Friday, June 3, 2011

UNCLE ROCCO (#fridayflash)

Please press play for some mood music

Sandy looked through the drawers and found the cigar box. They were filled with photos of her Uncle Rocco and after flipping through half of them, she found her favorite. It was the one of him all decked out leather. She smiled.

"It takes a certain kind of man to wear leather," he told her when she first saw this amazing picture. "People can tell if you're not meant for it so don't ever let the jacket wear you."

She smiled some more and felt her bottom lip quiver. She bit it, stifled herself and remembered the story behind the photo.

* * *

"The Wild One" was just released and everyone under 25 wanted to be Brando. Problem was, Rocco didn't have the scratch to buy a motorbike like the Triumph Thunderbird 6T in the film, so the family car would have to do.

Uncle Rocco and the rest of the neighborhood's throttle jockey hooligans worked on the engine round the clock and pretty soon, that heap was tighter than a bank vault with a busted timelock.

Still, no matter how ponies rumbled under that hood, there was that outlaw biker just itching to get out.

So Rocco compensated, bought a leather jacket from Andy's Thrift Shop and played the role of Johnny Strabler. With his 'duck's ass' (D.A.) pompadour greasier than the 'spoon' off Interstate 344, Uncle Rocco swore he was tough enough to swap punches with a power shovel -- all 138 pounds of him. He even went so far as to rip up his draft notice.

That afternoon, after Rocco lit his first Pall Mall, Spike McCrory took a snapshot of him before catching "The Wild One" yet again at the drive-in. By the time it was through, they had enough puffy chest incentive to rebel against as many 'whaddya gots' as they could possibly find.

Uncle Rocco and Spike sauntered into the nearby malt shop and plopped their rumps at the counter. It was a packed Saturday night and Rocco saw a slinky piece of homework that caught his eye. He smiled and had a waitress send over a milkshake. Funny. That night, there was all sorts of extra credit going on, and that slinky piece of homework was on everyone's mind - namely Mikey Mapplethorpe - who hip checked Uncle Rocco out of his stool.

The place went quiet. Spike helped Rocco to his feet and as the rest of the malt shop watched, Rocco knew what they didn't. The switchblade in his back pocket was primed and ready.

* * *
Uncle Rocco got out of jail a few years later and by then, the country's newest rebel was a lost cause after he perished in a Porsche 550 Spyder on Route 466 in California.

Sandy was glad that the 'slinky piece of homework' -- her Aunt Sally -- pretty much reformed Uncle Rocco and by the time he was released, he was on the straight and narrow and the two were married a few months later.

The tears were coming back now and she put the picture back in the cigar box with the others and headed to the funeral home. Driving there she just knew her favorite picture would be the big hit of her collage.

Music: "Wild Wild Young Men," by Ruth Brown. It can be downloaded HERE.

Art: A tip of the hat to Paul Bishop at 'Bish's Beat' for the inspirational pic. Check out his blog. Its filled with all sorts of pulpy and retro delights.


  1. Tough break for a tough guy. I am constantly amazed by the phrasing of this genre, and how fresh it comes across. "...that heap was tighter than a bank vault with a busted timelock" is wonderful, along with the line with the greasy spoon reference.

    You do this so well.

  2. You always find such great photos and music to go with these. I got a nice grin from the references to the "slinky piece of homework" and "all sorts of extra credit going on."

    I think though that "Interstate 344" is anachronistic. I don't think any of the federal highways were called Interstates until the late '50s/early '60s and The Wild One was early '50s.

  3. What makes it work, like many of your #fridayflashes, is your penchant for the appropriate tone. Your frame of reference, frame of conflict and linguistic color set the mood as well as any font, picture or theme music.

  4. Okay Mr. Smooth (or should I just call you "Slick?") I could tell you how awesome your flash is--but everyone's gonna do that already (and rightfully so). Besides...I'm too busy drooling out the corner of my mouth.

    What?! Pffft. It's rude to stare. A Brando AND James Dean reference in one flash and you thought I wouldn't drool?????!!!!

    Lol. :D

    It rocked out loud. :)

  5. Really nice narrative arc here with the begining and returning to the photo in the cigar box relating to a lost time in the body of the story.

  6. Excellent, as always! So many great lines in this one. Loved how Aunt Sally was "homework." Never heard that before. The tone of this one, beginning to end, was spot on.

  7. This had a really nice feel to it, that touch of nostalgia for the good old days of wild boys and Brando.

    I too liked that Aunt Sally was the 'slinky piece of homework.'

    Nice flash back to the 50's.

  8. I like the mix of a good girl remembering a bad boy in leather. There's always something endearing in that. Especially when it comes in a cigar box package. You always kick ass, Ant.

  9. It's such a neat thing, to imagine (or remember) a whole story from one photograph. Or even a whole character. You've done it well here. I could see it.


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