Short Story: American Classic

ShortbreadBill RobertsonShort Stories › American Classic

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About this Short Story

Written by
Bill Robertson

Narrated by
Ewan Donald


On the way home from his father's funeral Johnny reflects on his relationship with his family and what the future might hold for him.


  • 2128 Words
  • 38 Comments
  • 70% Community Rating
  • 14203 Views

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The Cadillac cruised along the highway eating the miles back to Chicago. Kristin was beside him dozing with her head leaning against the doorframe. It had been a rough couple of weeks for them, what with the funeral and then the business of trying to settle his father’s affairs. He stole another look at Kristin. He felt sorry for her - his family could be overwhelming at the best of times. A funeral with its heady mixture of raw emotion and alcohol had been a potentially explosive combination when added to a roomful of Sullivans, and it was a small miracle that no fights had broken out between his many aunts and uncles.

It was funny, Johnny thought, how it took a funeral to bring the family back together again. Most of the rest of his relatives still lived in Michigan so it wasn’t a question of distance. Yet it was never barbecues and birthdays that united them, only grief and…

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Ali Alsaedi said "thanks!"
2 years ago
Nima Parsa said "hi"
2 years ago
Bill Robertson replied saying "Hi to you too."
2 years ago
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Bill Robertson replied saying "Thank you David - the "gap" is something that is very prevalent here in Scotland also so I drew on both my relationship with my own dad and my experiences as a relatively new father. Luckily, I have two girls so it will be different ...I think!"
4 years ago
Irene Brown said "Fine wee story beautifully read!"
5 years ago
Bill Robertson replied saying "Thanks Irene. Ewan's reading definitely makes my writing sound a lot better. Glad you enjoyed it."
5 years ago
Katherine Esposito said "Beautiful and sentimental, thanks for sharing."
5 years ago
Bill Robertson replied saying "Da Bulls! That was funny - I see what you mean about da Chicargo accent ;-) nice to see Dan Akroyd reprising his Irwin Mainway character from the original SNL too."
5 years ago
Katherine Esposito replied saying "So I went back and listened to the audio, and I did not really detect a prominent mid-west accent (thank god), although he did a great job narrating. If Ewan had really used an authentic, Chicago accent, with our hard nasally vowels...no one would ever want to listen to the audio version! Here's a funny link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdcfsRXQFCI"
5 years ago
Bill Robertson replied saying "Thanks for taking the time to comment. Did you listen to the audio version of the story? I noticed you are from Chicago and wondered what you made of Ewan's Midwest accent. I've been lucky enough to visit the windy city twice and hope to go back again some day."
5 years ago
Elaine May Smith said "Wonderful job all round! Love it! :)"
5 years ago
Bill Robertson replied saying "Thanks Elaine. I think I'll just hire Ewan to read all my stories from now on - he does a much better job than me!"
5 years ago
Diane Dickson Guest Editor said "great to listen to this story and what a super job Ewan did, exactly right"
5 years ago
Bill Robertson replied saying "I agree 100% I just listened to the story and was blown away with how well it came out. I sat there thinking - "God, did I write this?" it sounded a million times better than I imagined it in my head! Hat's off to Ewan and everyone else involved in making this happen."
5 years ago
Kirsty Pilcher said "i like this story very much and it gave me a goosebumps at the end. made me think of my own parents and words said or not said. A lovely read....thank you for that Bill..."
5 years ago
Bill Robertson replied saying "I agree 100% with all of that. My eldest daughter (four in January) never ceases to amaze me and I'm sure her sister (8 months) will be the same ...at least until they become teenagers ;-)"
5 years ago
Kirsty Pilcher replied saying "Having your own children does make you change your views on life that is true. I think the main thing if possible is to have no regrets..(with your parents) Easier said than done tho...- your daughters will be a joy I am sure! x"
5 years ago
Bill Robertson replied saying "Thank you Kirsty. I suppose the best stories are those with universal themes that we can all identify with (not that I'm claiming this is the "best" but you know what I mean!) There's certainly a bit of my own relationship with my dad in here. Becoming a parent for the first time four years ago has given me a whole different perspective as well. Luckily I have girls so maybe they will be less likely to keep all their feelings bottled up!"
5 years ago
Bill Duthie said "Excellent and thought provoking, we are all guilty of hiding our feelings towards people who matter. Bill Duthie"
5 years ago
Kathleen Lawrence said "This is a beautiful story. Kudos to the writer."
5 years ago
Dick Sawdon Smith said "Congratulations Bill Not much of a story really but well written and kept me reading to the end. Someone said they didn't see the ending coming, what ending? I'm surprised to learn that you are not American because to be fair it reads like American smalsh. Dick Sawdon Smith"
5 years ago
Nettie Thomson said "A whole life story told in a moment. Great story, believable characters, title worked brilliantly. Excellent!"
5 years ago
Louise Maclean said "I loved it ... it is one of the best i have read in ages. Maybe the fact my father died relatively recently effected that but I don't think so. I loved the way that in a short story you painted such a vivid picture of the families dynamics and how people interact differently as they grow from child to adulthood. It was at one level a gentle story but at the same time very strong if that makes sense. You can picture Johnny's loss."
5 years ago
Peter Parkin said "I really enjoyed this short story. I myself never knew how much I loved my dad until I no longer had him. Real tear jerker. Loved the gentleness and the generational reflection. There's a real lesson in sociology here to not leave for tomorrow the things that MUST be done today. Kind regards (with tears) Peter"
5 years ago
Bill Robertson replied saying "Thank you Peter. Your comment is humbling. Thank you for reading and leaving such positive feedback."
5 years ago
Oscar Ranzo said "I totally didn't the end coming, and when it happened it was so poignant. So well written, this."
5 years ago
Bill Robertson replied saying "Thank you Oscar. I am happy that you liked the story and that it had an emotional impact. As a writer it is often difficult to judge how people will react to what you write so I am pleased to see the positive response this one has received."
5 years ago
George Mason said "I enjoyed this story, well written and heart warming even though Johnny was a bit mean, when he woke his girlfriend up by putting the radio on. Whenever I come across a short story I read the first two paragraphs and if I'm not interested I give in but this story hooked me from the start and just had to be read. The other thing that interests me is why Bill, who lives in the UK , set the story in the USA. But there again, perhaps the M6 and an old Austin wouldn't conjour up the right atmosphere. Well done Bill"
5 years ago
Bill Robertson replied saying "Ha ha - never thought of that moment with the radio that way. The setting of the story comes from the picture really (even though once I started I noticed the car was right hand drive!) It just suggested America to me. So I had two people in a car (the type of car went through several iterations also before I settled on a Cadillac). My sister-in-law lives in Lansing, Michigan and there used to be a big GM plant near there house that got torn downand Flint is just down the road from there too (see Michael Moore's "Roger and Me" for more on how GM closing it's factory impacted on the city). So I had a guy and a girl in a car - dark glasses and black suit suggested funeral (how times have changed - once it would have been Reservoir Dogs :-D) and from that I got the first nuggets of the father-son relationship. My grandmother passed away this year and I picked up a few bits and pieces from that in terms of how families interact. It was about 2/3 of the way in that the idea for the letter arrived and that's when I knew I had an ending to work with."
5 years ago
Ginny Swart Guest Editor said "This was a terrific story on every level! Ginny"
5 years ago
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This comment has been removed; this user is no longer a member of Shortbread.
Bill Robertson replied saying "I still like to start with an ending of some kind in mind even if invariably the finished version of the story strays some way away from my first intentions. As you say, it can be unnerving and intriguing at times. I also find that element of self surprise can be very satisfying when the story ends up better than you hoped because of some unseen left turn."
6 years ago
Kirsteen Wright said "I thought the way the story concluded was a gracious closure for the main character on the main niggle he had in his life - confirmation on his dad's feelings towards him (as I got the impression he kind of knew just needed to hear it)?? therefore leaving it a lovely story because he could move on p.s the slider bars weren't working properly when I posted this"
6 years ago
Bill Robertson replied saying "Thanks Kirsteen. I think I was aiming for exploring something about growing up and our changing relationships with our parents. I orginally started with them both being much more antagonistic but it just didn't feel "right" somehow. As a man I know that we are generally hopeless at talking about our feelings to other men - doubly so if it that man is a relative! It seemed like a nice idea to have the father express the most heartfelt sentiments in the letter."
6 years ago
Diane Dickson Guest Editor said "It's a familiar tale but this was a very sweet telling with a twist to fit the picture which was clever. I liked the idea of the age of the document (trying not to spoil things here) Very sweet - thanks Bill - Diane"
6 years ago
Bill Robertson replied saying "Thank you Diane. I've been really busy with work lately and only just managed to write this in time to enter the competition. It was a real challenge to write something based on the picture and my original vision was a little bit different with a more dysfunctional relationship between father and son but it changed as I got into it."
6 years ago

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