Below you will find the results of my having challenged myself for a number of days to write a short story with a beginning and middle and an end inside of 30 minutes. Here is what I came up with. I hope you like it.
The Kid was stabbing the ground with a posthole digger. Gonna put up a new fence, tomorrow, with Manny. Manny, the retiree, who got up every day a 4AM to lift weights. Manny, one of the funniest guys he’d ever met.
The fence would separate the parking lot from the path, to prevent people from riding down the gravel straightaway and accidentally running over joggers and bicyclists.
Manny and he had discussed putting up the fence, last summer, but Manny’d broken his foot. Laid up for all of July and August. By the time he returned, The Kid had gone back to school.
Summer job. Parks & Rec.
Vietnam sat in his car. A Toyota Camry. Vietnam changed his story a lot. He lied a lot. Whatever you want to call it. Heavyset guy with busted up teeth that were discolored from years of smoking. Vietnam talked a lot of military shit, but he probably weighed close to 400 lbs. The Kid figured there was no way anyone could put on that kind of weight if they’d ever been to boot camp. The accumulated jogging would burn calories for the rest of your life.
Vietnam hung his elbow out the window. Cheap cop sunglasses and a yellow tank top. A skinny lady with a brush cut and big earrings sat in the passenger’s seat. The back was filled with old Burger King stuff and firewood.
“When you gonna build the fence?” asked Vietnam.
“Manny comes back to tomorrow.”
”He feeling any better?”
”He broke his foot a year ago. He feels fine. Better shape than either of us.”
Vietnam was quiet. Not a good sign.
“I used to be a Green Beret,” said Vietnam, using his quiet, icy, interrogation voice.
“How many languages can you speak?” asked The Kid?
”You speak French?” asked The Kid.
“Green Berets could speak French. Deal with the nationals in Hanoi.”
Vietnam got really quiet.
“You know what the worst part of your job is?” Vietnam was winding up.
”What?” asked The Kid.
“Having to reach down with a plastic bag and pick up warm dog shit. I’d never get used to that.” Vietnam pressed his sunglasses up against the bridge of his nose.
The Kid pointed at the buzz cut woman in the passenger seat.
“Can’t be any worse than having to fuck her.”