Tuesday Writing Prompt
For a town with only one newspaper and a newspaper that averaged only 8 pages, it was an unusually slow week for news. Oh there were all the usual pieces about local politics (the mayor was running for an unprecedented 6th term) and petty crime (two garden sheds were broken into last week). Obituaries took up a full page, a sign that the town was literally dying a slow death as not enough children were being born to replace the rapidly aging population. Since school was out there weren’t any high school sports to cover. Last week they had run a big spread on this year’s graduating class but now the newspaper’s two reporters, a husband and wife team, were struggling to find an item for the front page.
Then the phone rang…
…Continue the story in the comment section
And since it was June’s lunch break, Daniels answered the phone. “Weekly Bellyfull, all the news a full belly needs.”
“Daniels, is that you?” The voice on the other end of the line shrieked; someone hard-of-hearing, Daniels knew. “Where’s June? June’s supposed to answer the phone.”
“June’s on her lunch break, she’s probably over at the Root Cellar, getting her roots done, and I’ll have to smell it all afternoon. Can I take a message for her. . .”
“No, no, I don’t have a message for June, I wanted to ask her to speak to you.”
“Well, you’ve got my undivided attention, Mrs. . .”
“It’s Ruth Butler, Daniels, over at the library. It’s my day to play docent, in case someone wants to come in and see Fanswell’s paintings. Of course, they never do, not since that nice couple two months back, they even put five dollars in the donation jar. First donation we’ve had all year.”
“Ruth, of course, so good of you to call. What can I do for you?” Daniels says, opening his desk drawer in search of a dart to throw at the bulletin board where the non-news of the week isn’t filling the paper out.
“Well,” Ruth says, “Somebody vandalized the moose out front of the library, I though you might want to come take a picture of something.”
“Somebody vandalized the moose? You mean the wire scuplture? Are you sure that’s a moose?”
“Yes, Fanswell’s last mistress made it, she said she was inspired by the taxidermy that crushed him. A moose as light as air. You should really come in, I’ll give you the tour of his collection.”
“Maybe some other day, Ruth. Today, why don’t you tell me about the vandalism? Is that really a moose?”
“Well, it’s a conceptual moose. And today, it’s got a whole wheel-barrel load of moose scat behind it.”Report
With an edit function, that deacon would magically become a docent. Transmutation before your very eyes!
And this is improvised based on a series of real and unrelated events and places, with only one fiction.Report
Bippity-boppity-boo. Your deacon is now a docent.Report
Bill went to the door, but there was no one there. “Damned kids, ringing doorbells and running. I guess that’s what passes for kicks in this two-bit town.”
Meanwhile, Donna had answered her phone and was jotting down notes. “Are you sure? Can I quote you on that? Great, great, great. If you could come in for …. or I could come to you? If you want me to write a story I can stand behind, face to face is the way to … yes I see that, but I can keep your name out … OK. Look, I need to talk to my editor. Can you call me back in an hour? Good.”
“Bill, you’ll never believe…”
“What was that, a new ringtone?”
“Yes. But, listen…”
“One that sounds like a doorbell.”
“Yeah, it’s kinda cute. But you’ve…”
“Who does that? I mean, is the idea to make everyone else look dumb? Well, it worked. Congratulations.”
“Bill! You need to listen to me! The man that just called, he was a subcontractor on the new City Hall. Hr said that …’
“Yeah, whatever. I don’t know why you married me in the first place if you think I’m so damned stupid. I’m going to go get a drink.”
“Bill! This could put us on the map! He said the foundation is …”
“Substandard, full of junk instead of solid cement, and under any stress at all, the building could come down. Yeah, he called yesterday, and I asked him for more details. The guy’s an idiot. If he’s a contractor, I’m a brain surgeon. Now I’m going to go have a couple of scotches. You and your ringtone have fun.”Report
Jack looked up from his crossword, eyed the phone with distaste, then grudgingly picked up the receiver.
“Slowburg Weekly,” he grunted, his eyes drifting back to that troublesome sixteen across, a twelve letter word meaning hesitant.
“What?” he asked sharply, his attention drawn back to the caller at the other end of the line.
“Well, why the hell’d he have to go Nd do that?”
“Oh, jiminy… Well, I don’t know. Is there a police report?”
“No, I didn’t expect so. I don’t know, Fred. Without a police report it’s too much like gossip…. No, I know he did, and I know it’s not the first time, but it ain’t news because everyone will know it within the hour, and I don’t need the damned trouble.”
“Fred, I keep telling you there ain’t no lid to blow off this town. Lids keep in secrets and a secret in this town lives about as long as a snowflake in July. … Yeah, yeah, bye now, Fred. Yes, yes, the missus’ll be there for bingo Thursday.”
He put the phone down and blew out his cheeks, staring into the middle distance. “Margie?” he called.
“Yes, dear, who was that?”
“It was Fred. It’s happened again.”
“Sheriff Brodie and Mrs. Breckenridge?”
“In the Smith’s pool again?”
“No, this time it was at the Donnelly’s.”
Margie sighed. “Well, dear, you know how Presbyterians are. Now hurry up or we’ll be late for mass.”Report
…Fracking. Canampetroco’s scouts had confirmed it and the company had just made its announcement to to stockholders. Line one was the PR rep from Canampetroco, placing an order for a full-page ad announcing 5,000 new jobs for locals and a hiring fair to be held at Memorial Park in one week.
Kevin was stunned, but he saw one two light up before he could finish taking the order. It turned out to be an analyst from Morgan Stanley, on Wall Street. As soon as he figured that out, line one lit up again. Then line three, line forum line five, line six… That was every line they had. His computer began to make ding noises as the emails came in.
There was some sort of exclamation in the street, someone whooping for joy. Kevin was too busy, though, waving at Jolene to start answering the other phone lines while the rest of the crew was down at Hansen’s for lunch. Kevin knew his first job was to get the story out, but he kept on thinking about those back eighty acres his father had left him, the ones too rocky for farming, that he’d been leasing out for a hundred dollars a year to Old Man Vernon to graze his goats. Those same rocky hills that would let no wheat grow might have millions of gallons of natural gas underneath…
And right next door, Doris Gallatin saw the flash on her phone with the same news, and offers of help from The Deep Green Alliance started to pour in. Eastern Montana won’t be like North Dakota, she vowed. We’re going to keep our groundwater, come hell or high water, and Doris would see to that… No matter what.Report
I’m confused. Wasn’t the story supposed to keep going, comment by comment? sort of a chain-story idea?Report
I have intended for everyone to resond with their own story riffing off the OP and that’s why I try to write them very open-ended. I like your idea though and maybe we could try to put something like that together as a one-off.Report
“Eric will be here tomorrow. You know what that will do to Carol.” the sultry, only mildly gossipy voice on the other side of the phone said.
“Unfortunately. Any chance of intervention?” Owen responded resignedly. As Penny looked up from her 386, Owen pointedly rolled his eyes — the silent signals that couples learn… in the business.
“From whom? You know Tara — she’s just glittering at the very thought! And James and that lot would rather wrassle cows than deal with her.”
Owen responds with the faintest trace of a grin. “Eric’s not looking for company. Headed out here for peace and quiet he said.”
Nancy responds, “Well, he’ll learn when he gets here, I suppose. They always do.”Report