Friday Fictioneers: INVITATION TO TAKE A RIDE…


Interisland ferry photo by Ted Strutz

INVITATION TO TAKE A RIDE… A Non-fiction Drabble

Checking my mail. The usual holiday catalogs. Here’s one from Figis wanting me to buy fruitcake. No checks or bills, so that kind of evens out. Wait a bit, here’s a brown envelope postmarked Seattle. What’s really odd, is the way they did the address… letters cut out from something… addressed to ted strutz. Maybe some new advertising gimmick to catch the eye. Inside, letters attached to a paper bag.

Walk on to the 8:05 ferry
on December 4th
Prepare to b gone all night
don’t forget your hearing aids
don’t ax questions
come alone

You think I’m kidding?



You can imagine my surprise when I saw this week’s Friday Fictioneer’s photo prompt.  It was one I had taken, and Rochelle-Wisoff Fields had chosen it to be this week’s inspiration for some 100 Word Flash Fiction.  I wanted to wait till Friday was almost over to explain the photo and not influence any of the Fictioneer’s writings.  It has been fun to read the different takes the photo evoked, and you can see them by going to the Fictioneer’s link page.  As of now, 81 writers have linked their stories… I’ll be #82.




MV Evergreen State

There are two types of ferries that service the San Juan Islands in the state of Washington.  Located at the top of Puget Sound, in what is called The Salish Sea.  The San Juan Islands consist of something like 172 islands, some no more than a rock… but since it is always above water, it’s officially an island.  I live on San Juan Island… it was named for an explorer called Juan… and is the county seat.  I live in Friday Harbor, which may or not have been named for an indian called Joe Friday… but that’s another story.

The ferry serves the 4 main islands Lopez, Shaw, Orcas and mine.  You board in Anacortes on the mainland (although technically Anacortes is on Fidalgo Island which is connected by bridges and is not part of the San Juan Island Group) and travel by ferry-boat to the different islands, and can even go to Victoria, British Columbia on Vancouver Island (which sails once a day).

There is another run, which is the Interisland Ferry, it is a little smaller ship.  The MV Evergreen State was built in 1953, and holds 100 cars and 1000 passengers. That is what I was on when I took the photo.  I was the only passenger.  In 17 years riding ferries, and I ride the Interisland a lot, I have never been the sole passenger.  Let me tell you, it was a strange feeling, almost scary.  I walked about the passenger deck and had the weirdest feeling, almost like I was in some of the stories my fellow fictioneers have written, they tend to run to the macabre, cheerful lot.  It was around 5 p.m. when I took the photo, as the sun was starting to set.  I thought it was an interesting shot, with the eerie calmness of an empty boat (that should have been busy with people doing all manner of things, including jigsaw puzzles) and the beauty of the scenic calm outside.

If you ever get up Seattle way, come up and take a ride on the ferry… I’ll buy.

I do not know who sent me the invitation, but I have my suspicions, my birthday is Dec. 4, 1943… do the math, it’s a milestone of sorts.  There are two Prime Suspects, but they are not fessing up.  I guess I will have to wait till I walk on the ferry and see who’s there.  I will be sure to take my hearing aids… maybe there’s a Steely Dan concert I don’t know about.




April ’14… Here’s one I wrote for Friday Fictioneers… I thought it would be fun for my yeahwrite friends to see.  I’ll post the follow-up story next week.

53 responses

  1. What a fascinating story, Ted! I love the photo. If I’m ever in Seattle, yes, let’s go on the ferry.

    1. We should have a gathering in Seattle someday… and ride the ferry… although we better ride one down there… Still a nice view, but not as nice as up here.

  2. I would love to go on the ferry! And talk about a mystery. You will have to tell us who and what happened now. I’m sure you’ll have fun though! Oh and make sure the hearing aids have new batteries in them. 😉

    1. Don’t worry, Jackie… I’ll go prepared. Thanks.

  3. Dear Ted,

    Happy Birthday! From the sound of it, you are going to be murdered in an ugly but unique and imaginative fashion on the ferry. Do not go. Don’t ax me how I know.


    D. B.

    1. Oh Great, Doug! Tankx.

      1. That was such a perfect bit of advice from Doug. I had to laugh. Don’t ax me why…

  4. Dear Ted,

    I work with quite a few people who use “ax” as a verb. In case I forget, happy milestone birthday. Mine was a milestone this year also. (You have a few pebbles more than I 😉 ) Good one.



    1. Thanks, Rochelle. I wanted to put your picture in my ferry shot and write a wedding story, but my daughter and I couldn’t figure out how to do it.

  5. that is so cool and looks like the kind of collage art that i do, but i am innocent, alas. i cannot wait to see what happens. happy milestone ) beth

    1. I’ll let you know, Beth. Thanks.

  6. Happy Birthday (in 4 days), Ted! 🙂 BTW, your photo is beautiful, like a salsa-image: the eerie and abandoned boat on the one side, and the contrast of peaceful outdoors on the other. Each side of the photo depicts different sides of solitude. V-cool.

    1. Thank you Dawn… how is your book doing?

      1. It’s slow going. I kind of had a life “thing” that pushed my job search into high gear, and I haven’t worked on my book in about a month. But now that I have a job (pending the Jan start), I’m going to try to spend the month of December knuckling down with my writing coach. Thanks for asking. 🙂

  7. Great facts about the ferry Ted. Hard to believe you were the only passenger. I can imagine just how spooky is was, almost like the movie “Between Two Worlds” with John Garfield and Sydney Greenstreet. The note you received is intriguing, I bet you are in for a big surprise. Hope you have fun and a very Happy Birthday on the 4th.

    1. I’ve never heard of that one, Betty. I’m sure it will be interesting… I have no clue.

  8. Great photo and backstory. While you were cruising alone, did you ever think you were on the boat on the river Styx (no, not the band)? It would have been very eerie to be alone at that time of evening. I might have imagined myself into one of Sandra’s stories….scary stuff!

    Happy birthday and I hope your captors treat you well. I hope to have friends like that when I next celebrate a milestone year. You are in for an adventure, I’m sure.

    1. Thanks, Erin… When I took this, I wondered what Fictioneers like Sandra and her ilk would do. Thanks.

  9. Frame them! Both the note and your fabulous photo. And then, forget the 100-word requirement for Rochelle and give us a complete rundown on the Dec. 4th doings. Great fun makes for a great story. Many Happy Birthday Wishes to a newly-minted septuagenarian.

    1. septuagenarian!!! What the hell, VB… I wasn’t feeling old till you said that! Thanks anyway. I promise a full report.

  10. Ted, so glad you finally added yours! I was dying to know where the photo was taken. I live in Bellingham and taking a ferry is always a happy thing. The minute I’m on the water, I am on vacation. It’s a very unusual shot as I don’t recall seeing an empty ferry… ever. I started my story in one direction and then realized I wanted to go somewhere else completely. I can not wait to hear what happens on Dec. 4th; you must share with us! Such a wonderful, fun surprise… and may I say even with a mug in front of your face, you do not look 70!! Happy Birthday. Wonderful photo, and really fun post!

    1. Thanks, Dawn, I will. Yeah, I’m lucky to not look as old as I am, my parents stayed pretty much young looking… I probably shouldn’t have let my age out of the bag. We’ll have to have everyone in the area meet up someday… I guess soon, as I’m not getting any younger. My grandson goes to Western. Love the Mambo.

      1. I really enjoy Mambo as well. D’Annas is great too, and Giuseppes, if you like Italian. There are so many great options in town. I was just saying to another FFer that we PNWers need to meet up some time. It really would be fun. 🙂

      2. I’m starting a list of them.

  11. I know I have told you this already, but I just love that photo – and the fact that you got to experience all that surrealness yourself – all alone – is just amazing! Scary Surprise Ferry Birthday invite!

    1. Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. I was surprised to get it, but I have some pretty interesting daughters. That was without a doubt the weirdest ferry ride I have ever been on. The trip from Orcas to San Juan takes about 40 minutes. If not for the ferry workers, I think about 5, it would have been really scary.

  12. I have been waiting to hear the story of this photo. I’m not disappointed. I hope to soon read the story of the mysterious invitation. I’m so very curious to know if one has anything to do with the other.
    In case I forget next week.
    Happy Birthday!

    1. Thanks, Dawn… I’ll be telling that ferry story for sure. But won’t be the boat I will be on. The picture has nothing to do with my story, except it’s a ferry boat. They all pretty much look the same.

  13. Thanks, Dawn… I’ll be telling that ferry story for sure. But won’t be the boat I will be on. The picture has nothing to do with my story, except it’s a ferry boat. They all pretty much look the same.

  14. Happy birthday, Ted, and thanks for both the prompt and the story. What an exciting proposition!

    1. PS If you survive, let us know the end of the story!

      1. Thanks, Jen… will do.

  15. What a wonderful background story.. There were a few other’s who had figured out where it was.. a beautiful ferry really.. Take care with letters like that… maybee there’s a vampire convention somewhere..

    1. Hadn’t thought of that, B… thanks!

  16. happy birthday ted! coolest story ever. yes,you should frame that letter 🙂 thanks for sharing the photo

    1. Thanks, KZ, I think I will… good idea!

  17. So, you’re going to pull an all-nighter on your birthday. A pretty ambitious plan. My definition of an all-nighter is not getting up to pee. Happy Birthday, buddy. Sounds like it’s going to be a night to remember.

    1. Thanks, Russell… that’s my definition now too.

  18. I’ve taken the ferry once and loved it. I should do it again, I’m not that far away!

    1. Well, let’s take a ride… I’ll add you to the list of GPNW Writers, Andrea. Where are you?

  19. Thank you for the info and the story behind this photo Ted:-)Thank you for the cool pic-enjoyed reading lots of ghost stories 😀 Wishing you Happy Birthday in advance (lest I forget)and like most others I too am curious to know what surprise you receive on your B’day-must say,the invite is very novel-great min(s) at work on that 😉

    1. It’s pretty clever all right. I have very creative daughters. Thanks.

      1. :-)Aww how lovely!God Bless them-daughters are so precious

  20. Great story and info. Thanks for giving it to Rochelle as a prompt.

    1. Thanks, Al. I thought it would be a good one, and it was… even found a merman.

      1. Haha yes they aren’t there very often 🙂

  21. Really good photo for a story, and the background was interesting. Your take was so good, especially because of the question it raises – will you go or not – should one go or not. How are we really wired, I wonder, would curiosity get the better of us? I just cannot decide!

  22. […] wondering about the ending of that story.  It is a followup to the story I wrote last week… INVITATION TO A RIDE… after I had received this in the mail… I promised a full report… I boarded […]

  23. Natalie DeYoung | Reply

    I took the ferry once, on the evening of the fourth of July. Watching all the fireworks displays across the Puget Sound that evening was the most magical fourth I’ve ever celebrated. What a gorgeous place you live!

  24. Visiting from the Moonshine Grid. Couldn’t wait until next week to find out about the invitation, so I skipped ahead. Sounds like a great birthday!

    1. What a crack-up… I would have probably have done the same. It was a wonderful birthday… I am truly blessed.

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