Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Whine (05/23/13)
TITLE: Beef and Whine
By Llewelyn Stevenson
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“What’s that?” asked Shelley looking up from her knitting.
“This week’s topic,” he answered, “Whine.”
“You’re telling me,” she commented and returned her attention to her knitting. “O dear, you put me off. Now look, I’ll have to undo all this and start again.”
“And you think you have room to talk,” Jack mumbled.
“What was that?”
“Nothing,” Jack focused his attention on the computer screen and frowned. How best to approach the topic?
Ronald worked with the Bureau of Meteorology in Rhodesia, which required a small amount of shift work. It was the fortnight that Ron was required to do a night shift, which he shared with the overnight forecaster. His shift began at eight pm and he kept watch through the evening till midnight, plotting maps, typing and sending reports. At eight and midnight, he was expected to read wind speed and direction, and rain and temperature gauges. Then he would wake the forecaster and was allowed four hours sleep. At four am he was awakened to release and plot a weather balloon.
That night, the moment Ron’s head hit the pillow, the Beef Bus: a Boeing 707 loaded with meat bound for the European markets, fired its engines preparing for take-off. Ron wrapped the pillow around his head but there was no escaping the shrill whistle-come-hum of the jet engines, which seemed to go on forever. Although grimacing at the scream of the accelerating turbines, Ron was grateful when the jet finally received clearance and took off.
In what appeared to be no time at all [he was sure he had just fallen asleep] Ron was awakened by a whimpering sound. He could hear voices droning in the background and recalled where he was.
“I wish they’d all shut up,” he grumbled to himself.
The whimpering dog seemed to continue for ages while the voices droned on, becoming louder and more desperate till the dog was virtually howling to be heard. Ron grudgingly scrambled out of bed and went to let the hapless creature out.
As he found his shoes he heard the forecaster call out, “Rover, be quiet. You’ll wake Ron. I’m coming as soon as I’ve finished.”
“Too late for that,” Ron grouched mentally as he emerged from the darkened room and opened the office entry as the dog bolted out into the cool morning. He looked at the time it was twenty to four in the morning.
“Huh, no sense in going back to bed,” he concluded and went to fetch the candle, tracing paper and card he needed to make his lantern to swing off the weather balloon as he released it in the dark.
It was not Ron’s morning, bleary-eyed he stumbled through the offices to retrieve the card, tracing paper, candle and tape he required to make the lantern. The first lantern became entangled in the tape and ripped as he tried to pull it back over the burning candle then, as he reached the roof the second candle fell over and the tracing paper wall caught alight.
“Aw man, Ron moaned, “You stupid things, why can’t you just do as you’re supposed?”
Finally he managed to release the balloon and begin following on the theodolite, but four readings later he lost sight of it. He tried another with similar results. Frustrated he returned to the office to fulfil his uncompleted tasks. Unfortunately Ron’s mishaps did not impress the forecaster leading to more howls of frustration. To keep the peace Ron returned to the balloon room and finally achieved a better result.
“There,” with a flourish reminiscent of Liberace at his piano, Jack hit the final stop button.
“What?” Shelley inquired, looking up from her knitting.
“I’ve finished,” Jack replied.
Placing her craft on the arm of the chair she rose, crossed the room and read the outcome of Jack’s ruminations.
“Nice dear,” she commented dutifully.
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