Writing Prompt “Unforgettable”
The story can be anything relating to the tag line. “Why they say Men are from Mars”
- a pumpkin.
- Mention of Pumpkin without Halloween.
Word Count: 1,200
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The writing prompt for November 4, 2021, will be chosen by Phil Town.
110 thoughts on “Writing Prompt “Unforgettable””
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Does the story have to include the tagline (i.e. the exact phrase)?
As I understood the prompt you could reference the book, or that men are like space aliens or that “I swear my husband is from another planet sometimes” or that sometimes men and women seem like they’re from different planets.
It’s pretty loosely defined.
Do you think there is the possibility of an extension to submit and vote this time? I have been so caught us with other things and have not really had the chance to read or comments form last prompt or even think of this one. I do have an idea but just getting it down is the struggle. Fingers crossed. Thank you.
Which is why Marla, who has her own enormous secret, is a force to be reckoned with and begins working on a formula that will turn pink pumpkins into….
I feel like you have the beginnings of a beautiful story there Ken. You better be careful. You might become a writer or something……
My characters don’t change their names on the whim of some aloof and distant moderator, no matter how ravishingly beautiful she might be. Speaking of names, didn’t you used to have a different name?
If KC turns into something, we gotta run.
Like your idea Ken …hahaha.
Probably because I am so darn tired at present. Six more weeks to the summer holidays and just sleep in for a week or two. Gotta go to Kangaroo Valley late November and may book a motel to sleep rather than a sleeping bag in the back of the 4 WD Hilux. It does save money. I believe that you pay too much for substandard hotel rooms and if I can find a BNB I will stay there for an extra day to chill out.
This is a strange prompt. I like that we do not have to mention Halloween. I hate Halloween and would not answer my door on Halloween,. I think it is a dangerous and stupid festival, but many Australians appear to love it. Horrible goblins and witches on sale in KMart and Woolworths and Coles. Just shows people must be mad. All those plastic figurines with begging plates on them going to be dumped in landfills. Maybe have them come to life in another dimension and go through the portal to gobble up the Halloween participants and then poof no more Halloween. Or at least make it an Australian Affair and call it Waltzing Matilda Festival and have figurines of swaggies, kangaroos and emus wandering up to gardens where there are swags filled with Anzac biscuits and damper plus tim tams and vegemite. Then people in the houses can pretend to be bunyips and police officers and the visitors have 2o seconds to grab some loot and make a run for the gate before the trick happens which could be a number of things. Having fingers caught in pegs, bird poo dropping down on you, splashed with water etc etc
At least we have a half dozen or so camels visiting Churchill on Switchback Road. Poor things are freezing their humps off in the wet and cold weather.
I just posted the winners in the ocean prompt. I was waiting on one last new writer vote, and she voted about midnight last night.
A lot of really great stories that round!
The Shnook I know is Yiddish and means either – “An incompetent person who is deserving of pity but is also likable.” or “A customer easily persuaded, i.e., a sucker.”
I personally like stories that include a few unknow words.
It must have been a clever reference to the indigenous people and their diet that went right over our heads, because I know he wasn’t talking about any “shnookums” or the “shnook” that you are talking about (and that I have heard Judge Judy use before, if I am not mistaken. She uses so many fun words!).
I learned something – but for some reason I just feel dumb.
I’m not Jewish (at the moment), but generally speaking, I’ve found that it’s best not to over-think Jewish compliments. Keep it under your hat.
I need to either edit my story or remove it and repost. Is there still an edit function?
What’s your advice?
I just sent Carrie and email regarding the winner’s thing. I just hope everything is OK in Carrie’s world. It’s not like her to wait this long.
Don’t know about y’all, but it has been a strange autumn for me so far. Depressing and confusing and full of my horrible introspections. But the vaccine for my youngest is in the works! Something to actually look forward to!
I love Halloween, but we are the kind who hunker in the bunker because of The Rona, and my dog is a terror, and my yard is full of holes and my unsightly landscaping, so we are going to just stay in and eat sweets and watch horror movies… exactly like we have been doing since March 2020 (and before that to be honest, there are no “outdoor people” here. The last one lived inside of me and he died forever ago.)
I guess I like this season, despite my depression, because it is the most magical and mysterious to me. I used to actually believe that the veil between worlds was thinnest on Halloween, and I kept believing this into adulthood (though the banality of the mundane kind of seeped into my heart). I tricked and treated until I was 16, then I took a break and started back up again when my first son was born. He stopped enjoying the act when his social anxiety got so bad that he couldn’t ring the doorbells, but then he and my wife just started a tradition of going to eat at a Mexican restaurant during Samhain (which The Rona ruined for us too, btw). My second son stopped trick or treating because of the plague, and who knows if this stupid crap will ever end or if I will ever stop wearing a mask (and forcing my children to wear them) when it does.
I am submitting to short story magazines and competitions more than I was, but it would help if I could come up with some new ideas that I actually feel like pursuing. My life is pretty good at the moment, but I see the shadow of that Damn-ocles sword swinging back and forth up there somewhere.
Good luck finding inspiration and sorry in advance for any puns or extended comments on shapeshifting nudists that I will definitely post soon!
I can’t walk away from the money and I can’t pack up and run away from this damn town like I dream about. I feel like the only hamster that is tired of the wheel, you know?
But I don’t want to stop the wheel, I want to break the wheel.
Not his kind of music at all. No. Never. His toes clenched at the beat drop and his nose twitched at the key change. In spite of this, he’d never tell anyone, partly out of fear that he’d ruin the party. Partly because he thought he just wasn’t drunk enough to enjoy it. Surely he needed more. Yeah, more sounded good. More. Good choice, he reassured himself silently. Walk to the punch. Like a normal person. You’re enjoying yourself. One foot in front of the other. “Left.” He shuffled forwards. “Right.” He shuffled further.
Until she noticed the weirdo in the corner muttering to himself, it had been a shockingly boring party for her. Well, maybe not that shocking, given it was hosted by the football team, who interpreted ‘party’ as ‘hit on as many girls as possible’. As she watched this onslaught, she thought “maybe Freud was right”. Since it was a costume party, everyone had taken the opportunity to flaunt their spray-tanned biceps and anything above a C-cup. She was all for bodily autonomy, but if we all have to do it dressed as a bunny or a cat, then what’s the point? Admittedly, the sexy pumpkin was a new one. Though after she saw him across the room like she was the living embodiment of a romcom, it became a much more interesting night.
“Has this punch got cranberries in it?” he asked to no one in particular. There was certainly a fruity scent to it. With a tentative grip on the ladle, he filled his small-but-not-too-small-red-with-a-white-rim-plastic-probably-bad-for-the-environment standard party cup. First hurdle cleared. Or was the first hurdle walking over here? Two hurdles cleared then. This was actually shaping up to be an exciting night. Third hurdle – tasting it, and not throwing up over a sexy cat in a drunken state. That had happened last time he went to a party. Too embarrassing. Way too embarrassing. One thought wriggled into his mind. “This has definitely got cranberries in it.”
As she drank the cranberry punch, her favourite flavour, and possibly the only reason she was still at the party, the weirdo, now at the punch table, continued to hold her attention. Even though his glum face somewhat saddened her, the temptation to speak to such an odd figure was crushing. Approaching him was easier said than done, shoving through all the teenagers sharing their saliva, but eventually she was so close that she could hear his mumbling. “You like cranberries?” she was aware of how poor an icebreaker it was, but she also knew he wouldn’t care. He mumbled something, but there was no indication of it being directed at her. Then he fell into her arms. Which would’ve been romantic if he didn’t puke immediately afterwards.
To wake in a room you’ve never seen before is heavily distressing. Luckily, he was so disoriented that he didn’t even realise he was in a different room until he noticed he was the only one there. Why was he the only one in there? “You’re not alone.” He heard over the now faint music. He looked to his left. But there was no one there. Was this room haunted? Had he- “Other way.” Oh. Still disoriented. The voice was on the right. A girl, whose face was as soft as the voice it fashioned. He wanted to kiss her. No, he’d just met her, he couldn’t do that. Also his breath would smell like puke. So he asked where they were instead. “Parents’ room, I’m guessing. Figured you’d need some space. So what’s with the vomit?” Having to explain his allergy to cranberries was a bit humiliating when he knew she’d watched him drink the punch. Stupid. So stupid.
During his cranberry monologue, she was focused almost entirely on how stupid he sounded. You wouldn’t drink the punch if you knew one of the main ingredients was something that makes you puke. While he spoke, she wondered if all the guys are from Mars, or just this one. There was a small part of her that was focused on his cheeks though, the way he blushed when he looked at her. She sensed he was afraid, to some extent. Those dulled brown eyes couldn’t directly meet her blues, but he turned to see her anyway, as if each time might have a different outcome. Cute. Then he started to hum. She couldn’t tell if he was doing it consciously, but it wasn’t even the same song playing downstairs. Entirely ignoring the blasting speakers, he’d taken it upon himself to provide backing music for their time together. She didn’t recognise the tune, but she picked it up, and hummed in harmony. For a short time, that was the only thing that mattered.
Was she joining in? There was another pitch. Slightly higher. Not completely overpowering his, but beautiful enough to make him forget he was humming altogether. It sounded like how he imagined floating through the air might feel. Probably the first time that night his heart wasn’t beating worryingly fast. “I want to kiss you.” The humming had taken away so much of his stress that he’d let it slip out. She chuckled. Which isn’t what you want to hear after a comment like that, but he didn’t let it ruin his newfound confidence. He realised she was looking at him. It would’ve scared him if he hadn’t already fallen in love with the smooth blue shades of her eyes.
She didn’t love him. How could she? They’d just met. There was no denying his awkwardness was sweet, and the dim brown of his eyes calmed her, and the nervous blushing made her giggle, but… No. She couldn’t. She was leaving next month. University in a different country. Maybe if they’d met earlier. Maybe. She couldn’t afford to think about that though. And she couldn’t let him either. She hated to be arrogant, but even a monkey could’ve picked up on the signs that he liked her. As she stared at his face, she felt almost nothing. Nothing real, at least. It had been a fun night, but she wasn’t ready to start anything long-term. They were looking for different things. He deserved something better. She was holding him back. It wasn’t him, it was her. Always her.
Screw it, he thought. He’d checked his breath. Four times. When he leaned in to kiss her, she moved away. It seemed instinctive. Like she barely knew she was doing it. Her face had changed. There was less joy to it. Replaced by sorrow. Why? He thought things were going well. He took the chance. He loved her. “Why?” he whispered, knowing she understood what he was asking. She told him that he didn’t know her. “I want to. Let me know you. Give me the oppor-“ she silenced him with a kiss. He liked it, but even for a first kiss, he could tell she didn’t. She apologised, before leaving the room. She didn’t even turn around. Though he never told anyone about her after that, never asked any questions about her, never searched for her in the school, he never forgot her. He couldn’t.
And she didn’t forget him.
Very interesting sentences, and a lot of them were real short. It made it flow really well, like little baby steps that were easy to follow, if that makes sense.
Impressive how you defied the puke and made chemistry anyhow.
Absolutely great last line. It made me stop and think in an entirely new direction wondering what her thoughts were, although after thinking about it, I might have said, And she NEVER forgot him, which I think adds even more punch. Well done.
As always, my comments are. suggestions only, if you care to listen to them, but after reading my opening line which states it’s an absolutely great line, I then suggest changing it. Just me, don’t mind my ramblings.
The only other thing I noticed was the opening line of the fourth paragraph. As she drank the cranberry punch. It stopped me for a second because the entire previous paragraph was regarding HIS cranberry punch and I thought I’d misread the third paragraph and reread it. I think if the line read as: As she drank HER cranberry punch, it wouldn’t stop readers like me in their tracks.
Lots of information regarding his going to upchuck at some point, maybe you can tone that down a bit, but it might just be me as having people vomit on you is truly disgusting.
I was at a party once and was seated next to a young lady who was having a really good time. We were in a tight spot as our backs were to a wall and people actually had to move out of their chairs for the people in the middle to get up and leave – which is where I was sitting. She was drinking a lot quickly and soon you could tell she had finally passed the point of no return. I thought she was going to lay her head on the table, but she simply leaned over, picked up the edge of the table cloth and proceeded to vomit completely down my left leg and into my shoe and all around me on the chair I was sitting in Let me tell you, that does not bode well for an enjoyable evening, which, by the way, was before dinner even started.
I think your story is very well written and is truly unforgettable … which by the way, is why I suggest adding the word never in the last line.
However I have no issue with your second point, adding ‘her’ certainly would’ve helped. Purely a case of me picturing her stood on the other side of the room with her drink, but forgetting to actually describe that image to the reader (a problem I’ve encountered before).
I also find vomit incredibly disgusting, but likely drew on personal experiences of watching my friends not realising how much they’d drunk… As your own memory proves, it’s not a fun experience, so I do apologise for having to mention the v word, even if I don’t regret it.
Thanks for your comment Roy 🙂
I’m glad I don’t drink like that anymore and I don’t miss my “drinking buddy”.
But yeah you managed to make the grossness fade to the background each time you went back to the other thoughts, even though I could picture the bad parts too vividly.
“Corpse Bride” tried to make a dead body a romantic interest in a movie for kids, and I love Tim Burton (Nightmare Before Christmas!!!!!) and they made it cute and all that good stuff, but I just couldn’t get past all the many, many problems with the relationship. This is nothing compared to that repugnance!
And one of the many things that made me certain that my wife was the one for me was that she nursed me back to health and cleaned me up (even bathing me and dressing me in fresh clothes) when I passed out after partying too hard as a teenager. That is dedication. I was a little easier on the eyes then, sure, who wasn’t, but not THAT easy on the eyes! Nowhere close.
If they stay after that, they are a keeper for sure!
Romance can be as easy as completely ignoring all the gross stuff.
But hey, I played with bugs my entire childhood and aspired to be a forensic entomologist as a teenager, don’t listen to me.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Although many years have passed since I was the age of your storytellers, I could still sense that anxiety, the excitement and the anticipation. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl not that bothered. All too familiar until the boy, perhaps now a man, meets woman and bingo, all set fair for a long future.
The dialogue works well or should I say, the way each of the two tells their own part of the story.
Beautifully poignant last line.
Good stuff, Peter.
I had an idea that there would be a shrink and a patient talking and the “Men Are From Mars” book would be visible somewhere in the office. So I started to write. But my writing is like doodling a big and sloppy picture from an ink stain and it grew into something completely different. The book and the pumpkin never showed up and I ran out of words.
It is called “Arach-No Thank You”.
It is funny how I am in absolutely no control over what I write (except for the puns, that is fully intentional). The endings are usually thought up emergently, so it doesn’t matter what I was aiming for in the start or how much structure I give it.
Like the dog story: I didn’t plan on the guy confessing to a cop at the end, that just happened. But doing that made the whole thing more like “The Telltale Heart” than anything else. Endings are such a pain. Still, it was better than just cutting to black like the Sopranos did.
The space alchemists don’t make the grade, btw.
And it would be horror themed.
I need to really deep clean the “miners-with-tentacles-story” and give it a proper ending (I have no clue there. It is just a Lovecraft parody gone wrong). I also need to fix up the fox story because I don’t think anyone could suss out what was going on there (was the dude force-fed glowing mushrooms by cultists? I don’t even know anymore).
But I just typed up a real awful little story that I will submit in the morning, if all goes well!
All right, all right. You can all stop cheering now. I get it. Very… Are you all done?
Very. Very funny.
You’re all laughing now, but who’s gonna protect you from Vicki while I’m gone? Hm? Have you thought of that? Have any of you (besides Roy) thought of that? Who’s gonna stand up to her? Rumples? One of his other personalities? I hope you’re not counting on Carrie. Carrie’s on another plane of existence. Phil? Too vague. Ilana? She’ll just piss her off. Who else you got? R.emmett? Hah, she’s impervious to noir. Who else? Ken? Which one. Frapes? He could do it, he could go toe to toe with her, if he wasn’t locked in his ‘Ivory Wine Cellar.” Ozjohn420? Maybe. Peter’s got a good story already. In fact I can’t imagine how anyone could top that story. (Except, well, you know.) I suppose with Ken Miles and Fiona as back-up, there’s a slight chance, (an insulting chance for sure) that you’ll need to call Marion in to survive the whole thing. I’m sorry, there are no other options. My wife, has spoken.
I’ll do my best to send my usual words of discouragement as and when I can. (If I feel like it.)
I am just like that dude with the long hair and rippling muscles that is bathing his face and chest in a horse trough and tossing his hair back in the opening credits of a telenovela!
Fabio? Eat your heart out!
And is your car an arthropod with a chitinous exoskeleton?
Keep your hand at the level of your eyes!
Word Count: 1,199
He was a rugged and uncouth Republican with a Great Dane. She was a prissy and proper Democrat with a Persian Longhair. No one could see the source of the magnetism, except for the obvious “opposites attract” principle. Indeed, neither one of them seemed overly desirable or charming enough to justify the juxtaposed personalities in the relationship. They weren’t the ripest pumpkins in the patch.
Rumor had it that they didn’t even spend nights together, both being prone to long and solitary walks in the starlight that ended at their respective doorsteps. Which was strangest of all. Why not go strolling together, since it was one of the only things that they had in common? Hell, maybe even sleep over?
It was a small town, and it was hard to not know such things about your neighbors. Who wouldn’t be curious?
Back then, I was beset by maddening insomnia and my house was situated between theirs, so I would often accidentally spot one of them going down the sidewalk while I was smoking a cigarette. They considered me a mutual friend and I was careful to never appear flirty when I spoke to Wanda or to do anything that would upstage Keith in front of his woman. Like Joseph Cotton, I was a true friend: reliable and devoid of ulterior motives.
But I did became secretly obsessed with whatever the couple was hiding. Everyone else thought that it was just one of those ineffable bipartisan romances, like the one between Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. Or James Carville and Mary Matalin? Everyone has met a couple like that.
For example: I once knew a safari hunter that married a Buddhist. Their house was split down the middle when it came to décor. The left side was all mounted heads of gazelles and other unfortunate ungulates. The right was sand gardens, crystal chimes, and incense burners with mystical symbols on them. But they loved one another, and their domestic yin and yang was balanced, so who am I to judge?
But I digress.
Keith and Wanda were weird, and I was going to get to the bottom of it.
So, naturally, I decided to follow Keith (from a great distance) on his little nocturnal romp. Discreetly. For just one night. It didn’t take me long to get the shock of my life.
The man stopped cold in his tracks and started to remove his clothes as soon as he got away from our neighborhood. First his shirt. Then his shoes and socks. He stuffed them all into a bush with the haste of someone that is up to no good. He got his pants halfway off before I decided that I didn’t really want to know the truth that badly and turned back.
I kept the little nugget of nudism safely tucked away in my mind. There was no need to go blathering to anyone, though the temptation to tell at least one confidant was overwhelming. It was comical and juicy, like the best of potential gossip, but not something that I was going to ever divulge. Keith was my friend, after all.
But what really drove me nuts was whatever Wanda was doing. I wasn’t about to follow her like a full-blown stalker, but I needed to know what her story was. Hopefully not the same thing?
Why would such deviant acts be committed independently? If they were streaking for the pure thrill of it all, why were they making such a point to avoid one another? Then again, what was the point of trying to get inside the head of people with such extreme and outlandish kinks?
But then I reprimanded myself for those thoughts. There I went judging people again. I didn’t mean to sound so harsh. To each their own. Live and let live.
My quest for the truth continued, but with a lot more caution. I was starting to get the feeling that I should let sleeping dogs lie, you know? The iceberg was there, taunting me, but I really didn’t want to know anymore. It was just an obsession at that point.
Part of me thought that I was going to uncover something really titillating, er, scandalous. Like they were serial killers, perhaps, or international spies? Maybe they really were from Mars and Venus, and not just as a metaphor for psychological patterns in gender roles. Grail quests are always more intriguing than the actual “grail” in question, and the wisest segment of my psyche knew that finding out what was really going on was going to spoil the fun.
I broke down and decided that I would follow Wanda a short distance, but bail at the first sign of any disrobing. She made it out of the neighborhood and immediately bent over, one hand reaching for her left ankle. Surely, she was going to pop off her shoe, but she stiffened at the last second and looked both ways in a truly shifty fashion. Despite the dim lighting and the considerable distance between us, I could see her eyes narrow when they focused on me.
Busted. I played it off like I was just walking and smoking, but she totally suspected that I was trailing her. Stammering out a pathetic excuse about restless leg syndrome, I passed her as casually as I could.
But I saw her face glaring at me from my peripheral vision, and I swear that her eyes were reflecting the light from the streetlamp down the block.
Like a cat.
This changed everything and cast a supernatural tint to my speculations. I could only think of that corny old movie, “The Cat People”. You ever catch that one? It’s basically another werewolf movie, but with cats and lots of feminism. The sequel was pretty good too.
The other option was that they were aliens. Remember that leaked cellphone footage of the wealthy Russian elites where they all have glowing eyes when the lights get unexpectedly turned off? It was popular a few years back. People jumped straight to aliens for that one too, but it could have just been contacts or a doctored video.
Everything cool is a hoax. Except for this. This was real. I had to just come to grips with it.
Embracing destiny and throwing caution to the wind, I bought night vision trail cameras and installed them all over town. Deer and opossum set the stupid things off constantly, but I got very clear footage of both my targets the first night.
Keith transformed into a freaking werewolf, and Wanda turned into what I can only assume was a werecat of some sort. Called it! Hollywood special effects have nothing on what I saw that morning!
A woman and a man.
A dog person and a cat person.
A democrat and a republican.
What they had in common was shapeshifting! Apparently, the animal forms they took each night were incompatible and difficult to reconcile.
It all became crystal clear to me.
She was a ferocious Democat, and he was a fearsome Republycan!
Or should I say “Demoncat” and “Republycanthrope”?
Whatever. The next time you see a hand reaching across the aisle, check for hairy palms.
I give you an A for inventiveness.
And, you clever fellow, did a complete halloween story without it being a halloween story, didn’t you?
All in all an enjoyable read. No problems at all for me with the writing to quibble about. The plot, now, that’s a different story (pun intended)..
I think I got tired of writing stuff that even I knew wasn’t going to impress anyone after I blew up on you.
If it is really bad, I want it to be a surprise to me, not something that I know ahead of time!
Like I said, you helped me more than you think.
And that ending is a slap in the face, you are right.
I wrote two more this week and one last week, but I am sending them all to flash fiction journals and contests. It was the “real” shark dream (not the guy discussing it, boring), a spider story for arachnophiles that isn’t a monologue (shocking, right?), and my attempt at starting a first chapter to a “club tale” book (also not a monologue).
I know it would be easy to just lie and I want to share them with you guys to get your feedback and see if they really are not bad, but they can’t be published anywhere or then they would be considered reprints.
If they all get rejected, then maybe they do suck. But I want to post the link to one when I eventually get someone to pay me for it (crossing my pectoral fins and wishing it into reality).
You are right, those references would be totally or mostly obscure, especially without a picture or some other kind of reminder. I had to google them to make sure that I spelled their names right, if that says anything.
Joe and Mika got into a thing with the former president and started getting some heat from people (and they have been made fun of on Saturday Night Live a bunch because of the chemistry they have on screen). James Carville has an unforgettable face and accent, but I forget his name every single time (I need my wife to provide these things). He was mocked in an entertaining way on Family Guy, if you dare venture into that territory!
I would love to make this story longer, but I am worried that it will make the ending even more disappointing!
You are certainly a busy boy, aren’t you? The amount of time and effort you put into this site makes me feel totally lazy!!
I have read through the comments already posted and the message seems clear so I’ll sum it up as I see it;
Good story, well written, no dialogue but good, clear storytelling. You set out a problem (ie what kind of people, creatures are Keith and Wanda) and then you set out to solve the mystery. That is fairly standard, classical story set-up.
The fly in your ointment is the actual denouement. You set it up really nicely, keeping us poor suckers holding on and holding on and then, in just over 100 words, you drop it on us! Admittedly, some clever wordplay at the end but it was like having the carpet pulled out from under our feet.
See if you can knock out a couple of hundred words from the first part of the story and use them to beef up the ending. I have found that when I have written something freely and not counted my words and then I am hundreds of words too many, it is possible to adjust and get rid of unnecessary words, description and the like. Best of all, the end product is nearly always much better, leaner, sharper. So, get out your literary scalpel and get cutting……..if you think I may have a point.
You are a good writer. Don’t forget that amidst our various critiques. We wouldn’t bother if it wasn’t worth the effort.
I did feel really guilty about pulling the carpet out and I even questioned what was wrong with me, but now I realize that this kind of story is common in some places and it is supposed to be about making the audience groan. I didn’t want to hurt you guys and I wanted people to like it, but I also wanted to send the crucial pun and have it be powerful. I guess I wanted both worlds, but it is just a giant pun delivery system in the end!
Thanks for the advice – I will see if there is any helping this one lol!
Ha. I would name this story, ‘American Literary Revenge.’ I can’t add much to Phil’s observations, which are spot-on, other than to say that I too found myself admiring the conversational writing style. (And I think that constructing such smoothly delivered prose is probably like a lot of other things that are much harder to do than they look.)
I have yet to look up ‘republycanthrope’ or at least the roots of the words to better understand the pun. (It IS a pun, isn’t it?) but a misanthrope is some kind of hater, isn’t it? (Anthrope is some kind of attitude
But my irrepressible joy is derived from the references to ‘Joe and Mika’ and James Carville and Mary Matalin. I knew exactly what you meant and who you were referring to, and could be summed up with the line, ‘opposites attract.’ It reminded me of the time that Ken Frape referred to some holiday crooner playing over the loudspeaker in a café in England. (One of his first submissions to this site.)
I, of course, had no idea who or what he was talking about, and all of the English writers chided me for being so perturbed at (yet another) foreign reference point that leaves ordinary Americans like me completely baffled.
Now that you’ve done it, I enjoyed it, (you turning the tables on them), but must stick to my original philosophical reasoning. When writing for such a generally international ‘readership’ as this, it behooves us to search for more general references to make a point. (Fay Wray and King Kong?) (Spike Lee and Martha Stewart?) As you can see, I usually just end up deleting them altogether.
Whatever else one may say about this story, one thing is obvious, you’re an excellent writer.
One mistake, ‘But I did became secretly obsessed…’ (Obviously an editing malfunction.)
A lycanthrope is a person who thinks that they turn into a wolf, and I think the standard definition is for the mental condition of believing this, but the word is also used for a straight up werewolf. “Lykos” means wolf and “anthopos” means man, so any kind of wolfman thing could get this tag, if you think about it.
Ever since that movie “Underworld” started shortening the word to “lycan” to try to be edgy, a whole new generation of werewolf lovers starting adopting the word. Now there are lots of people who even make a distinction between werewolves and lycans, saying that lycans can shapeshift at will and werewolves are governed by the phases of the moon (but I have heard of plenty of werewolves that don’t obey the full moon thing and just turn whenever and wherever they want. It is really up to the writer).
Watch any “Underworld” movie for five minutes and then tell me if they are werewolves … or if lycans are something completely different.
Darn that typo and thanks for pointing it out!
And did you see my weird message about the feghoots? This story is a feghoot, I think, but technically it has to be between 300 and 500 words to count. It is definitely a shaggy dog story though.
Didn’t mean to ghost you there buddy, just needed time to do a little more research. Found some funny stuff related to republican were-wolves. Republycans. So now I see where the words come from. What I read was that Lycans and were-wolves are two distinct and different mythological creatures. Like ‘a true love’ or ‘an anonymous benefactor.’ (But I digress.)
I just wanted to add to my previous comments that you’ve cleverly woven a mythological construct into a political reality and hangs in there very nicely, no matter which side you’re on, (because I’m sure that both sides see each other in similarly outlandish ways.)
I’d add to this but someone needs to catch a plane.
I enjoyed this very much. My top vote for you!
I hear the snarls! Grrrrr
And I have “Me And Julio Down By The School Yard” repeating in my head at max volume, is that a symptom of something?
“I’ll never forget what’s’isname.”
“Wasn’t there a film called that?”
“I don’t remember.”
“Anyway, what WAS his name?”
“I forget … but I remember him well enough.”
“Seems strange that you’d forget the name of someone you remember so well.”
“The memory plays tricks …”
“If that’s your excuse, then so be it.”
“Funny you should say that.”
“ ‘So be it.’ ”
“Because he was an S.O.B.”
“What did he do?”
“What didn’t he do?!”
“I don’t know. Never met the bloke.”
“That was a rhetorical question.”
“You’ll never forget what’s’isname because …?”
“Because he was one big S.O.B.”
“Yes, we’ve established that. But why?”
“Because of where he was from.”
“The worst place in the whole universe.”
“There are places worse than Grimsby?”
“And then some.”
“What’s’isname was from Mars?”
“And why would he be an S.O.B. just because he came from Mars?”
“Have you ever met a Martian?”
“No, can’t say that I have. Though there is that saying, isn’t there?”
“That all men are from Mars.”
“Ah, that’s piffle.”
“Why didn’t you say that in the first place?”
“Because I like that word and I once promised myself I’d use it in conversation whenever possible.”
“But back to the saying. Why do they say that?”
“No, but ‘they’ do. Why is it?”
“Beats me. Which …”
“Which brings us back to why what’s’isname was a right S.O.B.”
“He beat you?”
“To within an inch of my life.”
“Well … it wasn’t SO terrible really.”
“He beat you to within an inch of your life and it wasn’t so terrible?”
“Well … because I kind of asked him to.”
“You asked him to beat you to within an inch of your life?!”
“No, no … well not exactly.”
“I asked him to beat me a little bit.”
“Why would you do something like that?!”
“It’s nice. You should try it.”
“Really. It can be very pleasurable. But don’t use hard things like hammers or blocks of wood.”
“Fruit and veg. Bananas are good. Cucumbers. Marrows. He was using a pumpkin.”
“The mind boggles.”
“You can be quite creative. Raspberries. Cauliflowers.”
“Yes, well … anyway … there was an inch left obviously, because you’re still here.”
“Yes. I was enjoying it so much that I forgot the safe word, and he, being a Martian, had no empathy so couldn’t see that I was suffering TOO much.”
“But then you remembered it?”
“What was it?”
“The safe word?”
“I can’t remember.”
“Remind me never to tell you to remember something important!”
“Never mind. So, you survived.”
“Of course. But he didn’t even stick around to see that I was all right.”
“Son of a bitch!”
“Exactly. Got in his ship and took off with ne’er a toodle-pip.”
“That’s out of order!”
“I know, right? A girl likes a cuddle after …”
“You poor thing. Remind me … I mean, I’m never going to date a Martian now, that’s for sure.”
“Are you okay?”
“Sounds like you’ve got something stuck in one of your throats.”
“What do you mean?”
“That noise you just made.”
“Zarp. Or Zart? Or …”
“Ah, no. Za’arg. I’ve just remembered – that was what’s’isname’s name.”
“Oh, I see.”
“But you’re right about never dating a Martian. Now, Earthlings …”
I just loved this story. The dialogue is wonderfully silly with each speaker taking it in turns to misunderstand or to go off at a tangent ( I love doing that too) . The daftness of dating a Martian and letting him beat you up is so absurd but why couldn’t it be true?
This is a masterclass in daft dialogue and we all know how challenging dialogue can be. You hit it head on and nail it.
I loved the way you included the pumpkin. It actually made me laugh out loud and that doesn’t happen often enough these days. The picture of a Martian beating up “another creature….( species unknown”) with a variety of fruit and veg is so good. Another laugh.
I did see the clue near the end but won’t say the word in case it spoils it for others.
Great work, Phil. As ever.
(How many throats have you got, Roy? 😉 )
Martian license perfectly in place with all those alien words! And pumkin’s in place!
Who knows those words may enter the Cocksford Dictionary by 2030!
She says, “Did you see where that potato went?”
I hear ‘palmetto.’ “You want me to get the bug spray?”
She says, “Spud spay? Why would I want to neuter a potato? On Christmas eve?”
And so on, you get the pitcher.
Great fun, Phil. (Sorry I couldn’t be more negative, but I’m getting old and losing my eggs. I mean edge. I’m losing my edge.)
Final version below.
I’d like to think I’m one of those critics who points out a possible flaw in your story and backs it up with an explanation. I don’t want to sound nit-picky, and I know it probably will in spite of my protest, but I don’t think you can have quicksand at an ocean. Rip tides, acting like quicksand and dragging her away with the undertow? Certainly. But, alas, no quicksand. And, to make matters even worse, one cannot (let me repeat that – CANNOT) drown in quicksand. It is physically impossible – the scientific explanation being the body is less dense than the quicksand and after getting to about waste deep, one cannot go any further. All those deaths you saw in the movies and on TV growing up are all pure fiction. It can’t happen. You can die of a jillion other things while you’re trapped, but not drowning, unless you stick your head in the water and don’t come up for air on purpose.
Now that I’ve thoroughly savaged your premise, it’s any easy fix. Undertow in place of Quicksand fixes it nicely without even having to add a word, as one can quickly sink to their knees before being carried off by the vengeful surf.
There, have I redeemed myself? I hope so, because the rest of the story is absolute killer. Great job and I jumped from paragraph to paragraph waiting for Sam to jump out from somewhere at any moment, knowing for sure that miserable s.o.b. was still alive. Nice twist at the end, my man, enjoyed it, along with knowing as authors we can kill off our characters with impunity. I did of agree with Phil a bit regarding his face, but that can easily be explained by road rash – him trying to get out of the way of the speeding car and scraping his face on the pavement, maybe?
Otherwise, it had good flow and kept me on the edge of my seat, literally and figuratively.
Nice to see you back at the writer’s desk. Hang around for awhile.
Oh doggy balls!!!
I have done my research now, belatedly I admit, regarding quicksand and this science lesson has been very instructive. You are absolutely right that is is scientifically impossible to sink completely into quicksand and “drown.” I also understand why.
I can see how to amend my story in one of several ways.
Thanks Roy and I do mean that. To someone who knows about quicksand, it is a glaring error. All those years I have believed what I saw in films and in comics.
I hope there is time to ask Carrie if I can edit and repost.
Thanks for the positive comments. I quite enjoyed this one though not sure if it will be “unforgettable.”
That’s a good point about Sam’s name but I think Bethany saw him as a nice guy and Sam just fitted. Naming characters is a really challenging part of the story too. I have found some fantastic names by looking at the credits on TV or films.
Insofar as his face being a mess, my intention is that the wheels went over his legs, or perhaps he was face down or perhaps the exhaust or the underbody caught him but I really wanted the fact that he was still alive to be unexpected to the reader as well as to Bethany. Anyway, it’s my story and he’s alive! Tee hee!!
You know. those dramatic films when the character that looks dead suddenly springs to life like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction
In this case, there has been quite a time lag so the reader has got used to the idea that Sam IS dead
I spent ages on the final paragraph, juggling various endings and watching the word count. Poor Sam ( if poor is a suitable word for such a brute….but now he is sober and penitent) will now endure a long and lingering death.
I will read and reread and see if anything really does need to be changed.
Cheers my friend,
PS I will comment on your story in a separate thread.
I just learned what that means now, but it seems that many of my stories are just that.
And my story is also a “feghoot”, like the “nature abhors a vacuum” story that I did a little while back.
So that makes it a shaggy feghoot?
It is all coming together, because Asimov’s magazine (and some others) liked to use this format, which comes back to the whole ‘club tales” thing that I keep talking about (Callahan and stuff like that). Having weird characters in a bar or club all tell stupid stories that go nowhere and then end in a bad pun, like I am currently trying to do.
Club tales, feghoots, and shaggy dog stories have tangled histories. I will have to read more about this thing that I have been obsessed with (without understanding this whole time).
The Sand Between Her Toes
They met at the corner store. Bethany was arranging the season’s first delivery of pumpkins into a neat pyramid. Sam was her first customer of the day.
“Nice pumpkins,” he said with a cheeky grin.
Later, he turned up just as Bethany finished her shift. He just sat there, in his sleeveless denim jacket, cigarette dangling from his lips, one muscular arm resting on the doorframe of his truck, passenger door open, inviting.
“Watch that one,” her bestie Erica had warned her when she saw them together that morning.
“Oh, I’m watching him,” Bethany said, laughing.
“He’s dangerous, Beth. You know what they say?” Erica went on.
“No, what do they say, Erica?”
“ Men are from Mars. Mars, the red planet, Mars, the bringer of war. Red spells Danger, Beth. In my experience.”
Bethany knew all about Erica’s bad experiences with two brutal ex-husbands but she sensed something altogether more earthy with this guy. Something about him really excited her. She felt herself blush.
“Well, in that case there must be another man planet, Erica ,” she quipped, “cos this guy sure ‘aint red or dangerous!”
They laughed like school kids then but when Bethany got into Sam’s truck Erica crossed her fingers.
Bethany fled the cabin in blind panic. There was still whisky in the bottle and Sam wouldn’t stop drinking until it was empty. Then he would beat or rape her. Again. Her breath came in rasps, agony through bruised ribs. The contents of her handbag spilled onto the ground as she fumbled frantically for keys, her eyes darting all around. She cried with relief as her fingers curled around the key fob .
As she glanced up she saw him. His face was a savage mask of anger. Fuelled by days of alcohol and drugs, he raced towards her. How dare she try to leave him.
But the truck was facing the wrong way!
Bethany dived into the driving seat, gunned the engine and rammed the gear shift into reverse, swinging the wheel hard over. The car threw itself backwards in a half circle and turned to face Ben, its motor growling.
As Bethany crunched the gearbox into forward he stepped in front of her and raised his fists. She screamed in terror as she floored the accelerator. The truck knocked him down then bounced over him, first the front then the rear wheels. She could hear herself screaming like a maniac as she sped away and she could see his body sprawled on the ground in the mirror.
“You fucking bastard!” she snarled through bruised and battered lips, banging her fists on the steering wheel. No one could survive that she told herself. It’s over, he’s dead. She slammed on the brakes and leaving the engine running, she got out and took a few tentative sideways steps towards him, ready for instant flight.
He was lying on his back and his face was a mess. Seeing him lying there, helpless now, aroused no sympathy in Bethany. She looked down at him feeling only contempt for this man who had so cruelly used her and abused her.
Constantly glancing nervously at his motionless form, Bethany hurriedly scooped up her few scattered possessions. She had no other luggage. When they left town, he had insisted that they should just leave everything and get away.
“My old cousin has this cabin in the woods overlooking the sea. No one ever goes there since he died years back. We can stock up on the way and stay as long as we want,” he told her as he drew her to him in the rumpled motel bed.
“Let’s just disappear. No one will miss us.”
All too soon, Ben’s drug and alcohol fueled binges turned to anger and paranoia.
No one will miss us. Those words came back to haunt Bethany. If he kills me, no one will miss me or come looking for me.
But now she had turned the tables and she was the murderer.
As the mists of panic cleared a plan began to form. Bethany backed the truck and drove it to the edge of the steep slope. Then, grabbing both of Ben’s booted feet she dragged him to the open door and heaved him into the driving seat, shuddering at every touch. Then she released the brake and watched as the truck slid over the edge, smashing its way down through the undergrowth and tree branches, sending birds screeching in alarm. When Bethany looked down it had completely disappeared.
Bethany knew she would never find her way out of the woods. It had taken an hour in the truck but surely there was another way out, she reasoned. She decided to scramble down to the beach and find another path, perhaps even a road.
At dawn, after a night full of nightmares about her trial for murder, Bethany descended into the gully towards the beckoning sea. It was very steep but the tree branches and undergrowth gave her some handholds and the sound of the sea getting louder encouraged her as she slipped and slid further down.
Bethany didn’t see the truck at first. The undergrowth had almost swallowed it up. She could easily have missed it but as she slipped on the loose foliage her hand hit something metal.
The driver’s window was smashed.
The vehicle was empty.
Bethany stepped back in alarm, her hand stifling her scream, her eyes darting all around in panic.
“ Oh, God, no!”
Slipping and staggering the last few metres, looking all around in a blind panic, oblivious to the branches that whipped at her face and arms, suddenly she was in the open, on a pristine strip of golden sand. The waves gently lapped backwards and forwards in the early morning sunshine. No sign of him. Bethany heaved a sigh of relief.
She spotted an incongruous object being lifted and dropped by the waves. As she got closer she could see that it was a boot. Sam’s boot. With blood on it.
Bethany stooped to lift the boot, her eyes still wildly scanning for any signs of her abuser. She felt the outgoing seawater suck the sand from around her feet and then she realized that her feet had sunk beneath the surface. She tried to step clear but she was held fast and before she knew it, she was up to her mid calves, then her knees. Struggling only made things worse.
And an incoming tide.
Bethany held Sam’s bloody boot aloft in a kind of final defiant salute. Just before the relentless waves finally engulfed her she screamed,
“No one will miss me.”
But she was wrong. Despite his dreadful injuries, Sam had somehow managed to crawl on all fours back to the undergrowth, away from that deadly sand, minus his boots.
Now, sober and penitent, he watched in horror as Bethany died. His croaking voice couldn’t carry above the sound of the waves and wind, couldn’t warn her.
“I’ll miss you,” he mouthed the words through his cracked and bloodied lips.
Ken Frape October 2021 2000 words.
BTW, is the man called Sam or Ben? There are several mentions of ‘Sam’ and one or two of ‘Ben’.
It’s an exciting story, Ken. I suggest that you stick with one name for your bad guy. Is it Ben, or Sam? (I mean, unless I’m mixed up, I saw two distinct names for one character.)
When Sam races toward her and she dives into the car, you might want to state that he ‘stumbles towards her with fury in his eyes’ rather than ‘races.’ (He is stinking drunk, after all.)
Your word count says it’s 2000 words when it’s safely under the limit.
Still not sure the quicksand is believable as a means of death in any circumstance, except maybe dehydration, heat stroke or starvation.
As for Ben’s or Sam’s face, the damage to his face could easily be sustained by asphalt or the car’s undercarriage without being terminal. I had no problem with him surviving being run over.
Throwing all of that aside, it’s too bad that, since he survived everything she threw at him, it would be even more incredible if he tried to help her, after all that, only to fail.
Whether he dies sooner or later is not very clear. It seems that in your version, he gets religion (so to speak) and dies
shortly after that anyway. It would be great, but not necessary, if that was clearer. (But, I understand the word limits preclude much more explanation without removing some detail somewhere else. and detail in a story. As Phil pointed out, it’s a toodle-pip.)
Like everyone else, I think it’s a terrific story (except for the name confusion, everything else I can live with, including the quicksand.)
Perhaps the truck could have tumbled to the beach, in her shock and confusion, she gets a foot caught under the cars frame in the mud and a rising tide spells doom and seals her fate.
I don’t know if any of that helped or not. Probably not. I think it’s a great story as it is, but it could be better. Sometimes you just have to let go of the biggest thing that you built the story around. Quicksand. Aye, there’s the rub, lad.
I can’t even finish my story, haven’t worked on it in a week. Maybe I’ll give it a shot this morning and see if I can’t get it submitted in draft form by tomorrow. Doesn’t look promising. Maybe Carrie will consider extending the contest to get a few more stories in. I think that would be nice. But I can’t imagine my story even competing with what I’ve seen so far this week.
She must be pretty busy, maybe a postponement would be helpful to her as well.
Doesn’t matter to me, but I’d like to see some of our other talented writers submit something as well.
I am really annoyed with myself for the name confusion. It hadn’t been mentioned before so perhaps it was not in my original version. So much for editing.
I am going to stick with the quicksand idea. Roy pointed out, quite correctly, that you cannot drown in the stuff so I did a lot of research that suggested that it is very hard to get out of and if the tide came in you could drown in the sea. Also, my research said that you can find quicksand on beaches, although it is not common. So, in the end, I have two choices: First, I might pull the story completely as I now feel it has too many holes in it or, secondly, I might just leave it as it is. I suppose there must be a third option but not sure what it is.
As ever, I accept all comments in the great and positive spirit that I have come to appreciate.
By the way, the Christmas story you mentioned was my first on this site and this current story is my 50th.
by RM York
Eddie: I remember when I first met her. I was on my way to a college football game with some fraternity brothers and she came walking around the corner with a few gal pals of her own. She stuck out of the bunch like a blooming flower in a field of weeds. Maybe that’s too harsh on the other girls, but it’s the way I remember it.
Of course, the animals that I was with were up to their usual misogynistic ways and started whistling at the girls, calling out things like, “Hey baby, wanna see my room?” and “I got something I wanna show you.”
I just stood back from all that. Two of the guys knew a couple of the girls and started chatting them up. She hung back and I thought, ‘this girl is different than the rest. I don’t stand a chance, so don’t even think about it.’ I was right. I didn’t stand a chance. What I took for her interest in me was apparently all in my imagination. She walked by me like I was invisible.
I found out from one of her girl pals her name was Wanda. When I tried to talk to her, I was ignored. Perfect I thought. Wanda the Witch seemed to fit. She avoided me like I had the plague.
It was quite a few years later, when I caught up with her again. I’d been working on a new project when my partner, Doug, walked in and said he wanted me to interview a new hire. “I think she’ll be perfect for your new project. And, there’s an added benefit.”
“What’s that?” I responded. “Does she work twenty-four hours without stopping? Because that’s the kind of help I need right now.”
“You’ll see,” he said. “She’s in the conference room. I told her you’d be right there.”
The cold, angry stare he got was well earned. My partner had a habit of giving orders or doing things without consulting me first. But, that had nothing to do with her.
She was standing by the window overlooking the park, which was several stories below. She turned as she heard the door open.
The recognition was instantaneous between the two of us. She smiled. It was her all right. It was Wanda the Witch in the flesh. If anything, she was even more stunning than I remembered.
Wanda: Meeting Eddie in that office was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I had been struggling, trying to make ends meet and this was a last chance. First glance from the look in his eyes, and I realized I had a second chance to make a first impression. I remember holding up my hand, palm out, as I walked across the conference room. “I remember you, but you may not remember me. I met you in college,” I said. “You’re Eddie. Am I right?” He nodded and extended his hand.
I took his hand and shook it with a firm grasp. “And, I remember you,” he said. His disposition was somber and all business. “Doug says you can help me in my project. Why don’t we talk about that. College was a long time ago.”
I must have bruised his ego. I needed this job, but I wasn’t going to lap dance for anyone, not even a prospective employer. He was going to hire me because I was going to help benefit his project, not because I’m easy on the eyes. Believe me, that is more of a hindrance than you might think.
Most men hire with the thought, ‘If this doesn’t work out and she’s not going to play ball, I can always fire her for one reason or another.’ I’ve left many firms when the late night work sessions were turned into “My wife doesn’t understand me. You look like someone who does. Why don’t we talk about it over dinner.”
Eddie was different. The interview went well and I was hired. It wasn’t until we’d been working together for over a year when it happened.
Eddie: It took me by surprise as much as her. We got along well at work. Very well. Our work lives were in perfect sync. She could anticipate what I was thinking almost before I knew where my thoughts were going. It was the other things that we didn’t agree on, like tea instead of coffee – small things.
We had been on a weekend conference in Atlantic City. Doug thought being away from the office would do the entire staff some good. “To refresh ourselves,” he said.
I was sitting in a lounge chair on the beach when she walked up in this ridiculous bikini and asked, “Wanna go for a swim?” My eyeballs must have given me away as I mentally tried to push them back into their sockets
“New suit?” I asked as casually as I could.
“What? This old thing? I’ve had this since college. It’s the first time I’ve worn it in almost ten years. It’s the only swimsuit I own.”
“It fits you well,” I said.
“Damn,” she said. “I forgot my towel. I need to go back and get one.”
“I’m going back,” I said. “I’ll walk with you.” When we got to her room, I said, “See you tonight at dinner. Doug wants us there at 7:00.”
‘That gives us enough time for a drink or two. You game?”
“Sure,” I said. “Let me go get changed and I’ll meet you … “
“I was thinking just a quickie in my room,” she interrupted as she opened her door.
I stopped. “That has two meanings,” I said.
She blushed. “I guess it does,” is all she said.
I followed her in. We were late for dinner. One thing though, as our relationship progressed, we were like fire and ice. We thought differently about almost everything but work and our continued passion for each other.
She doesn’t care for meat. I don’t like vegetables. She hates chocolate, I love it. She can’t wait for pumpkin season, I don’t care for anything pumpkin. She’s an evening person, I’m a morning person. Almost everything about us (besides work and sex) are opposites. Whoever said men are from Mars and women are from Venus knew what they were talking about.
It’s been a wonderful relationship for almost twenty years. So far her husband and my wife don’t have a clue. I’d like to keep it that way.
Thank you. I read your comment just before I went to bed last night, and it was a great ending to an already good day. I had nice thoughts as I wrapped myself up in sleep. that was one of my ‘sit down and write’ stories.
I already had the beginning formed along with the ending, and I just had to sit down and fill in the middle as my characters played their parts in my mind. It was a pleasant and easy write. I decided to do it in first person with each character adding a part and I liked the result when done as I think it gave two perspectives.
Thanks, I appreciated the comment. It was excellent. Your comment, I mean. Good endings are hard to find sometimes, but this one was just sitting there, all by itself, waiting to be picked.
Well done my friend. Clearly one of the pick of the bunch.
It is a really well set out story for starters. It trips along nicely and the ending comes too soon. It’s a great ending,by the way, but I was simply enjoying the reading.
Cracking finish that final paragraph and no warning…caught me by surprise.
Reminds me of how potentially dangerous reunions can be when people hark back to their youth or college days and put on the rose-tinted specs. Do we see the people as they are now or as they were or as we wish them to be?
Added bonus: No quicksand and no changes of name!!
Thanks, Mate. I’m beginning to have misgivings about the way I pointed out the ‘quicksand’ thing on your story. I was pretty adamant and maybe went a bit further than I should have, so mea culpa for that. Not that I wasn’t right, but that I was so exuberant in pointing it out.
Having a good ending I have found is a good thing from several vantage points. A surprise ending is a bonus for making the ending even better than it probably really is. Looking back, I have found that my stories with the snappy endings do far better than the stories (except for a few well written classics) that I write more often than not.
I think people like being surprised, and I like doing it. It isn’t easy to do, however. I remember quite a while back I wrote a story about guy and a relationship leading the reader to believe it was his girlfriend when all the time he was actually talking about his car, a ’57 Chevy. That one went over very well, also. The problem with that is, if you do it regularly, people will start looking for it and then there is – SURPRISE – no surprise.
Thanks again, Ken. Appreciate your comments.
Better still had they been widow ‘n widower. For then it would’ve fitted into the moral compass much needed in this fallen world.
Liked that line about the eyeballs needing to be pushed back 🙂
‘I’d like to keep it that way.’….such alien covert thinking should be shot into the farthest corner beyond Neptune.
All said and done, it’s well written as usual. 🙂
Be that as it may, I do understand where you are coming from, since I read what you wrote about this, and thought about it, I wondered if I could have done that somehow (widow and widower) and still retained the story’s heart and soul, which was they were so opposites in most things, it only worked for the sex and the work they shared.
Nahh, they’re just going to be lecherous and try to keep this a secret until either the passion gives out, or their own moral compass kicks in one day across the breakfast table from their unsuspecting spouse and realize what they have done and how it might destroy the person they truly love.
Maybe that’s the sequel to this story. So, I ask you, since you brought it up. Should they confess or carry the secret to their graves as they stare at their significant other over their pancakes?
Since you asked, I’d think any confessed sin would lead to ulcers /indigestion/ insomnia. The whole works.
The pancakes would never taste any good.
My suggestion, on the other hand, would be a sweet surprise.
Or maybe they had huge portraits of their dearly beloveds, now passed on, to which they would each feel a twinge of guilt, as they walked beneath. One actually decides to break it.
It’s your story. Go for it. You’re a fantastic story teller.
Sit down, take a chair.
Or stand wherever.
I’m going to tell you the story of how Jakoh came to live on our earth. It was a time everyone did what they wanted for themselves. They quite forgot their Creator.
Jakoh flew in from a far distant planet called Flummox.
The beetles flying around couldn’t say Flummox.
They droned, making their most unusual sounds. Buzzing is what they did best and all you heard was.. ‘Mahzz, Mahzz, Mahzz’ as they buzzed.
Finally their Chief Captain Bee decided to rename the planet Mars.
This was the time when new planets were added to the list of the galaxy.
Luckily for Jakoh, he landed near a good home, Mars being pretty close to earth.
Now Jakoh was terribly good looking and quite aware of his charms. Very soon he fell madly in love with the Vision of Delight set before his eyes.
You thought cake? Nahhh!
It was a full blooded woman and their meeting was prearranged by some old aunts who made it their business putting people together. Being good looking added an aura to their schemes.
The two were given a choice to do a final assessment of each other’s wits, faculties, features and fetishes. After a couple of pointed questions from both sides, akin the Border Inquisition, Jakoh decided to make her his wife. She thought he was no small fish.
The right thing to do, you’d say, was to be pleasantly compliable.
Their response made everyone happy and the aunts sat around at the reception taking the entire credit for bringing the young ones together.
That’s how they began their life together in faraway Platonia.
Myra, the vision I told you about, very soon got herself a decent job. Looking after her household, doing laundry, cooking, managing a full time job and giving tuition to make the extra buck. Jakoh had nothing to complain about. Their life took on all the challenges pretty well.
I mean with her doing practically everything while he sat in his office looking at data.
She had no complaints and was happy to do everything.
But he wanted his salad cut in perfect rounds, not grated. As long as it wasn’t grated, it was fine. Salads must look like salads. So round it was. All the carrots, cucumbers and zucchini were so round that the dish when served looked as if planets had fallen down right onto their oak dining table.
Jakoh didn’t explain why he had this fascination for all things round. If only Myra had studied Mars she woulda known its vegetation is all round.
Don’t tell me that there is no vegetation on Mars.
Visit with me and I’ll show ya.
One day Myra felt different. You guessed right. She was pregnant. The news made them both very happy.
Soon she became quite rotund. Not round like salad but just a lady-like kind of rotundness. Her blue veins began to show around her neck.
“Hey Jakoh, look at my veins. They look huge. It’s the pregnancy. Everything is puffed up.”
“Nothing great about it. I have those poofy veins too. See my hand. It’s just a lighter shade of blue than yours.”
“But it’s the pregnancy. You are NOT pregnant!”
“What pregnancy? They’ve been pregnant since Adam arrived!”
“It’s not a competition. My veins ARE different from yours!”
Myra was annoyed but she didn’t want her growing foetus to feel any tension.
So she let it pass.
The reason again was because in Mars nobody got pregnant. They didn’t know the workings of the female body. Inhabited only by the male species, how it came to be, science still has to unravel.
Now you see, don’t you?
For everything there is an explanation.
So do join my singing…
‘I can see clearly now the haze is gone
I can see no obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright sunshiny day.’
Alack! Some of you don’t like singing. That’s pardonable. You just need to understand where everyone comes from.
The other outstanding feature of Jakoh was that he loved talking facts. It was as if he had all the facts and nobody else did.
It was true. In his home on the faraway planet, all the facts were bundled up in a huge trunk and its inhabitants were given ten solid facts daily to mull over at dinner time. Chew them as dessert. It could be any fact. But factual, it was.
A fat fact, no doubt.
Not an opinion. Neverrrrr!
Opinions were the prerogative of women on this beautiful earth. And opinions kept changing like women changed their lipstick.
One day the unforgettable happened.
Jakoh wanted to return to Mars but he was absolutely clueless how to fly back.
Not that he didn’t love Myra any longer. He loved her very much, but he was out of hardcore facts. He couldn’t for the life of him remember why people around were acting weird about their political leanings. Why were people divided?
Back on Mars, they all thought the same. Just one empirical, indisputable objective proof for a given moment. Their brains could handle one problem at a given time.
In contrast, Myra and her ilk could figure out what’s cooking for dinner, while stitching buttons on the lapel, discuss the latest movie, stirring up a curry storm in the kitchen.
“Beta, do your math. You need to apply the theorem properly. Where does that Y go?” She questioned her young Einstein, chopping onions which got her teary-eyed, while reading the flood of Whatsapp messages of some explosion happening on their island with the women going ballistic, some mortally afraid.
One conveyed her heart rate had gone up to 120.
Another woman suggested the best cardiologist in the hospital she should go see.
Another began talking about a gas leak causing the explosion.
“Women have no other work, “ muttered the even-tempered, good-natured Jakoh who never complained.
With the milk of human kindness by the quart in every vein,
A patient man, down to his fingertips
The sort who never would, never could
Let an insulting remark escape his lips.
A very gentle Higgins, was he.
Myra had absolutely no desire to let him go. His stability was something she admired.
One day he signed up for a test ride of a spaceship flying people to Mars.
A two way ticket assuring Mira he’d be back.
Frantically Mira consulted her island group about this impending trip and what the women thought about it.
Would he return?
“Stop him at once,” opined one.
“Be extra loving, he won’t go away.”
“Join a dance class together. He may be bored.”
“Do botox, girl! He needs you lookin’ good.”
A husband of one of them suggested Myra remove the main screw of the flagship.
The fact was without screws, no ship would fly.
It was dress-up day.
Myra, cleverly camouflaged as a pumpkin, single mindedly rolled towards the airfield, which was very close to a pumpkin patch.
With a screwdriver.
Not a soul noticed her.
Facts prevail after all. Opinions hardly matter.
Liked your story and the way it was written. I look forward to your stories because I like your sing-song style, for lack of a better name. This one was no exception and you had a great ending and good last line. Very well done, my dear.
It was a day like any other day, except it was night, Friday night, and the thirteenth to boot. I come home from work, close the door, and my wife says, “Is that you, Jack?”
This made me pause just inside the threshold, because my name is not Jack. I look around at the familiar furnishings, the pictures on the wall. I throw my gloves on the little table by the door and enter the dining room.
She looks up and says, “Hello?”
Like, I don’t know. So I say something like, “What hello?” And she says, “What hello like who the hell are you?”
So—first, like a schmuck, I start laughing, and she starts laughing. And I think it’s a great joke and I’m congratulating myself on my luck at having married such a funny woman when she stops laughing and says, “No really. Who the hell ARE you?” Real serious like.
I get just as serious and I say, “I’m the fucking butler. Naturally.”
And she, without so much as cracking a smile says, “Is that why you look familiar?”
And I say, “I should look familiar, I’m sleeping with you.”
She laughs, and looks me over in one painfully skeptical glance and says, “That’s not realistic.”
“Maybe not,” I admit, unscathed by her scorn, “but it’s true,” as I try to muster a look of latent lust. Which bounces off her personae like so much confetti off the flank of a blimp.
She cocks her head and says, “I bought you that shirt. Why would I buy you a shirt?”
“I needed one,” I said, “plus, I’m also the chauffeur.”
And that—seemed to get her tracks mired in the mud for a while. She finished making dinner, we sat down and ate, but she still didn’t really seem like she knew me.
Of course I thought she was playing some kind of practical joke, but it continued for the entire weekend. I mean Christ, who pranks someone for an entire weekend? When she questioned why I had my feet on the coffee table while watching the Sunday football matches, the discussion got a little heated. When she asked me how much she paid me, I told her I paid HER for the privilege of being her butler and driver. Which was not true, and while it seemed to pacify her for a time, behind her calm façade I could see that she was still perplexed. At least she left me in peace to watch the rest of the game.
But Monday morning, when I got to work, no one recognized me. I refused to answer any questions. I waved my arms, pushed my way past the foreman and went straight to the employee bathroom, because I knew exactly where it was. I’d been working there for, a while. I went to the washroom and splashed water on my face and felt it with my fingers before I got the courage to look up into the mirror. No surprise awaited me. It was just me. My big round orange head, saw-toothed smile, lantern-like eyes. I don’t know what I expected to see, what horror or conjugation of nature’s hijinks, but the face I saw was the same one I’ve been wearing for all of my adult life.
I was tempted to use the ploy I’d used on my wife, when confronted by my employer, but they had records, I gave them my I.D. and told them to look for my name in payroll, and there it was. Leroy Jones. Not Jack.
They still seemed pretty doubtful until I put my mask and coveralls on, and went to work. The faster I poured those candles, the less they cared about my identity. Which, for me, was pretty normal. But I could tell that, on breaks and quitting time, none of my fellow workers even recognized me. Bizarre.
I went to the bar. ‘Nimmies’ on 45th and Rind. I steeled myself before entering. Everybody knows me at Nimmies. They don’t all like me, but…
I walked in, waited for my eyes to adjust to the gloom, expecting a flood of raucous merriment at my surprise appearance, as well as a few cat-calls, recognition of some kind, but the place was like a funeral, or a morgue. Belinda, the bar’s permanent patron, was perched on the stool nearest the door, her pointy hat sat on the next stool, gyrating to the sounds coming from the jukebox,
“What happened? Who died?”
Nothing, no reaction. A shrug maybe. I ordered a drink. The bartender acted like he didn’t know me either. “What’ll it be pal?”
‘Pal’? “Drinks all around,” I said. “On me.”
Five minutes later he noticed me again and said, “Can I help you?”
“No, I’m fine,” I told him. “I’m just waiting for someone.”
He never asked me to pay the tab, not this one or the previous one.
I tossed a few spare beans on the bar-top for a tip and skedaddled.
I was in for a surprise when I got home. A contingent of goblins and gnomes were waiting for me in the ante-room. My wife stood with her arms across her chest, the universally recognized pose of perdition.
“Christ,” I growled, through mushy teeth. “What now, Venus?”
“You see?” She all but howled at the assembly of ghouls. “He doesn’t even know my name.”
I sighed. “That’s my nickname for my lovely wife. Surely you all have pet names for your partners and pals.” I made my plea directly to the goblins who all nodded sympathetically as a murmur of agreement swept through the small group.
I strode confidently across the room, pulled aside the curtain and looked out the window at the children, scattered around the patch, the smaller ones huddled around the scarecrow for protection.
“No, no, no,” my wife persisted. “My Jack has a perfectly straight stem. Look at his stem,” she commanded. “Does that look straight to you? Any of you?”
I was now the object of intense scrutiny by the ghoulish crowd. I sensed the group was turning against me. All for the tilt of my stem.
“But I’m old,” I say. “The months have not been kind.” I threw a withering glance at my wife, who felt my disdain, if nothing else. The goblins were sympathetic, but clearly on her side, and the gnomes? Well, they’re mute. Hard to know how they really felt, ever.
I retreated to the bedroom and began to pack my things, the few that I had. I gazed sadly at the bed, the large dent from my head in the pillow still in evidence. But it all came down to my stem.
And that’s when I woke to the sound of my wife’s gentle snoring. I started to slip out of bed quietly but my movement woke her from her shallow dream. I caressed her velvety shoulder tenderly and she rolled over to face me, eyes still closed. But a smile had already formed on her round green face. She was the sweetest honeydew I’d ever met and I thanked my lucky stars as I got out of bed to make coffee.
Talk about being clever. You wrote a Halloween story, without writing a Halloween story. Pretty damn good.
What the hell are you drinking? ‘Cause I want some. A thoroughly confusing, warped story and have I told you that I friggin’ hate ‘it was all just a dream’ ending in stories? Just mentioning it in case you didn’t know.
Seriously, however, I found the reverse twist on the ending pretty cool. Glad you like honeyed melons, because I do, too. Green face and all. Too bad about your twisted stem, but that does happen when you get older. Get used to it, it doesn’t get any better.
Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this latest trip you took us on will end up. I’m betting OK. One thing though, I was wondering how a guy could get a woman to make him dinner when she didn’t think the guy was her husband. Oh, that’s right, you did it with a ‘dream ending’ where all things are possible.
Dreams are pretty interesting things. I remember dreams fairly well, at least parts of them, and know they are dreams when I wake up. But the latest one I remember was strange. Might be a story in it. It was about me helping a black, pregnant, telepathic cat have her kittens in a cardboard box. Gotta be a story in that.
Good luck in the vote today.
Ok writers! The times for submitting stories has come to a close.
I’ll be posting the voting page in about twenty minutes!
Ok writer’s time is up!!!
Here is the voting link – you have 24 hours!
Here are your winners!
1st Place: Memories Revisited by RM York
2nd Place: Through Your Eyes by Peter Holmes
3rd Place: WHAT’S’ISNAME by Phil Town
4th Place: Headcase by Ken Cartisano
5th Place: The Sand Between Her Toes by Ken Frape
6th Place: The Truth About Bipartisanship by Rumplefinkies
7th Place: Be My Little Pumpkin by Marien Oommen
The story with the favorite character was the narrator in Peter’s “Through Your Eyes”
The story with the favorite dialogue was Ken Cartisano’s “Headcase”
Congrats to all!
I’m actually disqualifying myself – I didn’t have time to vote today and just logged on to do it now … and found that the votes had already been totted up! This is the first time I haven’t voted without warning Carrie, and I was a bit disappointed that more leeway wasn’t given – there are normally stragglers that are given hours to get their votes in.
A bit miffed, tbh. But anyway … you’re 3rd, KenC! 🙂
That figures….the one time I was on the ball (I was even two hours past time posting the winners)….. Sorry!
I didn’t disqualify you because you really do always let me know if you need more time.
I tallied everything and was actually posting the winners when I realized I hadn’t gotten your votes/notifications and had a 6 hour meeting ahead of me and was afraid I’d forget.
Sorry about that!
Seriously, my apologies, I’m trying to keep up with it all!
I know and I do apologize, usually they get some leeway because it works out for me.
This week was a rare “I might actually get stuff posted on time” weeks.
I promise you it probably won’t happen again for a while 😂
Good job Peter, Phil and the dialogue and character winners.
Well done for creating another great bunch of stories.
Well done, Roy, Peter and Phil but specially Peter to have broken into the top three ( 2nd even) . You are in exalted company.
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