Multiply Stuff 3

Dio’s Challenge

Fall is upon us, and let’s face it, people do a lot of goofy things in preparation for winter, and dressing up in costume is not the worst of it. For this challenge, write about a goofy thing done on a yearly basis in the fall. What you write about must be based in fact, the event or activity actually has to exist, Punkin Chunkin, for example. The twist you put on it can be entirely fictional.

I’m not sure how goofy this is, but since I don’t know my present area well enough to determinie the quantitative goofiness of any particular event, I will travel thousands of kilometers east to the small town of Port Elgin and the annual Pumpkin Festival….

Joe drove into the fairgrounds with the back bumper of his ’86 F150 almost dragging on the pavement. The cause of the overload was the immense gourd that occupied the eight foot truck bed.

The guys at the unloading station were suitably impressed and it was rapidly unloaded. It was placed on a wooden skid beside other orange bulbous vegetables. Joe looked critically at his competition and thought that his behemoth pumpkin edged the competition. He walked past the freakishly tall sunflower and odd shaped veggies to pay his fee.

Just as he was leaving the registration tent a brand new Dodge pulled into the unloading area. It was pulling a trailer loaded down with the biggest pumpkin Joe had ever seen. He swore that the forks on the lift-truck bent under the load. Dan McMack jumped out of the truck and swaggered over to the registration tent. He didn’t even glance at the other pumpkins.

Joe wandered off to see the rest of the festival. At least it hadn’t rained this year so he could leave his rubber boots in the truck. The kids were lining up for the haunted house and a crowd gathered at the stage where the local cloggers were sending up great clouds of dust. He loved the competing sounds and smells of the festival. Growing the big pumpkin was something to do,  but he wasn’t as obsessive as some.

Speaking of obsessive, there was Dan walking through the crowd as if his pumpkin had already won. People jumped out of his way and pointed a wide variety of fingers at his back. Dan was successful, but not well liked. Still, his truck was paid for by prize money.

Joe found a booth selling coffee and found himself wishing it was beer. Shaking his head he got in line for the haunted house. It was always good for a laugh.

The big weigh off was Saturday afternoon. All the other lesser vegetables had been weighed, measured or judged as to whether they really did look like Elvis. The crowd gathered to watch the ritual judging of the kings of this festival.

Men in overalls carefully fixed straps around the pumpkins and used the lift truck to move them to the scale. But before they were lowered to the plate the judges poked and prodded over the entire surface of the immense gourds. They needed to be sure that none of the cracks made it all the way to the inside of the pumpkin. That would mean that it was possible the pumpkin was loaded up with water to make it heavier.

The owners of each pumpkin watched in agony as their babies were judged, then weighed. The leader was 1207 pounds, but that wouldn’t stand up to the true behemoths that were to come. Joe figured Dan’s was likely a new world’s record.

Joe’s pumpkin topped the scale at a respectable 1569 pounds, no record, but not too shabby either. Then they hooked up Dan’s.

From the start they had trouble. First, the straps weren’t quite long enough, and Dan made them shift three times before he was sure that the pumpkin wasn’t going to slip out of the sling. The judges checked a couple of particularly deep cracks while Dan was obviously biting his tongue. The consensus was that the cracks didn’t go all the way through the shell, so the pumpkin was OK’d to be moved to the scale.

The weight on the lift truck was so much that it couldn’t move smoothly and the pumpkin began to swing. Dan jumped forward to steady it as the other men jumped back. Joe grabbed Dan’s shirt and hauled him back just as one wheel of the lift dropped into a hole. The pumpkin swung too far and slipped out of the sling. It landed on its side and split open along one of the deep cracks.

Instead of the wash of seeds and goop that Joe expected, a great wave of rotting slime rolled out of the pumpkin and sloshed over Dan’s feet. The smell was horrific and cleared the tent in seconds.

Dan glared at Joe, then stalked off to his truck while the judges scratched his name from the weight board.

Joe’s entry ended up winning. He figured he’d use the money to fix the springs on his truck.

Sumax’s Challenge

Write a Monorhyme poem about school in 250 words or less.

You can choose anything that happens at school, from first day, learning, playground games, fighting, teaching or playground supervisor, et al … but the subject matter should convey the idea of a school setting.

If is it not in Monorhyme and/or exceeds the 250 word limit, then it will not be accepted.

 

Education

They say I need an education,

To learn mutiplication,

And find a justification

for Hamlet’s mortification,

or the Greek’s civilization,

or disease’s eradication

or money’s inflation,

or war’s conflagration,

but they give no explanation,

of the shapely population.

Caghs’ Challenge

Many cultures are fascinated by dragons, and many fiction writers have explored dragon mythology in great depth, presenting dragons as anything from friendly and helpful creatures through to terrifying beasts to be feared. My challenge to you, then, is to write a story of between 250 and 1000 words that explores dragon lore, particularly ‘where did dragons come from?’ (there MUST be a reference to the first dragon/s). This can take the form of a mock-umentary, a fictional ‘history’, or simply a short story about the first dragons. Feel free to take liberties with your presentation of the subject, but stick to the word limit … and have fun!

“Mommy, where do dragons come from?”

“They hatch out of eggs.”

“Like the eggs in our fridge?”

“No, those are chicken eggs.”

“But we don’t have any chickens.”

“No, because we eat the eggs.”

“Let’s leave one and hatch a chicken.”

“Well, there is more to it than that. You need a warm place —

“It could live in the  bathroom.”

“– and a daddy chicken.”

“Oh, so what about dragon eggs. Can we get one of those?”

“No the dragons are really careful with their eggs.”

“And chickens aren’t?”

“Not really”

“So what does a dragon egg look like?”

“They’re a lot bigger than the eggs in our fridge, and they are different colours.”

“Like Easter Eggs?”

“Just like Easter Eggs.”

“So are the baby dragons the same colour as the eggs?”

“I’m not sure. Probably.”

“But dragons weren’t always here.”

“No, they came when the world changed. That’s when people saw the eggs, before they knew they were eggs.”

“How can you not know something is an egg. That’s silly.”

“They didn’t look like any eggs that these people had ever seen before.”

“Then the dragons hatched and burned everyone up.”

“Not everyone, or you wouldn’t be here.”

“So what kind of egg did I come from?”

“I’m busy with dinner. Go ask your father.”

Sumax’s Challenge

You have just won millions in your national lottery.

Without getting into the taken-as-read  lists of donations to family, friends and charities,

write us a story, in no less than 1,000 words, surrounding this lucky break.

 

When Hank won the Super Max Lottery, I knew the world was in trouble. Don’t get me wrong Hank is a great person, and if anybody deserves an extra 250 million (besides me I mean,) it’s him. Look at the way he rescues all those animals and shares his home with them. It isn’t everybody who will let deer wander through their living room without at least considering turning one of them into roasts.

The first thing that Hank did with his money was to buy a proper home. Here’s a guy who’s been living in a tar paper shack that his Pappy built. It’s been just him and the critters since his mother, God rest her soul, went to her reward some twenty years back. Now Hank was used to his shack and he didn’t want something that he wouldn’t be comfortable in.

So Hank went looking for a contractor to build him his new house because while he makes a mighty fine moonshine he doesn’t know one end of a hammer from the other. The problem he had was that what he wanted didn’t fit within what the rest of the world calls the building code. Who builds tar paper shacks these days? Even if they are sixteen bedroom shacks. They kept telling him that tar paper was too flammable and he needed a proper foundation and actual indoor plumbing and the like.

Hank was livid. I mean what’s the world coming to when a man wins a quarter billion dollars and still can’t get what he wants? So naturally Hank came to me.

“Hey Bubba,” Hank said, coming into my office and sitting himself in front of my desk. I put down the report I was writing and gave him my attention. “I want you to go arrest them contractors. They ain’t doing what they said they would.” He went on to explain his problem with building codes and plumbing.

“Sorry, Hank,” I said, “The law is on their side. We can’t have folks just going around building what ever they want and no thought for their neighbours.”

“You know I ain’t got any neighbours, Bubba.”

I took a couple of deep breaths here. First, because I don’t like being called Bubba. My name is Sydney for Pete’s sake, and I’m a woman. But Hank figures that a sheriff is called Bubba the same as the minister down at First Baptist is called pastor. The second reason I took that deep breath is because I knew I would need it later. Talking with Hank is like that.

“You’ve got the Wilson’s not far down the road, and the Mackenzie’s up the other way.”

“Who are they?”

“The Wilson’s are the ones who complain about the mess in your front yard on Sundays and the Mackenzie’s are Friday.”

“Right, who’s Wednesday?”

“Mrs. Chin.”

“Right, I guess I do have neighbours.”

“Yup.”

“What if I just buy all them houses?”

“You still would live within town limits.” Which made him my problem instead of the State police. I had a brief vision of him sitting at the desk of my State counterpart. You know the joke about the cop who stops the proctologist’s assistant? That statie is the punch line for sure.

“If they change the law for you, they have to change the law for everybody.”

I could see Hank digesting that.

“So if I want to build a house the way I want it, I can’t live in town.”

“I guess that’s right.”

“But my Pappy, built his house and nobody fussed with him.”

“When your Pappy built the shack, it wasn’t in town limits yet.”

“The town is growing?”

“Yup,” I said and waved at the reports on my desk. “It keeps going like this I’m going to have to hire a deputy.”

“Can you hire me?” Hank said, “I always wanted to be a deputy.”

“Sorry Hank,” I said trying not to imagine Hank in a uniform. “You need high school to be a deputy.”

“I could go back to school.”

I had a brief vision of Hank’s two hundred and fifty pound, six foot frame jammed into one of Ms. Haskell’s grade six desks. But as much as I didn’t like her, I dismissed the idea.

“It wouldn’t be fair, Hank. You’ve got money and everything. I would have to hire someone who needed the job.” And wouldn’t get me laughed out of the next Sheriff’s convention I went to.

“Right.” Hank sighed lugubriously and dragged himself out of my office.

I put Hank out of my mind for the moment and went back to my reports. I had barely managed to work my way through the Monthly Summary Report of Parking Violations when my office door opened and Mr. Wilson stormed in.

“Sherrif,” he shouted, “You must do something about Hank immediately.”

“It’s Tuesday,” I said, “Why are you complaining today?”

“That pest hole of a property is killing my property value,” he shouted.

I wasn’t worried about the shouting. Mr. Wilson was pretty much deaf as a post and he always shouted. Word of Hank’s good fortune was getting around.

“I know you folks up on the hill have all signed a homeowner’s agreement, but the lawyers at the town hall have told me that you can’t make it retroactive. Hank was there first. He hasn’t signed anything so the only thing I can do is enforce the town bylaws.”

“It’s outrageous, that, that, that bumpkin should have all that money and still be able to ruin my property. I’ll sue him. I’ll sue the whole town.” He stomped out of my office and slammed the door behind him. I rubbed my forehead; word of Hank’s good fortune was getting around. It was going to be one of those days.

I had just managed to pick up the papers that the slamming door had blown on the floor when the office door flew open again. I put the stapler on the papers to hold them in place and looked at Mrs. Mackenzie.

“Yes, ma’am,” I said, “What can I do for you?” I watched her eyes fill with tears.

“My prize roses,” she said, “My Prince of Wales roses…. THAT MAN’s deer ate them off to the ground.” She never called Hank by name. She knew the name of every rose ever grown, but couldn’t remember the name of any human but her husband. “You need to make THAT MAN pay for new ones.”

“It’s Tuesday, Mrs Mackenzie, why are you complaining today?”

“His deer ate my roses. He needs to replace them.”

“It wouldn’t have anything to do with the lottery results now would it?”

“You are a horrible woman,” Mrs. Mackenzie said, “I am never going to vote for you again.” She left my office. I had my doubts that she had ever voted for me before. I don’t think she could remember my name long enough.

I went back to my paper work waiting for the next interruption. Sure enough the door swung open and Mrs. Chin came in.

“Sheriff Sydney,” she said before I finished putting my pen down, “You must do something.”

“It’s only Tuesday.”

“Pardon?”

“It’s only Tuesday,” I said, “you always complain about Hank on Wednesdays.”

“Yes, Hank is annoying and his house is an eyesore, but this is worse.”

“What could be worse than Hank?”

“They’re going to log the hills behind our house. I will get up in the morning and look at desert instead of that beautiful forest.”

“I don’t have any jurisdiction over that, Mrs. Chin. The hills are outside town limits.”
“Please, you must do something,” she said, “I will even stop complaining about Mr. Hank’s yard.”

That’s when it hit me. I closed up my office and headed out to Hank’s place.

“Hey Hank,” I yelled as I knocked on his door.

“Hi, Bubba,” Hand said, “You here about my yard again?”

“I think I have an idea that might just make a lot of people happy.”

“Well you might as well come in then.”

“So what’s up?” he asked as soon I had settled myself.

“You know that tract of land up in the hills,” I said.

“Yep, Pappy used to take me camping up there.”

“Some folks are thinking about logging it out.”

“That would be terrible. Where will the animals live? Someone needs to do something about it. We can’t let them kill the forest just because they have money….”

I swear I could hear the gears in Hank’s head turning.

“Do you think 250 million would buy the forest up there?” he asked.

“I think you might even have a little change left over.” I said.

“It ain’t in town limits either…”

“Nope.”

“I think,” Hank said, “it’s time I bought me some land.”

So that’s how I ended up working as Hank’s number one security person on his wilderness ranch. He still calls me Bubba, though for what he’s paying me I don’t mind.

 

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