The following is a recent effort inspired by a prompt over to Thinking Ten. It was a Three-Rules Challenge:
Rule #1: Incorporate the word "newspaper" into your story
Rule #2: Include a character named Rose
Rule #3: Include a character named Bud
Rose and Bud had been married for years. Years that began to be counted in decades. Live this long with someone and duties became routines that just happened without anyone thinking about them. Rose and Bud’s mornings became those kind of routines. Not a word passed between them most days until after the second cup of coffee had been poured and the paper retrieved off the front porch, the lawn, or where ever that lazy little SOB decided to toss it.
Rose was in charge of coffee and cigarettes. Bud was in charge of toast and retrieving the paper. Once the first cup of coffee, the toast and the first cigarette had been consumed, they would each take turns commenting about what might be of interest in the section of the paper each had in their hands. Bud might mention the Pats, the Celtics, or some stat Rose had little interest in.
“That’s nice dear.” Moments of silence followed until she spotted something that might be of mutual interest.
“Those damn fools down in DC are at it again.” *
Bud might perk up or he might not. A grunt told her he was not listening, If a word passed his lips, she knew she had his attention and a few moments of actual interaction might ensue. Thus their morning routine would pass in relative calm as the newspaper was consumed from end to end.
One morning began as the thousands of mornings had over their previous years of domestic bliss. Rose on one side of the kitchen table, Bud across from her. Both engrossed in touching base with their favorite parts of the World. Bud had worked through his sports section and was reading Art Buchwald’s column. Rose had finished the National and World news and was just getting into the society section, specifically the who is marrying who section.
“Bud, guess who’s getting married? You’ll never guess in a million years.”
Bud dropped his paper far enough to look at his wife over the flipped down page. “You know I hate that. I don’t guess. Just tell me for Christ’ sake.”
Rose just smiled. “Yes dear, I know.”
Silence. Bud continued to look at her over his glasses and his paper. Rose’s grin just hung on her face. She loved playing with Bud’s head like this.
“Well, who the Hell is getting married?”
Rose hesitated just long enough so Bud became disgusted and went back to reading his paper. Then she spoke. “You remember Melinda Jenkins?”
Bud flipped down the page again and looked at her.
“Uh, no. Don’t recall a Melinda Jenkins.”
“Come on Bud. You remember that young girl who used to help Nancy back when we could afford a Nancy to help clean. I remember her because of what you said.”
“What did I say?”
“You said, ‘she looks like she was pulled through a knothole backwards.’ “
Bud dropped his paper. “ I said that? ………Yeah I seem to remember her. About as ugly a child as ever came down the pike. So she’s getting married. To who, a blind man?”
Rose smiled. “No Bud, she’s hooking up with Willie Benton.”
Bud began to laugh. “Willie “bucktooth” Benton? Oh god, I can only imagine the litter she’s going to drop. Bud laughed and chuckled as he considered the potential for ugly that this union might spring upon the World. The more he fantasized, the harder he laughed.
Suddenly he stopped. His eyes grew large. He crumpled his section of the paper hard in both hands. He tried to stand but could not. He keeled over dead before he hit the floor.
Rose looked down at him. She knew he was dead. He looked dead with his eyes all bulged out, his mouth open and stuck in mid laugh.
“Bud, this is what happens to people who think ugly thoughts.”
She finished her coffee before she dialed 9-1-1.
This story was inspired by the death of my father. He died laughing at the kitchen table after some snarky comment my mom made over something on the "Today Show".