First published here

Annabel stood in the spare room, cluttered with boxes and assorted junk, and struggled for inspiration to help transform the mess into a snuggly nursery. She absent-mindedly stroked her burgeoning baby bump. The monotone of CNN was white noise in the background. Until the key words blared clearly: Camp Leatherneck, Helmand Province, Afghanistan; shooting; Afghan police trainees fire on Americans; two Marine instructors dead; others wounded; names withheld pending notification.

Annabel found herself in the living room, seated on the coffee table, fixated on the news. That’s where Josh is. That’s his assignment. He – and others from here – are instructors. CNN said that, upon being handed a loaded weapon as part of the training exercise, an Afghan police trainee turned the weapon on the Marines, wounding several, killing two.

… Continue reading.

1 thought on “Decisions

  1. Ms Plunk,

    With my late wife Dean Faulkner Wells we published (at our indie press, Yoknapatawpha Press, in Oxford, MS) Lydel Sims’ collection “Assignment: Memphis: (1983). I’m re-issuing a paperback reprint with a new Preface by Lydel’s daughter, Pat Sims. I was googling reviews and comments and came across your Plunk Chronicles blog (see below). Would you allow me to print your Lydel Sims reminiscence in the front of the paperback. It would appear along with other blurbs about Lydel’s work by fellow southern authors James Autry, Shelby Foote and Willie Morris, both in the book and on with the title listing.

    The quote would read:

    “Back when I was in junior or senior high school or so, my favorite part of the morning paper’s front page was at the bottom in the middle. It was a daily humor column titled Assignment: Memphis.

    The column was written by long-time newspaperman Lydel Sims who was fascinated with language and life’s idiosyncrasies. He went to work for Memphis’ Commercial Appeal in 1947 and was charged with “laughing at things that make the rest of us scream.”

    Something of a prodigy, the Shreveport-born Sims graduated from high school at age 14 and from college at 18. Sims worked at newspapers in Nashville and Jackson, TN, before moving to Memphis to work at the Associated Press bureau. It was there that he wrote a feature about the family cat that came to the attention of the Commercial Appeal editor, who offered him a position writing “Assignment: Memphis.”

    He never worked anyplace else except that, as a practicing grammarian, Sims taught classes for years at Southwestern at Memphis (now Rhodes) and at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis). As a requisite for any writer, Sims was a voracious reader who was said to read anywhere from two to six books a week.

    As for the challenge of coming up with a funny column every day, Sims implemented Sims’ Law: “as the day grows later, my standards grow lower. Things that didn’t look at all good to me at 9 a.m., look wonderful at 11 a.m.”

    He wrote on wonderful topics such as “Brainwashing Removes the Worry” and “Clothes Encounter of the Worst Kind.” He wrote about language, the Southern condition, urban legends, human legends – and a hands-on investigation into the theory that a mule will not bray if its tail is tied down (results inconclusive).

    Today, he would be a blogger. His writing, curiosity and tongue-in-cheek observations should be textbook lessons to all of us scribes.”

    Please reply to Larry Wells

    Thanks very much.

    Larry Wells, Publisher
    Yoknapatawpha Press, Oxford, Mississippi


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