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Chapter 1 of the New Book, Unwritten!

As I start getting back into the swing of promoting Flagrant Foul, I thought it might be good to start putting up some previews of the future of the Stories from the Forester series. With Dilemma also written (and also available for sale, I might add, goofy picture or not), I’m moving on to the next book in the series, Unwritten. Set in early 2001, it picks up where Dilemma left off. When finished, Dilemma and Unwritten will comprise Volume I of the series that will be available in one book, which had been my original plan.

Here’s the first of four chapters that I will be posting here, a chapter every Friday. Feel free to post up your comments. I’m always looking for feedback!


Chapter 1 – Business As Usual


The thundering sound of chairs being thrown around the Forester offices could only mean one thing: Production Night was in full swing. On this cold Sunday night in the middle of February, it was the same problems Editor-in-Chief Jim Case had constantly run into, which were computer problems and more computer problems.

“Why is it every time I turn around, this damned scanner freezes!?!” Jim bellowed. “How am I supposed to get anything done around here?”

As had been the case then entire school year, there was only one true voice of sanity in these situations, and it came from Jim’s right-hand man and Sports Editor, Reggie McCaffrey. However, it was nights like this that made him wonder why he ever thought it was a good idea to come back to Forest State.

“Jim, how many times do I have to tell you that you have to let this equipment warm up before you start getting all angry at it?” Reggie said in a vain attempt to try and calm his friend and boss down.

“Reg, how can you stay calm in all of this?” Jim boomed. “The driver’s going to be here any minute now to pick up the print, and we still don’t have a front-page graphic!”

This prompted another voice in the office, Brenda Alvarez, the News Editor, who said, as she had been the entire school year, “Jim, we really could have solved this problem a long time ago by putting articles on the front page, like a real newspaper?”

A statement like this that was intended to create a solution always ended up causing more problems.

“Are you telling me that we’re not a real newspaper, Alvarez?” Jim thundered.

“Once again, you’re reading too much into what I’m saying,” Brenda shouted back. “I’m saying that if you got your head out of your ass and listened to what I had to say once in a while, you wouldn’t be screwed like you are now!”

“Are you trying to get yourself fired?” Jim screamed.

“Now, you know that’s never going to happen, right,” Reggie chimed in. “Brenda’s the best journalist you’ve got in the outfit, and that includes both you and me.”

“Is that so?” Jim demanded.

“Hey, neither of us are up for Society of College Journalists awards this year, are we?”

As much as he tried to come up with a good counter-argument, Jim knew that Reggie was right. It wasn’t surprising to Reggie, of course. He knew that writing was in Brenda’s DNA, given that her mother, Lucinda, had been a Forester contributor back in the 70s.

None of his opinions, of course, had anything to do with the fact that he had been in a serious relationship with Brenda for more than six months.

By the time Jim had relented that he once again flew off the handle, as Reggie had predicted, the scanner was warm enough to starting working again, and as had been the case all year, the paper was ready for the driver to pick it up and deliver it to the printer.

After things had died down considerably, Jim retreated to his office, where he found solace in his Editor’s desk, his cigarettes and his bottle of Jim Beam, which had become tradition at the Forester since the summer. Reggie and Brenda, as they had as well, entered moments later for a post-mortem and a swig of booze.

“You’re going to work yourself into an early grave,” Reggie said as he put the paper cup of liquor to his lips. “Remember, Jim, you’re not a spring chicken anymore, man. What are you now, like 45?”

“And like you’re not getting out of here until you’re collecting Social Security,” Jim retorted.

“I’ll have you know, Case, that this is, in fact, my final semester,” Reggie proudly stated.
“After slacking off for far too many years, I am a mere 14 hours away from being all the way done!”

“And how, pray tell, do you plan to only take that many hours and proceed to return to slacking off?” Jim challenged.

“Well, I haven’t been able to in Dr. Gresh’s Political Communication,” Reggie admitted.
“However, since this is my last semester, it’s time for that five-semester Seminar, and guess who’s teaching it?”

Jim rolled his eyes. “Dr. Melch.”

“While certainly a good teacher, he is a, how shall I say this, lenient grader. I should also mention I am also enrolled in three credits of independent study with his guidance, of course.”

“That still leaves two hours left.”

“Four, as it turns out,” Reggie corrected. “And for that? I get Far Eastern Art.”

“Far Eastern what?”

“I need a non-Western civilization class, and Third World Politics was booked. Besides, I got a helluva study buddy out of it.”

“And who is that?”

Brenda slyly raised her hand. “I’m not ending up like Reggie. I plan to get out of here in four years.”

“Hey, thanks a lot,” Reggie grumbled mockingly.

Jim grabbed the bottle of Jim Beam and poured another cup. “You know, Reg, you really don’t drink as much as you used to.”

Reggie’s eyes narrowed. “Just because I’m not sucking down booze doesn’t make me a lightweight, pal! You know I’ve always been a beer drinker.”

“It’s true, Jim” Brenda affirmed. “As a matter of fact, I’d rather he not get too stuck in that liquor bottle. He’s got to get out of here.”

“Wow,” Jim said, surprised. “I’ve gotta admit, when you two first got together, I didn’t think it was going to work out very well. But look at you now. You’ve got a girlfriend, who also doubles as your conscience.”

“Don’t forget academic advisor,” Reggie added. “She is the one who came up with the Eastern Art idea.”

Jim rolled his eyes and took another drink. Reggie and Brenda excused themselves and left the office, walking towards Brenda’s multi-colored Ford Escort hand-in-hand. As they got to the car, Brenda wrapped her arms around Reggie.

“I really think Jim need to find a girlfriend,” Brenda said as she fiddled with the back of Reggie’s neck.

“That would be a rough gig,” he joked. “Can you imagine the kind of crap she’d have to put up with from him? I wonder if Cleveland’s got a roller derby team. Those chicks seem tough enough to take Jim on.”

“You know what I think? I think he’s freaked that he’s going to be graduating soon.”
Reggie nodded. “Yeah, I guess I would be, too, if I had to adjust my work habit to refrain from throwing chairs. Sure, there are a couple of jobs where he wouldn’t have to worry about it, but he’s too small to be a wrestler, and I really don’t think they pay extras on the Jerry Springer Show that much.”

Brenda laughed lightly, then looked Reggie directly in the eye. “What about you? Aren’t you a little worried about graduating?”

Reggie, who tried to keep from getting lost in Brenda’s deep, dark eyes, replied, “Not really. I left once already. I’m pretty sure I can do it again, except this time, I’m better the degree will help.”

“Do you even know what you’re going to do after school?” Brenda asked.

“Not in the slightest. Writing’s out of the question. I’ll tell you that much. No way I can find a writing job around here that would pay the bills, that’s for sure.”

“I thought we talked about this, Reggie. I don’t mind if you look for a writing job out of town. You know I’d follow you anywhere.”

Reggie smiled and shook his head. “I know you would. But you’ve got a bright enough future without me screwing it up. We can leave after you graduate. In the meantime, I’ll get a 9-to-5 somewhere around here.”

Brenda reached up to Reggie and kissed him. “Did I ever tell you how wonderful you are?”

“Don’t let that get out,” he dead-panned. “I do have a reputation to uphold.”

After five more minutes, Brenda took off for home, leaving Reggie standing in the parking lot unsure about a lot, but sure about at least one thing.


Published inFirst Chapters Fridayunwritten

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