FIERY GIZZARD CONFLAGRATION, 750 words
Stumpy Meeks lay on the couch sleeping off a two-day drunk when an explosion knocked him butt-first onto the floor of his trailer.
"Come in," he said.
It took him a couple of seconds to realize nobody was knocking on the door. His brain was working slower than usual. Drinking Vodka Bombs--Red Bull mixed with Stoli--had that effect on a man, and he scribbled a mental sticky note not to combine the two again.
Just as he'd crawled up to the couch and was resting his head on the cushion, another blast ripped through the night. The shock wave buckled the walls of his trailer and cracked the windows in the living room. Stumpy crawled screaming under the couch as glass fell out of the window frame and fell onto the shag carpet.
This time, he knew it wasn't the Vodka Bombs going boom in his head. Something else had exploded, and he was torn between hiding safe under the couch or going outside to take a look around. It really wasn't a tough decision. Having more curiosity than sense, he waited a minute or two and then crawled out.
He stumbled to the door, clicked on the porch light, and squinted into the night. There was a fire burning down in the hollow. The Harper place had blown all to hell, and a line of burning debris littered the hill leading up to his yard.
"Jesus Christ Jones on a crutch," he whispered and stepped out onto the patio, intending to call the law to report the fire. Instead, he found himself mesmerized by the fire.
The smell of gunpowder had burned the air, and though it was a cold and wet December night, his nose could've sworn it was the Fourth of July. The concrete patio felt clammy on his bare feet. He took a few steps then stepped on something warm and hard.
Stumpy picked the thing up and held it up to the porch light to get a better look. It was a human finger covered in blood and wrapped by a diamond wedding band. He screamed and dropped it, then danced away backwards and fell butt-first into the living room. Safe inside, he crawled over to the kitchen window and peeked outside.
There it lay, right where he'd dropped it. It was a human finger, all right. No mistaking it. It had to belong to somebody, and probably, they'd want it back. So it was up to him to save it.
After extracting a pair of hot dog tongs and a sandwich baggie out of the junk drawer, Stumpy headed back outside. He crouched over the finger for a moment, the horizon lit by the fire in the hollow below, clicking the tongs and thinking of the best way to go about this. Should he grab it sideways like a hot dog? Or on the tip for a better grip?
"Get on with it, Stump," he said and popped the finger into the baggie. He sealed the strip so that red and blue made purple. When he stood up, the whole world spun around. Too much blood had rushed to his head. Too much vodka, too.
Inside, he dropped the baggie in the freezer next to the ice cube tray. While at the fridge, he grabbed two cold ones for the trip back to the couch. He popped the tab, took a long swallow of Pabst, and wondered who had busted out the glass in the front windows. Seemed like there was something else he needed to do, somebody he ought to call, but the phone was all the way down the hall in the bedroom, and whatever it was could surely wait until he'd gotten some sleep.
Stumpy leaned back on the couch and was snoring before he finished the beer.
Boone Childress was driving down the freeway, and his back was killing him. Fucking killing him, and this from a man who didn't drop f-bombs like sugar from powdered donuts or complain about daily aches and pains. In twenty years as a firefighter, he'd broken about six bones, torn an ACL, and dislocated both shoulders so many times the joints popped out easier than eyeballs on a Mr. Potato Head. Nothing else pained him like his back.
Except maybe his ex-wife. He'd just ignored three cell calls from her, the last as he popped two more ibuprofen and took the exit toward Altamont, where a burnt-out double-wide trailer awaited him.
I want to like this more than I do. It's funny but (and what does this say about fiction!) severed fingers in doggie bags with tongs are yesterday's gruesomes. You're telling us about Boone rather than letting us see him in action and understanding what he's about from context.
All the things you mentioned in your hook are usual kinds of plot points. You're going to have to give them a fresh coat of paint and a shiny new whistle to get my attention past page five.