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Flash Friday 29/05/2015: Wanted Poster

May 29, 2015

The lady smiled at the two cowboys, taking the seats in front of her desk. “Why, hello there, folks,” she said in a strong accent. “What can I do for you two?”

The one on the right, with a brown beard and a warm smile, spoke. “I’m Dave, and this here is Peter. We’re here to get a wanted poster made, if that’s alright.”

“Sure is! The name’s Lucy, and you best not be forgettin’ it if you be needing posters in the future.” She pulled a sheet of paper into the middle of the desk. “What’s the special occasion?”

Peter, represented by a small, thick-moustached man in a poncho, spoke. “Pistolero Pete. Bank robbery.”

“Jeepers. People still do those these days? I thought people knew that wavin’ a pistol around a clerk was a one-way trip to having your head on a pole outside of town. How much is his head worth, anyway?”

“Sixty-thousand dollars.”

Lucy let loose a whistle. “If I were still the gun-toting cowgirl I used to be, I’d be out of this joint and runnin’ down the street. Alright then, gentlemen, I think we can arrange something. Wanted posters on high-quality paper go for around five dollars, is that okay?”

A pair of nods.

“Alright then. So, whaddya need?”

“Well…” Dave sat back, staring off at an unknown point in space as the mental picture constructed itself. “See, I was thinking a nice ‘WANTED’ across the top of the poster. Below that, a drawing of what Pistolero Pete looks like. Then, under that, we’ll have ‘Dead or Alive, with a bounty of–‘”

“That’ll be three dollars extra.”

Dave frowned. “What for?”

“The ‘Dead or Alive’ part. See here.” Lucy pushed across a leaflet with a table of information on it, pointing to the columns as she spoke. “Right now, you’re using the Basic package, which comes with the ‘WANTED’, a mugshot, and a reward statement free of charge. If you want to say ‘Dead or Alive’, you’re gonna wanna upgrade to the Luxury Bounty Hunter package for three extra.”

Dave exchanged a perturbed look with Peter. “Are there any cheaper options?”

“Sure. For only one extra, you can have the tagline that comes with the budget package.”

“What does the tagline say?”

“‘WANTED — Slightly Roughed Up or Emotionally Hurt’.”

Peter shook his head at Dave. “Go for the luxury package.”

Dave nodded. “I think that’s about all the details. Nothing else we’ll really need.”

“Really?” Lucy said. “For two dollars extra, you can make it all nice and glossy. Good for wiping the liquor and blood off during a bar shootout.”

“That’s fine. Do you think you can make a mock-up?”

“Sure thing!” Lucy beamed. Pulling out a drawer on her desk, she drew out an ink pad and stamps, constructing the poster as it had been commissioned. She showed the draft to the pair, with ‘PLACEHOLDER SCUMBAG IMAGE’ written where the mugshot should go. “What do you think?”

Dave nodded. “I like it. It has a very professional feel, shows we mean business. How about it, Peter?”

Peter’s face was currently being crushed under the weight of his frown. “Yeah, yeah, I agree with what you say, but…it’s missing something, you know?”

“…no, I don’t know. What does it need?”

“It needs….” Peter drew circles with a hand in thought. “You know what it needs? It needs more jazz to it. Do you think you could jazz up this poster a bit?”

Lucy raised a brow. “I’m not sure what you’re gettin’ at, mister.”

“You’re a good poster designer, you know these things. It needs more…” Peter clenched his fists, as if trying to force a better word out of his mouth. “It needs more jazz, you know?”

Lucy frowned in thought. Then, reaching into a box labelled ‘CLIPART’, she drew a stamp and applied it to the poster. She showed the improved draft, which looked identical to the old one bar the addition of a small cartoon cowboy giving a thumbs-up to the viewer.

“That’s it!” Peter clapped in realisation. “That’s what it was missing! You see, Dave? Jazz.

***

The door to the sheriff’s office burst open, the bounty hunter dragging his target behind him by a rope.

“Hey, sheriff.” The bounty hunter slapped a WANTED poster on the sheriff’s desk, catching his attention. “I got something you might wanna see, here.”

The sheriff sat up from his chair, picking up the poster. “You’re right. This is exactly what I wanted to see. Nice kerning, fantastic typography. And, look! The little picture, down there. Adds a certain…pizazz to it.”

The bounty hunter threw the target against the table. “I meant this.

“Hm?” The sheriff looked up from the poster. “Oh, right, that’s the fellow on this poster. How much am I supposed to pay you?”

The hunter glared.

“Oh. Right. Says so right on here, doesn’t it?” A chuckle. “Sixty thousand. Alright, I’ll see to it that you’ll get it before tomorrow. It’s just…” The sheriff rubbed the poster between two fingers. “Wow, quality stuff. I didn’t know they printed posters on this.”

“Uh, sheriff?”

“Hmm?”

“Do you want to…put the criminal away?”

“Oh, yeah, yeah.” The sheriff sat back in his chair, admiring the poster. “Just…bung him in one of the spare cells in the back.”

“And how do you expect me to lock the cell door?”

Without taking his eyes off the poster, the sheriff dug into a waistcoat pocket, drew a ring of keys, and threw them at the hunter. “No, I don’t know which key is for which cell door, either. Just gotta hope you find the right one before they escape.”

The hunter tutted, dragging the criminal away. “Thanks, I guess.”

The sheriff placed a cigar in his mouth, his eyes still locked on the poster. “I gotta get me some of these for my niece’s wedding.”

981 words

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4 Comments
  1. Funny stuff. I love the sheriff’s reaction to the poster.

  2. LOL Asking to have a wanted poster jazzed up. The sheriff’s reaction to the poster is priceless.

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