Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It's News to Him

   Mel Melvin was at his desk in the newsroom of the Monotony Falls Jejune-Gazette, talking on the phone with his wife Melva, who was at police headquarters, where she worked as a dispatcher.
   “Nothing much,” he said. “Just waiting for some news to break, which probably won’t happen. How ’bout you?”
   “Oh, you know, today is the same as yesterday, and tomorrow won’t be any different, nor will the next day, for that matter,” she said.
   “Look, I just called to tell you I’ll be home at the regular time.”
   “I hate to break this to you, but you’re supposed to call when you are going to be late, not when you’ll be home on time.”
   “But I’m never late,” he said.
   “That’s because you’re a reporter for the paper in a town where nothing happens,” Melva said.
   “Yeah, even police dispatcher is a low-stress job in Monotony Falls.”
   “True, I haven’t dispatched anyone in over a week.”
   “Uh, oh,” Mel said. “Ed the ed is giving me the eye. I better try to look busy.”
   Ed Edwards, editor of Jejune-Gazette, approached Mel’s desk.
   “Got a story for me, Ace?” Ed asked.
   “What do you mean, nope?”
   “I mean nope, no, N-O, not today.”
   “But I need a story,” Ed said.
   “So do I. It isn’t easy being a newshound in a town without news.”
   “You’re the reporter,” Ed said. “If you don’t report something by deadline, there won’t be a single local story in tomorrow’s paper.”
   “So?” Mel asked.
   “So, I’ll get fired if there isn’t at least one.”
   “Well, if you get fired, I can write that story for Thursday’s paper.” Mel said. “Come on, Ed, take one for the team.”
   “If you don’t have a story for me in forty-five minutes you won’t be around when I get fired,” Ed said. “Now start writing.”
   “But there is nothing going on in this town.”
   “Make some phone calls.”
   “I was just talking to Melva. She said the cops are more bored than we are. Face it, Ed, this isn’t a slow-news day, it’s a no-news day in a no-news town.”
   “Well, there better be some news by deadline, or this paper is going to be down one reporter. Understand?”
   Mel made calls to three of his better contacts, but when asked for news they snickered and said, “In this burg? You’re kidding, right?” Then he was down to a half hour. He cracked his knuckles and started to type, slowly at first and then a little less slowly. Five minutes before deadline, Mel yelled, “My story is in.”
   “What’s it slugged?” Ed asked.
   “Does it matter? It’s the only story in the local queue.”
   “Oh, yeah,” Ed said as he turned to his computer and called up Mel’s story:
    The people of Monotony Falls won’t be surprised by the announcement scheduled to be made this afternoon in Minot, N.D. They will, however, be delighted to know that the rest of the country now knows and appreciates what Monotonians have known for years.
     The Society of the Wearisome, Humdrum and Tedious (SO WHAT) will wrap up its convention in Minot by announcing this year’s Most Boring rankings. According to several SO WHAT officials, Monotony Falls will be named the nation’s most boring city.
   “Your fair city – and I’m using fair in the so-so sense here – has been close so many times,” SO WHAT spokesman Bob N. Weaver said. “It’s nice to see Monotony Falls finally reach the top spot, if that’s the right term.”
   Weaver said SO WHAT has been conducting the annual boring rankings since 1992, and Monotony Falls has placed among the top five cities every year. But never until this year has the Monotony Falls taken top honors. To win, Monotony Falls knocked off three-time defending champion Boredman, Ohio.
   “Boredman’s bad luck was your good fortune,” Weaver said. “They looked to have a lock on a fourth straight title. But two days before the end of the ranking period, the Boredman Fire Department was called out to rescue a cat that had scampered up a tree.”
   According to Weaver, two people watched as the firemen rescued the cat, and one of the firemen sprained an ankle during the rescue.
   “That was just too much excitement,” Weaver said. “You folks were so close all year, and then Boredman had that cat incident. Nothing anywhere near that exciting happened in Monotony Falls, so you guys surged into the lead with just seconds remaining, so to speak.”

        “Hey, this story doesn’t suck, Mel. But what if people start asking questions and wondering about the award presentation?” Ed asked.
        “Not a problem,” Mel said. “If that happens, I’ll write another story. One about the award being withdrawn because it stirred up too much excitement. You can’t be the most boring town in the country if everyone is excited and clamoring to see the boring award ceremony.”
   “Well, if you’re sure, we’ll run with it.”
   Then Mel went home, where he eventually fell asleep watching television.

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