“Cash back?” the clerk asked.

“What do you mean?” Jill replied. (More)

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

Welcome back to Tuesday’s Tale, a weekly feature where we collaborate to write a story. Previous Tuesday’s Tales include The Barista and No, Really. We follow the basic rules of the “Yes, And” improvisational game – accept everything written so far as part of the story, and add your own paragraph (or so) where the last addition left off – except you needn’t begin your addition with “Yes, and.” I’ll start the story….

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Today’s characters were introduced in Blue Light Special and Cleanup on Aisle 9. Jill Graber is a parody of Lee Childs’ Jack Reacher, a former Army MP, and David Baldacci’s John Puller, an active duty Army MP. We hope the authors appreciate imitation as “the sincerest form of flattery.”

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“Umm, do you want cash back?” the clerk asked. “If you don’t, just hit the green button.”

“Something’s wrong,” Jill said. “Jill to Joan, over.”

“I’m right here,” Joan said.

“Something’s wrong,” Jill repeated. “Can’t you feel it?”

“What?” Joan asked.

“Well, for one thing,” Jill said, “the clerk pointed to the ATM checkout panel when she said I could just hit the green button.”

“Uh huh,” Joan agreed.

“And then you waved when you said ‘I’m right here,'” Jill continued, “and you walked over here.”

“And?” Joan asked.

“And,” Jill said, “the narrator didn’t include any of that. Like, I just sighed, but the narrator didn’t tell you that.”

“He didn’t have to,” Joan said. “I heard it.”

“But the readers couldn’t hear it,” Jill said. “How would they know if I sighed unless the narrator told them?”

“You have a point,” Joan agreed.

“Now see, you’re nodding,” Jill said. “But all it says is ‘Joan agreed.’ Nodding matters. It makes you seem more real. Heck, the narrator could have just said ‘Joan nodded’ to identify you as the communicator, and let you say something else.”

“I didn’t have anything else to say,” Joan said. “Maybe the narrator knew that. Or maybe the narrator is still upset because you scolded him in our last story.”

“Maybe,” Jill agreed. “And I’m nodding, readers. Just so you know. Anyway, maybe the narrator knew you didn’t have anything else to say. Or maybe he’s still upset, although I apologized in the epilogue. Or … maybe….”

“You’re thinking…?” Joan asked.

“I’m thinking someone kidnapped our narrator, I said, nodding again,” Jill said.

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Have fun!