First Page Challenge, 2nd place winner: "Good Gravity"
By Brian Lott
Let There Be Air Conditioning, or Goliath as a Boy
An American car, hopefully fast, was his way out of scrubby nothing Georgia—Creighton’s escape from home, God, all of it. The 10-year-old came this close to hotwiring a blue Buick Skylark one Sunday after church in 1969.
“Ho, dangit!” Papa’s shout clattered, Creighton’s clumsy scramble from under the dash. In a scuff of gravel the kid bolted around the car’s trunk for the towering pines as Papa snagged him by a sleeve, jerking the hot day quiet except for the bugs’ drone in the trees. Creighton, slight and blond, getting taller, hung his head. Sighed.
You had to show shame. Papa, breaths heaving, slapped dust from his coat while his other hand clutched his son’s arm like the boy dangled half-off a cliff.
Slim with a bum leg, Papa had crease-hollowed cheeks, dark hair slicked back. Today he wore a brown suit and hat, black tie, cuff links. Slapping his pants. The sun carved pine needles and the cars left in the parking lot with a tapestry of midday shadow. The boy winced as Papa’s stinging grip yanked him back toward church.
Creighton knew how to start a car. If only he’d had time to prove it! Now they
would emerge. To hurt him. He had to focus on something, anything, the slightest ironies.
“Li’l bastard,” Papa snarled low, short of breath. “Y’know that?”
Brian Lott is from Houston, Texas and now lives in Tampa, Florida with his wife and daughter. As a writer, he’s published a few scattered works of short fiction in Creative Loafing and F(r)iction over the last 20 years. In that same time, he’s produced a massive amount of corporate copy, too much to take stock of, for companies like the now-defunct Home Shopping Network. He’s having a so-so day—thanks for asking.