All Stories, General Fiction

The Lightning King and Lucky Girl by David Henson

Fred Furk is mowing the grass when all asudden KABOOM! Next thing he knows, he’s spread out on his back clean across the yard. Lucky Girl, his Black Lab, is licking his face, and Doris is standing over him. She’s moving her lips, but he don’t hear a thing. Then it all goes dark again.

Next time Fred wakes up there’s a doc and nurse looking down. They’re jawing, too, but Fred still can’t hear nothing. Finally the nurse writes a note, and Fred learns what’s what. Turns out, he ain’t bad hurt. After a few hours being observated, he goes home. By evening he has most hearing back in his right ear.

Next morning there’s a blurb in the paper. Local man survives lightning strike. Later at work folks in the break room make some fuss. Fred likes that. Likes it a lot. Then Cliff the know-it-all says something Fred can’t make out so he aims his right ear at him. “Say again?”

“I said,” Cliff says, “that contrarily to poplar belief, most people aren’t killt when they get themselves lightning struck. In fact, there’s one guy got hit three time, and if you don’t believe it, you can look it right up in the Ginness Book.”

The Ginness Book. Fred’s heard tell of it his whole life. Never dreamed he might be able to get himself in. If you’re in the Ginness, you kinda live on after you ain’t. Future people argue about who got most hit by lightning? Look it up in the Ginness — Fred Furk, He could even be game show famous. For $500: This man was known as the Lightning King. Yes, Pete, your answer, please. Who is Fred Furk? That’s right, Pete.

From that on, Fred’s all keen to get lightninged again. But he don’t have much success. One evening, he’s walking Lucky Girl — named her that cause they said at the shelter they was just about to give her the shot when he came and rescued her — and the sky goes all dark. Fred hurries Lucky Girl home to safe then goes back out. But by then the black clouds’ve veered  south. One time other there’s a rumbling like a hungry stomach, and he’s through the door in a flash — just as a garbage truck groans away.

Doris, she’s none happy to all this. She tells Fred she’s getting fed up with his foolishness. But he usually just aims his left ear at her when she starts yapping. She’s a wonderful woman, Doris is, but she does love to yap.

Finally, one day when Fred’s not even trying to get struck and the clouds are barely gray, he’s taking the garbage can to the curb and KABOOM!

It’s a right bit worse this time. “You died, Fred, but the mergency folk fibrilated you back,” Doris tells him later. He’s in the hospital a couple whole days for this one and ends up having to drag his right leg behind him when he walks. But — there’s a bigger article in the paper this time. Local man survives second lightning strike. There’s even a quote from Fred: “Contrarily to poplar belief, most people aren’t killt when they get lightning hit. But it’s still awful much dangerous.” Fred adds the danger part and don’t say nothing about the guy got struck three times cause he don’t want a bunch of competitors. He also asks the reporter to call him the Lightning King in the write-up, but no.

He’d been saving it for a surprise, but after the article comes out, Fred can’t keep it bottled up no more and tells Doris how’s he’s gonna get famous for breaking the Ginness record. She moves out the next day. Fred’s shocked she’d do such. Sure, they don’t have a perfect marriage. Who is? Fact be, they both work so hard to make ends meet, they’re all wore out what time they do have together. “Ends meat, the cheapest there is,” Fred used to joke to Doris. She hadn’t laughed much on it anymore though. Now that he thinks for it, Doris hasn’t laughed by much of anything for a long time.

Day after Doris walks out, Fred hurries home from work all anxious she might’ve come by during her lunch break and took Lucky Girl. Thank goodness her big tail wag meets him at the door.

Fred takes life without his wife best he can. And he finds it still ain’t easy to get lightning struck apurpose. Sometimes he hears a storm grumble in the wee hours, but he’s too tired from dragging his leg around work day long. Others times he’s too beered on the davenport, missing Doris. But ‘casionally Fred’s up and at’em when the sky growls. He’ll hurry out and watch mean black clouds roll toward him, bolts streaking every which way like crooked cat whiskers. Most  people aren’t killed when they get themselves lightning struck, he’ll tell himself. But then he starts thinking on the last time, when he got fibrilated, and turns tail.

Fred gets pretty dejected about everthing. One night he lonelies himself outside and looks at the sky all filled to the brim with stars. It comes back on him how in the early days him and Doris used to bet at who could find the Little Dipper first. Winner got 10 good lucks. Didn’t matter though cause they always shared’em. He wonders now where them lucks went. It all feels some overwhelming, and Fred decides right there he’ll tell Doris he’ll give up on his fame if she’ll come back. His hand’s a bit atremble as he punches in her phone number.

“Yeah?” It’s a guy’s voice.

“Uh, can I speak to Doris?”

“Who the hell is this?” the voice booms, and the connect goes dead.

Fred down-spirals after that. He starts calling in sick and barely gets outta bed cept to do for Lucky Girl and get a beer. Finally, he realizes he’s gotta come to grips. He gets himself back to work and one day on the way home stops by the library and orders the Ginness Book. Figures that’ll reinspire him. The library lady looks at him funny-like and asks if he’s looking for a book about beer. Fred educates the lady, and she eventually checks him out a copy of The Guinness Book of World Records.

Back home, Lucky Girl jumps on his lap as Fred flips through the pages. “Lookee here, girl.” He reads her the article about the park ranger that survived seven strikes. He reads that part again. Seven strikes. Not three like Cliff said. Six more to the record. Six. He knows he couldn’t never. He suddenly feels all scooped out. No Doris. No Ginness record.

Fred stands, thinking he’s gonna have to breathe in a bag. Then he hears a thunder and feels a calm crawling over him. He pulls off his shoes and socks, gives Lucky Girl a hug, and goes outside through the utility room and garage, grabbing a rake on the way.

The storm quickly surrounds Fred, the rain a real frogwash, lightning cracking the sky, the air  ozony. He goes to a low, puddly spot in the driveway and raises the rake above him. “I’m ready,” he says quietly into the din. Just then he hears a yip and feels something nuzzling his leg. Lucky Girl. He’s left the door open, and she’s come out to him.

“Go away, girl. It ain’t safe.” There’s a loud clap, and Lucky Girl tries to jump into Fred’s arms. “Get! Now!” Lucky Girl whines. Suddenly the hairs on Fred’s arms and the back of his neck stand up. He quick-grabs Lucky Girl by the collar and runs her inside.

When Fred gets her into the utility room, he starts to go back out. Lucky Girl yips. He turns round. “What is it, girl?” She barks again then runs to the corner of the room and trots back with her empty food dish. He’s total forgot her supper. Fred stands there a few, looking back and forth at the storm and Lucky Girl, her wagging tail thumping the clothes drier. Then, finally, he gentles the bowl from her mouth and closes the door on the storm.


Dave Henson

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7 thoughts on “The Lightning King and Lucky Girl by David Henson”

  1. In general, dialect can be pretty cringeworthy but this time it’s done very well. The best lines in this piece come from wonderful word choices, though. Phrases that stick with you. Great pace and a fine finish. I enjoyed the entire story.


  2. Hi Dave,
    There is more depth to this than is first realised. I found the questions of ambition, acceptability, and being needed a lesson in our own self worth.
    Not only was this very entertaining it was quite thought provoking.
    This is a clever piece of observational writing.
    All the very best my friend.


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