This evening at Belfast Writer’s Group we rolled a dice, which decided story prompts for us to run with. So, the fates decided we were to write a coming of age tale that included an invisibility device, set on a plane, with a main character who an alcoholic carpenter, and another character who was an unsuccessful salesman. The following is what I came up with, in the space of a half-hour:
Alex was a carpenter from Minnesota, on his way to Vegas to celebrate his most recent divorce. With him was his best friend, Jack, an unsuccessful salesperson of no fixed address. Together they would conquer the world, or get drunk trying.
“I’m telling you,” Jack insisted, as he leaned over the sleeping lady sat in between him and Alex, to yell in Alex’s ear, “It makes you invisible. Amazing technology! You should invest before it goes big.”
Alex gave a dismissive wave of his hand, consequently knocking both of his drinks over the lady in the middle seat. She didn’t stir.
“Now look what you made me do!” he slurred, before pressing the button for the hostess, then looking up and down the aisle. “Where is she? What are we paying her for? People here need drinks!”
“Alex, no. Alex, listen, you have to hear this. Invisibility, it’s the future!”
“I think the hostess is invisible,” Alex groused. The woman beside him had a nametag – Bertha. He tried to memorize it, as he eyed up her untouched glass of complimentary champagne.
Whether it was withdrawal or turbulence, he didn’t know, but Alex convinced himself he needed that glass. So he took it – down in one – with a whisper of, “Cheers, Bertha.”
He pressed the button again, before looking back at Jack, who was still talking.
“How much, then?” he asked, more to make his friend happy than out of interest.
Jack beamed at him. “Alex, buddy, you won’t regret this!”
“Hold on now,” said Alex, “I ain’t agreed to nothin’ yet. How much?”
“We could get set up within a week, and have a prototype set to go by year two,” Jack babbled on.
“How much?” Alex asked again.
“Oh, not much, buddy. Only about ten hundred.”
Alex looked at his oldest friend, but found it difficult, him being so blurry.
“Yeah, buddy, ten hundred thousand,” Jack affirmed, with a grin.
Alex spat out his recently consumed champagne all over Bertha.
“You what?!” he shook his head, then started coughing. “You’re tying to kill me, that’s what you’re trying to do.”
Behind them, a man in a very expensive looking suit pressed the button for the hostess, and she went to him immediately.
“Is there anything I can help with, Sir?” she asked sweetly.
“Yeah, anything you can do about these two jackasses in front?”
The hostess looked confused for a moment, then slid her eyes to the row directly in front of the business man. A lady was sat there, in the middle seat, with two empty ones either side.
She looked back at the business man, “Sir?”
“Nevermind,” he snapped. Once she’d gone away, he turned to his teenage son and said, “You see that? Probably company policy that they can’t do a thing about noisy pasengers. Customer’s always right and all that crap. But listen here, Jimmy, you ever turn out like one of these two, you’ll be disowned, you hear me? Nu-uh,” he shook his head. “Not having a disgrace to the family coming from my loins. No way.”
Jimmy looked at his father, then faced front again. It had been hard growing up with someone mentally unstable, who got mad at imaginary people. Sometimes he felt he’d had no childhood at all, as a result. It’d be fine, though. Once they arrived in Vegas he’d find his mom and be free of his father forever. He could feel it, this was his fresh start.