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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Up and Down (04/02/09)

TITLE: The Browning Initiative
By Ruth Hayes


His daughter had the audacity to grow up beautiful! If she had just had the good sense to take after his genes instead of her mother’s, she would be bowlegged, thick necked and sport a near perfect unibrow. Okay, so maybe he didn’t really want a daughter to be cursed with his Neanderthal looks. If, however, she could not have been quite so easy on the eyes and a tad more homely, it would have lessened his burdens as her father. The latest of his afflictions sat perched on the edge of a chair across the kitchen table from him. Another hopped-up-on-hormones, short on common sense, teenage boy was here to pick up Rachel for a date.

Earlier, he had tried to enlist Rachel’s help and asked that she wear a gunnysack, blacken out a tooth, and forego deodorant to discourage this latest Romeo wannabe. Her response had been to giggle and say, “Oh, Daddy, you are funny!” Humor had not been his intent. Obviously, her assistance in this matter could not be counted on. Instead, he was going to have to single handedly encourage a healthy dose of self-control in the youth seated across from him in a man-to-man – better make that man-to-pubescent – kind of way.

True to nature, Rachel was running late as she engaged in the mysteries of female date preparation. Her delay was to his advantage. The target was acquired. It was time to engage the Browning Initiative.

Lying on the kitchen table on a towel was a 12 gauge Browning BPS pump-action shotgun with a satin finished, walnut stock and blued barrel. Scattered around it were a bottle of cleaning solvent, lubricant, a patch puller, bore brush and powder blackened patches. He carefully picked up the beautifully crafted gun and drew a sight on the Tweety bird cookie jar resting on the counter. Then in a single fluid motion, he dropped the butt of the gun to his hip, steadied the stock with his right hand, and slid the pump lever up and down with his left hand. The distinct slide, click, slide and lock sound of the pump operating the shell elevator made the already nervous younger male flinch.

“Don’t worry, son, it’s empty. Wouldn’t want to make the missus mad by blowing up her Tweety with birdshot. So…you do any hunting?”

“Nnno, sir.”

“I do. I hunt critters that come and damage my property.”


“Yup. Can’t abide vermin messing with my belongings and not treating it with proper care and respect,” he said as he leveled a fixed gaze on the youth.

“Yes, sir. I totally agree, sir,” said the seventeen-year old boy as understanding dawned and the term “property” took on a larger, fuller meaning.

Footsteps came rushing down the hall and interrupted the moment. Rachel entered the kitchen in a flurry of curls and carefully styled femininity. Her gaze rested on the shotgun in her father’s hands and the jittery, wide-eyed look of her date. “Daddy, what are you doing,” she asked in a suspicious, “I know you're up to no good” tone.

“Just chatting about hunting, sweetheart. Let me walk you two to the front door. I’m sure you are anxious to be on your way.”

While waving good-bye, he plotted the next campaign to protect his daughter. Maybe he could do something with an axe and splitting wood, or maybe make his point while sharpening a machete. Flying sparks and the growl of grinding metal in contact with a stone could be very effective and memorable.

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This article has been read 405 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 04/10/09
Very entertaining voice, and good writing. Love the humor.

I thought the topic was weak-ish, and this is a story that has become almost a cliche...nevertheless, you made it quite fresh with your approach. Well done.
Patricia Herchenroether04/12/09
Very similar to a country music hit I've heard, but well written with good humor. I like the ending. Next time, try picking a unique topic and watch the accolades!
Mary McLeary04/13/09
Loved your style. Little girls do need loving daddies to watch out for them. Fun read.
Holly Westefeld04/21/09
Out of step as I often am, I thought you wove the topic in with refreshing subtlety, and liked the unique voice you brought to this classic scene. It made me smile and chuckle, having the comfort of a favorite pair of slippers.
Holly Westefeld04/21/09
P.S. I loved the title. It held the perfect note of intrigue.