New flash fiction contest: The Driver

Write a story about the Driver and Win the Watercolor Below 
The contest closes Monday September 26th, 2011

Driver 10"x8" oil paint and blue prints on masonite panel in  vintage frame
 Buy this painting for $220
Driver 10"x8" watercolor on Rives BFK

Round #2 of Renovated Reputations will culminate in three shows.  One show will be in December 2011 at the Art Museum of Los Gatos in California.  Two others will be in February 2012 at Ohlone College in the Louie Meager Art Gallery in Fremont California and the Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacramento California.
The story you write should be a "Flash Fiction" which is a complete story in one thousand or fewer words.

The story you write should be a "Flash Fiction" which is a complete story in one thousand or fewer words.  Please post the story in the comment section, you will have to provide your name and an email address in order to be qualified to win or you can e-mail me at with your info.  There is a problem with how many characters can post (only about 4,000) so if you cannot post it.  

E-mail it to me at

This is the second version of this show!

Round #2 of Renovated Reputations will culminate in a show at Ohlone College in Fremont, California at the Louie Meager Art Gallery in February 2012. 
Stories will be published in a vintage style  newspaper catalog and the gallery will be converted into a 1930 or 40's cabaret set and students will be acting the stories out as monologues at some of the events at the college in the art gallery.

More competitions posted on my website at:


These came in by e-mail:

           By Albin Attenti

            “He didn’t do it. He was the driver but it wasn’t him. He didn’t do it”, shouted Miss Molly before bursting into genuine tears. Tears she never knew existed, but now spilling from a clogged sink, and a broken faucet that she has no knowledge to fix, puddle the floor beneath her. Miss Molly stayed slumped in her chair pouting in quite a pathetic way seemingly, lost in her own gross disfigured reflection, seen in the sea of lies, which could no longer be dammed and plunked at her feet. Then she sat up again, ”It was not him, AJ wouldn’t do that. He drove but he didn’t do that.” Finally, the detectives had a name, or at least initials. The driver was AJ. “Who is AJ, Molly? What does AJ stand for? Does he have a last name, Molly?” sparked back Detective Frank Clovis, of the Atlantic City PD/Homicide Investigations. “Frank, go easy, she wants to talk now. Don’t you Molly?” quickly interjects Frank’s partner Bobby Vincento, coercing her with his most sympathetic stare, and melting her with the warmth of his deep brown eyes, that Bobby’s own mother admits “would make you give into anything.” Bobby always used this to a big advantage when stripping down stories of ladies of questionable careers that he pulled in to speak about some poor dead John. Frank was accustomed to this role of always being the bad cop, to Bobby’s game of good cop gone gigolo. It generally worked when it came to getting the dames to speak, but still Frank had some resentment. It wasn’t that Frank was homely, just ordinary. Sure the ladies liked him just fine, but he couldn’t do to Molly what Bobby could and he knew it. This tendency of taking bad cop role was even further fueled by mere jealousy. Bobby knew this too and flaunted his talents at Frank just to razz him further. Sometimes their playful rivalry would get the best of them and it was about to. You see, Frank and Molly had a history, yet neither could give in to letting that information be learned or they might both land behind bars. Yet something had to break-Molly was at her wits end and Frank wasn’t giving in, and whatever Molly had hanging over Frank’s head, she knew it was nothing compared to the crime she had just committed. And Frank did too.

            “His name was AJ, that’s all I know. That’s what he went by, didn’t know him by another name at all” Molly sputters. “That’s a lie, you know AJ very well don’t you Molly? Miss Molly” Frank adjusts his tone. Molly is frantic, that fateful night flashing in her memory, “His face, his face, it was mad. You could see it. He had to do it. AJ had to do it or we would have died. All I remember is that poor boy’s face-when it hit the windshield and then…” Molly goes silent again. “And then what Miss Molly-Miss Molly The Murderess?” badgers Frank ”How long did it take to blurt that sad little inconvenience out of your mind?” Bobby takes Frank by the arm and whispers “What’s wrong with you Frank? Lay back. We almost have her. Patience Big Fella, Let me handle her-come on” squeezing Frank’s forearm in a manner of seduction in its own. Frank yanks his arm from Bobby and with his fist and finger shaking at him, with spit flying from his mouth spouts, “Handle her-Don’t handle me. Those eyes don’t work with me Bobby” and with that Frank left the interrogation room. Bobby looks at the other two officers in the room. They look at each other and shrug it off immediately and return the stare to Bobby. Bobby takes a breath and continues “So Molly.” With great self-pity and indulgence Molly orders a correction, “Miss Molly-The Murderess”, as she sniffles and laughs at the same time. The detective insists, “Molly I just need to know where AJ is. Now I know you know, and you’re only trying to protect him and I understand that, but that boy died-not from his wounds that night but he was shot lying in his hospital bed with two broken legs.” “Now you can’t possibly think I had anything to do with that! I loved Mickey”, exclaims Molly. “So you know Mickey”, returns the detective. “Everyone knew Mickey-just one of those poor lost boys of New York Ave. You know The Chez Paris, The Entertainer’s Club, The Chester, where the boys go to meet other boys, you know. Some of the girls and I like to go to that side of town to get away from the regular trade and just be girls. That’s how I met Mickey and AJ. Just a couple of poofs really, who’d think they could stir up all this shit?”

            “Not you I guess Molly? Huh, Not Miss Molly”, says Bobby finally loosing his charms. Molly barks back, “Hey I owe you nothing. I had nothing to do with it. Mickey killed that man, that John that turned up in The Chester Hotel just the middle of June, it was. I know ‘cause… AJ told me so. That’s why I got scared-that’s why I panicked. That’s why I told him to do it. He would have killed us too. I know it, Mickey was mad that night. I didn’t want to believe it when AJ told me but I knew it that night. That’s how the fight began. I was riding shotgun, AJ wanted to cruise about, just a couple of girls hittin’ the town. Then we saw Mickey and by this time he had been missing about a week, after that John turned up with the knife in him-you know the one. So we stopped, and Mickey stood standing right on the street corner of Pacific Ave and Mediterranean. I guess we stopped out of stupidity we knew Mickey was wanted but it wasn’t till Mickey hopped in the car that we realized we were in trouble too. He was an old friend and he was in trouble but it soon became apparent it wasn’t going to end well. AJ blurted out something about the night that John got stabbed and Mickey went wild. He tore into AJ’s eyes from the back seat. AJ started screaming and slammed the breaks, I pulled my gun from my purse and pointed it straight at Mickey and told him to get out. I told him three times to get the fuck out or I would kill him. He got out and the second his foot hit the ground, AJ spun off leaving Mickey on the ground. Then he was driving and AJ’s eyes are bleeding and I scream ’Look Out!’ because we are about to hit the Boardwalk. There’s nowhere to go so we have to turn the car around and come back down the street. I see Mickey, he’s in the middle of the street and he’s holding an empty jug of wine he’s picked up and is ready to throw it straight at us. I scream ‘Hit it AJ’ and AJ just hit the gas and Mickey flew against the windshield and that’s the last I saw of him. The next day AJ showed me in the paper how they caught The Chester Hotel killer. They got the make of the car wrong but still AJ was very nervous he’d be linked to the crime as the police you are well aware, were now on the lookout for Mickey’s assailants. That’s why AJ decided to skip town. I don’t think he could have been the one to shoot Mickey. He didn’t even own a gun and he was half blind when he ran him down, you can’t charge AJ. He was just the driver.” Bobby unconvinced questions, “And where did your gun end up that night, Molly?” Her admission, “With Frank Clovis.”

Sydney Sigh by Matt O'Malley

Sydney Sigh dressed in a new suit, hat and shirt, tie, put on some cologne, ate a doughnut, had a cup of coffee, and grabbed his suitcase prior to running out to his car. He excitedly clutched a map of the city in his hand as he climbed into his car just after sunset to prepare to drive to work for the first time.

The map Sydney carried had a large circle drawn around his apartment followed by arrows directing him to another circle; his place of employment approximately three miles away. Sydney checked his watch. It was eight PM. His handlers said he was to arrive at work at eight AM and not to be late. Sydney did not want to be late. He did not want to upset his handlers or to blow his cover. He check his watch again. Time sure seemed to move slow on his first twenty-four hours here and Sydney already missed his homeland.

Sydney’s handlers had set him up with an apartment, clothes, a car and a job. He had been trained on the customs, belief systems, language and food of this new homeland but he knew there were many things that he still did not know or understand. Sydney worried he would quickly be discovered to be a foreigner. He had been given some basics, but the rest was up to him and that made him nervous.

Sydney checked the car’s glove compartment as his handlers had instructed and found a manual on how to drive a car. He took his time reading the manual and as usual with all the manuals he had been given thus far, he found it lacking.

Following the instructions, Sydney took the key he had in hand, placed it into a slot under the steering wheel identified as the ignition in the manual, turned it, and the car rumbled to life. The sound startled Sydney and he checked the mirrors to see if anyone had paid attention but no one had. This vehicle was much more noisy then the vehicle his handlers had brought him in.

Sydney looked at the two gauges on the dashboard that had become lit and he looked at his manual. He identified the one on the right to be the speed gauge. The arrow in this gauge currently pointed to the symbol ‘0’ and Sydney deduced it would move to the other symbols as the car moved. Sydney then looked at the gauge on the left and identified it as the fuel gauge. The arrow in this gauge was pointing to the symbol ‘E’, and Sydney deduced it meant ‘Excellent’ and would move as the fuel was used up.

Sydney leaned back in the car’s seat as the car purred. He checked his watch. An hour had passed but his back was already hurting. On his long journey to this new land, he had ridden in a reclining chair that allowed him to lie fully on his back with his butt hanging out the bottom of it. The chair itself although interesting in design, was not uncommon from where he had come from and it allowed for a sense of suspension and did not crush one’s vertebrae as the seats did in this car.

Sydney next identified something called a radio that emitted sounds when he turned a dial. The sounds that came from it were interesting, musical, and similar to sounds from instruments from his homeland. Sydney listened intently and decided he liked the music that was made when there was just instruments playing for in truth, he thought what was called the English language, quite nonsensical, and at times, vulgar.

Sydney listened to the music for sometime and tried to forget the ever increasing pain in his back when all of a sudden, the car started to bounce, jerk and make horrible noises. Sydney panicked. The car was making too much commotion and attention might be drawn to him. He turned off the ignition and the car went silent. Sydney released a sigh and checked his watch. It was now ten PM; only ten more hours before he had to be at work. Time was moving so slow!

Sydney decided to eat to pass time. He opened his briefcase that held a newspaper and his lunch. He opened the lunch bag and pulled out a sandwich. He took two bites, Disgusting! He was not sure if he’d ever get use to this so called American cuisine. His stomach immediately started turning and he felt bloated and gassy. He rolled down the window and the cool night air gave him a chill, though it was not nearly as cold as where he came from and opening it allowed fresh air into the increasingly smelly car.

Sydney was now not feeling comfortable at all and he needed to take his mind off of the pain in his back. He undid his tie, untucked his shirt and read the paper.  After sometime, he rolled the windows back up and thought to himself, “So this is it, my new life”.

It wasn’t all bad, Sydney thought. He had heard about where some of his comrades were being transplanted to and thought that he should feel grateful. They were in much harsher environments; either much hotter or colder, though he thought they must have better furniture then what he had here.

Sydney checked his watch. It was now one in the morning and his back could no longer take it. He checked his mirrors and the empty streets. He scooted to the edge of his seat, his chest close to the steering wheel and then checked the mirrors again.

Sydney loosened his belt and pants, checked his mirrors then pulled his pants and underwear to his knees; his thick green and yellow Martian reptilian tail immediately stretched to the back of the car then curled upon the passenger seat as Sydney breathed a sigh of relief.


The Carolinian by  Patrick Nelson

Tanqueray, rock candy and what looks to be old, roasted almonds. How can a fellow live on that? It was all that was in the glove box of the car I was hired to drive and though those items weren't mine to take, I must admit I was tempted.

It's not like there's any box lunch being provided for this kind of work, but I've never had this type of job before so I got no ideas about food. Unfortunately, I only had a bologna sandwich and a cup of mud in my stomach from about five hours ago.

         On the job experience.

I lived in Carolina most of my life when my daddy came north to New Jersey on the promise of long-standing work. He  dug us up, roots and all, and placed us firmly in the hard, sandy dirt of New York's bastard child. When we got here, daddy's job dried up like a bad crop in drought and he, momma, my three sisters and I all clung to the hairy belly of the big city like a bunch of blood-starved ticks on a spotted boar. We took odd jobs wherever we could and pooled the money only to end up being all the time back on our rent by three months.

That's why I had no choice but to take this job: We wouldn't last another winter here and we couldn't afford to move back. The money I was promised would have done much to throw that greasy-haired landlord off our scent for quite a while as well as make things a lot more bearable in our little corner of the holding cell of hades.

Fletch would not tell me exactly how he came to know Sally, but I gathered from my cousin's new fancy suits that they were not packing apples at the orchard for their money. He did tell me that Sally was an important fellow here abouts. Sally, the man who hired me to spin the wheel, was a big man, with a tight lip and in need of a driver. From what I could tell about our stops, he was an ambassador of sorts. A united nations of criminal activity.

No matter how I tried, Fletch would not tell me what happened to the old driver and I got the distinct impression Sally was not going to tell me. All Fletch would tell me was how he bragged to Sally about what a crackerjack wheel ace I was; how I had gasoline in my veins and nerves tighter than a '40 Ford's suspension. He told him about all the rallies and races I won and even about the dozens of law men I outdrove. Those where regulators and even some of the esteemed officers from the New York City police department--when I could get behind the wheel and give them a reason to give chase. That was the part that put me under Sally's spotlight.

Sally kept me real busy my first day. Seven a.m., I drove him to a Russian spa where he stayed for over an hour and a half. He came out moist and plump like a boiled hen. His already pink and fat neck glistened as it bulged in the constraints of his tailored shirt, I had the feeling he was not in there just for his health. He was carrying a big carpet bag that he didn't have when he went in. I guessed it wasn't full of dirty towels.

This routine continued for the better part of the day: we stopped at an Chines opium den, a church that I later learned was a synagogue, and a Negro dance hall. Sally emerged from each one with a similar bag or sack or satchel, all of which bulged with the same contents: rectangular shaped objects that pushed against the edges of the bags and toyed with my imagination.

Throughout the day and into the afternoon, his tight lipped demeanor changed to that of an abusive, bigoted denizen of the armpit of the east coast. He went from calling be a bumpkin, hayseed and hillbilly to questioning if my parents weren't perhaps brother and sister therefore explaining my "lack of intelligence"and "slack jawed, idiotic puss." He continually berated me for not opening the door for him or parking close enough and then he even accused me of looking in the bags that were "none of my cracker-ass business." 

The whole time I sat patiently waiting for that mean bastard, I longed for the mountains of my youth and wished daddy had never decided to come here. I dreamed of the wind flicking the bugs into my teeth and the thrill of danger waiting around every dusty, hairpin turn.

Our next, and I hoped final stop, was at an Italian restaurant on the edge of little Italy. My stomach growled loudly just looking at the cartoonish sign of a fat chef with a big handlebar mustache holding a plate of steaming pasta. I wondered if we would be getting something to eat now, but I held out as much hope for that as I did for a return to prohibition.

I heard Sally rustling around in the bags and looked in the rear-view mirror to she him nervously pulling out stacks of various amounts of money. He looked into the restaurant as he shoved a good amount of the bills from each bag into a leather briefcase that I hadn't seen him with before.

"Okay, pinhead!" he addressed me, "Keep the engine running and be ready to drive your hillbilly ass off." With that, he hopped out of the car with the various bags and waddled into the restaurant. I looked over the seat and saw the shiny brown leather briefcase sitting on the back seat. I heard the tinkle of the bell above the front door and watched him through the big windows as he made his way to a table in the back. A dark and oily looking man fatter than Sally waved him to sit down while he shoveled pasta into his tomato sauce stained mouth.

Sally sat and placed the bags on the table and the fatter man quickly scooped them onto the floor. A waiter appeared, placed a plate of pasta in front of Sally and disappeared just as quickly.

My stomach howled at the injustice of his meal and the lack of mine.

As I watched them devour their food and gesticulate broadly and emotionally at each other, my mind drifted once again back to the days of my childhood and for some strange reason, settled on the bittersweet memory of my old 'coon hound Cyril.

My father had bought him from a neighbor for the purpose the dog was bred: hunting. After a few weeks of pampering from me though, the little pup was ruined for hunting and was grudgingly declared by daddy as our new house pet. He was a good dog, but one day while running wild through the woods, he was bitten by a rabid animal of some kind and turned on us. Before father could load his rifle and draw a bead on the crazed animal, he ran out onto the old road in front of our house and was struck by a timber truck. There wasn't even enough to bury.

I snapped my attention back to the table where Sally had sat and saw with astonishment that the two men had broken out into a fistfight. Even though the other man was bigger than Sally, he didn't stand a chance in a fair fight. Sally threw quite a few impressive blows but the other man stayed on his feet long enough to pull a gun from under his jacket. With the proverbial tables turned, Sally turned them back in his own favor by lifting the table they had been seated at and tossing it over on the man with the gun. This bought Sally enough time to make it out onto the sidewalk. He came running out into the street fast and was waving wildly at me to pick him up. I threw the car in gear and quickly swerved out of the parking space and raced towards Sally.

That's when I again recalled my poor old coon hound, Cyril, and how he had died...

By Cotton Joliet
 Ernie had wanted a brand new car since he was 15 and got his Learner's Permit. He realized early on that he who has The Car gets The Girl. He  always drove a Thrasher Car, going from one to the other when they broke down. He found his true love when he was 33. She titillated him beyond what he ever believed possible. But he knew he could never win her over while he drove his old jalopy. One day an old lady backed into his car. God was surely looking over him, because he made enough money from the accident to put down a hefty down payment on a hot new car. So he was all ready to go after his hot new girl. He drove over to her house, unannounced, because he wanted to see the look of wonder in her eyes when she saw his new car. He wanted to surprise her. He fantasized taking her for a spin in his new wheels, going to dinner in  fancy restaurant after that. She came out to the car. "Oh, Ernie, " she said. "I always like you because you didn't mind having a funky car, like all the rest of the posers. In fact, I was hoping you would surprise me one day and pick me up in your jalopy and take me to a burger joint. I am so disappointed in you!" She turned around and headed into her house. Ernie had a hot new car and a freshly broken heart.

Driving to Distraction

Helen Chapman

            Lord have mercy, I hate these assignments. Just because I’m nondescript, and look like twenty other guys, the captain always gives me surveillance details. So I sit here for eight hours a day, drinking cold coffee, smoking stale cigarettes my partner left on the seat when he went to get coffee, and watching to see if Vito Panucci or his capo left the apartment.

             Vito liked to think of himself as a godfather. He had been a lieutenant in one of the major crime families for years. A made man from the time he was twenty. The family had disbanded five years ago when Don Pesco went to prison and his sons all entered witness protection. Vito had stepped in, declared himself Don Vito, and put his three thick-necked cousins in as lieutenants, and his uncle Carmine the bankruptcy attorn! ey as his capo.

             It was all laughable. Vito was small time at best. Yet the boss has me out here, watching to see if they do anything. The phone taps had turned up nothing. The bank records only showed Vito was depositing his Social Security checks. He was playing at being the Big Man. His uncle was playing at Capo di Tuti Capos, and his cousins were enjoying roughing up the neighborhood drug dealer and taking his dope. They weren’t selling the stuff. They were just taking it back to the apartment and either flushing it down the commode or smoking the pot themselves.

             For some reason, the DA wanted Vito and his band of merry men watched. So I watched. And sat. and watched some more. 

             The door to the building just opened. Probably some dog walk! er bringing the Pomeranian from 4B out for her morning constitutional.  I’m watching in the rearview mirror this time, so I’m not so damned conspicuous. Not that anything every happens.

             Oh, hang on. That looks like Uncle Capo. He’s carrying something. What the hell is that? It looks like a plate. He’s headed this way!

             I’d better call this in to the sector car.  No, he’ll see the mic as soon as I key it. 

             ‘Good afternoon officer. I hope you’re not too bored sitting out here.’

             I must have jumped a foot when I heard his voice in my left ear.  No sense trying to bluff now. I was made. ‘Yes, sir?’

             ‘Vito and I have been watching out sit out here for the past two! days. Your partner went for coffee an hour ago and hasn’t come back yet.’  He held out the covered plate he was holding and pulled the napkin back. ‘Vito’s niece made some cookies. See, she even put on a small cup demitasse. We like to take care of our boys in blue.’

             The smell of freshly baked cookies wafted in the window. They were chocolate, with raisins and nuts and maybe oatmeal in them. I caught a whiff of the espresso in the tiny porcelain cup. Oh hell, what was the harm? I was made, so I may as well make the best of things. I took a bite. The cookies were delicious. Oatmeal, raisins, and maybe peanut butter. Chewy, with an interesting texture.

             ‘Why Carmine, that’s right neighborly of you. There looks like there’s plenty of cookies. Won’t you join me?’

             Carmine shook his head. ‘I just ate a plateful insi de. No, these are all for you officer. Just give the plate to the doorman when you’re done.’

             He smiled, handed me the plate and walked away, whistling. 

             I was on my third cookie before I took a sip of the coffee. It was thick and bitter and hot, and delicious. It was the perfect thing to go with the fresh cookies. 

             My partner was walking towards the car. Funny, he looked different. He was wearing the same clothes, but he looked all out of proportion. He was carrying a couple of white bags from the doughnut shop. He set one on the roof of the car so he could open the door.  'What the hell, Leo? I hike twelve blocks to get the Bismarks you just had to have, and when I get back you're eating a plate of cookies? Where'd they come from?'

            I scooted down behind the wheel and handed Bobbie a cookie. 'They were a gift from a concerned citizen. Try one. They're great.'

            'Leo, you don't look good.' Bobbie sounded worried. Don't know why. I was just fine.

            I was so fine, in fact, I giggled. 'Dude. They're great cookies. Have some. Then give me those Bismarks. I got the munchies like you wouldn't believe.'



THE DRIVER by Stephen D. Rogers

"Thanks for the warning, officer.  I won't be just another few minutes.  Waiting on some friends who had to run into the bank."

He wished he had a toothpick.

"Officer, I'd like to cooperate, I really would.  But if I move this car, my friends won't be able to find me, and we're going to be in a rush."

A toothpick would give him something else to do with his mouth.

"I understand that, officer, and next time I'll be more careful. I missed the street sign, and for that I apologize.  It won't be a mistake I make again."

BIO:  Stephen D. Rogers is the author of SHOT TO DEATH,
THREE-MINUTE MYSTERIES, and and more than 700 shorter
pieces.  His website,, includes
a list of new and upcoming titles as well as other timely


  1. “The Carolinian” by Patrick Nelson is the winner. Nelson (a lot like Matt O’Malley and Stephen Rogers is another clear, funny, voice. For example Nelson writes , “I drove him to a Russian spa where he stayed for over an hour and a half. He came out moist and plump like a boiled hen.” I think the thing I like about Nelson’s story (ies) is the clear punch line at the end.

    How friggin’ cool is Matt O’Malley? He’s clear writing style and excellent sense of humor just pushes my buttons. Just read the damn story and you’ll see why he’s one of my favorite writers. I guarantee you won’t feel alienated by him.

    Stephen D. Rogers and “Cotton Joliet” (her name like her story is evocative clear and has a great sense of humor) both nailed it it in their short pithy vignettes. Like Nelson Joliet’s had one of those punctuation point endings that love about flash fiction. Also like Nelson, Rogers is able to give a sense of time place and plot in a few short passages.

    A bit anachronistic but close to my heart was “Driving to Distraction” by Helen Chapman. Totally cute ending and quite by coincidence I was listening to Elvis Costello’s “Watching the Detectives.” In an Austin Powers kinda way I feel like a smoke and a pancake.

    Also of note was Albin Attenti’s tale. It was a great exercise in misdirection. I guess the two cops were zigging while the suspect was zagging. In a sad sorta way, I think really understood Frank.

  2. The Driver by Lorelani Fernandez

    People wonder why I drive, do I do it to relax, to think, to get somewhere.

    I don't drive for any of these reasons.

    I drive just to drive.

    If that makes me Mal Cane, insane oh well then I guess I am insane, but really I think there the ones who are crazy.