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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 12: March 2022
Flash Fiction: 551 words
By Stuart Watson

Bad Intersection

 

My wife was tearing lettuce at the sink. I was stirring my oxtail sugo. We heard screeching tires, a loud crash, people screaming.

“Wonder what it is this time?” I said.

Flo nodded. “They could survive. It happens. Once in awhile.”

We live near a bad intersection. Really bad. It’s a neighborhood, and our street meets another two doors down. That other street is posted for 65 mph. It was an expressway before the city decided to give it a new designation. Frumkin Alley.

“You’re kidding?” I said at the public hearing.

“No,” they answered. “Alleys are safer than expressways.”

On our street, kids ride bikes with training wheels. Moms push baby carriages. There’s a crosswalk, but you have to time it right and get across. The city put in an automated light on the other side. If you want to cross, you push a button. Then wait. Be ready for the automated voice. Like at old-school crosswalks? “Walk...walk...walk.”

Just different.

“Run for your life! Now! Don’t wait! Auto-hauler inbound. Run! Run! Run!”

It’s a bad intersection, but it’s great exercise. I know what you’re thinking. It was that way before we moved in, but the house was going for a great price. Of course, we didn’t know why at the time, but even though we know all about the intersection now, it’s home.

We’re in the papers every day. It’s like our intersection is a celebrity or a spectator event. Headlines like: DOZENS HURT WHEN BUS HITS RAZOR RIDER CHASING DOG.

Stuff like that. It’s just what happens. I’ll go out to mow the lawn and there will be sirens and ambulances gathered in the intersection, first responders running everywhere, gauze hanging off, one or two doing chest compressions.

I wave to our neighbor, the blonde in the halter top. She waves back, leans forward, smiles.

Sometimes traffic will back up big time. Other times, someone gets antsy and tries to jump the queue, crashes into the previous pileup. People come from all over the city to set up lawn chairs and watch. They bring coolers, sip beer, roast brats on portable BBQs.

First responders will wander over, eat a dog, barely flinching when a semi piles into the wreckage in the intersection. It can take days to untangle things. We know when they open it up to traffic. Everything goes quiet. The sirens stop. The sidewalk chatter abates. People pack up and go home and the hum resumes.

It doesn’t last. A Realtor trying to get a listing close to the action will burn some rubber, trying to cross the intersection. She might make it. Might not. More than a dozen have been punched by semis into the yard of Mavis Elrod on the other side.

Every time a Realtor makes it through, we invite them in and hear them out. Our house keeps rising in value. Right? Makes no sense, thinking in the old ways. But this is novelty. People are dying to live here. Restaurants would kill for our location.

It makes no difference to me. As long as the values keep rising, we’re not moving. Say what you will about the downside, but at our place, the salad is done, the noodles al dente, and the sugo to die for.

Stuart Watson
Issue 12, March 2022

wrote for newspapers in Anchorage, Seattle and Portland. For fun and low pay, he and his wife later owned two restaurants. His writing is in more than thirty publications, including Barzakh, Bending Genres, Five South, Flash Boulevard, Grey Sparrow Journal, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Montana Mouthful, Mystery Tribune, Pulp Modern Flash, Reckon Review, Revolution John, Sledgehammer Lit, The Writing Disorder, and Yolk. He lives in Oregon, with his wife and their amazing dog.

Author’s website: https://chiselchips.com/

 
 
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