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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Shah

December Contest Winner: In the Back of a Town Car

Each month we hold a writing contest for our members, by our members. Writers are given parameters, such as a word count and/or a prompt. Entries are judged and discussed blindly. For December, writers had six hours to write a piece of flash fiction that is primarily dialogue or conversation between two characters, revealing a life-altering event that mentions a winter holiday.

In the Back of a Town Car

by A. Howitt

“Tell me, Jerry, who dies on Christmas?”

“Apparently, your father, sir. Would you mind putting out your cigarette and rolling up the window? It’s raining on my paperwork.”

“If I didn’t hear it from the doctor herself, I would have said he planned this.”

“It was an aneurism, sir.”

“I know what it was! One last puff and I’ll close the window. And knock off the sirs. I don’t want to hear you call me sir again until I’m at least forty.”

“Ah, yes. Sure thing, Mr. Winters. Thank you. I’d have to print it all again if it got wet.”

“Nope. Mr. Winters is my dad. Was my dad. You’ll have to call me Blaine. It’s the Godawful name he saddled me with but go on and use it. Hey, did anyone get hold of Mom?”

“I’ll…check, Mr. W—Blaine.”

“And Haley. Good luck finding her.”

“I’m an accountant, sir, not a P.I.. I’m sure the appropriate people can track down your mother and sister.”

“Okay, that’s great. Where are we headed? What time is it?”

“Almost four. We’re going to the office to sign papers before the lawyers read the will tomorrow.”

“Shit, it gets dark early here.”

“In the north, or Chicago?”

“Both. I have to admit, Jerry, I don’t miss the snow.”

“I’d take it over Florida’s hurricanes, myself.”

“Hurricanes have a season.”

“So does snow.”

“Ha! I guess. I’m staying until I finish my master’s. I already put it on my New Year’s resolutions—meet with course supervisors to choose a program for next year.”


“Unless you know something I don’t.


“I think it’s a good idea, Blaine.”

“So, what’s this paperwork you need me to sign?”

“Allocation of funds. We’re almost to the office. I’ll talk you through it when we get there.”

“Just me? Not Mom and Haley? Is that normal?

“If it’s about the will, or Dad’s money, or the company, shouldn’t we all be there?”

“Mr. Winters made a few charitable donations in recent years, always on Christmas. He directed the board to continue to do so in the event of his death. But this year…well, he didn’t have the opportunity.”

“So, won’t the board just carry out his wishes?”

“Maybe. They’re not obligated to do what he said, only what’s in his will.”

“I’m sure the charities will keep doing good work without Dad’s help.”



“The donations are private. I doubt he would want to make his business public.”

“What did he do? You aren’t going to drop one on me like he was supporting the IRA or something, are you?”

“No! Nothing like that.”


“The donations go to an orphanage in Louisiana.”

“That doesn’t sound bad. What’s so hush-hush about that?”

“I’m sorry to tell you in the back of a town car. You’d have found out tomorrow at the will reading. It’s where they adopted your sister and you.”

“So, he didn’t name me Blaine?”

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