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Drama Fiction

10am April 2nd 1950

‘Bill! We’ve had 560 inquiries and 36 orders so far and it’s only 10 o’clock,’ Sam said, turning to his over-large companion at the rickety wooden desk behind him. 

Piles of papers littered the surface, marked with coffee cup stains and an ash tray spilling over with cigarette butts and gum wrappers. A calendar from the previous year still hung on the corrugated metal walls, it’s pages left unturned after the January page which featured a pretty pin-up girl draped over the hood of a rather drab looking truck. January’s Jane was trying her best to sell but it hadn’t seemed to have much success as the company had gone under just two months later. As many businesses had.  It had been a struggle but they were just hanging in there. Their employees were living hand to mouth but at least they still had jobs. But for how much longer? The recession was hitting hard. Many farmers didn’t have the finance to buy new machinery so soon after the war. Bill and Sam’s farm engines, trucks and tractors were beginning to rust up from lack of interest. 

Bill looked up, surprised. He hadn’t expected the ad to work that well quite so quickly. It had been a long shot but he’d had nothing to lose. Shock tactics might get some interest in the business. If not, it would be his curtain call. He’d thought this would get their name known. Seemed like it might have worked. 

10am April 1st 1950

Mrs Ida Nokluwitz was standing by the ironing board, looking out through the screen mosquito mesh onto her porch. It was an unusually hot Spring day and the swing creaked as it swayed slightly in an imperceptible breeze, wafting in from the sultry fields beyond. The laborious task of planting had been done and you could already see the sprouting of the corn pushing through the dark brown soil of the mid west. The atmospheric heat reflected the pressure being felt by the general population. An unseen time bomb was waiting to go off. The lava was building up under the crater. An explosion ready to blow. 

News bulletins related what they could of the conversations taking place behind the closed doors of the Whitehouse and of the Kremlin. Ida had known little of politics or geography, before the words missiles and Cuba became household words. Now it seemed the very threat of invasion by air was no longer the content of books and movies but had invaded the territory of real life. Women gossiped over the garden fences, men downed beers in the bars. Everyone was focussed only on how their lives would be affected if the two super powers could not keep their arguments verbal only...if it came to blows. Would they be in the firing line? 

Ida was perusing these ideas as she stood staring, the iron left idle and the shirt still creased. Softly, the radio played the usual country music twangs that Ida preferred. Suddenly, the radio broadcast was interrupted by an unusually deep voice which held a note of urgency. 

‘ Severe threat of missile invasion likely in the states of Nebraska and Oklahoma, in range of Soviet missiles based in Cuba,’ the reporter began. 

Ida was hooked on the words ‘severe’ and ‘Nebraska’. She felt as if she had been slapped round the face with a cold, wet trout. It’s scales scraped her cheeks, rousing her attention. It’s icy sliminess seeped down the back of her neck, giving her goose bumps. She was awake and alert. 

‘If you live within a hundred mile radius of the target’s epicentre, you will need immediate warning of impending strikes or your life is in danger. Can you risk the destruction of you and your family? ‘ 

‘No,’ Ida screamed at the radio. 

‘Take note of this number,’ the report continued,’ It is your lifesaver. ‘ 

Ida scrabbled for a pen and paper, determined not to miss her hope of salvation. It was a shame her husband wasn’t here but she would show Ivor Nokluwitz who was in charge. 

‘You need POSITIVE RADAR AIR TECHNOLOGY,’ the voice offered. 

‘I do. I definitely do,’ Ida agreed. ‘What is it?’

As if in answer to her question, the unseen expert, on whom Ida was now basing her whole trust, explained, ‘Our newly patented PRAT machines can identify incoming missiles 3 hours before impact giving you time to evacuate the area or make yourself safe and secure in an underground bunker until any nuclear or biological effects have passed.’ 

Ida was hooked, lined and sinkered. 

‘Our PRAT machines are small, easy to install and only available from.....’

Ida waited with bated breath to write down the suppliers name and number. 

‘.....B and S Hitters Ltd. ‘ came the grand finale. 

Ida picked up the phone....

10.30 am 2nd April 1950

‘ Bill? You need to take this call. ‘ 

Sam handed the receiver anxiously to his brother who mouthed the words ‘who is it?’  Before he could lip read the answer, Bill heard the shout of Sheriff P.R. Ankster on the other end of the line. He knew this was going to take some explaining and a lot of pie being eaten in humility. 

‘Do you realise how many calls we have taken from citizens who believe Cuban missiles are on the way? How many road blocks we have set up to manage the traffic on all leading out of the state? I should lock you up and fine you, Bill! 

For ten minutes Bill mumbled, fumbled with the cord and looked sheepishly at his shoes. The 18 stone giant had been put in his place by an idea gone wrong. Bill apologised profusely, trying to point out that he had only ever wanted to alert the public to the name of the company before he no longer owned a company. 

‘I put so many clues in the ad,’ he explained. ‘I didn’t think people would be so naive. I just wanted them to remember our name.’ 

‘I get it, Bill. You just went a step too far,’ the Chief replied.

Chief P.R.Ankster was as lenient as he could be. A $1000 fine was impossible to find under the circumstances but fortunately for B and S Hitters, not long after, a national newspaper got hold of the story and came knocking on the ramshackle door of the engineers’ yard. The step too far finally turned out to be a step in the right direction for the britgers and their failing business. An April Fools report that hadn’t quite gone as planned, turned out to have the desired effect after all. As for Ida and Ivor Nokluwitz, they’re still waiting for their delivery of the PRAT machine!

April 02, 2021 16:39

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2 comments

Josh C
03:58 Apr 04, 2021

Haha, very good! You should definitely add a tag for funny/humour in this. I loved the choice of metaphor of the wet trout too. It's perfectly placed where the joke starts to be releaved, almost like it is meant to slap the reader to attention. A small note - in the USA they don't use stone. They would say Bill is 252 pounds.

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Alison Clayton
08:42 Apr 12, 2021

Ooops. Of course. Just gave away my identity!!

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