by J. A. Buxton
Life is but a cliche, or is that a bowl of cherries?
I love cliches. They are some of the best descriptive phrases, but sadly editors and publishers don't seem to want to see them in writing anymore. Soooo....write a short story or poem starting with the following line: "The wind whipped across the plains like an angry woman" and use as many cliches as you can in the tale.
The wind whipped across the plains like an angry woman. Roger Henderson looked up at the sky, but continued to stand there like a bump on a log.
He never was the sharpest tool in the shed, thought his wife, Lucy. She watched the rain coming down fast and furious. When she heard the distant rumble, she realized she, her husband, and their neighbors were all in the same boat, on the brink of disaster, unless she could get them to work like a dog. Together, they might stem the tide of water coming toward them and keep from going to hell in a handbasket.
“Roger,” shouted Lucy, “You’ve got to help me ‘cause it’s raining cats and dogs, and I think the dam upstream just broke. For hours now, I’ve been busier than a one-armed paper hanger, or as my sainted ma would say, ‘Busier than a one-legged man at an ass kicking contest.’”
Roger ever so slowly strolled to where Lucy was standing by the back door to their house. “Don’t worry. Time and time again, ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, my mama said there would be days like this.” In the twinkling of an eye, his happy-go-lucky mood evaporated when he saw the anger on his wife’s face.
“Get the lead out of your feet,” she yelled, “Didn’t you hear the dam giving way? It's coming like a freight train, and if you don’t get a move on, you’ll be in a fight for your life. We’ll have to fight tooth and nail to save our home, never mind our lives. Now, clam up and be quiet!”
The next hour was fraught with danger making the two of them risk life and limb as the dam water came closer and closer. Lucy knew they would have to pull out all the stops to save their belongings, or they’d end up poorer than a pickpocket in a nudist colony.
Just in the nick of time, they saw some of their true blue neighbors running down the muddy dirt road. This meant there would be a balance of power in the fight against the raging dam water racing toward them. Lucy knew they would have the last laugh, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Seeing the dozens of people digging in to stack sand bags along the bank of the creek bed, she became as happy as a hog in slop.
With every tick of the clock, the land around the old wooden home became snug as a bug in a rug. Roger heard his wife thanking their neighbors and echoed her thought when he said, “We would have been up Shit Creek without a paddle without your help.”
Abner Cahill, who was older than dirt, gave them his toothless grin. “This was nothing. When I was young I WALKED to school,... uphill,.... both ways. He started laughing and said, “I had a whale of a good time today.”
Ned, a young farmer from just over the hill, shouted, “It ain't over until the fat lady sings, Abner!” He had been standing on the creek bank and pointed off in the distance.
In a trice, the rest of them joined Ned, and they heard Lucy bitterly complain, “You can't win 'em all!” Slicker than a wet weasel on a linoleum floor, the second wave of dam water rushed toward them.
At the end of the day, the dam breaking turned out to be a blessing in disguise, at least for one person. The flood was a baptism of fire, or in this case water, for the small country community. In troubled times, a friend in need is a friend indeed, and they wanted to lend a helping hand to those less fortunate. Their last-ditch effort to help Roger and Lucy, however, turned out to be as helpful as a screen door on a submarine. It was as much use as a yard of pump water and left them worn to a frazzle.
The only one to benefit from the flood was the town banker. He had the morals of an alley cat and scruples of a snake. Days after the flood, he called in the mortgage on many properties, this action being a feather in his cap.
Within days, the banker, who had a lean and hungry look, came to Roger Henderson’s worthless property. Lucy was heard to tell him, “There’s no getting blood from a turnip. We lost it all.”
She was delighted to let her husband have the final word when he finally got his dander up. “You don’t have my place yet, so get out.”
The banker looked more confused than a woodpecker in a concrete forest. He eventually managed to blurt out, “You can talk 'till your blue in the face, Roger. You can bet your bottom dollar at the end of the day, the bank will win hands down.”
Suddenly, there was a sound coming toward them, more noisy than two skeletons making love on a tin roof. There in the lead of dozens of neighbors was old Abner, fit to kill. When he reached the banker, he glared at him while saying, “You ain't worth the salt that goes in your bread. I know you think I’m crazy as a coot. You better wake up and smell the coffee ‘cause in troubled times, we stick together.”
Lucy smiled at the stunned banker, “Take a hike and get the lead out of your feet. Don't let the door hit you where the good lord split you.”
Knowing he’d lost, the banker cried all the way to the bank. The man who always was a legend in his own mind no longer thought life was a barrel of laughs. There was no rest for the wicked, and he admitted he was as crooked as a dog’s hind leg. He sadly thought, Winning isn't the only thing, it's everything!
He brightened after remembering, Tomorrow is another day!
Microsoft Word count = 1,000
"The Writer's Cramp is 20!!" daily contest entry for 02/07/08