This story needs you to finish it.

It was decades ago. A Friday night. He shut the door of his bedroom and turned off the light. It was only 7:00 pm but it was dark and he wanted no part of anything. He shut the door against the man he called dad coming home in his suit after a bad day to find him watching that bad movie and pulling it out of the machine and smashing it. Against his mother cussing and breaking dishes in the sink. Against his brother screaming in the baby carrier. Against the phone ringing every ten minutes. He didn’t want to go out. He didn’t want to stay in. He put a record on and turned it up and sat against the speaker so loud it felt like a live rock show.

One night that man he called dad put the keys in the ignition and stomped on the gas and spun the tires so hard he left black marks and smoke as he screeched away. It scared him and hurt him but at the same time it seemed like a pretty fucking good idea.

Next morning he was waiting for the bus to school and instead of waiting he started walking. He walked like he was going to school and when he got to school he stopped and stood there staring at the doors. He was late and everyone was inside. He started walking again and he walked until he found a pay phone.

He called information and got a number for a cab company. He called a cab and asked the driver to take him towards the bus station. He watched the meter until it got close to the number of dollars he could spend and then he told the cab driver to stop. He paid the cab driver and walked the rest of the way to the bus station and got on the next bus for somewhere else.

He got off in a town with a different name than the one he’d left. It was after midnight and he slept on the steps outside the terminal. He didn’t have anything to use for a pillow like the others did.

It was luck he passed by that mechanics place the next day and their guy had called off. He could do simple shit like change oil and replace brake pads. The man he’d called dad had made him do it so he wouldn’t have to pay someone else. Now he was that someone else the man didn’t want to pay.


I sat down to write a story and no sooner had I started than it went off in a direction I didn’t intend. The above direction. That’s what happens sometimes. Now I’m curious to see what happens to this kid. Where is he twenty years later? What’s he doing? Is he married with kids? Successful? Happy? Is he broke and drunk? In jail? In another country? Dead? I have no idea. I don’t know how it got where it did. 

I’d like to see someone, anyone, hopefully lots of someones or anyones, finish this story. You can post your finish in the comments below. Or you can submit it using the thingy under the Contact page above. I would love to see dozens of responses. I would be thrilled with a handful. I would be happy with one. I don’t know what to expect with this. I’ve never done it before. My only fear is the sound of crickets.

The ending could be warm and uplifting, or dark and dreadful, or anything in between. You could mimic the style or do it your way. You could take it to outer space if you want to. Only two caveats: 20 years later; 500 words or less. It could be one sentence. Or one paragraph. It could be many. But the ending – the part you write – should be 500 words tops. Next Monday I will post a follow-up. What that will look like depends on the number of responses. If there are enough to pick three favorites, I will do that and take it from there.  

Some of you write fiction. Some of you don’t. Doesn’t matter. Even if you’ve never written a story before, why should that stop you? You may surprise yourself. Go for it. 


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22 thoughts on “This story needs you to finish it.

  1. Let’s see! Lovely idea. Umm…I’m going the successful route.

    Working with his hands, that is what he liked. It was a good way to alleviate stress, forget about worries, cares, and everything that he didn’t want to think about. By working with his hands, he had made a living. Maybe better than a living. He smiled, remembering. He’d started off doing the little stuff in a mechanics place. And he’d moved up from there. It wasn’t mentally hard work.

    Ah, huff-hum! I can’t finish it either. But that’s basically something of what I saw. I think I’m completely out of my element. You’d do it way better, I’m thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I will pick up the gauntlet yo have thrown down, Walt. I have a few ideas about where to take this. Do you want me to post my finish in your comments, send it to you in an email, or post it on my blog and link back to this one?


  3. He started working at the mechanics place..but this was not something he wanted. The world was a cruel place. All his fancy ideas of proving his worth to his dad and family vanished when he came in touch with hard core reality. He was abused and called names often at the workplace. He was barely managing to get three square meals a day. Unknowingly, flashes of memories would make him uncomfortable.
    How lovingly his mother would prepare his favourite dish on Sundays…how sweetly his little brother smiled at him. Agreed, his father was a difficult person but he was the one who taught him so many things. And then there were his school pals Joe, Angela, Mike…who loved him.
    He realised he had made a mistake by impulsively leaving them but there was no looking back now.
    But then something happened that changed his life. One day, as he sat near the lake biting his meagre meal on a Sunday, he met a strange man. One could not tell his nationality but something in him was very endearing to him. They conversed and within few minutes he blurted out his life story. The man told him that there are just three things that are important in life. The first thing is ‘time’ which is NOW. The Second most important thing is the ‘person’ you are dealing with right NOW. And the third is the ‘work’ that you are doing right NOW. If you focus on your NOW, your future will be taken care of and your life will move in the right direction. He never met the man again.

    The conversation motivated him, he started focussing on vehicles and machines. His concentration improved as well as his skills. Meanwhile, his parents located him.

    His father came to take him home. His father was a different man, in a broken voice, he asked him to return. The boy willingly agreed. He was glad he had fled the house…he was glad he was returning to his loved ones armed with skill, confidence, maturity and knowledge.

    Small wonder then that he excelled in studies and went on to get a college degree in mechanical engineering with distinction. He went on to become one of the greatest scientists of all times. And he was often heard telling everyone the story of NOW.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Day after day, he loosened nuts and screws, modified engines and changed motor oils. The tedious work made him grow into a man faster than he should. At the age of eighteen, he looked like he was a middle-aged man who may or may not be happily settled down with a wife and two kids.
    Customers came and went, and he serviced for them all the same, until he was finally promoted to senior mechanic. He grew proud of his achievements and left his past behind and forgotten. One day, a rather posh looking business man walked in, and demanded for the best mechanic in the store. Of course, he had to answer the call.
    It turned out to be a tough (and illegal) job – modifying the entire car, bar the glass, but he managed it well, and produced a beast of a car that would impress the most demanding of underground racers. That marked the peak of the man’s career.
    Mr Posh revisited later that week, declaring to meet the best mechanic once more. This time, to congratulate him. He has won his first few street races with the Beast and is now a rising star in the street racing community. Mr Posh offered to take him to watch his next race. He could not be any happier to see the Beast in action.
    Two nights later, he was in a remote clearing where the best local street racers gathered. Mr Posh already had a sizeable fan base, being an underdog, and he was not the only one there to see him. He was surprised to be joined by Mr Posh’s wife and two sons as well. He thought Mr Posh should be a better father.
    What happened next was a complete disaster. Wailing sirens, spiraling cars, the smell of burnt petrol… Horrified, he realized that deep within, he knew that this was bound to happen. Beast was powerful, too powerful, and a human life was a fragile thread that the Beast had no trouble snapping. One wrong twist, one mistimed gear shift, and that was it. Snap.
    He took off and fled the scene. But not before he had a look at the two sons. They had lost their father. He felt empathy and able to relate. He had ‘lost’ his father too. ‘Lost’ his entire family. Something tugged at his heart and he yearned to see Mother and little Harvey again.
    Many years later, he stood outside a university. He was leaving his family once again. But this time, things were not the same. He turned around to face his family and waved. His mother shed a tear while holding his father tightly, who smiled at him with genuine pride. Then he turned his back to them, and proceeded to become the greatest mechanical engineer of all time.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jounal 25th Feb, 2015.
    It was one of those dreams where you know you’re dreaming but it feels so real. I was aware that I was no longer the troubled boy of fifteen who run away from home, if at all home it was, but sometimes I still feel that I’m troubled boy. It all came back in flashes, father walking in the house with an irascible fire in his eyes, mother nervous and fidgety waiting to be accosted for not leaving my father’s life. I remember the tension I felt when the door bell rang. I’d lock myself in my room. Day in and day out, right after dinner the sound of screams and pleas filled the house. I’m still finding ways to drown the noise. It’s been a decade since I took the cab to escape the insidious clutches of my parents. Has it been that long? I remember it like it was yesterday. After I got off the cab, I started walking aimlessly. Walking was the only therapy I could afford, coherency and transparency of thoughts came from walking. I walked back home, entered the putrid household through the backdoor. Unsure of my actions, I prayed to God, hoping I was doing the right thing. I moved stealthily in the house looking for what I came for. With the drumming of my heart in my ears, I found him. Lifting him up from his cot, I grabbed my baby brother and walked out of that house. With hope in heart for an uncertain future, we left the screams and pleas behind, we left them behind. It’s been twenty years now I still have trouble drowning out their voices but my brother, the child i raised, sleeps unscared and unperturbed in the next room. No sounds of his screams and her pleas will wake him up at night.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I had the same thing happen to me. I moved out from the man called father. My Grandfather sent me a hundred dollars a month That was rent and a few dollars for food. I went hungry a lot. This was the time of no credit cards. One day I passed Luigi’s Restaurante and looked in. People feeding their faces. I drooled. Not a pleasant sight. But I noted a small piece of cardboard near the door. Dishwasher needed.
    I went in and washed dishes. Instead of money Luigi feed me. And so it went. Luigi feed me and I washed dishes. We rarely spoke. He had the thickness of the Italiano accent and I was a shy kid.
    Then one day I went to wash the dishes and the store was closed. Luigi had died.
    I was pissed. My meal ticket was gone. Yet I felt a loss.
    I was standing at the door and just starring when a young guy stood next to me. He asked me who I was and I said just the dishwasher.
    “Oh, you are the kid Luigi told me about you,” he was not being aggressive so I just stood there.
    “Luigi, liked you and set up a small fund for you to go to college.”
    And so because of pizza crude on dishes I went to college, graduated and became a teacher.
    Some days I curse Luigi and some days I do not. But I always have a fondness for pizza.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hi Walt. This is a very fun exercise, bravo, I don’t have any experience with this type of tale and really enjoyed the chance to add to it, Its jolly fun writing as if i were american, here goes.

    The guy he worked for was OK, sure he had a temper when the kid fucked up but he never felt the need to shut the door against him, he kinda liked him, so he stuck around for a while, saved a few bucks, bought himself a piece of shit on 4 wheels and fixed it up, The guy he worked for let him use the shop and the tools, the guy he worked for figured the kid needed a break. He met her in the diner, fell for her the second he laid eyes on her, of course it took him weeks to ask her out on a date, but he did, she said yes and smiled that smile, she still smiles…..……That smile. It’s funny how things turn out, He didn’t mean it to happen but…….. He’d had a bad day, and now he comes home and all she can do is smile that FUCKING smile. It’s funny how things turn out, Twenty years after walking past those school doors, twenty years after turning his back on his mom, after turning his back on his kid brother. His son, the one that calls him dad, cranks the volume on his record and……..… Shuts the door against him.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. He had learned a lot since that day he wandered into the mechanics place. Much more than just being able to change oil and replace brake pads. He actually became quite skillful as an auto mechanic. And when the old man who owned the place died around five years later, he took it over. It was his own. And it was a living…a damn good one at that.

    And then he met her, the woman he called his soul-mate, the love of his life, and, eventually, his wife. He bought a small house for them to call home. And they had kids. A son. Then a daughter. Then another son.

    He was living a life he never dreamed of when, just 20 years earlier, he had spontaneously boarded that bus to a town with a different name.

    He was a good mechanic. He was a good husband. He was a good father. He was content. More than content. He was happy, something he had never been in his youth. How fortunate he was that his life turned out this way, this good.

    But all good things must come to an end, they say. In his case, the good thing that came to an end was when the simple internal combustion engine that powered most cars morphed into an electronic, computer controlled marvel of complex machinery.

    His loyal customers abandoned his small auto repair shop for the well-equipped service departments of new car dealerships or the large, franchised auto repair franchises that required a quarter of a million up front just to sign on the dotted line.

    Suddenly he was back to changing oil and replacing brake pads. All minor stuff that hardly brought in enough money to cover his costs. He was no longer content. No longer happy.

    And one evening, after a day where no customers came into his shop, he came home and had words with his wife. He yelled at his two boys for no really good reason. He even slapped his beautiful, innocent, darling daughter when she ran to her mother’s side.

    Angry and ashamed, he ran out of the house and, in a fit of rage, jumped into his car, put the keys in the ignition, stomped on the gas, and spun the tires so hard they left black marks and smoke as he screeched away.

    And that’s when he realized that you can’t escape who you are or who you were meant to be. He had become his own father.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. How his brother had managed to track him down was a wonder. He glanced at his brother, subtly observing him. He had a brother. It felt like a word not meant for him or a word long lost from his vocabulary. This young man did not in any way resemble the baby that he had known his brother to be. He wished that the circumstances for their meeting could have been better, instead they stood side-by-side in black.

    20 years later, that man he had called dad was dead. And staring at the fresh earth in the light of a new dawn, he reflected on the faded memories of his father that had defined his teenage years and early adulthood. His own boy was growing up and he was called dad himself now. The circle of life swings around and around.

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  10. After an apprenticeship at the shop, he became a damn fine mechanic. When it came time for the current shop owner to retire; the kid (no longer a kid, really), was gunning for the job. He deserved the job too, but nepotism ran deep in the old mans veins, and gave the job over to his inexperienced son instead. Of course it wasn’t long before the business went belly-up. “Serves the old man right” he said while downing another cold one. He was spending most of his time at the bar back then, getting drunk, and picking fights.

    One day, as he stumbled down the streets after a long night on the town, he found himself in front of a Church. He started yelling at the Heavens, blaming God for his lot in life. That’s when it happened! He saw her coming out of the Church and walking towards him. “What’s your story?” she asked. “I thought the grass was greener on the other side; I was wrong” he said. “I know exactly what you mean” she told him. They continued to meet several times over coffee, dinner, a stroll in the park, etc. After some time she invited him to Church with her, and he obliged mostly out of respect for her. He found God, he found peace, and he found forgiveness for the man he called dad.

    They both married, and their family (now reconciled), were there to witness the joyful occasion. He went back to work to save enough money to start his own mechanics shop. His career is lucrative, and they have two children of their own. He struggles to imagine what he was thinking when he skipped town 20 years ago; perhaps, he wasn’t thinking. Nonetheless, he is happy with where he is now in life, and whom he is with.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Today, he was still that man. Now, though, that place had his name on the sign over the garage bays. His name was on a plaque hanging in the customer lobby proclaiming him small businessperson of the year. The award was dusty. He hadn’t gotten one like it this year, or the year before that.
    There was a day he looked at his engraved plaque every time he walked the last customer out the door, waiting for them to get in their car and exit the parking lot. He would watch them drive away, waving in case they looked back. He would call home to say he was leaving after washing up and reconciling the daily credit card charges.
    Over time, though, he started rushing those customers out the door. He barely let them clear the exit before turning off the master light switch. The office darkened, passersby desperate for service wouldn’t come knocking on the door or peek in the windows. Flipping that switch had become the best part of his day.
    And lately, there was no one to usher out. For weeks, 7:00 pm had come and all he did was lock the door and ignore the weeds growing through cracks in the parking lot. This Friday was no different. He turned the dead bolt and shut off the overhead lights. Other light sources became stars. The glow from the ten gallon aquarium, exit sign, computer monitor and smoke alarm formed an uninteresting constellation. It wasn’t even a parallelogram.
    A fifth light joined the cosmos. His smartphone illuminated, buzzing on the counter. He stepped over to see who he would be ignoring. This was not a phone call. It was a Facetime request. Only one person did this to him. The ID showed AWSOMEDUDE followed by his hometown zip code. His brother had either never been told that he misspelled awesome or he didn’t care. He swiped to deny the request.
    Keeping phone in hand, he walked through the shop towards the employee entrance. Months ago, others had used this entrance, but now it was only his. Out of the corner of his eye, he took a long look at the brunette on his auto parts calendar. He had been here twenty years and not once did the sales representative look like her. His phone buzzed. He read his brother’s text. Sprechen sie talk?
    He sighed, texting back. You seeing mom this weekend?
    No. Are you? There was some little graphic of a confused smiley face with birds flying around the yellow circular head. He typed his response.
    I have supervised visitation with Rebecca tomorrow. Then counseling.
    He returned to the calendar. The sales rep had not looked like that, but he messed up anyway.
    His phone buzzed. Putting it in his pocket without a glance, he reached high on the wall. He took down the calendar. Returning to the unlit office, he dropped the calendar into the trashcan. Seconds later, his small business plaque followed.

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  12. Pingback: The story is finished several times. | waltbox

  13. Hi. Thanks for the challenge, it was fun. I’m a novice writer, but I hope you like it anyways.

    20 years later. A man stood in front of an audience. He had their ears, and with them he told about the father he once knew, and how he survived. His mouthed moved, voicing words he heard so much. He saw their faces move. There was crying, laughter and silent awes. He talked there for twenty minutes, showed his gratitude, and left.

    He was well written, and was a well known voice around the world. His book “Roses from Mud” was a top-seller, and he spoke in many colleges and many schools. Children would come teary eyed, hugging him and thanking him. People called him “the run away success”. A self-made man.

    He sat beside his wife and held her in his arms. They ate in silence. The clinging of utensils rung. Every night was like this one, until he had to leave and deliver a speech somewhere far off.

    He sat in the airplane. During this time he would write. He froze with writers block, unable to write the epilogue. There was no epilogue to write.


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