Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Handout (04/14/11)
TITLE: Dead Giveaway
By Troy Manning
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Tyrell had been perfectly honest with Jeff, the fireman, in saying his Scottish Terrier didn’t bite. But then again, Blixa had never been stranded fifty feet in the air before. He was relieved to see Jeff maintain his hold when it would undoubtedly have been all too tempting to “accidentally” drop his enraged dog. It was several days before even Tyrell could approach Blixa closely without receiving a menacing growl.
At the end of the following week, Tyrell awoke to a loud and unfamiliar barking drifting through the window. Even closing the window failed to adequately mute the persistent sound. He went outside with the intent of chasing away the dog, which he guessed was a stray. He soon realized, however, the sound was coming from the top of the tree. Looking up, he saw two dogs, one of which was Blixa. The second was a black poodle of similar size. Again, the fire department was contacted. A team of four arrived shortly thereafter.
Jeff slipped on heavy gloves as he prepared to ascend the ladder. One of the others, Autumn, followed him up.
Growling commenced from both dogs as Jeff attempted to take hold of Blixa. The dog eluded his grip and jumped to a large adjacent frond. The dogs began running and leaping from frond to frond, almost like monkeys in their natural habitat. Jeff turned back to Autumn and winked.
“Get the net!” she called down to the fireman who remained near the truck.
He retrieved a net similar to that of a dogcatcher, and handed it to the other fireman, Ephraim, standing at the foot of the ladder. Ephraim walked it up to Autumn, who then handed it to Jeff.
Sensing potential danger, Ephraim joined the man at the bottom and together they unfurled a large net and positioned it beneath the tree.
The dogs kept their distance from Jeff as he whistled and beckoned to them. He pressed on one of the larger fronds, where it attached to the tree’s trunk, to evaluate its weight-bearing capacity. He handed the net back to Autumn.
“You’re not serious,” she said.
Again, Jeff pressed on the frond then stepped onto it. Seeing that it held, he let go of the ladder and tested the sturdiness of still another frond. Thinking it adequately secure, he smiled at Autumn and held out his hand.
“No, Jeff. Please.”
Ignoring her plea, he continued extending his hand.
She sighed heavily then handed him the net. He grasped it briefly before allowing it to fall to the net below. He removed his gloves and dropped them as well.
“What are you doing?!”
He reached back toward her, “Give me your hand.”
“You’re raving!” Autumn’s eyes spread wide. “Get back on this ladder!!” Unable to maintain her grip on the wrung as Jeff pulled her into his arms, Autumn grabbed hold of him tightly.
Jeff turned in a slow circle to show her the spectacular view. “All this is for you,” he said.
The cracking sounds were audible to all present. Tyrell and the firemen shouted out to them. Tyrell manned the net with the fourth fireman while Ephraim hurried back up the ladder.
“Will you marry me?” Jeff asked.
“Yes. Yes, Jeff,” she said through tears. “Let's just get on the ladder.”
Jeff kissed her as the dogs excitedly rolled together on a frond overhead like living mistletoes. “If for some reason I don’t make it through this,” he said as their own frond gave way and they hurtled toward the net, “my poodle, Juliette, is yours.”
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