Perception is a funny thing. Some of you will look at that photo and find yourself transported back in time. Maybe you’ll remember a quiet moment spent with your father in a donut shop. I know, because for the first twenty something years of my life that is what I would have seen.

More specifically I would have remembered a quiet Sunday morning with my dad. It is springtime, the snow has finally melted and the sun has graced us all again with his bright, beautiful presence. Dad and I have just finished a long hike and have decided to celebrate with donuts and coffee. I park the car in front of the Dunkin Donuts on Passamore Boulevard and we walk in.

Passamore holds a special place in my heart. It is a busy street that has a ton of shops and lots of traffic, both pedestrian and vehicles. For years mom refused to let me walk down Passamore by myself. I remember begging her to let me do it. It is on the way to school and lots of kids walk it. Those of us who don’t are called babies, but none of this bothers mom. She says to remember the line about sticks and stones, tells me that one day I’ll be old enough.

Eventually the day comes and I rejoice. I am eleven years old and I walk to school via Passamore. Dad gives me a dollar to celebrate with and I use it on an Apple Fritter in the same Dunkin Donuts that we are sitting in. This is a happy place or it was then. These days it holds a different place in my heart, one that is far darker than before.

Dad and I order two cups of coffee, his small, mine large. He tells me that one day my metabolism won’t work quite so efficiently and that my body might not appreciate all that caffeine I am injecting into it. I laugh and tell him that “I hope I die before I get old.”  He nods his head. I don’t know if gets the reference, music isn’t his thing. For a few minutes we talk about my new job and I tell him that I miss having vacations. He laughs and tells me that I better get used to it, college is over. We talk about this and that and he mentions that he wants to take mom on a trip to Europe, says that as soon as my sisters are out of the house they’ll start traveling.

I nod my head and excuse myself to hit the john. Dad makes a crack about me aging before his eyes, not even a full cup of Joe and I am running to the bathroom. I am only in there a minute but it is one that will haunt me forever. When I come back out I see a man pointing a gun at dad. Stringy hair, dirty jacket and torn cargo pants with a gun. His back is to me. Dad never looks away from the man, but I know he knows I am there.

Dad is seated and I am worried about what might happen. I can’t stand still.  Two quick steps and I’m airborne. I slam into him and we hit the ground.

Twenty some years later I’m seated in the same Dunkin Donuts, except this time I am in uniform. The kid I am training is in the same john I was in the day of. One day I might tell him why donuts make me cranky, but not today. He hasn’t earned the right to know. One moment in time changed everything for me and nothing will ever be the same.

Yes, another prompt for The Red Dress Club.  This week’s prompt is simple: write a piece, fiction or non-fiction, inspired by the delicious shot. Word limit is 600.

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  1. says

    I was NOT expecting the gunman. It seemed to be a nice memory piece, then out of nowhere, there’s this life changing moment! But I’m left with questions…Did the gunman’s gun go off? I really want to know what happens next!

  2. says

    Hey Jack! i liked this piece. I liked the twist of him becoming a cop and being in a donut shop – and hating donuts because of the memories.

    I agree with what CDG said. The first couple paragraphs don’t move the story forward. The details of the characters in Dunkie’s is really where it all begins.

  3. says

    This was a great piece of fiction, the relationship between father and son is wonderfully real.

    I feel like the story really starts in the fifth paragraph, and could stand strong on its own without the back story/nostalgia. The back story seems sluggish to me, and then bang! The fifth paragraph comes and it’s like–yes! here’s the narrative.

    In the same spirit, I think you could cut the last sentence. “He hasn’t earned the right to know,” is a strong ending. You’ve shown us so clearly that moment. Trust us to know it changed your character!

  4. says

    What a great story, you carried me right through it and I thought the whole thing was non-fiction and then I got to the end and quickly scrolled through the comments to make sure it was fiction. Great job, so believable.

  5. says

    Oh, Good Lord, I am so glad this is fiction and even more glad that the Dad lived! I was sure you were going to kill him off.

    The relationship between the Dad and son is so real, so honest, I think that’s why the question of fiction or not came up. These lines particularly captured that. “He tells me that one day my metabolism won’t work quite so efficiently and that my body might not appreciate all that caffeine I am injecting into it. I laugh and tell him that “I hope I die before I get old.” He nods his head. I don’t know if gets the reference, music isn’t his thing.”

  6. says

    Well, I’m glad you told me to scroll all the way down to the bottom. Me and my rotten Internet Explorer ;-)

    Intriguing story. Side note – I love apple fritters.
    I like the reflective side of this.

  7. says

    I finally figured out how to leave a comment on here…I’m slow. Anyway, what a twist! I was expecting the dad would have a heart attack or something. Not the gun thing. Yikes! I like that he ended up working at the donut shop but would have liked to know why he did so. I love how you surprised us. Keeps us on our toes. Well done.

  8. says

    Guessing (hoping) fiction…this was a very engaging story, well told. All the prompt did for me was make me want to go to my hometown and engage in a donut taste test–Mighty Fine Donuts versus Donut Connection.

  9. says

    Well, my piece is about 11 year old self and a very sweet memory about Dunkin Donuts, I’m glad that’s were the similarity between our 2 stories ends. Perception is a funny thing indeed. Well written, as usual.

  10. says

    I can’t wait for your tweet forever….I don’t know if this was fiction or non-fiction, but POWERFUL is one thing is it! You carried me easily through most of it and then just body slammed my heart into the floor of that diner.
    Well done Jack, well done!

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