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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bark is Worse than His/Her Bite (10/17/13)

TITLE: Barking Mad
By Philippa Geaney


BJ Manning started his car and let it idle.
The only problem with driving home is that you arrive.
He rubbed at his six o’clock shadow, loosened his tie and stared through his windshield at his parking allocation.
Maybe not for long. A re-election was coming up.
Someone had drawn a cartoon sketch of a bull dog with ‘BJ’ on the collar.
If only they really knew.
Here sits a man outspoken in his criticism of mediocrity and hypocrisy; one who, despite being sometimes dubbed Barking Mad in the Gazette’s editorial, has led the charge against the district’s crime rate, hauled the city into the 21st century, stirred up civic pride and found ways to inject wealth into local businesses.
But here too sits a man powerless to lead his own family to peace. I’m a complete sham
A scripture floated into BJ's consciousness.
When a man’s ways please the Lord, He causes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Prov. 16:7 Amp.)
‘Father God, please show me how to lead my family. I believe I please you but only because I’m one with Christ. Apart from that I have no claim. Still Father it is a wonderful claim. And so I ask for help.’
He backed out and turned towards the exit, tyres screeching softly on the glossy concrete.
What will it be tonight Lord?
He never knew these days. Last night Melody- the irony of his second wife’s name stung his thoughts- had greeted him with another tirade of accusations against his first wife’s neglect of discipline towards Samantha. But since his first wife was dead, BJ bore the sole responsibility for his child’s behaviour.
And it boarded on rebellion where Melody was concerned.

He pulled into the drive just in time to hear raised voices reverberating from within; and then the door flew open. Sam was nowhere to be seen.

“She’s at it again. The school pastor called; you’re to contact him tomorrow. She’ll be waging classes for sure. Not that I can get her to admit it. And not content with that she comes home and starts rattling the roof with loud music while I’m trying to host an afternoon tea”.

BJ closed the car door, “Nice to see you too Melody. Don’t people expect teenagers to play loud music? Was it disturbing the neighbours or hurting the dog or…”
“Now that’s another thing”. Melody jumped in front of him expecting him to retreat inside to the study. She placed her hands on her hips
“She brings that creature in despite my telling her over and over- dogs do not belong inside. BJ, she’s uncontrollable.”

BJ frowned. “Sam needs to honour your rules. But I know the Pastor's call was not a tale of woe. Quite th…”

No. No more talk.”. Melody slammed the front door behind them and held her hands over her ears.
“You snap your fingers out there and somehow the whole city comes to heel. You raise your voice and people tremble. They’re all fooled. But not me BJ. I’ve had it. Samantha is off to boarding school or I leave this marriage.”
Melody’s eyes shone with anger. She hadn’t meant to say that. She loved BJ. And even being the Mayor’s wife wasn’t all bad. She liked buying expensive clothes- to look her best; she liked hosting dinner parties and meeting people. She even liked watching the power her husband yielded so effortlessly.
But at home he was a kitten. Disappointment soured her mouth and forced her shapely lips into a downward curve.
“Melody, I’ve been thinking a lot about us lately. Praying too,” BJ put his brief case on the floor. “I’ve been too busy and too tired to go to church. I want to change that. But more importantly I want to spend more time with God. Right now I’m a hypocrite. It’s easy to play tough out there. Force things. But it’s different at home. I don't know how to do it.”
BJ held out his arms. “I’m asking you to stay; help me; but I won't stand in your way. Especially not for appearances sake and re-election. Samantha's not be going to boarding school though. She stays and adapts. That’s what the pastor was phoning about. Sam’s been doing extracurricular work in soup kitchens. Learning to care about others. What do you think?
Melody was taken aback. Was he saying that he needed her?
“I’ve been praying to BJ. Maybe we could both change .”

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This article has been read 157 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/24/13
This is a powerful story. You grabbed me immediately and pulled me into BJ's world. The pain was palpable. You did a great job of building your characters.

You had some tiny errors that a good proofread would catch. Before you hit submit, always hit preview so you can see how it will look to the reader. That would allow you to fix the spacing issues and perhaps little typos like in this line: I’ve been praying to BJ. Of course, I know you meant:"I've been praying too, BJ." Little things like a comma and an extra o can really make a difference! :)

You did a nice job of handling the topic in a fresh and intriguing way. There are a lot of good messages in this piece. I think different readers will take away different things depending on their needs. That takes great talent to pull off. Nicely done.
C D Swanson 10/27/13
Oh my goodness, this pulled on my heartstrings. You did an amazing job with this powerful story. WOW!

God bless~