December 2021 Bloom: "Friend Truck"
Many thanks to Rick W. for submitting a good deed experience that inspired me to write this month’s Blooming Good flash fiction piece titled Friend-Truck. Below is a excerpt from the Idea Igniter.
Hi Stacey, Since my surgical procedure during my recovery, my buddy Claude B. has been coming to visit me on a nearly weekly basis. He introduced me to a game called “hare and tortoise” to which we have become addicted. He usually visits on a Tuesday and so I’ve come to think of it as “Tuesday with Claude”
Tommy Claude pulled into his cracked asphalt driveway next to his modest ranch home. He lived on a dead end road bordering the edge of a New England town. When sporadic rattling wracked his vehicle that afternoon, he feared transmission failure. Thank God his repair guy resolved what turned out to be a minor mechanical mishap. Tommy could afford no down time because demand for his services soared during holiday time.
He launched his business two years ago after falling off a high ladder on a roofing job. He had recuperated from broken ribs at home, alone, because an ugly cancer had stolen his high school sweetheart wife that past spring. After the funeral, her friends plied him with chicken pot pies and abbreviated platitudes.
“Here, bless you Mr. Claude, got to go!” and they’d rush off to their own matters.
Tommy’s mail person became the only reliable visitor as time passed. Since his house sat at the end of the delivery route, the mail person always chatted with Tommy, and sometimes took him up on his offer of dark roast coffee.
“Mr. Claude, how are you doing today? Tell me all?” Tommy shared stories of yesteryear, spousal memories, and lately, a rib status report.
“Always enjoy talking with you, Mr. Claude. Hang in there, see you tomorrow, right?”
“Right.” One fall day while watching the mail truck rumble off, Tommy hung up thirty-three years of shingle laying and launched a new service.
Once fully healed, he transformed his vehicle. Tommy installed plush pile carpet, arranged chairs around a coffee table, and set up a Mr. Coffee with matching mugs next to a donation jar. He added a roll-up window like the ones on fancy food trucks. That Thanksgiving weekend, Tommy opened his enterprise. He parked on Main Street, raised the window, and displayed his sign “Down on Luck, Stuck in Muck? Welcome to My Friend-Truck.” The lines burgeoned and by spring, Tommy tirelessly drove around the region seven days a week, stopping everywhere to serve up human connection.
“Come in, have a seat, or stand if you’d like. How about coffee? Talk with me?” Tommy listened to stories about neck surgery, wedding celebrations, job layoffs, new babies, stolen bikes, school graduations, gut-wrenching loss, newfound joys, and so much more.
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