Here is Chapter Four of our Montclair Tall Tale, “Howdy, Neighbor.” We’re looking for entries for Chapter Five 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.
When we last left off with Rachelle, Nathan, the kids and the pets, middle son Treat had just been whisked through a wormhole, where he came face-to-face with the Jersey Devil: actually a rather mild-mannered sort of person (creature) named Percy. Percy reveals that he really likes Rachelle’s pickles. Soon after, the rest of the family comes tumbling through the wormhole…
By ERIN ROLL
For a moment, everyone just stared at one another.
“OK.” Percy took a deep breath. “Now, I know this looks kind of weird…”
“You got that right,” Rachelle said. “Gustavus, down,” she said firmly. The porcupine relaxed his quills and shuffled behind Nathan.
“Are you THE Jersey Devil?” Sophie looked Percy up and down. “Gee. The books made you seem a lot scarier.”
“Don’t believe everything you read in Weird NJ,” Percy said. “The reason I’ve brought you here is… well, Rachelle, I’d like to make a deal with you.”
“This isn’t some kind of deal that requires handing over my soul or my firstborn, is it?” Rachelle asked suspiciously.
“No, no, no, not like that. No, I want to do business. Enter into a partnership with Ready for Brine Time,” Percy said. “Think about it. People who buy pickles want to buy jams and jellies, too, don’t they? I mean, there’s something about a whole shelf of Mason jars. Makes people feel homestead-y and stuff.”
“Do all supernatural creatures want to go into the foodie business?” Sophie asked.
“Yeah, it’s the in thing now!” Percy said eagerly. “The Loch Ness Monster has a line of organic haggis. And Sasquatch just worked out a five-series deal with the Food Network.”
“OK. I’ll take you by the shop on Walnut Street and show you what we’ve got. Now get us back through this wormhole, please?” Rachelle asked.
“Um, technically it’s a temporal dissipation…”
“Whatever it is, get us back through it!”
A blink of an eye later, they were back in the family’s front yard.
“Into the car, everyone.” Rachelle dug her car keys out of her purse and hit the button to unlock the old gray SUV.
It was a bit of a squeeze, with Percy in the back seat with the kids, and all of the pets in the SUV’s cargo space.
The SUV slowly crawled through the afternoon traffic around Bloomfield Avenue.
Sophie and Treat were still bewildered and maybe a little shell-shocked. But Ava was having an animated discussion with Percy about profit and loss, and other business-related topics. “Me and my friend Olivia made cupcakes one day. We tried to sell them for a billion dollars each. But Mommy yelled at me for something called price gouging,” Ava said.
As Rachelle made the turn onto Walnut Street, there came the sound of police sirens.
“What’s going on?” Treat asked. The animals poked their heads over the back seat for a better look.
The sirens grew louder as the SUV drew closer to the row of shops and cafes near Walnut Street and North Willow Street. A huge crowd had gathered, along with at least half the police cars and fire trucks in Montclair’s finest and bravest’s respective fleets.
“OK, this doesn’t look good,” Nathan said, the note of tension in his voice growing higher and higher. “Rachelle, you did make sure everything was okay with the construction crew, didn’t you?”
“Of course, Nathan, I triple-checked them and they’re the best in the region…” Rachelle’s voice trailed off. “Oh. No.”
Where Ready for Brine Time’s new Montclair storefront should have been, there was something completely different…
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, attends Montclair High School, and has enough books to fill the library at Alexandria. Ava, the youngest, attends Bradford Elementary School, and is already showing signs of inheriting her mother’s business acumen. Treat, the middle child, attends 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.”