Rube Goldberg Doesn’t Live Here


© Ted Strutz

“What’s it do, Mikey?”

“Beats me, Lynn.”

The eight-year-old boy and his six-year-old sister stood contemplating the strange series of discs constructed in their Grandpa’s backyard.

“I’ll take a picture and do an image search.” Moments later the boy’s handheld yielded a result. “I think it’s called a Rube Goldberg machine, a really complicated machine that’s supposed to do something really simple.”


“Can’t tell.”

“That?” Grandpa called from the back porch. “Doesn’t do anything. Built it outta scraps ’cause I was bored. Hey. I found a game I used to play with your Dad. Anyone up for Mouse Trap?

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields weekly writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for writing a flash fiction story no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

I was really stuck on this one. If it really were a Rube Goldberg machine, I’d think its purpose could be derived from looking at it, but nothing came up for me. The best I could do was think of the game “Mouse Trap” which I played as a kid.

Yeah, the story’s weak, but it’s all I could think of.

To read other (and probably better) stories based on the prompt go to

74 thoughts on “Rube Goldberg Doesn’t Live Here

  1. Rube was a great cartoonist. I think we was always looking for the least efficient way possible to do things like turn on a light or make toast. You Tube is a wonderful source for these things. I saw one that took up an entire block.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Like Clare, I’m more familiar with Heath Robinson than Rube Goldberg,but the story still works for me. Love the idea of grandad out the back, constructing his weird machines. Lovely


  3. I knew what it was just not that it was called a Rube Goldberg! I love watching those doohickeys… here’s one for those who are curious!

    And this story was great, James. Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

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