A contest entry for Show! Don't tell. September 2019
Prompt: "Ruby is annoyed to be in stop-and-go rush hour traffic.
She angrily rejects a call--or calls--from an unknown number on her mobile phone.
A mysterious person in the vehicle in front of her holds up a sign that says, "Answer the phone."
The phone rings, Ruby answers, and her life forever changes.
Besides showing these mundane events, please remember to write a story, complete with tension, a beginning, a middle, and an end. If you prefer a male protagonist, use "Roscoe" instead of "Ruby."
Ruby should want something--perhaps she's expecting a call and that's why she's angry, or maybe she's late and that's why the traffic is annoying. What she wants has to matter--those are the stakes. Finally, there needs to be an obstacle to her achieving her goal. Goals, stakes, and obstacles are the basics of tension and hence plot."
This is the first day of a new job. Traffic is stopping in all lanes. It is beginning to snow. Roscoe is chewing his lip and drumming his fingers on the steering wheel. Why is this traffic not moving? Picking up his phone he is calling the traffic information station.
“A tanker truck and two cars have crashed and a blocking all lanes of I-64 west,” he heard the news saying.
“Oh, this is just great! This is my first day at a new job, and I am running late getting to work because I am stuck in traffic! Wonderful! What else can go wrong?”
Looking forward Roscoe sees the driver in the car in front of him writing something on a piece of paper and holding it up to the back glass. “Answer the phone!” the paper reads.
Roscoe is thinking this is quite odd when his phone begins to ring. “Hello”, he answered, wondering who could possibly be calling him. Surely it wasn’t the driver ahead of him?
“I hate to break this to you buddy”, the voice on the line was saying, “but even if traffic was moving you would not be going anywhere. You have a flat tire on the driver’s side.”
Roscoe started shaking with anger from the news and worrying about the mysterious call. How did the driver know his phone number to begin with?
“Thank you for the heads up about my tire”, Roscoe said. “Now tell me how in the world you got my number?”
“Roscoe, are you telling me you don’t recognize my voice? It’s me. Sam Porter from the bank. Your number is in my contacts, as are the numbers of most of our valued customers. I do hope that flat tire is not going to set you back any. The way this traffic is moving you can probably change it before we start again. Would you like some assistance?”
“No thank you Sam”, Roscoe said in reply. “You’re probably right. I can change it while we’re waiting for the traffic to start moving. I just hope it doesn’t take long. I am starting my new job with Backman and Trollis PLLC today and I don’t want to be late.”
“What do you do for Backman and partners Roscoe”, Sam asked as Roscoe was exiting his car to change the tire.
“I’m a paralegal”, Roscoe answered. “I do legal research. Now, if you will excuse me I’ll change this tire.”
Roscoe exits the car and slams the door a little harder than intended. The tire sure enough is flat. A gaping hole was in the side of the tire. “So much for driving fifty miles on a flat tire”, Roscoe said aloud. “I guess my first case should be to sue the tire company for false advertising!”
Putting the four way on the lug nuts, he broke them loose before lifting the car. Positioning the jack and lifting the car took about ten minutes. Changing the tire and tightening the bolts was an additional ten minutes. Letting the car down was much faster and soon he was sitting in his car again, waiting for traffic to move. His heart was pounding, and his palms were sweating thinking he was going to be late for his first day on the job. Looking at the clock he made a startling discovery. Today was Monday November 4, 2019. The previous day had been the first day of Daylight Standard Time. He was still on Daylight Saving Time! He was an hour early! He was okay! Just then traffic began to move.