Using materials at your disposal, start mangling and/or burning a piece of paper to make it look like it came from a pile of rubble. Then, imagine that you’ve just picked up that piece of paper from the destruction it came from. How does the context help you focus on the plot? What were you doing there, picking up this paper, anyway? Bring that all into the story.
Length: 350-500 Words
^ ^ ^
Alice is a receptionist at a law office. In spite of her makeup, permed hair, spike heels, and spiffy work clothing, she’s a hands-on girl. She grew up on horseback. She’s helped her uncle brand cattle, she’s ringed hogs noses, planted corn, operated huge combines harvesting wheat.
Salvaging this old house is right down her alley. Having bought new gloves to keep her hands feminine looking, she’s prepared to do her share of the labor. She only needs to be shown where to start.
Winston is a line mechanic at the Ford dealership. He’s not done salvage work either, but he knows the used lumber will make their home a reality. He’s depending on Alice to prepare some food. He’s pleased to find she’s way ahead of him with an ice chest filled with sandwiches and drinks. Minutes later they are headed out.
Winston, in hopes of getting permission to tear down the old house, had already cased it, deciding where to start. And he suggest they begin by pulling down the plaster walls from the living room.
“Look at this!” shouts Alice before fifteen minutes has passed.
“What?” he asks, turning to find her on her hands and knees reading a yellowed newspaper she’s spread out on the floor.
“This newspaper. The walls are crammed with these old papers. This one was published in 1877. What are they doing in the wall?”
“Insulation. They were insulating the north wall with them. Not a bad idea, I suppose. But it sure is a fire hazard. This thing would go up like a blow torch.”
Using care, they remove the papers and pile them in a corner. When he takes her home they’ll store them in her folk’s garage until they have time to read them closely.
^ ^ ^
Two weeks later the lumber is stacked at their new home site along with the foundation piers and two baker’s buckets filled with square nails.
Before the winter snow arrives, Winston carefully stacks the lumber to minimize warping and covers everything with tarps. Then they spend their winter evenings reviewing the old newspapers.
The published stories were probably news to many, but to others they were columns, summations of what occurred during the Missouri-Kansas Border War.
There were stories about John Wesley Harden who shot a man to death for snoring too loud. Other columns described the Border Ruffians, Redlegs, Quantrill’s Raiders, and Old John Brown. Jesse James was even mentioned.
One entire issue was devoted to Brig. General Thomas Ewing’s arrival to Western Missouri. It describes how President Lincoln dispatched him to stop the Border War using whatever means he found necessary.
After determining the wives, sisters, and girlfriends of these outlaws were keeping the outlaws supplied with their needs, Ewing rounded up more than one hundred women and transported them to Kansas City where he interned them in a warehouse. Unfortunately, a severe rain storm occurred causing the roof collapse, killing many. Quantrill responded by attacking Coffeyville, Kansas where he burned most of the town and killed 187 men and boys.
This event caused Ewing to evoked Order number 10. That order gave the residents of Western Missouri fifteen days to gather what they could and evacuate the area. He then burned every building in the four counties leaning against Kansas , turning those counties into a No-Man’s-Land for the duration of the Civil War.
By the time Alice and Winston had finished the stack of newspapers spring had arrived and it was time to get to work. Winston would keep his promise. They would wed before autumn arrived.