The Missing Fourth (story contest entry)

Abstract American Flag BackgroundSusanna Leonard Hill is having another of her delightful, fun story contests. This one is a Fourth of July contest for which the basic rules are (and I quote)

The Contest:  Write a children’s story, in poetry or prosemaximum 400 words about the 4th of July in which a secret is revealed or a mystery is solved!

(Note that on Susanna’s blog, those bold letters were in red and blue. Colors don’t work on my blog.)

There’s a fabulous prize involved, but what I love most about Susanna’s writing contests is that they are so much fun. So, joining the fun, here’s my entry. Not counting the title, it’s 365 words, (371 now — added a bit!) one for every day in the year (including the Fourth of July!). ADDENDUM: please note the explanation at the end…

The Missing Fourth

The Fourth of July was missing.

When people in Blueville flipped their calendars to July, the 4 had been cut out.

The mayor ran out of Town Hall. “The town’s bunting has been bagged!”

The Celebrations Committee exploded, “The fireworks have all gone up in smoke!”

The bandleader cried, “Someone’s marched off with the instruments!”

“We must call a Town Meeting!” said the mayor.

“We need to collect money for more fireworks!” said the Celebrations Committee.

The band leader sang, “Seventy-six kazoos… nope, it’s just not the same.”

They ran around, tearing their hair. “What can we do?”

The kids huddled together. “What we need to do is find who did it,” said Tommy.

“And bring the Fourth back!” said Jennifer.

“Like all the Star Wars fans say, ‘May the Fourth be with us’!” said Jack.

“Not May, July!” said Debbie. She’d never seen Star Wars.

“We need to look for clues,” Jack said. “Things can’t just vanish.”

“We need to find a motive,” Tommy said. “Why would anyone steal the Fourth of July?”

“Everybody likes the Fourth of July,” Debbie said.

“Not everybody,” said Jennifer. “People who don’t like fireworks. Or parades. Or noise.”

“AHA!” They all said together.

They sneaked down the street where the band would have played. They went over the hill where the fireworks would have been.

“Look!” said Tommy, pulling a trombone case from under a bush.

“And see this!” Debbie said, waving a sparkler in the air.

“And a bag full of 4s from the calendars!” said Jack.

Jennifer put some bunting on like a cape.

“You kids get away from my stuff!” yelled Old Man Mudgeon. His cur, Snarly, grrrrred.

“It isn’t your stuff, it belongs to Blueville!” they said. “Why did you take it?”

“It’s too dang noisy. Every year those fireworks and the band just about knock my ears off.”

“I can fix that,” said Tommy. “Wait right here!”

He ran all the way to the store. “Do you sell earplugs?”

“Turnips taste better, but yup, here are earplugs.”

Tommy raced back to Old Man Mudgeon and gave him the earplugs.

So Old Man Mudgeon lived silently ever after, and Blueville turned back into Red, White and Blueville every Fourth of July.


ADDENDUM: Since several people have mentioned the pun “May the Fourth be with you” in the comments, I wanted to clarify that that one is not original to me, it’s used frequently among Star Wars fans on May 4th. See this Wikipedia entry for an explanation. Didn’t mean to mislead!

45 thoughts on “The Missing Fourth (story contest entry)”

  1. Terrific, Beth! A real mystery in 365 words – what an accomplishment!!! Loved your story and the humor 🙂 and old man Mudgeon and his snarly cur! I will now go look up what bunting has to do with the 4th of July… I don’t think I know what bunting is! Thanks for entering your super fun story! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Susanna! It was such fun to write! Bunting is the red, white and blue stuff that’s draped everywhere this time of year. Little pointy flag things, half circles of red, white and blue — all that drapey fabric stuff.

  2. Okay, you’ve done it! I smiled from the very beginning of this story. Could totally see this on PBS Kids. I loved it!

  3. LOL!! Heeeey, did you base Old Man Mudgeon on me?! (sometimes at home, I’ll put on my cranky voice and say, “get off my lawn, you *&^% kids!” which my teens actually find pretty funny…probably because we live out in the country and our neighbors are not in close proximity).

    I’m still chuckling over “Seventy-six kazoos… nope, it’s just not the same.” 😉

    Good luck with your entry!

      1. Oh, no, not you, Beth! You are always delightful and cheerful whenever I see you on FB. 🙂

        By the way, the notification I got from your blog this morning (you know, the usual notification that tells me you have a new blog post) says that this post is dated October 4, 2012…very weird!

        1. Awwww – thanks, Teresa!

          Hmmm… that notification is totally weird. Space/time continuum in flux or something? I assure you I posted it on July 1, 2013!!!!

    1. Thanks, Tina! I love puns far too much! (May the Fourth be with you is not original though — Star Wars people say it and post it on May the Fourth).

  4. “May the Fourth be with us!” said Jack.

    “Not May, July!” said Debbie. She’d never seen Star Wars.

    PERFECT play on words. Loved the mystery too.

  5. What a delightfully fun story, Beth. So clever and very cute. Love Old Man Mudgeon’s name and the Red, White and Blueville. Terrific story!

  6. Great job Beth. Love the humor (cause that’s what I USUALLY do) and the name Old Man Mudgeon. Plus, Red, White and Blueville. And the ending was was so clever. Fantastical job.

  7. Love this story, Beth! All of the “essentials,” that I associate with the 4th AND the kids are the holiday. And isn’t it Canada Day today? Hope it’s a happy one!

  8. I have read it through three times and I am still laughing. Love the snarly cur and word play. Excellent entry. Good luck!

  9. I love this story! And I can relate to Mudgeon. (I fear that one day I, too, shall be a Grinchy, Get-Off-Of-My-Lawn type).

    That said, I would rather eat earplugs than turnips.

  10. Beth…what a fantastic story! It reminded me of ‘Lentil’, where the old curmudgeon guy prevents the band from playing by giving them lemons so they are all puckered up.:) Love the images that ran through my mind as I read this…GREAT ENTRY!

  11. What a fun story! I also liked the Star Wars reference. Great ingenuity the kids showed to solve the problem of the grumpy man disturbed by the noise of the festivities.

  12. As usual and like the others this is great!! Really great! I loved the imagery and the jokes and puns. You really did it, Beth. I loved reading it. 🙂

  13. Hysterical! Love the turnips, and I’m with Vivian – reminded me of Lentil – a fav of my youth – too!

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