In a shameless pursuit to save the newspaper industry, we may have mentioned a time or two or 20 how much better our “hand-held devices” are than the kind you must plug into the wall every once in a while.
But in our righteous harangue about how newspapers represent truth, justice and salvation of the American way, we forgot to mention they are a hidden source of fictional stories begging to be told.
Heads up all you poets, creative writing students and yarn spinners, if you read closely you will find inspiration here in these pages in what we call “the land of want and need.” You know them as “the classifieds.”
Each is a sort of prayer written by someone who has put their faith in a few words, which, if put together in just the right way, will answer their wants or needs. But, each of them has a back story too, and they hint at the next step in the lives of those who are moving on.
Or they will when writers let their imaginations free and let their fingers and keyboards do their work.
Many years ago, there appeared in the back pages of the hometown weekly a four word ad, and it was dripping with potential of not just selling a no-longer-needed dress. It was stuff of which drama, romance and intrigue are made.
It read: “Wedding gown, never worn,” followed by a phone number.
In the best-case scenario, the ad ran because the bride found a dress she liked better than the “as is, no returns” gown she already purchased. Or maybe the bride and groom got sick of family squabbles over details of the wedding and decided to elope.
We thought of a dozen other reasons the never worn dress ended up in the “For Sale” section of the classifieds, but none had happy endings so we won’t sadden you with those potential storylines.
Instead let’s check the classifieds in last week’s Times and see what we find. In the interest of privacy (we aren’t Facebook, after all) we have left out phone numbers and email addresses.
DOUBLE CRYPT – Memorial plaque and two bronze coffins included. Looking to recoup my investment. Chesterland. (Possible storyline: This would make a good fantasy or science fiction short story about two mad scientists so in love they discovered a way to live forever. But what’s the fallout when, at ages 200 and 210, they fall out of love and cannot stand the sight of one another? Can they find an anecdote before they go insane or run out of money for their insurance deductibles and co-pays – whichever happens first?)
CHIPPER/SHREDDER – 5 HP, electric start, tow bar. $350 or best offer. Call evenings. (Possible storyline: Of course, there is no better part for this woodsman’s tool than the role it played in the movie “Fargo.” Hard to top, but let’s try our skills at a sequel starring the shredder [we could call him “Chip” but that’s way too easy]. But here is the story of a retired lumberjack in need of extra income and saw the ad for the 5 HP towable beauty. He bought it then placed his own ad similar to the one that attracted his attention to, he had joked, “Chip the Shredder.” This time it was rewritten in mob code he learned in prison. The coded message meant he will tow “Chip” anywhere to take care of “evidence” but only after dark. Fees started at $350. Then the plot shifts when police crack the code and . . .
CHOCOLATE LABS: puppies, large, English, $700. Info or pics call. (Puppies, giant brown English labs are worthy of being the stars of any genre of story-telling as long as he or she is never the villain, the culprit or responsible for bad things happening. Just ask Walt Disney, but he is no longer with us. To prove the point, and as not to forget the poets inspired by the want ads, we offer the following poem:
“My pup’s a Lab
And a brown one too
How’s by you”