Inspired by the song Percy Mayfield wrote and Ray Charles sang, among other notables as Becca Krueger.
Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
I Once Knew Jack by Bill Engleson
I still count on my fingers,
my pleasures and my pains.
and though each of them lingers,
the fine points of memory wanes.
In the dark of evening’s decline,
sun dimming its luminous light,
shadows offer a sombre shrine,
as all I am slips into the night.
And there, entranced by the dark,
as silent as shadows can be,
I reflect on my lifelines arc,
the way time has had with me.
Poems come quite easily to me,
though I am a bit of a hack.
Still, I offer this assigned poesy,
that expires with, “Hit the road, Jack”.
Hit the Road, Jack by Hajar/Douryeh
I’d love to say these words again, despite lockdown
Luckily enough, I could, thanks to my traveling job
Very soon, it’s this road, we’ll go traveling down
A town southward, bus & train have a stop
There’s family in town, we just need to knock
So much love & footsteps are here, soon memories
Many photos testify of this love, kept in stock
But the future is a forward force that frees
Cherish your past, but the future is your lifehack
So you can sincerely say: Hit the road, Jack 🚘❤
Don’t You Come Back No More by Nicole Horlings
It was mid-afternoon when Jaclyn loaded the final box, and closed the back of the van. She went through the house one last time, checking for anything forgotten, turning off lights, and closing doors.
She swung up into the cab of the moving van, which was noticeably higher off the ground than her car. She’d be used it by the time she was half-way across the province though. She texted her husband, typed her destination into Google Maps, and turned on the van. “Hit the road, Jack,” played on the radio.
She laughed, and sang, “Don’t you come back.”
The Bully by C. E. Ayr
Jack is an aggressive moron.
We’re standing on a motorway bridge, watching commuters hurtling homewards.
Remember I always took your lunch money, he mocks, and how I made you do my homework! Best days of our lives, eh?
I’m glad I found you, he continues, you’re going to do me a favour.
He was a bully, and he hasn’t changed.
But I have.
I point down at a lane marking far below us.
Look, I say.
Then I bend, grab him round the knees, and launch him over the barrier.
That’s where you’re going to hit the road, Jack!
Remember by Sydney Dell
I cackle as I storm through the house, upturning chairs and tables, squeezing the family into their tiny corner.
They hadn’t known.
My eyes terrify the children, but I feel no remorse.
They hadn’t known.
I remember the screams, the horrifying murder of my childhood innocence.
They hadn’t known.
All of them whirled on us in a flurry of blades. The blood covered the walls. I’m there, hiding behind a small bookcase. I remember.
I want to laugh as I say, “Hit the road, Jack.”
They hadn’t known.
They hadn’t known it was my family they’d slaughtered that night.
The Rocky Road Back to Humanity by Anne Goodwin
When they dragged him from the boot of the car, he swayed, staggered, crash-landed on the dirt track. But the shock of pain receded when they ripped off his gag and blindfold, and vroomed away. For some moments his mind remained shackled, fearing the freedom, the vast purple sky.
In the distance, streetlights beckoned. His hunger and thirst responded but his beard and sweaty shit stench held him back. After being caged like an animal, how could he join humankind?
Limping, stumbling, Jack hit the road. By dawn, he’d reach the village. How many moons till he recovered himself?
Leavin’ It Behind by Michael Fishman
At 18 I’d heard “Hit the road, Jack” more than I cared to remember. It was as funny as being asked about my beanstalk. Or if my last name was O’Lantern.
It’s interesting what we do to rid ourselves of sad thoughts.
Like thoughts of love.
Years later, with the liquid chords of Chuck Berry’s steel guitar echoing through my head I walked east on US212. My backpack comfortable on my denim covered shoulders; the morning sun pushing me west.
Left arm out, thumb up.
A deep feeling, yes, indeed.
Sometimes, friend, it’s good to leave it all behind.
The Movie by Joanne Fisher
“Let’s hit the road, Jack!” Screamed Amy excitedly.
“I prefer Jacqui you know.”
“Okay, but let’s go!”
“We’re going!” Jacqui replied. They went to the car. Jacqui’s mother, Sandra, appeared.
“Where are you girls going?” She asked.
“Off to see a movie.” Jacqui replied.
“What’s it called?”
“Star Wars. It’s science fiction. Our friends are saying to check it out.” Jacqui told her.
“And we’re running late! Let’s go!” Amy shouted.
“Sounds important.” Sandra said. Jacqui rolled her eyes.
“It’s not like it’s going to change our lives or anything.”
“Well have a good time!” Sandra called after them.
Jack Kerouac by Doug Jacquier
‘Hear your book On The Road is out, Jack.’
‘When’s it coming out in braille?’
‘Soon I hope. Why?’
‘I think there’s a song in there that I could make a hit.’
‘That’d be cool.’
‘Hear Truman Capote’s not impressed. Said this ain’t writin’, it’s typin’.’
‘I’ll remember that when I have breakfast with him at Tiffany’s. I’ll shoot him down in cold blood.’
‘Hear the book is full of beets.’
‘No, Ray, beats. Poetry, drugs and all that jazz.’
‘Hey, Jack, you talkin’ ‘bout my generation?’
‘No, Ray, not unless your name is Ginsberg or Burroughs.’
Got Eyewash (#2)? by JulesPaige
There wasn’t anyway to augur how a visit to the community pool would go. I had to auger into my parents that they had to stop bringing hidden cocktails. All their retired groovy generation wanted to do was to lay around the pool in a few strategically placed lei. Which I guess would have been better if they actually belonged to a nudist community. They didn’t.
“Too Much Information” could make elder matrons or curmudgeons ask management to politely tell them to ‘Hit the road Jack’. Then they’d move the party to someone’s backyard. Would that be any better?
A Fun Kind of Crazy by Donna Matthews
“Writing a haiku.”
“April is National Poetry Writing Month.”
“Ohhhhh…read it to me…”
raindrops cause ripples
“Nice. What will you be doing in May?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well…if April is poetry writing month, what is May?”
“Oh, good question. But, I don’t know…maybe paint watercolor or draw or dance?”
“Or 31 days of karaoke?? Come on; it’s my favorite song to sing out loud…”
Hit the road, Jack
And don’t you come back
No more, no more, no more, no more
“Yeah. But a fun kind of crazy!”
Hit The Road Jack by Ellen Best
He kissed me tenderly but clung on for a second too long. His eyes looked with suspicion, as a frown formed between his brows. I had to be firm in my resolve, and not back down. Blinking hard I reached out cold fingers and let them graze his cheek, my lips formed a believable smile as fleetingly his bottom lip quivered. With a straight back and a composed air I waved goodbye and watch him enter the beautiful modern building. Jack’s first day at nursery was the hardest. He beamed like a lighthouse when I arrived to collect him.
Nursery Rhyme Nursery School by Norah Colvin
“What’s upsetting you, Jack?”
“Mary won’t let me play.”
“Why are you contrary, Mary? Didn’t Jack build this house?”
“He broke it too!”
“Don’t blame me,” said Jack. “The alligator smashed it.”
“The doctor’s. He trampled everything.”
“Don’t blame me,” said the doctor. “Polly said come quick.”
“Because … ?”
“My dolly got burnt from the kettle.”
“Who put the kettle on?”
“I did. But don’t blame me. Jack bumped me.”
“You were hogging pies.”
“You were sticking your fingers in them.”
“Look, everyone! Humpty’s cracked!”
“Who pushed him?”
Jack was gone. He’d fled the scene.
Playground Pirates by Kerry E.B. Black
Tanya scrambled into the boat with the rest of the kids. Jack, years older and tall as a masthead, captained the elementary-aged crew. He instructed them – lean right, then left.
They gave no thought to the danger of bouncing a boat set upon saw-horses. Instead, Jack sang an old song, one Tanya’s uncle enjoyed. “Rock the Boat, but don’t tip it over…”
Behind him, streetlights blinked, shining reminders of curfew.
Tanya called, “Gotta go. The streetlights woke up.”
“Nah, you can’t leave yet!”
“Sorry.” Tanya remembered another song her uncle liked and sang, “Got to ‘Hit the road, Jack’…”
A Sterling Send-off by Gena Daman
Jacqueline knew this goodbye was different. She’d been gifted her Mama’s 25th Wedding Anniversary silver necklace. It was a statement piece. Now it was a statement.
Mama was ill. Their embrace goodbye was
prolonged. She ran her fingers up Mama’s
spine, along her ribs, feeling the valleys
expanding in between.
Mama grew tight, shrank into her concave self. Neither would allow herself to cry.
“Why won’t you say goodbye?”
Mama kissed her cheek, “There is no goodbye.”
Smiling, Mama repeated what she always said when they parted, “Hit the road, Jack. Don’t run on empty, but be fancy free.”
Flash Jacks by Hugh W. Roberts
It was love at first sight. Or was it?
I boarded the bus to London with my whole life in a black bin bag and met the driver’s piercing blue eyes and incredible smile.
“Ticket, please,” said the owner.
It was love at first sight. The badge on his shirt told me we had the same name – ‘Jack.’
‘Hit the road, Jack. Take us to our ‘together’ future,’ I said without speaking.
For the next incredible seven months, we were lovers.
On the day of my death, ‘Hit the road, Jack’ were the last words he screamed at me before possessiveness forced him to mow me down.
Times Up by Anita Dawes
Hit the road, Jack. Your times up
Life in the slow lane isn’t working for me
I need more. With you, it’s all or nothing.
It’s nothing. I’m fed up with holes in my shoes
Sleeping in bus shelters
Going hungry for days on end
I’m tired of your promises
It’s time for me to go my own way
found out this was not as easy as it sounds
When you have nothing, it’s hard to find anything
I found a friend who took me in, gave me a chance
Warm food in my belly. I will not mess up…
Hard Knocks by Matt Wester
I’m out the door before you wake, son. There is no choice in it; I keep the roof over your head. One day the sledgehammer will be your responsibility. You’ll hit the road, Jack. You’ll break up the cement and by the end of the day have built new walls, heavy and impenetrable. There are days you will not want to do this but if you don’t, the house crumbles. You too, son, would crumble. As a man you’ll know why we don’t talk; those who talk aren’t working. But calloused, then, you’ll understand how much I love you.
Jack’s Escape By Charli Mills
He waited for her the mouth of the mine. She visited late at night with stubs of carrots. She’d light a pipe and he’d sniff puffs of smoke while she spoke her troubles, wetting his neck with tears. Life in a mining camp caged a white mule and a soiled dove forced into service. One night, she arrived with a rope, blanket, and satchel. He had no regrets stepping outside his pen, letting her rig a makeshift bosal. She said, “Let’s hit the road, Jack,” and they left behind what they had known, never to speak of it again.
Fair Game by D. Avery
Live chess, with human pieces; Roman had expected blunders but this, the pawns refusing to move, was beyond the pale.
“We serve no king!”
Except for the short-lived knights, everything was in gridlock, and though the opposition moved cautiously, it was over for the king’s court quite quickly.
Roman clambered down from the platform and stalked onto the chessboard to confront his pawns, only for them to tell him what he had already witnessed— they would not advance, even in their own defense.
Roman watched his white pawns turn and applaud the black queen’s demand.
“Hit the road Jack!”
Hit the Road by Heather Gonzalez
“Hit the road, Jack! And, don’t you come back no more…”
The radio was tuned to the oldies and the windows were down. There was a feel of autumn in the wind. Amber didn’t mind the goosebumps that began to form on her skin. She was happy to be free from the drama she was driving away from. Finally, she could live life on her own terms and make her own rules.
At that moment, Amber felt like she was on the right path. In the next moment, she saw her future change as a body hit her windshield.
She Said No More by Simon Prathap D
Hit the road Jack, She said no more
Hit the road Jack, She is no more
I stumbled down the stairs
I tried to grip all fours
Fell on a fluffy flower
She is beautiful and Clever
Felt that moment will last forever
Love, date, honey was sweet
Something felt that is not right
I thought I was the only Bee
Doubt and Fear screwed me
Found the hidden stash
She is married to Nash
She said no more, It’s a lie!
Hit the road Jack, She said no more
She is no more, NOW! Hide than gun Jack.
Irreplaceable by Rebecca Glaessner
“Hanniah likes lego for fractions,” he said, packing a bag to leave.
“Of course,” she said.
Of all the teachers, he could trust her. She’d take care of the kids.
He knew this.
“And Kione needs to ask lots of questions. Answer them all, please,” he scanned the room for remaining valuables.
Sirens blared in the distance.
“I have to go. Please make sure-“
“Everyone knows it wasn’t you,” she touched his shoulder, “time to hit the road, Jack.”
“Humans,” he smiled, shaking his head.
But their laughter felt hollow.
He left, watching home shrink in his rear-view.
Same Words, Different Thoughts by Sue Spitulnik
It’s interesting how song lyrics can elicit different thoughts in different people.
Thad played the melody to “Hit the Road Jack” on the piano and sang the words as if trying to perfect the phrasing.
Mac remembered being ushered out of his pregnant Vietnamese girlfriend’s house by her unrelenting angry father and said, “Son, the band will NOT be singing that song.”
Michael added, “I don’t care to sing that either. It brings up painful memories.”
Tessa kept her good memory to herself. She had enjoyed a look of shock from her ex when she said it to him.
Hapless Jack by D. Avery
Like a hapless fairy tale Jack he was always certain his luck would change, that things would work out for the better.
But the perfect job always fell through, usually after a heated argument with his boss. Or he’d quit to pursue some entrepreneurial scheme. “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick,” he’d say. But the scheme would fail.
“Next time,” he’d say. And he’d smile that smile and tell Jill no matter what, she was his princess. Once more they’d pack up. “Time to hit the road, Jill.”
Jill sighed. How much longer would she go stumbling after?
Years Later by FloridaBorne
The only heir to the home of her late father, Jack Smith, Becky opened a dust-covered box filled with legal papers protected in plastic bags so old they were crumbling from age.
He’d inherited this house from his father?
What? Pictures of her mother holding her?
“Mom died in childbirth,” Becky muttered. “I was an only child.”
Divorce papers, a year after her birth? A quickly scribbled note said, “I’m hitting the road Jack.”
An unopened letter from Mom twenty years later, with a return address, contained pictures of three children.
Becky planned a road trip of her own.
“Mars for Martians” (prologue?) by Saifun Hassam
“Hit the road, Jack,” Alice yelled as she jumped into a Martian rover
waiting near the Red Queen’s space shuttle.
Jack raced off down into the Schiaparelli Valley and into the dark shadows of Ares canyon.
“Were you able to activate the Queen’s shuttle?”
“Yeah! It’ll take off into space now, into the Asteroid Belt.”
Alice was the best hacker in the Sol System.
Jack grinned. A small victory. Important. He was born a Martian, second generation. Time for Earth to end its grip on Mars.
At the Weir Potato Farm, a Saturn transition shuttle was ready for Alice.
Runner Beans and Sky Dreams by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Jack’s a nimble lad, head in the clouds, quick with a story of why This went unfinished, and That was never started. He’s a good boy, though, quick to cheer the cheerless, and help the weak haul water.
‘Twas just him and his mum, since Da disappeared. Some say Da danced himself into the Tanglewood, chasing gold, hanging onto the coattails of the Green Man himself.
Mum was a practical woman, gave all to raise and feed her boy. She didn’t believe in magic.
When Jack traded Bessie for beans, she broke down, crying.
And then he left, too.
Six-pac Tall Tale #1 by D. Avery
“S’matter Kid? Yer lookin’ lost.”
“Dunno, Pal, got a crossroads kinda feelin’, don’t know which way ta head.”
“Thet’s cuz there ain’t no sech thing as the end a the road, Kid. But sometimes ya gotta look fer signs, git a sense a direction. So slow down, take time fer a story.”
“Alright, Pal. Do tell.”
Was a strong woman, name a Jacquelyn, folks jist called her Jac.”
“An’ she hit the road!”
“Shush Kid. Asides, though Jac was stronger ‘an any a the lumberjacks in camp, she chose non-violence. Gen’le as a butterfly, she never hit nuthin’.”
Six-pac Tall Tale #2 by D. Avery
“Ok, Pal, so Jac lived in a lumber camp?”
Jac was the camp cook, but thet’s only cuz she liked ta cook an’ liked ta keep busy. See, she’d already felled trees, milled the logs an’ crafted fine furniture by the time the other jacks had even begun ta lumber off inta the woods.”
“What kinda furniture’d she make?”
“She always ended up makin’ writin’ desks.”
“Was she a writer?”
“Jist let me tell the tale, Kid.”
“Is this a tall tale, Pal?”
“Well, it’s certainly gonna be longer ‘an most, ‘specially with yer inneruptions an’ questions. Jeez.”
Six-pac Tall Tale #3 by D. Avery
“Jac made beautiful writin’ desks an’ hankered ta set hersef down ta one. The woods was full a poetry an’ the camp was full a characters, but more an’ more she felt them jacks was too much lookin’ over her shoulder. More an’ more she was feelin’ like her stories was down anuther path. So one day she loaded the writin’ desks onta her truck an’—”
“Hit the road!”
“Bet she sells the desks ta make her fortune. Or trades ‘em fer magic beans.”
“She give ‘em all away, ta other folks with stories ta write.”
Six-pac Tall Tale #4 by D. Avery
“Jac set off beyond skidder trails an’ loggin’ roads, headed down the biggest widest road she ever seen.”
“Jac hit the road!”
“No, Kid, told ya, she wouldn’t do thet. But oh, how Jac marveled at thet road…
Thet road was like a trail a ink, ableedin’ from her past an’ aleadin’ ta her future. She didn’t hit the road, but she did pick it up an twirl it like a lasso. She caught stars an’ stories with thet lasso. Thet road had loops an’ swoops thet made it hard ta see ‘roun the bend, but she kept on.”
Six-pac Tall Tale #5 by D. Avery
“That sounds skeery Pal, not bein’ able ta see ‘roun the bend.”
“Kid, would ya really wanna be seein’ straight ahead all the time?
Jac kep’ on. At ev’ry turn she met good folks. Late nights, unner the stars, she’d set at one a the desks she’d made. Her adventures an’ ‘magination come t’gether inta constellations on the page. She was stronger ‘an ever. Each story she wrote gave her power an’ strength, more ‘an she ever thought possible.”
“What was Jac’s greatest strength, Pal?”
“Reckon thet no matter what, Jac kep’ on keepin’ on.”
“Down that road.”
Six-pac Tall Tale #6 by D. Avery
“Pal, ya said roads ain’t got no end. Does this story have an end?”
Jac coulda stayed on in the camp where she started, or even circled back ta it. On the road she saw plenny a folks in houses, some fine an’ some not so fine, places where them folks’d decided ta stay put. She saw plenny a folks with no house an’ plenny who would never stay put, no matter.
Jac knew thet road could lead back’ard or for’ard; could be knotted, looped, or pulled straight; but she kep’ it as a lasso fer her star.”