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Friday, August 1, 2014


"Warton?  As in Tom Warton?"
That was the question I had always been asked.  Whenever I told anyone my name it wasn't, "Didn't you write that book?" or, "I love your stories," or "I can't wait to see your next novel."  No, it was always, "Are you really related to that guy who makes cars?"
I didn't even drive a Warton.  I thought they were ugly machines that didn't have enough power and wasted too much fuel.  I stared down at the first one my dad ever built, supposedly in his own garage.  I doubted that.  Frankly, I thought it looked much better after I had doused it in gasoline.
This was only one of a dozen cars that sat in the small museum attached to the factory.  I'd practically grown up at the factory.  I spent so much time there, I knew all the guards, I knew the security system inside and out, and I knew that on the night of the World Cup finals, all the night staff would be glued to a small TV in the guardroom.  It wasn't hard to get around them.  Nothing could make them leave the game.  It was the same when dad owned the place.  The day of the World Cup finals always had a sort of party atmosphere, and dad allowed it.  But even now, after his death, the Board of Directors refused to change anything.  They were superstitious, afraid that changing anything would incur the wrath of my dead old man.
I quickly spent the entire canister of gasoline in the museum and slipped out of the door to the main floor of the factory.  I knew where the gas pumps were, so it didn't take me long to refill the container and start distributing the liquid to the machines, the files cabinets, the offices.  When I got to the boardroom, I knew my work was nearly over.  The company would never recover, but my name would.
"Hands in the air!"  It was Jorge, the youngest guard and, truth be told, an old friend of mine.  We were the same age, spent time in the factory together, went to school together.  His voice rang from the only door to the entire room.  I put my hands up, a match between my fingers.
"Go back to the game, Jorge," I said as I turned around.  He flinched when he saw it was me.
"Ashton?  What are you doing here?"
"I'm putting an end to this blight on the family name.  On my name."
"What blight?  Your name is on the map because of this place."  His hand was on his gun's holster.
"Do you even know what I've been doing for the past 5 years?  Did you know I have two books out?  And they both have great reviews!"
"Why does that mean you have to burn down your father's factory?"
"Because I have no sales!  No one knows my name!  They only know my dad's name!  I'm trapped in his gravity!"  I could see that Jorge didn't understand.  "If I can't break free from my father's star, I'll never shine on my own."
"Destroying your father's namesake is not the way to do it.  Come on, Ash.  If you just come with me now, we can watch the game together and I won't let anyone know it was you in here."
I looked around the boardroom, seeing the name "Warton" splayed out on every seat, on every window, even on the carpet.  But I knew that it wasn't my name.  Not any longer.  I smiled and lit the match.  He put his gun in front of him.
"Put the match down, Ashton!" he said, though as he spoke I could see him shaking.
"Are you sure you want me to do that, Jorge?"  I flicked the match at him.  It landed on the table and smoldered… then went out in a pool of gasoline.  "What the Hell?"
Jorge ran up to me and knocked me over with his shoulder.  He was bigger than me and definitely stronger.

The next morning I woke up in a cell with three other guys.  They all eyed me suspiciously.
"Good morning, Tinkerbell," a rather wiry man said.  All three of them laughed.
"Where… what happened?"  By the time I got my bearings, things came back to me.  The struggle, the cops, the beating.  My head still pounded.
"Woah, hold up there, Tinkerbell.  Looks like you took quite a pounding."  Another chuckle from his comrades.
"Stop calling me Tinkerbell," I demanded, getting an "ooooh!" from my cellmates.  "I'm Ash Warton."

"Warton?" One of the others asked.  "Like the car?"


  1. It's times like this that one should spring for the more expensive premium gasoline. It has a higher flash-point...

    1. There have been many episodes of Mythbusters where they were unable to simply light gasoline on fire. And I remember when I was in the scouts, we had this camp program with 2 huge bonfires, each one stacked at least 6 feet high. They doused the stacks of wood with gasoline and lit them on fire. The bonfires ROARED into life like a one-hit wonder climbing up the charts... and then, like the one-hit wonder, they went out 15 minutes later. None of the actual wood had caught fire.

  2. You can be famous or infamous, both can lead to ruin.