Friday, August 25, 2006

House of Sternberg: HOUSE OF STERNBERG

House of Sternberg: HOUSE OF STERNBERG

This assignment was given at a writer’s group. Working with six to seven words having to do with the sea and sailing, we were then given fifteen minutes to use those words in something that nothing to do with the sea and sailing.

ROADKILL by stewart sternberg

At seventy five miles per hour his mind drifted and he imagined the weight of a parrot on his shoulder. He automatically ruddered from one lane to the other and clapped a hand over one eye.

"Are ye mad?" he asked out loud, yanking his mouth up on one side and growling. "Harr, harr."

At ninety miles per hour the parrot answered him. "Where ye be goin’ thar, Jack?"

Jack looked ahead at the pavement, rising and falling like waves. The question took away the fun and the weight of the parrot on his shoulder became the weight of despair. It crested.

He was crying now, imagining the lightness of his passing. He blocked out the truth; it didn’t count anymore. Nothing outside this car mattered.

At one hundred miles per hour a police car dropped in behind him.

"We’re about to be boarded!" he yelled raucously.

"Where are ye going, Jack?" asked the parrot.

"There," he cried. "There’s me treasure and X marks the spot."

Saying that, he sharply spun the wheel and turned into the concrete divider.


Diane Laboda said...

I remember hearing firsthand some version of this piece during a meeting at PH Barnes & Noble. It was powerful and shocking then and it's really magical now. You create such great tension in a very few words.
I've always admired your imagination. Ever thought about revisiting this scene just after the crash?

Stewart Sternberg said...

I've often thought about that character. Maybe we can visit him years later. He's divorced. Recovering from alcoholism and trying to pick up the pieces of a life. And as he bumps along the pirate theme picks up again. Pirates are pretty big these days, don't you know.

Lori Witzel said...


Put a whole new spin on "Talk Like A Pirate Day" for me.


Seriously, another tiny-but-chilling piece. Pardon me while I go turn up the thermostat.