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Now in its fifth year, Summer Stories is our annual short fiction series. This year’s theme: The Road Trip. We’ll feature stories from some of the region’s best writers about road trips that are memorable, strange and sometimes a bit of both. Visit Summer Stories to read this year’s entries and revisit previous editions. Buckle up!

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Summer Stories: Eleanor’s the World’s Largest Ball of Twine

From The Grimsville Gazette – Paid Advertisement

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, citizens of Grimsville young and old, I write to you today with good news. The wait is over. Your beloved World’s Largest Ball of Twine is once again open for business!

As you may already be aware, my father, Albert Tumly, retired from his position as owner and operator of the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in 2015, and subsequently handed the business over to me, his beloved only daughter, Eleanor Tumly. (Thank you, Daddy! Hugs and kisses!) At the time, some in the community expressed concern with my decision to close the World’s Largest Ball of Twine for renovations, for fear that, as the most prominent attraction on Rural Route 19, this would mean less traffic for other Route 19 businesses. And while I respected those concerns, I think you will all agree that the improvements to the Ball of Twine were worth the mere 36 month wait. I have made assurances to our neighbors – Kleen Car Wash n’Go, BlueJay Cafe, and Jim’s Massage & Pizza Parlor – that the revenue they lost during the Ball of Twine’s downtime will be more than made up for. And I have offered my sincerest condolences to Inky’s Pet Shop, which was forced to close in the interim. (Yes, Daddy, I sent a card AND a fruit basket, as you suggested.)

So, what’s new at the World’s Largest Ball of Twine? I’m so glad you asked!

When I took over ownership, I decided I really wanted to make the business my own – to let everyone know this is Eleanor’s Ball of Twine. And we’re doing things out here the Eleanor way from now on. I think you will find the the improved Ball of Twine MORE fun, MORE family-friendly, and MORE historical than the old version. But also, MORE hip, MORE sensual, and MORE death-defying! (Don’t worry, Daddy, it’s just an expression.)

First off, as many of you may recall from my first-prize winning presentation on volcanoes for the 1999 Grimsville Regional Scholastic Fair, I’ve always had an interest in the sciences. So, in addition to the Hall of Twine with twines from around the world, the main Twine Ball’s interior will now feature a museum of medical oddities from the private collection of our very own Grimsville coroner, Fred Wait. (Thanks, Fred! And please don’t take offense about what Daddy called you after the Elks meeting Monday night. He says he meant “freakshow” in a tongue-in-cheek manner.)

For the little ones, the Kiddie Twine-Pull Playground has been expanded, with additional twine for pulling, but also with a water slide, bouncy castle, and climbing wall. Because even though I have fond memories of the Twine-Pull from my own childhood, I also remember it being really boring. No kids should ever be bored at the World’s Largest Ball of Twine! Plus, there’s a special collection of classic toys from the late ‘90s that gentle and well-behaved youngsters can play with under careful parent supervision. (See, Daddy, I promised I’d clean out my old bedroom, didn’t I?)

The smaller secondary and tertiary twine balls, which used to house the gift shop and restrooms, respectively, are now a smoking lounge and chamber of mirrors. Although I am not personally a smoker, many of my friends are and I would like for them to have a place at the Ball of Twine. As for the chamber of mirrors, it’s always been my favorite attraction at the county fair. However, the fair only comes to Grimsville for two weeks in August. Now our community can enjoy that funhouse wackiness all year long! But don’t worry, the chamber of mirrors still has a toilet in it. It’s just really challenging to find. Like, which one is the actual toilet and which ones are reflections? A great game for all ages.

Then, in honor of the most amazing night of my life – GHS Senior Prom 2008 – there’s the Make-Out Creek Sexy Secluded Parking Area. This is a replica of the scenic turnout where my date, Tyler Moody, and I went ALL THE WAY in my parents’ Honda Accord. Unfortunately, this section of the Ball of Twine is temporarily closed due to complaints by Tyler, his wife, and their attorney who claim Tyler and I had no such night of passion. (Daddy, where are we on that whole cease-and-desist letter situation? Is it gone yet? Also, I know you don’t like the Make-Out Creek because you always say ladies never kiss & tell, but THIS IS IMPORTANT TO ME.) Once operational, visitors can enjoy 10 minutes in a fully private make-out spot at the Creek for $5, or $3 for semi-private. It’s $7.50 to sit in the actual car where Tyler and I did the nasty. Which, again, let the record show, really did happen. (Sorry, Daddy.)

Prior to our recent falling-out, Tyler Moody had suggested that the Ball of Twine might benefit from, and I quote, “More awesome shit, like guns and wild animals.” I wholeheartedly agreed. And so I’ve added a shooting range and a gator pit. Well, an electronic gator pit … but still, it’s pretty cool I think. (You were right, Daddy; the permitting process for real alligators was going to be a nightmare.)

How can we fit all this fun into one big Ball of Twine? Because we’ve expanded – into the former lot of Inky’s Pet Shop. (Daddy’s lawyers are confident the investigation will prove the fire accidental and if anyone says otherwise in these pages, that’s libel, fyi.)

And will there be live entertainment? Oh, yes! I’ve booked my bestie and former sorority sister, Jasmine Johnson – stage name Jazzy Jay – to perform her operatic slam poetry in the main Twine Ball five nights a week. Which, OK, I know sounds weird, but she got a Fulbright Scholarship, so if nothing else, you have to acknowledge her work’s artistic merit. The Grimsville Historical Re-enactment Society has offered to stage battles from the Civil War every Saturday afternoon. Although no such battles ever actually took place in Grimsville, I still feel this will be an educational experience for our weekend visitors. (Yes, Daddy, Mr. McCall says you can be Stonewall Jackson if it means that much to you.)

Plus, the cannon smoke will help mask the smell of the fire that decimated Inky’s, and which claimed the life of the store’s beloved mascot and namesake, Inky the skink. I was thinking of getting a new skink for the Ball of Twine as a gesture of remembrance to the lost Inky and his grieving family. But, can I be honest with you guys? I always found that skink a little creepy. So I’m now considering instead an animal more suited to my own establishment – maybe something that rhymes with “twine”? A porcupine? We can put it in a terrarium near the robot gators for a nice nature-y feel.

But what about the beloved Twine Pie Shop, you might be asking? Don’t worry, pie lovers! This classic remains unchanged, right down to the red checkerboard tablecloths and Mrs. Marble’s delicious shoestring pie recipe. Although to access the entrance to the pie shop, visitors must now traverse the gator pit, with special attention to the firing of live cannon rounds in the vicinity on Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.

Hope to see you all this weekend at the official Grand Re-Opening! And if you tell the guys at the front gate that Eleanor sent you … you’ll get a fist-bump and maybe some advice on where to buy psychedelic mushrooms. Because those are my burnout cousins who said if I was willing to pay them in cash, they’d work for less than minimum wage. (See, Daddy, I’m already making shrewd business decisions. Aren’t you so proud?)