Honey, Where’s That Book…

Every Picture Tells a Story

This little warning from the Cold War did… to me.

Flashfiction by Dennis Lowery

Bob and Jane sat at the table with Sandy and Timmy that Friday morning. When the work and school day ended, it was the beginning of a holiday weekend, and they had special plans.

Just the day before, Bob had picked up his new 1958-model Edsel from ‘Big Jim’ Axelrod’s Ford dealership over in Union City. It now shone prettily just outside the kitchen windows, and he looked forward to a long drive over the weekend. Bob wasn’t the kind—because of the ‘gaddam idiots not paying attention’ driving through the neighborhood—to park his car on the street. He’d insisted on moving the Oldsmobile so he could get the new Ford under the carport. That he’d have to then back the Olds out of the one-car driveway each time to get to it hadn’t sunk in yet. But then Bob wasn’t much for long-range planning.

Jane—worried that bills were getting out of hand and now this car—followed his look at the new debt through the window. She wore a not-quite-latest-fashion-but-still-nice, gray, dress with a broad white collar that framed her strong, lean, neck and high cheek-boned face perfectly. She smelled of lilacs this morning. A new scent she’d found that Arturo, the pool-boy at the club, seemed to like a great deal. He called it “Lilicks…” and would laugh as he burrowed his head between her—.

“Jane?”

She blinked away the memory of what she loved so much, but Bob wouldn’t do and looked at him. He had shifted his face around the edge of the newspaper to look at her. “Yes, dear?”

“Are you okay?” He looked concerned.

She canted her head; felt her hand rise to her ear, and then stopped. She’d almost started to tug her right earlobe. Bob knew she only did that when she was nervous about something. He’d be on to her. Instead, she brushed a lock of hair, that hadn’t fallen out of place, back from her brow with the palm of her hand.

“I’m fine, dear.”

He grunted. His usual response when he didn’t quite believe something he’d heard someone say… or, more often, didn’t really care. But then added before ducking back behind The Daily Courier, “You’re kinda flushed, you running a fever?”

“Really, dear… I’m all right.” She felt a catch in her voice and hoped he hadn’t heard it over Timmy and Sandy fighting about the last slice of buttered toast. She was meeting Arturo that afternoon—between the Church Planning Committee luncheon and picking up the kids from school—at the Golden Pavilion motel where 6th Street ended at Highway 9 and felt the warmth rise again. But not on her face this time; she clenched her thighs. “Any good news in the paper?” Getting him talking about that always worked.

“If someone—and I mean the gaddam president—doesn’t do something about them Russkies… they’re going to take over Europe.” Bob had fought in World War Two, serving in Patton’s 3rd Army, and was still pissed that the US had let the Russians enter Berlin first. “And then they’ll be landing in New York.”

“Yes, dear.” It was automatic and came out of Jane’s mouth without thought. She was still thinking of Arturo singing, Return to Me, to her last weekend. He so looked like Dean Martin. Then he had put his mouth on her, and his tongue would— “What’s that, dear?”

He had the paper down and was looking at her again. “What’s that you’re humming?”

A bright light, like God had taken their picture, whitened their faces.

Bob, Jane, Sandy, and Timmy looked out the window.

“Honey, where’s that book, you know… the one about—”

The lights went out, and they felt the house shiver then groan. Just before the window blew in, Bob thought of the Edsel… and them ‘gaddam’ Commies.


I had someone who enjoyed this flashfiction story ask me if it would grow into a larger one because he wanted to know about what happened to this family. I answered:

Thanks, Damon; you never know — the saga of Bob, Jane, Sandy, and Timmy in the aftermath might continue. Does Jane leave to search for Arturo (her true love, so she believes)? Does Bob dig the Edsel out of the rubble to turn it into a shrine memorializing what he’s lost? Does Sandy live long enough to get her braces off (and does their metal become radioactive through exposure to fall out)? Does Timmy ever tell his mom and dad what really happened to his pet hamster? So many loose ends to deal with and we haven’t talked about survival yet. 🙂


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