August 30, 2016


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

H Trope: adoring the pests…

It took a while for Austin Ventura, Carmita Rodriguez Cruz, and Paulina Rodriguez Cruz to make it back to Austin’s house. Getting the candied-apple red Jeep Cherokee out of the driveway without starting it was a little tougher than Austin had been hoping.

He started out in the driver seat first, but because his driveway sloped up a little, they couldn’t get it pushed up enough to get it out into the street. Austin jumped out and whispered, “Paulina – you get behind the wheel!”

“I never drove!”

“Do it! Just hold the wheel straight while we push you backwards. I’ll come there and turn the wheel when it’s time!” All around them, was total silence; the dead of night when even burglars and rapists had gone to bed in order to hide their horrific shame from the light of day. If he’d tried to start the Cherokee...

“What are you daydreaming about?” Carmita whispered. “Push!”

Austin did. It took two rolling backs before the SUV was over the hump and into the street.

Then it started rolling backwards. “Hit the brakes!” Austin shouted in a whisper.

“She’s never driven a car, stupid! She doesn’t know what the brakes are!” The two of them chased the car across the street. But not until it hit a garbage can in front of the neighbor’s house. The family had a massively giant can because they only put it out once a month. Most everyone in the neighborhood knew exactly what day that was because the garbage stank to high heaven. And the can was jammed full.

Austin covered his eyes as the can teetered then tipped. There’d been no way to get there fast enough to stop it. No way to keep the month’s-worth of garbage from spilling into the street.

Cockroaches and all. “Ew…” said Carmita, who’d been standing next to him the whole time.

Paulina had scrambled out of the car and was coming around it when she stopped, transfixed by the pile of rot that now seethed with the bodies of the roaches, busily eating. She said abruptly, “Did you know that cockroaches are an important part of the ecology of Earth?” She took a step closer.

Austin and Carmita whispered together, “Don’t go any closer! They’re covered with diseases!”

Paulina looked up at them, laughed, “Not very often and the family appears to still be alive, so the cockroaches haven’t killed them yet.”

Austin looked at Carmita and said, “She LIKES cockroaches?”

Carmita shrugged and said, “It is our great shame.”

Austin sighed and went to the car, saying, “We don’t have any more time to waste. We have to find Carlos.” He hopped in and started it, gesturing for the girls to join him. Then with a spurt of gas, he sent them rolling and turned off the car. As they went downhill, picking up speed, none of them had noticed that they had picked up a few hitchhikers…

Names: Mexico, Mexico; Minnesota, Italy (= “baby in the woods”, “foundling”); Spanish form of French name 

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