Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Man in the White Van Flash Fiction Challenge - Ta-Dah!

Rudolphe Theophile Bosshard

This Flash Fiction Challenge was instigated by Patti Abbott at her blog, Pattinase. Armed with trepidation, I hereby volunteer my entry. I did go a few words over the 1,000 mark. I always do. You know how wordy I can be. It's just part of my nature.

Please check out the links on Patti's blog. There will be a large assortment of stories popping up today from the many fearless contributors who took up Patti's challenge. It was a lot of fun and I'm really hoping that this year will bring more Flash Fiction writing challenges. 

The Man in the White Van

A white van pulled into the lot across the street and parked in the spot opposite the view from my window. A tall man with a pony tail, sunglasses and a scarred face jumped out. He slid open a side door and reached inside the van, muscled arms covered in tattoos - the reason for his sleeveless t-shirt.

I’m not a fan of tattoos.

The guy flipped open a cooler and took out his lunch which he ate sitting in a beach chair, his back on the ocean view.

Why bother parking there, I wondered -  just to ignore the scenery?

But maybe he’s seen it so many times before that the sight has been rendered meaningless. I pondered that for a few moments, watching the guy drink from a container. He must be a native, I thought. After awhile I suppose they don’t notice the view anymore, it becomes part of the every day.

I wonder too if he knows I’m watching him. (I suppose I’m tired of looking at the ocean myself.) What bright red hair he has. I've always thought the color strange.

He glanced up. Maybe he caught the sun reflecting off my binoculars. I should be more cautious.

Hey guy, how else could I look into your van and see all the stuff you’ve got tucked away? The clothing and surfboard I can understand. Even the motorbike. But what about the fencing equipment? Isn’t that a little effete for someone who looks like you? And how many boxes of old books do you have in there? I don’t understand the taxidermy birds either. You’re not the type, my friend.

But the kicker is that Louis XIV gold leafed table. (I happen to know about furniture since once upon a time my family had an antique gallery in the center of La Jolla.) Now that I look closer, the table looks very like the one I have in the San Francisco house. And didn’t my nephew just take up fencing -  I couldn’t help giggling - in his latest attempt to impress me with his elitism?

And those birds might have come straight from my library.

Initially I’d thought this guy was just another homeless bum - what with the clothing in the van and all. But now I’m not so sure. If this was a bum it was a pretty esoteric one.

The guy just didn’t look purposeless. Though what I meant by that I couldn’t say. I don't look like what I am either. (Much to my sister's eternal surprise, I might add.)

I sat back a bit. It was curious that the van was filled with so many familiar objects. A sudden thought: Had the house been robbed? If so, why would a robber take a bunch of stuffed birds? Hard to cash in on them you’d think.

And why would he show up here in Southern California with the goods still in his van?

Unless my nephew sent him. Not that I would, for a moment, have thought him capable of such elaborate machinations. But it is true that the most complete lackluster dullard may be capable of the occasional surprise.

A sudden sneer on his face, the guy stood up, collapsed the beach chair and tossed it into the van. I was sure the sneer was intended for me. He then pulled one of those metal expanding ladders from the van and grasping the ladder easily under one arm, crossed the street. Was he planning on scaling the wall around the grounds? In the middle of the day?

Yes, so it would seem. 

This character meant to climb up the side of the building and into my room. I was sure of it.

Security hasn’t been the same since the notion of austerity took hold with the board of directors.

I began to sweat. Was there any point in pressing the alarm buzzer? 

Then I heard the metallic clank of the ladder as it was shoved against masonry three stories down.  

Of course I should have expected this. Retribution.

I looked out the window and saw the top of that red head. When he glanced up and smiled, I screamed. Couldn't help myself.

 The door to my room was unlocked and thrown open, the doctor and nurse rushed in.

 “He’s back!” I shouted in a rush of breath.
 “Look out the window. He’s climbing up the side of the building. Right now.”

“No, no, Mr. Blair. Calm yourself.”

 "He’s going to kill me.”

“Your nephew is dead – remember? He perished with his mother in the fire, five years ago. You…uh, were there."

“No, you moron, I don’t mean my nephew. I mean the man he’s hired to kill me. The man with the red hair."

“Your nephew had red hair, Mr. Blair. It was one of the things you said at trial that you most hated about him. Remember?”

“Of course I remember.” Actually I didn’t.

“Then you know that there’s no one really coming to kill you.”

“Look for yourself if you don’t believe me.”

“Nurse,” said the doctor, “take a look for Mr. Blair’s sake."

The beefy guy rolled his eyes but walked over to the window and glanced out. “Nobody out there, Doc.”

“What about the white van?” I asked, hysteria taking grip.

The nurse shrugged. “No white van anywhere that I can see.”

“Now, Mr. Blair,” said the doctor in an unctuous tone. “It’s time for your medication. Please relax. All will be well. Nurse, hold him down." He flashed the hypodermic.


A white van pulled into the rear parking lot of the Sunset Little Theater. Prop manager Joe Nolan climbed down from the driver's seat and tried the theater's back door - it was unlocked. That meant rehearsals had started.

He began unloading the van. Though he wasn’t supposed to do the heavy lifting, he didn’t mind lending a hand when it was needed. Little theater was like that – everyone pitched in. It was a good gig. 

He burped. Lunch hadn't settled well. That was the last time he'd park by the loony-bin. Bad mojo coming off that place. He'd swear he heard somebody screaming. 


  1. Aha - the old Lucille Fletcher/Cornell Woolrich influence coming into play. I liked this, Yvette. Fast paced and to the point. My narrator is armed with binoculars, too. Don't feel too bad about verbiage. I exceeded the word count by 789! Guess I got carried away.

  2. This is cinematic indeed, Yvette. I can see it on the screen.

  3. Thanks, John. Verbiage on my side is hard to control. :) This was a fun gig though for a time I had no clue what I was going to write about.

    I liked stretching the old brain. :)

  4. Thank you, Patti. I love these writing challenges - don't know why we don't do more of them.

    Maybe I'll come up with one sometime in the Spring. :)

  5. Fantastic! Love the descriptions, the pace, and the surprises toward the end. Great story, Yvette. You've got a novel in you.

  6. Thanks, Jacqueline. I do enjoy writing fiction a lot, but I guess not enough to apply myself.

    These challenges are so much fun I'm going to foist one on an unsuspecting public soon. The only reason I hesitate is that I'm not sure about the linking thing. But I think I have the hang of it now...I think. :)

  7. Good story, Yvette. Spooky in a non-scary way. It has potential for a novella at the least with your own colourful illustrations adorning the cover and the inside pages.

  8. Brava (as we say back home) - loved that aside when he admits to not actually rmembering what he said before after saying that he did - we've all been there! Fun snap at the end too - that was great fun, really enjoyed it. Hope you enjoyed writing it too!

  9. 'Spooky in a non-scary way..'I like that Prashant. Thanks.

    And thanks for the spur. :)

  10. I did enjoy it, Sergio. I'm glad it showed. :)

    Thanks for the kind words.


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