Nowhere Near Heaven


© Google Maps – 2008

“Nah, I’ve just smoked heroin up til now, but I got schooled on shootin’ so I figure I’ll be okay.”

“Jilly, you’re only nineteen and you don’t wanna be ruining your life like this. I swear Littleton is killing you.”

“That why you cleared out last year Marv? You were about the only good thing I had goin’ here, ‘specially after Ma died.”

“Your Ma died like you’re gonna die…of an overdose or whatever crap that scumbag dealer cuts product with.”

“You come all this way back here just to lecture me, Marv? I don’t want to hear it so shut your pie hole.”

“Get up off the filthy floor and out of this freezing house. I got me a job and a little place outside Pittsburgh. I love you too much to leave you again. I’m taking you home with me. I’ve saving your life.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use a Google street maps image as the inspiration for creating a wee tale no more than 150 words long. My word count is 146.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Littleton, West Virginia. I looked up Littleton and it’s a depressing place dominated by poverty and heroin addiction. Forget any illusions you may have had about small town America. If Littleton is any indication, they’re not true, at least not all the time.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to

22 thoughts on “Nowhere Near Heaven

    • The things you do for love. I also thought about Paul Simon and Carrie Fisher. I hadn’t realized they’d been married until after her death. The thing that drove them apart was her drug use. She was only nineteen when she played Princess Leia in the original “Star Wars” film so I made my young addict that age, too.


  1. I live in Kentucky, next door to West Virginia, both states part of Appalachia. Both are plagued with the results of the opiod epidemic and heroin/painkiller addiction, including the small town I live outside of. I’ve had a front seat to it all, though my town is better due to the fact it is a university town. It is all beyond sad. The results of joblessness and long-term poverty and a welfare culture. James, an excellent job and wonderful writing as always.


  2. A lot of the responses this week were about drugs. I wonder what that says about us. Where does that stereotype come from, I wonder. Minnesota is seen as a nice place, but we have meth-heads and other nonsense too.


    • The drugs thing, at least for me, comes from a news story to which I included a link in the afterword of my story. It’s a tragic reality of where the story takes place.


      • Right, I saw the note. But I think there is a general stereotype about Appalachia that relates to drugs and poverty and a way of living. I have to admit it was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw the picture, too. But West Virginia doesn’t own the drug demons. I wonder why we think Appalachia is a drug haven but not the midwest. Do the statistics support it ? Great job with the research, by the way. I honestly didn’t think to look up the town.


      • Oh, I’m sure there are a lot of places where drugs are ruining lives and we are generally unaware of it. I only wrote my story as I did because of the news article I found about that specific town.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Aye, but will he allow the saving? An addict has to want to be clean for themselves alone. Otherwise “clean” is just a limited time offer. Great story. Great that someone is at least making the offer, it may be all that it takes.


  4. James said:
    I also thought about Paul Simon and Carrie Fisher. I hadn’t realized they’d been married until after her death. The thing that drove them apart was her drug use. She was only nineteen when she played Princess Leia…
    Google it. Surprised me too.

    Yeah, I was googling while streaming my thoughts into my earlier post (and, as I said, yes/yep). I’d known he had been married before but must’ve forgotten it was to her.

    Here is something I found after my post: https://www.the–fisher-exploitation-tragedy-princess-diarist

    I saw a documentary or report kind of thing about her after her death. I vaguely remember her saying something about the other drugs she took, for depression and maybe to stay off harder stuff, leading to weight issues. Then people would be on her case about her weight. It reminds me of when a brother-in-law was dealing with having been drinking too much. He’d been drinking so much that when he stopped he lost a lot of weight. Here is another reason people shouldn’t make someone else’s weight their business. He was told by someone respected in his life (but not familiar enough to know what was going on) that he should stop losing weight. That loss of weight was easily resolved. (Substance abusers are in precarious places emotionally. And I just don’t see the point anyway on commenting as to another person’s weight if you aren’t the person’s doctor. [I have an exception to that — men who gain weight while their wives are pregnant and never turn back. The person I was married to would eat quickly and then ask for food on my plate. I would get back to my normal weight in a couple months after each h pregnancy, and he would continue in his habits.])

    Carrie seems to have been a tortured soul, but to have done quite a bit of appreciated work… beyond Leia or even acting at all.


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