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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hmph! (03/04/10)

TITLE: Hell's Headquarters According to Henry
By Bryan Ridenour


"Hmph," Wilma grunted, nimbly looping yarn around a crochet needle. She dropped the beginnings of a potholder in her lap and fumbled for the remote. Each station broadcasted the President's special appeal to support healthcare reform. "Hmph," she griped again, "politicians."

Henry hobbled in from the kitchen, his cane tapping on the hardwood floors. Balancing a pitcher and two empty glasses on a platter, Henry propped his cane against the couch and poured his wife a glass of tea. Grim faced, Wilma silently shook her head.

"You don't want it?" he asked.

"No, it's not that," she said accepting the drink. "I'm frustrated over this health care debacle."

"Eh?" he said, cupping his ear.

"Health care," she shouted.

Henry shrugged, pointing helplessly at his ear.

"Heath care," she repeated again, louder.

"I don't know for sure," he said, stroking his chin. He set his glass on a coaster, and shuffled to the bookcase. "But I think I might have an idea. Hell might be in the center of the Earth," he commented, looking for a specific reference.

"What?" his wife asked confused. "What are you talking about, Henry?"

He grabbed a book, and settled back down on the couch. Flipping through the encyclopedia, he found the page and jabbed the spot. "Here," he grinned broadly, showing off his new gold tooth.

He handed the reference to his wife and she accepted it, curious. Several paragraphs detailed the Earth's inner core and it's chemical make-up. His wife stared at her husband, dumbfounded. "I still don't get it, Henry."

"The center of the Earth's hot, right?"

"Right," she nodded.

"Well, Hell's gotta be somewhere, so why not the center of the Earth?" He took a sip and continued. "There have been documented reports of oil men hearing screams billowing from holes in the ground where they're drilling for crude."

"What reports?" she asked, skeptical. "Where've you been reading this information?"

"The check out lines at Lola's Groceria."

"Hmph," she commented, returning to her crocheting. "Those same magazines report sightings of Elvis in Toadsuck, Arkansas. Besides," she scowled, "I didn't ask the whereabouts of Hell. I was complaining about health care reform and politicians."

"Eh?" he questioned cocking his head to one side.

"Nothing," she snapped.

A firm rapping at the front door sent Wilma catapulting to her feet.

"Your prune juice kicking in?" asked Henry, wide-eyed.

"No," she scolded. "We've got company."

Henry followed slowly in his wife's wake, still uncertain of her destination. Wilma yanked open the door.

"Well, hello Reverend," she greeted enthusiastically. "Come in, come in."

Revered Pillsworth extended a warm hand to both homebound congregants. "I just thought I'd stop in and see how you folks are doing."

"Great, Preacher," bellowed Henry. "Come grab a seat on the couch. The Missus and I were just discussing a question that maybe you can shed some light on."

"I'll try," he responded.

"Wilma asked the question, 'Hell's where?'."

The pastor nodded his interest.

"My theory is, it's in the center of the Earth. What do you think?"

"Well," he began, adjusting his collar, "we can speculate, but we can't know for sure because the Bible doesn't tell us the answer. We can only know for certain that Hell exists."

"I'm living it," Wilma muttered, expertly working her F-hook and orange yarn.

The Reverend offered Wilma a sympathetic glance. "Though such questions are interesting to discuss," continued Reverend Pillsworth, "there's an issue of greater importance. The key is, you both know Jesus and are heading to Heaven, right?"

Both nodded.

"Him sooner," Wilma mumbled, "if he doesn't get a better hearing aid."

The Reverend stifled a grin. "Is there a particular reason why you wanted to know, Wilma?"

"Reverend," she grumped, "I did not ask the whereabouts of Hell. I was complaining about healthcare reform. She nodded at the television. "And politicians..."

"And he thought you said 'Hell's where?'"

"What Preacher?" Henry questioned. "Now you're asking me the same question?"

"Hmph," Wilma said pushing to her feet. "Reverend, would you like some tea?"

"Sure," he said smiling.

"You may be here a while," she warned.

"That's fine," he nodded.

"Now Preacher," Henry began, slapping the Reverend on the back, "I want to show you this book."

"Sure thing, Henry. Sure thing."

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This article has been read 588 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sandra Petersen 03/11/10
I read this out loud to my husband who didn't have any trouble hearing and laughing in the right spots. This was fun to read. I have to say that I started liking Henry more than I liked Wilma. Wilma seemed like a constantly grumpy person and I honestly wanted to like her a little more than I did.
Jackie Wilson03/12/10
In addition to the great dialog, I like the little details you added throughout that enhanced the story. Great fun to read!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/15/10
This is so funny. I'm still chuckling. Thanks for starting my day with a good laugh (and the undertones of health care reform is excellent, my husband would appreciate that one!)
Joan Campbell03/15/10
This was such a fun read - I thoroughly enjoyed it. Great dialogue & the characters really come alive. Well done!
AnneRene' Capp03/15/10
Very heart warming story, great dialogue and well written. Enjoyed all of the humor and the Reverend taking time to visit this adorable, elderly and homebound couple.
Gregory Kane03/15/10
Wonderfully drole. I particularly enjoyed Wilma's character. I felt the Rev was a little wooden but nonetheless well-meaning. Good stuff.
Donna Wolther03/15/10
I liked all of the characters and the story line too. I think this is one of the best this time.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/16/10
And now I've had my laugh for the day with your delightful story.
Marita Vandertogt03/17/10
I love the title... and great characters. A fun read for sure.
Carole Robishaw 03/17/10
Great fun! sounded real, you caught the feeling just right.
Laury Hubrich 03/17/10
Can I just use one word to sum this up? HILARIOUS! Love it!
Lyn Churchyard03/17/10
I really can't add anything to what everyone else has said. Except, I laughed just as much the second time I read it as I did the first. Well done Bryan, well done!
Beth LaBuff 03/17/10
LOL! Your humor brought a smile to my face. Great characterization of both Henry and Wilma. :)
Ruth Stromquist03/17/10
Enjoyed it much also, and was impressed with how smoothly it flowed -- an easy and VERY fun read!
Mona Purvis03/18/10
Enjoyable read as I've come to expect from you. Something about these old couples that is so endearing. Very solid entry.