The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

As The Small Town Turns

September 8, 2010

Chapter One

_ — Editor’s note: This is the introductory chapter of a serialized novel, “As a Small Town Turns,” which will appear in Lifestyles every Sunday until the staff decides it’s time to call it quits. Successive chapters will be written by our readers.

No one had ever told her how hard it could be being a single mother of two kids under the age of 4.

A long-haul truck driver who looked like a young Elvis promised her a Viva Las Vegas ride, but the hunka-hunka burnin’ love was no Teddy Bear.

After the youngest one, little Roxanne Marie, was born she learned the marriage wasn’t even legal. He had at least two other wives out there in Podunk America, and no telling how many kids.

Hope he chokes on a peanut butter and banana sandwich. But pray he pulls off the road before he croaks. No use ruining some other folks’ lives.

Rock Roddenheimer had been bad news, all right. But was it any wonder she fell for someone who looked like Elvis? Her mom, who grew up in the 1960s, is still one who travels to Memphis for the annual Graceland grave vigil.

Growing up, her mom had a gold-framed 8-by-10 glossy of Elvis on her dressing table. She figured it was an unconscious thing when she first locked eyes with Rock at the truck stop where she was waiting tables.

It was like one of those destiny deals. She’d already been looking into those eyes for 21 years.

The photo of Elvis had been the only male presence in the house when Dad went off to Desert Storm.

She’d split after Rock left on a haul to Jackson, snatching up the sofa cushions and the TV remote on her way out, knowing where to hurt him most. Now that she was back living at home with the two kids, she wished her mom could part with the Elvis photo because little Roxanne Marie kept patting the glass and saying “Da-da.”

So here she was, Raquel Traubenkraut Roddenheimer, 25, working an eight-hour shift five days a week waiting tables, coming home too tired to even play with the kids let alone have any kind of social life.

When her dad urged her to go with him to the first Saturday morning Coffee Call at the Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives, it was like big whoopy deal. But she figured, what the heck, it’s free.

Gee, how do you dress for Coffee Call? She rummaged in her dresser drawer and came up with a pair of light gray leggings and pulled them on. Next, she slipped a maroon oversize Alabama T-shirt over her head and tied up her tennis shoes.

She’d let her naturally curly hair air dry and brushed the unruly mass atop her head, securing it with a rubber band. She didn’t apply lipstick or her usual foundation to hide the sprinkle of freckles across her nose. For a natural blond, she had unusually dark brows and lashes, so she rarely bothered with eye makeup.

War stories were generally not her thing, but she drank orange juice and nibbled a sausage biscuit, then got up and wandered around the museum looking at the exhibits. The Victory Garden kitchen was her favorite. Her grandmother used to tell her about some of this stuff like a meat grinder that housewives used in the olden days before they had food processors.

She wandered back to the meeting room to see if her dad was ready to go home. Blocking the entrance was a pair of shoulders as wide as Aunt Lucille’s hips after six kids, near to busting the seams on his desert camo.

“Please excuse me,” she murmured, sidling around the massive warrior.

She glanced up into a pair of penetrating black eyes and quickly dropped her gaze to his lantern jaw and cleft chin, darkened by a five-o’clock shadow. His high-and-tight had just begun to grow out.

“No, excuse me,” the giant rumbled, revealing even white teeth above a full lower lip.

She decided to have another glass of orange juice.

“Who’s that guy, Daddy?” she asked.

“Buck Welch,” her father answered. “Just home from Iraq.”


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As The Small Town Turns
  • Church Bulletin 8/7/12

    August 7, 2012

  • 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.

    December 20, 2010

  • 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.

    December 20, 2010

  • 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.

    December 20, 2010

  • 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.

    December 20, 2010

  • 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.

    December 20, 2010

  • 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.

    November 17, 2010

  • 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.

    November 17, 2010

  • 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.

    November 1, 2010

  • 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.

    November 1, 2010



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