Alaska! Hello! (A Prompt Challenge)

Karen Craven over at Table for One issued a prompt challenge for me and Dale of A Dalectable Life. The whole thing was based on snippets of an overheard conversation, because writers are pacifistic spies at heart and we ain’t afraid to admit it. Karen’s prompt post can be found here. I tucked this snippet turned prompt into the block quote that begins with Thank you Andrew. 

I’m just thankful prompts are graded on a lenient curve, because man did I veer. Imma blame it on Larry King and a tee-totaling weekend.

Vegas odds could not have talked me into this shit. Me, ending up in a musty old bunker in Battle Creek, Michigan at the end of the world. The writer in me must admit the locale is Napoleon fucking Bonaparte perfect, I mean . . as far as irony goes. As far as yours truly is concerned? This bunker is a cosmic middle finger to every Goddamn day I’ve been on this earth, all 19,072 of ’em. That’s a lot of middle fingers, and I would trade every single one of them for a single thumb so’s I could hitchhike to any other planet in the universe right about now.

The first nukes hit the major cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia. Everything in and around those places went Edvard Munch, and the rest of time came calling on all the other places in between with loud, shaking fists. In two days, I made it as far as here. Along the way I bogarted a bottle of Woodford Reserve, a Ziploc bag of Xanax, a ’78 El Camino and then a late model Jeep Liberty whose good graces saved me from Cleveland.

When the Jeep ran out of gas, I schlepped for miles until I came upon a residential hive of American made dreams that seem as useful as nursery rhymes now. I found a rancher with NRA stickers in the windows and guessed right on the fallout shelter. The occupants were long gone, probably due North with dreams of building a kingdom in some middle of nowhere place that had zero appeal back when things were running smoothly and borders were meant to keep people out.

From the looks of it, this shelter was constructed during the rolling thunder of Cold War implications otherwise known as the eighties. Updated several times and in fine shape for just this sort of nightmarish scenario. But really, what are the chances this glorified soup can is gonna save my ass from gamma time? The truth is, Jesus ain’t walking through that door, and this clusterfuck is way above Superman’s pay grade.

On a positive note, the pantry was stocked and the generator worked. The bonus round was the TV and VCR. When a VCR feels like Christmas morning, that gives you a pretty good idea of how things are going.

The ham radio stopped working this morning. But not before I learned the nitty gritty about how the country had come apart at the seams with little chance of being sewn back together again. Death toll estimates run the gamut- anywhere from eight million to half the nation’s population. All I know is that I’ve seen a lot of ghost towns along the way. This morning’s transmission between Buck from East Lansing and Andrew from Cincinnati was akin to being on the deck of the Titanic after they ran out of lifeboats.

“Thank you Andrew. I’m not quite sure what you are hearing, but the real answer is, there is not a definitive answer yet. Alaska is working it and they are trying to salvage it.”

According to Buck- a National Guardsman whose intel seemed solid enough- the refuge in Anchorage had been overrun with people fleeing the left coast. Mass rioting ensued after which the ferries were lost and chaos turned Anchorage into a paradise lost.

I pop a Xanax, take a swig of my well worn bourbon and fire up the VCR. The former occupant owned the largest collection of Larry King videos in the world, I have to think. I pop in a tape that reads “Larry King: Alaska”, because why in the blessed fuck would I deny myself a macabre chuckle at this point?

“Alaska, Hello!”

“Hi Larry, this is Joel Fleischman from Cicely and I’m a big fan of your show . .”

It takes me a hot second to put it together. Joel Fleischman was a fictional doctor on a show called Northern Exposure.

Wait a minute! This guy was a prank caller? 

“What’s your question?” Larry barks with enough gravel in his voice to sell it wholesale to a construction company.

“Well it seems our local disc jockey here is planning to build a trebuchet in the hopes of tossing a cow . . .”

Fucking A right this is a prank call! If that ain’t top of the world with a Julie Newmar cherry velvet kiss on top of the last stand righteous! 


The generator takes a shit and I light up some candles now. It looks like the world is fresh out of def-cons, which means it’s time to double down on my bottles of happy and get to stepping inside a galaxy far, far away. Here’s hoping whatever comes next has a welcome mat and fresh linens. A starched Martini and a Cohiba would be supreme, but I don’t want to be greedy.

I just wish the upstairs neighbors would’ve let Joel Fleischman from Cicely get to the piano punchline. But hey . . I got to spend my last night on earth in the home of a Robert Zemeckis character whose pursuits included prank calling the great Larry king and collecting every last artifact from the eighties.

I pop another Xanax and take a Vegas helping of bourbon and I hope like hell the bastard who called this place home made it somewhere better as I plug his Walkman into a Three Dog Night drip. But instead of chill, my bones are restless to the curiosities above.

“Fuck this shit!” I say as I grab my necessaries before breaking the seal on my tomb and climbing up into the early winter. It’s late July and a thick snowfall coats the ground as spearmint colored snowflakes float across a sunless sky. I walk down to a lake and loose a boat from its moorings while talking the outboard into going my way. When I make it to the middle, I kill the engine and sit back to ponder life’s great mysteries. Like, how did the fates allow Boston to win the last World Series ever played? And would Shakespeare have dated a Kardashian? And why was I so infatuated with my Fitbit? All I know for certain is I hope to hell I left the stove on this time.

I pop a couple more Xanax and finish the bourbon and then I settle into what’s left of not much at all. Just me and my thoughts and a rumbling sound from some place not so far away and getting closer. There’s nothing left to pray for and yanno, I’m glad. Because I got a peach song cooking, just for the occasion.

Timing really is everything.

53 thoughts on “Alaska! Hello! (A Prompt Challenge)”

  1. Cheers! Where to begin. Favorite line, which was trumped by others, but it’s structure and placement are an important construct: When a VCR feels like Christmas morning, that gives you a pretty good idea of how things are going. Yes, I laughed out loud and even louder when the prank caller dialed into Larry King. A sober mind is an amazing thing! Bravo!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Chicago! Hello!

      Blessed Hell! How did Larry King just take the wheel like that! I TOLD you guys, once he worked his way into my thought processes, it was signed, sealed and delivered.
      Ah yes, the VCR line followed my theme of perspective that’s been coursing through the last few posts.
      Yanno, back in the day, I prescribed to the Hemingway Method. I really thought it was the best way to unlock my creativity. Of course, it was bullshit. A sober mind rocks.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m with you. Just like our words get slurred, so do our thoughts. It was fun to read this early morning, great to have a laugh out loud moment with my morning coffee. It was the perfect Tuesday morning gift.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. B,

    I don’t know where to start… gimme some of that Xanax and a good glug of that Bourbon, wouldjya? Oh, right. None left. Fuck.

    And including MY favourite show, Northern Exposure? Brilliant. ‘Course, now Imma have to ditch that idea 😏

    I love the way your mind works. This was brilliant. Imma go roll up into a ball and hide on my couch now.

    To lenient curves leading the way to fabulous literary creations


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Q-rific,

      So that’s why you been talking about rolling up into balls and hiding? In lieu of shady face emoji man . . well, you know.

      This one was particularly fun. And depressing. But mostly fun, thanks to the fact I couldn’t get Larry King outta me noggin! He is STILL taking up residence there.

      The Northern Exposure bit was hilarious, seeing as how I never watched it! Muchas gracias for the serious 411, and for the videos as per Chris Stevens and the flying piano. Great stuff.

      I wanted to plug this puppy up with eighties references aplenty, but I knew the ghost of John Hughes woulda haunted me tonight for being so derivative, so I kept it low key.

      You know what part still bugs me? That I went with a Jeep Liberty. But hey . . can’t win ’em all!

      Peace, Love and Pianos that fly

      Liked by 1 person

      1. B-Marv,

        Yeah. That.

        I imagine it was fun for the likes of you. And Larry King… what can I say? He’s still kicking around so why not take up residence in that head of yours – he’s got LOTS to amuse himself with.

        I know re Cicely. How dare you? Then again, you really did it justice so I can’t really complain.

        Glad you kept it low-key.

        Why did you go with the Jeep Liberty?

        Peace, Love, Pianos over cows and cocktails that make it all palatable.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. If you roll up into your ball, you will find your muse there and then BOOM, the prompt challenge will blow up into something fantastic and then I’ll be saying something like “Told ya so” . . . again. And yes, that!

        I saw Larry King a bunch last fall when I watched the World Series games at Dodger Stadium since he sits in the seats behind the catcher. Primo seats, and the most overrated ones to boot.

        I did keep it low key. Mostly.

        I’ve no blessed idea why I went with the Jeep Liberty! None.

        The trebuchet was lactose intolerant!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Or I never write again! BOOM… you so funny. And I know you relish the “I told ya so’s” so maybe I’ll not quit just yet.

        Are they? Overrated, I mean? Speaking as one who only likes baseball in movies…

        Uh huh. I like your “low key”.

        There must be some kinda dream or memory hidden in there… maybe once upon a time, you thought that was a chick-magnet. Some dudes do swear by it.


        Liked by 1 person

      4. You? Quit writing? Chyeah! Right!

        And yes. I sat in those seats way back in the day when a friend invited me to a Yankees game. Her dad had season tickets behind the plate. It was horrible. I really didn’t like the vantage point at all.

        I had a Jeep back in the day, but I never considered it a chick magnet. And the Jeep Liberty is just so . . . I dunno . .blah?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. The reason I didn’t change it, not even once, is that it seemed like chasing an El Camino with a Jeep Liberty was somehow symbolic of how America had lost its soul. I mean, what does it say about a country that used to produce a one of a kind gem like the Chevy El Camino that a Jeep Liberty is where we are at now?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, this is so over my head, but liked it, and you’re must too modest about your cyber skills. Larry King should be the 9th Wonder of the World since he’ll be 300 this year. Have you ever read, Tell it To the King? Great read. He’s a trip and was perfect for your trippy tale.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. SB,

      I thank you kindly.
      As for as Larry goes, I’ve not read that one. But I’m glad he came to mind with this prompt. It was smooth sailing once King jumped in my brain.


  4. Maybe there’s already an 8th Wonder of the World. I just woke up wondering why we’re suddenly in the ice age. Keith Richards might be number 8. Hicks had the best line…I’ll paraphrase…At the end of the world only two things will be left…cockroaches and Keith Richard. COFFEE!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That shit happened fasted than you can say Dennis Quaid! Sorry, if you haven’t seen “Day After Tomorrow”, it’s a flick where DQ sells a shitload of Columbia gear. It deals with “Ice Age In A Can”. Instant! And you’re right, it does feel that way.

      And that is why Bill was the funniest guy in the room. Man, you two must’ve been quite the pair! 🙂


      1. That piece you wrote on what would have been Bill’s 57th birthday is such a great piece of writing.
        Slow to the get as I am, it took me going back to read the dates before I put it together. Of course, I read your portrait again for good measure.
        I only ever knew the name on the billboard, but the way you allowed us a glimpse of the man he was, that’s a truly special thing. And thank you for it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m pawing the ground here. You’d like him. When you watch old footage of him they seem so current. He was like a meteor creatively. Better stop. Can’t begin the day all teary. Thank you for your kind words.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting style of writing and communicating. I’ll need to read more, as it seems you have a lot to say, sarcastically! Love anything in humour’s veins. Found my way here from Dale’s Advent Calendar.

    Liked by 1 person

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