Crop Dusting the Five & Dime

When I was a boy, my favorite store was Sterling’s 5 & 10 on Emma Avenue. It was located next to a Mom & Pop bakery with a screen door on the front. In the summer, the tempting aroma of fresh baked pies, yeast rolls, and donuts wafted out onto the street. My highly trained olfactory senses would pick up the scent two blocks away. Captivated by this magic spell, I would lumber down the sidewalk in zombie fashion, salivating like Pavlov’s dog.

 After satisfying my tastebuds with a couple of donuts and a maple bar, I would wander into Sterling’s to fondle the toys and plastic trinkets (made in Japan–not China) with my glaze-coated fingers. Once all these prize objects had been thoroughly covered in sticky fingerprints, I would purchase four or five packs of baseball cards and a nickel’s worth of bubble gum and jawbreakers. Today’s kids don’t know what they’re missing.

If you’re new to Friday Flash Fiction, the proprietor of this Shady Rest Hotel of writers is Kate Bradley Wisoff-Fields. If you’d like to fill the role of Billie Jo, Betty Jo, Bobby Jo, or even Uncle Joe with one of your stories, visit her site and follow the step-by-step instructions. To view the wanted posters of writers in FFF  Hollywood Squares Authors Block click here.

copyright - Mary Shipman
copyright – Mary Shipman

An invisible cloud of noxious gas eased out the back of Darryl’s denim jeans and cascaded down the aisle, expanding in mushroom-cloud-fashion like fallout from a nuclear bomb.

Oswald Pembrook, located closest to ground zero, was the first to notice the change in atmospheric conditions. He sniffed the air, then quickly covered his nose and mouth with a handkerchief, attempting to ward off the rising effluvium. Tears streamed down his cheeks.

A look of horror swept across Beulah McGillicutty’s face. All color drained from her complexion. She stood frozen, staring into space, as if turned to a pillar of salt.

*This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual events or people (i.e. – Cousin Jerry, Perry Block, Kent Bonham, etc.) is purely coincidental.

55 Comments on “Crop Dusting the Five & Dime

  1. Dear Uncle Joe,

    That’s harnessing the power of…ugh…

    Your intro brings back memories, your story brings up something else entirely. And you’re never getting your joy buzzer back. :p




    • Dear Kate,

      Have you visited Dick’s 5 & 10 in Branson? When you walk through the doors, you become magically transported back to 1963. They sell all the toys from my youth (minus the sticky fingerprints) and even the candy cigarettes that Cousin Kent likes to smoke. I bet I can find a new joy buzzer there too when I go up for the OWL conference in May.

      Wanna shake?
      Uncle Joe

      Liked by 1 person

      • We just can’t seem to make the same conferences. I’ll be in Chicago with Caroline Giammanco. Our books will be on display at the American Booksellers Assoc. Expo. August maybe?


      • Perhaps. I’m supposed to visit with Diane Yates on this trip. I have volunteered to do a short presentation on Personal Branding at a future conference should they become desperate for speakers.


  2. I messaged Queen “Kate” this morning that, when I saw the mere TITLE, that this would be trouble. And wasn’t I right? Of course, it’s coincin-tentional. Why wouldn’t it be?

    Hilarious story. I laughed until I stopped.

    Sam Drucker


    • Dear Sam,

      I knew you were an old “crop duster” the first time I laid eyes on you. I believe they refer to you as the “Black Barron” if I’m not mistaken. What are you using for fuel these days?

      Uncle Joe


      • You really ARE mistaken. It’s Perry! He didn’t read my story, so HE’S your man.

        As for the rest of these bozos. they will NOT be allowed access to my Crayola box and eat the papers off the crayons. They will have to find emotional nourishment elsewhere. Besides, the sharpener is rusty from someone sticking their tongue in it.


  3. Yep, you did it again. I am smelling that gaseous moment from here! 🙂


  4. First of all, I am either Bobby Jo or Billie Jo, not Uncle Joe. (I’m way too cute to be Uncle Joe, and I’m not moving kind of slow at the Junction. Petticoat Junction!) Also, may I remind you that that “pillar of salt” reference comes from our book. I don’t remember being paid my commission for the use of our book. And finally where did the noxious gas come from? I believe “Darryl” is an anagram for “Russell.” As soon as I figure it out I’ll get back to you.


    • Okay, you can be Betty Jo. Kent has already called dibs on Bobby Jo and I want to be Billie Jo due to that whole Tallahatchie Bridge thing. Sandra can be Uncle Joe in this week’s episode.

      “Our” book is correct in that I converted to Judaism for 10 whole minutes this morning while I wrote that particular paragraph. During that brief time I became “tight as a Jew,” so don’t expect any commission. (In case you’re wondering—yes, my nose did grow larger.)

      And for my final clarification, Darryl is actually Perry spelled sideways.


    • My agent is negotiating a six-figure deal for an off-Broadway stage production of “Crop Dusting.” We expect the seats closest to the exits to fill up fast.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. SBD or Silent but deadly is the name CIA gives it. There is a whole chapter devoted to it in the Geneva Convention. True fact – George Bush was actually looking for weapons of ass destruction. I presume you are a trained operative.


    • I like that—weapons of ass destruction. Darryl has been through years of rigorous training. His little jaunt through the five & dime was just a practice run.


  6. Every story should have an arc, a beginning, middle and end. This one flew long, low and deadly but thankfully there was an end. Until the next time… 😦


  7. OH does that bring back some memories of ‘contests’ teenage brothers had in my parents general store back in the ’60’s.
    I am sending this to them!


  8. This one is a favorite, Russell! It reminds me of Stand By Me (the movie) and I can see it being part of a longer story. Again, your intros so often tug me in, and the comments hold me here… no hit and runs when it comes to stopping by What’s So Funny! Wonderful!


  9. I see the mice, the rats, cockroaches and other potentially unwanted creatures fainting. Darryl is a biological weapon for pest control.


  10. So vivid, Russell. I can smell you story from here. Great one! We had a store that sold all these old trinkets along with candy from my youth.They are now sold at this specialty store, but it didn’t stay in business for long. Dang!!


    • Here, let me get a clothespin for your nose.
      There’s a store called Dick’s 5 & 10 in Branson that’s just like walking back in time. I could browse the aisle for hours, perhaps days. It’s just like 1963. If you ever make it to the Ozarks, be sure and visit Dick’s.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I can see the those old jeans bulging from the gas attack to come… is there a Mexican Restaurant nearby who have the all-you-can-eat refried bean special nearby? In that case you should be warned.


    • Brown beans and raw onion work pretty well too, but nothing tops pickled eggs and beer. That’s a recipe for paint peeling, maggot gagging, malicious odor.


  12. I should have known after that lovely reminiscing there’d be some hilarious bodily humor. I remember those old five and dimes. You could buy things like doll clothes and doll house furniture. Not everything was pre-packaged under plastic. Well done, Russell. 😀 — Suzanne


    • That’s true. There wasn’t much packaging, which in today’s world, often costs more to make than the product itself.


  13. What a rich childhood Russell. Buying al the sweet treats you want!!! Sugar ferments in the stomach and causes a lot of gas …so it’s no mystery who the crop duster was in the story 🙂


    • I had very limited resources, but in those days donuts were a nickel and maple bars a dime. It’s most likely the yeast in the bread that causes gas and the sugar adds potency.

      Like I tell my wife, mine smell like lilacs. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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