A Story and a Rant

I’m pissed. No this is not another potty training post, and yes I’m sorry for swearing (I think this is a first on this blog). That’s how I feel, though. I’m mad, I’m disappointed, and I’m taking my ball and going home.

That’s better. Now let me explain. I worked out a submission for Part 2 of the reader submitted story my local newspaper is hosting, coming up with around 700 words and a pretty good idea that will move the story in a more interesting direction. I submitted my story early yesterday morning, well before the noon deadline (I thought). In the afternoon, I get an email from the paper telling me that I missed the deadline, a deadline that was impossible to find anywhere on their site. I couldn’t find it, so I just went with the previous deadline plus two weeks. I tried to make my case but was shot down. A couple hours of my life wasted. What makes me the most angry is that I could easily have finished the story before the deadline if I had KNOWN THE DEADLINE.
I figured I post my entry here anyhow, so at least someone will read it. Here is a link to Part 1, written by another author. My job was to continue the story. Here is my entry:

Part 2

Ann looked around the car garage. It smelled of oil and sweat, with just a dash of the tears of those poor sad souls unceremoniously parted with their hard earned money. Nearly every surface, from the door knobs, to the computer monitors, to the light switches, was stained black from countless grimy fingerprints, all signs of a successful garage. These sights were familiar. What Ann found odd, however, was the conversation in the place. What was so unique about a wreck in the middle of the winter on Interstate 80 that would cause it to be the topic of conversation between every customer and mechanic in the shop?

What Ann overheard was neither talk of the driver of the tractor-trailer, nor talk of fate of the minivan driver, nor the poor road conditions that night. Rather, everyone in the garage was discussing what was rumored to have been the real cause of the crash.

“They say it was like a flash of light,” said the shorter mechanic wearing the faded blue Penn State cap. “Like a falling star, only closer.”

“That’s not what it was at all,” said the taller of the two. “I hear the truck driver saw a man running next to his cab, the guy was barely working up a sweat, and the driver was going sixty miles an hour.”

“That’s from Superman, stupid, and it was a train, not a truck,” said his friend. “Whatever it was, they both saw something. I don’t know why the cops aren’t giving out any information, other than..”

“Well, we’ll give you a call when it’s ready. Should only be a couple days,” said the man behind the counter to Ann, blocking whatever the two men said next. For now, the crash would remain a mystery.

“That sounds good,” said Ann, proceeding to give the man her cell phone number.

Sally gave Ann a ride to her parent’s house, but they weren’t home and had never given Ann a key to the house. “Why don’t you stay with us until they’re home,” said Sally. “I bet David’s there.” Ann reluctantly agreed to join her. She had nowhere else to go.

Ann stared out the window on the short drive through town to Sally’s house. It had been a long time since she had been home, but Ann was shocked at how much things had stayed the same. Looking at the familiar houses and small businesses, Ann thoughts briefly turned to David, who had for much of their youth been a close friend and for a brief moment before she had screwed everything up had seemed to be more than a friend. What she thought about most, though, was what those drivers had seen on Interstate 80 that caused them to wreck.

The car pulled slowly into the driveway, and Ann and Sally exited the car. Sitting on the sun porch was David, whom Ann noticed as she tucked a strand of gray hair behind her ear looked somehow even better now than he did in his youth.

“Why don’t I make some supper while the two of you catch up,” said Sally, with a wink intended for David that Ann had noticed as well.

Ann and David talked for a while about the usual: who had gotten married, who was divorced, and who had died. Soon talk turned to the curious night on I-80.

“What really happened that night?” said Ann.

“It’s hard to explain,” said David.

“Try,” said Ann, trying her best to hide her annoyance with David’s attempted dodge of the question.

Following several moments of silence, David cleared his throat and continued. “Well, there was a brilliant flash of light just before the accident. Something fell from the sky, I’m sure of it. I would’ve crashed myself if I hadn’t already been driving so slowly. I think it was a UFO.”

“Just because you can’t explain it doesn’t mean it’s a UFO, you know,” said Ann, as if she were trying to convince herself. The David she knew was many things, but irrational wasn’t one of them. “Maybe a street light went out?”

“It’s more than that,” said David reaching underneath his chair.  “It left behind this.”