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Mini Sledgehammer: April 2011

Today’s a day to cut to the chase, so here are your prompts:

Character: Maintenance worker
Action: Getting a haircut
Setting: An RV park
Prop: A book review

The judges debated for quite a while on the winner this month, and they finally settled on Wendy Grant’s story, “Paul Bunyan’s Leather Jacket.” Congratulations, Wendy!

***

Paul Bunyan’s Leather Jacket

by Wendy Grant

MTV used to have a show called “Road Rules.” A handful of twenty-somethings traveled around in an RV, stopping occasionally to see a historic site, do something ridiculous like bungee jump from a hot-air balloon, make out with the local townsfolk, call their semi-significant others back home to cry and apologize for said dirty deed, and stab one another in the back. I think they won a Kia and five grand if they survived the odyssey. All of the Road Rulers, as they were called, were young, fit, and impossibly good-looking. It really irritated my buddy Martin.

Martin thought that a bunch of us should travel around in an RV, too—we the not young, the never fit, the potentially fairly good-looking-after-six-martinis. We could go to historic sites, contribute to the community in some way that didn’t involve making out with the local townsfolk, and film it all.

“Film it for what? For who?” asked our friend Jenn.

“The History Channel?” I cracked.

“For fun,” said Martin.

“Instead of ‘Road Rules,’ we can call it ‘Old Fools,’” Jenn said.

Given that we are twice as old as twenty-somethings, we couldn’t just take off for three months like those Road Rulers. We settled on three days in an RV that Martin nicknamed Petunia, and we set off for the Paul Bunyan RV Park. Despite Petunia’s girth, we made it to the RV Park without incident in just under 18 hours.

I was antsy after being the RV for so long—and, frankly, I was probably feeling a bit cocky after decimating Jenn in Uno, 27 games straight. I leaped out of the RV, and I could see it: the enormous statue of Paul Bunyan. Anti-flannel graffiti artists had spray-painted his red and black shirt into a black leather jacket. Our community task would be to remove the graffiti and restore Paul Bunyan’s faux flannel. We’d start tomorrow.

“If I’m going to be on camera, I need a haircut,” Martin said. He barely has any hair, but he’s fastidious about what little he does have.

“That’ll take three minutes,” said Jenn. “Then what are we going to do?”

Three minutes later, Jenn, Martin, Very Quiet Victor, and I set off in search of liquid refreshment. We stopped when we saw the first neon beer sign. The locals sized us up, decided we were harmless, and actively ignored us. The bartender told us it was Ladies’ Night—two-for-one apple martinis—and we started a tab. For the purposes of discounted alcohol, Martin and Very Quiet Victor became honorary ladies.

Three rounds later, which was six drinks each later, thanks to the twofers, we were deeply, deeply drunk.

“Victooorrrrr,” I slurred, “why are you so Very Quiet?”

“I’m a maintenance worker. The equipment never talks to me. I don’t talk to it.”

“Ohhh. Let’s make out.”

Jenn began filming us immediately and commented, “If you had big fake boobs, we could probably sell this show to Bravo.”

Victor and I ignored her, and, according to video evidence, I lost my top.

Martin stared sadly at his drink. “I think I’m going to be too hung over to do charitable service tomorrow.”

Jenn swung the camera his way. “I read a review about that book, Volunteering in the New Millennium. It said that the desire to volunteer is more important than actual action.”

“Really?”

“No. But this was a good idea.”

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. Let’s make out.”

***

Wendy M. Grant is a writer and editor. She’s written innumerable advertisements, newsletters, and brochures, and she co-authored a book on the history of Naval Air Station Miramar. When she’s not writing and editing for the clients of her company, W-inkling, she works on her screenplay, which she plans to sell this year.

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