Thanks to Kathleen Noland, we have Chapter Two of our Montclair Tall Tale, “Howdy, Neighbor.” We’re looking for entries for Chapter Three right now!
Each entry should be 500-700 words, and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Montclair Tall Tale.”
Those chosen to be published will receive a gift certificate to Gelotti of Montclair, and glory! Glory! So! Much! Glory! Remember to end every episode with a cliffhanger, and bonus points for including characters and maybe even introducing new ones. Things we love: spies, mystery, mistaken identity, doppelgangers, space aliens.
By KATHLEEN NOLAND
Special to Montclair Local
Treat just wanted to be left alone to play with his galaxy game. He liked his new room, especially at night. There was a large skylight where he could gaze up at the sky.
With the high-density telescope he had got for his 10th birthday he watched in the hope of seeing a UFO. He loved astronomy and hoped when he went to his new school that he could learn a lot more. Maybe Buzz Aldrin might even visit his school — Surely he had to have seen something unusual in the sky when he was on the moon.
Treat’s mom said they would ride by Mr. Aldrin’s house one day on their bikes. When they lived in Brooklyn they used to cycle on Saturdays to visit his Grandma, who lived in Park Slope. She knew Trent was interested in UFOs, and even called him ET. She got him the video of the movie and even found a stuffed toy called ET, a leftover from when her own kids had lived at home. His Mom couldn’t believe the stuff she still kept.
Treat didn’t actually think the movie was that great. Not enough action for him. “Star Wars” was more to his liking. However he did like the girl in it and the design of the spacecraft when it landed to take ET home.
He liked it here in Montclair. It was much quieter than Brooklyn. At night there were less lights that took away from the vastness of the sky. The stars were brighter. Even on overcast, cloudy, rainy nights he could imagine what was up there. He looked forward to summer storms and seeing flashes of lightning, perhaps giving him a glimpse of something moving with blinking lights drifting to an unknown destination.
“Aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” — it was his mom.
O my God, he thought. Don’t tell me Mom has seen a mouse. He grinned, remembering when she saw one in their old apartment. She said if she ever saw one again they would be moving. Yikes.
He hoped it wasn’t a mouse.
“What is it, Mom? Did you see another mouse?” he shouted.
“Treat, come down here immediately,” his Mom screamed.
He headed down the stairs and saw his mom with her back to the banisters at the bottom of the stairs in a rigid position.
The front door was wide open.
“What’s up, Mom?” he said. “Does the Brooklyn mouse want to move to Montclair too?”
“Look out the door but don’t go out!” his Mom said hysterically.
He took a good look at his mom. She was sickly-white looking and shaking. He wished he knew the mouse strategy for scaring people. Maybe he could get Mom and Dad to do things his way.
“What did you see, Mom?” he asked, looking out the door. “I don’t see anything out there.”
“The Jersey Devil!” she screamed. “The real one with hoofed feet and horns and a tail. All red and horrible and threatening. He had a jar of pickles in his hand.”
Oh really, he thought. And they laugh at me for talking about UFOs.
“OK, Mom. Sit down while I go and get Dad. He’ll take care of it.”
His mom screamed at him not to go out there but he kept going. His dad had told him to be the man when he wasn’t there.
“Man up,” his dad had said when his mom had been scared of the Brooklyn mouse. He showed him how to set the trap, even though when the mouse was caught Trent felt a little sick looking at it.
He spotted his dad talking to a neighbor down the street. He cut across the lawn heading toward the sidewalk — and then when he felt something gooey and sticky on his foot.
There was something soft and squelchy on the lawn. He looked down and saw his sneaker covered in something that looked like a big clot of blood.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
A reminder of our main characters:
- Rachelle: Our protagonist. Founder, CEO, etc. of Ready for Brine Time, a “gourmet artisan organic farm-to-table picklery.” She is establishing a new location in Montclair after taking Brooklyn by storm. Driven, capable, determined to keep the business, along with her family, afloat and running smoothly (easier said than done).
- Nathan: Rachelle’s husband and business partner. He’s going through an existential crisis after an investment went sour (and not like pickles). He thinks that his jeans, man buns and Patagonia vests aren’t sufficiently hipster anymore. He’s thinking of going really radical: wearing a suit. Maybe Brooks Brothers. And a tie.
- Sophie, Ava and Treat: The couple’s three kids, ages 15, 5 and 10, respectively. Sophie, the eldest, will attend Montclair High School, and has enough books to fill the library at Alexandria. Ava, the youngest, will attend Bradford Elementary School, and is already showing signs of inheriting her mother’s business acumen. Treat, the middle child, will attend Buzz Aldrin Middle School, and is obsessed with UFO conspiracy theories.
- Rambo, Loki, and Gustavus: The family pets: a dog, a cat, and an “emotional support porcupine,” respectively.