Ambit Creative
Randy Ingermanson 

Randy Ingermanson has published six novels and received about a dozen awards for his writing. He holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from UC Berkeley and is the entire software department for Vala Sciences, a San Diego biotechnology company. Randy is the inventor of the "Snowflake Method," used by novelists around the world to design their novels. He the publisher of the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, the world's largest electronic magazine on writing fiction. More than 1000 novelists read his daily blog, the Advanced Fiction Writing Blog. Randy's goal is to become Supreme Dictator For Life, and he may have already succeeded. Visit his site at

The Road to Heck by Randy Rooney

aka Randy Ingermanson

"Just think for two seconds—what’s the Road to Heck paved with?"

Sitting in my office thinking about possibly blogging, I saw a shiny new truck pull into my driveway. Instantly, I shut the curtains, turned off the lights, and cut the music on my computer.

I was not—absolutely not—going to let Sam the Plumber know I was home.

Five minutes passed, then ten, while I waited for Sam to pound on my front door.

Nothing happened.

Finally, I crawled into the living room, took cover behind the couch, and peered out the window.

Sam had backed his truck to my compost heap and was busily pitchforking the entire enormous pile into his truck.

A rush of heat filled my head. Sam was stealing my compost. My compost! Not that it’s very good compost. I really ought to turn the pile over every week, but doggone it, that compost is mine, even if it stinks like a dead ferret.

I jammed on my shoes, threw on a jacket, and stormed outside, bellowing, “What are you doing?”

Sam kept pitchforking. When I got to his truck, I noticed that it was crammed with junk. A juice machine. A box of diet books. A treadmill. All of them looked brand-new.

“Sam, what the heck do you think you’re doing?”

Sam stabbed his pitchfork into what remained of my compost heap and scratched his armpit. “’Bout time you got out here. I thought you wasn’t going to help me stimulate the economy.”

“Stimulate the what?” I wondered if Sam was on some sort of medication. On second thought, I realized that Sam was acting no weirder than usual.

Sam grinned at me. “You know how that there new president with the unpronounceable name is talking about stimulating the economy?”

“I’ve heard.”

“Well, I’ve decided to diversify. Plumbing is plenty lucrative, don’t get me wrong.” He looked fondly at my house, which has been the source of so much of his lucre over the past year. “But, hey, there’s just a lot easier ways to make money than fixing busted pipes, know what I mean?”

I glared at Sam. “Such as what? Stealing compost?”

He grinned at me. “You ain’t using it, and I got a use for it, so it ain’t stealing.”

He had a point. The compost heap had been there for a couple of years, getting bigger and bigger, stinkier and stinkier. “What are you going to use it for?”

Sam belched loudly. “Well, ya remember that Bridge to Nowhere thing? Funded by the federal government?”

“What about it?”

“I figure if they’ll pay for a Bridge to Nowhere, they’ll be jumping all over theirselves to buy my brand-spanking-new Road to Heck.”

This was the first time I’d ever heard Sam use the word heck.” Normally, he used language a lot stronger than that. I almost laughed out loud. “Sam, since when do you say ‘heck’?”

He shrugged at me. “New Year’s Resolution. No more bad language. My niece Samantha has been getting after me to clean it up, so . . . that’s what I done. I ain’t said you-know-what since last year.”

“Congratulations. But what the . . . devil does any of this have to do with you stealing my compost heap?”

Sam picked up the pitchfork and started shoveling compost into his truck again. “Here you are the big-shot writer and you can’t even figure it out. You oughta be ashamed of yourself. Just think for two seconds—what’s the Road to Heck paved with?”

I thought for two seconds. “Oh. Right. Good intentions.”

Sam kept shoveling. “You got it, Einstein. Just look in that truck and tell me what you see.”

I looked. The juice machine. The diet books. The treadmill. My compost heap. All of them good intentions. The Ghost of New Years’ Resolutions Past.

“I’m gonna build me a road,” Sam said. “The Road to Heck, paved with all the good intentions in the world. And Big Brother ’Bama, he’s gonna pay me for it. Top dollar.” Sam finished the last of my compost heap and tossed the pitchfork into the truck. It stuck into the treadmill and hung there quivering.

“Well, I’ll just be off to my next stop.” Sam jumped into the cab. “You got anything else for me?”

“No,” I lied.

Sam looked at me for a long minute, then started his truck and raced up the hill toward my house. He swung the truck around and backed it right up to my deck.

I said a word that Sam can’t say anymore and dashed after him.

By the time I reached my deck, Sam was already inside my house. When I got to my office, Sam was rubbing his hands and grinning like a madman.

“Don’t know where to start,” he said. “You ain’t doing much with that blog, but I can’t figger out how to get it on the truck. Where’s yer latest book proposal?”

My eyes swung involuntarily toward the printer.

Sam pounced on the sheaf of papers in the tray and flipped through them. “Hmmm, nice marketing plan you got here—lotta good intentions.”

“I’m going to do them—this time!” I shouted. “Really!”

Sam folded the proposal and shoved it into a grimy pocket. “Let’s just have a look at your filing cabinet.” He yanked open the lowest drawer. A stack of manuscripts and contracts lay there, unfiled.

“I’m going to file those this weekend! Or . . . next weekend for sure.”

“I’ll just bet you are.” Sam blew on his hands, wrapped his huge arms around the filing cabinet, and lifted it completely off the floor. He grunted. “Dang, what’s in here?”

“I need those!”

“Right.” Sam backed toward the door.

I clawed at the filing cabinet. “I’m almost done putting things in order!”

Sam kept moving.

I ran past him into the living room, climbed on the couch, and jumped on top of the filing cabinet.

Sam grinned at me and kept going. Through the back door. Across the deck. Into his truck. He wedged the filing cabinet beside the treadmill and tossed my book proposal into the box with the diet books. “Anything else?”

I was trying to think what to say when Sam’s face twisted into a knot of silent agony. His right hand shot around to his back and he bent over.

“Sam, are you okay?”

Sam fell to his knees. “No, I am %@#$&* not okay,” he said through clenched teeth. “I’ve gone and thrown out my back again, and I promised myself I’d take care of it this year.”

I stood there in silence for a long time. Finally, I said, “I think you promised you wouldn’t say those kinds of words anymore.”

Sam nodded and grimaced. “Look, do me a favor and call my niece to come get me, okay? My cell phone’s in my chest pocket.”

I reached into his pocket and pulled out the filthiest cell phone I have ever seen. It took two minutes to call Samantha, who promised to come right away.

By then, Sam had popped a pain pill and was looking a little less green around the jowls.

“How you doing?” I asked.

“Listen . . . I been thinking.” Sam gave me a twisted little smile. “You want that treadmill? It’s brand-new—only been used twice.”

I thought about that for a minute. “That depends. Can I have my filing cabinet back? If I promise to get those papers filed?”

“I guess so. But you better get it done.” He studied me. “You serious about that marketing plan for your next book?”

I nodded solemnly. “Absolutely. Everything in there. I know what to do. I know how to do it. I know when to do it.”

“Okay, you can have that back, too. And you gonna blog every day?”


Sam grinned at me. “Good, cause I didn’t know how I was gonna get a blog into my truck. It ain’t exactly a corporeal object, know what I mean?”

I knew. I got my dolly and unloaded my treasures from the back of Sam’s truck.

We waited in silence until his niece Samantha arrived. She bullied Sam into the passenger seat, then looked in the back of the truck. Her nose wrinkled. “What is this horrible mess?”

I studied it for a long moment, then shrugged. “I don’t know. Looks like Sam’s starting a compost heap.”

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