Karl Rove in Retirement

AUSTIN, TX - A former presidential advisor has become embroiled in a controversy over a neighborhood baseball.

According to eyewitnesses, on the evening of July 13, Jimmy Anderson, 11, and Eric Tischler, 10, were playing baseball on the street outside their home in this quiet Austin neighborhood when Mr. Tischler hit a ball that allegedly landed in the yard of Karl Rove, one-time advisor to President Bush.

"I swear," Mr. Tischler insisted. "Like right near his bushes."

Mr. Anderson, who was pitching at the time, admits he did not see where the ball landed. It has not been recovered. "We looked everywhere for it," Mr. Anderson said.

Some neighbors claim they saw Mr. Rove, 58, puttering in his yard around the time the boys were playing but could not be sure when he went inside.

"He's got it, though," said Mr. Tischler. "I'm totally sure."

A spokesperson for Mr. Rove dismissed the allegations. "This is obviously a trumped-up charge," Rove 's wife said from her front stoop. "If you look at the distance from the manhole cover to our yard, well, that's quite a ways. Them boys couldn't hit the ball that far."

Mr. Anderson and Mr. Tischler have not been helped in their efforts to retrieve their baseball by rumors that they have never played the game, and are homosexual.

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PFLUGERVILLE, TX - Boards and tiles flew last night at the weekly meeting of the usually sedate Pflugerville Scrabble Club at the VFW Hall in downtown Pflugerville.

"I don't understand," said Club President Marla Cornfield, 64. "We've played here for 12 years and nothing like this ever happened."

At issue was the winner of the weekly contest. The Pflugerville Scrabble Club, with eight members, plays a round-robin tournament each Tuesday night, and last night's match pitted Frank Budge, 71, against William Wenthe, 52. The point total favored Mr. Budge but was called into question.

"He played an extra 'X' on a triple letter score," said former presidential advisor Karl Rove, 59, a friend of Mr. Wenthe's, after the meeting disbanded. "Where did that extra 'X' come from? How did he get it?"

Mr. Rove says he didn't notice the second 'X' until the game was over, which is when Mr. Budge upended the Scrabble board.

Mr. Budge denies upending the Scrabble board but could not say how the board wound up on the floor. He also denies playing an extra "X." "It was a blank" he insisted. "How many times do I have to tell you people that?"

Calls for a recount have been resisted. "We're a weekly Scrabble club," Ms. Cornfield said. "Who has time for this?"

Mr. Rove added that a recount would simply encourage future cheaters. "People who only pretend to be veterans shouldn't play in the VFW Hall anyway," he said.

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JOLLYVILLE, TX - Jack's Deli is closing after more than a half-century in business.

The deli, famed for its corned beef sandwiches, seemed financially solvent until nine months ago when business began to plummet.

"We lost half our customers," Wes Alsop, 57, son of deli founder Jack Alsop, said. "I don't know what happened."

The closing has been attributed to persistent rumors that the Alsops engage in liberal hiring practices.

"They can hire whoever they want," Gretchan Bellamy, 38, said. "But if they're not washing their hands afterwards I don't want them touching my corned beef." Mrs. Bellamy stopped going to Jack's six months ago.

She added: "People get sick there."

"I don't know how these rumors got started," Mr. Alsop insisted. "No one that I know has ever gotten sick here."

He says his only recent, dissatisfied customer was former presidential aide Karl Rove, 60, who argued over the price of medium soft drink 10 months ago.

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PFLUGERVILLE, TX - Marla Cornfield, 65, has been fired as president of the Pflugerville Scrabble Club, it was reported Friday. She will be replaced by Jenny Wenthe, 17.

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DRIPPING SPRINGS, TX - The winners of the Dripping Daze Art Fair were announced Sunday evening at the conclusion of fair festivities.

FIRST PLACE - "Paws to Reflect" by Robert Blankinship, 68
SECOND PLACE - "Iris Beach Morning" by Delphine Bowers, 53
THIRD PLACE - "A Permanent Majority," by Karl Rove, 61

It was the first time Mr. Blankinship won top honors. Some say the
grandfather of 12 was carried to victory by sudden, persistent rumors
that he is homosexual.