Final Destination
Bev Vines-Haines
Hayward Faultline Winner
Squeaky McFadden’s Valiant broke down in Detroit, Illinois in 1968 and fifteen years later she was still there, still looking for a way out and still wondering how her life had taken so many wrong turns.  Detroit was a blind alley.  Flat out.  Last time the sign was changed out on the highway it said there were 93 people living there.

No way in Hell!   She’d counted every soul she’d ever served at Howdy’s diner and leaving out the ones lucky enough to be driving through, her total was somewhere in the low 60s.  She wasn’t sure but she thought she had counted old man Frederickson at least twice because whenever he would finally cut his hair it would take three or four visits to recognize him.

As far as Squeaky was concerned, Detroit had broken away from civilization sometime around the end of the Civil War.  There were no malls, theaters, banks, fast food places or golf courses.  However there were six churches and seven taverns.  No matter whose math you used for population count there couldn’t be more than a dozen people in any bar on any given night.  And that left no one to open the churches and praise the Lord.

Actually the town was closed.  Even though its occupants pretended life was still flowing along like normal.  When they widened Highway 72 up north of town they funneled every living soul either to Hannibal, Missouri or Springfield. 

Howdy Bennett, her boss, let her work both shifts every day.  From six in the morning until ten at night. Why not?  She had no television set and there were no clear channels if she did. Howdy had a CB radio he messed with for hours in the back.  The big old antennae he used for that helped boost  his office TV to three or four channels most days.

Eventually Squeaky began to feel sad for the outside people, those truckers who stopped, lost tourists looking for a restroom and even families hunting a backwoods experience for their child’s Show and Tell.  Detroit slowly wrapped itself around her, making her feel safe and full of wisdom.  She knew better than to roam the world, seeking a better life, a better education, a finer job.  Really, it was all here, all she needed, all anyone needed if they would just listen to their heart.

The outsiders became aliens, ‘chasers of the dream,’ those who couldn’t be satisfied.  So she served their coffee, their roast beef sandwiches, and she rolled her eyes and smirked at their delusional ambition.  Yup, all she wanted, all she needed, could be found in Detroit, Illinois.


First published: February, 2014
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