Fast Fiction: Motorcycle Drivers are Philanthropists, or at Least the Unselfish Ones

TerminatorFootHello everyone,

As I mentioned last month in this post, I’ve decided to pre-schedule a new series of blog posts based around writing exercises I’ve done during my monthly writers’ group meetings. This is the third that I will be sharing, and like the first two I feel it stakes out some contrasting ground for the ground and tone I want to cover in these displays of fast fiction.

Okay, as with all the posts in this series, let’s begin with a rundown of  the rules:

Rule #1: These pieces of fast fiction were generated from a prompt chosen at random, and that prompt will appear clearly labelled before the fiction and then clearly labelled again where it appears in the prose.

Rule #2: WordPress allows me a ‘click here to read the rest of the story’ break, and that will be used before the fast fiction begins in earnest so people browsing through this blog are not overwhelmed.

Rule #3: The prose of the fast fiction shall be transcribed from my handwriting accurately: Line breaks, grammar, punctuation, spelling, what-have-you. The point of showing a 10- or 15-minute first draft is saying what you tried to do in that time, so what does editing really get me? It’s more impressive showing how few mistakes I made and what I managed to do in the time allotted rather than correcting my errors or improving my first efforts for the sake of appearances. The very rare changes I really do deem necessary shall be noted with an asterisk and an apologetic explanation at the end.

Rule #4: After the fast fiction I will include a few sentences about my first thoughts of the prompt, what I was trying to do, what I am happy with, what I am unhappy with, and some other general thoughts. These entries are less about the actual prose and more about the exercise as a whole. Post-gaming that exercise will be a big part of the end result.

Rule #5: I have all my blog posts set up to automatically go out through Twitter. If I’m going to queue up twenty or so of them into the distant future, I will schedule them to go out at 3 am. I would not want to find myself in the midst of a happy moment or a sad moment tweeting some piece of irrelevant and therefore inappropriate short prose. Hopefully a 3 am posting time will keep me clear of that concern. I also reserve the right to reschedule these posts based on other things that should take priority on this blog.

With all that said, let’s go!

Prompt:

On the sticky paper next to my bare ass was a Polaroid picture of my foot that no one wanted.


Motorcycle drivers are philanthropists, or at least the unselfish ones. That’s the accepted wisdom at the Department of Motor Vehicles when you apply for a license to operate a bicycle with a four-stroke engine in it.

“Oh, how nice. You’ll be taking an organ donation card too, right?” The humourless drone behind the counter says in a joking-not-joking way.

You see, motorcycle drivers are philanthropists, or at least the unselfish ones, because we agree to donate our organs after our premature deaths from riding those death machines.

Well, I am unselfish, and I did get an organ card, and maybe that is what saved my life. Maybe when the paramedics found me stretched out across ten yards of asphalt, one of them saw that organ donation card and said to his partner, “This one is worth saving, Frank. This one is willing to donate!”

I can’t speak to that. I was mercifully unconscious at the time, but in my dreams I was screaming. I never stopped screaming from when I tipped over sideways on that turn, until half an hour after I came out of the medically-induced coma.

Once I calmed down enough to appreciate the opiates pumping through me, I was presented with my options in the form a scrapbook.

The bike didn’t cost me any organs I couldn’t spare, it seems, but it did cost me a foot. They found it about ten feet from the rest of me, and there wasn’t enough hamburger and gristle between it and me to reattach it. All those piggies my mother counted to me when I was a boy? Half of them went wee wee wee all the way to a new home in the biohazard waste bag.

And so I was presented with the scrapbook.

It was a labour of love from my friends and family. It was a collection of all the possible prosthetic options available to me to replace the end of one of my legs, one of the pillars that had supported me all my life.

I looked at the book, turned the pages in my hospital bed, and there I saw it.

On the sticky paper next to my bare ass was a Polaroid picture of my foot that no one wanted.

That was the one I would claim. That was the one I would one day walk my future daughters down the aisle on.

My new foot was a cup socket for my stump, and then a short length of titanium to keep the weight down, and then a magnificently sculpted heel, arch, and five toes straight out of the movie Terminator.

If I wanted, I could slip a shoe an sock over it and pass for a normal person, but I knew in my heart of hearts I would clang-step-clang-step-clang-step-clang my way through life. Nurseries, churches, grocery stores, old folks’ homes, all would come to know and fear my footfall.

I would be that guy, him, the one spoken of in low whispers.

That foot would tell people my story, and spread the warning I would never say aloud:

Don’t ride motorcycles, kids.

…That’s where I ran out of time, but if I had five more minutes to go, I would have sat with my pen at rest. This was the whole plan, and I got there in exactly the appointed time.

Notes:

I’m really happy with this one. This was a challenging prompt:

On the sticky paper next to my bare ass was a Polaroid picture of my foot that no one wanted.

Why is the paper sticky? Why are you naked enough that your ass is exposed? Why is there a Polaroid picture of your foot that no one wanted? Most of my writers’ group friends went for some variation of foot fetish pornography, but I wanted to go further. I wanted to round all the bases: Sticky paper is a scrapbook; bare ass because you’re in a hospital bed; a Polaroid of your foot that no one wants because there’s something wrong with it. How is this not a story about a man who loses his foot and his loved ones put together options for him to show they care?

What I don’t like about it? Who is the protagonist speaking to? There’s no other character, no conflict. This is a monologue, a soliloquy. There was probably a way to do this that wasn’t inherently selfish, but I didn’t have the time to get there. I like that it had a message. I like that it was funnily macabre.

“They found it about ten feet from the rest of me, and there wasn’t enough hamburger and gristle between it and me to reattach it. All those piggies my mother counted to me when I was a boy? Half of them went wee wee wee all the way to a new home in the biohazard waste bag” is a deliciously dark and funny way of accepting you’ve lost a foot.

Yeah, I’m pretty happy with this one. Cheers!

 

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