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First Flights: a virtual chapbook of poetry and prose

Briggs & Stratton

John Hammink

"Now... Give er a yank on that rip cord, Jake!"

           "Whoop! Gawwwwdamn!!! Look at her sizzle!"

           The Briggs and Stratton lawn mower engine first clicked, then hummed, roared, and finally screamed as the revolutions quickened.The liquid inside the clear moonshine bottle resting on the block beside the engine bobbed, jiggled, then convulsed inanely to the chaotic heartbeat of the motor. Smoke curled around the spark plug.

           "Better kill 'er, Jake!"

           Jake reached over and yanked the receiving wire off the spark plug with a flash of white and a resounding ZOT!! He waved his hand back and forth, then sucked on the forefinger.

           Bob turned to him. "Gawwwwdamn!! Didja see that?!!? Musta been cookin' around 8000 cycles!! what the hell d'ja put in 'er, anyways?"

           "Same stuff we're drinkin'."

           "What? The whiskey?"


           "How strong is that?"

           "180 proof. Slows us down, but'll pick an engine up strong. Fact, they been talkin' bout switchin' ta what they call ethanol mixture a gas 'n' grain alcohol. Saves crude oil, know what I mean."

           "Didn't know that." Bob scratched at the bald spot on the back of his head and sniffed at the rural air. He brushed a wrinkle out of his flannel shirt and kicked a crisp, dry leaf under the engine block. "Bum a smoke?"

           "Help yourself." Jake picked up the bottle and took a deep chug. He held it in Bob's face.

           Bob gagged on his lit cigarette. "What the hell are these things!?!" He clutched at his throat and shook the smoldering thing out of his other hand.

           Jake hiccupped. "Kool unfiltered menthols. Damn things could choke a horse. Want another sip?"

           "Nope. Feelin' pretty head heavy already." Bob cleared his throat again.

           "Did you see my bike?"

           Bob looked at his friend suspiciously. "Didn't know you had one."

           "Sure do. Just got her." Jake shoved the rusting tin barn door upward. He reached for the corner of a long, dark sheet of canvas and pulled it.

           Bob's head was almost too full for him to comprehend what he saw. He squinted his eyes and tried to refocus them.

           "What is it?"

           "She's a Yamaha 1100. 4-banger, dual exhaust ... got 'er up to 140 on Highway 11 the other day!" "Looks mean ... gonna take 'er out?"

           "Naw, not now, had too much too..." Jake stopped in mid sentence. He grinned, showing teeth, and his eyes flashed in a way that made Bob stare at his feet.

           "What ... what're ya doin'?" Bob looked up again to see Jake wheeling the bike off the kickstand.

           "Jus' wanna see somethin'."

           "Din'cha say ya had too much..." Bob's head spun wildly and his eyes reared wildly out of focus.

           "Be back in a sec." Jake kicked the bike to life and after a few seconds of doing something Bob couldn't comprehend, he tore up the matted grass bank and onto Highway 11.

           Bob didn't notice the gas cap and moonshine cork that lay side by side near his feet.

About the Author (click here) © 1989 John Hammink, all rights reserved
 appears here by permission
 Briggs & Stratton is a registered trademark

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Author Notes

           Don't drink and drive.

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