The Deadly Poppy Field
By Jeff Baker
(Author’s Note: The three prompts for this, the last of ‘Nathan Burgoine’s monthly Fiction Draw Challenges were a comedy, a broomstick and a field of poppies. It’s been fun to do these every month and the prompts for this one serendipitously reference one of my favorite movies.)
“Okay,” Ollie said, standing in the not-too-big bar of their not-too-big restaurant. “We put the projector right here and pull the screen down and show the movie right there.”
“DVD player,” Spence said. “We need this on DVD. Who uses a projector anymore anyway?”
“Aw, but Spence, with this one it fits,” Ollie said. He was lean and lanky with scraggly blonde hair. “It’s not on DVD anywhere. It’s the ultimate bootleg. ‘The Girl In the Magic Land.’ It hasn’t been seen since 1918.”
“Because L. Frank Baum sued, that’s why,” Ollie said. He was short and his dark hair was receding. “Still, we do have the original prop.”
Proudly displayed in a glass case behind the bar was what looked like a homemade broomstick. A knobby stick that looked like it had fallen from a tree with a thick wad of bristles at one end. A certificate of authenticity proudly proclaimed it to have been used by Eleanora Aquitaine, nee Maggie Fink in the 1918 movie. Unfortunately, the movie screen hid the case from view. Nonetheless, it was a perfect accessory for a bar and restaurant called A Field of Poppies. And showing the movie was the ultimate promotion.
“Better move the broom,” Spence said. “I want to have it visible when we’re showing the movie tonight.”
“On it,” Ollie said. He opened the case and gingerly took out the old broomstick. The bristles almost looked like they were welded on. “Where do you want this?” Ollie asked walking out from behind the bar.
“I’ll take down that painting, and we can hang it up there,” Spence said.
“Okay,” Ollie said walking towards the wall. “I sure hope this gets the money coming in. If not we could be bankrupt in another month, and I’ll wish I was on a flight outa town.”
“Wha?” Spence said. He was busy unhooking the big painting they had bought from a motel’s closing sale.
“I said I wish I was on a flight outa town,” Ollie said.
A sudden rumble and low roar filled the room as the floor shook. Spence yelled something about earthquakes and Ollie suddenly felt the broom pulled in the direction of the door. He grabbed the broom with both hands, wondering if there was a wire pulling from the wall that he’d missed. But the broom dragged him across the floor towards the doors which suddenly swung open and the broom pulled him off his feet and soared into the morning air with Ollie hanging on for dear life. Spence ran out into the parking lot and watched Ollie soar into the sky over their little Kansas town.
“At least he cleared the power lines,” Spence said. He cupped his hands and yelled. “Ollie! Come down from there! Try to steer that thing!”
Ollie was about as high as a twenty story building and soaring higher. The broom was emitting a cartoony-sounding rocket noise. His fingers were numb from clutching the broomstick. And the bristles weren’t welded on, they were falling off. Ollie screamed as he wondered if a broom would fly without the bristles.
The last bristle fell off. The cartoony rocket noise abruptly stopped. The broom and Ollie abruptly began a nose dive to the ground. Ollie saw the ground heading towards him, clutched broomstick pointing groundward as he screamed “Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii…..”
There was a flash and a chord of music as an immense blob suddenly materialized beneath Ollie. He hit the soft substance and it broke his fall all the way to the ground, which he hit with a soft splat, still holding the broom.
Spence ran up, out of breath as Ollie pulled himself out of the stinking pile and stood up.
“You okay?” Spence managed to ask. He had run a full block.
“Yeah,” Ollie said. “This stuff broke my fall.”
“Where did it…Phew!” Spence said, holding his nose. He pointed to the pile. “Is that what I think it is?”
“Yeah!” Ollie said. “I said it and it appeared.” He held up the stick. “This isn’t a flying broom, it’s a magic wand! We can fix up the restaurant! We can get anything!”
“Including getting rid of this pile?” Spence said.
“Yup!” Ollie said, as a large clump of the glob fell and spattered Spence.
“Well, Ollie,” Spence said. “This is another nice mess you’ve got me into!”
The two of them laughed, smelling bad.