At some point in my past, I read that Raymond Carver once offered advice to writers about what to do if their stories seemed to lag or hit a boring place. His suggestion was to have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.
That idea intrigued me – much more than I expected – and, as a result, I decided to set myself a challenge — as follows: I am committing to write one story for every Saturday in August, in which – at some point in time – whether fitting or not – a man or woman does walk through a door with a gun.
During this exercise, I am going to do very little editing of my stories. Rather I will simply begin writing with whatever idea comes to mind and continue until the gunman appears on the scene. After that point, whatever happens ….
I’m hoping my readers will enjoy this experiment with me, but I also thought that some of you out there would like to participate and do your own “man-with-a-gun” stories.
If you do, please post the links to your stories in the “Comments” section of my story for that week. I’m posting a story today. If you write a story any day this week before next Saturday, please post your link in the “Comments” of my story that is dated today. If you want to wait and post only on Saturdays, I will try to have mine up each of the next four Saturdays by 12:01 a.m. – U.S. Central Daylight Savings time. That way, hopefully, many of my readers in other countries will be able to post at the start of their day if they choose.
I’m not setting any word limit, but if we try to keep them to 1500 words or less, I think we will have an easier time visiting each other’s blogs and reading everyone’s stories – that is if anyone else takes part. I hope you do.
Feel free to start this exercise at any time, or to write only one or two stories if you don’t have time for five. Frankly, I have no idea if I will meet the challenge or not, but I’m at least taking the plunge. And please remember that my blog does not post “R” or “X” rated material.
My first story is below:
Tony couldn’t wait to get to work and tell his colleagues about the lottery ticket. He had never won anything in his life, but yesterday his bad luck had turned to good. Granted, he had won a small game – the prize was just $300.00 dollars – but to Tony, who always seemed to be on the losing end of everything he took part in, this win had him sailing along ten feet above the ground.
As he opened the door of the book store, he saw that Marie, the secretary/accountant was already at work. “Hey, Marie,” he called from the door and then skidded up to her desk, “guess what happened to me last night.”
“Hmmm,” she answered, only half paying attention as she pulled up the program she needed on her computer. “Let’s see … . Oh, I know … you won the lottery.”
She swung around and glanced at Tony when she said it, and noticed that he looked somewhat crestfallen. “That’s a lousy thing to guess,” he complained.
“Because that’s exactly what I did, and I was just sure you’d all be astounded.”
By that time the other two employees had arrived and were standing beside Marie’s desk. “You mean you really did win the lottery?” Randall asked.
“Well, not the biggy, but —” he grinned at each one of them individually. “But I did win $300.00.”
“Hey, congratulations,” Peter said, punching him lightly on the shoulder. “Way to go. Does that mean you’re treating us all to lunch?”
Tony hung his head for a second and then looked up at them sheepishly. “Well, to tell you the truth, I have it earmarked for something else already.”
“I know!” said Marie, her eyes alight. “You’re going to buy Sarah an engagement ring.”
Tony looked at her in astonishment. “For heaven’s sake, Marie, what are you – a mind reader?”
Marie shrugged her shoulders. “Don’t blame me if I’m just super smart.” Then she grinned conspiratorially. “Want me to help pick it out?”
Tony lifted his head in what he wanted to pass for a look of sophistication, but which really made him look more like a schoolboy with a pout. “ I already have it picked out, thank you. It’s a little more than the $300.00, but I have a small amount in a savings account.”
Randall spoke up then. “So, when are you going to give it to her?
“I think I’ll take her to dinner this Saturday and ask her to marry me while we’re at the restaurant.”
“Sounds good. Where are you going?”
“I’ll book a reservation at The Coral Reef – a table by the window so we can watch the sun set over the beach. I want all the romance I can get going for me because I’m not positive Sarah has marriage in her plans. She likes her independence.”
“Well, that’s the perfect place.” said Marie, just as the bell rang over the front door. “Oops, time to get to work.”
But this customer wasn’t a regular. He had a large scarf tied triangularly over his nose and mouth, and he carried a gun.
All four of the employees froze, and without being told to do so, lifted their hands in the air.
“That’s it. Nice and easy, and nobody gets hurt,” said the gunman. He looked at Marie. “Now, girlie, you just walk over to that cash register – nice and slow – and take out all the money and put it in this here bag,” he said, as he tossed an old cloth drawstring bag onto the counter beside the register. Then lay your purse down right beside the bag. And the rest of you,” he added, pointing the gun more robustly toward the three men, “start taking out your wallets; empty your pockets, and put it all in the bag.”
Tony sucked in his breath. He had cashed in the lottery ticket and had the $300.00 in his wallet. He couldn’t let this man steal the money for Sarah’s ring. “Now, wait just a minute!” he said, dropping his hands to his sides. The gunman jumped forward and pushed the gun to within two feet of Tony’s nose.
“No funny business. Empty all those pockets!”
“I will not! I have something important to do with my money, and you can’t have it.”
The gunman stepped even closer. “Look, Buddy, don’t be a fool. Empty those pockets before I get tired of waiting.”
“You have no right to my money or anyone else’s!” Tony said, throwing his left arm toward the man on an angle – just enough to throw the gunman off balance and cause an involuntary reaction in his hand. His hold on the gun was broken for only a couple seconds, but it was enough for Tony to grab the gun and turn it on the thief. His friends dropped their hands, and Tony asked Marie to call the police.
The robber’s eyes were huge with fear, and before anyone could even guess what he was going to do, he had turned and made for the door. Tony shot into the air, hoping to frighten him into stopping. It worked, but only momentarily. The man didn’t look back. His intuition told him that if Tony had been going to shoot him, he would have done it the first time he pulled the trigger, so the man snatched the door open and hurled himself through it, falling onto the sidewalk and rolling several feet. But he jumped up and started running before the others could collect their wits enough to try to stop him.
“Whew!” Randall said, and he knew he spoke for all of them, as they wiped sweat from their brows and upper lips and tried to get their stomachs to relax and their hands to stop shaking. Marie went back to her desk and slumped into the chair. Fifteen minutes later, the police arrived and took their statements – as well as the gun.
When the police had left, and the store was quiet once more, Marie looked at Tony. “You are the most romantic man I’ve ever known,” she said.
He looked dumbfounded. “I don’t think I understand.”
“Why, you risked your life to keep from giving up the money to buy an engagement ring for the woman you love. You really are a gallant knight.”
Tony grinned. “Maybe I’ll be sure and tell Sarah the whole story before I propose. She surely couldn’t turn down a man who was willing to risk his life to give her an engagement ring.” He sighed. “And just think: I may owe my success with this proposal to that guy with the gun. I’m kind of glad I didn’t kill him.”
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