Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)
TITLE: Stale Fries
By Jennie Hilligus
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We thought we had made the perfect choice; a quaint little cottage nestled back off the Coldwater, Michigan shoreline. When we bought it, it was a dump and really needed some fixing up. Every evening, my wife and I came right from work to refurbish the old place. One of us would grab fast food on the way and as soon as we changed clothes, we spread a blanket on rickety screen porch and ate our cold hamburgers by candlelight. Those were the best hamburgers I ever had. As soon as we finished, we gathered the trash and set it in a plastic bag outside the door. I couldn’t stand the smell of the pickles and stale fries that were inevitably leftover.
The wiring in the house was outdated and had to be replaced before passing the new codes, so every night we only had a couple hours to work until dusk, with a few candles to see by. We started tearing out molded floorboards and scraping wallpaper off the walls that had probably been there for over fifty years. Sometimes there were three or four layers of outdated patterns glued right on top of the each other. It would be some work to get those off.
The first few nights were pretty exhausting, but I was excited about the new house and it was great being with my wife. We had been working so much overtime trying to get a little extra cash for the house, we hadn’t spent much time together lately.
I think the first night we left the house, we were tired and it was dark. We didn’t even notice the plastic trash bag missing from the steps. The second night, Jill noticed it and asked me about it. I kind of shrugged it off. I figured some dog came by, took a sniff and bye bye fries.
By the third time we saw the sack gone, Jill got suspicious. It became a game really. “I want to see this dog,” she said. “Maybe he’s homeless and needs some food.” It wasn’t long before she was hiding on the porch, on special alert, for the fast food thief. After the fifth night, and still no dog, I have to admit I got a little interested myself. If we never noticed a dog rummaging around, but every night the bag was gone, who was taking it?
Later that week, Jill was scraping some wallpaper and under the final layer she noticed some writing. She was determined to keep going until she could make out what it said. Her knuckles were worn and blisters were forming, but she wasn’t about to quit. She scraped until she could make out the odd message; “Sorry Arthur, we put Mr. Ed under.”
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