PWTP4-9

Ben

I glanced sideways, wanting to see what she was doing without being caught. Her eyes were closed and stray strands of sun-kissed, coffee-colored hair brushed across her face, catching at her lips and nose. She idly swept a finger across her brow and neatly tucked them behind her ear. The absent-minded gesture brought a gentle buzzing to my ears and made me tingle with affection.

She was leaning back against the well-worn upholstery, her head tilted back and her forearm resting on the door, hand swaying out the open window. Her fingers danced slowly in the breeze, like she was playing a viola.

A quick look to the road, then back to her. Her bare feet were on the dash, tapping in unison to a song in her head. (The radio in the Duster hadn’t worked since it was Grandpa’s, three owners ago, but I was so happy to have something to get out of town with that the lack of a radio barely registered.) The unpainted nails contrasting ashen white against her sun-tanned skin. My eyes traced the toned length of her calf from ankle to knee, and then downwards to where her thigh curved and disappeared where it met the car seat and her cut-offs. I lingered a moment at that spot, imagining it was my fingertips tracing the contour rather than my eyes.

A giggle escaped her and I knew I’d been caught staring. My eyes snapped forwards and I jerked on the wheel too hard, the car fish-tailing slightly and kicking gravel into the ditch. I could feel my face flush with embarrassment, but she just giggled again, shrugged herself lower and leaned the seat back. The soft hollow above her necklace demanded my attention and I closely considered the neckline of her t-shirt, the collar stretched comfortable by years of washes and wear. I could see – or imagined I could – the swell of her breast cresting to a delicate point, the faded white cotton outlining what my now feverish mind insisted were the most perfect nipples the Good Lord had ever created.

The sudden noise and vibration in the car as the wheels rumbled over a stretch of wash board was an injustice. My gaze was diverted… briefly, momentarily, but when I looked back at the seat, I knew she’d be gone.

It’s okay man. First the car, then the girl.

DG – She had to be imaginary, it’s really the only way this works.  Nicely done, the description fits perfectly with this particular brand of daydream.  GOLD

DK: Good stuff.  The descriptions and the…uh, imagery really draw the reader into this character’s head, creating the same effect as he experiences in the story.  GOLD

Zack

He walked down the gravel road and looked over his farm one last time. Times were tough, and they’d lost everything. The house, the yard. The cattle, the tractors. Those bastards at the bank took it all from him. He’d worked on this farm his whole life. When his dad couldn’t run the farm anymore he was the one left in charge.

His father had survived the depression and grown his tiny farm into a mini empire. Millions of dollars, thousands of acres of land, hundreds of heads of cattle. He’d even diversified a bit into horses, the racing type. In his old age, his brain started to fail him. He needed help, and called upon his prodigal son.

For a number of years after he took over, everything was fine. Those were the fat years. He drove a new truck every year. He expanded the number of horses they owned. Life was good. He cut his siblings in on a little bit of the prosperity, because it was the right thing to do.

The old man was brought back to life by the doctors, despite death attempting to lead him to the next world, cold hand in cold hand. There was important business to be done. His son needed loan papers signed. The old man lived a few more years before death came calling again, this time he did cross over.

Now that the old man was gone, it was his show completely. He let the siblings know how rich they were going to be. Farming wasn’t going to be their savior, no. It would be horses. He’d have a horse win the Kentucky Derby. The horsemen took him as a rube, but he knew he was smarter than that. He was the prodigal son.

The lean years did finally come. He never won the roses. The banks came calling to collect on the loans to pay back the loans to pay back the loans to pay back the loans to pay for those horses. For those cars. For that luxury. It wasn’t his fault. It never was. He was the prodigal son.

He left the farm in a rusted out Buick Regal. He lived in his daughter’s basement now. He had nothing lef. His family hated him. What did he do to deserve this?

DG – the loans to pay back the loans to pay back the loans… bit was perfect.  That has to be how it feels to be under that mountain of debt with no way out.  Nice job of capturing that desperation and what seems to be a lack of understanding of how it came about.  SILVER

DK: I like the idea.  It’s probably a little big for this space, as this bounces from instance to instance without much of a character throughline, other than the prodigal son point, but it’s got some interesting potential.

Christina

From the moment I first noticed James Campbell’s ocean blue eyes, I knew he wasn’t meant to live in Iowa.

We didn’t cross paths much outside of school; he lived in town and Mother always needed my help on the farm. But one fine August day the breakfast dishes were done, the laundry was out on the line, and the younger kids were all occupied. Mother said I could have the day to myself—whatever I wanted so long as I didn’t need the car.

It took me all of two minutes to pack a couple sandwiches and grab my fishing gear. I’d been practicing with my new fly rod out in the backyard and it was high time I put it to use in the water.

I struck out across the fields toward the creek along the edge of the Jeffersons’ farm. James was already there when I arrived.

“Hey,” he said, barely looking my way.

“Hey,” I said, busying myself with tying on a caddis nymph. “Getting any hits?”

“A few.”

“Any keepers?”

“Not looking for keepers.”

“Huh,” I said. “I’m always looking for keepers.”

We were silent a while after that.

I wasn’t having much luck, so I took a break and pulled out a sandwich.

“You bring lunch?” I called over.

“Nope.”

“You want some of mine?”

“Sure do.”

He perched on a boulder next to me and I handed over the other sandwich.

“Good food,” he said, his mouth full of bread and ham.

He leaned back and looked out over the creek, and the silence felt comfortable between us. The day was plenty warm, and a lazy sort of feeling crept through me. I thought I could spend all afternoon sitting there next to him.

We went back to fishing after a while. He caught a couple suckers and tossed ’em back. I caught a rainbow trout I could take back for dinner. Eventually he went back to his car and I headed home.

Later I wondered what would have happened if I’d tried to kiss him, sitting next to me on that rock. I don’t think he would have minded.

His family moved away to California a few months later. The next year word got around that he’d been killed in some kind of a freak automobile accident. Every so often I still wonder what might have become of him and his ocean blue eyes.

DG – The tone here works, even if there is so little action.  I like this story, and the length is perfect for it, which is a really hard thing to do.  GOLD

DK: The character work here fits well with the setting, and the dialogue has a nice, easy feel.  The way James ends seems almost unnecessary to most of the story itself, but it’s not a big detriment. BRONZE

Jonathon

“So how far do you go, anyway?” said the fence to the road. “I can see that you go to the top of the hill over there, but seems like you couldn’t go much further. I don’t see many people travel this way.”

The road replied, “Oh, my friend, I go over the hill and much further than that. I go around the bend and down the way, as far as any eye can see. I may be the longest road there is. I go to the end of the world.”

There was the distant sound of the wind, which sounded surprisingly like a chuckle from afar. The fence and the road looked around, but saw no one.

“So what do you guard, anyway?” said the road to the fence. “I see you stand there, but the pasture seems bare. Do you protect much of importance? How can you keep them in? You seem too thin to me.”

The fence replied, “Oh, good sir, my wood is the finest staves, and my mesh is the finest of steel. The farmer’s cows cannot escape, even were they to try, and my posts are dug six feet into the ground. I cannot be moved. I shall stand until the world ends.”

The distant wind and chuckle again. The road and fence looked around but saw no one.

High above, the asteroid approached at twenty-thousand miles per hour. “I shall,” he chuckled to himself, “make the boasts of those two true in fifteen minutes time.”

DG – Who’s up for a game of Road/Fence/Asteroid?  I like the different perspective, and the incredibly sharp hearing of the asteroid (which is hearing a road and a fence from at least 5,000 miles away).  BRONZE

DK: Okay, you really got me with that ending.  I was enjoying the tone of this anyway, and that asteroid fit perfectly with that tone for me as it turned out.  GOLD

Erik

Wayne took off his gloves, wiped his brow with a sweaty forearm, and arched his back, stretching in the afternoon sun.  The skies were clear and a steady, easy breeze made it quite comfortable.

He leaned against the fence and gazed athwart the pasture on the east side of his property.  Rain was supposed to be moving in overnight, and he supposed it would do good by both his corn and cows.  Staring blankly across the land lost in his thoughts, he didn’t notice his wife join him by his side.

She watched the wheels turn in his head with amused half smile that blossomed into a beautiful, toothy grin when the fog finally cleared from her husband’s eyes.  He chuckled sheepishly, put his arm around her shoulder drawing her close, and kissed her on the temple.  She was wearing the simple, short, periwinkle summer dress with the navy blue stitching that he loved.

“Keepin’ busy, Pa?” she asked.

“Sure am, sug,” he replied, absentmindedly rubbing her back.  They stood there for several moments in contented silence.  His hand reached the small of her back, lingered for moment caressing in a circle, and eventually migrated a little lower.

Wayne’s hand stopped momentarily.  Some subtle further investigation confirmed that Lynda didn’t seem to have anything on underneath the simple summer dress that he loved so much.  He found two devilishly lit eyes looking back into his.  The closer inspection had not been lost on her.

“You know,” she said, “we’ve still got a few hours before the kids come home.”

He amiably nodded his head.  “Reckon we do.”

She removed his hand from her backside, replaced it with her own, and leisurely led him down the dirt path towards the shed.

Wayne removed the large padlock from the door, placed it on the bumper of the blue compact car with the BYU sticker parked next to the shed, and led her inside.

The young couple was bounded, naked, dripping with sweat, and wide-eyed with terror.  The right side of the boy’s ribs had a large welt where Lynda had applied the cattle prod after he’d exited the car to help the farmer with the stalled tractor in the middle of the road.  Wayne closed the door firmly behind them.

Any sound which escaped the insulated shed was washed under a murmuring ocean of swaying tree branches on this beautiful, idyllic day.

DG – I’m sorry, I just didn’t go with you here.  The turn was intentionally jarring, but perhaps too much so, there just wasn’t even a small hint that the farmer and his wife were evil.

DK: Oh you guys and your dark, dark twists.  This really is one where I almost wish it didn’t turn that way cause I was enjoying the writing plenty enough.  Almost.  BRONZE

Melissa

“They found Sadie.”

Drew’s grip tightened on his phone.  Of all the things he’d thought Mom was calling about today, he hadn’t thought it was this.

I cleaned her room again and nearly broke her favorite music box!  Weekly phone calls for 25 years, and they usually had some tidbit like that.

Did you hear your sister’s book is a New York Times bestseller?  He’d read about Melinda’s book hitting top.  The surviving daughter with her heart-rending tale of how a “missing child creates a missing family”.  He’d expected that phone call.

Not this.

“Drew, did you hear me?”

His throat felt dry.  “Where’d they find her?”

“In the forest by the old cow pasture.”

Of course.  The old cow pasture, where he and Sadie had spent the days upon days before she went missing.  He closed his eyes, saw her running through that fields, rolling down the gentle hills, daring him to go into that forest that loomed like a dark sentry.  A brazen 7 year old to his quieter 9.  She’d balance on that fence lining Farm Road F, laughing even though she knew she’d fall.  Her record had been 8 feet before hitting the ground.  Sprained her ankle twice doing that.  That last day he ever saw her, she made 6 feet and fell to the street, hit her head on a stone, bled more than she’d ever bled.  She didn’t cry, though.  She never cried.

“Drew, you okay?”

“No.”

Her biggest dream had been to stride into that forest like some hero from a fairy tale, and so they went in there that last day, her head still bleeding from that fall.  They’d dug a hole, deeper and deeper, to build a fort, and she got dizzy, sat down, vomited.  When she laid down, he took off running.

The rain had poured, come down like nothing he’d ever seen, and when he came back with dad, she was gone.

“What part of the forest did they find her in?” he asked.

“A few hundred yards in, under a tree.”

“We searched there.”

“She was in a hole.  She might’ve been buried in the mud that night. Or someone put her there.”

“It was an accident, Mom.”

She sighed.  “I don’t know if that’d be worse than murder or not.”

Definitely worse.

DG – The remembered calls from Mom were perhaps the best part here, they really hit that note that carried this whole story forward.  A little misdirection as to why the narrator feels the way he does worked.  GOLD

DK: Worse, indeed, but in this case I think it makes a better story.  The memories intercut with the present work well together to bring that sentiment home.  SILVER

Joe

We’re lost, and the desperation is coming to a head.  The sign said that there would be a Casey’s here, but alas, it has eluded us.  We look for some place relatively secluded.   We drive on knowing that with every tenth mile we get closer to the coveted seclusion we desire, but we risk running out of time.

Finally, I spot the perfect place.  Down a dirt road are a grove of trees that are perfect for our needs.  I drive down the path and pull into just behind the trees.  There’s no one around.  Excellent.

I open the side door to our Grand Caravan, and Madison, our three-year-old rushes out and starts to pull her pants down.  Rebecca, my wife is hot on her heels, going to “assist” our daughter in the first ever outdoor emergency potty situation.  Really though, it’s an act.  Rebecca has to go just as badly.  Thus the need for seclusion.

While the girls take care of business, I survey the surrounding landscape.  The ground is still soggy from the previous day’s storm.  I circumnavigate the van and discover that we may have just landed ourselves into a bit of a pickle.  The rear-driver’s side tire is about a half-inch into the mud, and sinking.

The girls come back to the van, and I find out that Madison didn’t quite make it.  Rebecca goes to the back of the van to find an extra outfit to put her in.  While back there, her foot finds the mud.  She lets out a loud curse.  I tell Madison to not repeat that.

I change Madison’s clothes while my wife finds a stick to pick off the mud off her New Balance’s.  We get back into the van and prepare to head back out on the road.  I shift into reverse, lay on the accelerator, and my fears about the mud come true.  We’re stuck.

We sit and ponder for five minutes how to get out of this predicament.  Rather than use the dozens of trees and their limbs as our resources, we instead pull out an old curtain rod that was still in the van from the big move.  Rebecca jams it under the tire, and the leverage is enough to lodge us free.

Back on the road, we sit exhausted and tired and frustrated.  I lazily turn to my wife and say, “Worst.  Idea.  Ever.”

DG – Hmmm.  The situation just didn’t quite get absurd enough or unfortunate enough to really stick with me.

DK: That could be almost sneakily meta.  Maybe I’m reading into it way too much.  Either way, I don’t think it really is the worst ever – it’s well amusing, but something about the detail keeps it from totally getting into full gear.

Margaret

She pulled away from the other girls.  She was special now, and they weren’t.   She felt her baby move inside of her womb, deep fluttering and bubbling.  Like gas, only more solid.  Less fleeting.

She belched loudly.

Well, maybe that was gas after all.  She snorted softly at her bad joke, and wandered a little farther from the girls standing idly near the fence.

She wanted to find a gap in the fence without their gossiping eyes on her.   If they knew what she was up to, they would kick up such a racket, such a cloud of road dust, that he would come to investigate.

At the thought of him, a cool shiver crossed her shoulder blades, and traveled into her ears, making her head shake involuntarily.  The feeling was so strong, so real, that she quickly twisted her head and looked behind her.   There was no sign of him, or the horrifying wagon he used to haul pregnant girls away.

Relieved, she turned toward the fence and started searching.

She could afford to be thorough.   They would be left here all day long, with nothing to do but lie in the shade or stand along the fence, staring longingly at passersby until they got close, and then turning away disdainfully, as if they were superior.  Foolish girls.  No one noticed their subtle flirtations.

She walked slowly toward the large tree that hung over the fence line.  The fence was well-kept, solid.   But like all things man-made, it could be unmade.  She eyed the dark shadows and saw a small breach in the wire where a branch had pushed through.   A thrill rippled through her, and she moved with as much haste as her swollen belly would allow.  Dropping low, she forced her head and shoulders into the gap.

And got stuck.  She had waited too long!  She no longer could fit with this baby pressing her outward, making her huge.  She tried to pull her head back, but she could not move, and the broken bits of wood and wire scratched at her soft neck.

She started weeping; a great, low moan escaped her lips.

At once the other girls turned their heads, and they raised their voices in a howling, deafening alarm.

Darryl looked out the window at the noise.  “Dammit, Dad.  Get the wagon.  Daisy’s trying to find a place to birth that calf again.”

DG – Heh.  The internal monologue is well done as it works both ways.  The “its an animal!” twist has never been my favorite thing, but this pulls it off well.  SILVER

DK: Hah.  I liked that a lot.  The character work is really thorough in building up sympathy and identification with the protagonist’s situation, and the reveal at the end fits perfectly.  GOLD

Will

Bryan squinted and gazed off to the horizon.

“We’ll use those dried up potato flake things for fake snow,” Vince explained.

“Why can’t we just shoot it in New Hampshire? How the hell can it possibly be cheaper and more logical to fake it when we’re shooting so far in advance of airing?”

“You know the answer,” Vince responded sarcastically. “After all, this isn’t ‘Season Six’ because that would require those jackbags to give the entire crew a raise.”

Bryan paused. “Fuck it, I’ll just direct the opener as usual.”

“Bry, we’re going to shoot this one first,” he was told. “After all, we’ll be shaving your head after this and the finale.”

“I’m sorry,” Bryan began. “Do you have several Emmys, or do I?”

“We both do, dickhead.”

“But it’s a fun question to ask Anna, right?”

“Of course.”

“Still, I’m not breaking routine. Give me the first episode. Someone else can find a place to fake rural New Hampshire.”

DG – If there’s a bigger joke here, I’m missing it.  I feel like I am.  Sorry.

DK: Took me a second, I’m sad to say, but that was pretty funny once I got it.  BRONZE

Pete

Wayne kicked at a loose pebble as he leaned against the fencepost. He checked his watch again – the fifth time he’d done so in the last twenty minutes.

Hearing the crunch of footsteps on the gravel road, he looked up to find a man in a suit sauntering towards him.

“Expecting someone else?” the man said before flashing a toothy grin.

“Ye-yeah,” Wayne said, hesitating a bit before continuing, “a friend of mine told me to meet him here at noon.”

“Your friend is late!”

“Yeah, I suppose he is.”

‘Late’ was an understatement, it was nearly six o’clock now. The fading sun teamed with stately pine trees to cast long shadows across the road. Wayne wasn’t even sure why Caleb had picked this spot, anyway. It wasn’t near any of their usual hangouts, and Wayne wasn’t even sure that he wasn’t trespassing where he was waiting.

“What does your friend do?” the man asked, leaning up against the fence near to where Wayne was standing.

“He’s… he’s a doctor,” Wayne stammered “Do I know you?”

“You certainly do!” the man laughed, “you’ve known me since forever!”

“What does that mean…” Wayne began, but the dapper man cut him off.

“In fact, I’m who you’ve been waiting for all this time!”

Wayne sneaked a bit to his left, shying away from the irritating fellow. “That’s obviously not true.”

“Of course it is! You’ve been waiting for me to come and tell you that you’ve actually been waiting for yourself! Your friend was you all along!”

“Whaaaaaaat” Caleb said, drawing out the word in bizarre wonderment as he looked down to find himself dressed in a doctor’s lab coat.

“What the hell? Who are y…” Caleb began, only to find that his intrusive companion had transformed into a dove, flying away and softly cooing “Now you understand…”

“That has literally never been less true.” Caleb muttered before turning and walking down the road toward the setting sun.

DG – I wouldn’t go so far as to say I exactly understand this, but I like the engineered obscurity here.  We know we’re not getting the whole story, and the author knows that they’re not telling it to us.  BRONZE

DK: This is so weird that…I’m not sure what to do with it.  That’s probably your intent though, isn’t it?

Annette

“You have to help me.” I said as I slammed into my doctor’s office and slumped in his chair. He looked up at me over his bifocals and frowned disapprovingly. “I know,” I apologized, “I don’t have an appointment, but this is an emergency!”

He sighed and put down the medical journal, chart, or whatever dull yet informative thing he was reading when I came in. “What seems to be the problem?”

I stood up and paced around his small office. “I can’t do it! I just can’t come up with a single thing that works!” I slammed the photograph down on his desk. “Just look at it,” I dared him. “I can’t make anything out of this.”

He picked up the photograph and studied it closely. “Why, it’s beautiful!” He exclaimed. “Reminds me of when I was a boy and went out to my grandpa’s farm to spend the summer. Lots of lovely stories come to mind. What’s wrong with you?”

“That’s what I am saying,” I whined. “You’d think I could do something like that. But I can’t. I just . . . can’t.” I sat back down and flopped my head down on his desk. “I tried putting a little girl on a horse in it and she ended up being chased by a pedophile.”

“Wha?” My doctor began as I whipped my head up again and interrupted him. “Rabid cows came next, but that turned out as a ridiculous as it sounds.” I started softly thumping my head against the top of his mahogany desk. “You just cannot drop a maniacal stranger or abusive spouse in the middle of all that rural innocence.” I straightened again and looked him in the eye in disgust. “Next thing you know, I had dismembered body parts strewn all the way up that road! What kind of person does that?”

My doctor sighed and removed his glasses, shutting his eyes and rubbing the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. After a moment, he opened his eyes and looked at me soberly. I felt the flutter of panic begin deep in my gut.

“I think we both know what’s wrong with you,” he said softly.

“No.” I whispered in denial, wildly shaking my head. “No, please don’t say it.” Ipleaded.

“Yes.” He confirmed. “You’ve become lactose tolerant and now you have a bad case of the bucolics.”

DG – So wonderfully meta.  I like this more than I probably should.  BRONZE

DK: Congratulations, you win the “meta that DK gets a kick out of” award for this week.  And maybe this season.  SILVER

Bret

I stand by the fence, looking down the road.

Ain’t seen a car for a week.  Been longer than that since the electricity went out or the phones worked.

I know I need to go to town and talk to someone to get them to fix my stuff, but I’m hesitating.  I just know something ain’t right, but I feel like as long as I stay here, it’ll be okay.

Still, I stare down the road for a few more minutes before turning away.  I’ve got plenty of supplies for now.  I can wait and see if someone comes by in the next couple of days.

I realized last night that I can’t hear the hum of the pulp mill.  I’ve always heard it in the background, since I was little.   I walk up the hill to the north and look over the trees.  There are no lights anywhere.

I don’t hear any birds.

I got up and walked the fence in the early morning dew.  There’s a fog bank growing around the other side of the creek, swirling and damp.  I’ve never seen fog move up a hill before.  I walk faster, cresting the hill and welcoming the weak rays of sunlight that greet me.

The frogs that haunt the creek are silent as the fog’s tendrils creep over the water.

I look down the road by the fence.

I hear footsteps behind me, the clop-clop-clop of a pair of shod horses.  I sold my horses years ago, when I figured I couldn’t take another spill without being crippled.

I’m not surprised when I turn around and see my brother.

He’s been thrown more than I have, but he never quit riding.  His left leg sticks out awkwardly, his boot barely trapped in the stirrup.

“Ready, Benji?” he drawls, a thin trickle of gray smoke from his slender cigar crawling up past his knobby nose.  “Brought you a pony.”

“Where we gonna go, Bill?” I hate that my old-man voice wavers, but Bill don’t notice or care.

“Down the road, Benji,” He clucks to his mount and starts it down the gravel as I mount up.  “I been down it before.  I’ll show you the way.”

There’s a couple stars peeking through the midnight blue of the sky as we ride together down the road.

I hear a lone coyote howling mournfully, way off to the south.

DG – I like this, its a subtle twist that Benji is moving on and not left behind. Maybe wasn’t even intended to be a twist, but I read it that way and I liked it.  SILVER

DK: I really like the consistency of the tone and the atmosphere here.  This creates a feel in the reader for the character and the situation that meshes well with the feeling of the image, and it carries that through well.  SILVER

Brian

Jackson opened the trunk of his ‘88 Buick and dropped the Browning 725 inside.  The shotgun bounced against a twelve-pack of Budweiser before settling.  He then  hopped into the driver’s seat and fired up the engine.  Bill’s farm was thirty miles east, a short journey by rural Iowan standards.

As he sped down the road, sunlight glinted off the cross that hung from the rear-view mirror.  Jackson squinted.  It had been a gift from his wife, Maria, for his fiftieth birthday.  It seemed like so long ago.  Maria had gotten her diagnosis shortly after, and the ensuing battle against the cancer had consumed their lives.

Jackson glanced at the passenger seat.  There was a small pile of letters, all from St. Sebastian’s Memorial hospital.

The Buick shook as a truck passed, its load covered with a tarp emblazoned with the Monsanto logo.  A shipment of Roundup, no doubt.  In the rear-view mirror, Jackson could see the tarp had come loose.  He wondered if any seeds had shook free from their bags.

That’s how it had started.  Monsanto had found their corn growing in Bill’s fields and had immediately sued.  It was insane, but most people wouldn’t dare fight back.  Bill wasn’t like most people.  He had spent the last thirty-years carefully breeding his corn, and he was not about to let all that get destroyed because some truckers couldn’t tie their tarps correctly.

Bill’s counter-suit had steamrolled into a major class-action lawsuit.  And it was when that lawsuit seemed on the brink of success that the Monsanto Man showed up, dressed in denim and plaid.  Maybe the man thought that would make Jackson more open to what he had to say.  Not that it mattered much, because it was the money that would be doing all the talking.  It was a simple proposition, and Jackson liked simple.

Jackson turned into the lane in front Bill’s house, drove a short way down the dirt road and then parked.  He grabbed the small cross and held it tightly against his chest.

Maria had died late last night.  She had been too weak to say any last words.

Opening the trunk, Jackson grabbed the beer and walked up to Bill’s house.  Jackson had decided to join the lawsuit, and there was a lot to talk about.

And if the Mansanto Man showed up?  Well, he had brought something for him, too.

DG – It’s a straightforward story that’s told well.  That seems to fit the Jackson character.  I did have a bit of trouble keeping Jackson and Bill separate in my mind, but it builds to a pretty good ending.  BRONZE

DK: Incorporating a Monsanto lawsuit into a story and making it interesting and emotionally engaging is a real unique, nice feat (although I might be alone or biased in finding that subject matter interesting to begin with). SILVER

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Kelly joins the ranks of non-submitters, and there is some noticeable fatigue from some of those who did submit.  We’ll scale back from 2 per week for a while and see if that rejuvenates some people.

The only drawback might be the danger to Ben’s momentum.  He picked up the only double gold this week and did so with his story right at the top of the list.  Not an easy thing to do.

Spreadsheet.

Image and next challenge to come.  I’m exhausted and I’m going to bed.

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