This week I’m using the word left on last week’s Flash Fiction Friday post:
…and 14 additional words I got from https://www.randomlists.com/random-words (screenshot, below):
cool – exchange – dear – knowing – thrill – crate – building – heal – lively – rabbit – plane – general – bewildered – science
This is a bonus scene for Cultivating Love. It’s not a continuation scene, or a “missing scene” that could fit somewhere in the middle. It’s a “WHAT IF?” scene. As in what if, in some alternate universe, Ed and Joe traveled to Mayfield in the spring before the action in Cultivating Love takes place? Before Ed’s father is tragically killed in a motorcycle accident? Note: The action in this scene is NOT consistent with the published story, and cannot be considered a true prequel.
Ed stared out the window at the white trail behind a plane crossing the sky. “Maybe we should’ve flown to Denver.”
“Nah,” Joe replied. “It’s just one day of driving each way—about eight hours plus stops. This way we’ll have my truck to get around in while we’re there.”
“Yeah, I know. Sorry, I’ll quit bellyaching.” Lengthy road trips sucked, but Ed didn’t need to make the long drive across Nebraska worse by bitching about it to Joe. Besides, he was looking forward to everything they had planned to do in the city. Everything from the thrill of seeing a ballgame at Coors Field to the diversion of the planetarium and exhibits at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, to the awesomeness of the vintage cars at the Forney Museum of Transportation. He needed to exchange his whiny attitude about being stuck in a car for a more upbeat one that reflected his excitement for the days ahead.
A lively rabbit hopped at the side of the road, drawing Ed’s attention to the road sign next to it. “That’s the Mayfield exit. My dad was from there.”
“You’ve never visited the town, right?” Joe flicked on the turn signal and slowed the truck. “It’s as good a place as any to pick up some road snacks. That way you can at least see the town where he lived.”
“Cool. Yeah, that’d be great.”
Joe took the exit and they traveled a few miles down a secondary highway before reaching Mayfield. They found the town square without any trouble. It was like stepping back in time as they drove the circuit, passing by a bank, a diner, a hardware store, and a general store. The pharmacy had a cute sign with crisscrossed bandages above the words, “We heal you.” Ed pointed toward a brick building with a large sign simply stating “Groceries,” and Joe pulled into a parking spot in front of it.
A middle-aged woman’s eyebrows rose sharply when they entered the store. She stood near the cash register, restocking a shelf of impulse items all stores seemed to have next to their checkout lines. Ed nodded and smiled as he picked up a hand-held basket and followed Joe. The first aisle straight ahead of them had crackers and chips visible on display, so that’s where they went.
A bushel basket atop a crate held various single serve snack items, but Joe pulled full-sized boxes and bags off the shelves and tossed them in Ed’s basket. Just as well, since they’d want snacks in their motel room in Denver, too.
The woman from the front wasn’t particularly subtle as she kept an eye on them. Maybe they looked like potential shoplifters. More likely it was because they were strangers, and in a town this size, that stood out.
“Hey,” Joe whispered. “Let’s give her something to talk about.”
“What are you planning? I don’t want to get arrested by some backwoods sheriff.”
Joe snorted. “Nothing illegal.” He bounced his eyebrows a couple times and leveled a knowing look at Ed. “Think the old dear will piss herself if I kiss you?”
Ed choked on a laugh, and Joe didn’t wait for an answer—he leaned in, placed a hand on Ed’s jaw, and planted a big smooch right on Ed’s mouth. If Joe had been hoping for an outraged reaction from the woman, he’d be disappointed, because if the smirk that appeared on her face was any indication, she was amused.
Ed added a bag of cheese popcorn to their basket and they returned to the front to pay for their food. The woman looked them up and down again. “You boys in town visiting relatives?”
“No ma’am,” Joe replied. “Just passing through.”
“Huh.” She turned to Ed. “I would’ve sworn you were a Jamison.”
Ed’s heart skipped a beat and he grabbed Joe’s arm. “I am a Jamison. Ed Jamison.” Maybe his mom had been wrong, and he did have some family still alive. “I didn’t think I had any living relatives here. Are there some? My dad was from Mayfield, but he died before I was born.”
She looked bewildered with her brow scrunched and her mouth pinched. “Hmm. Not sure who your father was, but you look a lot like Fred Jamison. He has a farm on the south side of town. He can probably sort it out for you.”
“Fred?” That had been his father’s name. Ed turned toward Joe.
Joe shrugged. “Maybe a cousin? Want to check him out?”
Ed turned back to the woman. “I’m so glad you said something. Thank you. I didn’t think I had any relatives left at all. Do you know if his number is listed? Do you think he’d mind me questioning him about the family?”
“He’s listed. You won’t need it, though.” She inclined her head toward the square out the front window. “That’s his truck in front of the diner.”
Ed grinned. “Fantastic.” He turned back to Joe. “That okay with you? We’re not on a schedule, right?”
“Yeah, no problem.”
They paid for their groceries, thanked the woman again, and left. They tossed the bags in the truck and walked toward the diner. “I’m nervous,” Ed said. “I hope this guy isn’t peeved that we’re interrupting his lunch.”
“Nah, it’ll be fine. Quit worrying.”
Ed pasted a wide smile on his face as they opened the door and entered the diner.
I’m going to be a mean bitch and end it there. Leave a prompt word in the comments, below, and I’ll use it in next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please, up to 15 total. 😁 If you want this scene continued, you might consider leaving something that’ll be useful for that.
The 1st edition of Cultivating Love is available at Loose ID through (probably) June 8 or 9.
The rewritten and expanded 2nd edition will be out at JMS Books in ebook formats on June 24, and in print on June 30. It’s available for preorder, now:
A man of few words, Joe is a hard-working farmhand who likes his simple, uncomplicated life. Ed is satisfied with his existence as an auto mechanic, but thrilled when an unexpected development in his life allows him to help Joe realize a dream.
It forces them, however, to reevaluate the casual, undefined nature of their relationship. They’re too macho to speak of love, and neither would acknowledge he doesn’t really mind when it’s his turn to bottom. When life throws them a curve ball, and the rules of their game get old, Ed tries to take every aspect of their relationship up a notch. Can Joe adapt to the open sentimentality Ed’s injecting into their relationship, let alone the new spice in their bedroom activities?
Note: This is a previously published story that has been rewritten, expanded, and re-edited.