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Bi-Weekly Story Prompts

1st Line Prompt “20th Class Reunion”

Theme: 20th Class Reunion

Story must start with “The interrogation room door opened …”

Word Count: 1,200


  • Must be in first person.
  • Don/Doris Wilner’s murder

(you do not have to include this paragraph in your story unless you want to. If you do the words will not count towards the 1200 word count.)

The set-up

“It all started twenty-plus years ago.

I’d upset many of my classmates; it was them or me.

We’d made a date to meet at the north end of the stadium after the Friday night game.

I chickened out. He/She was more than a little unhappy—tough cookies.

At the reunion, everyone saw or heard Don/Doris slap my face. “I’ve waited twenty years to do that!”

I’d stayed longer than I’d planned and headed home.

Through the morning newspaper, I learned of Don/Doris Wilner’s murder.

There was only one suspect, and I didn’t have an alibi.”
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The writer explains to the police why they murdered Don/Doris OR why they couldn’t have murdered him/her.

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76 thoughts on “1st Line Prompt “20th Class Reunion”

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  • Adrienne Riggs
    Signing in. Hope to be able to write for this one!
  • Signing in

    by Ken Miles
    (1,200 words)

    The interrogation room door opened… Or so it seemed, I don’t know exactly what I’m going in there for or if I’m doing the right thing.


    “Oh my God, is that you, Doris?”

    “Yes, twenty years on, and a pregnancy, and still a killer!”

    “Drop dead gorgeous!”

    “Look who’s talking! Didn’t you, Sweet Caroline get even sweeter?”

    “Like good wine, dear!”

    They turn to see who said that.

    “Oh my God, Francie! What’s going on here? Is this some Miss Wonderland beauty-pageant!”

    “Missus, please!”

    “Oh my God, congratulations! Kiss! Kiss! Who’s the lucky man?”

    “Sander! Come over here. The chicks’d wanna see you…!”

    “Sander Thomas! Really! He’s the one?”

    I hear my wife calling me, and I excuse myself. James Carr had just discovered I was behind the aggressive bid that pulled the carpet from right beneath his feet. He didn’t know I own RMC Offshore Investments. He would’ve bragged endlessly about CarrSoft, his software firm, and how smart and successful he’s been in the twenty years since we completed college, if I hadn’t snatched his baby from him in time. As soon as I found out CarrSoft was James Carr’s creation, I made his other shareholders an offer so juicy they just couldn’t resist. His fault he tried to grow too big too soon.

    I’m basking in the sight of the successive permutations of expressions of anguish contorting his face, when Francie calls me. The humiliation I subjected him to in front of the guys must’ve been at once unexpected and unbearable to him. I wish I saw more of that spectacle. But I have to let the other guys enjoy James Carr’s deflating in front of their very eyes. Let them have it. He made them – us – suffer a lot in our college days.

    Fuck. Caroline. Alicia. Doris. All the girls I slept with back in college are together with my wife.

    “Darrel’s now in college…” That’s how Doris Wilner greets me.

    “Darrel, who?”

    “Your son! I didn’t abort after all. I thought I could be a great single mom, like Mom was to me. And Darrel’s one fine lad now. This is him,” she takes out a photo from her handbag, “you two should meet one day.” She spoke one eye on me and another fixed on Francie.

    “I need to go to the Ladies,” Francie says. I offer to walk her but she insists I stayed put. In that strange moment, I’m shocked to catch myself envisioning a threesome, one day, Francie, Doris and I. Is that what I’m made of?

    The other women are eager to recount their own steamy stories of sex with me, but not before Francie’s back. In a way it pleases me. There’s no way Francie should ditch me, I reason. If anything she’ll hold on to me even tighter, counting herself lucky she jacked the other women’s object of desire. There’s something prehistoric in any man, no matter how civilization tries to wallpaper it, that makes him feel good about being of easy virtue. It’s not the same with women; for women marriage is victory.

    I revel in that alpha glow, surrounded by those women. Back in college, I thought they were beautiful. Twenty years on and they’re just stunning. True, the average gal gets uglier in time. But the beautiful matures magnificently.

    “What’s Darrel taking in college, Doris?”

    “Space Science, top of the class.”

    “You don’t say! RMC – that’s the money side of me – is about to launch SpaceEnt, beat Musk and Branson at their game. Now I know who I’m gonna put at its helm!”

    “That’s very nice. But Darrel’s only 19, darl.”

    “Top in space class, didn’t you just say? Age’s but an opinion. And he’s got a bit of me in him. You know how I was at nineteen! You remember how I ravaged you. How you begged for mercy. When I choked you, I really wanted to kill you. I actually thought I did, everyone thought I did. You were just too beautiful to stay alive, to get fucked by someone else after me…”

    Arrêtez ! Stop ! Dr. Lascaux yells at the nurse, “pull out, pull out… You’ve penetrated too deep in his desires. Let’s not go there, pull out the electrode!” The subconscious-reading software visualized the desires I hardly knew I fostered, my darkest secrets, into computer images, for the doctor to see.

    The magic is instantly gone. I’m again a shy nineteen-year old, my face a field of acne, stammering in front of some girl, others laughing behind me. I don’t dare look. I hadn’t kissed a girl at nineteen. I haven’t yet now twenty years later, on the eve of forty. That’s why I came here, that’s why I replied to the ad and volunteered for the clinical trial.

    “Insert! Now!” The needle goes in again, I feel it puncturing my scalp and I’m soon again where I’d been: with the women, at the 20th Class Reunion.

    “I’m glad I didn’t…”

    “Didn’t what?” Caroline asks.

    “Kill Doris… Where’s she?”

    “She went to the Ladies, to check on Francie…”

    “Oh fuck!”

    “Pull out again! We better leave it at that.” Dr. Lascaux commanded the nurse again. I feel a flush-like sensation, but it soon goes away. The nurse helps me out of the bed holding her hand over my head so that I won’t hit any equipment hanging low right over me.

    “How do you feel?” the doctor asks.

    “I’m fine. I feel… how can I even describe it? Like a new me. Not exactly new. It’s like the me I always knew I was, but didn’t dare be.”

    He nodded, seemingly satisfied with my answer, but never allowing himself to come across as too friendly.

    “So you changed what happened in my past? Made my desires come true?”

    “No. You’re catching it from the wrong end,” he speaks with impatient arrogance, like I should know all the weird things he knows.

    “All that could’ve possibly happened, did happen. You slept with Doris Wilner and you didn’t sleep with Doris Wilner, you killed her and you didn’t kill her. You and your limiting beliefs decide which truths to accept and which to reject. All I’ve done today was align your accepted path with the desires you harbor. Stayed away from the ones that could’ve got you in too much trouble. It’s that simple, really.”

    I shake my head. It’s not that simple.

    “You’re a blob of consciousness,” he adds, reading my mind, “you’re the only thing that exists, as far as you’re concerned. Everything else is cosmic play-doh between your fingers.”

    The next blob-of-consciousness is already in the waiting room and the nurse has stationed herself next to me ready to escort me out to my new remolded world outside, where I’ll now be sometimes bumping into women I’ve once slept with, married to Francie no less, mega-rich and about to embark into space.

    My phone rings. It doesn’t often ring, but it does this time. As I dig inside my pocket, Dr. Lascaux disappears forever from my life with his next patient.

    A young man’s voice, of the polite-sounding, nerdish and studious type, is at the other end of the line.


    • Ken M.,

      Well, so far it’s the Three K’s and me. First off, I liked your story, but I’m not sure it was even close to the prompt, except for the first line. I think it was a high school reunion in the prompt, but perhaps not, and after that it just got confusing for me. On the plus side, it was well written and I loved some of your lines.

      My wife and I had a discussion this morning about my character not wanting to interact with a woman who had changed from svelte to obese, and wondered if I wasn’t stepping into a politically incorrect minefield. You, however, stepped it up with the lines –

      I revel in that alpha glow, surrounded by those women. Back in college, I thought they were beautiful. Twenty years on and they’re just stunning. True, the average gal gets uglier in time. But the beautiful matures magnificently.

      Talk about walking into a minefield. Of course, we all realize it’s the coarseness of your character, not you as an author, and that’s what I pointed out to my wife.

      I had a beta reader one time ask me, “Why do you hate women?” I said, “Do you feel that way about my character (who was a rotten, dirty, lowdown scoundrel) or me? Don’t confuse the author with their characters.”

      By the way, the line ‘But the beautiful matures magnificently’ could be grammatically incorrect because the sentence preceding it is singular, so it should read the beautiful (gal) matures magnificently, or just read, the beautiful mature magnificently, which would then indicate women not just a gal.

      Still, I liked where you went with the story and the science aspect of it. Good job, Ken M., and we’ll see how your story fares. Lots of time for stories to enter.

      Glad to see you writing. Did you get those glasses?


      • Hi Roy and thanks for your detailed comment.

        I’m myself not sure where I stand with this prompt; it was confusing at best. I’ve got, in my story, the requirements in the bullet points (first person narration and Doris’s death – real, imagined or otherwise, and the annoying first line).

        Then there’s a note on what follows being non-mandatory. For the investigation bit at the end (mandatory/non-mandatory?) I went for a psycho-scientific investigation of sorts rather than a law-enforcement one. I like to write about everything, but there are two institutions I’m not too pleased to write about – that’s the police and the courts. The law is an ass, never mind those enforcing it. I, for one, prefer to delve in other slippier aspects of the human condition instead of mere legal matters.

        I know that the courts, in particular, often feature in Americana (many American movies [ie Hollywood, I know there’s much more to America], for instance, often finish in a wooden-clad room where the ending is decided by some judiciary snobs. European films tend to end differently. Or not to end at all). I just don’t enjoy myself writing about law-enforcement. I simply don’t find it fun. Well, once I had a sergeant eating the missing person he was looking for, if you remember, that had been turned into kebab meat, but there the police bit was hardly the point, just a device.

        On the theme of political correctness, well that’s another beauty. I prefer to provoke rather than be correct. Not to offend, just to provoke. (Now, with so many snowflakes everywhere one looks, these days, it’s like walking on egg shells whichever way you turn. Well, whatever.) As one guiding light, I keep in mind what Oscar Wilde said a good while ago: “There is no such thing as a morally good or a morally bad book. Books are either well-written or badly-written”. So, that’s the mantra I stick to.

        W.r.t. this particular story, it’s of course my character, and not me, who has those opinions about women, as you rightly noted. And even that, the psychologist-scientist found that kind of stuff in his subconscious, in the parallel universes of his desires; so it may not even have been the actual upfront opinion of the character either. Who knows what may lie in your or my subconscious? Or (my, oh, my) in Jürgen’s.

        With first person narration, readers may often mistake what the main character is thinking, doing or saying for what the writer thinks, or would do or say. There may be some partial overlap between character and writer, in some cases, but it’s not a universal assumption any reader ought to make. And in the case with this story, we are actually obliged by the prompt itself to work in first person, whether we prefer it or not.

        Thanks for that correction on the ‘beautiful mature magnificently’. I got a bit mixed up with the plural and the singular there, while writing, and your advice to start with the singular, then switch to the plural fixes the problem very well (magnificently), I think. I’m not fixing it in the text (or I’ll lose the blue!), but I’ll keep it in mind for next time.

        I haven’t got those special blue-light filtering glasses yet, but I’ve been quite ok lately. I was relieved of a lot of computer based work till the end of the year, so the little time I needed to write my stories here didn’t hurt too much. And some of the stories (not this one), I drew them out of my back-catalogue, and just polished them a little…


        • Ken M.

          You know it’s funny you said annoying last line, and last week Ken C., and at least one other writer, commented on hating last line prompts. I look at as a challenge and it forces me to work around that concept by embracing the first or last line and then writing something meaningful using it, either before, or after. Think of it that way and it won’t be as annoying, I don’t think.

          Back in ’13 (I sound like an old guy talking about way back when). when we first started this story thing, it wasn’t stories. It was back and forth about writing, but since most of us were wanna be writers, we chafed at the bit and started writing stories, and then yours truly introduced the first and last line bit. I did that because some of the most famous stories in history have what are now classic first or last lines. And, I thought it would not only be fun, but would stretch some of our writers. I can give you these two lines and I’m willing to bet the novel each appeared in will come to mind immediately:

          “Who is John Galt” and ‘After all, tomorrow is another day.” No?

          Atlas Shrugged and Gone With The Wind.

          Anyway, maybe you should get those glasses anyway. Couldn’t hurt. Who knows, they may even help you with first and last lines. You’ll be seeing them differently. 🙂

          I don’t see many new stories popping up on this site lately. I even lamented about it last week in one of my comments. I’m not sure what is going on with our writers. Maybe this Covid thing is frying brain cells asymptomatically and none of us know it.

          In the meantime, stay safe.


          • Ken Miles
            Hi again Roy,

            The thing is that I read Les Edgerton’s “Hooked”, not so long ago, about hooking readers with great first lines, and First Line Prompts take that pleasure away from me!

            Also, the Andy Lake Principle to chop off the first paragraph and see what happens to your story is not possible when the first line is preset and obligatory.

            Besides, it’s one thing having just a mandatory first line prompt (like “When she was five she swallowed her name” or my “Sometimes, some things are better left unsaid”) and the stories then evolve from there.

            It’s quite another having a mandatory first line, and a prescribed theme, and a grammatical decision (eg. must be in first person), and a preset way how to go about the theme and all that.

            You get a great idea for the theme, but the first line doesn’t quite fit in. You get round the first line, but then the theme idea doesn’t match. anymore. You try to adapt it to make it match and it becomes lame. If there is a first line condition, then that first line ought to be the theme in and of itself.

            I noticed too that, in the last few weeks, participation has dropped drastically. I don’t know if it’s Covid fatigue or something else. Is it maybe screen and computer fatigue in general for those locked inside for so long with their electronic friends?

            I hope participation will pick up again soon… it’s s bit eerie in here with so few people. And we’re all missing, I think, such writing heavyweights and friends like Andy, Ken F. Adi, Juergen, Kristin, Alyssa, Marien and the rest – where are you guys? Ken F. and Adi and sometimes Alyssa too have at least been around to comment… I hope we’ll hear something from the rest too, one of these days…


            • Ken F
              Hey Ken!
              I’m here and have posted a story.
              I have made some comments about some of the prompts too and I think my current story tells you how I am feeling about this one.
              I think we all need to give this some thought just in case this is the reason for so few stories lately. My feeling is that it may be a part of a wider problem with the pandemic and the way in which this is impacting upon all our lives but in different ways.
              I have also started another story for the bonus prompt which, in my humble opinion is exactly what it should be, one about Christmas.
              I will be commenting upon the current batch of stories in due course.
              Glad to see that you have been able to carry on contributing.
              Kind regards,
              Ken Frape
          • @Ken Miles

            “The thing is that I read Les Edgerton’s “Hooked”, not so long ago, about hooking readers with great first lines, and First Line Prompts take that pleasure away from me!

            Also, the Andy Lake Principle to chop off the first paragraph and see what happens to your story is not possible when the first line is preset and obligatory.

            Besides, it’s one thing having just a mandatory first line prompt (like “When she was five she swallowed her name” or my “Sometimes, some things are better left unsaid”) and the stories then evolve from there.

            It’s quite another having a mandatory first line, and a prescribed theme, and a grammatical decision (eg. must be in first person), and a preset way how to go about the theme and all that.

            You get a great idea for the theme, but the first line doesn’t quite fit in. You get round the first line, but then the theme idea doesn’t match. anymore. You try to adapt it to make it match and it becomes lame. If there is a first line condition, then that first line ought to be the theme in and of itself.”

            I also thought this prompt was too complicated at first, sometimes when you try to cram too many details into 1200 words and you start getting the exact same story. But I’ve read through (not in depth, but read lightly) and everyone’s doing just fine with this prompt.

            “I noticed too that, in the last few weeks, participation has dropped drastically. I don’t know if it’s Covid fatigue or something else. Is it maybe screen and computer fatigue in general for those locked inside for so long with their electronic friends?

            I hope participation will pick up again soon… it’s s bit eerie in here with so few people. And we’re all missing, I think, such writing heavyweights and friends like Andy, Ken F. Adi, Juergen, Kristin, Alyssa, Marien and the rest – where are you guys? Ken F. and Adi and sometimes Alyssa too have at least been around to comment… I hope we’ll hear something from the rest too, one of these days…”

            For me personally, the last few prompts haven’t really piqued my interest. Actually most of the year they haven’t. I think the pandemic, job losses, stress etc all plays into a factor. And you could very well be right. I’ve been working from home the last few years and my writing has declined. Now that I think about it….I used to listen to music on my 1 hour commute and think about the writing prompts. Now I don’t do that. I go do laundry or there’s always a room that needs to be cleaned. So the way we live our life has definitely changed.

            Nov 19 – 4 stories
            Nov 5 – 6 stories
            Oct 22 – 3 stories (1 week Halloween prompt)
            Oct 7 – 7 stories (Bonus)
            Oct 1 – 6 stories
            Sep 17 – 9 stories
            September 9 – 8 stories (bonus prompt)

            I was trying to see if there was a pattern here, but not really, I come up with the bonus prompts sometimes out of boredom, hoping to get the creative juices flowing so to speak. Perhaps we should avoid posting the bonus ones for a while, too many overlapping contests?
            Not sure.

            Also, Alice and I normally take a few weeks off around Christmas but the bonus Christmas prompt popped into my head and I wanted to tackle it as a personal challenge. I posted it out of curiosity to see what you talented writers would come up with.
            But it IS a bonus contest smack dab in the middle of the busiest time of the year so I didn’t think we’d get a lot of participation.

            …just a few rambling thoughts!

          • Roy,

            Everything annoyed me last week.

            I don’t remember saying anything about last line prompts. But I’ll take your word for it. (See how much mellower I am this week from last.) If you say I hate last line prompts, Roy. I will hate them, and I will do so dilige… well,,, semi-diligently. I will hate them as much as I can, if I remember to. I hope that’s acceptable.

            I like the broad conceptual (?) prompts, like betrayal; winter; time, etc. But I’ve had a lot of fun with specific prompts, with various items that must be used. I think I dislike first line prompts the most, but they’re easier to work with than last-line prompts.

            Frankly, just between you and me and Ken, I think I’m running out of ideas. How many stories can one guy write?

            The only reason I continue to write and post stories, is because Phil is still posting stories. You know, Phil joined the group the same week that I did, and he always posts a story. And I promised myself at some point, that I would stick around and write a story as long as Phil continued to. I vowed that he would not write one more story than me (for this group.) I thought, If Philip can continue to pull a story out of thin air, twice a month, then I can too. (This is why I refrain from making promises. They become impractical at some point.) I’ve been one behind him for several months now, if he doesn’t post one this week, it puts us even again I believe.

            • Ken C.,

              It’s entirely possible you didn’t say you hated last lines or first lines, whatever it was, at all. There are so many Ken’s I may have attributed it to the wrong Ken, or it sounded to me like something you would say and I just gave you credit for it. Having said that, I’m sticking with my theory it broadens a writer’s horizon and they just need to put the pedal to the metal and bite the bullet, and in general get their proverbial shit together and write the friggin’ story already.

    • KM,

      The details of the plot are too vague.

      The beginning dialogue is clever and, ‘flouncy.’ I hated this line. “Didn’t you, Sweet Caroline get even sweeter?” I don’t get it. I still don’t get it. Okay, on my fifth read through, I realized that ‘Sweet’ Caroline was one of the characters. So there was Francie, Doris, your wife, Caroline, and that’s it. Or is it Francie, Doris and Caroline. Francie is the narrator’s wife. Okay, I got it all straight now.

      I suppose it would’ve helped if I knew that none of the dialogue was coming from the narrator. Took me three reads to figure this out. It’s very tricky starting a story with unattributed dialogue.

      The story then assumes a more balanced narrative that I found engaging until I hit the ‘strangulation sex stuff’ which was pretty weird, and the character didn’t know he was susceptible to this peculiar fetish, I suppose. But at this point, I was wondering who the main character really was. The interrogation room really has nothing to do with the story either. As if you needed a sign on your storefront to be in business, so you bought a ‘For Sale’ sign and hung it over the door. Convenient? Yes. Sensible? No. (That’s okay, we still love you anyway.)

      I found this line to be amusing. The other women are eager to recount their own steamy stories of sex with me, (Oo, air thee new? – That’s Irish for, ‘Oh, are they now?) Air thee tackin’ aboot heaven sax? Air heaven sax wee the likes o’ yee?)

      I like the concept of the story. The possibility that science could someday remove inhibitions or restore mental balance is compelling, IF that is, that’s what this was about. In the end, I wasn’t sure what was real and what wasn’t. He couldn’t have been ‘a pimply-faced 19 year old if, at the end, he has a grown son.

      The doctor implied that everything had happened, everything was true. So, you have a story that contradicts reality. Deliberately.

      Is that what you were trying to do?

      If I knew where you lived, I would bill you for the time I spent trying to decipher this story. Your best bet is to keep that a secret for as long as you can.


      • “In the end, I wasn’t sure what was real and what wasn’t.”

        Then you got it, Ken C. Perfectly. That’s what it’s all about.

        Sorry for the multiple readings I subjected you to. How much do you charge per extra reading? Hypothetically. And yes, there had to be a comma after “Sweet Caroline”, to show that she was being addressed in that sentence.

        I know that the beginning and some other parts are confusing. But that was indeed intentional. Alas, the DSDRT (deep-seated desire-reading technology) hasn’t been perfected yet. And when it does get perfected, life on this planet will get very boring indeed… Human life, that is (dogs and cats have always been fully aware of their deep-seated desires and they’ve evolved around that). But for us it’s the confusion in our heads that really keeps us going. Chasing nothingness. And thinking that it’s everything. And that we own this planet and this universe.

        Thanks for those little adorable Eiresh gems btw…

        (Insider’s secret: The Doc clearing the cobwebs in Sander’s head is called “Dr. Lascaux” and apparently he speaks French. Now Lascaux is of course a place in France where Man for the first time (as far as we know) put his emotions in pictures – the first cave-paintings are there. Those paintings are indeed the first electrode that went inside our brain and projected on an external screen, a cave-wall, what lies inside those mashed peas in our heads. Only well after I had written the story that I wondered why I’d even called our Doc, Dr. Lascaux, of all possible names on the planet. Why not Dr. Dipper? Or Dr. Longfinger? Then it occurred to me that I must have subconsciously made that man-to-cave connection while writing, and didn’t even know it (well, that’s the meaning of “subconscious” in normal English). Or maybe not, and it’s just a coincidence. In any case, perhaps the experiment was on me, too. Interesting. But that’s all that was found. No heaven sax.)

        • Ken M.

          I might have known you’d already named the technology. Deep-Seated-Desire-Reading Technology. (How about, Deep-Emotional Scar-Effect Removing Technology. DESERT.

          I think, if you’d used the word Quantum, somewhere in the title or the copy, it would have provided the necessary clue for me.

          You want to hear something weird? About a year ago, my family took me out to dinner at a local restaurant for my birthday. The restaurant provided a solo artist with some kind of music machine singing cheesy old songs from forty or fifty years ago, which was okay, fine as far as it goes. We knew all those old songs he played too. But then the guy began the song, ‘Sweet Caroline,’ by Neil Diamond. And the entire restaurant started singing along with him, especially the chorus.

          Me, and my family, were completely baffled. As if we were suddenly foreigners in another country, being subjected to some strange local custom to sing, with unbridled gusto, mind you, the chorus of this idiotic song. (No, we did not sing along, we laughed at first, and then suffered the following choruses with patient good humor.) I cannot think of a single thing that could explain this phenomenon, except one. (And that involves Russians, or space aliens, or MIND CONTROL.

          So, I think your Sweet Caroline line, touched a nerve, forgotten, but still tender from that weird experience. That would explain my inexplicable unwillingness to accommodate this story.

          My apologies.

          • Ken Mules
            DESERT, that’s a good one. That’s what’s left after all the scars and intrigue are removed, a bare desert. What’s left of us if we’re stripped of our problems and complexes?

            “Sweet Caroline”, yes it’s an annoying track. As annoying as the ladies in my story. Again, you’re spot on. I meant to annoy my readers. Writers don’t have to please all the time, do they? But I didn’t mean to touch such a sore nerve like I did with you and your Neil-Diamond-ruined birthday… I would have called her Carol instead, “Oh Carol, I am not a fool…” That was by Smokie, right? One notch higher, but still a potential birthday ruiner if you’re not in the mood for it. “Oh Carolina”, by Shaggy – it does get better, you see. He came over, Shaggy, near my place, a couple of years ago, and I went to his open air concert. There was Sting too, of The Police. Good stuff. Except for the field of gray hair between me and the stage. I can’t think of anymore Caroline songs, sorry. Not that you asked me too, anyway.

            Quantum? I didn’t mention the word, not to make it too obvious. But I think I did say “parallel universes” at some point. That shouldabeen a clue.

            I plan to come last with my story. All the others are so amusing, mine so annoying. But it’s ok, I’m seeing it coming, I almost asked for it.

            Cheers, mate, and it’s a pleasure, as always, having a word or two with you.


    • Hi Ken,

      A most intriguing story that shines a light on some less than pleasant aspects of the human condition. Having said that, none of us, twenty years after college or high school, are the same as we were then, I expect. Reunions are a very interesting subject for stories. I personally never attended any events back at my old school but have been to several gatherings of my old college friends. I would love to carry out a survey of the honest reasons why people go to reunions. They are potential minefields.

      I did like the twist in this story, the trip into the unconscious mind and a glimpse at some of the dark shadows lurking there.
      “Pull out! Pull out” A bit of a double entendre if ever there was one.

      The ending caught me out, or rather, the doctor’s explanation near the end and the comment, “It’s that simple really.” It wasn’t and it isn’t!

      Kind regards,

      Ken F

      • Thanks Ken, for reading and commenting.

        Yes, we’re all a bit different twenty years later, I suppose, but perhaps some of the old fetishes and desires (including those we never knew we had) remain embedded in there.

        That’s what I tried to explore with this 20th class reunion that never was. Sander never attends the reunion, it’s all in his imagination (partly imagination, partly desires, partly unvented revenge and repressed feelings of a sexual nature with the women and a competitive nature with the men).

        In the first draft, it was even weirder: the doctor tells Sander (and us): “You never made it to High School. You only dreamed you did, twenty years ago. But I can fix that.” You did go if you want to believe you did, kind of thing. It’s just a matter of fixing which parallel universe to follow, like a train that can end up somewhere totally different by taking a slightly different track. It’s that simple. (yeah, right).

        But I was over with the words, and in no mood to go into more drafts, so I just posted the curtailed version. I think there’s potential for more with this story, if I wish to revisit it later on, a cross between Freud and quantum mechanics as explained by Schrödinger’s cat that’s both alive and dead at the same time – as long as its hidden inside a box. Just like Sander’s hidden unconscious/subconscious mind. But I’m not sure if I’d ever feel like going into this kind of stuff again… it’s a bit tiring.

        That “pull out, pull out” bit, yes, there’s double entendre there. It sort of came by itself (from my own subconscious, probably), but then I saw it, and it fitted well!


  • Phil Town
    Hi, Alice/Carrie (and/or the person who supplied the prompt – not sure who that was).

    Can I get some clarification? (The old brain cells are … getting old, I’m afraid.)

    Can we just go with all the info above the ‘The set-up’ heading?
    i.e. “Story must start with ‘The interrogation room door opened …’
    Must be in first person.
    Don/Doris Wilner’s murder”


    Must we also base the story on the incidents in ‘The set-up’, including “The writer explains to the police why they murdered Don/Doris OR why they couldn’t have murdered him/her.”



    • Carrie Zylka

      Hi Phil, Robt provided the prompt.
      My interpretation is:

      Must we also base the story on the incidents in ‘The set-up’, including “The writer explains to the police why they murdered Don/Doris OR why they couldn’t have murdered him/her.”

    • Carrie Zylka

      I believe the story scene should be the interrogation room while incorporating the story set-up of the blowout between you and the character at your 20th high school reunion, and subsequent death of said person.

      • Phil Town
        Thanks, Carrie!

        (So the story I’ve written goes into storage for another occasion … trust me not to square it before plunging in.)

        • The story scene starts in the interrogation room and then moves on to where ever, “The writer explains to the police why they murdered Don/Doris OR why they couldn’t have murdered him/her.”
          • Phil Town
    • Hi Phil,

      I went with your Option 1.

      I have posted it and will just have to wait and see.

      Ken F

  • Hi All,

    The above messages of clarification have done nothing to clarify things in my head, On the prompt are the words, “You do not have to include this paragraph in your story unless you want to.”

    I have struggled to get my head around this one and I have not been altogether serious in my approach.

    I think I will post my story as it is and leave you all to be the judges. In my effort there is mention of a 20th. reunion, it’s first person and Doris gets murdered and the murderer is brought to justice.

    Ken Frape

    • Robt. Emmett
      Ken M, I don’t need to be “hooked” in the first lines, but I do need a reason to turn to the second page. Some of us have trouble getting started. Many times, I write the final paragraphs first.
      On your comment about political correctness, it’s the character, not the writer, who is non-PC.
      I chose the first person because some writers find it hard to write in that style. This story was a place to practice. For some, dialogue is hard. Again, a place to practice. When I started writing here, there was not a lot of dialogue used. Now, there’s more.
      I see you have a “back-catalogue,” so do I. I would think most who write do have a back-catalog.
      I’m not a large fan of the judicial system. I think that laws should be logical – they’re not. I believe that laws should be fair – they’re not.
      The title, “20th Class Reunion,” could be high school or college. However, the sophomoric action of a public face slapping would tend to be more of a high school thing than a college one.
      My comment on the first line requirement. Initially, the line read, “The door opened…” I realized that would create too many options, and the story could wander all over the place. So I changed it to what it is.
      Then the “Set-up” was additional material to steer the stories in a specific direction. By using “He/She” and “Don/Doris,” the writer has gender choice.
      Roy York, you spoke about “Back in the day …It was back and forth about writing,…” I once, [very early on] commented that it was against my nature to make negative comments about other people publicly. I was chastised, so now I don’t. It limits my interaction with other writers on this venue.
      Lastly, I have used excerpts of my novel-length story, 20th Class Reunion, before. A little over a year ago, I posted the opening charter. It was received here better than many of my stories. I re-read it with the other stories. Where I in a bookstore, I’d have put the book back on the sale’s shelf a hundred words in. To be honest, it sucked. Nearly three years ago, I posted the last chapter of 20th Class Reunion.
      And now, without further ado, I’ll post another rendition [A.K.A the synopsis] of the 20th Class Reunion. It excludes any mention of his love life.
      • Ken Miles
        Hi Robt., me too, I’d usually give a writer at least a page or two of reading, before I decide if I continue reading, or put the book down. But, apparently, the likes of you and I are becoming an endangered species – most so-called ‘modern readers’, used as they are to the meme-Facebook culture, seek exhilaration from the word go, and if the first seven words (on average) are dull, they move on to the next thing.

        As for the prompt, it’s your prompt, so it’s fine by me that you went along with what you wished to explore with us. Each point you made (use of first person, a first-line themed story, a dialogue-based set-up and so on) is actually great, but all of them together did come across as somewhat over-prescriptive, IMO.

        But the stories are rolling in, so it’s okay I suppose…


  • Who killed Doris?

    The door to the interrogation room opened………

    These are the only words on my computer screen. They sit there, just staring back at me. They don’t even have the wit or the energy to push the blinking cursor along to a new space. I don’t think it’s asking too much to expect a little help from the computer now and then but no, I think it just sits here when I go away, just gathering dust. There’s certainly no evidence of any action whilst I am away. Bone idle.

    Those seven words are the result of three days’ worth of my literary sweat. To make it worse, they aren’t even my own words. These fucking prompts really do my head in. Well, sometimes they really do my head in and this is one of those times.

    Perhaps that’s what happened to Doris Wilner, the writer. Was she given a really convoluted prompt by A Place For Fiction Writers and after wrestling with it for two weeks, her head exploded in a shower of dry brain dust and unfulfilled literary expectations? Death by spontaneous cranial combustion. That’s what the death certificate would say. Death by SCC. And now I can feel my head getting bigger too. Will I be next or is it time to take one of my tablets? It’s my carer’s day off so I have to remember to do it. Or have I already taken it? Help, Mum!

    Anyway, who’s Doris Wilner, I hear you say? I just knew you were going to ask me that. I had never heard of her until her name appeared in the prompt. I better read it again and see if I have missed anything. Back in a mo……………

    Hmmmm, says here, “Requirements: must be in the first person and Don / Doris Wilner’s murder,” plus a load of other stuff that I am told I can ignore if I want and I will. OK?

    Right, so Doris Wilner gets murdered ( so that rules out death by spontaneous combustion then) and it has to be in the first person. That’s me, then. And there’s an interrogation room too. Now just hang on a moment, I didn’t kill her and I’m not going down for her murder. I’m not going in that room. Ok? Right? Well, as long as we get that straight from the outset. She can still be a writer, though. In fact, I can make her anything I want but writer will do for now. No one has ever heard of her so perhaps a bit of posthumous fame might just elevate her mediocre writing into the bestsellers’ list. Nothing sells a book like the death of the author. I’m surprised that more authors don’t try it. The book people will say, “Such a tragic loss,” or “the literary world is all the poorer for the untimely passing of the great Doris Wilner.” Until now the only people who have heard her work are her husband and her mum but they don’t really count as they were a captive audience. Mind you, if her work is that poor or boring perhaps that’s a motive for her murder.

    Imagine the scene….As this is supposed to be in the first person but I am not going to get involved in the murder investigation, I’m going to be a fly on the wall.

    The door of the interrogation room opens and the detective sweeps in and takes his place. There are two police officers, a duty solicitor and Doris Wilner’s husband sitting at the table. The lead detective gets straight down to business.

    “Tell me, Mr.Wilner, why did you kill your wife?” He stares intently at the husband, who blubbers like a baby. He has been in custody overnight whilst the crime scene was investigated. He is sweaty and in need of a shave and a hair brush. He has dark shadows under his bloodshot eyes. He has no shoelaces in his shoes and his belt has been taken away. He looks like shit.

    “I just couldn’t take any more,” he cries, his head in his hands.

    “Why, what do you mean?” The detective pushes on, ignoring the salty drips on the table.

    “She just kept on and on. I thought it would never end. If I dropped off to sleep or my eyes glazed over, she would shout at me.”

    “So what was she doing, Mr. Wilner?”

    “She was reading her stories out loud to me!” His voice rose to a pitch. “Day in, day out, morning, noon and night, even in bed when I was pretending to be asleep.”

    “So how did you kill her?””

    Wilner is a broken man. “I bashed her head in with her hardback first edition and then tore out every page and jammed them into her mouth.” He looks vaguely into the distance, reliving his wife’s murder. “It’s the first time I really enjoyed one of her books.” No one in the room appreciates the dark humour in his words.

    “I don’t care what happens to me now,” he sighs. “Nothing can be as bad as hearing her voice, over and over again. She even thought she was a good writer.” He laughs and there’s a trace of madness in his voice.

    “She will probably be a bestseller now, Mr. Wilner,” the detective says with a wry smile.

    The detective slides a pad across the table, the back page soaking up Wilner’s tears.

    “We’ll take your statement now, Mr. Wilner.”

    The interview is over and the door opens so that I ( the fly on the wall) can escape.

    So that’s Doris Wilner, the writer. Dead.

    But there are lots of Doris Wilners. Look them up in the Yellow Pages. There are seventeen there and then of course there are internet Doris’s, business link Doris’s and all of that. I think it would be a bit of a shame to kill off a writer (even a poor one) just because she isn’t any good at writing. If we applied that rule to, say, politicians who don’t tell the truth then we wouldn’t have enough left ( or right) to form a viable party.

    So let’s stay with the prompt and find another Doris Wilner, after all, I’ve still got 177 words left.
    A few minutes later…….

    You know what, I can’t be bothered to use up all my 1200 words and I am in a bit of a hurry. It’s my 20th. Class Reunion tonight and I’ve got one or two old scores to settle. Can’t wait.

    I’ll donate my spare ninety – five words to charity. OK?

    Happy prompting,

    Ken F

    • Ken Miles
      Hi Ken! Yes, I realised you’re back with another one of yours. And you never really left us, I’ve seen you around, like a fly on the wall perhaps, over the past few weeks, commenting from time to time. Unlike some others who seem to have vanished into thin air. Abducted by aliens; I don’t think so. Maybe they took a wrong exit on the motorway and it happened to lead them to a black hole, and they’re now in other universes? Possibly, most times writers are in other universes.

      Anyway, you’re here. And with a story about us, our prompts, our Wilner lives. And Wilner husbands and wives. Captive audiences that mean little. Or can mean worse. Nothing makes a bestseller better than the author’s death? Hmmm. I’m going to become a gardener instead. Or a firefighter. Or a fighter jet pilot. All safer jobs than writing.

      Do you really wish your computer helped out more with writing your stories? “I think it just sits here when I go away, just gathering dust. There’s certainly no evidence of any action whilst I am away. Bone idle.” Watch what you wish for, mate. For the sake of humanity. Kasparov, humankind’s best in chess was beaten by Deep Blue, computerkind’s best, a good while ago. Musk’s baby has already destined human-driven cars to the realm of horse riding.

      We’re being replaced, Woody, said Buzz Lightyear. I’ve worked on an AI course last year for a University of Helsinki project, and the sad (though convenient) conclusion was that computers will eventually replace us. We will be able to tell that we (humans) have become a footnote in history when AI will have advanced enough to tell good jokes and write fiction. Oh, that’s incidentally what you’re asking from your computer. It will one day, but let’s not rush it!

      Already my computer keeps asking me to take tests to check if I’m a robot. I’m expecting it, one of these days, to say, “You’re not a robot, you’re not one of us, access denied. Sorry, go back to your cave, human.”

      How was your 20th Class Reunion, by the way? Scores settled? Black eyes? It’s quite interesting when a story starts just before it ends…


    • KF

      Ha. I got a few good laughs out of this Ken. It’s very clever and your writing is impeccable. Smooth as a Sicilian pickpocket.

      You’ve got your story here, Ken. (I know you have a story here.) I’m just saying you could easily make this conventional with a little rearranging. Adjust the POV’s, change a couple of tenses. You could turn this into a ‘he said, she said’ thing. Her: Thrashing around over every single line, agonizing over single words, demanding the husband hear the latest revision, for the thirteenth time.

      He: Chopping onions for supper, because she’s too busy with her story, stopping to sharpen the knife, moving on to the tomato, mind wandering to some imaginary place of freedom, etc.
      I laughed right out loud at the line: “It’s the first time I really enjoyed one of her books.”

      This is not really a story. What it is for certain is some very funny writing. I enjoyed it immensely.

  • Holiday Reunion
    by Roy York
    1170 words

    The interrogation room door opened … but only a crack. I could hear voices but the last words I heard chilled me to the bone. “I don’t care. We got the SOB that did it and I’m going to prove it.” The door opened all the way revealing a large man in a badly rumpled suit.

    “Mr. Cliburn,” he said, as he waved a manila folder in my direction and walked in the room, “I see you turned yourself in this morning. That will help us a lot.”

    “Is that how we’re going to play this?” I said.

    “We’re not playing, pal. There was a murder last night and you happen to be our prime suspect.”

    “That wasn’t what I meant, officer … “

    “Detective,” he interrupted.

    “Detective then. I didn’t turn myself in this morning. I came down to see if I could help in the investigation after I read the story in the newspaper about Doris Wilner’s murder. For whatever reason you seem to think I did it. I assure you, I did not.”

    “We have several eyewitnesses who saw you and Doris have an altercation at the holiday reunion last night. First, however, let’s start over. My name is Detective Jellen.” He sat down and put the folder on the table as he pulled a small tape recorder from his pocket. He turned it on. “You’ve been read your rights, I understand. Is that correct?”

    “If that’s what you want to call it when they told me I didn’t have to say anything without an attorney present, while they put these cuffs on me. You mind taking them off?”

    “It’s standard procedure, Mr. Cliburn. For your protection as well as ours. Let’s get started. Today is Sunday, December 15, 2019, 9:11 AM. Present is Detective Jonathan Jellen and Lance William Cliburn. Is that correct so far?”

    “I’m not saying another word until someone takes off these handcuffs … with or without an attorney. Is that clear?”

    “Are you saying that if I remove the handcuffs, you’ll tell me what you know about Doris Wilner’s murder?”

    I stared at the detective until he realized I had told him not another word. I didn’t even nod my head. He got the message. Reaching behind his belt, he removed a set of keys and uncuffed my hands.

    I rubbed my chafed wrists and said, “Thank you.”

    “OK, Mr. Cliburn, it’s your turn. Just remember anything you say can, and will be, used against you in a court of law. Why don’t we start from the beginning.”

    “Well, really, this whole business about getting slapped last night started about twenty years ago. I was the starting quarterback on the football team and was dating Merry Jean Christmas.”

    The detective looked up. “Merry Christmas?”

    “It gets worse. Her twin sister’s name is Noel Christmas. Their parents had a wicked sense of humor, apparently. Anyway, I was dating Merry. It seems Doris Wilner, who was a cheerleader, had a crush on me and propositioned me one night. I was a horny teenager at the time and Merry wasn’t, as she put it, that kind of girl. Doris was, from what I heard, so I agreed to meet her Friday night at the north end of the stadium after the game. Win or lose.

    “To make a long story short, I didn’t show up. I was worried word would get back to Merry, especially after I found out Doris always blabbed about her latest conquest. To make matters worse, it turned out a lot of people were in on the scheme and were going to secretly watch the whole thing.

    “That Monday in school, I was shunned like a adulterous pilgrim. Everybody was talking about it. The person who filled me in on it was Noel, since Merry was no longer talking to me. I couldn’t figure it out. I hadn’t done anything, yet I was the bad guy.”

    I stared at the detective. “Like now,” I said.

    “What has any of that to do with last night?” he asked.

    “Let me finish. Merry and I didn’t see each other after that. Honestly, I was looking forward to seeing her at the reunion. Right after I got there, one of the first people I saw was Merry. Tell you what – she had changed. Big as a house. I’m not talking pleasingly plump here, but maybe 400 pounds. I couldn’t get over her. Or around her. She rushed up to me and gave me a big hug and said, ‘Thought you wouldn’t show up.’

    “‘Surprise, surprise,’ I said. We small talked for a minute, but I still hadn’t gotten an attitude adjusting scotch and water yet, so I excused myself. I didn’t go back and consciously avoided seeing Merry again. I ran into Noel, a short while after I got my drink. She hadn’t caught the ‘big’ disease, and was looking pretty damn good.

    “Several scotches later, after chatting my way through a bunch of people I couldn’t remember at all from high school, I saw Doris Wilner working her way through the crowd towards me.

    “Next thing I know she’s got an arm around my neck asking me to dance. I could tell she had been drinking liquid courage to talk to me, because she was slurring her words a bit. ‘How about we let bygones by bygones?’ she asked. I shrugged.

    “She asked me to dance – for old time’s sake – so I humored her. While we were dancing she leaned into me me, sniffed a couple of times and said, ‘You smell good. What do you have on?’

    “I said, ‘A hard on, but I didn’t think you could smell it.’ Next thing I know she steps back and slaps me hard.

    “‘I’ve waited twenty years to do that,’ she said. I turned around. There were all her cheerleader friends and some guys I recognized from the team. I had been set up. I decided it was time to leave, so I did. I’d stayed too long anyway. I slept the alcohol off and wished I hadn’t gone to the reunion at all.”

    “I’ll bet,” said Jellen.

    The door to the room opened again. Another rumpled detective stepped in and signaled to Jellen. ‘Must be required wear to be a detective,’ I thought. Jellen excused himself. A minute later, he stepped back in. “It’s your lucky day, Cliburn. My colleagues just arrested someone else for Doris Wilner’s murder. Seems they walked in a few minutes ago and confessed. Even handed over the murder weapon. Merry Christmas. You’re free to go.”

    “Merry Christmas,” I said, and then it hit me. “Oh,” I said, “Merry Christmas.”

    “Seems she never got over you, and last night figured Doris Wilner was trying to take you away once again. So she did something about it,” said Jellen.

    As I walked away, I thought about how I was going to be able to say ‘Merry Christmas’ with a straight face again. Then I thought, ‘I wonder what Noel is doing these days?’

    • Hey Roy,

      Well, it’s a fun story, a clever play on words. But it’s got a lot of unnecessary fat. The dialogue is really sharp, excellent, in fact. I think you have the right approach by developing a relationship between the cop and the narrator, but it’s too lengthy. Should be shorter there.

      I found several other areas that could’ve been trimmed. There’s a bit of stereotypical stuff. Like: ‘I could tell she’d been drinking liquid courage to talk to me, because she was slurring her words a bit.’
      (I could tell she’d been drinking because she was slurring her words a bit.) That’s all you need there.
      And (‘bygones by bygones.’) An obvious typo.
      All in all, a very sharp, clean and nifty story, old chap.

      • Ken C.,

        Thanks for the nice comments. Yeah, maybe some stuff could be trimmed, but I was having fun. What else you got to do on these days of self hibernation but to read a few extra words?

        I think you’re right about the drinking liquid courage, although I would change it differently than you did. What I should have written was, ‘I could tell she’d had too much liquid courage because she was slurring her words a bit.’ There’s nothing wrong with your line, and it is crisper and cleaner, but I was going for humor in this whole story. Something I’m really trying to be better at. Nice thing about your character having too much to drink is you can claim she said ‘bygones by bygones’ ’cause she was drunk, and not have to claim the typo, which it clearly was.


    • Hi Roy,

      Really enjoyed this story and, especially the skillful way you managed to make use of a prompt that really taxed me.

      Some great lines too, like naming a child Merry Christmas. “Even handed over the murder weapon. Merry Christmas.” loved that one. Also, “What have you got on?” ……”A hard on but I didn’t think you could smell it.” Cracking line that made me laugh out loud and call my wife in to hear it.

      In terms of the weight gain issue,( the big disease!) I went to a college reunion and stood next to the guy who use to play next to me in our college Rugby Union team for three seasons. we were numbers 9 and 10, slim and fast. He used to be as thin as a whippet and I simply didn’t recognise him.

      All in all, a very well rounded story Roy that is a joy to read.

      Kind regards,

      Ken F

      • Ken F., Thanks for your kind words. That line about what have you got on, is a line I used about twenty five years ago at a holiday party in real life and actually got slapped for it. After the young woman (very attractive, I might add) went back to her table her husband asked her what happened, and she told him. He laughed so hard I knew I wasn’t in trouble, but my wife wasn’t as forgiving as he was when I told her what happened after she asked. I thought she was going to slap me, too. It was all over the office on Monday and all was forgiven. Even the young lady came up to me and told me she actually thought it was funny. I still haven’t learned to curb my tongue, so I don’t think I would have made a great politician. I was always politically incorrect.

        Actually, the prompt made the story almost prewritten for me. I just followed the dotted lines. I was worried it would be too mundane, so I tried to humor it up. Glad you liked it. I liked writing it.


    • Hi Roy,

      A really enjoyable and well-rounded story there, Roy. Believable throughout, with precious bits of humor that contrast very nicely with the bad predicament the narrator is in. It all makes sense in the end, even if the (excellent) resolution seems to have come too quickly. But we only have 1.2K words max here, so I understand there’s no space for cliffhangers with long drawn resolutions.

      Again, the humor is just brilliant. I liked this especially “…but maybe 400 pounds. I couldn’t get over her. Or around her.” It’s a bit of oblique foreshadowing really, such a wardrobe of a lady wasn’t going to get trampled over very easily a second time. Even if she’s called Merry.

      Of course, the choice of name is another memorable joke you played on her, which works very well with the rest of the story. Then there is the hard on bit. Another superb one. I’m going to steal it from you, one day, you’ll see. It’s too good not to repeat!

      As Ken C. said, there could be some trimming here and there, especially when the narrator is recounting the course of events to the detective. He seems a bit overly relaxed, talking in full neat sentences. We know, eventually, that he’s not guilty, so maybe he’s quite at ease, but still, I think most people in such circumstances, and especially in front of a detective with that kind of temper, would be at least a bit snappy… And it’s not unheard of that even if you’re of clean conscience, the cops and the law may still make bad mistakes and you’re thrown in with the lions, whether you comitted the crime or not. I know that a lot of backstory emerges from the narrator’s explanation that I’m referring to, but it could perhaps be cut down to the bare essentials in some places, to make it more fitting for the nervous circumstances.

      Well done, Roy! And of course, Merry Christmas.

      • Ken M.,

        My life is complete. I got three great critiques in a row from the three Ken’s. Quite an accomplishment in my book. Thanks for your kind words, and feel free to steal any lines you like. I’m sure I’ve borrowed a few of yours and the others along the way. It’s not plagiarism; it’s flattery on my part. We’ll see how it fares when the wash is put out to dry.



  • Final Draft.
    The More Things Change…
    (1092 words.)
    by ken cartisano

    The interrogation room door opened and two stout detectives entered.

    They identified themselves. Detective Surtain sat directly across the table, glaring at me, his cheeks drawn and pale. He seemed angry, maybe it was just the way he drummed on the table with his fingers.

    His partner, Detective Vance, appeared to be playing the ‘good cop’ and was very convincing: Grey suit, pressed shirt, soft voice. He remained standing.

    “Let’s go back to the night of the game,” Vance said, “twenty years ago. Shall we?”

    I shrugged. I wasn’t there, but Detective Vance looked so childishly troubled, that I pretended to take him seriously when he questioned me about my statement. “Why did you agree to meet Doris after the game? Were you expecting something? Something you didn’t get?”

    Detective Vance, as if presented with a giant bowl of meatballs, with uncanny precision, had jabbed his fork into the sauce smothered offering, and had come up empty.

    It struck me as funny and I must have snickered, because his brooding partner, Surtain, took offense. He said, “You’re in no position to be laughing about anything.”

    He was trying to provoke me, so that he could put me in a headlock and then charge me with resisting arrest.

    Vance continued, “So tell me… why was everyone upset with you?”

    “I don’t know. I was just, unpopular, okay?”

    Surtain spewed a sip of his coffee. “Unpopular? The way shit is unpopular?”

    I smiled, robotically, and slid one of my napkins his way.

    Vance regained the conversational initiative. “Then you said… ‘it was them against me.’ What exactly did you mean by that? It sounds ominous.”

    “I don’t know about ominous. Factual is a better fit. I had some disagreements.”

    “Disagreements. With the entire class?”

    “Uh—no, there was just four, maybe five girls. They were, you know, like a clique.”

    Detective Vance looked disappointed and scratched his immaculately trimmed hair.

    Surtain picked up where Vance left off. “We’re not interested in cliques, we’re only interested in one woman,” he said, and waved her picture in my face. “Doris Wilner.” He swore at me, threatened me, berated me. At some point, I realized he wasn’t even asking any questions.

    Then the Police Chief arrived. He was huge, dwarfing the two detectives in size. After scowling at me for about a minute, he said, “What offense would cause someone to hold a grudge for twenty years?”

    “And why wait twenty years to settle the score?” Vance added.

    They both stopped talking and looked at me.

    The Chief addressed me directly. “Why’d she slap you, Bill? What did you do all those years ago?”

    “I didn’t do anything to anybody,” I said. “I was as petrified as everyone else. She was big, and mean as a Texas rattler. She ran that school and everyone in it, including a few of the teachers, like her own personal…”

    I stopped talking when I realized Detective Vance was staring at me. “So let me get this straight,” he said. “She was the school bully…”

    “More like terrorist,” I interjected.

    “Okay, whatever, and you locked horns with her?”

    “No. No, no, no, no. no. Absolutely not. I did not lock horns with her. You don’t understand. She tormented everyone, and it was a big school. She probably had a thousand enemies, any one of whom would probably celebrate her demise, and twenty years after high school, I’m sure plenty of them have a lot more money and influence than she does.”

    “Like you, for instance.”

    I shook my head. “She tormented me, but she never attacked me. I mean, she literally assaulted people at will, but she enjoyed taunting them first, for a few weeks, a month. She would wear you down, mentally, ’till you couldn’t sleep, you couldn’t concentrate, or remember anything, the teachers and students would start to avoid you. I watched her do it to two or three other girls before she started on me.”

    “What do you mean, wore you down mentally?”

    “She would say things, real subtle stuff like, ‘Hey chum bucket, ready to get your ass kicked today?’ Things like that. Imagine hearing that day after day.”

    Detective Vance seemed sympathetic. “So, how did you—elude her charms, shall we say?”

    “I transferred out. I kept stalling and putting her off and agreeing to a future ‘ass-kicking appointment’ and then I’d postpone it. And if you’re thinking she must’ve known what I was doing, you’d be right. She did. She enjoyed it, a life-sized, literal cat-and-mouse game, because she knew I couldn’t get away. But she was wrong. I put in for a transfer the day after I arrived at that school. The moment I laid eyes on her, in fact. The day we were supposed to meet after the game? That was my last day at that high school.”

    “So then, you really didn’t belong there, at that reunion, since you graduated somewhere else.”

    “That’s right,” I confessed. “I received an invitation due to some clerical error. So I decided to go anyway, to see her, my worst nightmare. I figured, after the sex change, now that I’m a man, I’m tall, I’ve filled out, I’ve put on a few pounds in the last few years, I work out, I’ve taken some classes in self-defense.”

    The three cops were as still as statues.

    “I went to confront my, not confront, to overcome my fear. You understand? That bitch traumatized me. She made me feel like a coward. I could—would have ENJOYED killing her. But I didn’t. I went to the reunion, I saw her, I looked her over and she was still ugly, but impressive, physically, and I thought, ‘who cares.’ You know? That shit happened a long time ago. Things change, I’ve changed. I figured I’d go over and chat her up, have a few laughs and—you know, that’d be the end of it. All that apprehension for nothing.”

    “So I approach her and I say, ‘Jesus, you’re scarier now than you were twenty years ago.’ A little light-hearted ice-breaker, and, wham, she hauls off and slaps me so hard… after all these years, I never saw it coming. Christ, I think she loosened one of my teeth.” Recalling the event made my cheeks flush and my eyes water all over again. “I could’ve filed a complaint. I should’ve had her arrested. You should be questioning her right now instead of me.”

    “She’s dead,” Surtain reminded me.

    ‘Oh yeah, I forgot. Well, good luck finding her killer. Can I go now?”

    • Hi Ken,

      It has been very interesting to read about your unofficial competition to keep posting your stories. I have to say, since I joined up exactly two years ago, I have missed a few prompts.

      This was a really good story that tells of events that could so easily be true. For some kids, high school must have been a real nightmare and those years must have left some really deep scars. Makes me wonder why so many people attend reunions.

      The descriptions of the interrogation room and the detectives are very well done and the dialogue flows like molten steel, smooth and hot but with an underlying menace. Does the good cop, bad cop thing really work, with real police interviews? I guess it must as it seems to be a common theme these days but perhaps it always was there.

      It’s good to throw in a few surprises or great phrases; the sex change, as mean as a Texas rattler, you’re scarier now than twenty years ago, a future ass-kicking appointment, she was the school bully….more like terrorist etc. Great stuff.

      Kind regards,

      Ken F

    • Hi Ken,

      I have this nagging feeling that you did it, you killed her. Not that she didn’t deserve it. But the police go by the law and not by what’s deserving. So you’re done in, I think.

      But I may be wrong.

      This story is masterfully told in terms of raising suspicion, but never really letting the full truth emerge. There are also some great twists. At first I thought it was a man talking to us, then it was quite evident that she was one of the girls in class, and then comes a sex change. I never thought of the interesting prospect of a former underdog schoolgirl, now a fully grown maaan, approaching her class bully: a really interesting concept there. Well, nothing much changed. Except, in the end, the stability of the narrator’s dentistry.

      I once read a true story of a woman who was tormented by two bullies at school. The woman telling the story was eventually hugely succesful in politics, business and the arts. When she met her former school mates again at a reunion dinner, the two bullies sat on either side of her and talked to each other “through her” totally ignoring her presence. Really, nothing had changed, the torment continued, in spite of what she had become, powerful, wealthy and famous. But changing into a man, I thought that might change the dynamics. Clearly not. It’s well-told here, and I believe it.

      I love the imagery of the interrogation room and the literary devices by which you bring forth the officers’ characters and their attempts to pin down the suspect. My favorite line is: “Detective Vance, as if presented with a giant bowl of meatballs, with uncanny precision, had jabbed his fork into the sauce smothered offering, and had come up empty.”

      This story has a good ending, that leaves us desiring to turn the page and delve straight in the next chapter. If there was one. It deserves a sequel, Ken. In which it becomes clear that the narrator of course killed Doris, but then there is clear evidence to the contrary, which is then squashed, and in the end it’s clear he didn’t kill her. It’s actually Doris that killed the narrator, the girl that he used to be but is no more, and wish to become again. Now that Doris is gone.

      But a sequel depends on the subject of the next prompt. I only once did a sequel in here with the Mars story. And a bit at your instigation. Maybe it’s your turn now, Ken.


    • Ken C.,

      Nice crisp dialogue, although, like mine, it was almost too good. Both of our characters were so cool under pressure, I’m not sure it’s that way in real life. Although I was only interrogated once in my life, I wasn’t quite that cool, but since I knew I was completely innocent of what they were accusing me of, I kept my calm and answered their questions. My attorney told me later the best thing to do, as he so eloquently put it, is keep your fucking mouth shut. Period. Don’t even answer to your name. He said it drives them nuts.

      Liked the story and I’ve gotten so I’m always looking forward to a Ken C., story, because I know I won’t be disappointed. I was right this time, too.

      I enjoyed your descriptive bits, also. Such as, He seemed angry, maybe it was just the way he drummed on the table with his fingers.


      • Roy, (I hope this winds up under your comment.)
        Yeah I agree about the dialogue. I think Vicki’s is the most realistic. But Robt.’s wins it hands down with his character’s digression into porn and brewing techniques. It was all so brusque and clipped it was (I hate using this terminology but can’t think of anything better) it was ‘graphic-novel-esque’ (?) Flashes, images and sharp edges like the panels in a Marvel comic or something.

        As for my character, I think Ken M is right, I think he did it. He bluffed the bully all those years ago, until he got his/her transfer. The story needs either a sequel or an ending. And I noticed after reading my story again, (oh please, no, not again) that I did the same thing that you did. Spent too much time in setting the scene in the interrogation room. You, at least, were giving your character some kind of bona fides, exercising his will over the detective to get the handcuffs off. I wasn’t doing that, I was just blathering about fingers and meatballs.

        I’m thinking maybe this should be on my headstone.

        Here Lies Ken Cartisano.
        His story definitely could’ve used a better ending.

  • Robt. Emmett
    Who Two
    By Robt. Emmett
    [1200 words]

    The interrogation room door opened. “Lars, Chevrolet’s gotta visitor. Some injun wants to talk to him. Want I should let’m in?”
    There was little point in my protesting the mispronunciation of my name. Swede cops can’t seem to wrap their tongues around a Canadian-French name like Guillaume Chevalier. I’d tried three times to no avail.
    The detective checked his fingernails, then nodded.
    DuPree looked like a GQ model pimping black satin gym wear. A silver bezel holding a pair of bear claws hung from a thick silver chain at his throat. As Lars and I had the only chairs in the room, he leaned against the wall.
    “So, White-eyes, how do you like bein’ on the inside for a change?”
    “I don’t.” I’d have given him the finger, but I controlled myself. “You get me a lawyer?”
    “The best, he’s done me good. Be here in a bit. How come you don’t have one?”
    “I could have called mine, but fat chance a literary attorney’d be of much help.”
    I’d always been a bit of a loner and had only one real friend – Fâlcone DuPree.
    The door banged open. A George Custer lookalike charged into the two-toned gray room. Opening the throat piece of the beige trail coat, he took command of the tiny room. Pointing at me, “You, shut-up. Don’t say another word.” Glaring at the cop, “So, why in hell is he the prime suspect.”
    The detective flipped over the sheet of paper on the table.
    A buck-skin glove grabbed it, gave it a three-second once over, and asked. “One person’s say-so? You gotta be shittin’ me.”
    I like a lawyer that speaks my lingo. The detective shrugged.
    George C flipped the charge sheet at Lars. “It’s Bullshit! He’s outta here.”
    Standing, the cop yawned, “Mister Chevrolet, you’re free to go. But I gotta warn ya, don’t leave the city. Doris Wilner’s death is an open case.”
    DuPree took an envelope from the inside pocket of his jacket and handed it to Mister Custer esquire. It disappeared into the side pocket in his trail coat. He left. DuPree and I followed.
    Stopping on the cop shop steps, DuPree asked, “You kill that babe?”
    “Hell, no!”
    “I thought so, but never hurts to ask. So, how’d this all start?”
    “Let’s go somewhere, and I’ll tell you. Okay?”
    Pointing up 4th Avenue West at his car, “I’ll drive.”
    We headed over to The Font du Luth Casino. At the two-dollar Blackjack table, the waitress smiled at Fâlcone, “Your usual?”
    “Yes, Barbie. And a Johnnie Black Label, splash of water and a dash of ice for Paleface.”
    Drink in hand, he said, “Talk.”
    “The short story, she invited me to the class reunion. It was held at the Pickwick. I went. But I shouldn’t have. She slapped my face. I left. Cops dragged my ass in. You bailed me out. Bada-bim, bada-boom, that’s all I know.”
    Staring into space, Fâlcone rolled a two-dollar chip back and forth across his knuckles.
    “So, Paleface, you going to figure who done-in Doris and why?”
    “As a world-famous crime novelist, yeah. Should be a piece of cake.”

    At the Font du Luth Casino’s two-dollar Blackjack table, two weeks later.

    “The cake was bigger than I thought.”
    “‘Splain, Paleface.”
    “After the face slap, I left the reunion. I didn’t know Doris followed me. Or that she was followed by Lil Al, and he was followed by Dolph Björnquist.”
    “Whoa. Lil Al, I know. He’s a second rate hood from Superior. But who’s this Björnquist guy?”
    “He’s the top aide to Senator Youngstrom, the maybe next governor of Minnesota. Dolph wants to take Youngstrom’s Senate seat but hasn’t lotta bucks.”
    “Okay, he’s a wanna-be. Got it.”
    “Do you remember the land on Beaver Lake we looked at?” He nodded. “His wife, Brenda, is co-owner and wanted to sell it to bankroll hubby’s Senate run. Brianna, her older twin sister, found out and stopped her.”
    “To continue, Dolph knew that soon to be Governor Youngstrom met Marlene, his second wife, in Chicago. He suspected something and asked Lil Al to help him find out.”
    “So, Lil Al was looking to buy Senator Dolph if he got elected. How?”
    “After graduation, Doris moved to Chicago and began selling her ass. She didn’t get into drugs as most hookers do. Going high end, Doris became one classy Madame. Also, she started making porn films, good quality ones. Doris made Marlene into a porn star.”
    “Where’d Doris learn how to make movies?”
    “In high school, she’d made lotta good films for the school A/V club.”
    DuPree chuckled, “High school audio-visual, who’da thought.”
    “Dolph saw the film featuring Marlene, the wife of the maybe next governor. He wanted the original films. Doris wouldn’t sell.”
    “How’d you figure the film featured Marlene Youngstrom?”
    “Marlene Swanson was her name back in the day. I knew her older sister in high school.”
    DuPree’s eyes widened. “You knew it was her?”
    “Two days after the reunion, you and I went to that Duluth Police benefit stag party.”
    “Yeah, in the pump room under the Pickwick. Where’d you get the tickets, anyway?”
    “A detective friend. He dinged me twenty bucks for them.”
    “Twenty bucks! For porn movies and free beer?”
    “Yeah, it’s the only time I can get good Fitger’s beer.”
    “I heard Fitger’s is always good. If you like beer, that is. Which I don’t.”
    “Fitger’s unpasteurized is better, way better than other beers.
    “You paid twenty bucks for unpasteurized beer? There’s no accounting for some people’s taste.”
    To stop his lecturing, “To recap, I left the Class Reunion early. I didn’t know Doris followed me. Nor that Lil Al followed her. And very recently, I learned Dolph brought up the rear. My guess is they caught her at her car in the Pickwick parking lot. If they could get their hands on the originals of Marlene’s movies, they’d be in a great position to blackmail Youngstrom if he became the governor.”
    “Why couldn’t they have used a copy of one of her movies?”
    “Only the originals had the actor’s names on them, and that is what was shown in the Pump Room that night.”
    “So, they were going to force Doris to turn over the original films so they could blackmail the maybe next governor of Minnesota.”
    “Yes, but I guess Lil Al and Dolph’s threats got physical … too physical. She died while one of them was strangling her with her own scarf.”
    “A la Isadora Duncan.”
    I raised my glass, “To Isadora.”
    Fâlcone’s glass touched mine, “To Miss Duncan, and Russian silk scarves.”
    “Strangulation wasn’t the cause of death.”
    “No. According to the M.E.’s report, the autopsy revealed she had a weak heart, and it quit.”
    “So, blackmail was the reason she died.”
    “I call it power lust.”
    “ What about the deaths of Lil Al and Dolph?”
    “My guess is Lil Al was the strangler, and Dolph was a witness. From Lil Al’s point of view, a witness is a liability waiting to be eliminated. So, Lil Al shot Dolph. Before he died, Dolph shot Lil Al.”
    DuPree tilted his head, “That’s it?”
    “That’s it?”
    — Ԙ —

    • Robert,

      Ha ha. This is a great, fast moving story with a lot of really funny stuff in it. The dialogue is fantastic, fast and loose. I love the bit where they digress about porn and beer. (Fitger’s) “You paid twenty bucks for unpasteurized beer?” It’s realistic, and funny.

      I felt like I’d just ridden one of them roller coaster rides when I got to the end of the story. I’m not sure I knew what the hell happened, but I sure enjoyed the ride all-the-same. Great story.

      Falcone DuPree. What a great name. and the title… ‘Who Two?’

      Great stuff.

    • Hi Robert,

      Wow, this story really took me out of my comfort zone to a place I have never been. The language and dialogue is superb and the chat really fizzes along. You create a real feel for the setting and the people.

      Like Ken C, I particularly enjoyed some of the little sidebars in the conversations. A few examples:
      the beer and the porn section. That’s great.
      She had a weak heart and it quit. To Miss Duncan and Russian silk scarves.

      I’m sorry that I have been a bit negative regarding this prompt. You and others have shown just how it could be handled. All down to the way it is managed.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

  • Vicki Chvatal
    By Victoria Chvatal
    (1,190 words)

    The interrogation room door opened.

    “Hello, I’m Detective Darryl Thompson. Your full name, please?”

    “Kimberley Sandra Stott.”

    “Do you know why you’re here, Ms. Stott?”

    “Umm … I was told it’s about … Don Wilner?”

    “Correct. When did you last see Mr. Wilner?”

    “Two days ago. At my 20th high school reunion … That’s Oakleigh South High.”

    “Right. Did you interact with Mr. Wilner at the reunion?”

    “Huh. He marched up to me first thing and slapped me. In front of everyone.”

    Thompson raises an eyebrow. He’s a bit younger than me and kinda hot.

    “Why would he do that, Ms. Stott?”

    “‘Cos he’s a loser? And a drama queen?”

    Thompson just stares at me expressionlessly, the bastard.

    “Look, I stood him up for a date in Year 12. That’s over twenty years ago,” I point out.

    “Do you think Mr. Wilner was still upset about that?”

    I shrug. “I don’t know what else. He just slapped me, announced “I’ve waited twenty years to do that,” and flounced off. I mean, who even does things like that?!”

    “And you didn’t know he was still upset about it? You didn’t talk to him at school? Or after graduation? You didn’t hear anything from your other classmates?”

    “No. Look, I … in my Year 12, some kids in my grade were selling grass on premises – nothing worse than that, but teachers got wind of it, and … Someone tried to pin it on me. So I … I told the principal who really was dealing. And I thought they suspected that I’d told on them, though they didn’t know for sure. And I was worried … that the date with Don was just to … an excuse, to lure me to an isolated spot and … take revenge. So … I didn’t show up. And then I avoided Don and all the other kids for the rest of the year. Just kept my head down, you know? And afterwards I didn’t keep in touch with anyone, until now. … No big loss, anyway, they are as big a bunch of losers as I remember. I’m one of the normal ones – I’m only divorced … I’m sorry I went to the stupid reunion at all!”

    Stop babbling, I tell myself; it’ll only look suspicious.

    Thompson gives me a slight nod, but otherwise his flat expression and even voice don’t change one bit.

    “What happened after the … slapping incident, Ms. Stott?”

    “Wilner made a big show of keeping as far away from me as possible the rest of the night,” I roll my eyes.

    “And you?”

    “I made sure he didn’t get close again, in case he decided to go psycho on me. Talked to a few others, but they just goggled at me like I was a freak show,” I scowl.

    “What time did you leave?”

    “Um … sometime between 10 and 10:30. I didn’t plan to stay this long, but … dunno …”

    “Did Mr. Wilner leave before or after you?”

    “Before. I’m pretty sure. I was a bit worried he’d be waiting for me outside.”

    “Did you leave with anyone?”

    “I walked to the carpark with Linda Butcher and her husband. Then I got in my car and drove straight home.”

    “What time did you get home?”

    “Ugh … some time before 11. Definitely.”

    “Can anyone confirm that?”

    “My kids … if they noticed me returning.”

    I’m not so sure they did, busy as they were with their Fortnights and TicTocs and whathaveyou.

    “Did you see Mr. Wilner again after leaving the reunion?”


    “When did you learn of his death, Ms. Stott?”

    “The next day, on the news. Like everyone else … Hang on, do you suspect ME of killing him?!”

    “We are collecting testimonies from everyone,” Thompson’s voice is as expressionless as ever, but I give him the stink-eye, and he adds, “Besides, you may have a motive, since he assaulted you …”

    “AREYOUKIDDINME? What’s this, some cheesy soapie? Slaps, killing to avenge one – who even does that? ‘Cos normal people don’t. No-one cares who stood them up on a date in high school, twenty years later! I don’t. Do you? Only psychos and serial killers bear grudges like this … Hey, are you sure Wilner’s dead? He won’t pop up to stalk me or murder me or something?! …”

    I realise my voice is almost a shriek. Thompson looks at me funny, but then says, “Mr. Wilner is certainly dead. We’ve got his body in custody.”

    “ … Uh, right.”

    … As I walk to my car, I wonder if the cops will throw the book at me for not telling that I did meet up with Don Wilner before, twelve or so years ago; and that I’m divorced ‘cos the ex found out that Kylie wasn’t his daughter. But I really didn’t kill Don, so that should be irrelevant. Right?


    Eight months later, I’m gazing at the ocean from the hotel veranda that serves as my office, when a familiar voice calls out, “Hey Kim!” I turn around, and there’s Don, watching me with a slight grin. His sandy hair is styled differently than I remember, but he didn’t even bother changing the colour. Careless. Then again, who’d be looking for a dead man, out in Woop-Woop on the other side of the country?

    “Hey Don.”

    “It’s Kurt now. Kurt Nielsen,” he says in a low voice.

    “Say Kim, have you checked your bank accounts lately?”

    “Nah. The wi-fi here isn’t so great.”

    “Well, your half of my life insurance payout is already in “Cindy Stott’s” account, as agreed.”

    “How much?”

    He tells me. I whistle.

    “Wow, and here I thought working in insurance was boring!”

    “You gonna buy an island ‘round here with your half?” Don asks teasingly.

    “Hah. It’s nowhere near enough, not even for a crappy little one. Care to share some more?”

    “Don’t be greedy!” he laughs.

    A thought crosses my mind.

    “Did Charlie’s widow get a payout too?”

    “No,” answers Don quickly and a bit defensively, “there was only one corpse, and it had to be mine. Charlie’s still listed as missing.”

    Poor Charlie McInness. He would’ve offed himself already if he weren’t Catholic; and his build and hair colour were like Don’s. Sometimes I wonder if his problems were bad enough to die for. But then – he wanted to die, and it’s not for us to judge. We just helped out, and everyone got what they wanted. Right?

    Don breaks the silence with, “So what’s it like around here?”

    “Not bad for a small town. A bit boring, but you know – I got a decent job; and here are beaches, and surfing, and just enough cute girls and boys to stop the kids from bitching too much … Why, you thinking of moving here or something?”

    “I just might,” he drawls. “Maybe follow my dream and open a surf shop …”

    “We’ve already got one, and there’s not enough tourists to support another.”

    “I’ll think of something,” he laughs. “… Say, you doin’ anything tonight?”

    “Nah, nothing special,” I respond with my best bored expression, with just a hint of a grin.

    “Feel like celebrating?”

    “Well, we’ve got a pub and a “posh” bar. Which one d’you fancy?”

    Don grins back, “Ladies’ choice.”

    • Victoria,

      I loved your story. It’s very slick, very smart, terrific dialogue. Very natural and well-suited to the situation and mental state of the characters, which changes throughout the story.

      Great internal dialogue too. ‘Stop babbling, I tell myself; it’ll only look suspicious.’
      Two areas that jumped out at me. This is how I know you’re not from around here. You wrote: “I stood him up for a date in year 12. That’s over twenty years ago,” I point out.

      That’s perfect, except for ‘in year 12.’ (Like ‘maths.’ Over here, it’s either mathematics, or math. Not maths. My spellchecker shows ‘maths’ as an error.)
      “I stood him up for a date in the twelfth grade.” (That’s how it would be said. Or should be.)

      Further down:
      “No look, I… when I was in the twelfth grade, some kids were selling grass in the parking lot.
      Or you could say: “When I was a senior in high school, there were kids selling grass in the boy’s bathroom…”

      The reveal is great. It comes pretty early and the denouement is long, (for a short story) but there’s nothing wrong with that and it really caught me by surprise. I never saw it coming, and this is the only story with a real discernable twist. (I used to write like that, when I was young, and flouncy. Now, it’s all just bla, bla, bal.)

      Great story, Vicki.

      • Vicki Chvatal
        Thanks for your comment, Ken!

        Well spotted – I’m definitely not from the US. I write in Australian English and default to Australia if the story has to take place in an Anglophone country, since it’s the only Anglophone country out of the three I’ve lived in so far. As far as I can tell, there is no requirement in the prompt that the story take place in the US, so IMO the use of “Year 12” & the like is perfectly legit (= legitimate). 🙂

        And IMO you’re just fishing for compliments – your stories are anything but blah blah blah.

        PS. The fact that I couldn’t think off the bat where exactly schoolkids would be selling drugs just goes to show what a square I was back in the day. 🙂

    • Hi Vicki,

      Great story with a good twist. I like the way the slap was inflicted by HIM on HER.

      The way you have worked out all the details to make things follow on is also really well done.

      The dialogue with the interrogation by the detective works really well. It flows very naturally.

      I guess Ken c is right about Year 12, which is how we describe that age in the UK education system but I have to say, I didn’t clock it when I was reading it. Of course, the story is based upon a High School reunion so that does tend to root is in the USA or somewhere similar. Not a criticism but merely an observation. It can be a real challenge I feel when I, as a writer based in the UK write a story that will be read by people in the USA. I tend to have to try to get into “US speak” or just totally ignore that and write in UK style.

      A really proficient response to a challenging prompt.

      Well done, Vicki.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape.

      • Vicki Chvatal
        Hi Ken,

        Thanks for your comment!

        It’s interesting that all the male writers made ‘Doris’ the murder victim (or putative victim), but the female ones (Adi, Alyssa & me) all had ‘Don’. As for the slap – I’m a firm believer in gender equality :).

        In my case, it’s Australian English (see my comment to Ken C.). Aussies say ‘year 12’ like Brits, and also have high school reunions (at least, I assume so – I immigrated there after finishing high school). Don’t they have high school reunions in the UK? In general, I write in Australian English, & any American readers can deal with it – or not. As they wish.

  • Adrienne Riggs
    Hi all> Sorry I’ve been MIA a lot the past few months. I’ve been floundering since COVID arrived, Mama died, I lost one of my team members who died suddenly and working from home. I just haven’t been able to write like I used to and I miss it. I am desperately trying to get a story in this time! I have the bulk of it, I just need to bring it to a close and trim it to the word count. I may not make it in time for the contest but I may post it anyway just for the feedback. I feel like I’ve lost a big part of me. Writing has been my life forever and I’m just not wanting to lose that. I need to get back into the game. Wish me luck.
  • Adrienne Riggs
    Justifiable Homicide?
    By: Adi Riggs (w- 1,200 excluding title and author name)

    The interrogation room door opened…

    I had been sitting casually in a stiff chair, fiddling idly with the polish on my nails knowing that I was being watched through the 2-way glass window.

    The night had started with our 20th high school reunion. I’m not even sure why I went. I wasn’t one of the popular kids and I was certain that no one would even remember me without a name tag. I replayed the events in my mind.

    My husband, Mark, was out-of-town. He wouldn’t have gone with me anyway.

    “I was done with high school when I graduated, and I don’t see any reason to go back and pretend to care about what people have done with their lives. They were petty then and they are probably petty now” he’d stated firmly when the invitation arrived.

    “It might be fun” I was hesitant.

    “Fun?” he scoffed, “Really? You want to go back and face the mean girls who made your life hell? Go ahead if you want, I’m not going.”

    I didn’t say anything as I prepared dinner. He looked at me and his tone softened.

    “Look Sweetheart, don’t put yourself through that. I guarantee that Doris and her groupies will be there. Once a ‘mean girl’ always a ‘mean girl’. Now that they are 20 years older, they are probably meaner than they were before.”

    He took me into his arms and kissed me gently before leaving the kitchen.

    Twenty years. It seemed like yesterday.


    Mark was captain of the football team. I was amazed that he had even noticed me, playing clarinet in the band. When we began dating, it was like a dream.

    “You’re not like the other girls” he’d whispered before our first kiss.

    Melting into his strong arms, I looked up at him. “Is that good or bad?”

    He laughed, “It’s good, very good. Those other girls are a dime a dozen and they don’t care who they use or hurt.”

    He ran a fingertip across my lips, moving in for another kiss. “You are sweet.”

    Being Mark’s girl was heaven but going to school was hell.

    Quiet and studious, I had escaped the attention of Doris’ group. When Mark and I started dating, I was suddenly in the spotlight, free game for Doris and her groupies. Doris made it clear that, as head cheerleader, Mark was hers. She cornered me in the school cafeteria and ‘warned’ me roughly to stay away from him. I left the room crying.

    When Mark found out what had happened, he made sure that Doris knew to stay away from both of us. I didn’t know it at the time, but the whole football team was looking out for me.

    Everything exploded at Homecoming. It was “tradition” for the captain of the football team to escort the lead cheerleader, but Mark made it clear that he was not going with Doris to the game or the parade. Doris went with Don Wilner, one of the other players, but she made it clear he was “second best.”

    At the end of the season, Doris asked to meet me at the north end of the stadium after the game for a “talk.” When I saw the other cheerleaders lingering nearby, I chickened out.

    After graduation, I married Mark. I later heard that Doris had married Don. All’s well that ends well – or so I thought.

    I shook my head. Twenty years later and here I was, sitting at the police station. I held up a hand to examine a tiny chip in my nail polish. I’d read about the murder in the paper this morning before the police arrived.

    “She’s a cool one. I’ll give her that” Detective Sam Jones and his partner Jane Summers watched me through the glass.

    The Chief walked up. “You think she’s good for this?”

    “Sure.” Sam spoke up, “There are multiple witnesses to an altercation between the parties last night at the reunion.

    “And….?” The Chief raised his bushy eyebrows. “Mrs. Benson has an impeccable reputation. You better have your facts straight.”

    Sam straightened up and attempted to pull his rumpled pants up under his bulging belly, evidence of a habit of too many beers.

    “Look, Chief. They had an altercation and this woman has no alibi.”
    “I’m just saying, don’t jump to conclusions.”

    “Yes, Sir.”


    I looked up as the detectives entered the room.

    “Good afternoon, Mrs. Benson.” I nodded.

    They introduced themselves. They were an odd pair. Sam was older, heavy set, and wearing rumpled clothes. Jane was professionally dressed in impeccable make-up.
    Sam took the lead.

    “You know why you are here, and you have been read your rights?”

    “I know why you brought me here, and yes, I know my rights.”

    “So, tell us about the reunion.”

    Hmmm. Right to the point. He was cocky and arrogant
    “It was ok.” I smiled. “You know how reunions are. Cold food, old memories, bragging, etc.”

    Sam sputtered in frustration while I saw Jane hide a tiny smile. She didn’t say a word.

    ‘Good cop, bad cop’ I thought. It never changes.

    “You know about the Wilner murder, right?”

    “Of course!”

    Sam leaned forward in anticipation as I continued, “I saw it in the paper this morning, like everyone else.”

    “In the paper? Really?” Sam’s face was getting red.

    “Did anything … unusual … happen at the reunion with either of the Wilner’s?” Jane looked at me shrewdly.

    “I had a brief conversation with Doris and I never saw Don. There were so many people there.”

    “Aha!” Sam jumped on my words. “And what happened during your ‘conversation’ last night?”

    “I asked Doris how she was and then I asked about Don.”

    “What happened then?”

    “I’m sure you already know that Doris slapped me.”

    “Did she say anything to you?”

    “She said, ‘I’ve waited 20 years to do that!’”

    “And what did she mean by that?” Jane asked.

    “I don’t know. She burst into tears and ran from the room.”

    “SHE burst into tears. Not you?” Sam was incredulous.

    “Not me.”

    “What did you do after that?”

    “Nothing. Everything went on as if nothing had happened.”

    “Did you see Doris at any other time last night?”

    “Yes, I saw her later, crying against the wall near the restroom.”

    “Did you approach her?” This was Jane speaking.

    “Yes. She was obviously upset. I wanted to help.”

    “Did you help?”

    “I offered her a shoulder to cry on. I let her cry and talk and then we parted ways.”

    “That’s all?” Sam scowled.

    “Of course. After that, I went home. Alone.”

    “What do you know about the murder?” Both detectives waited.

    “Only what I read in the paper. At first I thought I read it wrong.”

    “How so?”

    “When I saw the headline, I assumed that the victim was Doris.”

    “And why is that?”

    “Because from what she told me, Don was an abusive S.O.B. and she was afraid. If he was the one killed, it was justifiable homicide.”

    Sam’s mouth had fallen open in shock.

    I stood up and picked up my coat. “May I leave now?”

    • Hi Adi,

      Good to see you back and writing after some very challenging events in your life.

      Well done, such an unexpected ending, assuming I have got it right. Like everyone else, we are lead to believe that the murder victim was Doris. No wonder Sam’s mouth had fallen open in shock. Just goes to show how misleading headlines can be. I wonder what the headline actually said in order for the reader to think that Doris Wilner was the victim?

      Well done, Adi.

      Kind regards,

      Ken Frape

    • Adrienne,
      This is a great story, the writing is really beautiful. Hard and brittle in some places, tender in others. The plot is brilliant and the reveal is perfectly delivered. We are hand-fed the story in four or five digestible chunks, most of which, is dialogue.
      (what are ya tryin’ to do, rip a vote outa me?) This is excellent. One small complaint. A couple of places in the dialogue that could’ve used contractions.
      As for the pandemic, all kidding aside. Ah hell, I forgot to kid around about it again. Shit. Okay. Never mind. Maybe next time.
      Great story though. I know I got that right.
  • Hi Carrie,

    Yes, only now we are getting to appreciate the value of the daily commute!

    I used to walk to the office (35 minutes, each way) and that used to be the most creative part of my day, I’d say. Something to do with better oxygen flow in the brain, when we walk, apparently…

    [That’s incidentally also how I discovered A Place For Fiction Writers. At first I looked for podcasts to listen to on my headphones while walking. You know, reading and walking don’t really go together. There are trees and lamp-posts in the way. Many of them. I discovered your lovely podcast channel and then at one point I just needed to know who and what’s behind it. And well, I’m now here. And have been for a while. Thanks to the daily walking commute and a little curiosity.]

    Now that I telework, there’s no need to go to the office anymore. Actually, we’re banned from going. I’ve been trying to emulate my walking habits, during the pandemic, by going for a single walk of one to two hours. It’s good for the mind, the body and the lungs.

    But, since I don’t really have to leave the home, I sometimes conveniently opt out of my walk (especially when it’s wet and miserable outside). I’d welcome back some sort of routine, once Covid has found its way into the history books… I’m actually craving back the old, hateful work routine!

    As for our stories, your statistics do show a little dipping trend in participation since September, but more significantly, we’re nowhere anymore close to those 2019 and early 2020 rates of 14 to 17 stories per prompt. Let’s hope it’s just Covid-fatigue, and our troops will get back writing again like before.

    Yes, there were perhaps too many overlapping bonus prompts for a while, but I don’t think that was the main reason why anyone would skip the main prompts.

    Thanks, as always, Carrie and Alice, for your dedication in keeping this site going and doing your best to analyse how to improve it and where it may be going astray.

    Happy Christmas holidays too!

  • Silver Ring
    Written by Alyssa Daxson
    Word Count: 1200

    The interrogation room door opened, revealing two detectives.
    Metal chairs scraped cement as the detectives sat down, cold eyes and buzzed haircuts faced my way.
    I straightened up and schooled my face into a neutral expression, my mouth shut tighter than a steel trap. I’d visited many police stations in my 25 years of experience, and it was always better to let them speak first. Lots of sticky situations had arisen because of my big mouth, and today wasn’t gonna be one of them.
    The two men before me stayed silent for only a minute longer. Whether it was because they were rookies, or just plain impatient I couldn’t tell.
    “Evan Flyod. Male, age twenty-five, height 6’4.” The detective on right spoke quickly and efficiently, probably either reading off a hidden file or he took the time to memorize it.
    I was placing my money on a hidden file.

    I leaned back as far as I could in the metal chair, stretching my lanky body and smiled crookedly. “Yessir, the one and only,” I drawled. The detective on the right, who had the name Carl stitched on his uniform, raised a singular eyebrow. “Like the singer?” he asked skeptically.
    “My mom liked the classics,” I offered, smiling breezily.
    “Smith, what do you think of this punk?” Carl asked, leaning over to his partner on the left.
    Smith stared at me for a second, before speaking, his voice low and gruff.
    “ I think this is the scumbag that killed Don Wilner.”

    I was confused for a second, the words taking a second to sink in.
    “Woah, wait what?” I asked, sitting up, abandoning my slumped posture. “I killed who?”
    Both of the detectives faltered, their facades breaking, reflecting the confusion I felt strongly.
    “Don Wilner. He was murdered last night and people reported seeing you two fight last night,” Carl said, looking at me curiously, probably wondering if I’d knocked a couple screws loose.
    Smith, unlike his partner, wasn’t so quick to confusion, and he looked at me with a suspicious gaze.
    “Where were you last night around 12:45 am?” he asked harshly.
    “Committing grave desecration,” my consciousness so helpfully supplied.
    “Uhhh…” My mind, usually so full of witty remarks and scathing insults, went blank, and I stared at the detectives, watching as a smug smile spread across Smith’s face.
    Stupid college reunion, I thought bitterly, now knowing full well who Don was.
    I saw Carl make an aborted movement towards his handcuffs, and panic shot through me, clouding my clear judgment.
    “Wait, wait, wait!” I shouted, shooting upwards, my long legs tripping over each other.
    I towered over the seated men, my heart racing. “I have an alibi,” I breathed out, slowly lowering myself back down. “I didn’t kill Don.”
    The men eyed me as I took a deep breath, coming with terms with what I was about to do.
    “ I didn’t kill Don, because I was hunting a ghost instead, and this is how I did it….”


    The large doors to the gymnasium opened, and hiding a grimace, I slid through the crowds smoothly, keeping my head down and avoiding eye contact. I wasn’t going to come originally, this place held many painful memories, but while passing through town one of my old college friends had spotted me and immediately latched on.
    “Evan!” She’d cried, pulling my into a bone-crushing hug. I had been able to squirm out, but not before she’d shoved an invitation in my hands and pressed a kiss to my cheek, promising to see me later.
    Her name was Layla, and while college had been a horrible disaster, full of murdered family and grief, she was one of the few good moments I still managed to remember.
    A part of me felt I owed it to her to attend this reunion.
    I hated that side of me.

    A bump on the hips pulled me out of my distracted musing as a late twenties lady brushed past with a platter full of cocktails.
    “Oh, let me get in with one of these,” I said, quickly snatching one of the cups.
    I took a long sip while brushing past crowds, catching snippets of conversation.
    “Have you heard about Brianna?”
    “It’s very tragic.”
    “Police don’t have a clue on how they were killed.”
    I stopped, and glanced back towards a group girls huddled together, gossiping.
    “Excuse me ladies, I couldn’t help but overhear what you were chatting about,” I said, sliding up to them. Flashing my most charming smile, I watched as their eyes roamed up and down my body, lust glittering in their gaze.
    “Care to share what the latest news is?” I asked, smiling cheekily.
    Fifteen minutes later, my cheeks freckled with kisses and bruises where bruises should never be, I had found a job.
    Brianna Taylor had been murdered, along with her husband Edward Taylor. They had both been college sweethearts, and got married immediately after graduating. The police had no clue how they’d been killed, and the name Gracie Wakefield had been painted across the wall in blood.
    The only Gracie Wakefield associated with the couple was dead, commited suicide near the end of her second college semester.
    With a skip in my skip I headed to the doors, off to kill a ghost.
    I had almost reached it when an arm wrapped around my bicep, and I came face to face with a middle aged man with spiky brown hair.
    “Hey friend, name’s Don” He said, a southern accent that made it difficult to understand. “I haven’t met you.”
    I smiled forcedly, and held out a stiff hand. “Evan Flyod,” I said mockingly. “Pleased to meet you.”
    Don eyed my hand for a second, but reluctantly shook it.
    Immediately he jerked back, a cry leaving his mouth, his hand sizzling slightly.
    My eyes widened, and I glanced down at the silver ring that was wrapped snugly around my middle finger.
    “Shapeshifter?” I murmured, glancing at Don, who looked at me fearfully.
    Several people were eyeing our way, drawn by Don’s shout.
    There was a moment of uncertainty, before Don drew back his hand and slapped me straight across the face.
    “I’ve waited twenty years to do that!” He shouted, before dashing away, disappearing quickly into the crowds.
    My face stinging and head reeling, I opened the doors and slipped out of the building and into the night.


    Smith and Carl stared, skeptical, as I recapped my story. “So I found Gracie’s grave, salted and burned her bones, and even earned myself a nice bruise.” I pulled up my shirt to reveal a hand shaped yellowing mark on my torso where Gracie’s ghost had gotten handsy. I swallowed and said,
    “Look, I know it sounds unbelievable, but I swear it’s true and I’m not crazy.”


    Thumping my head against the jail cell, I watched disinterested, as a shadowy figure prowled towards me. Stupid Carl and Smith, leaving the “mentally unstable” prisoner alone.
    It came as no surprise whe Don Wilner’s face came into the light.
    “Not dead,” He confirmed at my raised eyebrow.
    I nodded, sitting up and pushing the unlocked cell door open.
    “I know how to lockpick,” I said in response to Don’s terrified look.
    He didn’t reply but started to back away.
    “I shouldn’t have come,” he breathed.
    I nodded in agreement, readying my silver ring that I had smuggled with me while being taken away, now sharpened to a deadly point.
    With no warming I leapt onto Don, shoving his face into the ground.
    “Your kind killed my family, leaving me, all alone in college,” I snarled, “and now you’re going to pay the price.”
    I shoved the ring into his eye, “Silver kills shape-shifter bastards like you,” I sang as Don bucked and screamed.
    When he’d finally fallen still, I escaped easily, and hijacked a car, driving as fast and far away.
    Well, if I wasn’t suspected Don Wilner’s murder, I sure am now.

    • Alyssa,

      What a fantastic story. You know, you have a habit of painting yourself into a corner, and then levitating yourself right out of the corner and into the next plot twist. You made a couple of errors here and there. (That will be a 17 dollar fine, two demerits, and no applesauce for a week.) But they weren’t enough to even slow down the fast pace and intrigue you developed.
      It’s a really fun read
      Great last line.

      One line that jumped out was: ‘readying my silver ring that I had smuggled with me while being taken away, now sharpened to a deadly point. It’s a ring, how does one sharpen a ring into a point?

      I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but your character was named ‘Flyod’ not Floyd. Evan Flyod.

  • Adrienne Riggs
    Carrie, did you miss my story?
    • Robt. Emmett
      She did. Ooopsie
      • Adrienne Riggs
        Thanks!! LOL
      • Adrienne Riggs
        I need to change one of my votes. Can you message me?


  • Sorry I’ve been absent … I’ve left everything till the last minute again and won’t be able to give the stories the time they deserve, so please don’t wait for my votes, Carrie & Alice (if you were thinking of waiting …)
  • Ok writers! Here are your winners for this week’s writing contest!

    1st Place: The More Things Change… by Ken Cartisano
    2nd Place: Justifiable Homicide by Adi Riggs
    3rd Place: Past and Present by Victoria Chvatal
    4th Place: Who Two by Robt. Emmett
    5th Place: Holiday Reunion by Roy York
    6th Place: Silver Ring by Alyssa Daxson
    7th Place: Midlife Crisis by Ken Miles
    8th Place: Who killed Doris? by Ken Frape

    Story with the favorite character: “Falcone” from Who Two by Robt. Emmett
    Story with the best dialogue: Who Two by Robt. Emmett

    Congrats to all!!

    • Robt. Emmett
      Thanks to Ken’s promotion, Fâlcone became the favorite character. I’ll let Guillaume Chevalier tell you about Fâlcone DuPree.
      I met DuPree early on in my life as an MP. He was a big, intercity, three-quarter breed, kid with a bad attitude. The judge had given him an option, Cook County Lockup, or the Army. Halfway through basic training, he changed his mind. I changed it back.
      A year later, I was having a celebratory beer at a watering hole in town. He walked in and spotted me sitting alone at a table near the back door. He wanted a fight. I helped him stand and bum-rush us through the door’s bang bar and into the parking lot. He grunted and relaxed. I told him to stay cool, and he’d get his stripes back, be outta here.
      The day I left Uncle Sam’s big green machine, he promised to keep in contact. He had a job as a bouncer at a Disco in Kansas City. Then he owned a health club in KC. We lost contact. In ‘88, three Kansas City mobsters were found floating in the Missouri River with an extra hole in their heads. He never explained his move from Kansas City to the owner of a health club in Duluth. He didn’t need to. I had my suspicions.
      Best of all the prompt garnered 9 stories. Not the most, but not bad, all things considered.
      And most of the stories would have fit nicely in a novel of the 20th Class Reunion.
      Well done all.
      The one that didn’t fit was so far off the spirit of the prompt was enjoyable.
    • Ken Miles
      Well done, Capitano Cartisano – a well-deserved win. I had you in second place (but only because of what Roy’s narrator had on).

      Thumbs up also to Adi and Vicki for the other podium spots, and Robt for clearing both category prizes (oddly enough from fourth place).

      Just one thing doesn’t seem right: I had planned to place last with my mostly off-prompt, not quite fully developed conceptual piece. Ken Frape’s piece was certainly a more enjoyable bit of fun…

      I’m pleased to see some of our regulars back, Adi, Alyssa, Ken F., Roy, Vicki – it’s almost like back in the old days again, before the virus. It had got a bit too quiet the past few prompts. Regrettably, I didn’t have time to comment on all the stories, though, especially the late entries.

      I’ve already posted (a much more readable) story for the Christmas prompt. Hope you’ll all join in there too. Your disco needs you!


  • Thanks to Ken’s promotion, Fâlcone became the favorite character. I’ll let Guillaume Chevalier tell you about Fâlcone DuPree.
    I met DuPree early on in my life as an MP. He was a big, intercity, three-quarter breed, kid with a bad attitude. The judge had given him an option, Cook County Lockup, or the Army. Halfway through basic training, he changed his mind. I changed it back.
    A year later, I was having a celebratory beer at a watering hole in town. He walked in and spotted me sitting alone at a table near the back door. He wanted a fight. I helped him stand and bum-rush us through the door’s bang bar and into the parking lot. I spun him around and finished closing the door with his face. He tried to turn on me. I jacked his arm higher, he grunted and relaxed. I told him to stay cool, and he’d get his stripes back, be outta here.
    The day I left Uncle Sam’s big green machine, he promised to keep in contact. He had a job as a bouncer at a Disco in Kansas City. Then he owned a health club in KC. We lost contact. In ‘88, three Kansas City mobsters were found floating in the Missouri River with an extra hole in their heads. He never explained his move from Kansas City to owner of a health club in Duluth. He didn’t need to. I had my suspicions.
    Best of all the prompt garnered 9stories. Not the most, but not bad, all things considered.
    And most of the stories would have fit nicely in a novel of the 20th Class Reunion.
    Well done all.
    The one that didn’t fit was so far off the prompt was interesting.
  • Roy York
    Congrats to Ken C., Who I’m going to assume is surprised. Good job Adi. Second place after all you’ve been through. Glad you got back on the bike. Victoria and Robt., Good job. Robt, how do you get fourth with best dialogue and character? Congrats, anyway.

    I have discovered that humor isn’t as award winning as a good twist, or maybe good writing with a so so story isn’t enough. That’s OK, because I enjoyed the stories and 💕 this site.


  • Actually, my usual place is 4.4 place with 9 entries. The other stories were excellent. Working within the confines I defined, added a challenge.
  • Response no. 1. – I demand a recount!

    Response no. 2. – I’m surprised. Really. You all want to do the vote over again? Yeah? Yeah? I don’t think so.

    Response no. 3. – I’m not fishing for compliments, Vicki. I’m using a cast net, for Christ’s sake.

    Response no. 4.4 – I had Adi first, Vicki second and Robert third, and then after deciding that his story had the best dialogue and my favorite character, I changed my vote and leap-frogged him up to first place. All of the stories were excellent. Some showcased the writer’s creativity, others featured the author’s skill. Dialogue was the main event this week, I feel, and in that department alone, I felt my story was decidedly runner-up material. So, I’m happy about winning, but I feel that every story featured elements that I should aspire to emulate with similar skill, subterfuge, or audacity. I enjoyed reading every one, except for Ken M’s, which almost gave me a headache. But I blame that on Neal (or Neil) Diamond more than Ken.

    All jokes aside. It’s a distinct honor to have prevailed over such an outstanding group of writers and stories. I thank you all for your votes.

    (And, I promise to wash my hands, wear a mask, keep my distance, and to extricate (extract) compliments from you miserly lot with much more finesse – and efficiency – in the future.)

  • Hi to all,

    Congratulations to Mr. Cartisano. Another top place and well deserved, Ken. Interesting to see Kens occupying first and last places. My story was, in my opinion, correctly placed 8th. Also pleased to see Adi, Vicki and Robert well placed.
    It was almost like old times seeing all the familiar names once more.

    Can’t stop, I’ve got a bonus prompt to finish!

    Regards to all,

    Ken Frape

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