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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Appointment (02/09/12)

TITLE: Bound for Dallas
By Ed Arrington
02/12/12


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BOUND FOR DALLAS

Tim Healey knocked on the door of the white, clapboard house. It was a sunny, warm, breezy day, in the early afternoon. After a few seconds the door opened and Tim was greeted by his best friend, George Robbins, rotund and scraggly, as always.
“Hey, Tim,” George said. “What’s up?”
“Are you home alone?” Tim asked.
“Yep. My mom is at a church meeting. Come on in.”
Tim stepped into the house and followed George through the living room to the kitchen. They sat down at a small breakfast table.
“How about a chocolate chip cookie,” George said. “They are deee-licious. I made them myself.”
“Sure,” Tim replied.
George rose from the table, went to the fridge, removed a carton of milk and poured two glasses. On the way back he picked up a few cookies from the kitchen counter.
George noticed the purple bruise on Tim’s face, just under his left eye. “I see your Dad’s been knocking you around again. Geez, Tim, what was it this time?”
Eating his snack, Tim tearfully replied, “Nothing I deserved. My mother told him yesterday that I had been disrespectful. So, last night he took me to his office, said he had a project to finish. As you can see, I was the project. Right out of the blue, he laid in to me, didn’t say a word – he just kept hitting me.”
Disgusted, and angry, George said, “Tim, you are not a punching bag. Your Dad should not be doing this.”
Munching a cookie, Tim replied with fierce determination, “Well, he won’t do it again. I am leaving town, tonight.”
Surprised, George said, “Leaving town, where?”
“Dallas – I’ve got a grandmother there,” Tim replied.
“How will you get to Dallas?” George asked.
“Goin Greyhound. My bus leaves a little after midnight and I intend to be there.”
George was scared for his friend, but he knew that Tim would not survive the constant punishment from his father.
“Tim,” George said, “be careful out there.”
Tim smiled, raised an arm, made a fist and shook it, almost defiantly. “I’m bound for Dallas.”


The Greyhound Bus Station in Jacksonville, Florida at 12AM was mostly deserted, except for a few winos and homeless people lurking outside the terminal doors. Inside there were a few weary people sprawled across chairs and benches. The midnight cleaning crew was busy removing trash from the terminal, sweeping and mopping floors, scrubbing bathrooms.
There was only one ticket counter open and it was occupied by James Hogan. He was a heavyset man with a sour look on his face. He was nauseous and coughing, fighting off a bad cold. He was wearing a cheap pair of dime store reading glasses and was perusing the pages of a magazine. He happened to look up from this idle distraction and saw a young boy enter the terminal. The boy resolutely marched straight to the counter and stopped. Hogan observed that he was dressed in a light blue jacket, blue tee shirt, faded blue jeans, and a worn pair of tennis shoes. He had a face full of freckles and an ugly bruise under his left eye. He was holding a large brown paper bag, and the contents were secured by a crude looking wire.
The young boy, with a slight tremor in his voice, said, “I need a ticket for Dallas, Texas, sir. How much would that be?”
James Hogan suspected that the boy was a runaway, and he looked a little beat up, maybe by an adult. He decided to give the kid a break.
“Cost you twenty bucks,” Hogan said.
Tim Healey took some money out of his pocket and slapped a twenty-dollar bill on the counter. “Fine,” he said. “When does that bus leave?”
Hogan issued a ticket to Tim and said, “Bus leaves from Gate Six in about ten minutes. You made it just in time. You take care now and stay out of trouble.”
“I’m already in trouble,” Tim replied.
The young boy made his way to Gate Six, boarded the bus and found a front seat by the window. He fell asleep as the bus departed Jacksonville. He felt free for the first time in his life. This would not be a day where he would suffer unnecessary and brutal abuse from his father.


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This article has been read 171 times
Member Comments
Member Date
CD Swanson 02/16/12
Oh my! What an emotional story. It stirred all kinds of emotions within. Good job with this and I am so glad that young man had an "appointment" with his grandma. God bless~
Donna Wilcher 02/16/12
Great story. I enjoyed the dialog between the friends, sounded just like a couple buddies talking.

The story itself is very sad, I felt sorry for the boys..especially knowing this kind of thing happens all the time..

Keep up the good work..
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/16/12
You did a great job with a tough topic. I could feel the pain of the MC.

You may want to double space between paragraphs to give the reader more white space. Also to help build the characters, instead of using tag lines like he said take that opportunity to describe what the speaker is doing. Tim crinkled his brow and his eyes dipped to the floor. would show the reader what the speaker is doing as well as identify who is speaking.

I really enjoyed the ending. I think the ticket taker would agonize over the decision to help the kid or call the police. You did a really nice job with this piece.
Loren T. Lowery02/17/12
You can really tell a story well. My suggestion would be to watch your paragraph spacing to make it easier for the reader. Also watch the overuse of tag lines after a speaker says something. The reader, if you, as a writer, have done a good job with the characters, will know who is talking and and the emotional content of what is being said. Remember to always show and not tell what is going on in your story.
Jody Day 02/22/12
Great story! You kept me interested until the end.

You use alot of passive voice. Instead of 'there was', 'he was', etc., you might try stronger ones. For instance at the bus station:

'Inside a few weary people' instead of 'Inside there were'
and 'the busy midnight cleaning crew removed' instead. Just a suggestion because I noticed alot of was and were, etc.

Nicely done!