Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Hmph! (03/04/10)
TITLE: A Few Wrongs that Need Writing
By Troy Manning
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I am not a fighter, and neither am I a lover. I am a writer. As such, my limitations are undeniably vast. Sometimes I have to go to the restroom. On one of these occasions, I entered as a man was exiting. Inside lay an irritable infant strapped to the changing table. I quickly stepped out and called to the man, “Hey, you forgot your baby.” Whether or not he heard me, it was difficult to say.
Sometimes I have to go to the grocery store. One time, in the frozen foods section, a woman collapsed at my feet in an epileptic seizure. I had never seen anything quite like it before. I watched in astonishment as her eyes rolled back and she convulsed in the aisle near a display of navy beans. A boy in his early teens was drawn toward the commotion, and watched her with me as his mother rushed to notify a clerk. I told the boy I heard there’s a risk of such victims swallowing their tongues and choking to death. The boy said he’d heard that too and put his fingers in her mouth to rescue her. His mother returned with assistance just at the time the woman bit down. The boy’s mother shot me a dirty look after her son screamed out. I walked away as the clerk, who seemed to know much more First Aid than I did, knelt down to help.
As with anybody else’s, writers’ cars need gasoline. I remember fueling up my car and watching an elderly man exit the convenience store with an already wilting bouquet of flowers. He walked to the passenger-side of a car and handed them through the window to a delighted woman I assumed to be his wife. Afterward, he went around and climbed into the driver’s seat. As he started the car, I saw the gasoline hose was still inserted in his gas tank. I then noticed on my pump that if I added just nineteen more cents, it would make the total an even twenty dollars. When I looked back over at the couple’s car, it was already in progress. I started to say something but saw the woman’s window was already rolled up. The hose tore from the pump and the man abruptly halted the car. He looked at me in disbelief as though I were somehow responsible. When I looked back to my pump, it read $20.28. I started to return to him a disbelieving look but then checked myself.
While my trips to department stores are rare, they do happen. Mallory’s was somewhat busy last Tuesday evening and I was in a bit of a hurry. All three checkers were being held up by but two gunmen. The customers in the lines simply stood immobile. The store had recently installed self-service checkout machines, so I thought I might still be able to make a timely exit without resorting to thievery like these two ruffians. Apparently the beeping sound, as I scanned my items, drew the attention of one of them. She left her partner to cover all three checkers and approached with her weapon pointed in my direction. With only a pair of socks left to scan, I began to regret that I was more a man of ideas than a man of action. The machine beeped, the gun fired, and I fell. When the woman drew closer I recognized her as a fellow Faithwriter. “Hmph,” I groaned. I guess being a writer doesn’t necessarily exclude an active life.
During rehabilitation, I reflected on some of my misguided notions about authorial responsibility and maintaining a critical distance to life. My writing began to evidence a greater political awareness, and I adopted the baby in the bathroom. While my fighting and loving remain rather paltry, with God’s help I now do what I can. And I somehow hope this little piece may be of help.
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