Fill in the Blanks

It’s Friday. Max just got off work at the ____________. He’s on his way home, driving his ___________. Waiting at home for him is his ________, whose name is ____________. Halfway home he sees a ________ in the ditch, clearly having slid off the snowy blacktop. There is movement in the _________, so Max pulls over.

“____________,”says Max. “I think I’d better ______________.” Too bad I won’t be able to meet __________ at the ____________.”

__________ and ___________ and ___________.

22 responses to “Fill in the Blanks

  1. It’s Friday. Max just got off work at the Lucky Golden Moon Restaurant. He’s on his way home, driving his convertible rickshaw with the top down. Waiting at home for him is his court appointed immigration attorney, whose name is Mr. Feinberg. Halfway home he sees a truck load of cats in the ditch, clearly having slid off the snowy blacktop. There is movement in the back of the truck, so Max pulls over.

    “Hello Kitties!” says Max. “I think I’d better take you back to work.” Too bad I won’t be able to meet Uncle Ho and the rest of the Che-Min family at the Harbor Freight container yard.”

    Max peddled happily through the snowy darkness and the kitties said ”meow” and “meow, meow, meow.”

  2. galelikethewind

    It’s Friday, Max just got off work at the disco. He’s on his way home, driving his custom, lowered 57 Chevy,. Waiting at home for him is his main squeeze, whose name is Bambi Perfecto. Halfway home he sees a man in a white suit in the ditch, clearly having slid off the snowy blacktop. There is movement in the pelvic area, so Max pulls over.
    `”Is that you Fast Freddy?” says Max. I think I ‘d better take you back to the ballroom. “ Too bad I won’t be able to meet the rest of the gang waiting for me at the pool hall, bowling alley, and Sears parking lot.

  3. It’s Friday night, the night after Thanksgiving. People have been filling their bellies with turkey leftovers, snug in their homes, sipping something warm. Or on ice. Except for Max. Max just got off work at the Pizza Palace – he’s on the night delivery crew and is one delivery away from heading home. Max usually makes enough tips to keep his half of the rent paid. Gas money. Stuff like that. But now, after a dismal evening of few deliveries, he’s on his way home, driving his beater with the bumper sticker that reads MY OTHER CAR IS A PIECE OF SHIT TOO. He doesn’t have another car.

    Waiting at home for him is his roommate Carla, his roommate with benefits. Not much of a looker, but Max likes her. She laughs at his lame jokes, sometimes for a second or third time. She has a real job, and helps Max with his community college homework. She doesn’t nag him about pulling his load with the expenses — qualities that many of his married friends would divorce for.

    Halfway home the temperature is dropping and the snowfall has already filled previous tire ruts. It first fell in fat, wet flakes, the ones that make really hefty snowballs, doing that hypnotic thing as headlights cut through it. Now they are crystalline, like ice. The wind scurries them around in a ballet of white dancing pixies. He feels the back wheels spin if he gives it too much gas. For the hell of it he taps the gas, and a fishtail teases his tired senses. As his car swereves to the right, the faintest glow of a pair of taillights canted at an angle catches his attention. Max taps the brakes and slows. He sees the outline of a car blanketed in snow in the ditch. The headlights are barely on, the car clearly having slid off the showy blacktop. There is movement in the car, so Max pulls over. He notices that the stranded car is in worse shape than his. Shades of primer grey and rusty brown are evident in several places.

    “Looks like this last delivery might be a bit late,” says Max to no one in particular. He wraps his scarf around his neck, grabs his delivery flashlight, and trudges to the car. “I think I’d better see if things are okay.”

    Inside a mother and her two kids huddle in the back seat trying to stay warm. The car is out of gas, the engine cold, the occupants colder. Max taps the rear window with his light and the woman gives a startled scream as she gathers her children in her arms. Max makes that “wait-a-minute” sign with his hand and returns to his car.

    A slippery minute later Max is back at the stranded car wearing a smile. He pops the top of the pizza box and shines his flashlight on its contents. Two small hungry faces press against the glass as Max nods his head. The back seat window cranks down a few inches. He watches the eyes of the apprehensive mom and passes the pizza box through the opening.

    Max returns to his car and picks up his cell phone. He dials 911.

    “I think I’d better call Carla, too,” he tells himself.

    “Carla. Max. Too bad I won’t be able to meet you at the regular time and, well, you know. But save me a warm spot. I’m going to need it tonight.”

  4. It’s Friday. Max just got off work at the _”day job”_. He’s on his way home, driving his _favorite winter truck_. Waiting at home for him is his _pet caribou_, whose name is _Rudolph_. Halfway home he sees a _camouflaged Ford F150 pickup truck_ in the ditch, clearly having slid off the snowy blacktop. There is movement in the _woods next to the road_, so Max pulls over.

    “_It’s that season again_,” says Max. “I think I’d better _get my vest_.” Too bad I won’t be able to meet _Mister Nicholas_ at the _landing_.”

    _He reached behind the seat_ and _pulled the thirty-aught-six from it’s padded sheath_ and _walked toward the woods. He brushed against the rear bumper revealing a sticker that read “I break for hunters.”_

  5. Krystyna Fedosejevs

    It’s Friday. Max just got off work at the Roly-Poly Funtastic Fitness Centre. He’s on his way home, driving his refurbished 1950’s Studebaker, a gift from his parents upon his college graduation.

    Waiting at home for him is his best friend, a miniature dachshund, whose name is Marzipan (Max’s favorite treat).

    Halfway home he sees a rusty, navy pickup on its side in the ditch, clearly having slid off the snowy blacktop. There is movement in the partially crushed cabin, an arm tossing about in linear spasms, so Max pulls over.

    “Stay still! I’ll try to smash the window and get you out,”says Max. “I think I’d better wait. Just called 911. Too bad I won’t be able to meet my girlfriend, Lisa, at the café for a cappuccino. She probably won’t wait for me.”

    Max returned to the warmth of his car and within minutes a police officer with a curled moustache, Lisa’s father, arrived and Lisa smiled warmly at his side.

  6. Krystyna Fedosejevs

    Whoops! ‘Tense’ correction:

    It’s Friday. Max just got off work at the Roly-Poly Funtastic Fitness Centre. He’s on his way home, driving his refurbished 1950’s Studebaker, a gift from his parents upon his college graduation.

    Waiting at home for him is his best friend, a miniature dachshund, whose name is Marzipan (Max’s favorite treat).

    Halfway home he sees a rusty, navy pickup on its side in the ditch, clearly having slid off the snowy blacktop. There is movement in the partially crushed cabin, an arm tossing about in linear spasms, so Max pulls over.

    “Stay still! I’ll try to smash the window and get you out,”says Max. “I think I’d better wait. Just called 911. Too bad I won’t be able to meet my girlfriend, Lisa, at the café for a cappuccino. She probably won’t wait for me.”

    Max returns to the warmth of his car and within minutes a police officer with a curled moustache, Lisa’s father, arrives and Lisa smiles warmly at his side.

  7. It’s Friday. Max just got off work at the Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska, a few miles outside of Fairbanks. He’s on his way home, driving his dog team. Waiting at home for him is his reindeer team, whose name is Aerial Fliers. Halfway home he sees a large delivery truck in the ditch, clearly having slid off the snowy blacktop. There is movement in the truck, so Max pulls over.

    “Hey, there,” says Max to the driver who’s staring sadly at his half-buried truck. “I think I better hook these guys up and pull you out.” Too bad I won’t be able to meet my wife at the book club meeting, he laughs to himself.

    Max turns his face away like he is going to sneeze, waits a second, the reaches into a small leather pouch in the basket of the dog sled. He pulls a stout chain from the bag, which he attaches directly to the team’s gangline and to the tow hook under the front bumper of the truck.

    “You gotta be kidding me,” says the truck driver. “No way is this going to work.”

    Max just smiles and says, “How ‘bout you get in the cab and steer while we pull you outta there.” He waits until the driver is set then turns to his dogs. “Fella says you can’t do it, so let’s change his mind. Hike!”
    The first jerk yanks the truck’s front wheels in line with the road. The second yank pulls them to the top of the incline, and with a long, steady pull, the truck is upright and journey bound.

    “Well, I’ll be. Never seen anything like that before,” says the driver as he climbs out of the cab. “Name’s Ed. Can’t thank you enough. You just saved a lot of kids from disappointment.”

    “How’s that? I’m Max, by the way,” says Max.

    “This truck is carrying toys from the Alaska Air National Guard. You maybe heard of Toys for Tots? Here, I’ll show you,” he says and walks around to the back of the truck where he lifts the gate.

    “Wow,” says Max. “You’ve got, what? A third of a truckload? Nice. Where are they going?”

    “Some right here in North Pole, down to the community hall tonight for the annual Christmas party. Then I’ll drive on out to Tok and Northway. After that, I’ll go south to Mentasta, Slana, and Chistochina. If there’s anything left, I’ll take them into Nabesna, but this year’s been a tough year and I doubt there will even be enough for those villages south of here. Bad times, you know?”

    “Yeah, I do in fact. Bad times indeed. So, you think you’ll be okay now? Keep the rubber on the asphalt?”

    “Well, tell you the truth, these tires are fine as long as there’s less than a foot of snow, but there must be 16 inches out here. I probably should turn around and go back to Fairbanks instead of going on to North Pole.”

    “Tell you what. You got a spare tire on this rig? Good. Roll it on outa there and I’ll clear you a path.”

    Ed climbs into the truck bed and rolls the tire out. Max takes the chain
    off the truck and wraps it around the tire. “You sit right here, Ed, until I get back. Won’t take long.

    Ed gets into the warm truck cab and the next thing he knows, Max and the dogs are flying up the highway, the spare tire behind the sled leaving a rooster tail of snow behind it. Fifteen minutes later, Max and the huskies arrive back at the truck, leaving behind them two perfectly parallel plowed ruts in the snow.

    “You’re all set, Ed. It’s good all the way to the community club. Lots of kids down there playing in the snow. They’ll be happy to see you.” The men exchange goodbyes and holiday greetings.

    As Ed drives away, carefully steering the tires into the plowed lines, Max lifts his arm and pretends to sneeze.

    A short time later, Ed pulls into the parking lot of the North Pole community club. Dozens of kids burst from the hall to see him. Members of the Guard are there to unload the truck. “Count carefully,” says the sergeant, “We don’t want to short the kids in other village. We need 57 gifts here.”

    Ed turns the latch on the truck’s gate, but instead of rolling up easily, it moves only an inch. “Must be frozen,” he says. “Give me a hand here, guys, and we’ll see if we can raise it by hand.” Four Guardsmen stuck their gloved fingers in the narrow slot and on the count of three pushed upwards with all their strength. The gate shoots upwards and toys tumble from the back of the truck, burying Guardsmen up to their knees in toy trucks, dolls, drum sets, X-boxes, and tea sets.

    “Load must of shifted,” says Ed.

    “Shifted?” says the sergeant. “This truck is so jammed with stuff a mouse couldn’t have moved in there.”

    Ed’s jaw drops and he says nothing as he stares into the truck.

    Early the next morning, before the sun has even thought about casting light on a landscape stilled by 50 below zero temperatures, Ed parks his truck in his yard and heads for his kitchen.

    “I swear, Martha, I am not had a drink, but I got a story to tell that you aren’t going to believe.”

    “Were there enough toys for all the kids, Ed? Were there enough for those miners’ kids at Nabesna? I was so worried about that.”

    “Enough? Enough! There were more than enough. Fact of the matter is, each kid got three or four gifts. I swear, every time I lifted the gate on that truck, it was full again, no matter how many toys we took out at each stop. I even went out to Eielson air base and left a bunch there.”

    “What are you talking about, Ed? How can that be?”

    “I don’t know how to explain it, Martha. But it’s true, every bit of it. Funny this is, I almost didn’t make it to the first stop because the truck slid off the highway a few miles out of North Pole, and then this old fella came by with a dog team and pulled me out and plowed me a lane into…..” Ed pauses a minute, thinking about the stranger and his dogs.
    “Hope that old boy ain’t catching cold.”

    “What’s that, Ed,” says Martha.

    “Well, every once in a while he’d stick his face in the crook of his elbow and sneeze. Just thought he might be coming down with a cold.” A swatch of pink light from the window bathes Ed’s face, the color of the winter sun as it rises in Alaska. At that same time, a light bulb seems to turn on over Ed’s head.

    Nah,” he says. “No way. He said his name was Max.” But what other explanation is there, thinks Ed. What other explanation?

    • For those of you who think I’m exaggerating here, I have a friend whose dog team pulled a pickup from a ditch. Honest.

  8. Sorry about the typos. Had cataract surgery a few hours ago and am having trouble seeing with one eye in a dimly lit hotel room.

    • Gullie: here’s wishes for a speedy recovery, soon your eyesight will be as sharp as your wit!

      • My eyesight has exceeded whatever wit I might possess, even tho I look like a prize fighter the morning after. You know the old joke when someone looks battered? You should see the other guy? I AM the other guy.

  9. It’s Friday. Max just got off work at the Tim Horton’s on Third Avenue and he has never been so tired in his life. He’s on his way home, driving his Sunfire with his brain on autopilot. Not thinking about work, not thinking about driving and certainly not thinking about home. Waiting at home for him is his mother and her latest boytoy, a fitness instructor whose name is Favio. Halfway home he sees a moose wallowing in the deep snow in the ditch, clearly having slid off the snowy blacktop. There is movement in the desperate animal, so Max pulls over.
    “Crap,” says Max. “I think I’d better not tackle this alone. I had better call the conservation officer.” Too bad I won’t be able to meet the happy couple and go for dinner at the Blue Bar.”
    Darn and Darn and THANK YOU MOOSE.

  10. It was fun reading the different takes on this, especially the ones who extended the concept.

  11. I guess you could put this into ‘fill in the blanks’. I have a question. My muse jabs me in the ribs, or throws cold water in my face or whispers exciting concepts in my ear. She tends to leave once the story builds and there the plot stagnates going round and round as if in a traffic circle undecided about which road to take to the finish. Does anyone else have this happen? What questions do you ask yourselves to help with direction? Does anyone have any tips?

    • Two options:
      1. Struggle through with crap then rewrite it later after the muse considers it, realizes you’ve made a mess of her perfectly good nudge, and comes back to help you clean up the mess.

      2. Let it cool. The muse will be working in the background and you’ll wake up one night and say, YES!”

  12. My advice is get your favorite characters into more trouble. Also, have characters with wildly conflicting views duke it out verbally. Take your story where you think you’ll get into the most trouble and trust yourself to figure out what will happen.

  13. It’s Friday. Max just got off work at the petting zoo. He’s on his way home, driving his lame-ass, purple metallic moped. Waiting at home for him is his imaginary tiger friend, whose name is, what else, Hobbes. Halfway home he sees a big red sleigh with nine drowned reindeer in the ditch, clearly having slid off the snowy blacktop. There is movement in his pants, so Max pulls over. “Holy crap,” says Max. “I think I’d better spray some Fabreze. Too bad I won’t be able to meet my in-laws at their bail bond hearing.” Max helps Santa deliver presents all over a five-county area with the help of his putt-putt moped and a jury-rigged side car (how the jury ended up out there on the snowy highway is grist for another story), and Santa is so grateful, he gives Max what he’s always dreamed of for Christmas, a bigger moped and a lifetime supply of carrots for the lamas who feed the llamas at the Second Base Petting Zoo.

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