This brief post is as it appeared before I submitted my story (with minor edits). There was some initial confusion, due to timezone differences - I nearly lost the chance to submit my story, but the deadline was extended by some twelve hours to fit the relative timezones of most of the writers and readers. I was lucky to get the second chance and, rather than wait those twelve hours, just posted my story before I took my father to the hospital.
I don't mention it here (it was discussed previously in the deadline conversation), but my family was suffering from some medical turmoil. It came out of nowhere (to me; he'd been aware of the problem) two days before I was to submit the story, as I was making steady progress. The story had to take a backseat to looking after my dad and my intentions of posting it faded. In the day before, however, as he settled into not requiring much assistance, I decided to just finish the story I'd started. I found it difficult and my passion for writing stalled into lethargy. But I forced myself to finish it, driven by some need to keep my mind occupied, and managed to finish it shortly before being told that the deadline had passed.
I felt horrible. My father hadn't gotten better and we secured an appointment with a specialist that morning. I was afraid of the news we were going to get, after what the doctor in the emergency room had said. Putting what energy I had into a project that found itself tripping over the final hurdle and slamming into the hot tarmac only made my churning stomach worse.
Fortunately, I got half-lucky that day. Which was something.
This is, in the end, the story of a writer doing the only thing he knows in a time of crisis: write.
I just want to thank 113 for all her help. Not just in convincing me to write it, but providing invaluable advice and encouragement throughout, and being my confidant on all the locations (your experience helped me more than any encyclopedia could) and dates (not seen in this version, because it was too long). But especially for being my main source of inspiration.
This is dedicated to you.
Also, thanks to Bicro for extending the deadline. You rock.
Okay... so, the story's about 200 words shorter than I wanted, but I think the cutting improved more elements than it diluted.
The structure is non-linear, but rigid, so if you get the flow, you should be able to understand it better; and I believe reading it several times should improve the experience, as the previously-attained knowledge will make grasping the story much easier. Finally, the story is open to interpretation, I know what it means to me, but hopefully, within the incongruity and insanity and hilarity and seriousness, you (not just the judges, but everyone here who'll get to read it) will be able to find something as meaningful to you.
Crimson Peyote on Route 50.
And it's coming later today.