The spirit of Slade: The next step

Green note: This guy Slade popped out in a Oneword earlier this month and he dogged me to the point I used SS #271 to explore him more.  So here he is, the proprietor of Painted Ponies body shop, in his first flash.


Photo from IMCDB


It was just mid-morning in Iron City, Georgia and already it was 100 degrees.

Even with the fans going full tilt, it was 90 degrees inside the Painted Ponies body shop.

Slade pulled his head out of a big Cutlass 442 and grabbed a shop towel, ran it around his face and the back of his neck.  He walked to the front office like a cowboy off a two-month cattle drive and banged on the side of a vending machine he’d rigged up.  A can of Budweiser banged its way down through the machine and bounced into the tray.

The shop grunt looked over at Slade, hotboxed his cigarette and shook his head.  “Why don’ you jus’ keep yo’ beer in the fridge, Boss?” he said.

Slade just looked at him and pulled the tab.  Beer sprayed into his mouth and face and hair.  He grinned and shook his head like a dog and growled, “That’s why, you unimaginative bastard.”

The grunt rolled his eyes, flicked his butt onto the dirty linoleum floor and ground it out with his boot.  “Guess I’ll git back to work seein’ as I’m borin’ you with my mundan—”

“Shut up and listen, Lance,” Slade whispered.

“What Boss?”

“If that ain’t the sound of a 1977 Super Duty 455 V8 Trans Am comin’ our way, then slap my ass an’ call me Sally!”

Slade strode all excited out the front door and past the gas pumps, almost to the road, and he stopped.  He threw his head back and hollered, “Whoooeee!”

Lance ran out to look, shielded his eyes from the sun with his hand.

A mint condition 1977 black-and-gold special edition Trans Am tore into view and fishtailed to a stop just a few feet from Slade.  A wiry kid rocketed out of the driver’s side door, ran at Slade and grabbed both sides of his leather vest.  “Slade, dude, ya gotta help me!”

Lance postured for a fight.

Slade brushed the kid’s hands off his vest.  “Whoa now, boy, you don’ just come on a-grabbin’ a man like tha—”  He squinted at the kid.  “Say, ain’t you Judge Beeman’s boy?”

The kid panted, “Yessir, Slade, sir.”  He gulped for air.  “An’ like I said ya gotta help me please I got drunk and stole this car outside a shack near Andalusia, Alabama and hell the keys was danglin’ from th’ ignition jus’ a-beggin’ me to take ‘er and I been drivin’ all night and ya gotta help me and paint this here car real quick-like.”

Slade spat on the dirt.  “You fool kid!” he growled at the boy and slapped him hard upside the head.  “It ain’t as easy as that.”

The kid staggered back, panting and rubbing his ear.  He looked like he was gonna cry.  He whined, “What then, Slade, what’ll I do?”

Slade pulled gloves out the back of his jeans and put them on.  “The next step is to look for a LoJack,” he said, “and if I find one, it’s too late for you, Bub.”  He motioned to Lance to get gone.

Lance nodded and scrambled on into the shop to make ready.

Slade grabbed a couple of tools out of his pocket and opened the passenger door.  He unscrewed nuts and bolts, got up in the glove box hole and unscrewed some more and scoured the dash then looked under the seats.  “A shack in Alabama,” he grumbled.  He leaned into the back, pulled up the seat and looked.  “Fool been drivin’ all night.”  Slade pulled the hood release and jumped out of the car.

The kid was wringing his hands, walking in circles.

Slade lifted the hood and scoured the engine bay.  “It’s 9 o’clock now.  Dude owns this car mighta heard you takin’ it and called the police as many as 5 or 6 hours ago!”

The kid stopped his circling.  His voice was shaky.  “Oh man, dude, well I put ‘er in neutral and pushed her a long way down the road ‘fore I started ‘er up and anyway I don’ know if anyone was even home.”

Slade pulled his head up out of the engine and growled, “You don’ know if anyone was home and you even think of stealin’ a car like this?”

Two steps and he was at the kid’s neck.  He gritted his teeth in the kid’s face and snarled, “You stupid little fuck!  Now give me the keys!”

The kid just stared.  His lower lip quivered.

Slade shook the kid silly until the keys fell out his cold sweat hands and onto the red dirt.  He pushed the kid out of the way, grabbed up the keys and opened the trunk.  He jumped back like he was on springs.  “Sweet Jesus!” he hollered.

He turned and took the kid in.  Maybe 20.  Almost six foot and skinny.  Peach fuzz on his face.  Baby eyes that hadn’t a clue.  “Son,” he said to him, “There’s a dead woman in the back of this ‘ere trunk.”

The kid snapped out of his daze.  “Oh no, God,” he said.  He rushed to the trunk.  His eyes got the size of half dollars.

There was a middle-aged woman, her eyes staring, big and dull.  Her cracked red lips were parted, like in mid-sentence.  A pool of blood congealed around her teeth.  There was a gaping hole in her chest and her heart was hardening in one of her clamped hands.  Below her skirt, her knees were caked with blood and her feet had been cut off.

The kid’s face was green.  He stepped back falteringly, his stomach waved and heaved.  He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, whispered, “I dunno what this is, man, and I swear to you on my mother’s grave that I didn’t do this.”  He shook with weeping.  He let out in sobs, “What…will…I…do?”

“The next step will cover your ass,” Slade said.  “It’s all you have to know, Bub.”  He knew the kid didn’t do it, and he suspected the killing fucker what owned this car didn’t have a LoJack, but he ripped out the sides of the trunk to be sure.  Then he lifted up the panel to the spare.  The body rolled to the back.  He tore up every place there and under.  Nothing.  He looked toward the shop.

Lance gave Slade a thumbs-up from the window, then walked out to take care of the kid.  He had a bottle of Jack in the back of his pants and a pack of Lucky Strikes rolled up in each T-shirt sleeve.

He sauntered up to the kid.  “C’mere, man,” he said.  “Slade’s gonna take care of your five-finger ride.  Now I need to get you the fuck away from here.”  He offered the kid some Jack and he gulped it like a thirsting, dying man.  “You’ll be safe, man.”  Lance lit a smoke and offered it to the kid.  He sucked on it like breathing to live.  He walked the kid to his piece of shit pick-up, helped him in and drove off.

Slade got in the Trans Am, fired it up and drove it with the dash in his lap back behind the shop.  He pulled up under the ceiling of turf Lance had raised and he pulled a transmitter out from his front pocket.  He pressed a button and the freight elevator took him down while the raised turf above him lowered and clamped down to ground level.


After-party notes:  no time to proof this but at a glance back, it looks like there’ll be more to this.  Just like with Liza.  Maybe the two will meet.  Maybe cool dude Slade, who I enjoy writing about, will lead me to Psycho Liza by surprise.


Click here for more on prompt “#271 – The Next Step” from other Sunday Scribblings participants.

19 responses to “The spirit of Slade: The next step

    • Chilled and stirred…indeed! Slade’s the redneck James Bond, yes he is. Heh.
      There’s nothing like being on the receiving end of your crisp, articulate comments, Miz T.
      You have a gift I’d like to get to more often : )

  1. as per usual you’ve got me quite into the happenings and zam!!! — ended all too soon just when my bated breath was waiting for what next??? — i’m gonna be dying by inches with curiousity – sucks to be me!!! — another vivdly crafted snap of yet another brother gittin’er done – your imaginative characters are all set apart as unique folk and mixed with your snazzy composition style you just feed my addiction — i love having such a good great enabler by the way – but i’ll just have to clap from afar since i have no pecunia to throw — boo yah!!!!!

    • danni, this thing’s a hornet’s nest. There’s the keys: why were they left in the ignition? Was the car abandoned? Was it the dead chick’s car? Who is the dead chick? What’s Lance really gonna do with the Judge’s kid? And what’s Slade gonna do with the car and the body and la la la… Part of my latest practice is ‘whipping things out regardless’. If it keeps working, your breath should be bated and sated more often : )

        • Ah, so good, danni! I’m glad to have a hungry recipient circling for more ; ) First, I’ll make this one here “Miss A Worthy” then I’ll come round with another episode. Slade’s so yummy, therefore so easy : )

    • This is amazing Mister Godwin, me practicin’ whipping things out regardless and you still sayin’ it’s my usual attention to detail. This is a green light to keep on with that technique. You would know! And you like Slade, good. I think even the ‘unimaginative bastard’ Lance might even come to grow on me and others as well. Thank you so much for stopping by here : )

  2. I was chuckling all the way through and just couldn’t stop thinking how much I miss your voice. I am looking forward to more….

    • Ha, I was doing the same thing over at your place, Dee. And now I hear you’re goin’ out into the desert without life support: ash, crumble, and all. Geezus. Well, I’ll do my thing and be looking for you and you do the same, hear? : D

  3. Oh’s so good to have you back..and think you’ll hate him but he sorts the kid out..a rangy kind of initiation…thinking of Liza..and ways she could have got to this car lot too..and I think she is younger so I am hoping it’s not her in the trunk..and women don’t piss her off as much as clean on that one too? Loving the is mighty big and dazzling..Jae

    • Yeah, it’s good alright, good to see you here : ) And Slade’s a wise one, you’ll see, and even though he’s like a shark, a machine cleanly cut out for survival, I think you’ll end up still liking him. Liza’s from Georgia and she’s on her way to a place you’ll find out, but it’s possible she could pass through Iron City and by chance, bump into ol’ Slade here. Liza’s seriously uncorked, but I’m thinking if anyone can deal with her, Slade can… There’s just no telling what’ll happen!

  4. what a write.
    100 degree? that’s hot.
    keep cooling us with your stunning blow of words.

    check out our short story slam week 3 today.
    welcome your submissions.

    • Thanks for stopping by and leaving breadcrumbs.
      Your site and what you’re about is commendable indeed.
      Perhaps I’ll participate one time soon, time being the thing, you see…

  5. A terrific story here! That Slade is a character I want more of and the story is equally intense, rich with detail, fine pacing, and intriguing right to the “end” (which is not really ‘the end’). And a dead body. Lovely. This flash is well beyond interesting. One editing note: Consider ways to lose any use of “it” (three in the first few lines). Good to replace them with more specific wording. Same for “there are” or “this is”. Slows the great pacing down. But once Slade enters the story, it’s all fast forward. Maybe this?

    Mid-morning, Iron City, Georgia, and even with the fans going full tilt, the Painted Ponies body shop hit 90 degrees.

    • I ate up your praise and dang it I know your editing note’s right on, Miz Beth! But you know what all this means don’tya? Means I gotta shuffle back to the stone walls of perfectionist law. It was bound to happen, though. A person can’t go off all willy nilly sniffing crazy air forever!
      Seriously, it’s good to see you here again, Beth, like the old days : )

  6. I still say you wuz kidnapped by Indians and taken up north to those Green Mountains of yours. No way your 18-year sojourn down here in the Tropic of Bible would have seeped into your gills enough to account for this kind of spot-on mayhem; you wuz born here and your momma and daddy lied to you!

    If and when you decide to have Liza and Slade friend theyselves in the crosstown traffic of facebook, please give me a heads up, so I can git myself to the nearest bomb shelter and duck and cover.

    I love you. If you’re too snooty to jump into the zucker-sandbox, the least you could do is put your stories in the box, so I can “like” ’em and “friend” ’em to my heart’s content.

    Over and out from the Inferno of Tres Leches.

    • Naw, P, Stork got his babies mixed up again! That bird’s on acid half the time. He cost me a few years, but I got ‘em back and they live on as white-hot as the sun of a blessed Texas day.

      Liza’s on her way from Dulville to a place I ain’t sayin’, but I will say she’s got a whole helluva lotta miles ahead of her. She’s recently passed through Wrightsville, GA and she will most definitely intersect with Slade and Lance et al.

      I’m taking things down in bits of time I grab, only because I’m being pestered by something I’ve never been pestered by before. I’m shorter on time now than I ever was, so this is a first.

      You’re gonna hafta clarify that whole zucker-box thing, which might mean I’m too stupid to pour water from a boot, but I sure can let you know when Liza and Slade are found in the same paragraph : )

  7. I love any woman who knows what a Super Duty 455 Trans Am is! Did they actually shoehorn one of those in a TA in ’77? If they did than it was a sad sack affair Ford was in trying to sell Mustang II’s.

    I’m with Paschal, you got some serious Southern Smarm, I mean… Charm. Glad to see your bangin’ around here again, it was getting to be pretty much just dust! Another fine tale, Alicat.

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