Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Persuasion (not about the book) (09/01/11)
TITLE: Driving Ms. Ethel
By Bryan Ridenour
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Stooped with age, Ethel strained to straighten her spine, setting her jaw stubbornly. “I'm not ready t' hang up m' keys,” she complained, striking the hardwood floor with her cane for emphasis.
Earl shuffled to his recliner and eased down. “Dear, you'll have t' admit, y'r eyesight's failin' and your reflexes ain’t what they used to be.”
“Earl, I passed m' eye test when I renewed m' license.” She hobbled into the kitchen, fuming.
Earl groaned, pushing to his feet; he trailed behind slowly. “But y'r eyes have been worse lately.” He watched as she grabbed a box from the pantry and opened the refrigerator, hefting the milk jug to the counter.
“How has it gotten worse Earl?”
Earl settled into a dining room chair. “Well, two weeks ago you encountered that rat in the garage and you thought it was the neighbor's Yorkie.”
Ethel scowled at her husband. “That coulda happened to anybody.”
“But, honey, you tried commandin' that rat to sit for a treat. And when he didn't, you called the Trottenfelders and told them t' come pick up their stupid mutt.”
“So?” Earl asked incredulously. “That's an AKC champion canine. Harry still won't talk t' me and he's borrowin' m' favorite walker.” Earl stood with some difficulty and poured himself a cup of coffee. “And now I know he won't loan us his Hoveround for our trip to the Mall of America.”
She poured milk into the cereal bowl. “OK, so I messed up with th' rat,” she huffed. “One little mistake ain’t too bad.”
Earl sipped from his cup, winced, blew on his steaming drink and pressed on. “But that's not the only thing, Ethel. A couple of days ago you said we were going to have beef stew...some of that canned stuff from the Piggly Wiggly.”
She crossed her arms across her chest. “Canned stuff ain’t that bad.”
“No,” he nodded, “you're right. But didn't you think it tasted a little....strong.”
She shook her head. “Earl you know m' mouth was numb from the dentist.”
“Exactly,” Earl agreed. “You didn't know that you simmered up two heapin' cans of sauerkraut.”
Ethel stared at Earl, surprised. “I wondered why you didn't touch your supper.”
“I wish you wouldn't a touched yours. It's adversely affected your bowels...and the air quality.”
Ethel's face colored furiously. “So, I've messed up twice. Coulda happened to anybody.”
Earl tottered to Ethel, and snatched away her spoon. “And I've got a third example.” Earl dumped the contents of the bowl into the sink, flipping on the disposal. “You were about to eat detergent for breakfast.''
Ethel slumped into a chair. “Maybe you're right.” She swiped a tear streaming down her cheek. “But how am I supposed to go get m' hair done at the salon, or take advantage of the early bird sales and double coupon days on Efferdent down at Major's Mercantile?”
Earl rifled through a drawer and retrieved a pamphlet, sticking it in her hand. “Here's how.”
“Public transportation?” she questioned, skeptically.
“Yep,” Earl nodded. “The bus runs right by here everyday.”
“I don't know,” she responded uncertain. “Don't a lot of shady characters ride on public transportation?”
Earl slapped the counter. “Shady characters? Your son...drives... the bus!”
“Well, maybe,” she said, warming to the idea. She paused, thinking. “And he can protect me from the riff raff.”
“Then it's settled,” he announced. “I'll call Junior and add you to his route.”
“Great hon,” she said smiling, sporting her new dentures.
Earl wrapped his arms around his wife. “Maybe I shoulda let you eat a spoonful of those granules.”
“Why?” she asked, embracing her husband.
“It mighta cleaned you out.” He backed away suddenly.
“What's wrong Earl?”
Earl's nose wrinkled noticeably. “Do me a favor?”
“OK,” she agreed.
Earl scurried off to the living room, spraying a trail of air freshener. “Next time, let me make the beef stew!”
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