Random Words, Random Stories Volume I Excerpt – Don’t Try Your Hardest, Try My Hardest – Chapter I

Random Words, Random Stories Volume I is a collection of short fiction.

Each short story features a random word I took from a thesaurus, dictionary or word of the day calendar and created a story around it. Each word is either the protagonist of the story, used as part of the story or the  meaning of the word is intertwined throughout the tale. The end of each story has an afterword with the word and other fun information.


By Chris Occhiuzzi

Deadline days at any publication are extremely stressful. At one community weekly in Ontario’s cottage country a few years ago, the tension was amplified by impending budget cuts and potential layoffs.

Normally deadline day was a Monday, with plenty of time to work out kinks and get editorial items finished over the weekend. This week was different though. A one-day strike by the union at the printing company was schedule for Monday, so the they needed everything done by end of day Friday.

Now, on the best of days, the deadline day clashes between the sales and editorial factions (including the design department) of a newspaper or magazine can be quite epic. Compounded by the early deadline day and external pressures made this day extremely volatile.

From 9 a.m. the battles between Captain Sandra, the editor, and the sales manager Booger, nicknamed that because of his resemblance to the Revenge of the Nerds character, were already at full tilt.

She doesn’t want to give bonus coverage to someone just because they’re an advertiser; he wants to encourage more advertisers and advertorials by giving freebies.

She wants to protect the integrity of the newspapers while Booger is all about the dollars and cents.

This is the scene head writer Michael Remigio walks into this morning. He’s happy he took the long way to work – down the rural roads – and had an extra cigarette before starting his day.

Walking down the hall to his office, he overhears another stellar conversation taking place.

Drizzy, the assistant editor, is coordinating the page count with the other salespeople, many of whom are busy trying to sell their last ads and get the proofs in for approvals.

“We need to know how many ads you’re selling, so we know how many pages we have to work with,” Drizzy tells Marsha, a rough old timer who acts as if she’s been selling ads since newspapers were invented. “It’s deadline day, we can’t wait until an hour until press time to figure this out.”

Marsha resorts to the go-to salesperson reply when things aren’t going as planned, “well, if we’re not selling ads, we’re not making money.”

The retort brings back the adage “bullshit baffles brains” and seeing Drizzy’s bewilderment puts an exclamation point on the topic.

Michael decides to poke his head into the office. “Good morning mangiacakes, I see we’re already acting like animals.”

They all stop and look at him for a moment. Michael’s smug but endearing smile makes them all chuckle a little and – for at least a few moments – the stress settles.

Pleasantries are exchanged and everyone goes back to getting their tasks completed.

The End of Chapter I

Read more in the eBook.

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