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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Editor (05/27/10)

TITLE: Wrong Direction
By Ruth Stromquist


Wrong Direction

Allan charged through the open doorway of the small, cluttered office, just returning from covering the Rec Department's annual Community Volleyball Tournament.

Joe continued to stare at the computer screen, frowning, unmindful of his arrival. His graying hair was mussed, arms crossed, the sleeves of his cotton red plaid shirt shoved up above his elbows. A half-eaten donut and coffee cup were perched precariously on a stack of papers and manila folders to the right of his monitor.

Allan moved on around the desk, grabbing a chocolate donut from the box on its corner as he went by. Tall and thin, he leaned far down to peer at the email on Joe's screen. A lock of brown hair fell into his eyes and he impatiently brushed it away with the back of his wrist, not noticing the spray of soft chocolate crumbs cascading over his neatly pressed white shirt and tie. Leaning a hand on the back of Joe's chair, he skimmed the letter. Then blinked.

"Tina told me about this. You haven't deleted it yet?" he asked, incredulous. Straightening, he grabbed the half-empty coffee cup, took a gulp, then grimaced. "How long has this been sitting here, anyway?"

Joe sighed and tilted back his chair, glancing up at him for the first time. "How many times do I have to tell you? Hands off my coffee cup! My coffee. My coffee cup... I'm printing it in today's column."

"No way, dude!" Allan leaned back heavily against the side of the file cabinet. "You can't be serious."

"Totally serious." Joe smiled grimly. "Dude." "I'm giving it the whole column, along with my response."

Allan's mouth dropped open. "You can't! And you know it. We'll lose Sweetheart Family Planning's account again. And you know Health & Meditation 4 U will jerk their ads too. And all the others. The board will have your head! We're not out of the woods yet, by a long shot. If you start waffling now... You know we won't get a second chance again."

Joe swiveled back towards the screen. Picking up his coffee cup, he started to drink, then caught himself, shook his head, and set it down hard on a stack of magazines. "Don't lecture me, Allan. I was workin' this paper when you were in diapers."

Tina's voice cut in roughly from the front desk down the hall. "Allaaaaan! Coach Rondover just called again. He's still ticked at you for talking too much about Tiger High's quarterback in your article. And I ain't coverin' for you again, buddy. You'd better turn your cell phone back on!"

Allan rolled his eyes, calling, "A little respect. Is it too much to ask?" Then looked back at Joe. "The board meets tonight. You know they're not gonna risk bankruptcy again." Finally taking a bite of his donut, he chewed slowly. "I know it's been hard on you. Change is always tough. And you know I even agree with you, at heart. But it just won't work. And what about your retirement? Why mess it up when you're so close? I--"

The sharp ringing of a phone was quickly followed by Tina's yell. "NOW Allan!"

Joe grinned wryly as Allan threw up his hands in frustration, and then dashed out of the room in response.

He stood up, scanning the office with his eyes. Settling on an empty spot of carpet between the printer and a bookcase, he rolled the office chair out, dragging it around the desk, and positioned it there.

Meanwhile the letters on the computer's screen still glowed brightly in the dimly lit office...

" ...didn't think I'd ever see the day ... so sorry to see the only readable paper in town taking the word "Christian" out of its masthead and out of its policies ... was always so full of great commentary and solid reporting ... metamorphosing into your average small-town rag ... don't you know God owns the cattle on a thousand hills? ... didn't even call on us to pray before making such an outrageous compromise ... could've raised up a prayer army from your readers ... do you even have a place in your office where you pray? ... not by might nor by power but by My Spirit ... Jehovah Jireh ... so disappointed ..."

The editor dropped to his knees, and propping his arms on the peeling black vinyl chair seat, bowed his head in prayer.

Author's Notes:

Zec 4:6 (KJV) "Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts."

Psa 50:10 (KJV) "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof."

Gen 22:14 (KJV) "And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen."

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This article has been read 405 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jennifer Campbell06/03/10
This is excellent. The dialogue is alive and fast-paced. Great work.
harvestgal Ndaguba06/10/10
Wow, excellent is the only thing I can say. Excellent. Loved it.
Joan Campbell06/10/10
Wow! This is lovely Ruth. Such a powerful message, with strong characters & dialogue. Glad to see you back in the challenges.
Colin Swann06/11/10
Extremely well written piece -thanks for sharing.
Lyn Churchyard06/11/10
Love this! Two thumbs up. Nice tight writing. Great ending. Well done Bear
Susan Montaperto06/13/10
I didn't understand the title until the very end.
Very well written. The dialogue was very well done and well-paced. Keep writing.