Face, Meet Sidewalk

Coyotes Delay Jets

Posted on: May 29, 2011

This was written for an assignment for my creative writing class. The exercise was to write a story that ended with “But it must be true. I read it in the Winnipeg Free Press”. While the characters and headlines in this story are true, the events described are purely fiction, involving generous amounts of literary license. Timely subject matter, however, considering the constant NHL rumblings and false Bettman-sightings around town. It was written before the Phoenix deal fell apart, though. Remember, fiction.

 

“Mommy, is the Winnipeg Free Press real?” Jack asked me one Saturday morning as I flipped through the sports section. He said it as if it was one word – WinnipegFreePress.

“Real?” I asked. “What do you mean, Bud?”

“Do they make stuff up, like the Hardy Boys books from the library are just made up? Or are they…” he searched for the word he wanted. “Are they true?”

We had already had the fiction/non-fiction discussion, so he understood the difference. “Well, yes,” I replied. “The newspaper has to print what is true.”

A delighted look crossed his face. “Can I read it?”

“Sure,” I responded, sliding the paper across the table to him.

Jack was a precocious five-year old. He had been able to sound out words and read simple texts since he was three. Kindergarten bored him to tears most days.

Thankfully for me and for his teacher, he poured is excess energy into whatever was his current obsession. He had already been through a dinosaur phase, an airplane phase and a tractor phase. At the moment, he was passionate about hockey. He knew all the NHL team colours, could name many of the major players, and tended to retain every little snippet he heard about hockey and the history of the game.

He peered at the paper for several minutes, silently sounding out words. I watched him over the rim of my coffee cup. I could see the wheels turning in his little blond head. He was thinking furiously about something.

“Mom, what does ‘delay’ mean?” he asked.

“It means ‘slow down’,” I answered. He carried on reading.

I watched comprehension dawn on his face as the meaning of the article he was reading sank in. All of a sudden, he took off running.

“Dad! Dad! The Jets are coming back!” he hollered excitedly as he raced toward the den.

I heard Dad murmur in reply, and Jack’s sharp little voice pipe up again. “I read it in the newspaper! It said they were delayed! That means they’re coming back, right Dad? Can we get tickets?”

I looked down at the article Jack had been reading. The headline read COYOTES DELAY JETS. It was an article about some wild coyotes wandering out onto an airport runway, causing traffic disruptions. I stifled a chuckle. I could hear Dad in the den, trying to explain that the article was not about the Winnipeg Jets hockey team. Jack’s excited chatter turned quiet. By the time I got there, he was indignant. I tried to soothe his disappointment.

“Not everything you read is true, buddy,” I said.

“But it must be true!” Jack cried, devastated. “I read it in the Winnipeg Free Press!”

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