Flash Fiction: Ernie

Welcome to Spot Writers! The prompt for August is to use the phrase “Out of Season.”  This week’s contribution comes from Kathy L. Price, author of Down the nanoTubes.



by Kathy L. Price


CRACK! The sharp retort and blinding flash of a lightening strike caused Georgia to jump. Whatever it hit, it was close. She looked out the window and saw the yellow-white line from the sky continuing to hammer the huge oak on the far side of the parking lot. A skirt of blue plasma began to swirl around the base of the tree and spread out across the ground. Finally, it stopped, replaced by a few seconds of eerie stillness before bucket-sized drops of rain began pelting the ground. Georgia watched in horror as half the big tree began a slow motion descent toward the boats tied up at the dock along the bank.

“Damn it,” she cried as she raced for the door.

“Wait. You can’t go out in that.” Alan grabbed her arm and spun her around as she pulled her foul weather jacket from the hook.

She jerked her arm away, still angry at him from their recent argument. “Ernie’s still on board,” she snapped. “The tree hit his boat. What if he’s hurt?”

Alan groaned and shook his head but reached for his jacket and followed her out the door. They ran through the heavy rain, barely able to see, and paused for a moment in the gazebo by the pool as another flash lit the sky. The air crackled around them and Georgia felt her hair stand on end. She took a deep breath and glanced at Alan.


They raced onto the dock and made a left, paralleling the shore. After passing a dozen or so slips, they could see the tree had, indeed, made a direct hit onto Ernie’s boat and a huge branch had completely crushed the cabin of the boat next door. Georgia’s boat. Georgia’s home. Everything she had, except for her car, of course, was in that boat. Her heart seized as the enormity of this latest blow stuck home but Ernie, her eighty-six year old neighbor, was more important. She’d deal with her own problems later.

“Ernie, Ernie,” she yelled, trying to be heard above the storm. The huge trunk of the tree had hit the boat just off center and the extra weight had almost submerged the port side. Water was lapping at the gunwales, the wind-driven waves washing into the boat. Georgia and Alan scrambled on board, threading their way through the broken branches into the cockpit. One side of the main hatch had been completely crushed. Georgia yanked the broken door out of the way and there was barely enough room for her to squeeze through. She found Ernie sitting at the table in the main salon, a huge grin on his face.

“Hello, darlin’” he said when he looked up at her. “You’ll never guess what’s happened.”

“I know, Ernie, a tree fell on your boat. You gotta get out of here. Are you hurt?”

“No, no,” he replied in a daze, oblivious to what was happening around him. “I just won the lottery,” and he held up the ticket. “See? Sixty million dollars.”

“Oh, for God’s sake, Ernie. We’ve gotta get off the boat.”

“Let me get my hat,” he calmly replied. “Will you drive me to the lottery office to collect the money? I’ll give you half. You won’t have to worry about anything any more.”

“Sure, but let’s get off the boat first.” Georgia grabbed his jacket off the hook and helped him get it on. By now, the dock lines were groaning under the extra weight of the tree and water had started to pour into the cabin.

Alan stuck his head into the hatch and yelled, “Hurry it up. We gotta get off NOW.”

Ernie carefully tucked the lottery ticket into his jacket pocket. He made sure it was velcroed shut  then started up the companionway stairs. There was another loud crack as the forward cleat pulled out of the deck. The boat rocked sharply to port but Ernie was an old salt and kept his footing. It wasn’t until a gust of wind blew rain in his face that he seemed to wake up from his daze. “Holy crap,” he cried, as Alan reached in to help pull him through the main hatch.

Georgia squeezed out into the storm behind Ernie and the three of them managed to scramble along the slick, rain-drenched dock. Dodging airborne debris, they made the gazebo just as another bolt of lightening stuck the mast of the big Irwin tied up next to the office.

Florida, it seemed, was living up to its reputation as the lightening capital of the world. Being inland, Glen Cove Springs marina was relatively safe from hurricanes, even during the late summer/early fall, but powerful thunderstorms like this one were never out-of-season. They could quite easily wreak as much havoc as the big named storms.

Back in the office, Georgia helped Ernie take off his wet coat and checked to make sure he really wasn’t hurt. She leaned in close and whispered in his ear. “Keep quiet about the ticket. Don’t say anything to anyone. We can’t go out in this storm anyway so it’ll have to wait until tomorrow.”

  * * *

 The Spot Writers—our members:


 RC Bonitz: http://www.rcbonitz.com

Val Muller: http://valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: http://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Kathy L. Price: http://www.kathylprice.com

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