A super size grape vine

Submitted into Contest #12 in response to: Write a story that takes place in a small town where news travels fast.... view prompt



     My manager, Barbara Salem, who had been the editor-in-chief at the magazine for over ten years, she asked me to come to stop in to her office the other day. She notified me she had learned that there was space in the next edition of the magazine named “The little things” for a short story column.  Barbara asked me to write about a small city life and it grape vine. I grew up in a small city I said “I would be glad to!” I would find it easy to write about something I have firsthand experienced. What do people say a good writer rights first about what they know?

     Now where do I begin. A small city is approximately about 1500 people more or less along with a super-sized grape vine network. The city I grew up had a few churches a Roman Catholic Church, Luthern church and a nondenominational church. Local bar called “The Watering Hold”, yes hole the sign had meant to say hole, but the company misprinted the sign but the owner liked the unusual name, a small mini mall which had a Wa Wa, a small mom and pop grocery store and a small multiplex which usually showed two movies and a small liquor store. The spot everyone knew were to go for the news that “was not fit to print” was the Meatloaf Dinner. Within the community, it was renowned for its main daily special of meatloaf smothered with homemade brown gravy, mashed potatoes and kernel corn. Also, included was a dessert of their prize winning ribbon apple crisp with of course vanilla ice cream topped with a healthy amount of hot fudge and marshmallow topping.

     The dinner of course had its regular patrons at lunch. One being a large party of women from the local knitting group club. The group stationed themselves at their regular large booth which seated about six or seven with a tight fit which was stationed along the wall, on the right side of the dinner.

      The men, another large group of local bird watches stationed themselves in the back of the dinner in the other large booth. No one ever tried or thought about trying to sit in these booths, it was understood but not said out loud but only for these groups who always sat at these booths. An unspoken courtesy of the owner should a newcomer tries to sit there well let me tell you it was not a pretty sight. There were of course a few smaller booths that fit about four people, several single tables for other lunchtime diners and counter service. Lunch lasted at least two hours with the men and women’s groups.  The owner, named Otto, who took over the dinner when his dad died several years ago who didn’t have the heart to close it down, now his family helps run the dinner. His son, Holden, is the cook while going to school for culinary arts. Otto didn’t mind the lengthy lunches he felt it gave the dinner a home life feeling.

     The women first of course discussed about the next knitting project were planning for the local shelter and other church projects but soon after the scuttlebutt was swapped. An example of one woman would begin “Guess whose daughter went to live with her Aunt May, in California and in the middle of the school year, she heard from an anonymous source said she had a bun in the oven. She dated several young men at the same time so she heard that it was not really known who the daddy really had been. They talked about the Pastor’s son was caught shoplifting but didn’t spend any time in jail was let go with only a warning but his dad has him cleaning the church after school and weekends to repay him for the cost of the game taken heard it was MA/X video game what happened to the video game who knows.

       Another woman relayed the tale about a group of teens from the local high school who were members of the school's honor society were caught drinking beer and somewhere smoking an illegal substance and “making out” behind the old paper mill it was said it was quite a scene.  The men also had their own “stories” to swap. One of the men said he noticed a man in the neighborhood was selling off some of his land outside the neighborhood because he was in very deep with his bookie. They talked about the husband who had been stationed at an East coast office for the last few months and heard his wife was in a family way “Who's the daddy?” they said in unison.  The men also hear one of the local council members was stopped for DWI took an unpaid leave said to take care of a family matter really had to enter a court order treatment program or face jail time and lose of his license.

     Other people could sit at a table reading a paper, doing a crossword puzzle or texting on their cellphones while eating the famous meatloaf but most of them were really there to hear, with no one really noticing,  much more than the local paper could ever print. 

     These men and women are good people may swap all the news not fit for print. When someone in the neighborhood was ill, they sent flowers, cards, made food and visited them at home or the hospital. They wore the school colors proudly cheered at the local school football team and baseball team even when they were losing. The men pitched in when one family needed a little hand up during hard times.

     When a neighbor needed a ride to the doctor, hairdresser or to go shopping one of the men was always there willing to help.

      I was thinking to myself  “Know what that it's been awhile since I have been home to see family and childhood friends”. I handed in my copy and asked Barbara if I could use a few of my vacation days to catch up on the local community news and the news was not fit to print. We both laugh.

October 24, 2019 21:02

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