“The Thrill of a Lifetime” – Fiction by Phyllis Green

landfillThe spiel of a dotty, highly-caffeinated, eerily chipper employee at an absurdly morbid vacation ranch is the basis for Phyllis Green‘s “The Thrill of a Lifetime,” one of the many flappery lits in our Spring 2014 Issue.

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WELCOME TO YOUR FIRST DAY OF VACATION! You’ll have the thrill of a lifetime. We have 36 acres to explore and there are yes, 36 of you SOOOOOOooooo you each begin with a whole acre to yourselves. Just you and those gorgeous gleaming yellow backhoes! Yes you will be trained to drive a backhoe, first thing we’ll do. Now you all look great in your hazmat get-ups! All I can see are little men in white coats-oh oh! And white pants and white foot coverings! Of course the ladies are all in white too. And let’s not forget the little tikes on vacation. All right! Now, you all okay with those plastic helmets? Remember, ask one of my assistants if you are the least bit unsure of the fit or feel. We want everyone comfortable. There is pure mountain air filtered into those protective headgears and rest assured we have not had one accident over someone not being able to breathe or getting hysterical or anything like that. They are perfectly safe. There will be no odor for you to worry about, just pure fresh mountain clean air going into your precious lungs because that’s how we do things here at the Rocky’s Ranch, your ultimate vacation. We promise big results, a truly happy week of exploration and lots of fun party things planned for the evenings. You’ll love this unique vacation and want to come back every summer! Guaranteed!

Now let’s get down to business and not waste another minute. Hope you all had a delicious breakfast? Good! Wasn’t that bacon crisp and tasty? During the morning you’ll have a coffee thermos in case you are a coffee addict like me. And you little kids who look so excited to be driving those huge and I mean huge yellow backhoes– well we have a lemonade thermos for you tikes. So everyone will be hydrated, right?

Let’s take a look at your graphs. Everyone pull out the graphs. See the 36 acres, and can you all see where your own particular acre is? If not, hold up your retriever (make sure the sharp point is not pointed at yourself!) and my assistants will come by and show you your specific acre.

Now we have marked what you may locate on your acre. Besides the usual cantaloupe rinds and peach pits and other things folks throw away in their garbage cans, there are treasures here. In Acre 1 for instance, that is where the darling little Tacy Jones’ body was tossed in a dumpster and deposited. Now most of Tacy has been found, all except for her two eyeballs. And her parents are willing to pay big bucks for either one or two eyeballs, and then there are the collectors and they really have big bucks and don’t forget the horror museums that are popping up everywhere, they have millions to spend. So who is on Acre 1? Raise your long-handled spike, that’s your retriever. Okay, that looks like Johnny Kacinski. Johnny, you find an eyeball or two and if they belong to little Tacy– oh and we do have a DNA lab right on the grounds here– then Johnny, you are going to be rich! Yes, folks, let’s give a cheer for Johnny!

Now don’t you other vacationers fret. Every acre has valuable stuff. For instance, Acre 7 is where the aristocrat Marva Wilkinson threw away the one and only Gumbel Emerald. Whoever has Acre 7, you are one lucky son of a you-know-what to get Acre 7. When the time comes you hop on your backhoe and spike through that pumpkin-cabbage-breadcrumb-tunacanned garbage and find that gem. So you have to dig through a little doggie doo? When you get the reward money on that Gumbel Emerald, you can just take a shower and take your reward to the bank. You’ll have enough to purchase that dream home in Hawaii! The $2500 fee for this vacation (including food and drinks of course) will be a drop in the bucket as far as your reward. You’ll have fun and you’ll make money too. Shouldn’t all vacations be about that?

Now here are some of the other things to be looking for on your acres: Elvis’s toilet, the one he died on. That’s, let me see, that’s Acre 14. Michael Jackson’s mattress, Acre 5– well that’s appropriate isn’t it? Who’s the joker that put the mattress in Acre 5? The mane of Gene Autry’s horse, Acre 32. Anna Nicole Smith’s medicine kit, Acre 29. The dog’s head that played in the movie Lassie Come Home, Acres 17 & 18. Oh I guess there were two dogs that played that role. Just remember, everybody has something special in their acre. Something to make them rich. Oh one other thing: If you find a dead body, that could be valuable too, to the family of course, or the police, and I’m sure when we figure out whose body it is, unless they were homeless, you should get a reward for that. We will be your agent and handle negotiations for you on all these matters for a reasonable 20% fee, as explained in our brochure.

Now we set aside one half-hour for training on the backhoe. Then you have two hours on your acre. And if you have not found your item or anything valuable (there are some things in there that we aren’t advertising– fun, valuable things) then when the two hours are up you are no longer in charge of that acre. It’s open for everyone. It’s a free-for-all scramble. You’ll love the scramble. If you are assigned to Acre 20 then you are free to drive over to any acre you want, challenge the original owner of that acre to a backhoe battle and if you win then you can have control of that Acre for two more hours and the defeated vacationer must find another acre to search in. Start a battle with someone else! It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be messy. It’s going to be, perhaps, a bit bloody, perhaps even a matter of life or death. That’s the excitement! Be tough. Be clever. Be wary. Fight like hell for whatever acre you want to explore. We start as friends, and then we become enemies.

But tonight, when our explorations of the day have ended, we will be friends again and party and drink and dance and flirt and who knows what will happen then? Oh and don’t forget the tractor pulls!

Gentlemen, Ladies, Little Ones: Start your engines.

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ora dec 2013 204PHYLLIS GREEN‘s stories have appeared in Epiphany, Bluestem, Prick of the Spindle, Poydras Review, The McNeese Review, The Chaffin Journal, Rougarou, Orion Headless, apt, ShatterColors, Paper Darts, The Cossack Review, The Examined Life, Dark Matter, The Greensilk Journal, Gravel, and other journals. She will have upcoming stories in Goreyesque, EDGE, Serving House Journal, Page & Spine, and Write For Readers Magazine. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, Micro Award nominee, and won Best of Storyacious for 2013.


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