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Mini Sledgehammer: November Bonus

We had a great time at the November Bonus Mini Sledgehammer at Third Street Books in McMinnville. We were joined by three creative writers and inspired by the book displays and holiday lights. ‘Tis the season!

Congratulations to Theresa Homolac and Daryll Alt, who each took home a prize package. We were impressed by your stories!

Prompts:
Character: a cartoon character
Setting: in a bookstore
Dialogue: “You’re not from around here, are you?”
Prop: umbrella

***

“Untitled”

by Theresa Homolac

“You’re not from around here, are you?”

The voice startles me. I give my umbrella a final shake, splattering water on the mat in front of the doorstep, and look around. Nobody. Must be a radio.  I step inside the bookstore.

The lady at the front register waves at me. I nod in return then walk toward the mystery section. I’m in the mood for crime.

The voice comes again as I thumb through an Agatha Christie classic. “You’re not from around here, are you?”

I flip the book over. Look around. “What’s it to you?” I ask.

The voice laughs. “Got you thinking you’re crazy, don’t I?”

“Hell no,” I say. “Only crazies won’t show their face.” I put the murder mystery down and walk to the children’s section. Glance around. Still nobody.

“So what’s your game?” I ask.

“No game,” the voice says. “Just that you’re not from around here, are you?”

I glance at the lady at the front desk. She’s shuffling a sales ledger. I grab a Charlie Brown kid’s book. Thrust it inside my coat.

“Gotta be so rough?” the voice says.

I don’t reply. Instead, shift the umbrella to my right hand, nod at the lady at the front register, and walk back out into the rain.

“You definitely aren’t from around here,” says the voice.

I smile. “Got that part right,” I say.

© 2010 Theresa Homolac

***

“The Morning After the Past Before”

by Daryll Alt

I’ve traveled through time and I’ve traveled through space.  I’ve memories laden with faces, and places, and feelings.  Childhood fled far too fast.  Loves and lovers have been both too few and too often lost.

In moments like these, in times like now, I am reminded of the philosopher, Bugs Bunny, who said, “What’s up, Doc?”  Indeed.

So often it was me in the driver’s seat.  Master of my own destiny.  Steering my life through, over, and around the bystanders I managed to notice.

Seemed to me I was always headed somewhere else.

“You’re not from around here.”  Was a common refrain.

The past.  Always running from it.  The future.  Always running to it.  It seemed like a simple thing.  I figured I wanted to get laid.  I figured she was lonely.  It happened before.

Play a few songs on an old beat up guitar in a coffee house, on a sidewalk, in a park, at a bookstore.  Lonely shows up everywhere.  I was thinking I knew it.  It sure as hell knew me, really, really well.

It caught me off guard.  It put me in the here.  It made me face now.  She was there.  Then she wasn’t.

Closing time was coming quick.  The owner of tonight’s venue was wrapping up and I glanced at my hat.  Six bucks.  Damn!  I realized it wasn’t so much about getting laid as it was about a shower and a soft bed.

So much for the here and now.  Put Old Guitar back in it’s case and, like the song says, “Hit the road.”  Of course it was raining.

I picked up my backpack and slung it over a shoulder.  Old Guitar and me moving on, now.  I looked out the window, and there she was.  Her raincoat was yellow.  So were her shoes.  Her umbrella was black.

I’ve traveled through time and I’ve traveled through space.  This one is something.  Maybe my traveling days are done.

© 2010 Daryll Alt

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