Photo Stories: July 2011

The 100-word stories about July’s featured photo were, in a word, amazing. An old car. A brush of snow. A scene so simple that most of us would drive by it without noticing anything noteworthy. But therein lies the story. Banality is like a blank canvas. A car in a driveway has either come from drama or is heading toward it.

We said we’d only publish one story, but in a rare occasion, we exceeded our limit. And we’re presenting a song to boot.


Patrick Williams, who took this photo, recorded a song to it. Listen to Too Much Winter


We went in together to buy a car, all of us saving whatever we could for weeks. Ngor worked parking cars, and the rest of us were stuck at the packing plant. Ngor put in the most, but we were the ones that used the car. The American Blacks looked at us funny when we all piled in, but we didn’t care. We just turned the heat up as hot as we could and sang the old songs from Kakuma. The good life. The American way. Then one day Ngor and the car both disappeared. Now we take the bus.

—Perrin Blackman

The last time I went home alone—without the traveling family circus—I went to see Donnie. Ever since he was little he loved cars. He and I used to play cars almost every day—big cars, little cars and in-between cars. Big cars were the 1/20th scale plastic kits; little cars were Matchbox—the old ones with metal wheels that had tread. In-between cars were … in-between. Donnie never learned to read. After the army, so far as I knew, he got by with odd jobs, truck driving, and drinking. The blue Olds was his last car.

—Richard Lodwig is an artist and founder of littlebigspace, an alternative gallery space located in Albany, California (opening Sept 2011).

“It’s robin’s egg blue,” I screeched to Meggie as we bounced on the queen-sized bed. The window framed a bleak picture of snowy Rochester in the late fall. Mom’s boyfriend Mr. Gerald had left his car with her while he went on a trip. Really it was a short stint in recovery, but it was short enough that he didn’t have to sell his ride. My sister and I debated the color.
“No, it’s sky blue, Layla, sky blue! Grammy what color is it?”
Grammy slept peacefully still on the edge of the bed. She was a mottled, slate blue.

—Meir Calloway

It was Saturday night, and Walter was sporting the full Cleveland. His hair was immaculate. The Monte Carlo, freshly waxed and vacuumed, smelled faintly of Aqua Velva and the filterless Camels he kept tucked in the inner sanctum of his sport coat. Jeanine had been paroled Friday afternoon and spent the night at her sister’s in Euclid after mass at St. Nick’s. She was grateful for the way things had turned out, grateful for Walter, grateful for a certain pristine Chevy trunk that had been acquitted with steel wool and a little Clorox the morning the cops appeared.

—Eric Birkholz is a writer whose work has appeared in Antietam Review, Barrow Street, Coe Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and I Have My Own Song for It: Modern Poems of Ohio (U. of Akron Press, 2002).

He left the car there, just like that, with the snow and sleet masking it. Too much, too much. It reminded him of someone he had been trying to forget—cigarette butts in the ashtray; the mirror on the flip-down visor; that dead word he spoke aloud five times a day—ashtray.

He took off on foot; the car unlocked. He sought a bar to which he’d toast. He’ll speak to someone sitting next to him of birds. They tend to fly, he’ll say. They tend to go. They tend to take the wind as their very own and go.

—Kate Hill Cantrill  published Highway Kind in the first issue of 100 Word Story.

I’ve got plans for you, she said in that sultry way of hers. Big favor first—brush the snow off Evita so it doesn’t turn to ice? So excited I ran out there shirtless in bare feet. A big old boat with a huge windshield but finished the job in no time flat. Rushed back in lifting feet up high like an Irish step dancer only to see her heading out, keys in hand. Sorry hon, gotta run. But—I protested. She stopped and pressed her warm lips to mine as key ornaments jangled. Will you take a snow check?

—David Bright is editor of Gemini Magazine.

Photo credit: Patrick Williams

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