The Lottery Ticket by Doc Shaw.

He had to kick out the back window to escape. There just wasn't anywhere else to go. The fire that Jonah had awoken to was in the midst of burning his house out from under him and the floor shuddered as he leapt for the window. The glass parted with a crash and the cool night air was a welcome relief from the smoke filled air that he had been trying to suck in. He filled his lungs as the twelve foot drop landed him in his neighbor's hedge. As he struggled to free himself from the branches, he found that one had pierced his leather jacket and the meat of his collar bone as well. The smell of pine was strong as he extricated himself and he was dizzy from his fall.

"He's over here!" yelled Freebird who waved a switchblade at him. The Walther spat three times and Jonah sent him to the great biker bar in the sky.

His feet thudded like lead across the nieghbor's yard as the flames of his former home lit up the night. He bashed the window of the light blue K car and swung in behind the wheel. Sure enough, the neighbor had left the keys in the ignition. The engine started with a cough as the corpse of Freebird twitched at the edge of the driveway. As he floored the K car, it sputtered down the dead end street and the pistol bullets thudded into the trunk while shattering the back glass. If Jonah could have picked a getaway car, this wouldn't have been it. The engine whined like a sewing machine pushed to it's limit as he turned on the freeway and headed south. It shimmied and shook like a virgin on her wedding night.

"Why, oh why did I buy that raffle ticket at the state fair?" he wondered. The local Cancer Society had accepted the gift of a gold plated 750 cc 1942 Harley Davidson XA from an anonymous donor. Odds were on Mr. Longaberger, the basket king, but no one would fess up. It was displayed with much fanfare in the dairy barn and armed guards surrounded it night and day. The ticket had set him back five dollars and he waited in line for a half hour. He didn't have any great expectations of winning as the line had stretched for a half mile, but the gleam of that golden bike had inspired dreams that he didn't know he had. He pictured himself on some long, flat highway out west. The wind whipping by and pulling at him as he sped to California to see his ex-wife Mariah. As the smile spread across his face the rear view mirror splintered and showered glass into his lap.

He looked behind him to see a long trail of motorcycle headlights that were rapidly advancing. The passenger seat was full of drive through bags and Jonah wadded up some paper napkins in his shoulder wound to staunch the blood and took the first exit he came to. The single head lights pulled ever closer and the sound of bullets striking his trunk came more frequently now. The blue sign for the State Highway Patrol station was a welcome sight. The tires squealed as he pulled into the parking lot and came to an abrupt stop by the cruisers. The sodium lights hummed loudly as he ran for the door. Bullets skipped off the blacktop with a whine.

Sgt. Barber looked up with surprise as Jonah burst through the door and took cover behind the counter. The hail of bullets that followed was even more unexpected than snow in July. Sgt. Barber managed to mutter, "What the..." before sinking to the floor with most of his throat missing. He motioned for something to write with and some paper as he clutched his spurting throat. He managed to scribble, "I love you Barb," before his eyes rolled back in his head. Jonah pulled the 9mm from Sgt. Barber's holster. The radio had taken the worst of the gunfire and squelched a high pitched whine until one more stray bullet finished it's complaint.

The bullets continued to thud into the counter as Jonah lifted the keys from the rapidly cooling Sgt. Barber and made his way down the back hallway until he came to a door marked armory. As the key made it's familiar "snick" sound in the lock, the roar of Harley's broke through the missing front windows of the police station.

The shells seemed to leap from the box and into the stainless steel pump shotgun as Jonah watched the doorway. He should have taken the offer from the lawyer that called him two days after the fair. He hinted at fifty thousand dollars for the bike but had done it in such a way that suggested that there could be more if Jonah wanted to haggle. Like a fool, he told him to piss up a rope as his mind was full of dreams of riding the open highway on a vintage Harley with the wind blowing through his hair. He smiled at his idiocy as he leaned around the corner in time to cut an unwashed biker in half with a blast of buckshot.

He ducked back around the corner and listened for footsteps as his ears rang. Above the din, a man called out to him. "Jonah, it doesn't have to be this way. We just want the ticket. You give us that and everyone goes away happy. You go home and raise your daughter and never hear from us again. You don't give us that ticket and you die gagging in a pool of blood in a Highway Patrol station and yer kid becomes an orphan. So what do you say? You want to play ball or die here? It's up to you."

The air is suddenly filled with the smell of gasoline and the familiar sound of flint being scratched on a Zippo lighter.

"You bastards are barking up the wrong tree. The ticket went up in flames when you burnt down my house. You are welcome to sift through the ashes and look for it in my cookie jar but I'm willing to bet that it wasn't enough to save the ticket. That bike is going to go to the second runner-up unless you act fast. His name is Mr. Randal Smythe of Parma, Ohio. If you move fast, you can catch him before he leaves for work at seven. It's only an hour ride away." The sound of shuffling feet was soon followed by the murmur of fifty bikes starting and the squall of tires hitting the freeway.

Jonah held the shotgun in sweaty hands as he edged towards the front of the building to find a parking lot without a single bike or biker in it. The cruiser that fitted Sgt. Barber's keys had a full tank of gas and Jonah blew every light with the sirens going full blast.

Lucy was surprised to see her dad roll up in a cop car and be driving it. She gathered up her blanket and her stuffed frog, Mr. Pips, and climbed in without a word. Her aunt waved from the porch and shook her head. On the high speed run to Columbus, she dozed off despite the sirens. Jonah woke her up when they were parked in front of the jail. The walk in the morning air to the Waffle House two blocks away was enough to rouse her appetite and she ordered a double stack of pancakes.

The waitress looked twice at Jonah when he asked for extra napkins with his coffee and eggs. He kept tucking napkins under his jacket to staunch the flow of blood from his shoulder. They left a good tip and slipped out while she was making more coffee.

Two weeks later, she noticed on eBay the sale of a gold plated Harley and for some reason thought of the wounded biker and his cute four year old little girl. She shook her head, "Only someone with more money than good sense would buy this piece of shit." Despite her feelings, she followed the auction and saw it sold for six hundred and eighty thousand dollars.

"I hope it does somebody good," she wished when the auction closed.

Doc Shaw was born and raised in the hills of central Ohio. Educated at Licking Valley High School where he cultivated his talents as a "bullshit artist". He now works for a local bakery and his interests include firearms, canoeing, becoming a better speller, and raising two above average kids, Riley & Lucy. His work can be found on The Flash Fiction Offensive and on his blog, Social Zymurgy; the culture of beer.  He is active in Ron Earl Phillips Flash Fiction Friday.

9 comments:

David Barber said...

Another good story, Doc. Enjoyed it. Congrats on your second appearance!

Paul D. Brazill said...

Smashing stuff!

Ron Scheer said...

Brilliant. Inspired. I'm still laughing...

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Enjoyed that Doc. That bike sounds so cool and you brought it to life. We done all around

Thomas Pluck said...

Really enjoyed reading this one.

Chris Rhatigan said...

Fantastic. Ah, what men will fight over.

David Cranmer said...

"Only someone with more money than good sense would buy this piece of shit."

Loved that line. Fun story, Doc.

skees said...

Doc,

Enjoyed reading this one, it moved right from the very start and kept racing - and a K car! I had almost forgotten those things. A sewing machine is right.

Charles Gramlich said...

Fast paced, non stop action for sure. Well done.