Okay, so I got so excited about your small-story exercise that I had to take a crack at it myself. I did find it to be challenging and fun, and you know what? It's a great editing exercise, too, because you can start with more words and whittle down from there. Say your story checks in at 500 words, and you're happy with it, but then you say, "Can I get it down to 450 words, or 400 words, or ... ?" The great thing is, if you're writing on your word processor, you can save the multiple versions by numbering them as you see fit (I use Roman numerals, and yes, I'm aware that Arabic numbers would work just fine, too). Anyway, here's mine; it's 292 words.
Today's the Day
Billy thrust his hands into the pockets of his battered fatigue jacket and bent forward into the wind. His chinos did nothing to blunt the assault; like icy needles, the air pierced the pores of the fabric and pricked his legs. He hadn't been able to find his winter hat in time, so he'd left without it.
No matter; he'd be there in a few minutes, anyway. He shivered, but it wasn't from the cold—it was pure excitement, the anticipation, the nerves, the adrenaline. Today's the day. He picked up his pace.
Would Sloan be there, that smug bastard, still wearing the same shit-eating grin as last year, when he threw down "quarantine" at the last moment and took it all away, just yanked the rug right out from under Billy's feet? He hoped so. He had something for Sloan; it was cold, and it was hard, and it was called vengeance.
He crossed Stanton Avenue, stepping over a wide puddle of gray-white slush fanning out from the gutter, and flipped up the collar of his jacket as a gust carried windblown trash past him. He'd spent all night pouring over the unabridged dictionary, the deluxe thesaurus. He was ready.
He turned the corner onto Boutwell Boulevard, and there it was, his Mecca: The Hobby Horse ("Toys, Games, and Pastimes for All Ages"). Hanging in the window, taking up three-fourths of the pane, was a sign that read: Today Only! Don't Miss the SCRABBLE Northwest Regional Open Tournament!
Billy steeled himself, then flung open the glass door—the little bell tinkled—and stepped into the warmth of the shop. Several faces looked up at his entrance.
"Sloan," he said, "What's up? Good to see you, buddy . . . "