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Ned's Nose for Trouble Comes to a Head
by Sue Augustine

I had fun making up this story in less than 20 minutes using over 80 well-known phrases and sayings. Can you spot them?


Ned Nettleton had heard through the grapevine that the company he was working for was going to pull the plug and pull up stakes if the new widget didn't make the grade. Now this was right up Ned's alley. He was an eager beaver who didn't horse around. Because he took his job seriously, he knew when to knuckle down and also when to let his hair down. Even though he was still wet behind the ears, Ned always put his best foot forward. He deserved a feather in his cap because what they paid him was chicken feed and he could barely make ends meet trying to bring home the bacon.

Ned's boss, Mr. Dinwiddie, however, was a stiff-necked stuffed shirt, always on his high horse and flying off the handle about something. Being a bit of a loose canon, he usually had his back up and looked like he had an axe to grind. If everything wasn't up to snuff, he was ready to read the riot act. He liked to rule the roost and knew how to get your goat. If the truth be known, most people said he rubbed you the wrong way. Of course, Ned understood it's a two-way street and it takes two to tango, but he wondered why he always had to play second fiddle while his colleagues got away with passing the buck.

Now, Ned could smell a rat. Someone had spilled the beans - if the new widget didn't soon come up to scratch, Ned was going to be hauled over the coals. His position would be dead as a doornail and he'd end up back at square one. Without a solution, he wouldn't have a chance at living the life of Riley he'd always dreamed of. The handwriting was on the wall.

While he was normally content to work behind the scenes and never wanted to make a scene, Ned had to draw the line somewhere. He'd been treated as though he wasn't worth a plug nickel or a hill of beans. But although he was at the end of his rope, Ned just couldn't throw in the towel. Instead, he got his mind in gear and racked his brains to come up with a novel idea to improve the design and sell more widgets. Out of the blue, he devised a plan that may have appeared to be off the wall but would be as easy to implement as falling off a log. He knew he'd have to be the one to start the ball rolling. Then he'd just have to bite the bullet and roll with the punches.

At first, it looked as though he didn't know didley-squat and that this was merely a pipe dream. But before long, the new and improved widgets were selling like hotcakes. Eventually, Ned was ready to let the cat out of the bag and tell his boss that this was his idea. He went to Mr. Dinwiddie's office and, rather than beat around the bush, Ned started talking a blue streak. At first, his boss thought Ned was pulling his leg or pulling a fast one. Ned, on the other hand, wondered if he was barking up the wrong tree. Then, all of a sudden, Mr. Dinwiddie yelled, "Great Scott! I hear you loud and clear. Let's bury the hatchet, Ned. You're on a roll so shoot the works!" Now he was grinning like a Cheshire cat.

No bones about it - Ned had gone out on a limb but it was obvious he'd hit the bull's eye. Sales were going up like a house on fire. The company was making money hand over fist and Ned's commissions were earning him a pretty penny too. Soon he'd be on easy street and able to paint the town red after all.

Ned had survived by the skin of his teeth but he'd kept a stiff upper lip. Now he was on cloud nine. It would be clear sailing from here on and Ned had come out smelling like a rose.



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