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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Writing (01/11/07)

TITLE: Shakespeare Never Ate at the Donut Dugout
By Marilee Alvey


It can be a lonely life, being a writer. Few would understand the struggles that come with searching for the perfect word, the nuance. Don’t take my word for it. Check out Darrel Potts.

“It was a dark and stormy night.” No, too trite.
“The sky was as dark as a bad dye job.” No. Laughable.
“Nightfall was gloomy and threatening.” Close enough.

Darrel sat in the corner of the Donut Dugout, scratching his head as he peered at his laptop. Glancing around to fight off eyestrain, he found himself surrounded by retired farmers, or so it would seem. Was there a vendor outside selling John Deere caps? Not likely in the miniscule town of Cornell, Illinois. He looked at the menu in front of him. “The Donut Dugout – where chowhounds meet.”

Darrel was irate. His internet service had been down for a full week. He’d sat outside his house with an old ripped up card table and his laptop, trying to pick up signals from other peoples’ homes, but decided against it when Earlene Kusky rolled down her car window and asked him if he was setting up a lemonade stand. Earlene basked in attitude like others did sunshine. Her daddy was postmaster of Cornell. “Please don’t give me special service. After all, we’re just common people,” she was known to say just a little too loudly at the slightest pretense. One day it would be when the waiter brought a basket of crackers to her table at the Fireside Inn, the only true restaurant in Cornell. They had real cloth napkins over there. The next day, it might be turning down a lid for her slurpie at the Mighty Mart attached to the Feed ‘n Seed Shop. She’d preened, strutted and sashayed past her expiration date, he thought, so Darrel went to the Donut Dugout to work. For some reason beyond his understanding they’d installed wireless. People in Cornell knew strapless, but wireless was beyond their grasp.

“Hey there, son. Haven’t seen you around here before. What’s the occasion?” Sam Erless sidled over to Darrel’s table.

“Hi, Sam. I’m just over here until my internet starts working again.”

“If’n you need a net, you know, they got a sale on ‘em over at the Feed ‘n Seed. I reckon if you’d mosey over there today you could catch you a deal….”

“Thanks, Sam.”

It’s awful to say, but a thought sprung up in Darrel’s head and he let it walk around a bit, unleashed. “I’m surrounded by cretins,” he reflected. Before he could send the thought packing, it turned into a cretin fest, oldsters coming from all four corners. To Darrel it was “Night of the Living Dead” come to life. It was harvest time: they’d come to suck out his brain.

“You know, Darrel, I never did know what you do for a livin’” Jim Caldwell asked.

Darrel felt the hair stand up on the back of his neck, but he replied, as even toned as he could get, “I’m a writer.”

“What kind of writer?” Stuart Gibson asked, going in for the kill. Darrel peered at Stuart’s ball cap with the American flag on it. It was so tattered that the thought crossed Darrel’s mind that Stuart should contact the American Legion Post 56 and ask them how to dispose of it with dignity.

“I write about interesting people, I guess you could say.”

“Uh-oh, boys, he’s going to be writin’ about us. Watch yer language,” Stuart said as he pretended to recoil in horror.

“No need,” Darrel said. He didn’t point out that he didn’t see any material that qualified.

“Tell you what,” Sam said. “ If’n I was a writer, I’d head over to talk to Fred Cook, over there at his place. You know he’s quite the entraypraynure, over there. You know, he’s got two businesses goin’? He’s die-verstified, He’s got a business that goes summer and winter. You seen his sign over there on North Main? Lawn Mower Repair and Video Rentals! Man, he’s got it covered, ain’t he? He’s the Trump of Cornell!”

“Well, fellas, thanks for the great advice, but I’m sorry to say that I have to be pulling up roots here,” Darrel said. “Muriel?” he called to the waitress, “keep the change.”

Starting his car, Darrel mused, “No use hunting down internet service. I’m drowning in a quagmire of insipid corncob crunchers.”

Yep, a writer’s got a lonely life, all right.

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This article has been read 989 times
Member Comments
Member Date
darlene hight01/18/07
Hmmm....I'm thinking that's where you find all of the best material LOL

Marilyn Schnepp 01/20/07
Loved the Title! Wondered where it would lead...and found it quite humorous. Great job! You're a dead ringer for the late, great Humorist, author and syndicated columnist - Lewis Grizzard. My mentor and hero! Great humor and a fantastic read here... loved it! Kudos!
Joanne Sher 01/20/07
Delightful description and detail - you put me right in the middle of it! I definitely enjoyed this immensely!
Edy T Johnson 01/20/07
This is so hilarious, I had to read it outloud to my husband. We grew up with all these small town characters that are too unique not to find their way into someone's storybook. I love them all. You did an excellent job developing this slate of characters, as well as portraying the difficulties a writer encounters with interruptions (in my case, my husband!). Into my "favorites" you go.
Sharlyn Guthrie01/20/07
You painted an accurate picture of life in the midwest as well as the struggles associated with writing! I loved your little digressions, such as the tattered flag cap. Thanks for the laughs!
Jan Ackerson 01/21/07
Hilarious and so, so entertaining!
Betty Castleberry01/22/07
Oh, this was a hoot! My favorite line: "It was harvest time: they’d come to suck out his brain." I like the reference to corn cob crunchers, too. Should I admit I grew up in rural Illinois, and can totally relate to this? Thanks for the laugh. Well done.
Donna Powers 01/22/07
A super title and a very enjoyable read. I laughed out loud. Good job!
Edy T Johnson 01/25/07
Not to detract, any, from those in the winner's circle, I thought this was such a perfect take on the topic that it would be judged among the "winners." It is still one of the "tops!" in my "favorites." You should get it published for all the world to enjoy. I love it.

P.S. Thank you, too, for your generous comments on my writing. I appreciate you, Friend!
Paul Potenza02/03/07
I got turned onto your writing by Marilynn Schnepp. We have a mutual mentor in Lewis Grizzard.

I have to say that I have been where your protagonist is.

I, myself, spent a "year in Waynetown, Indiana" one day, and met many of the people you describe. I especially like the term "cretin" because I have a friend from Wales who uses it to describe people whom he feels are below contempt.

All that being said, I'm GLAD that Marilynn turned me onto you. You have a great gift and I hope that you continue to use it.

My friends call me Pauly.

I'd be honored if you would consider me your friend.
Clyde Blakely03/11/07
I think the locals won the battle of the minds here! I would have been cheering for them. I grew up in a small town like that and really enjoy visiting, so relaxing.
Love the flow and drew me right into the scene. Thanks.
God bless and keep writing.