Captain Spaulding on Skull Island


The very talented Patti Abbott has issued another Flash Fiction Challenge over at her wonderful blog. The idea this time was to write a story that’s set in a zoo.

To see a list of stories by people that responded to the call, you can go here.

Billy Weston and Waylon Preston seem to be my go-to characters for Patti’s challenges. Here they are at a zoo:

FRIDAY NIGHT AT COLDSMITH FARMS
.

“I can’t win!”

“He’s just peckin’ at corn.”

“If that’s all he’s doin’, how come I can’t beat him?”

Billy Weston and Waylon Preston stood in the petting zoo at Coldsmith Farms, a family attraction on the outskirts of Currie Valley. They were in a white-picket fenced in area surrounded by two sheep, two goats, four ducks and a pot-bellied pig. The enclosure smelled of hay, dirt and old wood. The banjo twang of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” by Flatt and Scruggs played over the PA system.

Waylon was in front of a glassed-in booth that held Charlie the Chicken, a common fowl that was able to play tic-tac-toe thanks to his abundance of “poultry power.” Waylon kept dropping gold Sacagawea dollars into a slot to play. Every now and then Charles, a Coldsmith Farms Enjoyment Specialist, would wander by and ask if they needed more coins.

Waylon hit buttons. Charlie pecked at corn. X’s and O’s lit up on a little screen at the bottom of Charlie’s window. A buzzer sounded.

“Tie again!” Waylon said.

“Let’s go to the bar, get you a beer.”

“No!” Waylon said, raising his voice. “I got to beat this Sassa-frassin’ chicken!”

“Sassa-frassin’?”

“I’m tryin’ to clean up my act, not cuss as much anymore.”

Waylon dropped another dollar into the machine. After nine moves, the buzzer sounded.

“Pig-hide!” Waylon said. A couple of heads turned his way.

“Finished?” Billy asked.

“No.” Waylon dropped a dollar into the machine. Nine moves. The buzzer sounded.

“Tie! Tie! Tie!” Waylon said. “Boy that really butters my beans!”

“You’re just throwin’ your money away.”

Waylon turned to his friend with desperation in his eyes. “Think about this,” he said. “I don’t have a job, I live in a trailer that I can’t keep clean and I haven’t touched a woman in ninety-seven days. Now I can’t even beat a chicken at tic-tac-toe. What does that say about me?”

He dropped another dollar into the machine. Eight moves. The buzzer sounded.

This time the chicken won.

“Foggy Mountain Breakdown” changed to Hank Williams’ “Move It On Over.”

“Mule-bang!!!”

“It’s not that big of a deal,” Billy said.

“Mule!” Waylon said, “Bang!”

Charles, the Coldsmith Farms Employee of the Month for April 2011, wandered up wearing his Coldsmith Farms polo short, his Coldsmith Farms hat and his Coldsmith Farms smile. “Everything okay, gentleman?”

“This chicken is a cheater,” Waylon said.

“That seems improbable.”

“How can a grown man lose to a chicken?” Waylon said. “This Sassa-frassin’ chicken cheats!”

“I’ll have to ask you to watch your language, sir.”

Waylon looked perplexed. “What? I didn’t say nothin’.”

“The tone and volume of your exclamations is a little alarming to some of the families present.”

“But I didn’t cuss.”

“No, sir. But…”

“So I don’t need to watch my language.”

“Maybe I phrased that wrong,” Charles said.

The pot-bellied pig came up and nudged Billy’s ankle. He reached down and scratched it between the ears, never taking his eyes off of the tempest growing.

Waylon looked at his name tag. “Charles. That’s your name?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Charles and Charlie the Chicken. Any relation?”

“There’s no need for…”

Waylon narrowed his eyes. “Are you helping him cheat?”

“Charlie doesn’t cheat,” Charles said. “And I most certainly don’t need to help him cheat!” Charles pursed his lips. “Maybe he’s just smarter than you?”

Waylon took a step closer to Charles. “You’re a tad bit snooty, aren’t you?”

“Sir,” Charles said, “I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

Waylon took another step closer to Charles. “All superior, with your pretentious job,” Another step. “And your highfalutin ways.”

“Don’t make me call security,” Charles said.

Billy put a hand on Waylon’s arm. “Let’s go to the bar.”

“I don’t like this guy,” Waylon said.

Billy stepped closer to his friend, “Do you want to lose tic-tac-toe to a chicken and end up in jail on the same night?”

Waylon thought about that for a moment. “Move It On Over” switched to Jerry Reed’s immortal SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT anthem “East Bound and Down.” He turned to Billy and said, “Let’s go.”

As Waylon and Billy started on their way out of the farm, Waylon stopped and turned back to the Coldsmith Farms Enjoyment Specialist.

“Hey, Charles!”

Charles turned to face them. “Yes?”

“You and your Sassa-frassin’ chicken,” Waylon said with extra emphasis on the frassin’, “Fluff you!”

Then Waylon and Billy walked to Billy’s truck.

-the end-

3 Responses to “Friday Night At Coldsmith Farms”

  1. Patti Abbott

    God, I loved this! It was so funny and clever. Full of great detail. I think I want to be an Enjoyment Specialist when I grow up. Thanks so much, John.

  2. K. A. Laity

    “Enjoyment Specialist” is priceless. I could see this incident ending up a lot uglier in a longer version. But it would still end with the chicken being smarter. Heh.

  3. sandra seamans

    You’ve gotta love a redneck story!! And this is wonderful, John.

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