What an Odd Day
In fun, inspirational stories for writers, this one entitled, What an Odd Day, Bob Piper discovers the true makings of a great story…
Bob Piper strode confidently out of his two-story, white farmhouse and ambled down the walk toward the small-town post office. A warmish March day with a thin coating of clouds splashed across a light blue sky, he felt spring bursting forth at every turn. Red-purple buds swelled at the tips of trees while the brown grass was streaked with pale green shoots.
At the post office, an elderly gent grunted as he pushed the heavy metal door open, but then he stepped aside with a good-morning tip of his head.
Bob alighted on the top step, feeling as young as a schoolboy. “Hallo, Fred.”
“Hallo, Bob.” The old man’s weary expression brightened. “Nothing but bills and adverts today.”
“As always! Better than headline news, anyway.”
Relishing the opportunity to complain to a fellow suffering soul, Fred nodded emphatically. “True enough! Wouldn’t go into the city for love or money these days; you’ll be killed or worse in no time flat.”
Bob offered his hearty approval of Fred’s sentiment with a smart salute, then darted into the dim interior, a smile wavering on his lips. They have no idea, and thank God for that!
Dragging two P. O. Box keys from a deep pocket, Bob chuckled at what would happen if his secret got out. After all, he had lived in this backwoods rural town as quiet, unobtrusive Bob Piper all his life. Little did anyone guess that he had a secret identity as M. D. Bull, author of the famous—some said infamous—MadBull Adventure series.
His characters and heart-stopping plots galloped over thousands of pages, taking multitudes of hard-working laborers, harassed mothers, and invisible teens out of their boring lives into sensational excitement. It was interesting work, did no harm, and, in Bob’s opinion, made the world a far more acceptable place. What could be better than inspirational stories by enthusiastic writers?
Bob’s first box, number 136, held no secrets: a sign-up for an annual fundraiser, the bill for driveway rock spread this winter, and an advert for land for sale.
On the other hand, box number 137 was always a surprise: two subscriptions to exotic travel magazines (used for his story locations), a personalized birthday card from his publisher (kind man), a small “Grammar is our Friend” booklet from his editor (annoying biddy but she did know how to snip a dangling participle) and a set of new author photos that he would need to peruse and approve. He grimaced. He didn’t want anyone to actually recognize him, so he always wore an outlandish costume (wig and all) that usually made him appear more insane than exotic.
A voice rose behind him. Bob whirled around in surprise.
A long-legged woman with curly blond hair and ice-blue eyes cooed like a dove. “Can you help me, please? I seem to have dropped my ring when I took off my gloves. My hubby will absolutely kill me if I lose it.”
Her imploring gaze and wavering red lips reminded Bob of someone, but in the momentary emergency, he didn’t have time to think it out.
He bent low and searched every corner of the small foyer, secretly convinced that this whole situation was some kind of bizarre ploy when a man’s booming voice snapped his spine back into proper position.
A hulking, towering mass of muscle and simmering anger bellowed at the woman who now cowered in the corner. “Whatcha doing, Jan? I’ve been waiting for an age, and I’ve got stuff to do!”
Good Heavens! Bob would know that voice anywhere, that tone and stance. Why, here, right in front of him, stood one of his main antagonists: Jerry Jenkins, a bully if ever there was one!
Bob swiveled his gaze at the woman, who now looked remarkably similar to Janet Jenkins, the conniving—though of oft-abused—soulmate of Jerry, but also a double agent for a secret religious order in Far East Asia.
A near hysterical giggle and Janet plucked a ring from her coat pocket and held it up like a school prize. “Here it is!” Tossing an apologetic smile Bob’s way, she slipped the ring on her finger and sashayed out the door.
After one last glare at the room, sweeping past Bob as if he was invisible, Jerry followed his beloved.
Did I just meet two of my own creations? It’s absolutely impossible!
Bob needed to sit down. The cream-corn-colored walls and the bank of gray metal boxes offered not a particle of physical comfort. With a shudder, Bob wadded his mail into a roll and tucked it under his arm. The Corner Café was open for business, and they served cold sandwiches and piping hot coffee. A good lunch and perhaps a brownie would set his system to rights. Surely.
Kate Something-or-other owned the café and often served the morning crowd to get her daily allotment of gossip and exchange a few zingers with the old timers so their hearts would keep beating. She ambled up to Bob, a pad and pen in hand, though she hardly ever wrote anything down. “Morning, Bob. Usual?”
His head in a muddle, Bob tried to think what Kate might consider his usual. He opted for the direct approach. “Just a BLT with everything and a coffee, if you please.”
“Well, it’s my job to please you, but I’ve never known you to have a BLT before.” She threw up her hands as if the world could go to hell in a handbasket if it so chose.
Rubbing his temple, Bob leaned back and closed his eyes. What an odd day. He really must get back to chapter sixty-three of MadBull’s newest conflict, but he hadn’t figured out how he was going to get the whole extravaganza into the Himalayas, much less out of them, yet. A quandary that MadBull usually accomplished with finesse and charismatic charm. But after today, Bob didn’t feel quite so confident.
A bustle of men stomped into the café, hallooing to surrounding customers and calling for service.
Kate yelled across the room for them to “shush their mouths and behave like their mamas had taught them,” sending everyone into fits of laughter.
The tallest newcomer of the group, a sharp-nosed, thin guy with protruding eyes, waltzed over to the liquor counter and demanded a beer. “I want something strong and savory, woman. Life is too hard and death too easy.” A foreboding sense of Déjà vu rippled over Bob. He squinted in the dim light. Do I know that guy?
With a snort, Kate slapped a bottle on the counter and ordered a couple of teens to get the new orders.
Once his food appeared, Bob ignored his earlier unease and concentrated on devouring every delicious bite of his sandwich.
Until a collective gasp made him stop in mid-chew.
The tall guy, who suddenly looked eerily like Moody Lancaster, one of his favorite sidekicks in his MadBull series, now lay sprawled across the floor.
A crowd formed and soon everyone had phones plastered to their faces trying to outrace each other to the emergency number. Only one of the serving teens, a sweet apple-pie-faced girl, was attempting CPR. Gosh, she’s a dead ringer for California Doll. The precocious kid in his last book who made a splash on the page, being the only person to actually save MadBull’s life by her incredible ability to sew up hemorrhaging wounds while underwater.
Bob stood up, not sure what he should be doing, but well aware that he wouldn’t be able to finish his sandwich. The coffee swirled in a dangerous maelstrom in his stomach. No brownie today.
It didn’t take long to pay his bill; Kate would have taken Japanese yen at that point, so Bob slipped out the door as noiselessly as a cat wearing cotton booties.
By the time he made it home, his stomach had settled to a mild ache, and his head had cleared in the bracing wind. With no desire to face his author photos or peruse the Grammar booklet, he ambled to his study. Taking out his birthday card, he tacked it to the bulletin board on the wall above his desk which mapped out MadBull’s adventurous history. No point in going to Nepal twice. The idiotic bright balloon faces on the card made him wonder if his publisher thought he was turning twelve. No matter.
He plunked down at his writing desk, turned on his computer, and faced the unfinished chapter of his book. Where was Mad Bull going again? Oh, yeah, the Himalayas.
The apple-pie-faced teen rose before his eyes. What was her name? That wisp of a girl actually tried to save the tall guy’s life! How astonishing. The crowd of men…where did they all come from? Was life too hard and death too easy? How about the blond woman? Perhaps she was just Jan, after all. Maybe she had dropped her ring in her pocket by accident and had nothing to do with secret religious orders in Asia. Her hubby might honestly have had stuff to do…
Funny, Bob swiveled his chair and peered out the window. I hope the tall guy is doing okay. Kate probably had to take a rest after such a scare.
Suddenly the Himalayas didn’t seem very interesting. Bob sat up and poised his fingers over the keyboard. Perhaps Mad Bull needs to stop in a rural mid-west town. After all, the story isn’t the adventure, the characters are.
A. K. Frailey is the author of 17 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
Make the most of life’s journey.
For books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page
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“As usual, Ann Frailey doesn’t disappoint. Her heartfelt, down-to-earth stories are filled with real-life experiences and emotions that you can almost feel like you are experiencing them as well as you read. She’s one of the best authors I’ve ever read.” ~Ron Hull
“This book of short stories evokes smiles, tears, and reflection. The author has a unique writing style that captures your attention from the first sentence.” Discovery ~Gale Kaufman