Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Predicament (03/01/12)
TITLE: Facing the Music
By Beth Muehlhausen
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One day Clarice found herself wedged between a rock named Chip, and a hard spot named Dale. She often flirted with Chip, the worshipful schemer-gone-playboy, and also with Dale, the dim-witted goof with the fun personality. But this time she was sandwiched between the two.
On the fated day, Chip whizzed down the road in his snazzy red Corvette Stingray with the Beach Boys blaring from his open windows. He swerved recklessly into the driveway of Clarice’s lake cottage, and the lyrics, “Little surfer, little one, made my heart come all undone…” boomed into the cottage. Clarice ran to the window, pouffed her blonde hair, and smoothed her strapless lime green sundress. It was show time!
At the same moment, the whine of Dale’s inboard boat motor erupted on the other side of the house. His blue Cobalt swooshed up to Clarice’s pier with a dramatic ga-rumph. She verified his presence at a lakeside window just as the boat’s wake morphed into humpbacked whale-waves that sloshed into the seawall and spit over the top.
What would she do? She didn’t want to play favorites. Both boys were jealous of her attentions, and had little tolerance for each other. The situation was beyond awkward.
Her three younger brothers had transformed the screened porch into a make-believe recording studio. They held cardboard toilet paper tubes to their mouths to serve as pretend microphones.
“Meeeeeee, I want a Huuuuuula-Hoooooop…..” Alvin chirped at the top of his lungs.
“Alvin!” Clarice interrupted her spunky brother who was notorious for mischievous troublemaking. “And Simon!” She also needed the intellectual middle brother with wire-rimmed glasses. “And you too, Theodore!” Impressionable, chubby Theodore wasn’t either quick-witted or fast moving, but he also might provide helpful, perhaps as a diversion. “You guys come here, QUICK!”
“We can hardly stand the wait,
So Christmas don’t be late!”
“BOYS!” Clarice stood in the porch doorway with malignant big sisterly insistence. “STOP THAT CRAZY CHRISTMAS SONG RIGHT NOW! Both Chip and Dale have showed up at the same time!” She grabbed Alvin by the shoulders. “Go outside and catch Chip before he gets to the house. Tell him … tell him I’m in the bathroom. Or something. I don’t know, just stall him. Now GO!”
Alvin stumbled grudgingly toward the door, squeaking over his shoulder in a voice that mocked Clarice. “Tell him you’re in the bathroom … or SOME-thing.”
“Just do it!” Clarice hissed emphatically, whispering a would-be scream.
She grabbed the other boys by their arms and flipped a deflated swim tube with her big toe. “Take this tube down to Dale and ask him to help you blow it up. If he asks about me, tell him … well, tell him I’m in the bathroom. But just keep him down there. Okay?”
Simon grabbed the tube, shrugged his shoulders, and headed toward the lake while Theodore lagged behind.
Now what? The fugitive Clarice ran to the bathroom, locked the door, and stared into the mirror as if desperate for counsel. She was in a scrape. A jam. A pickle. Deep water. Hot soup. Take your pick.
In the meantime, Alvin met Chip with a devilish grin on his face. “If you want Clarice, I think she’s … um … down by the lake,” he said, smirking.
On the other side of the house, Simon intersected Dale on the pier. “Can you blow up this tube?” he asked with his usual intense, sincere gaze.
“Well … I came to see Clarice …”
“She’s, um, in the bathroom. I think.” Simon seemed apologetic. “This won’t take long. Please?”
Back at the house, Theodore had stubbed his toe, forcing another issue. He yowled as Chip crossed the yard, still on the road side of the house. “Chiiiiiip! I’m bleeeeeeeding! Can you get me a band-aid?
Chip hurried inside to find the bathroom door locked with an unseen but terrorized Clarice cowering on the other side. He returned to Theodore with a paper towel from the kitchen. “Here. Press this. It’ll be okay, kid.”
Just then the three mythological fates smiled on Clarice’s predicament. Chip remembered a beach towel he’d borrowed from Clarice earlier that week, and decided to drive home and retrieve it. Dale’s little sister walked the shoreline path and arrived at Clarice’s pier with a message to come home. And Clarice emerged from the bathroom prepared to face the music, only to find the dirge quieted and her two suitors AWOL – until the next time.
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