NEW RICHLAND-HARTLAND-ELLENDALE-GENEVA AREA

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Here we go – Chapter 1 of a new fictional story!

“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your kind attention, and please…” Martin Steinbauer paused, waiting for the crowd at the high school basketball game to join in, “drive home safely!”

Martin turned off his microphone, gathered his pen and rosters from the game, said good-bye to his friends at the scorer’s table, and headed for the door. He always enjoyed being back in his alma mater, Richland Center High School, and helping out at sporting events as the announcer for varsity games.

He thought back to his own high school days, a mere twelve years earlier. Nobody would ever have prognosticated shy bookworm Martin to be a well-liked bastion of positivity as the Voice of the Centurions. It’s not that folks didn’t like him, but during his formative years he kept mainly to himself. He didn’t play any sports, but he could be seen at every home event in his four years there. Martin would join in the cheers from the cheerleaders and be as loud as anyone at those games, but his voice was drowned out by all those around him. Now it was hard NOT to hear him, he thought ironically.

No, he wasn’t an athlete and he wasn’t the most popular kid in his class, but Martin had a small group of good friends, though he was the only one who was really fond of sports. His friends razzed him good-naturedly about going to all those games instead of hanging out  and playing video games or going for pizza.

Out of that group of friends grew a relationship that became something more. Pam Spiegel was that girl that boys didn’t notice, even though she carried a beauty that was unmatched in Martin’s eyes. She didn’t stick out because she refused to cake on make-up or wear tight jeans or short skirts as a means to gain attention. She kept her medium-length brunette hair neat, with a little wave at the bottom. Pam moved from glasses to contacts her senior year; that’s when many of the boys in her grade started to notice her, but by then she and Martin had been dating for a few months.

Martin still wore his glasses, and tried to maintain a clean-cut look himself. He kept his chin and upper lip clean since he didn’t think his blond locks would be a good color as facial hair. Martin could often be seen in polo shirts and khakis; tonight he had a striped green shirt and tan pants. He never quite reached six feet tall, but that was okay since he didn’t want to tower over Pam’s five and a half foot frame. 

Martin and Pam had never been too far from home in Richland Center. They attended college nearby, Martin to become an accountant and Pam to get a license as a librarian. Each had quickly found jobs back home, Martin as part of a big firm in town and Pam at the local public library in the town of 15,000.

The announcing gig? That was pure happenstance. He still went to every game he could after returning home, and one night about a year into that, the regular announcer had taken ill right before the game. Martin overheard the athletic director fretting about what to do. In a bizarre moment, Martin took a leap and told the AD that he could give it a go.

That first game had mixed results, understandable for a first-timer called on at the last second. Still, he did a fair enough job that the AD called him again when he knew the announcer couldn’t make it. This guy had been at it for over 30 years, so when he decided to hang up the job, Martin was happy to accept it as a regular addition to his schedule. Sure, it meant he’d better arrive home with a tussie-mussie now and then to appease Pam for his frequent evening absences, but announcing was a great thrill to Martin.

As he exited the building and walked to his car, he thought about how much more difficult this had become since their daughter Cecelia had been born five years ago. As Martin unlocked the door on his mid-sized crossover, he thought about how lucky he was to have an understanding wife in this regard. He hoped that when Cecelia was a little older, she might enjoy coming to games with him.

He drove out of town as a light snow began to fall. He and Pam had bought a small acreage a couple of years ago two miles out of town. Suddenly, he blinked his eyes. What had he seen on the side of the road? Was it an animal? Or a person? He slowed down and pulled over. Glancing in the rearview mirror, Martin thought he saw something shining back there. Putting the car in park, he opened the door and went to investigate.

To be continued!

Word of the Week: This week’s word is tussie-mussie, which is a small bouquet of flowers, as in, “The husband arrived home with a tussie-mussie after leaving that morning in a huff.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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