So a few months ago, my mom called me and said, “Hey, I was listening to NPR and they announced that they’re having a fiction writing contest! You should enter that! Because you’re a writer!”
I went online and looked it up. There was actually an interesting premise to the contest; every story had to be under 600 words and begin with the same sentence.
“The nurse left work at 5 o’clock.”
So against my better judgment, I entered.
I didn’t win. I didn’t even get a mention. Luckily, I’m not bitter about it.
Here’s a little description of the contest and the winning entry is at the bottom. Click here.
Anyway, without any (additional) further ado, here is my losing entry, entitled, “I am lazy and rather than write something new, I can post this story I already wrote and pass it off as new and nobody will be any wiser for it!”
The nurse left work at 5 o’clock. Every day, 5 o’clock. On the nose.
For nearly a year, I had watched her, studied her every move. Well, every move as it related to her automobile usage, anyway.
I arrived at the hospital garage a little after nine am. I put my hand on the hood. Still warm. I had just under eight hours.
I pulled the coat hanger out of my duffel bag. After spending a few minutes untwisting it and straightening it out, I moved it around, up and down, along the window, realizing too late that I had no idea how to pick a car door lock.
Seeing as how I had been planning this operation for nearly 12 months, it’s sorta unforgivable that I hadn’t thought of that.
Deciding to improvise, I threw a rock through the window, clearing my throat in a vain attempt to mask the sound of glass breaking.
Immediately, the car alarm started shrieking its deafening sound. One more thing I hadn’t counted on.
As I slid into the debris-covered driver’s seat, I deftly reached under the steering column for the familiar wires. This was one part of the job that I actually had prepared for.
Just like in the internet videos that I had watched at the library, the engine roared to life. Well, I assumed it roared, because I couldn’t actually hear anything but the siren and the ringing in my ears that it had created.
If I had been hoping to drive off, unnoticed, in a vehicle with a broken window and the car alarm going off, I sure had another thing coming.
Though many of the doctors, nurses and various support staff felt free to brazenly stare and point at me as I exited the hospital grounds, luckily, none of them seemed to think it was worth informing the police or confronting me about it.
As I am no fan of confrontation or authority figures, I was pleased with this bit of luck.
After twenty minutes on the freeway, I reached my destination, thankful that it hadn’t snowed today.
As I pulled into the driveway, I was delighted to see that, unlike last year, not only was there no huge line, my car was the only one at the window.
“I’d like one free junior taco, please!” I said, triumphantly.
“Huh?” replied the dimwitted, teenage employee.
“My free junior taco.” My request was met with a blank, pimply stare.
“That’ll be 85 cents,” he replied.
“No, it won’t. It’ll be free. Every year, you have a giveaway to mark the anniversary of the founding of your restaurant. One free junior taco, given out only at the drive thru and apparently not to anybody going through the drive thru on a bike, as I learned last year.”
“Sir, that promotion was 3 days ago.”
As I drove off, defeated, I realized that this free junior taco (the one I never even gotten) had cost me much more than its 85 cent retail value. It had cost me my job, my friends and the respect of my peers in the medieval recreation society. Worst of all, it had nearly cost me my sanity.
But I had a dream and I went for it. It didn’t work out, but at least I took a shot. That’s a lot more than most people can say.
Now it was time to get on with my life and start being responsible.
So I pushed the car into the river and faked my own death.