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by mkbayne 

Posted: 04 May 2006
Word Count: 923
Summary: "Listen, you're a journalist; here's the deal: a ride home for the story of your career." "And what would that be?" I asked. "An interview with a man I know who performs human sacrifices."

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Driving on Route 17, east of Binghamton, New York, I saw him... standing by an old Plymouth station wagon, staring with resignation at a steaming radiator, his pony tail dancing in the hot, summer breeze. I slowed the car, pulled in behind him and rolled down my window. "I've got a phone," I yelled.

He walked over to where I'd parked, crouched on one knee and poked his head in my car. "Hey, thanks for stopping, but with all this highway noise, I didn't catch what you said."

"I said I have a phone."

"And I'll bet your folks are pretty proud of you, too," he said, wiping the road sweat from his neck with a blue, paisley bandana - a smile playing at the corners of his mouth.

I was still laughing when I opened the car door and stepped onto the hot pavement," You got a name?" I asked, as traffic sped by like large, frightened locusts.

"Yeah, name's Joel Davidson." He extended the calloused fingers of an ironworker or carpenter, "And you?"

"Marc Richter." I walked over to his car and rolled up my sleeves. "Mind if I have a look?"

He smiled as he ran his fingers through his long gray hair, "Nope, be my guest."

I leaned over the grill and gave the engine a cursory inspection. "When was the last time you changed the oil filter?"

"About 180,000 miles ago, first month I bought it."

"That might explain why two of your pistons are welded to the cylinder wall. How did you manage to get 180,000 miles out of this sweat hog?"

"Just unlucky I guess. Can you fix it?"

"I'm a journalist, not a magician." He used my cell phone to call a local garage. The car was towed for scrap, leaving Joel with a brown paper bag, license plates and a flashlight. "What now?" I asked.

"Now I go home," he said, squinting into the line of approaching traffic.

"If I'm not mistaken," I said, "those are Vermont plates. Can I drop you off at a bus station or rent-a-car office? "

"I've got a better idea," he said, "why don't you drive me home; I live just outside of Rutland."

"You're kidding, right? That's a six hour shag from here."

"Listen, you're a journalist; here's the deal: a ride home for the story of your career."

"And what would that be?" I asked.

"An interview with a man I know who performs human sacrifices."

I stiffened as a single bead of cold sweat rolled down my back. "Come again?"

"A serial killer," he said, casually.

"And you're telling me you know this guy?" I said, trying to hide the quiver in my voice.

"Know the guy? I am the guy," Joel said, his sardonic smile pulling his lips back to expose large, carnivorous incisors.

I looked at my watch. "Who would be ringing my doorbell at this hour?" I decided to ignore whoever it was and finish this story. I took a sip of coffee and returned to my word processor.

"Sorry, Joel, you're going to have to do better than that," I said.

He reached into the bag he was holding and withdrew the largest hunting knife I'd ever seen. "What will it take to convince you?"

"Look, no offense," I said, "you just don't strike me as the serial killer type. Now, about that ride to the bus stop?"

He pulled the knife from its scabbard and placed it firmly against my throat. "What's it gonna' take, Newspaper Man?"

It was then I noticed his cold, lifeless eyes. "Maybe this guy's on the level," I thought. "OK, Joel," I said, "flag down a passing motorist and cut off his head."

"In broad daylight? Are you cra…?"

The doorbell now became one continuous ring. "All right, already," I shouted, "I'm coming." I walked toward the door mumbling obscenities.

There were two of them: a man and a woman; late twenties, early thirties. Their hats were blocked and they carried badges.

"Are you, Martin Bayne?"

"Depends. Who's asking?"

"I'm Officer Cahill," said the muscular woman, "and this is my partner, Officer Johnson. New York State Literary Police.

I started to speak, but they ignored me and headed straight for my ink jet printer.

Officer Johnson adjusted his hat and squared his shoulders. "Is this yours?" "Citronella Memories?"

"You're darn right it's mine. Exactly what right..."

"I'll ask the questions, Bayne. The protagonist, this 'Richter' character; a little cavalier with a knife at his throat, wouldn't you say? And the bit about cutting off the head of a passing motorist," he said, shaking his head, "I can't remember the last time I read something this contrived."

"It's only the first draft and I..."

He ignored me. "You know, I could have lived with 'sweat hog." I didn't like it, but I could have lived with it. But 'carnivorous incisors?' I've got to draw the line somewhere. No, I'm afraid we're going to have to call this one in."

And that's how it went down. Later that night I confessed to hundreds of outrageous characters, mangled plots, and long-winded narratives.

Four months later, I pled guilty to Trash Flash - a Class D felony, and paid a $5,000 fine.

Fortunately, even as a felon, I was able to land a job working for the government -- as President George W. Bush's Speech Writer. It's not as much fun as fiction, but the benefits are pretty good and I can write whatever I want.

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Comments by other Members

Bandy Bundy at 07:55 on 05 May 2006  Report this post
You is mad Martin,

Laughed my socks off at this.

Great piece of tongue in cheek flash.

Keep the faith Red Ranger.


Prospero at 08:12 on 05 May 2006  Report this post
This is very funny Mr Bayne. And now we know the truth about George. He is repeating what you've written word for word :)



ginag at 21:14 on 05 May 2006  Report this post

There's me trying to think of a tactful way of saying
carnivourous incisors
stinks when it was deliberate all along.

I'm still laughing.



mkbayne at 03:58 on 06 May 2006  Report this post
Kev, Gina, John:

This never started out as a farce. In fact, the original MS began...

It's hard to imagine what his last conscious moments must have been like in the seconds before his fragile, four week-old body slammed into the tractor trailer at 70 miles an hour. I watched the impact; the explosion of blood and bits of brain matter, and imagined the small, lifeless body on the shoulder of the road. I finished my tuna sandwich, and activated a button on the steering console. Seconds later, a flush of scented, peacock-blue liquid removed what was left of the exoskeleton from the windshield. One less mosquito in the universe I thought as I removed a piece of celery from my teeth.

Prospero at 05:27 on 06 May 2006  Report this post
Well, what ever it started out as it certainly finished very well. A very enjoyable and funny story with a real sting in the tail.



eyeball at 12:21 on 08 May 2006  Report this post
Hi Martin
Absolutely love this. I was just getting ready to say, 'He's a bit calm in the face of this' when it went all metafiction on me. Really sharp and clever.

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