I had some free writing time this weekend, and although I tinkered with my WIP, I also found time to participate in Suzanne Burke’s latest flash fiction challenge. If you’d like to play, you can find all the details HERE.
This week’s photo prompt:
“It’s iconic, you know that, right?” Terrence pointed to the photo behind his desk.
“You have to ask?” Marco smirked, rolling a toothpick in his mouth. “Who doesn’t know the Hollywood sign?”
The town inspired dreams, fantasies and stardom. Sometimes, it inspired hate.
Terrence studied his fingernails. “How much?”
“Depends.” The toothpick tasted woody. Marco flicked it aside. “Do you want it flattened or—”
“Obliterated.” Terrence circled his desk. Stood gazing at the framed photo on the wall, hands clasped behind his back. “I was thirteen when this was taken. Family vacation. That’s me and Russ in front of the sign. He was ten… grew stars in his head that same night. Said he was going to be a big name when he was older.”
“Sorry it didn’t work out.” An outright lie. Marco didn’t give a rat’s ass, but he’d learned it helped to project a measure of sympathy until the payout was in hand.
“I’ve dumped every dollar I have into supporting my brother. I’m out of cash, and patience. The idiot thinks he has a shot at the lead in the Merchant Mercury franchise.”
Marco snorted. This was too rich to pass up. “Your brother’s claim to fame is a shaving cream commercial. Merchant Mercury is supposed to be the next Star Wars.”
“You see what I’m up against.” Terrance grimaced. “I want you to take down that damn sign, so he realizes the whole thing is a pipe dream. He needs to man up, start earning a living. Forget this ‘acting is my destiny’ crap. The guy’s a loser. It’s time he faced the facts.”
“Consider it done.” Marco had already stockpiled the explosives. “You know where to send the money.”
Terrence scrubbed his face, suppressing a yawn. He folded into the couch, coffee in hand, then snatched the TV remote. Every channel had the same news—someone had blown up the Hollywood sign sometime after 3:00 AM. Videos and images showed police swarming the scene. What remained of the iconic sign was strewn in chunks and splinters over the hillside. Helicopters pinwheeled overhead and reporters angled for face time. Talking heads popped up in a mosaic of windows on his screen, one after another.
“Hell, yes!” He pumped a fist in the air. Marco had blasted that wretched sign into fragments and—if Terrance had calculated properly—Russ’s dreams right along with it. When his phone rang, he juddered to his feet, snatching it from the end table. “Yeah?”
“Hey, Terrance, how are you, big brother?” Strange that Russ sounded energized. He should be crestfallen after seeing his altar blown to smithereens.
“I, um…” Terrence knew he should feign horror or sorrow. Maybe outrage. Outrage was always good.
“I’m so freaking stoked I don’t even know what day it is.” Russ didn’t give him the time to decide.
“Where are you?”
“My pathetic shoebox of an apartment, but not for long.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I hit the big time.”
Terrence muted the TV remote. “You’re not making sense.”
“Probably because I kicked a bottle of champagne in under fifteen minutes.”
A queer sense of foreboding spread in Terence’s gut. “You’re celebrating?”
“Sure am. I landed the lead in Merchant Mercury.” Russ’s voice climbed an octave. “Just got the call. Can you shittin’ believe it? The studio head is already saying I’m going to be the next Harrison Ford. First thing tomorrow, I’m hiking to the Hollywood sign to have my picture taken.”
Terrence’s knees buckled. He sank onto the couch, eyes glued to the emergency personnel on the screen. What the hell had he done?
“I’d love it if you could be with me big brother. You always believed in me. Never gave up on my dreams.”
Terrance dropped the phone, cradled his face in his hands. He’d spent every dime he had paying Marco’s price, figuring Russ would crawl home when broken. They’d start over, go into business together. But all of that had changed. His bank account read zero and his younger brother was destined for stardom. Who was the loser now?
He clawed the phone to his ear. “Russ…” His voice broke. “I, uh… I hate to ask, but I’m out of cash.”
“I did something stupid.” He swallowed bitter tears. “I shattered my dream.”
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed my take on the photo prompt, and—as always—I wish you happy writing wherever your muse may take you!