Sometimes you can get an idea in your head so powerful, so insistent, so all-consuming, not even a dozen blows from a hammer can dislodge it from your brain.
Not that I’ve tried that. The hammer thing, I mean.
This was pretty much the situation the other Saturday morning when I awoke with a craving for a coffee frappe. Satisfying that craving was as simple as driving to my local McDonalds.
Or so I thought.
“Sorry but our frappe machine isn’t working at the moment” were the pin-through-a-balloon, deflating words delivered via a crackling drive-thru speaker later that morning. “That’s ok” I replied back into the speaker-box, fake acceptance chortling through my voice as I checked the rear vision mirror and prepared to test my stunt- driving skills by reversing out (who does that?).
A minor set-back like that was never going to stand in the way of me and my beloved coffee frappe being united in a lover’s tryst to rival that of King Louis XV of France and Madame de Pompadour. Yeah. I wanted it that badly.
What happened next was sadly – for the telling of this story – pretty next-step logical. I simply drove to the next nearest McDonalds whose coffee machine was working and got my fix there. Hooray for the ‘Plan B’s’ of this world. Simple really.
And that is where the real story ends. But also where the make-believe one begins. See, I used that real-life minor mis-adventure as the basis to concoct a fiction story. One that contained a few more twists ‘n turns. One that I ended up entering in a writing competition. Wanna read it? You do? Ok, but first I’d better act like a good, responsible host and issue one of these rapscallion little devils…
Yeah, and I think you know the type I mean. Five-star-god-awful ‘home-made’ poems and short stories poured out like clumped matter from a raw sewerage pipe by bloggers penning love letters to themselves.
Bloggers who appear to believe that just because they own the domain (or maybe they don’t) that somehow gives them the right to inflict miserable literary dross only they can see the brilliance of on unsuspecting followers.
Naturally I would never stoop so low. Well, not on any regular sort of basis anyway. And I have been considerate enough to issue a caution first, right? Yep, it seems you can get away with a lot when you sound a warning shot first…
Sometimes you just have to hit things. In Carla’s case that meant the rubber-sheathed steering wheel she was holding. Uselessly she’d already shot the drive-through speaker a disgusted look, like she’d just been asked to empty a full bed pan. They’d told her their frappe machine was not working and asked would she like to order an iced coffee instead. No she would not. After joining the backend of a six car queue for the privilege, she now felt like asking for a refund, even though she hadn’t spent any money.
Not from the area due to the fact she was currently staying at her brother’s house since her own apartment on the other side of town was under repair due to her upper-floor bathtub crashing violently through the floor into the dining room below – traced to a slow leak that had caused the chipboard floor to perish over time – Carla used her spiderweb-patterned, decal-decorated left thumb nail to tap through her car’s navigation maps and locate the next closest store.
She wasn’t pregnant, but the pretty medical clinic receptionist had woken that morning with a craving for a coffee frappe with extra caramel drizzle. A craving that had to be satisfied. That WOULD be satisfied. “3.4km away” read the screen’s little red numbers. Doable!
Carla started humming a tune from an advert to herself as she headed out of the carpark and onto the main road. With hardly any traffic at this early hour she enjoyed a glance out the window of her Ford Focus. What do people see in trees, she wondered, settling into the meditative bliss of driving. Trunk, branches, leaves. And there are just so many of them! Her mind began to wander.
Nearly seven minutes later, she was ready to try to kill the craving for a second time. With the excited interest of a tourist, the first thing she noticed while still out on the street was the red and blue flashing lights that filled the carpark. Chequered police tape was going up over the entrance. From the size of the gathered team of uniformed officers and suits packing guns on their hips, whatever had gone down was a big deal. Too big a deal for her to order a humble coffee frappe.
Carla u-turned the car just as the first drops of rain began hitting her windscreen. With a squeal of tyres she accelerated out and headed for the highway. Her left hand began tapping out the rhythm of her agitation on the centre handrest . The GPS told her it was 14 minutes to the next drive-through. This would be her final attempt she told herself. Even a frappe kamikaze like her knew their limits.
In less time than that, she’d completed her order through a crackling speaker and was now finally inching closer to crossing the finishing line that was the payment window. With the end of her quest within reach and the thing that mattered most to her now close enough she could practically taste the delicious topping cream coating her tongue and sliding down the back of her throat, Carla reached over to where her handbag and purse should have been while momentarily amusing herself with the thought “What could possibly go wrong this time?”
FRUITLESS FRAPPE was my entry in a monthly writing competition run by the Australian Writer’s Centre. That competition is known as FURIOUS FICTION.