By Bill Hunt
“We’ve had an APB out for two days, Buck, and the only thing I’ve gotten back is, the police have a rig abandoned in Branson, Missouri with a Bama plate,” the Sheriff explained. “They also have a doll looked like it fell out the cab.”
“A doll, like a Raggedy Ann, maybe?” Buck asked anxiously, eyes opened wide, hoping the sheriff would say ‘yes’.
“Yeah, a Raggedy Ann thing. You recon Roxanne had one of those?” the Sheriff nodded hopefully.
“Absolutely, she did. I’ve seen her with it a thousand times … poor kid, and poor Raquel, but at least we have a trail now. I have to tell Raquel, sheriff.”
“Are you up to it, Raquel? Buck asked, and squeezed her hand. He eyes held fast to the white blanket wrapped around this fragile young woman — as fragile as his buddy, Bobby Tom. He looked into Raquel’s teary eyes.
“I have no choice, Buck. I’ve gotta get my daughter, and Daddy’ll let me have the money to go to Branson … but Buck,” she said, hesitatingly, and choosing her words carefully, her voice trailing off to barely a whisper. “Would you take me there, please?”
“You know I want to,” Buck whispered back, and then pulled her to him, wrapping his strong arms around the trembling young woman. “But the sheriff has asked me to ride along with him. He knows I flew Blackhawks in Iraq and he wants me to pilot the copter.”
“Don’t cry, Raquel, we’re going to have Roxy back in your arms in no time.”
Her tears turned into sobs as Buck brushed back her hair, then he kissed the tears away.
“I wanna go home to Mommy,” Roxy said, as Rock raised her to the stool in an off-stage wing of the Star Dust Theatre.
“Well, your daddy’s gonna sing in just a minute, and you can watch from right here, Honey,” Rock said to his young daughter, while running his fingers through her freshly cut hair.
The announcer’s voice, raspy and loud, drowned out the music for a second: “And, ladies and gentlemen,” he called out, “we have our next ‘Elvis’ tonight, ready to explode –– Alabama’s own Rock Roddenheimer, singing Heartbreak Hotel, and here he is!”
The MC’s voice rose to a higher pitch, and held for a second. Applause erupted and the music got louder as Rock ran onto the stage. The applause died, and then Rock pointed squarely to the orchestra in the pit. He snapped his fingers to the rhythm, his voice strong as the words shot out:
“Well, since my baby left me,
I found a new place to dwell …”
Applause exploded again and Rock smiled, threw back his head and balanced on his toes:
“It’s down at the end of lonely street …”
Applause and whistles drowned out the orchestra and for a second Rock seemed startled by the enthusiasm of the crowd:
“At Heartbreak Hotel …”
The spotlights overhead were blinding, red ones, blue ones, some flashing, making Rock’s shiny white suit glow iridescent as his heart pounded. Squinting in the brightness, he saw the audience come to their feet, clapping and whistling, and through the corner of his eye he caught Roxy, in her faded, threadbare overalls, dancing girlishly toward him. Swinging to the rhythm of the blaring music, she mimicked every move her daddy made, mouthing his words as she danced to the rhythm of Heartbreak Hotel.
The Star Dust rocked, and Rock Roddenheimer rejoiced and sang on, assured that with his little girl beside him, his “act” was given a brand new start.
But sirens wailed a block away.
By Bill Hunt
- As The Small Town Turns
- Church Bulletin 8/7/12
Epilogue: As the Small Town Turns
Editor’s note: The News Courier editorial staff chose Karen Bethea’s epilogue for our original novel. Our runner-up this week was D.K. Hutchins. We would like to thank all of our talented authors who contributed to “As the Small Town Turns” over these weeks. It has been a very enjoyable and satisfying endeavor for The News Courier and we hope it was enjoyable for those who participated. In coming weeks we will publish photos and short biographies on all of our authors whose chapters were chosen for the novel. But whether your chapter was chosen or not we would like to say thank-you to all for being such good sports and getting into the spirit of this project.
Chapter 16 As the Small Town Turns
Editor’s note: Chapter 16 of The News Courier original novel, “As the Small Town Turns ...” is written by Karen Bethea. Runners-up are D.T. Hutchins and Cynthia Boris.
It’s time for a bang-up conclusion for the saga of Raquel and Buck. The novel will conclude Dec. 19 and the only thing that remains is the epilogue.
If you haven’t sent in a submission, now is the time.
If you make it exciting enough, we might have to revisit them for a satisfying epilogue. Please see novel rules in this section and we look forward to your conclusion.
Chapter 15: As the Small Town Turns
Editor’s note: Chapter 15 of The News Courier original novel, As the Small Town Turns, is written by Diane Hutchins. This was a week that brought several fine submissions. Runners up Karen Bethea, Cynthia Boris and Elizabeth Carter are printed in this section. It’s time for a bang-up conclusion for the saga of Raquel and Buck. If you haven’t sent in a submission, now is the time. If you make it exciting enough, we might have to revisit them for a satisfying epilogue. Please see novel rules in this section and we will be looking forward to your thrilling Chapter 16.
Chapter 14 ‘As the Small Town Turns’
Editor’s note: Chapter 14 of The News Courier original novel, “As the Small Town Turns,” is written by Karen Bethea. We had three excellent submissions this week. Runners-up are Harriette Rost and Cynthia Boris. The action has turned wild. With only two more chapters, now is the time to jump in for the big conclusion. If things get too hot, who knows? This saga could live for yet another chapter.
Chapter 13: As the Small Town Turns
Editor’s note: Chapter 13 of The News Courier original novel, “As the Small Town Turns,” is written by Cynthia Boris. Our runners-up this week are Karen Bethea and Elizabeth Carter, whose submissions are published in this section. Readers and potential contributors have just three more weeks as we draw the saga of Raquel and Buck to a conclusion with Chapter 16 on Dec. 12. There’s still time to get in on the action.
Chapter 12: As the Small Town Turns
Editor’s note: Chapter 12 of “As the Small Town Turns” is written by Bill Hunt. This week’s runner-up submission is by Cynthia Boris. The News Courier is anxiously awaiting Chapter 13 as the story heats up. Please keep sending submissions. Hint: Wouldn’t it be great if somehow Bobby Tom could meet Raquel’s friend, Maggie…? We’re just saying. Please review the rules of the game in this section and get your submission to Karen Middleton by Wednesday.
Chapter 11: As the Small Town Turns
Editor’s note: Chapter 11 is written by Harriette Rost. Our single runner-up this week is Cynthia Boris. We continue the story as Rock tries to disguise his abducted daughter Roxanne Marie’s identity as he prepares to go on stage in Branson to compete in an Elvis impersonator contest. The law is involved now. The News Courier staff is excited to see how our readers will come to the toddler’s rescue -–– if it’s not too late. If readers have previously submitted chapters that were not chosen to continue the saga of Raquel and Buck, please do not be discouraged. Hint: Let’s not forget Bobby Tom stuck up in a veterans’ hospital recuperating from wounds. Let’s get him back in the action.
Chapter 10, As the Small Town Turns
Editor’s note: Once again, Cynthia Boris has submitted an excellent chapter to As the Small Town Turns. We received no other submissions last week, so there are no runners-up. However, we welcome your Chapter 11 submissions, so please review the novel rules in this section. We continue the story as Rock speeds toward Branson with his abducted 2-year-old daughter Roxanne Marie. As The News Courier looks forward to drawing the novel to a conclusion by the end of the year, please jump in and help us resolve this cliffhanger.
Chapter 9, As the Small Town Turns
Editor’s note: The Chapter 9 submission chosen for The News Courier original novel, “As the Small Town Turns,” was written by Cynthia Boris. As readers will remember, from Chapter 8, Raquel’s ex-husband, Rock Roddenheimer, abducted their daughter, Roxanne Marie, from her bed in revenge for having been thrown out of the house and humiliated by Raquel’s new friend, Buck. Now, as Rock speeds toward Branson in his 18-wheeler, the gravity of his rash actions begins to soak in, and back in the small town, Raquel is devastated to learn that her daughter is missing. Other excellent chapters were submitted by Karen Mastich and Carol Schwarzenbach, which are printed in this section along with rules for submitting Chapter 10.
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