I have a Saturday morning writing group that I attend most weekends. It is a pretty simple setup: rounds of 1 to 6 minutes of writing to a prompt, then passing a microphone and reading. I usually just write something to each prompt individually, but I’ve been wanting to challenge myself to write to a theme throughout the day, telling a single story of a person or place. Other people do that at the group, and it can be fun to see them work everything together.
This is my attempt. I really didn’t expect it to turn out so ‘Hotel California’, but I am pretty proud of it.
Down along Lonely Road
Down along Lonely Road are a surprisingly large number of bright lights. You’d think a road named Lonely would be dark and depressing, but in fact it’s quite lively. Street clowns perform tricks and make balloon animals, as windows invite pedestrians into shops selling food or clothes, arcades full of games, and dance clubs from hip-hop to Charleston.
There are lots of stories about why it was called Lonely Road. Named after some forgotten tycoon, or a mispronunciation of some foreign word. No one really knew, and the stories became part of each shop’s mystique.
On Lonely Road, one is always surrounded by people, lights and noise. It’s a difficult place to be lonely, but some people still try.
One of the biggest shops on Lonely Road is the North Face Hat, Mask and Sunglasses Shop. There, one can buy any sort of headwear one wants. Sunny day, buy some sunglasses. Need a tribal mask, there is a floor for that, too.
The owner, Timothy North, says Lonely Road came from one tree that used to stand in the middle of the field. The road came by, and as it was the only landmark, it became Lonely Tree Road, eventually shortened to just Lonely Road.
The tree was cut down oe died, but he saved some of the wood to make masks. He sold hundreds of authentic, lonely tree masks, not at all made in China. Someday he’ll run out, but somehow he’s always managed to find one more when needed.
The train was coming into the station, and . . .
At the end of Lonely Road, the train was coming into the station, and once again, no crowds waited to get on. A hundred people got off, welcomes by clowns and announcers, shuffling on the sidewalks of Lonely Road, awed by the lights. But no crowds boarded before the train took off.
Endless Blue Sky
From the tallest point on Lonely Road, on the top of the North Face Building, one could see the endless blue of sky. No mountains, no cities, no landmarks of any kind. Just unbroken horizon.
The road, beginning at the train station, stretched off at the other side. At the edge of town sits a sign post, boasting several dozen cities. All the arrows point down the road, with a question mark for each distance.
No clouds, no contrails, no birds. Endless blue sky.
There are odd shops along Lonely Road.
A raptor’s noise sounds off when you enter Dino Dave’s Zoon, with all sorts of mythological and extinct animals roaming the floors. No cages keep the crows from enjoying the animals up close.
Then there is Papa Paddington’s Puppet Palace, where Old Man Paddington makes thousands of dolls. Many look like pedestrians that once walked along Lonely Road, but have long since moved on. The details are exquisite, even the eyes that follow patrons through the store.
Multiple People Later
Parties raged all along Lonely Road. At every venue, multiple people would dance and drink, and agree to meetup at another club just down the road. But by that club, new groups formed, old friends forgotten.
‘One more! One More, then back to the hotel!’ was a common cry. No one asked how a three-story hotel held so many people, and few even remembered their room number. When they did, it was always 2B.
We can edit that out.
Photographers prowled the road, taking pictures with archaic flashbulbs. ‘No, they are digital cameras,’ they claimed, ‘we just made them look old. Worried about a picture? We can edit it out. We are professionals.’
One pedestrian requests an obnoxious looking man with an ice cream cone be taken out of the picture. The photographer uses a pencil and erases the man from the photo. The pedestrian smiles, while down the road an ice cream cone suddenly falls to the pavement.