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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Pen is Mightier than the Sword (04/08/10)

TITLE: Out Clause
By Marita Thelander


“You know that drives me crazy.” Sherman didn’t skip a beat channel-hopping.

Click-click. Click-click.

I ignored him, engrossed in my knitting.

“Did you hear me?” He finally looked my way.

“Oh, are you talking to me?” I innocently continued.

Click-click. Click-click.

“There’s nothing on TV but that ridiculous peace treaty mess.” Sherman heaved his body out of the permanent indentation of the recliner and headed towards the kitchen.

“What peace treaty?”

“Are you kidding me? Are you deaf, blind, and dumb?” Sherman’s plumber-styled posterior moved side-to-side while his upper body probed the contents of the fridge.

“You know I don’t follow politics. It seems rather pointless. They’re gonna do what they’re gonna do and my vote doesn’t seem to carry much weight. Besides, from the sound of things, Jesus is about ready to snatch His people out of here.”

Sherman popped his head out of the fridge momentarily.

“You know I can hear you when you roll your eyes at me. Must be those loose marbles.” I held out the baby afghan for inspection.

“Well it can’t be as annoying as the clickity-click sound of those dad-burned knitting needles. What’s going on at that church of yours anyway?” Sherman attempted to hoist his falling britches and balance a sandwich and beer. “Last time I checked, the war ain’t over, so it isn’t all them soldiers coming home makin’ love to their women.”

“They’re for the bazaar.”

“Hmph, they’re bazaar alright.” Sherman resumed the job of remote-controller.

“I’ll make a deal with you,” I glanced over my granny glasses. “I won’t complain about your channel-hopping if you don’t harp about my knitting noise.”

Sherman smiled around a mouthful of Dagwood. “Deal. That’s a peace treaty I can live with.”

I giggled, “Look at us. We’ve become old people. When’d that happen?”

“Dunno, but getting old is a pain in the…would you look at that?” Sherman waved the remote frantically. “If that don’t beat all. Our president is a piece of work. He thinks he’s a beauty contestant or something.”

I glanced at the TV to see a line of men in suits and ties; poised with pens in hand.

“What’re you talking about?” I set my knitting down. Something was about to happen and I had an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. “What does this have to do with a beauty contest?”

Sherman struggled to swallow an extra large bite, pickle juice dripping down his chin. His beer belly pooched out made a handy shelf for his sandwich.

“Our president, God bless ‘im, is traipsing all over trying to solve the whole world’s problems by calling for a peace treaty. It reminds me of those silly beauty contests when they’re asked what they hope to accomplish during their reign as Miss America.” Sherman pretended to fluff his hair and held one hand up in a silly feminine gesture. “I’d like to see more research on diabetes and of course do my part to contribute to world peace.”

I laughed so hard I about lost my dentures. Sherman smiled like a school boy while I dabbed my eyes to dry the laughter liquid then I suddenly headed to the restroom to take care of the laughter leakage. Oh my.

Sherman patted my broad behind. I kissed his bald head. “Thirty-four years and you still make me laugh. Love you, Sherm.”

“Awe Betsy, you’re the bestie.”

When I returned, Sherman sat mid-chew, his face pale. “What’s the matter?”

“They’re actually gonna do it. He’s fooled all the nations to think that signing this treaty will bring peace to a troubled world, especially the Middle East. I shudder to think what the fine print says. I’m sure there’s an out clause.”

“An out clause?”

“Yeah, one that says, if I disagree with anything you do after signing this treaty, I have full right to annihilate your country.”

“Well, I’ve made Jesus my out clause.”

The president held his gold-plated writing implement up on cue, “Gentlemen…” Cameras flashed while each dignitary signed his name. He stood, pearly whites glowing, “They say the pen is mightier than the sword.” He pointed his fancy ballpoint outward and dramatically sheathed it inside his suit pocket.

Sherman sighed, “But is it mightier than your smooth-talking-slimy-plans?”

I put my hand on Sherm’s burly arm. “They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace. Jeremiah 6:14.”

He somberly faced me. “I think I’ll be joinin’ you on Sundays.”

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This article has been read 671 times
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Jackie Wilson04/15/10
I believe I've met Sherman and Betsy somewhere... Super rich characters, lovable and hilarious!
Laury Hubrich 04/16/10
I love these two characters. They are hilarious and very much in love. You made it so funny and then you wallop us at the end with serious. Great job!
Dana McReynolds04/16/10
Love this!
Catrina Bradley 04/16/10
Love this slice of Sherman and Betsy's life. Realistic and dynamic dialog, believable and lovable characters, and a relevant situation. Not sure how "on topic" you are - but this is a tough week.

Great ending! I'm glad he was convinced to go to "her" church with her.

("Laughter leakage". snicker.)
Patricia Herchenroether04/18/10
Ha, Ha. Love these two characters. Great dialog.
Kate Oliver Webb 04/19/10
I think it's "on-topic" although I can see where some might think it hits the topic rather obliquely. But in my opinion, the topic doesn't need to hit us over the head to be there. It's a great story; not only entertaining, but carries that needed punch. Good job!
Gerald Shuler 04/19/10
I know, I'm being redundant, but these two are GREAT characters. You did a wonderful job of bringing them to life.

Oh, and I think it is totally ON topic because the peace treaty that got signed was threaded throughout.
Rachel Phelps04/20/10
Amazing characterization! I felt as if I knew these two myself. Sometimes it felt as if the topic was a side note compared to the powerful characters, but I think it's in there and used well.
Kimberly Russell04/20/10
Can't be said enough: I really liked your characters. They've really got...hmmm...character. LOL
Beth LaBuff 04/20/10
I love this couple, their banter, and the fact that they're getting older and enjoying it! :) Your descriptions are LOL funny! I totally enjoyed being in their moment!
Angela King04/21/10
I felt as though I was right there in the room with Sherman and Betsey! Wonderful descriptions of the characters! Loved this!
Sara Harricharan 04/21/10
interesting story! i liked the knitting needles.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/21/10
Voice was spot-on, characters were perfect, and I loved the humorous way you presented the message.
harvestgal Ndaguba04/21/10
I loved the characters, it seemed so realistic. Keep writing. I enjoyed it.
Amanda Brogan04/21/10
The end is near! I hope Sherman dumps out his beer and embraces his wife's Savior pretty soon. And the end sentence gave hope that he would. :)

I like how you show the end-times treaty signing taking place on television and the discussion that takes place over it. I imagine something like that will happen one of these days. There's bound to be some Shermans and Betsys that'll quibble over knitting needles and channel serfing when the time comes too. ;)
Sarah Elisabeth 04/21/10
The start of this piece was so funny, and what an impact at the end! I think its right on topic IMHO
Mona Purvis04/21/10
A particularly good read that did not "smother" the topic but worked it into the fabric of the story.
Yes, I agree the characters are so enjoyable. I can see that recliner. There's one like it in my house, it's Bill's.

Pamela Kliewer04/21/10
Great writing! Love it!
Edmond Ng 04/21/10
Interesting couple! I'll try to remember when I reach that age to have some ‘fun’ talk such as those mentioned in your story. It’ll certainly help to keep out the frustrations of politics. I like your story. There’s so much truth in it. Where oh where shall we find peace unless we have the Lord!
Karlene Jacobsen04/21/10
Mari, Mari, I love your writing! This gave me a well-needed laugh right before bed. Thank you. I could see this couple vividly, actually sounds a bit like a couple of people I know. One of them stares back at me in the mirror. :)