Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

This story is for What Pegman Saw,, and was prompted by the image below.

To see other people’s stories and add your own, please click on the link:

Littleton (2)

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

Luke saw the pothole too late and the car slumped. He crawled on, looking for somewhere less scary to stop. A weary-looking house with colourful hanging baskets reminded him of Nanna’s. Here would do.

He was staring at the ruined tyre, when someone spoke.

“Problem, son?”

Luke looked round to see doppelgängers of Grandpa and Grandma Walton sizing him up.

“No spare,” he answered, “Just a stupid aerosol. I’m supposed to be flying home to England. I’ll never reach the airport now.”

“Relax. There’s plenty old tyres out back. She’ll look after ya while I fix this.”

Grandma took Luke inside and brought coffee and cake.

Thirty minutes later, Grandpa came in, wiping his hands on a rag.

“You’re good to go, friend.”

“Thank you,” Luke said, opening his wallet.

“Forget it. Helping you cost me nothing.”

“Don’t be crackers. I should _”

“Crackers? Get outta my house you sonofabitch.”

150 words

I suspect this story might need an explanation. For Brits, “crackers” is a slang adjective meaning daft, silly, or mentally ill. Depending on the context it could be used as an insult, but Luke wasn’t being rude. He just wanted to say, “Don’t be daft, you’ve done me a big favour, I’d like to show my appreciation.”

Over here, as a slang noun “cracker” means something good or a very attractive person.

Cross the Atlantic and …

Unfortunately, Grandpa thought Luke was calling him white trash and insulting him by offering to pay for his time.

I suppose the title could have been along the lines of Two Nations Divided by a Common Language but, as usual, I’ve opted for a song title. There are many versions and purists will probably prefer Nina Simone’s.

If you click on the link you’ll be taken to my favourite, by Gary Moore:




This entry was posted in America, Flash Fiction, miscommunication. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

  1. k rawson says:

    So glad to see you share your story! This captures perfectly how fraught with error and misunderstanding communication can be, in spite of our intentions. Funny and wrenching at the same time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • JS Brand says:

      Thank you Karen. The tale was partly autobiographical. Once, when talking to a group of students, mostly African-American, I used the word “crackers” to explain someone’s odd behaviour. I was puzzled by the surprised looks until one young man took me aside later and explained that I’d shocked them by denigrating my own race.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear JS,

    What we have here is a failure to communicate. Although I understand, the old man’s reaction seems over the top. At any rate, I enjoyed your story. We are two populations divided by a common language. 😉



    Liked by 1 person

    • JS Brand says:

      Thank you Rochelle. I empathised with both characters; I imagine each of them would be horrified later if they realised the reason for the apparent insult and resulting reaction.


  3. Really excellent story, JS. Thanks for contributing.

    Liked by 2 people

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