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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.

Mini Sledgehammer: October 2010

We’re back at the Minis after the big event in September, and ready to roll! If you write from home, post a link, and we’ll connect to it on our social networks!

Prompts:
Character: marathon runner
Action: making a cheese plate
Setting: haunted house
Prop: business cards

Congratulations to Wendy Grant, who took home the prizes this month with a great story.

***

Jackson is a runner. He has a sweat band and expensive socks and breathable shirts. But after he ran a marathon, he took it to another level. He started wearing a heart rate monitor to work. He does data entry. He enters some data and announces his resting hear rate.

“I’m a marathoner,” he tells people he meets. He buys a vanilla latte at Starbucks, checks his heart rate monitor, and explains to the bewildered barista that he’s a marathoner.

No one knows what to say to that, except something vaguely complimentary, like, “Wow, good for you,” or something inappropriately self-deprecating like, “Oh, I can’t run at all. I’m such a loser.”

He even got business cards made. They say Jackson Lowery, Marathoner, and his e-mail address: marathonjackson@hotmail.com.

The truth is, Jackson did run in a marathon. But he didn’t run the entire thing. Oh, he wasn’t sidelined by an injury or pushed to the ground by a passing Kenyan. No. He was on his freaking iPhone during the marathon, calling people.

“What are you doing?” they asked as he panted in their ears.

“I’m running a marathon,” he said.

He called me while I was making a cheese plate. It’s really hard to get the brie—you know, the yummy, gooey, cheesy part—out of the crappy wax layer, so I was struggling to hold the phone while I wrestled with the brie, and I accidentally hung up on him. Undaunted, Jackson called me right back.

“Aren’t you going to ask me what I’m doing?” he asked.

“Aren’t you going to ask me what I’m doing” I asked.

There was a long pause: the dawning revelation.

“Oh. Yeah. What are you doing?”

“Getting an exorcism.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. My house is haunted, and now the evil spirits are all up in me. There’s nothing else I can do.”

“An exorcism! I’d really like to see that!” he panted.

“Well, come on over,” I said.

“But I’m running—”

“GOBBLEDY GOBBLEDY GOOK!” I screamed. “Sorry. Evil spirits.”

“That’s so cool! I’ll be right over.”

I returned to the brie.

*          *          *

Jackson was not soothed by the cheese plate.

© 2010 Wendy Grant

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 in 2011.