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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Blowout (04/28/11)

TITLE: The Case on Tulane
By dub W


Nan looked at her computer clock. “Sheesh, it’s 3a.m., this place is dead.” Nan McHough was a reporter for the New Orleans Bagatelle, a competing newspaper in the Crescent City. The Bagatelle featured sensationalized news, and was often accused of “stepping over the line.” Nan had drawn the cross-over shift – that portion of time between when the paper goes to bed and the morning shift arrives.

The police scanner suddenly buzzed. “Possible shooting on 9th Ave., officer dispatched.”

Nan looked up from her computer. “Welcome to Saturday night in the Big Easy.” The scanner silenced so she continued editing feature copy. “Busy work.”

The scanner buzzed again. “Officer injured. All units, be advised. East ramp, Tulane Avenue Bridge.”

Nan clicked on the small television next to her desk. “Wow.” The television reporter was rambling about a police chase, shooting, and possible homicide. A video of a helicopter hovering over a darkened street highlighted the reporter’s story. Special bulletins were flashing across all stations. “I guess I better get down there. Jason!” She called across the room to a young man near the wire service machine. “I’m headed for Tulane Avenue.” She grabbed her pad and a small camera and headed for the elevator. “Call the print desk and tell them I want space for one last story.” Moments later Nan was in her tiny Civic snaking her way through the dark streets.

Finally, she converged on the gathering of news media, police and ambulances. “Total chaos, as usual,” she murmured to herself. She got out of her car and spotted her long-time police officer friend, Harley Smith, standing with his back to her. “Hey Harley.”

The tall uniformed man turned and grinned as he watched Nan approach. “Hey, girl. Awfully early for young ladies to be out on the street.”

She cringed slightly when he called her girl, but she knew he didn’t really mean it as a sexist reference. “Harley, what goes on up the road?”

Harley lifted the police tape for Nan to duck under. “Haven’t you been listening to your scanner?” He rolled his eyes and actually laughed.

“Yeah, Harley, what’s the joke?” Nan twisted a lock of hair impatiently. There has to be something strange here if Harley isn’t upset over the shooting of an officer.

Harley tipped his hat back. “Well, the way we got it over at the precinct was that there was a shooting and an officer down.”

“I already heard that on the radio. The TV was running bulletins, a helicopter video and everything.”

Harley laughed again. “You better get your pad ready, and I’ll take you over to the ‘crime’ scene.”

“I still want to know what is so funny.”

Harley chuckled again and motioned for her to follow him.

Nan trailed Harley between emergency vehicles and a “Swat truck.” When they got to a street corner flooded with light, they stopped. “Okay, what?”

“Look carefully.” Harley pointed between four officers.

There, seated on a gurney, was a police officer with his arm in a sling. Behind him was a tow truck driver jacking up the rear of a car.

Nan shook her head. “I don’t get it.”

“Some lady’s car tire had a blowout, that officer stopped and tried to change the tire and the jack slipped.” Harley laughed.

Nan grinned. “And the electronic media ran with a bogus story.”


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This article has been read 444 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laury Hubrich 05/08/11
You did a good job building up your story. Poor police man trying to do a good deed. I bet he gets teased about that one. I think you should have worked a bit more on the punch line. It fell a bit flat, not too bad, though. Nice job!
Theresa Santy 05/09/11
Fun story. A case of nothing is at it seems. I see lots of this type of malformation information passing around on the Internet. It's like the game telephone, somebody hears a portion of a story, and passes it down the road, filling in the blanks where needed.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/10/11
Oh how I love Nan! And that's so like the media to get it wrong. It kind of makes it scary, wondering what they get right! You're stories have a James Patterson feel about them. I often feel like like I'm reading or could be reading a chapter from his book- Just to be clear inmy eyes that's a huge complement because even if I pick up one of his books I've read before I still can't put it down.
Joe Moreland05/10/11
Good idea, well written with believable dialogue and realistic characters. The story is funny and smart. The only thing I would suggest is the same as the the first comment...the last line from Nan is the only piece of dialogue that doesn't feel believable. But that's kind of nitpicking, I think. It's a good piece that I like alot.
Noel Mitaxa 05/11/11
An enjoyable, credible, rug-puller story.
Linda Goergen05/12/11
Cute and entertaining short story that mocks the truth of how out of hand media, trying to get first scoop, can instead become a circus of misinformation. Interesting story to work around the challenge word!