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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Gone Fishing (02/01/07)

TITLE: The Pumpkin Pie Bribe
By Julie Arduini


I grew suspicious as soon as Gram handed me my favorite autumn dessert in the middle of spring: a slice of pumpkin pie. She tenderly placed one hand on my back.

“Now Paulie, tomorrow you need to set your alarm. Gramps wants to take you fishing.” I tried to keep my sigh to a minimum since her hand was still on my back and could easily travel to my ten year old backside.

“Oh Gram, do I have to? Fishing is so boring. It’s my vacation you know.” I heard a slight tsk as I reached for the pie with stealth precision before Gram decided to take it away.

“True enough. He wants to take you fishing and I think it’s a wonderful idea…”

“Which means I’m going.” I interrupted, my mouth full of pie. She nodded with a grin.

Gramps greeted me at six with a hearty good morning and a quick knee shake.

“Time’s a wastin’ Paulie! Let’s get movin’ before we lose the fish. I think they’ll be biting good today.”

Gram met us at the front door with a thermos of hot chocolate and a hug for both of us. She winked at her husband of forty-nine years.

“Go get ‘em Russell!”

Gramps said the first stop would be to Mr. Haney’s to get some worms. Gramps whistled as he stopped the truck and waved to Mr. Haney.

“Mornin’ Ben, how’s life treating you today?” Gramps took long strides to reach the man sitting on the porch with his beagle at his side. Mr. Haney appeared to be the same age as Gramps, but not smiling any more than I was at that hour.

“I’m here Russell, can’t say much more than that.” Gramps nodded and took a seat in the old wicker chair next to Mr. Haney.

“How’s Florence today? Any change? How can Bev and I help?” Gramps bent low and the two exchanged whispers so low I couldn’t hear. I stooped down to pet the dog, sensing Gramps was helping Mr. Haney with something pretty serious. I could see tears trickle down Mr. Haney’s pale cheeks.

“Well Ben, Paulie and I are goin’ fishing so we’ll leave you to go back in with Florence. You have our number; I trust you’ll call it day or night for anything. ” Ben solemnly nodded.

Gramps motored down the dirt road. I heard Gramps praying. He drove onto the paved but rural county road that eventually led to Waneta Lake. I was curious when he flipped the turning signal on, this time parking at the Waneta Diner. He saw my quizzical look.

“I love your Gram but a thermos isn’t enough to sustain a fishin’ man, right?” I moved into Gramp’s outreached arm and together we entered the diner.

The diner appeared instead to be the place to purchase worms with real worn exterior, tattered curtains, splattered menus, and an honest to goodness bug zapper. Six heads jerked up at the screech of the door.

“Russ! Is this Paulie? Your pictures don’t do this handsome young man justice! What can I get you two today?” Her nametag said Myrtle.

“Just toast today Myrtle. Say, did Stan read that New Testament I left for him at the garage?” Myrtle’s eyes lit up like the bug zapper. She pulled up a chair and sat down.

“You’re amazing Russ. All these years I begged that man to find the Lord and just a simple meeting with you after an oil change and he’s a new man. He hasn’t had a drop in three weeks. I can’t thank you enough.”

Gramps took time with each person at the diner and they all had a story to share or a problem Gramps offered to pray over. By the time we finished meeting with everyone, placing our order and eating our food, it was nearly ten. I got in the truck once again when I heard Gramps chuckle.

“Well whaddya know? I’ll be…” Gramps scratched his balding head.

“What is it? Everything okay?” I questioned.

“I left our fishing poles at the house.”

“That’s okay Gramps. I realized when you were talking to Mr. Haney you never bought worms.”

“Good point son. What do you think we should do?” I bit my lip and gave the grin I usually found on his Godly face.

“Gram said yesterday the front door had a squeak. Maybe we should go to the hardware store and do our fishing there.”

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Sara Harricharan 02/08/07
Great twist on this! I really liked the down-to-earth feel and charming country store tone. It was nice and simple and the characters were delightful, great job!
Betty Castleberry02/09/07
Nice take on what God has called us to do. Your characters are believable, too. Well done.
Gregory Kane02/11/07
Nice character study on the old man, with a clever final sentence guaranteed to draw one last smile from the reader. I thought that at first the boy was well described but that towards the end he became somewhat wooden – would an animated ten-year-old really sit placidly through all those conversations? Maybe he would. My ten-year-old would be climbing the walls!
Dolores Stohler02/12/07
A good, homey story. I enjoyed it, however couldn't stop remembering how much my sons loved fishing trips with their father. That was back in the days when the fish were safe to eat.
Jacquelyn Horne02/13/07
I'll just say simply, "I liked this story." I'm not even sure why. I guess that's good.
Debbie Roome 02/13/07
I could picture this very clearly. Good story and well written.
Clyde Blakely02/17/07
Reminded me of a 10 year old boy with my fishing Grandpa - a Baptist preacher who would get lost in talking and praying and considered fishing for men more important than for fish. Yes, I'd loved to sit and listen to him. God bless.