The Fire Escape


Here is my final recycled 297 word response to the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo’s TUFF Contest prompts, this one “scars from climbing” posted on September 1st. To see the  winners  of the TUFF competition go to Carrot RanchCatch up  on this month’s weekly rodeo contests .



“Shouldn’t you be heading home? It’s a school night.”

The bartender was only half joking. Dan the Man was starting to get into form, transforming from mild mannered English teacher into righteous undiscovered literary genius.

“Take this bottle here,” he said. “A perfect metaphor, is it not? A container. Holding the distillations and fermentations of dreamers and schemers alike. Now watch.”

He swilled the contents, draining the bottle.

“The action is in the bottleneck, all that lovely liquid swirling, backing up on itself, wanting to be free, rushing to escape.”

All of Dan’s swilling gave him the confidence to extend his metaphor in an inappropriate direction, causing another patron some discomfort.

“Go home Dan.”

Complying, Dan left the bar and navigated the walk to his apartment building. Dan the Man though, was not quite ready to turn in, school night or not. On this half-moonlit night he would climb the fire escape to his apartment, where he would have another beer outside his third story window, a place Dan imagined to be inhabited by his muse.

He managed the leap up to catch the first platform, scraping his palms on the rusty metal, banging his knee as he pulled himself up. When further in the ascent he stumbled, his hand coming down on the jagged edge of a bottleneck, Dan sobered up enough to laugh at the irony and enough to feel badly about his behavior in the bar. He clambered through his window, dripping blood to the sink where he washed up. That gash would leave a scar. What story would he tell about this wounding tomorrow?

Maybe he’d stumbled onto his novel; a sad tale about a wanna be who was nobody, a pitiful character destined to bear the scars from climbing and getting nowhere.

6 thoughts on “The Fire Escape

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