Life in a small, rural county

Discussion in 'Writing' started by sky dancer, Dec 20, 2008.

  1. sky dancer
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    sky dancer Guest

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    I'm beginning to collect a scrapbook of the Sheriff's Report that is posted in our small town newspaper because it is so funny, and I'm going to use some of the news events to write short stories.

    I thought I'd share some and see if that inspires me or anyone else to make up a story to go with the reports. These are excerpts from real life reports as printed in our local paper:



    Several stray dogs are brought to the shelter
    A dog or possibly mountain lion is killing sheep in DC
    Vandalism to the elementary school
    Items out of place in a woman's home
    Juveniles make a skate ramp out of new bleachers delivered to the park baseball field. Billboards taken off the fence, condoms and beer bottles found inside the dugout.
    Violation of a restraining order


    Report of a victim bitten while feeding a raccoon. Victim declines medical treatment.
    Theft of a county radio from solid waste
    Out of control 17 year old daughter
    16 year old son smoking pot and drinking

    Unstable subject at gas station yelling and scaring customers
    Subject caught stealing firewood
    Juveniles riding motorcycles and three wheelers at the reservoir


    CHP requests assistance with two persons, both drunk, one stating the other ran over his fence, ran over his dogs foot, then took the fence causing $5000in damage. An arrest is made for DUI.

    Intoxicated caller reports he was assaulted. Alleged suspect denies incident and is admonished.

    Dogs attacking dogs in JC.

    Shots fired in Oldtown.

    Large group of juveniles headed to Cedar Creek for party.
    Five feral cats are brought to the animal shelter

    Many dogs are brought to the animal shelter including a litter of ten puppies.

    A neighbor yelling profanity at a W-town woman and throwing rocks at her fence. Officer finds that the fence is owned by the suspect, who is upset at the woman's barking dogs.

    Three males in a VW bug spinning circles on the church lawn. No visible damage. Suspects admonished.

    Flue fire.

    Three medical calls.

    Caller reports his brother is telling people that the caller hits women and is threatening to kill the brother and throw him in the river.

    Caller reports a dead coyote by the river and concerns that her dogs could get rabies. Caller is advised that rabies is transmitted by a bite.

    Loose peacocks.

    Child abuse.

    Caller reports being assaulted by a female for taking clothes out of a washing machine and putting them in a basket. Victim says she was choked and her hair was pulled.

    ACO speaks to a horse owner in DC saying the horse must have access to water at all times and cannot always be tied.

    A caller reports she was advised by the fire department and her landlord not to go back to her home which burned down Friday night, but the landlord and a male have been at the site.

    Garbage thrown into a truck.

    Officer advises male that he has been 86'd from a business where he worked after caller reports he was intoxicated and touched a female inappropriately.

    Caller reports his sister threatened to kick his ass.

    Vandalism and dead chicken reported. Chicken appears to have been killed by an animal.

    Neighbor cutting trees on anothers property yells at woman and comes after her dogs with a chain saw.

    Caller reports her husband trying to kick a woman out of house who pushed her way in the door. He tells it differently and caller is arrested for public intoxication.

    Child crying frantically for its mother. Officer reports that the child wanted to go with its mother when she left.

    Man with schizophrenia has not contacted family in days and last called from a bar. Officer spots him walking in front of sheriffs office and gives him ride to a hotel.

    Rooster in Mad River that disturbs the peace with crowing. Owner is told to contain rooster until after 6 am. He in turn complains about another rooster that crows.

    Female screaming. Gone when officer arrives.

    Large vegetation fire on a no burn day.

    Missing rottweiler 'Brody'.

    A bone is found in a community forest. It is sent to forensics to determine if it is human.

    A possible break in at the Bully Choop Mine.

    Burglary to a cabin, including forced entry. Food eaten and signs of drug activity including burned tin foil.

    Fire started by a suspect on Mountain Summitt. Suspect determined to be a transient trying to keep warm.

    Break in at home, bedroom window broken, TV on floor and two rifles missing.

    A rape is reported.

    Man reports he was sleeping outside and attacked by a fox who bit him in the arm. Man killed the fox with a shovel. Man is taken for medical treatment.
    Fox was taken to veterinarian who sent its head to the lab. Fox is found to be rabid.
     
  2. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    I love this idea. Some of these titles are bringing up a lot of imagery for me. What kind of short stories have you written?
     
  3. sky dancer
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    sky dancer Guest

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    Mostly ones that are fictionalized versions of something that happened to me, could have happened or did happen to someone I know.

    Sometimes changing details allows the truer story to come through.

    I get alot of ideas from stories in our local paper and particularly from the Sheriff's report. I also see many of our county residents in all kinds of different ways, so I often know or suspect a bit more going on.

    Someone asked about writing ideas. I thought I'd help out and we could support each others efforts.

    Actually, we could also talk about what writers we read and why we like their writing. Right now I'm on a Richard Price roll. I'm reading everything I get my hands on of his. He writes inner city stories like Freedomland, which was made into a movie. His characters are rich, his stories textured and his dialogue funny and superb. He completely captures why people don't leave the places that are born in.

    I left mine ASAP, but the people who remain behind trapped fascinate me.
     
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  4. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    When I was in junior high school, high school, I used write tons of short stories. I used to have fun using the real people I knew and putting them into compromising situations. So instead of reading romance novels, I used to write them.

    I thought I would be a writer, almost majored in English Literature, but strangely ended up with a degree in economics.

    I loved all the classics, and lately my reading have turned more toward non-fiction and history books. The last book I read was by Joan Didion and it was a memoir. Although I didn't like her book, The Year of Magical Thinking all that much, I liked her style and hope to pick up another one of her books, this time a fictional one.

    My last writing assignment was collaborating on a Halloween story in the style of Stephen King. It was only 500 words, but I had a blast writing it.

    I wish I had more time to write because that is when I am happiest.

    Do you share your short stories with anyone?

    Thanks for starting this thread. It is of great interest to me.
     
  5. Diuretic
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    Diuretic Permanently confused

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    That was an excellent read. I'm a bit concerned though that there seems to be an animal welfare problem there (I'm serious). Great little vignettes running through my head (yes, along with the voices for the soundtrack :lol:)


    Did Brody come home?
     
  6. sky dancer
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    sky dancer Guest

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    I don't know if Brody came home. We lose alot of family pets out this way to the wildlife.
     
  7. sky dancer
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    A Mystery

    Alistair McDougal pulled his putty colored ’87 Chevy Wagon into the JC Store. American flags filled both back side windows and on the rear window was the black and white POW flag. At 6 foot 3 inches and 250 pounds no one was going to bother him. He could get away with wearing kilts. Today he was clearly agitated. Not even closing his driver side door he hurried into the store.
    “Molly, I gotta use your phone. I gotta call the sheriff. I was just over at Duane Upton’s place and something real bad’s happened.”

    “Sure thing Alistair. Here. Just take a breath and calm down some or the sheriff won’t be able to make any sense of what you’re saying.” I handed him the cordless. It was going to be another interesting Tuesday here in Junction City.

    My name is Molly Dewhurst. I’ve owned the Junction City Store for close to ten years now. It’s been for sale for eight of those years but no one’s been as stupid or as desperate or maybe na├»ve as I had been when I took it over that spring so many years ago. I thought what an easy way to move to the country and still make a living. No wonder the owners had jumped at my offer of ten grand down and the rest in installments.

    What really makes me laugh – or want to cry somedays – is my thinking I would be running a store. It’s much more than that. I’m a goddamn one woman social service agency, freight forwarder, bank, confessor and messenger service. My dream when I came up here was to build a log cabin in the back of the property overlooking the river. I’m still in the old single wide behind the store.

    Those first five years I was here I fought my circumstances and was hopeful each year that I’d get ahead. Now I’ve settled in to that emotional state of pretty much everybody who lives around here who hasn’t succumbed to Jesus, Buddha or meth: a state just a little above chronic depression, knowing nothing’s ever going to get better but we’re all in the same boat so might as well help each other out.

    I wanted to listen in to Alistair’s call to the sheriff but it was 3:45 and the bus from the high school in Weaverville was dropping off the kids out front. If I wasn’t vigilant they’d shoplift enough stuff to eat away the small daily profit I did make. Not that they were bad kids, but if you think it’s hard on adults out here, it’s doubly hard on the kids. Especially in the winter. At least in the other seasons there’s the river and the woods to fool around in. In the winter the kids have nothing. And I remember that age, though I hate to remember how long ago it was, so I’ve let them use the covered patio at back as sort of their clubhouse. It’s behind the store so they don’t harass the few tourists we get this time of year. Since I let them start hanging out there the shoplifting has gone way down. I even let them smoke cigarettes back there, though of course I won’t sell them any. My only rules are no alcohol, no drugs and no fighting. The parents seem to like knowing where they are and every summer now the parents get together a work crew to paint the picnic table. So I guess you could add after-school activities director to my job description.

    Bennie sucked on the ends of her dyed black hair and then looked at her painted black fingernails. So cool. Her mother didn’t know anything. How could she think this was just a stage? Bennie was the first in her high school – well, maybe not the first, but one of the firsts – to dye her hair black and line her eyes with charcoal. She was a trend setter. Her mother didn’t understand anything.

    Ever since her father died three winters ago coming over the Buckhorn her life had completely changed. If only he hadn’t been so stubborn. She could almost hear what he always said: Nobody was gonna make him chain up. His Bronco could make it through. He wasn’t no sissy. And maybe he would have if the lumber truck ahead of him hadn’t jack-knifed so he had to brake hard and went into a skid. The Highway Patrol told them his truck went over the side that was so steep his truck ended up caught in a tree fifteen feet off the ground. He died instantly but it took the rescue crew five hours to get his body down.

    Now her mom had to work two jobs, cleaning at Longs' Drugs at night and caring for old Mr. Upton on the weekends. At first Bennie had really missed her but now she was glad. Really glad. She wouldn’t be able to carry out her plan if her mother was on her case like she used to be. No more “you are not leaving the house looking like that, young lady.” After a night of cleaning at Longs’ her mother was sound asleep when she left for school.

    Bennie’s plan was coming together nicely. She had a goal, not like these other clueless kids around here. She was going to get out and she almost had the money to do it. At least that was the plan. But where the hell was Virgil? He said he’d pick her up from the store before four. She had the pills for him and he said he’d give her another $200. She couldn’t keep this up forever; somebody was bound to find out. Damn it, where was Virgil? She could hear the sirens now coming from down river. Could something have happened to him? He was coming from Big Bar. She didn’t really care that much about him, but she needed to get rid of these pills before anyone found them in her backpack.

    The sheriff’s car went by the store at twenty miles over the speed limit and turned up Dutch Creek Road. “What’s going on, Alistair?” I asked.

    The big man looked pale, a change from his usual ruddy complexion. He looked like he was about to faint.
    “Can’t talk, Moll. Gotta meet the sheriff out at the Upton place.” He pushed through the swinging front door, sprinted for his station wagon and peeled out of the parking lot, spraying gravel.
    Isn’t that typical, I thought. You want to know something and everybody shuts up. You don’t want to know and they give you an ear full!

    Looking out the front I could see Bennie sucking on the ends of her dyed black hair, pacing back and forth by the gas tanks. That girl would be the death of her mother. She had been such a sweet girl until her father died. I shook my head. This is one of those days I was glad I never had children. You just never know how they’ll turn out.

    Rebecca put on her signal and got ready to turn left into the store parking lot. She’d just passed a sheriff’s car going the other way and now an old station wagon with American flags in the side windows pealed out of the lot just in front of her. Had that driver really had on kilts? He had been moving so fast out to his car it was hard to tell. She shook her head. It’d been a long drive from the city and even though it was just after four it was getting dark in the winter gloom.
    Maybe coming up here was a mistake. Certainly the place looked different than it had this summer. In the hot sunshine with the flower pots full of bright zinnias and marigolds and the lot full of tanned college kids with their kayaks and lattes it looked like an advertisement out of Sunset magazine. Now it looked like the town that time forgot. The dark clouds pressed down, obscuring the mountains. Only a couple vehicles were in the lot and none of them had been new even ten years ago.

    Frankly Rebecca was a little shocked. How did people still live like this? She hadn’t even been able to get a signal on her cell phone for the last hour. Forget WIFI. She carefully maneuvered her new Pontiac Vibe between the potholes and turned off the engine. Nora Jones faded from the CD player. Guess I’ll have to start listening to country radio if I’m going to spend any time here, she smiled. Time to get out and meet the natives. She needed toothpaste and directions to the Buddhist Center that was supposed to be around here.

    Rebecca walked past the gas pump, glancing at the teenage girl dressed in black and entered the store. She’d driven past last summer but never been inside. What was that hairdo on the woman behind the counter? A mullet? Does anybody really still wear their hair like that? Several people were lined up to make their purchases, 32 ounce fountain drinks, beer and hot dogs. Hard to believe these people could afford to smoke, yet the three people ahead of her all bought cigarettes.

    The man in front of her turned and smiled. He was probably around her age but his lack of front teeth make him seem much older. He was going bald and had his hair in a greasy ponytail. “You wanna go first? I just remembered I need to get a video.” He headed for the back of the store. Jesus, Rebecca thought, he was flirting with me. He left a trail of smells as he walked past her, cigarettes, alcohol and, now she recognized it, patchouli oil. She pictured dinner with friends in the city, giving them a report of the local colorful characters.

    “How can I help you, Hon?” Rebecca looked up at the kind face of the woman behind the counter. Here was someone who didn’t worry about aging. Even her wrinkles had wrinkles.
    “Just need directions to the Buddhist Center. I know the turnoff is somewhere close to here.”
    “No problem, Hon. Just go back the way you came and take the first right, just around the curve. You’ll see the signs. You can’t miss it, but if you get to the school you’ve gone too far. Just drive slowly once you turn into the driveway. Those pot holes can be murder on a new car.”
    Rebecca thanked the woman and left the warmth of the store. How’d she know I have a new car? Rebecca remembered she had meant to get toothpaste but no way was she going back in that store. There was something creepy there. Didn’t know what it was and didn’t want to find out.

    Virgil sat in his pick-up on the side of Highway 299 at Pigeon Point. He was still trying to calm down. When the sheriff’s car had pulled behind him with the siren going he just about peed his pants. He thought it was all over. He’d pulled to the side of the road and had been shocked when the sheriff had continued down the highway, lights flashing.

    Goddamn that was a close call. He got out of the truck and did a series of deep knee bends to try to get his energy back in his body. He’d already been nervous about meeting Bennie at the JC store. That Molly at the store could be a real busy body and she’d never liked him. That coupled with what he had under the tarp in his truck bed and he could have been in a world of hurt if the sheriff had really been pulling him over.

    He almost didn’t believe his luck. He was so used to everybody else getting the breaks. Now all he had to do was keep to the plan for the next three days and his future was assured. He’d get the pills from Bennie, give her the $200 and disappear for a week, lay low in his uncle’s cabin up Canyon Creek. He had enough dirt now on enough people in this county to give him an income for years. Tax free. As if he ever worried about taxes.

    Dusk was settling fast as he pulled back onto the two lane highway that paralled the river. He could see some steelhead fisherman still out on the river in their waders. Virgil pulled into the store and drove around back.
     
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  8. chloe
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    Great writing Skydancer....sometimes I write too but I always throw it away when its done.
     
  9. sky dancer
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    sky dancer Guest

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    I toss most of my work out too. We both ought to keep it though.
     
  10. chloe
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    I know a few months later I will wish I hadnt thrown it out....ha ha
     

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