up there?”
“Yeah hold on I’m firing mine up first.”
My effort was: “Under cover“.
“So, what’s the plan?” junior investigator Jacques Rouxelle said into the microphone cunningly disguised as a cigarette. There was a delay of several seconds, after which he spat the word “Over” through the imitation tobacco.
“The chief says you are to wait there and report any developments, Jacques. Over.” The reply from dispatcher Nicolette Labrie came through the miniature speakers concealed in the plain glass spectacles they told him he should wear for this very purpose.
“What’s he expecting to happen? Over.”
“The chief wouldn’t tell me, Jacques. National security, he said. Need to know basis. Over.”
“If it’s national security, Nico, that means it’s dangerous. So why did he insist I bring his kid along for the ride, for God’s sake?”
“You forgot to say over. Over.”
“If I didn’t have this blasted kid with me, I’d tell you what I think about your protocols; and exactly where and how far you can insert them.” At that, the chief’s child, seated in the back of the – shall we say for the want of a better word, vehicle – started to cry.
“Now look what you’ve done, Jacques. You’ve upset little Yvon. Over.”
“And what sort of name is that for a boy? No wonder the poor kid is mixed up and unhappy. That’s a girl’s name.”
“Not spelt like that, it isn’t. Over.” Yvon’s crying passed through the tantrum and hysteria stages and settled into deep, uncontrolled sobbing.
Jacques turned to face the boy. “What’s the matter, boy?” he asked.
“You’re shouting,” the boy sobbed.
“So? I’m shouting. Get over it!” Jacques yelled, pushing the boy back into hysteria. Turning to his cigarette-microphone, he calmly said, “Put the chief on. I want to talk to him directly, not through his flunky.”
“No can do, my friend. He’s having, erm, quality time with one of the new recruits. You’re stuck with me, I’m afraid, and I have no information for you. Over”
“Who is it this time?”
“Can’t give you the name; He didn’t confide in me to that extent. Over.”
“Male or female?”
“You know the chief, Jacques. Takes equal opportunities to the extreme. Could be either. Over.”
“So that’s why I’ve got the kid. It’s his turn to have custody, and he’d rather be enjoying quotes quality time with one of his new recruits than take care of his own son. If it is his.”
“What are you saying? Over.”
“Me? I’m saying nothing, specially not in the hearing of ouyay owknay oowhay.”
“Okay, Jacques; just drop it, right? You’ve been given the job. Just stay there, look after Yvon, and let me know immediately anything happens. Over.”
“It would help if I had some idea what I should look out for, Nico.”
Yvon chose that moment to stop crying and announce, “Yvon need pipi. Monsieur Rouxelle, Yvon need pipi.”
Before he could deal with that emergency, Nicolette came back to him, “Do you want me to read the brief to you, Jacques? Over”
“Brief? Brief? All I had was a verbal instruction. I’ve seen no brief. What’s it say?”
“Okay, it’s more of a job sheet than a brief, but it says, and I quote: ‘Take undercover vehicle eight, and Yvon (for authenticity). Proceed to parking by Grand Frais and maintain observation. Do not relocate. Do not leave the vehicle for any purpose. Remain inconspicuous.’ That’s all it says; no mention of what you’re looking out for. Over.”
“Remain inconspicuous? In eight?”
“Oh. Hang on. It might say three. You know the chief’s writing. Over.”
“It might say three,” Jacques whispered then, more loudly, “I take it you know the difference between UCV3 and UCV8?”
“Of course. Over.”
“Just to remind you, UCV3 is an unmarked Citroen Picasso in an anonymous shade of grey; the sort of vehicle that loses itself in a parking, blending in with the other cars.”
“Yes, I am familiar with that. Over.”
Jacques increased his volume to screaming pitch; “UCV8 is a bright red tuk tuk. Stands out like a sore thumb. How the hell can I be inconspicuous in this?”
The screaming had no effect on Nicolette. She was, after all, a seasoned dispatcher at the agency, with more than eight years service under her belt (or was it three?). She was more than capable of dealing with the near tantrums of her agents on those sadly less than rare occasions when her lack of accuracy, clarity and attention to detail let her down. Little Yvon was less prepared.
“Yvon been pipi,” he announced, sobbing.
On to this week’s challenge:
Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; and either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at email@example.com before 6pm on Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here – pingbacks don’t seem to be working, and I haven’t yet figured out why.
Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries, with links to your own blog or web site, next Monday.