The Hunting of the Snark
By Jeff Baker
Another story for the monthly challenge where we draw three cards indicating a genre, a location and an object, all of whom must appear in a 1000 word or less story. The draws for this month’s Flash Fiction Draw Challenge were an epistolary story involving a brick, set at a car dealership. Thanks to Cait Gordon for moderating and drawing and to ‘Nathan Burgoine for starting the group up!—-jsb
I am writing regarding your recent article “Last Days For Car Corridor” in The Wichita Aviatrix, June 3, 2013, page six, on back of the comics. The article made the assertion that the businesses in our area are closing down. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have worked here at Henry Holiday Motors since I graduated college (St. Nigel’s University, Class of 2004, BA in English Literature, with a concentration in Elizabethan Poetry) and in no way are we shutting down. Before I got this job I worked for Mr. Dolan at his Cadillac Emporium, so I have been a fixture and an observer here in this neighborhood for over a decade.
The businesses in this neighborhood stick together. Take, for example, what happened on July 27th of last year. At about three-thirty in the afternoon I was outside in the lot hosing down the cars (we do that so they will stay clean) when I noticed a greenish tinge to the clouds. At the same time I heard someone calling my name and saw the guy at the car lot across the street waving to get my attention. He yelled something about checking the local something on my phone. Mr. Holiday makes us keep our phones in the office so we won’t be wasting time online or something. Anyway, I didn’t like the looks of the sky so I went inside and fished my phone out of the desk drawer. About the time I got my phone on and was scanning my mail there was a clattering on the roof and I looked out the big front windows and saw the outside was a shimmering grey-white mist which I recognized as hail. I opened the office door and ran out into the showroom and the noise was deafening. Yup. The big summer hailstorm of 2012. As I stood and gawked I realized that some of the glittery, silvery-white stuff I was seeing fly through the lot wasn’t hail, but broken glass from the windows of the cars in the lot, and if it hadn’t been for the metal awning in front of the showroom, the big glass window would probably be shattered as well. This all continued for about three minutes and when the hail stopped, the sun came out and it all got quiet. I could see the guy across the street opened his front door and stepped out, so I thought I’d better do the same thing. Well, most of the cars were all dented and all the windows were shattered. Right about then the office phone rang and I answered and it was Mr. Holliday and I said he’d better get out there right away and thirty minutes later he drove up (the hail hadn’t hit his part of town but he’d been watching the news.) You remember what the street looked like right after? Bright, sunny, with a greenish tint and green leaves from the 100-year-old trees on the street in neat, little piles. That’s what Mr. Holliday saw when he drove up to his lot.
Now, Mr. Holiday was always proud of the fact that we didn’t look like a used car lot even though we were. That afternoon we looked like a used car lot, with hail and broken glass all over the lot. He walked up, screamed, shook his head and walked around the lot, staring at every car and mumbling incoherently. The only car without a broken window was a little pickup parked right next to the building. Mr. Holliday stalked back into his office with a weird look on his face; it reminded me of a poem I’d read, “The Hunting of the Snark.” He stalked back outside with one of the bricks we had out back from when they’d refurbished the building the year before. He walked over to the little pickup with the unbroken front window and proceeded to smash the front window with the brick. He sighed, closed his eyes for a moment and then announced that we were closed for the day and that I needed to go down the street to the liquor store on the corner at Martinson Street and buy a pint of whiskey. When I made it back to the lot, Mr. Holliday was in the office talking to his insurance people. When he was done, he shut down the front lights and we sat in the office drinking whiskey from Styrofoam coffee cups.
Well, anyway, I said we all look after each other on the Corridor, like if the guy across the street hadn’t hollered at me I might have gotten caught in the hail.
So, you see, we’re all going to be fine!