In a Pig's Ear - Day 478: 5 Minute Freewrite: Sunday - Prompt: pig's ear

in #freewrite2 years ago (edited)


"I'm heading out for some pig's ears," he said.

"In a pig's ear, you are," she muttered.

Sure, he was going to the store for pig’s ears. He drove to the Farm and Fleet with the flimsiest of excuses, the flimsiest being that Rocko loved going there. “Leashed dogs are welcome to join their owners in both the store and the auto service area,” the signs proclaimed.

He was going there to flirt with that little blonde at Register Six.

A brain surgeon and his mutt, Bismark’s dynamic duo. The money he pumped into the local economy was what made him so popular, but he was too full of himself to see that.

Never trust a city boy who drives a big pickup--all country people knew that–but even as a college student, Layne Davis owned a 1981 Harley and an Omaha Orange 1969 Plymouth Road Runner and a sailboat he raced back where he’d come from, so he wasn’t a poser and he was no ordinary city boy. He loved the throaty roar and the adrenalin rush of a powerful engine as much as she did, the big difference being he could afford not just the wheels but the gas, while she scrimped and saved for every hour at the track or on the road in cars she restored herself.

She had been an 18-year-old LPN the first time he saw her, Sara Savage, kicking ass at a demolition derby. She had duly shunned him for being a city boy with a big Ford-150 on oversized wheels, but the more emphatically she told that city boy to get lost, the more he pursued her.


For ten years.

“I could have any girl I want,” he’d kept telling her, and it was true. All those college girls flocking around him were majoring in Pre-Wed.

“Go pick one of ’em, then, and leave me alone,” she’d say.

But he was boyishly cute, pesky as a stray dog, book-smart and common-sense stupid. He vowed he would never marry unless it was to Sara Savage, the “little piston,” the only gal who’d ever captured his heart.

“Unequally yoked.” Dad had waxed Biblical and ordered her to steer clear of Layne, and she did, until Dad died of a stroke, Mom rented out the farmhouse and moved to town, and Sarah finally said yes to Layne the brain surgeon.

She gave up stock-car racing and demolition derby and set a good example for the kids. With every new gray hair she grew wiser, while he just got younger at heart and stupider. His energy and enthusiasm, his sense of adventure, were undiminished. He couldn’t see the effect of gravity on his face or his male pattern baldness, a big shiny spot on the back of his head that made him easy to identify in a crowd. In the mirror and in his mind he was forever twenty. Call it Arrested Development, Peter Pan syndrome, or just plain immaturity; just don’t call it cute. His charm had worn thinner than his bank account. Layne would have had her sell the farm to pay his debts but her dad apparently saw that one coming and added an iron-clad clause in his will that the land was never to be sold.

When the kids grew up and left home, she wanted to move back to North Dakota. With or without him. Layne did her the favor of taking a big new job in Bismark, becoming the head honcho of St. Alexius, “serving residents of central and western North Dakota, northern South Dakota and eastern Montana since 1885.” Of course those gambling debts she found out about later had nothing to do with him taking the new job, nor his getting fired from that gambler’s anonymous committee Allen Hospital had put him in charge of.

In a pig’s ear, he took that job in Bismark just for her.

Like fighter pilots, doctors were a breed apart, guys who lived hard and dangerous and on the edge. By now he should have had a mid-life crisis and dumped her for a trophy bride, but Layne apparently liked fast engines better than fast women. He squandered a hundred-grand on a Mazda Miata and called it her Christmas present, but she called him an idiot and showed him the bank statements.

Brain surgeon. A million dollars a year, but taxes ate up half of it, and he managed to go into debt with all his toys and vacations and buying the kids whatever they wanted. Spoiled ’em all, and made her out to be the kill-joy who’d deny them unlimited credit-card access.

Sarah had the rescue dogs and the farmhouse and her father’s land, his father’s and grandfather’s before him. Some foolish young woman could have Layne–and all his debt too. Their debt. At least her dad had seen to it she wouldn’t lose everything to the man who stole her heart.

She watched him peel off in a cloud of dust

with Rocko riding shot-gun, head hanging out the window, nose quivering at all the awesome smells he was heading to. Instead of taking the Silverado, he drove off in her dad’s old black 1959 Dodge pickup. She shook her fist at him as he peeled out–he had plenty of his own toys to drive–but old engines did need some good road miles to keep them running well, so there was that.


Somewhere down the road,

with the kids safely raised to adulthood and sent from the nest, that awful sound of sirens within earshot of home had finally stopped putting the fear of God in her soul. She never broke the habit of offering up a prayer for whoever was in need of those sirens, but after so many years she’d forgotten that one of these days, it could be a loved one of her own.

Rocko. Oh Rocko.

The Dodge was fixable, but Rocko was not. A cattle-dog mix, the best little mutt she’d ever taken in, the one dog she’d loved most, and God knows she loved all the strays and rescues like children.

Layne didn’t suffer. Not more than a few seconds, they said.

A bag of pig’s ears had flown out the window along with Rocko. Some idiot news reporter photographed that “telling detail,” with lame-ass quotes from the blonde at Register Six. “Layne was a regular,” brimming with life; who could have imagined that it would all end a few minutes after she rang up the bag of pig’s ears for that man and his cute little dog. Some 30-year-old guy had been texting when he rear-ended the Dodge. There went a brilliant brain surgeon and a good dog. “Gone! In the wink of an eye!” she said, feeding the media with the nauseating cliches they sought.

The texter got ten years for unintentional manslaughter but it didn’t matter. “Serving time” behind bars would never bring back that sixty-year-old boy and his dog. She still caught a glimpse of at times, a smiling sixty-year-old boy, and Rocko would flash around a corner in his wake, and she’d blink, only to find nothing but tears in her eyes.

“You wouldn’t miss him so bad if you’d get out more and try meeting people,” everyone said.

In a pig's ear, she wouldn't.


Day 478: 5 Minute Freewrite: Sunday - Prompt: pig's ear

Check Out The @FreeWriteHouse Prompt Of The Day By @MarianneWest


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A woman after my own heart! Great story! Fellow demolition derby writer! Love your stuff.

Awww, thank you!!
(Only my alter-ego drives like that. I speed up for potholes. That's the extent of my wild "live on the edge!" habits.)

@owasco, how long have you been with #freewritehouse? you might like this story from four months ago (cars! fast engines!):
Muscle Car Day 353: 5 Minute Freewrite: Monday - Prompt: muscle - it was one of my own personal favorites, anyway. And like most of my stuff, it didn't attract a lot of attention:

Sixteen cents would be a major haul for me, even today! I discovered freewrite house a couple months ago when I tried a 50 word for Jayna.

Writing is my new obsession. I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR ALL THIS WRITING!
Great story! You know an awful lot about cars. Was that a three prompt one, the bolded parts being the prompts? I have no idea how you come up with all that on the fly of a freewrite.

I know nothing about cars, but my mom's cousin in Arizona is self taught and is one of a half dozen people on the planet who can build a car from scratch. Like George Barris, who built the car James Dean drove in Rebel Without a Cause ( Mostly I just go online and snag anything that sounds like something my far-away cousin might say. Thanks for reading and commenting and please keep writing!'re getting dark! Did...did the dog survive, at least?

Nope. Rocko is dead. Did I need to spell that out.... no wonder the daughters tell me my writing is obscure and hard to follow.
Thanks for reading - and commenting!

Hmm, now that you mention it, how could I not have Rocko survive with no more than a broken leg? How totally not like me it is to have Rocko AND the husband dead! What was I thinking?? I also avoided describing the broken dog in the ditch by focusing instead on a detail that haunted me when a mother of seven ran a stop sign, and hit a Lifts bus and killed a granda or two, and both kids in the back seat died along with the mom (the other kids were in school), and some dumb reporter had to mention the ziplock bag of home-baked chocolate chip cookies that flew out the window, the last cookies that woman would ever bake. -_- HAUNTED by a bag of cookies!

I was sure you had an explanation for a way the dog survived. It wasn't explicitly clear the dog didn't make it, so I'm going to say they never found his body...because he ran off into the night and discovered his true inner self and joined a pack of wolves and and helped bring down a bear that was threatening his new pack and eventually hooked up with a very cute little female wolf and they had a pack of seven pups and Rocko raised them the way he was raised: to enjoy life and chew on pig ears every once in a while.

That sounds positively Jack London-ish. Buck, haunting humans for generations beyond the life span of a mortal dog in "Call of the Wild" - I should re-read that, and White Fang! Those books were too brutal for our daughter. She can't even handle Watership Down. I raised wimps!!

Terrifically great, except for; "There went a brilliant brain surgeon and a good dog. Gone! In the wink of an eye!"

Personally, I thought that was succinct and to the point, leaving little room for misunderstanding, that neither husband nor dog survived the wreck. Nothing obscure and hard to follow from my end.

That said, I like @negativer's end as well, being a closet optimist despite my veneer of realism, and hope Rocko adjusted well to pack life. ;-)

As for the books of that type, "Silver Chief - Dog of the North" was a favorite of mine as a kid, which my grandmother had when I visited, and I re-read several times.

And it made me want to visit the Badlands.

LOL! To be fair, I edited this after @negativer's astute observation that Rocko was not officially declared dead.
I must read "Silver Chief - Dog of the North" !
Funny: I finally kill some protagonists, and readers plead for the life of the dog. :) Ha! I feel vindicated!! *The Dog Must Live! I purposely did not describe the dog much, hoping readers would fill in the blanks with their own most-beloved dogs. Then I went back in and made Rocko part cattle dog. But I left out his most endearing traits. Ted the Red Heeler was a devious dog, too smart for anyone's own good. He could confiscate chocolate bars from the countertop - and eat them - and not get sick. He'd eat baby diapers after pilfering the trash can. For 16 years he was fed the cheapest dog food, Sam's. Yes, he was our neighbor's dog, but he spent so much time at our house we regarded it as Joint Custody.
Now I'm thinking about that "Gone! In the wink of an eye!" bit of purple prose. The ending, I thought, was too understated, and it seems some are misreading it as her missing the dog but not the husband. I almost had her fill up the farmhouse with rescue dogs (@tarc, @rhondak came to mind!), but I remembered Sam Bellotto's comments on her Space Horses story - that less is more - that a short story crystallizes one moment. I'm always guilty of trying to pack too much in. Lighten the load. I know, I know. And trust the reader to get understatement - never mind that my daughters to this day do not get it, not in my writing.
Thanks @crescendoofpeace for the many thoughtful comments!

Lolol . . . I remember when I saw Jaws for the first time, being perfectly okay with the shark eating a plethora of beachgoers, but I still root to this day for Babette the black lab to somehow survive.

Of course, being an avowed shark nut from way back, I rooted for the shark through most of the film.

He did piss me off when he ate Quint though. Robert Shaw was always a favorite of mine. Bad Bruce.

Can't bitch too much, though, as in the book, Richard Dreyfuss' character Matt Hooper also bit the dust, so I far preferred the ending in the film.

Of course, Jaws stands out for me as one of the few films that was better than the book, which was also true of The Deep, which came out a couple of years later, was also written by Peter Benchley, and also starred Robert Shaw. Really good film, with great underwater footage, and no CGI.

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I fixed that line -
A bag of pig’s ears had flown out the window along with Rocko. Some idiot news reporter photographed that “telling detail,” with lame-ass quotes from the blonde at Register Six. “Layne was a regular,” brimming with life, and who could have imagined that it would all end a few minutes after she rang up the bag of pig’s ears for Layne Davis and his cute little dog. Some 30-year-old man had been texting as he rear-ended the Silverado. There went a brilliant brain surgeon and a good dog. “Gone! In the wink of an eye!” she said, feeding the media with the nauseating cliches they sought.
Now I'm wondering if I should bother to edit the Steemit post one more time, or just let my wordpress blog post serve as the most recent version.

Only if you have some extra time and feel like doing so.

I thought it was pretty clear from the start, but then I read a lot by fairly subtle authors, so I'm used to paying attention to such things.

I prefer writing that isn't too obvious, and doesn't telegraph every minor detail. And I really liked this piece.

Now I need to get off my duff and do some real writing myself.

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If you can churn stuff out like this, @carolkean, you should be a billionaire on Kindle with the romances. Do you have 300 of them over there now? I hope so. I have known many women, and a a couple of men, who would read a book in this genre in a day ortwo and start right back up on the next.

You are my first victim to remind you to freewrite again and Ha! You have already done it. So instead I will tell you that as far as I know, Tuesday is open for reminders.

So I am doing this Monday for those who wrote on Sunday and you would get the Monday people on Tuesday if you wish. I think Marianne missed your comment, so you have to bug her.

You should have way more votes on your posts. Have you worked my minnow tips? The big post of them is at the bottom of each of my posts lately. It would not take much for you to get a lot higher than you are. I will be glad to help if you have questions, but it's just a matter of stepping through hoops.

huge THANKS for the kind words and suggestions!!
No, I haven't published a single novel yet. Just a couple very obscure short stories. And lots of Freewrites and Steemit tales.
I glance at the minnow tips and occasionally follow up on something now and then, but I really don't work like I should on stuff outside of writing and editing. Thanks again!

Ok - we are going to get it together for you! Amazon LOVES short fiction. They have a special place for it, and promote it and everything. Kindle readers love something they can digest quickly and you are very talented in this way. Your series of 10 shorts will be a smash hit.

You might be my new project lol. I am nowhere near busy enough.

I am not kidding :)

Oh my!
I'll have to use a pen name. Amazon hates me now. I was one of the first Vine Voice Reviewers, but suddenly I'm told I "violated" policy and no, they would not explain, and they flushed hundreds of reviews I'd written since 2002. Seventeen years. Hundreds of reviews. GONE. Of course, I had not saved copies on my computer. :(
Thank you for taking an interest in my fiction! You might like this little mild romance from four months ago: Muscle Car Day 353: 5 Minute Freewrite: Monday - Prompt: muscle - I've already thought about publishing a little collection of my short stories, but gave up because I'm not good at conflict, pace, plot, suspense, and such. I'm too fond of happy endings. I love it that you're actually reading my stuff!

Wow! That is quite a tale. How long ago did this happen? Were they paying you? Did they have your SS #? If not, you are clear. I think I have heard of this before in my authors groups. They think you were colluding with someone!

The idea is that you would publish several 3500-7500 word shorts and then collect them. I'm not sure I have the word count right.

I can't help but read you - you keep getting picked up in places I comment for :)

It was in January this year. I'm mystified. They won't tell me what happened. Me, paid to write reviews-LOL!--I wish. With AmazonVine they send products at no cost but I have to write a review. I do think social media "friends" were the "violation" - promoting Friends and Family is a "conflict of interest" - but to pull EVERY review I ever wrote, including of books by authors dead for a hundred years, is a punishment that does not fit the crime.
Just asked my daughter to read the Pig's Ear and Muscle Car stories, and she couldn't finish either one of 'em. Says my writing is too hard to follow. *sigh

lol - My son @bxlphabet tells me my writing is too painful to read! He was my proofreader for a brief time and it almost was the end of us. I think you will be fine.

Put on your list to sign up to be an amazon kindle author. I do not know what they call it now. At least get registered and then we can work to get you published :)

I think this is the start of the sign up.

I was thinking of going with Kobo vs Amazon, considering how Amazon flushed me. But I see the pen name Cara Helion is not taken. (Rhymes with Perihelion Science Fiction ezine, which Sam is still trying to revive, God bless him.)

Ugh. Sounds like what happened to me when went belly up, and every article I'd written for years suddenly disappeared for good. In my case it was dozens, not hundreds, but frustrating all the same.

I had a few saved, but not everything, and so much for the online portfolio I had accumulated. C'est la vie.

Ohhhh not you too Cori!! You are such a gifted writer with so many rich, memorable details and anecdotes. What a loss!! Dozens might as well be millions, with you. Cyberspace is forever. There has to be a way to retrieve your words. I feel like Amazon flushed my property but it's probably like the patents that a company owns, and guys who created things that changed the world got pennies while their employers reaped millions. (Why can't I remember...only last week I read about one of these...) I never thought to save hundreds of random Amazon reviews. I never dreamed that EVERY review would get flushed. Punishment doesn't fit the crime, and I still don't know what the crime was.

Yeah, it sucks, but c'est la vie.

I was a lot more upset when my former hosting company dumped all three of the blogs I'd been building up for years . . . Between the three, I had just over twenty thousand subscribers, and then everything was just gone. Poof. Sigh.

This is why my hosting company is no longer in the U.S., not that that guarantees no down time, but you can bet I'll be a lot more diligent about backing everything up on a daily basis.

Ah well, life goes on.

Ohhhhh Cori. Gone without any of it saved - and 20,000 blog subscribers gone as well - I have nothing to complain of! You are a trooper and a survivor!

Wow, this one hit home in a big way. Not least because I'm the big kid with the dog that lives for pig's ears.

Funny thing is that one of my best childhood friends married a brain surgeon, and if I'd had to predict who among my friends would have married a brain surgeon, it would have been her.

Great story. Definitely makes me want to read more, which is what all great short stories do. ;-)

You are so kind and thoughtful - has @curie awarded you for best comments at Steemit? You win, no contest, and not because you say nice things to me, but because you always have great anecdotes, asides, and erudition to share. Thank you!

What a story!! What a way to go... in a strange sorta way, it kinda worked out except the Rocko bit maybe ... hmmm

I have come with the next prompt Beacon and an Invitation to check out some cool things that you can be a part of ;)

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