General Fiction posted February 21, 2010

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A contest entry

A Good Idea

by Sandollar

January, 1984


The smell of fresh brewed coffee and just baked croissants gently poked Fenton Cobb into wakefulness. He could hear Julie, his sometime live-in maid/girlfriend, moving around in the kitchen and singing in her slightly pitchy voice.

He swung out of bed, slid his feet into comfortable slippers and went into the kitchen. He stood there for a brief while and watched without her knowing. She sliced strawberries, added some raspberries and blackberries, and put it all into two bowls with a dusting of powdered sugar. Fenton came up behind and put his arms around her. She turned and smiled giving him a peck on the cheek.

Hey, babe; you sleep well?” she asked, handing him the two bowls of fruit. “Go sit and I'll get the croissants. By the way, how's the ad campaign coming?”

Fenton waited until she sat down and he'd poured them coffee before answering.

I'm not getting anywhere with it. All my creative juices have just dried up.” He took a sip of black coffee. “Good coffee, hon.”

Maybe if you stopped saying creative juices...” she said only half joking. “It makes you sound like a hack.”

Well, thank you very much. That's real nice, Julie; real nice.” Fenton pushed his dish away and got up from the table. “I'm going to work. I'm turning off the phones when I get in. So if there's anything important, buzz Velma. She'll be able to get in touch with me if need be. I'll see you tonight.”

Aw, babe, don't go away mad. I didn't mean anything by it.”

Fenton snatched his briefcase and left. Julie stifled her laughter. He takes himself way too seriously, Julie thought, as she cleared away the breakfast dishes.


Fenton hadn't come up with a good advertising slogan for the Bugle Breath Mints account. Every effort was agony and nothing fit.

Blow your bad breath away with Bugle Breath Mints. Jesus, I am becoming a hack.

He felt he hadn't written an honest word since he joined the agency ten years ago. What happened to the novel he was going to write?

Fenton knew why he'd never gotten around to writing it. He'd abandoned his dream in pursuit of a sure thing. Money. And now he was writ out, devoid of words. The executives at Bugle would be coming in soon to hear what he'd come up with. He laid his head down on the desk and closed his eyes. He was asleep in no time.

Hey, Fenton, wake up. You called me. I'm here.

Who are you? I didn't call you.

Sure you did. You said “I'd give my right arm and my soul for a good idea.” So, here I am, at your service.

I never said that. I thought it.


Who are you? Are you Satan?

If you insist. More importantly, I can give you what you asked for. I can give you your idea.

But then it wouldn't be mine.

You're not listening. I said I can give you your idea.

I'm confused.


Well, I don't care what I said; you're not getting my soul or my right arm.

I don't put as much stock in souls as I used to, and your right arm is equally as useless. I want cash.

How much?

Fifty percent of all your commissions.

What could you possibly tell me that would be worth fifty percent of what I make?

I will whisper it in your ear. Take it or leave it. It's up to you.


Promptly at ten the buzzer sounded next to Fenton's ear.

What is it, Grace?”

Mr. Kearns and Ms. Curry from Bugle are here, Mr. Cobb.”

Give me two minutes, Grace, then send them in.”

He pulled himself together; when Grace ushered the clients in, he had his trademark thousand watt smile ready for them.

Carl, Evelyn, good to see you. Have a seat and get comfortable. I'll have Grace bring in coffee.”

When they were settled in, Fenton began his pitch.

I know you want innovative ideas and an approach to your product that is ahead of it's time and the pack. This will revolutionize the way you advertise. One word. Infomercials.”

No one could hear the devilish laughter in the background except Fenton.


Word Count: 765







Flash Fiction contest entry


infomercials proliferated in the United States after 1984 when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) eliminated regulations that were established in the 1950s and 1960s to govern the commercial content of television."
Thanks to Loyd Taylor for the great photo.
Thanks to all who read and review.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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