“Two-Minute Tuesdays” are a series of micro-stories written in
five ten minutes or less. Consider them “public practice,” like that guy who shoots free throws in the park. Prompts are supplied at the bottom in case you want to try your own hand at one of them.
Olaf Visits Stonehenge
It’s not the business of a taxi driver to judge. Olaf knew that. It was one of the reasons that his friend Jorgund said he’d make a good cabbie–Olaf was strictly non-judgmental.
“Olaf, my friend, let me tell you something about my work,” said Jorgund one night in the flophouse in South London.
“Mmm?” said Olaf, eating his porridge plain.
“Taxi drivers must be the wisest and most accommodating of all professionals in the world–well, save perhaps barkeepers or ladies of the night. Do you know why?”
“Mmm-mm,” said Olaf, taking a drink of lukewarm tapwater from a stained plastic cup.
“Because we never know what manner of person might climb into the back of our cab at any time. And yet we are bound by a professional code to serve them the same as if they were royalty. We are the bartenders of the open road, Olaf, the last refuge of decency and compassion for those who can find it nowhere else!”
“Pipe down, already!” yelled someone from the other room. “We’re trying to watch the match!”
Jorgund ignored them. “Do you know what I mean, Olaf?”
“Mmm,” said Olaf. He took a break from his oatmeal to take a bit of plain white toast.
“That’s why you’re a natural, Olaf. You judge nothing–not food, not drink, not liquor, not women, and least of all would you judge fares! You’re a natural, Olaf, and I believe you’re in need a of a job, yes?”
“Mmm,” agreed Olaf, his mouth still full. He took another sip of tapwater to help turn the toast to mush inside of his mouth.
“That’s what I thought,” said Jorgund, satisfied with himself. “Stick with me, Olaf, and I’ll make you the best cabbie the world has ever seen.”
All that Jorgund predicted came true. Olaf had been the least-judgmental cabbie in all of England for the past two years running. It was a title that he would’ve been proud of, if he was capable of feeling pride.
And yet, even Olaf thought the old woman looked like a frog.
He’d left London the year before and worked in the gray, murky city of Southampton now, haunting the cruise ship terminals where sunburnt Britishers got off the big Cunard boats looking for the train station. That’s who he took her for, at first, a toadlike tourist with frilly pink luggage and a faint, Hitleresque moustache.
“Stonehenge, please,” she said.
“Pardon me?” said Olaf, immediately regretting it. That was two screw-ups with a single fare, and he hadn’t even turned on the meter yet.
(prompt: Write a story that includes a taxi driver, a frog, Stonehenge, a 1969 Ford Mustang, and a breakup)
(Okay, so there’s no Mustang. We were getting there, I promise. And there wasn’t a breakup, yet (we were getting to that, too). I never claimed that this was an exact science.
Like Jimmy Buffet says, the best navigators don’t know where they’re going until they get there, and then they’re still not sure. And do you have any idea how difficult it was going to be to get a 1969 Ford Mustang into Great Britain? You’d have to move the steering wheel over to the other side, reverse the gearshift, etc . . .)