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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Gossip Mill (05/08/14)

TITLE: Nothing to say about that
By Jack Taylor


Nothing to say about that –

“No comment!”

That’s probably my favorite response to Harper Stanton. I step out of the courtroom and he shoves a microphone in my face. “No comment!” I say. I step out of the county lockup and he shoves a camera in my face. “No comment!” I say. I step out of the morgue or the hospital or the federal pen and he latches onto me like a stalker. “No comment!” I say.

That’s why Steve is so important to me. Like last night. We just sat on a bench at the park talking about the spring flowers. We ate hot dogs. We watched the sunset. And I unleashed a little tension.

Sure I mentioned a little about my defense strategy in the euthanasia case. And I did talk a little about my efforts to clear the college prof accused of a hate crime. But mostly I focused on Molly Edgeworth and her pastor who were being charged with breaking the bubble zone around an abortion clinic.

He asked the obvious. “So what’s the law say?”

I told him. “It says that it’s an offence to engage in sidewalk interference, protest, beset, physically interfere with or attempt to intimidate a patient or doctor who provides abortion service within 150 feet around a clinic.”

“So, I take it that Molly and her pastor pricked the bubble zone.”

“If they step out of their church it seems they’re violating the zone. The signs hanging on the building are obvious but it’s a church. They offer life here and in the hereafter.”

“What can they still do at this point?”

“That’s what I’m trying to sort out. They were waving anti-abortion placards in front of girls trying to get into the center. Someone even wrote the names of the doctors on a banner and spread it over the street. It was a shame campaign. But in no way did they stop the girls from making a choice.”

“So what are you appealing?”

“We tried to argue the right to freedom of speech and the right to religious expression.”

“So you lost.”

“I can’t talk about it. I’m sworn to confidentiality.”

“What can you talk about?”

“Well, if you can keep a secret, I heard from Molly that the pastor’s daughter has gotten herself in trouble with the quarterback on the football team. Nothing for sure, but I did hear from my hairdresser that he’s been in trouble with the police over some cocaine usage. It makes sense with that family because I know from the Child Protection Officer that his mom has been investigated for putting his younger sisters at risk with some of her boyfriends. One of the deacons told me on the sly that the board is having to rethink their commitment to the pastor in light of all the negative publicity the church is getting. One of my associates sent me a blog link which points out all the flaws in the church. Personally, I think it was sent by the associate at the church down the street as a way to steal sheep, if you know what I mean.”

And that’s when Steve proved he was worth talking to. He got up and walked away from me with his hands over his ears.

I probably waited ten minutes for him to come back. I didn’t feel unsafe until my mind started to work overtime. I was sitting under the lamplight above that bench with darkness creeping in all over the park. There was only a faint reddish glow along the horizon but the city lights were on. But I was alone.

The picture of Steve with his hands over his ears spoke like a thunderclap to me. He didn’t want to hear me talk about others. He wasn’t like my friends Sharon and Beth. They let me talk all I wanted and they had plenty to share in return to reward me for my efforts.

When enough time had passed I pulled out my cell and called Steve. He didn’t answer the first six times. Finally, he picked up.

I didn’t waste any words. “Why did you just walk off and leave me alone in the dark?” I asked.

He was honest. “I have a confession, Jim” he said to me. “You’re a good man and you’re a great lawyer. It’s just that I have a problem with gossip and you were feeding me too much to remember.”

I had nothing to say about that.

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This article has been read 190 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/17/14
This is a comical story on a serious subject. I thoroughly enjoyed your subtle humor. I had a real sense of both characters. I thought the MC was a female and dating Steve and when I found out he was a guy, I had to go back and reread it which interupted the flow. Other than that though, I think you did a great job of infusing the topic throughout the story. Your beginning drew me in and your dialog set the pace and atmosphere of the story. Nice job.
Joe Moreland05/18/14
Interesting...I thought the same as Shan - that the MC was female and I, too, went back and re-read the opening bits to see if I had missed something before I could finally move on to the end. This lessened the impact of the comical ending.

Other than that, the writing was superb and the characters were vibrant with excellent dialogue.
C D Swanson 05/19/14
Wow...great story, strong delivery, content powerful and message strong.

Well done.

God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/23/14
Congratulations on ranking 11th in Masters and 20th overall.