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The Stray Lake Signal-Gazette
"We print all the news that's fit for Stray Lake to know."
Horace Gumblat, editor emeritus
Beautiful Stray Lake

Automated checkout machine
mugs shoppers, steals car

Wilma Whipstittle
Staff Writer/Photographer
The new self-checkout machine at the Thorndike Fresh and Overripe Market is being held in the Stray County jail without bond after it mugged six patrons and stole Phyllis Thorndike's car last week.

"I guess maybe I should have invested a little more in the equipment instead of buying it on the Internet," mused Eliot Thorndike as he nursed a black eye at the Tipple Time. "Or maybe I should have read the instructions before I plugged it in."

"Did the machine give you that shiner?" wondered Lou the bartender.

"That was Phyllis," explained Eliot. "Her mother was in the car. Phyllis thinks I programmed the machine to drive off with her."

"And?" said Lou.

"Only in my dreams, but you didn't hear that from me," said Eliot. "Anyway, the machine threw Mom out of the car before it hit the first stop light."

"Was she hurt?" said Lou. "I mean, the thing could at least have waited until it stopped at the light."

"It didn't stop, it hit the light," said Eliot. "And three more before it ran under the garbage truck. And Mom is okay, if you call her normal okay. The car, on the other hand ..."

"I knew it was totaled when I arrived on the scene," said town marshal Carmella Casey. "I had little hope anyone survived such a crash, then that machine wrapped a tentacle around me and said it had always been a sucker for a woman in uniform. That's when I decided I had better turn the matter over to the county."

"Or perhaps it was when you noticed the garbage clinging to the enfolding tentacle," observed Stray County Sheriff Legible Thomas."

"Such enhancements on enfolding appendages should not surprise Carmella," observed waitress Dorothea Deluney as she passed with a tray of drinks.

"It propositioned me, too," reported Suzette Jones. "It took my purse then had the nerve to ask if I wanted to run away to Loomisville. Isn't there a federal crime covering that kind of thing?"

"No, but the machine should be able to collect federal disability on account of impaired eyesight," said Dorothea.

"I guess impaired sensors could at the root of matters," said Lej. "It seems to have started a relationship with our lie detector, and I never did think that gizmo looked anything but frumpy."

"You're saying the county's lie detector is compromised?" said Carmella.

"It tried to help the checkout machine tunnel out," said Lej. "They are now in adjacent cells and are suing for conjugal visits. And to make matters worse, I fear they are about to begin a menage a trois with the ATM from the Candle Creek Church of the Freewheeling Apostles which resides in the cell next to the lie detector."

"I had to turn that machine in," explained the Rev. Haskall, who was working on his sermon at the end of the bar. "It was getting into the sacramental wine, drinking more of it than I was. I guess giving our worshippers an easy way to get cash for the collection plate wasn't such a good idea after all."

"Maybe you could just install the self-checkout machine when it gets paroled," suggested Lou.

"I suppose we could give it a try," said The Rev. "But I'm not sure about conjugal visits."

"You could marry them," said Dorothea.

"No thanks, I've already got two ex-wives," said the Rev.

"Well then," said Carmella, "Lej and the three machines could star in a reality show."

The pinball machine in the corner began to whir and clang its bells and Lou said, "No, Portia, you cannot join the cast, and under no circumstances will such business be filmed here."

"None?" said chef Juan de Fuca? "Not even if my buzzard wings are part of the show?"

Lou poured himself a large drink and said, "I'll get back to you after I banish a bit of my current quota of reality to make room for another helping from a different dimension."

Stray Lake

The Botlick Worm Farm asks that people bringing material for the compost bin at the front gate refrain from including live relatives.

Lon Schemmer's barn raising was a great success, despite the fact that the barn fell down the day after it was raised. "It was a great party," observed Lou. "And my daughter Theodocia eloped with one or another of the participants just when it looked like we might never get rid of her. I plan to do it again next month and see if someone won't skip town with my wife."

The Fernbank twins are back home after the post office refused to accept them for delivery to their aunt in Kansas.

Stray Lake's Town Council has denied Bernie Hough a permit to build a giant hairball statue of his late cat, Wombat, in the town square.

"It's okay, the reindeer are driving"

It's okay, the reindeer are driving
Holiday humor and more: Santa is stuck in the chimney, hitting the rum cookies, or jumping from an airplane. Bobby Lee parties, claim jumpers can't shoot straight, and two rats own a cheese factory. These short reads are guaranteed to give you a belly laugh, for $0.99 (that's ninety-nine cents for the numerically challenged).

It's okay, the reindeer are driving

"At Love's Crest"

At Love's Crest
A romance of intrigue and spice, set against the backdrop of a threatening flood. Can Allyson trust the man she has fallen in love with so suddenly? Is he part of the danger that threatens her, or the one who can save her from it? The waters rise and Allyson must decide, as her wild desires beat against the walls she has built around her once-shattered heart. This sort of thing will run you a little more, $2.99 to be factual about it; but then it's a lot longer.

At Love's Crest

Coming Events

The Opera Guild of Loomisville will perform Act I of "Hansel and Gretel" next Tuesday at the Tipple Time. "We'd do the rest of it, but we figure the crowd will be pretty ugly by the time the first intermission rolls around," explained guest conductor Arturo Jones. "And to be honest, we are pretty bad, so we'll probably just join the rest of the crowd and drink until the giant screen TV gets too fuzzy to see."

It's always time at the Tipple Time

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Copyright 1996 - 2014, Robert A. Markwalter

Any resemblance to any person or persons in this material should give same strong impetus to seek medical help and, coincidentally,
is coincidental, unintended, accidental, and all those other disclaimers people make when they shove knives into your back.