Monday, November 30, 2009

Walmart flash fiction challenge

I am happy to present my contribution to Patti Abbott's latest flash fiction challenge – to write an 800 word story inspired by the site People of Walmart. She has the full list of all the contributors this week on her site.
This will be my last update before I head off to China for 3 weeks and as a parting gift I also offer you this entry, Thankful (an honorable mention winner) in Michael J. Solender's flash fiction challenge. Take the time to read all the entries he has posted. Good stuff based on the inspiration of 'giving thanks'.
I love a challenge like both of these where you start with an inspiration. It narrows the field from just that of my imagination which can be either a dense and dangerous crowd like a Tokyo subway or a wasteland so barren and lifeless you'd expect Viggo Mortenson to walk through at any moment.
Enjoy and if you're a first time visitor to my blog, such as it is, take a look around. I've got videos to let you know about my new novel, co written with JB Kohl and links to many more stories if these two appeal to you.


by Eric Beetner

Let me give you a tip: Don’t trust my brother to be the inside man. 

This is, of course, advice I should have followed but I’ve never been considered the smart one; and after what J.T. did, that is not a bright reflection on me.

I waited in the car for a good half hour. How long does it take to empty a cash register at a Walmart? They got, like, fifty of ‘em.

So I go in. Let me just say this: Oh the humanity!

I knew it was bad but we’d never been that far down south before. There was a fat guy in head-to-toe camouflage, a fat lady in some sort of mesh top with her gut-and-a-half making a dive south for the border. I saw an old guy wearing what I can only assume was his wife’s jean shorts with lace trim and black knee socks pulled all the way up. A dude in a t-shirt that read ‘I eat pussy like a fat kid eats cake’, and a gal in garter belts, a tube top, two-inch fingernails and five-inch heels – and she was carrying a kid!

After my head got spun around by the scenery I remembered to look for J.T. I found him hanging out in the sporting goods aisle. He was poking around, not looking at stuff but pretending, y’know? All nervous and shit. Cold feet.

I walked right up to him, “What the fuck you doin’?”

“I’m biding my time.” Bet you dollars to donuts he don’t even know what that means.

“Well, what the fuck for?”

“The right moment.”

A geriatric rolled by on a rascal (fatter than shit, do I need to say it?) so I waited until he passed before smacking J.T. upside the head.

“The right moment is now.”

He got the message. He scratched at his crotch, put everything back in place, and slapped his own cheek – hard. Steeling himself for battle.

We’d done a dozen or so little jobs – mini marts, gas stations – on the way down south but this was big time. The store was big anyway. I told him the trick was to go to the ten items or less aisle. They get a lot more transactions and more in cash. Damn near everyone uses their damn debit card these days.

I should have followed him. I turned to go back to the car and by the time I got near the front, almost out the door – the old greeter dude was already telling me to have a nice day – I turned and he wasn’t there. I quick stepped it back to sporting goods and saw him. He left my little pep talk and went to nearest register which happened to be a little counter called, you guess it, the gun department.


He asked to see a gun and then when he had it in his hand turned it on the clerk and demanded all the money. Well, see, there are several problems with this plan. “Plan” is being generous. I had a damn plan, he just didn’t follow it.

First off, no gun they give you is gonna be loaded. We’d been working on a purely suggestive basis so far. No guns at all. No armed robbery charges for us. It’s all implied. Make them think you got a gun and you don’t need one.

Second, the dudes you’re robbing are surrounded by GUNS dickweed!

I swear I’ve never seen so many hillbillies pop up and move like someone called “Hike!”

All in all there were five guys behind the counter and they all went into defense mode like Osama Bin Laden just walked into their Walmart. Shotguns came off the walls, rifle bolts were cocked and loaded, a .357 magnum came out from the case. Those good ‘ol boys knew exactly where the ammo was too. This was a well oiled machine. Either J.T.’s level of dipshittery happens a lot or these Gomers had been waiting on this for a long time.

J.T. panics. I knew he would. Clicks the useless trigger a few times then turns to run. Every last one of those dumb crackers lets her rip. J.T.’s back becomes a collector’s case for every caliber of shell manufactured in the United States today. 

Once they got one shot off it was hard to stop I guess. They looked like the cast of Hee Haw and they aimed like it too.

A (fat) woman fell, a rifle bullet spoiling her denim on denim over fishnet stocking combo. Some guy wearing what looked to me like a Halloween pimp costume got dropped. I should mention this happened in July.

I couldn’t even feel that bad for J.T., the dumb fuck.

I made for the door. The old geezer must not have had his hearing aid turned on because he hadn’t even turned around at the gunshots that sounded like a leftover fireworks finale from last week.

“Have a nice day. Thanks for shopping at Walmart,” he said like a robot.

Thanks fuckface. Enjoy the cleanup on aisle ten.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I love that last line. Perfect ending to the story.

Steve Weddle said...

Sweet. That's just good clean family fun is what that is.

And nice last line, sir.

Evan Lewis said...

A laugh-out-loud romp! Loved it.

Sheila Deeth said...

Loved the story. Perfect ending.

Dorte H said...

Stupid boys will be stupid boys!

Great story, and I can see you have done your research.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Cracking fun!

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

That was fun, Eric. Nice job...your descriptions are hysterical. The scene at the gun counter is hilarious. Love the last line, too.

John D. said...

Nice. A bright shining example of "Stupid is as stupid does." Great story.

sandra seamans said...

What a fun story! You had me laughing all the way through.

Gerald So said...

Ah, the right to bear arms.

Alan Griffiths said...

What a great caper story Eric and an absolutely killer last line.


Cormac Brown said...

I loved it all, especially the dialogue.

Absolutely*Kate said...

Eric ~ I called Chanel, Yves St Laurent and the blue light competition at K'Mart ~ After your China trek, they all want you on their fashion front lines of pret a porter. There was talk of spandex fishnets to go with those lacy jeans shorts.

God and Walmart are in the details of a well-architected Beetner tale -- fer sure. Have a great trip and find Daniel! ~ Absolutely*Kate