Writing Prompt “Why would they do that?”
Theme: First or last line – “I don’t know… why would they do that?”
- an orange
Word Count: 1,200
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122 thoughts on “Writing Prompt “Why would they do that?””
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Here I am, once again, sitting in a chair the TV news report blabbing in the background while I peck on my laptop keyboard.
I remember when I was able to write and pay attention to the news at the same time. Not that I’m interested in the news, I just want to see what the weather report will be. I know what it will be… “hot, damn hot, hotter than a snake’s butt in a wagon rut”, a line from ‘Good Morning Vietnam’.
Did you notice in two short paragraphs I used “I” seven times now nine. Dammit that is so frustrating, one of my pet peeves while reading other articles- too many I’s. Well, this is going nowhere fast.
Yesterday Paul stopped by and said the StringAlong’s music Saturday night at Sabrina’s was cancelled because two of the members were very sick with Flu symptoms. Really? Flu? Have they forgotten about Covid already?
The refrigerator is low on milk creating a problem. Milk is the go to drink in this house, well for me anyway… either one percent or two percent Organic and of course the local grocer doesn’t carry Organic. There are some orange and cranberry juices in the fridge but it’s not the same as milk.
If the regular grocery and health food stores were not sixty miles away then the problem would be solved. However today the problem in driving two hours for milk is Freddy, Patsy’s dog. She is going Kayaking with a friend and is leaving her pampered pet with me. That is not normally a problem but the heat limits dog activities, so here me, Freddy, Mikey and Candy stay. Mikey and Candy live here full time. It doesn’t bother me that Patsy’s friend is someone I use to date… nope not at all.
But that’s not what this is about. This is about writing in particular and especially how one or two words can change everything. It’s about “above and beyond”. Do you ever think about that? Usually used in praise of someone meaning to exalt them, place them above the pillaging crowd below. Have you ever thought it might lower our own expectations of ourselves.
Many years ago when my two sons went off to Humboldt State I shared my empty nest with Krista, a college student at CalPoly. Krista used the phrase as “beyove and beyond”. Somehow beyove and beyond seemed gentler to me, made me…actually still… makes me smile.
Dan Rather has resurfaced as ruler of Steady https://steady.substack.com/p/how-do-you-get-your-news/comments. He has some ground rules for the site which are excellent, one little thing caught my attention… the five rules begin with “I want”, which was mentioned earlier in this piece..so you know my feelings. Dan ended the rules with, “we can agree to disagree without being disagreeable”.
So there is the other phrase that drives me nuts, “agree to disagree”, what does that even mean? It usually means, “stop talking I’m not interested in listening to you and don’t care to see if your opinions make sense or maybe you have new information”. So there is no agreement that I see. I believe I am beginning to sound disagreeable. Darn three “I’s”.
Every now and then wondering about myself crosses my mind. Here’s an example- the local newspaper runs high school graduation photos each year. This year two different female graduates had the same name under their photo. First I snickered and then felt bad for the girl and then wonder. Was it possible the girl had managed to disguise herself and convince the class photographer there were really two girls in the same class with the same name. What a great prank… yes I like the idea.
It reminds me of the Army, well really the WAC, during basic training me and my platoon friend Betty would stand morning inspection with our shoes on the wrong feet just to see if we could get away with it (nope). So there’s the wonder… is something wrong with me.
Most days are normal, like yours…sleep, eat, watch TV, read magazines, write in my journal. Why write in a journal..who knows it’s just a requirement for free room and board. Don’t ask questions just do what you’re told to do and things seem to go smoothly.
When you’ve lived as long as me…shoot…now me is bothering me too, is me as bad as I and what about the my’s. I don’t even know why I try, obviously Dan Rather doesn’t care so why should I?
We’re just going to move on from the I’s. I worry about the new gender pronouns too. Anyone should be who they want to be and be called what they want, but how do we know unless they tell us, there are so many variations I get confused. And really who is “they” and who is “us”?
Tonight is supposed to be “closure” time. They do this every Friday night. But why… is what I wonder? How can there be closure on anything, it might be over and done but as long as you’re thinking it’s still there. Freddy, Mikey and Candy are still here because I told you they are. But are they? Do you really know that? I believe they are so then they are but you don’t know that really…do you?
Sorry, I was interrupted, Abigail came in from downstairs, she always brings me a nightcap… that’s what she calls it but I know there’s more to it than that, I think she thinks I’m incompetent. I’m competent, I have to be or why would I have to turn in this journal every Friday and why does there have to be 1200 words of thought. I ask you if I was incompetent why would my words matter. It’s about the government and the new chips, they know I know and the only way to control me is by deeming me incompetent. I’m getting tired, my blood sugar is getting low, I need an orange, I think I had orange juice already. I just wonder why…when I think about everybody… why would they do that… I’m competent.
The worse thing is getting to 1200 words every week. Sometimes I just can’t do it. Do you know how long it takes me to keep counting every word to try and make it to 1200, did you notice I should have written twelve hundred twice, 1200 doesn’t even count as 1 word, I mean one word but twelve hundred counts two, it’s too late, my nightcap makes me sleepy, I have to put this in an envelope an push it under the door and then I’ll never see it again so really what does it matter. I can’t write anymore, it doesn’t matter, when you have lost at love you have lost it all nothing matters anymore. Is that true? Is that all there is? Why would THEY do that to US. Okay that’s it, I give up.
Oops 30! Not 20!!
Hahaha good thing since it doesn’t have the 1st/last line requirement.
Gives you plenty of time to revise it!
(Oh Brad, I’m glad.)
Why can’t we comment on the new prompt? Is that an oversight?
Is that a newspaper in his hand?
As in he walked out the front door to get the paper and he sees something strange or incredible, but the angle is positioned so all we can see is the beautiful sky and his reaction to the mysterious thing in question?
This could turn into one of those vicious cascading vortexes of perpetual redundancy. Much like reticulating the spline. Not sure I’ll get a story in this ‘week.’ Too many questions about this prompt. (It’s a very questionable prompt. You can’t argue with that. Oh you can? Oh, okay. So half of you would argue that the prompt is not at all questionable. (?) Okay, go back and look at the prompt. We’ll wait.)
We’re not waiting. Let’s go. Might have to go back to work next week. (I just don’t have a job yet and I forgot what they look like.)
Maybe I’ll write a story about that, the transition from bum to slave. Is that a demotion? I’m not sure.
John Mansfield: ‘verschnitzel.’ There’s a word for ya. I just made it up. It’s like bloviate except it’s a noun. (It’s a singing sausage, I think.) Consider it, that’s all I’m saying. (Okay, you want the truth? Think you can handle it? Verschnitzel is really punishment for introducing me to ‘psychotrope’ and ‘hopepunk.’
Hopepunk………. Would that mean Elon Musk is ‘suitpunk?’ What’s the definition of punk these days anyway?
Ken Frape, of course we use the phrase ‘hook, line and sinker.”’ What do you think we are, a bunch of backward savages? Oh. Oh you do? Still, after all this time? Well, okay. But ….. we’re not people who hate to fish. We have fishing poles. Ok, sure, it’s true, some of us say ‘sink, line and hooker.’ but that’s more common in the big city. And out on the links I’ve heard people say ‘line, hook, and sinker,’ but they were golfers and I have no idea what they were talking about.
Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful Ken. Do you fish? Every think about taking it up? I don’t have to fish. The fish jump in the boat when I need one. (Which, thankfully, isn’t often.)
Thank you for that – I bloviate all the time and I should really know this word already, and verschnitzel is just like rumplefinkies… the same Germanic ring to it even.
(Someday I will reveal the backstory there, but it will make me look even more like a cast member on The Big Bang Theory, so I avoid talking about it).
Good luck out there, and give ’em Hell!
The spellchecker is going crazy on me.
Who was she really, and where did you find that photograph?
I tried to search Google for the image, but no dice.
I did the same thing, John. I searched google, Silver-backed Singles, Match My Face.com, Femmes on Fenders Finder.com, Old Broads and Clunkers.com; SepiaSingles.com; Long Dead Dates Dot Com; , No luck. No where. But it’s not driving me crazy or anything like that. It takes way more than that to drive me crazy.
You’ll get no straight answer out of Carrie, though. Carrie doesn’t answer level four questions. … I know what your thinking… ‘How could that be a level 4 question? It’s just an old file photo from…’ Stop right there, see? You used the word ‘File’. That’s level four. Sometimes it’s just the wording. Look, I’m not trying to discourage you. Quests are cool. I’d like to know the origins of the picture, too! I just wrote a story about it! I’m just trying to point lower pitfall your expectation pitfall, error point out, the pitfalls, I’m just saying, that beyond level four, the sand traps, you’ll see.
Let me know what you find out about the picture. Be careful.
If ‘crazy’ were a destination, Ken, you wouldn’t even have to get in the car. You wouldn’t have to walk to the kerb (curb). You wouldn’t have to step off the porch. You wouldn’t have to open the front door. You wouldn’t have to come down the stairs. You wouldn’t have to leave the bedroom. You wouldn’t have to leave your bed. You could just lie back with your hands behind your head. Because you’re already there, old friend.
I would’ve replied to this in typical American fashion, but as you may have guessed, I don’t adhere to typical American fashions. And try as I might, I can’t think of anything funnier than Carrie’s comment anyway, so, I don’t know what to say Phil. You’re too kind? And let it go at that?
I will never tell the secret of the lady in that photograph 😉
That’s by design… 😉
Hopefully, I’ll be able to write a story for this prompt. “I don’t know. Why would they do that?” Looking for inspiration here.
I didn’t submit one this time because of work and running around like a chicken with the head cut off, but I did clean up and lengthen 3 stories from this site and I submitted them to contests that I found, plus I made one crappy 500 word story fresh and submitted it, and I dug up one that I only wrote because I was inspired by this site and submitted that too…. so I guess I am trying to say that it doesn’t end with the votes being tallied – stories live on, no matter how half-baked or weird!
How ’bout half a story
G Man sounds like it just refers to a “government man”, so the reference went right over the head of a lot of gamers, including me (in my defense, I was too scared to watch that show with the lights off, which was the only way my brother would watch it, so I only caught a few of the more iconic episodes). He also didn’t smoke, which was the defining trait of Cigarette Man, but he did constantly show up at the last second and close doors leading into mysterious rooms with alien technology and that kind of thing. His particular way of speaking was preserved too. Then they evolved G Man when they made a sequel, and he got an updated face and voice and mannerisms (the original game was made before they could get all detailed with the facial features and facial gestures). Then they evolved him even further with the last game, which was virtual reality and I still haven’t played it.
Now I think G Man is more popular than C Man, if you count up the people who still care about C Man or G Man and compare the numbers, but the original “man” lives on in a way, as G Man will definitely keep popping up in the Half Life franchise, and G Man is just a glorified C Man.
But, somebody whited out those alien spaceships. I’m beginning to think it was Carrie. But, Cigarette Man would know.
Hahaha damn fat fingers!!
I am so sorry Carrie!
(I have kids, so I think I know how I make you feel sometimes)
By John Mansfield
Word Count: 909
“I don’t know, why would they do that?”
The question hung in the air, begging for a bad joke.
Detective Claytor skinned a smallish orange with gnarled fingers and pondered this, but it just did not have the same effect as lighting up a cigarette and taking a thoughtful drag.
“Damn these times.”
It was all he could muster as he flicked the orange. There were no ashes to dislodge, but he flicked it anyway. Old habits die hard.
He turned to his young partner and rolled his eyes. Asking rhetorical questions and musing aloud was very cinematic and all, but they needed to get some leads first.
“Hmmm. Twenty-three stolen vacuum cleaners in one night. A clean freak with kleptomania? Come on, we can take this on the road”.
Claytor popped the whole fruit into his maw and bit down angrily, letting the juice wash down his throat. Then he gracelessly slung the satchel full of witness testimonies over his shoulder and strode away, leaving Jackson to his posing and standing around the crime scene.
But the spry little man popped up at the passenger window moments later without a sound and entered the vehicle. Claytor choked on the rest of his “meal” and tried to play it off. Thankfully, the tear formed in his left eye and dripped out of sight from his colleague.
You had to give him points for style and agility. And the way he just shrugged off sass and obvious disdain was more than commendable. Yes, Jackson was a damn good pain in the ass for a partner.
He was going to miss him, come retirement.
The key turned and they were on their way to the closest country road. This is where Claytor did all his thinking.
“Okay. So, we have multiple nocturnal B&Es with an apparent variety of tools used to destroy locks and tear down doors, windows, and skylights. We have no reliable witnesses, as most people were dead asleep or drunk, and no motives. We also have no vacuum cleaners. I got nothing, want to try the psychic for this one?”
Claytor used his peripheral vision to check out the expression on his partner’s face, but it was not very rewarding, because there was the beginning of a Look forming around the mouth and eyes.
“The last house… did you see those cuts around the metal door frame? The splinters were formed from the direct impact of a heavy object, maybe four or five-hundred pounds, give or take, but those cuts were eerily organic….,” he trailed off dramatically.
“Okay Agent Mulder, I am going to need you to calm down. I know that it was a full moon last night, but are you really suggesting that an obese werewolf tried to slash the door down before giving up and just ramming it in with sheer girth? There are lots of ways to break down a door and plenty of tools that can gauge metal! And what about the dozen houses that went undamaged through all this? Kids these days!”
“I am suggesting nothing of the sort, just noticing an… animalistic trend. Ms. North said she heard squawking. Her neighbor didn’t hear bird noises, but she said there was a whiff of a bad smell, like a skunk, when she came down the stairs in the morning. And Gerry said that he clearly saw the tail of a fox disappearing from- “
“Gerry? Clearly saw? HA! That man was so drunk last night that he peed in the sink AND the trash can, didn’t you hear his wife? And she did not see or hear anything! Explain that!”
Jackson lost the glint in his eye and sobered a little.
“That poor couple. Their marriage is at a very sad low point right now, and they don’t even sleep in the same room… or on the same floor even. She said that she did hear him bellowing and stumbling around the living room in a drunken stupor, but he does that all the time and she just didn’t have the strength for it, not this time.”
“They need counseling, and so will I if you keep this up! Exactly what are you suggesting? A gang of shapeshifting burglars with a penchant for Hoovers? Or maybe a bunch of animals were all trained to commit these crimes by a demented sideshow performer? I am too old for this. I would have liked to end on a better note, but this is going to put me in an early grave. And for what? A vacuum heist? Somewhere in this town there is a hipster with a garage full of vacuum cleaners and a huge grin on his face, and he is just laughing away. Want to solve this “case”? We should just drive around with the windows down and listen! Why did I pick today to quit smoking?”
Claytor slammed the brakes and the car skidded to a halt in the middle of the road.
A congregation of animals was gathered in a field just off the road. Bears, snakes, lizards, turtles, birds, foxes, skunks, raccoons – it looked like Noah’s ark had capsized! Every creature was slithering and stumbling over another, and the noise was deafening. Except the pile of something that they seemed to be attacking with great vigor was no biblical ship – it was the missing vacuums!
Realization dawned and Claytor slapped his forehead with one palm.
“Nature abhors a vacuum!”
And all those Hoover-Don’t Removers deserve what they got!
I should “gauge” my eyes out for being so useless at proofreading!
Thank you so much – I wanted to appeal to punsters most of all, that was the target demographic.
I always clean out offices at work when someone moves (I am the designated mover of all things, as the only blue collar worker in a sea of perfect white), and I vacuum EVERYTHING to the point where I know everyone hates me, and I always want to make a vacuum pun (there are more of them than you think), but you have to know your audience and have good timing, so I saved it for here.
The BEST puns draw them in and then get a good laugh, but then the person tries to act like they are mad at you for being so punny, but it is too late because you saw the delight in their eyes (unless you are one of those sadistic punsters that lives to see the light drain from their eyes lol).
you really had me going there. How on earth, I wondered, is he going to get a story out of vacuum cleaners? But you did and it was a good one too so well done , my friend.
You are cracking me up!
Do you really want me to delete your story? I can just add the title and word count if you’d like?
Belay my last….
I didn’t realize you’d already re-posted it!
If you are a veggie and like the thought of “rewilding”, check out my story in the “Fox Forest” prompt (my first plug of my own work lol).
(the expanded version is slightly better and less cryptic)
Just the thought of having something that might get me better has improved my outlook, and my desire to do things immensely. We’ll see if he’s figured it out over the weekend. They say it takes a couple of days to get the body to absorb it and start working properly. I’m looking forward to being more productive, if only in my own mind.
Tony Stark, I mean … Roy
Rumple, there’s no such thing as a comment limit on this site. When this forum first started out, it was only that … a comment forum. After about three months or so back in 2013, we started doing stuff like offering up first pages of novels, stories, etc., etc., and finally came up with the format for written stories every two weeks. At first it was a month, but that was too long. We decided we just needed something more that each other’s comments to write about. Back in those days, It was on Writer’s Hangout, but when the girls got involved when I stepped down, they changed it to this format, which is much more polished than what I was doing. They added the photo concept, which I think was a needed and marvelous touch.
Don’t worry about too many comments at all. I enjoy them and I think most everybody else, does too.
I don’t know, but I love her… and so does Gertrude Stein.
Or did you mean Alice as in Alice in Wonderland?
I still don’t know, go ask Alice.
I loved your story about the dispatchers. Smooth and subtle move. Even my wife refers to her own, ummm … you know what I mean, as the girls.
Alice is devoting more time to her writing career, and her podcast, but Carrie, stayed with it and is keeping this site going, God bless her.
Sorry to hear that you are not too well but glad to hear that help is at hand with the iron.
Thinking of you,
I kept telling people who I think should have listened more, that I was in oxygen debt most of the time after any kind of activity, and they kept telling me it was ‘to be expected’ following the trauma my body went through with the cancer, chemo therapy and the life threatening infection when my colon spilled into my body cavity a couple of days after surgery.
And, not only was I not getting better, I was actually getting worse. I felt like other people thought I was the little kid crying ‘wolf’ all the time.
Tonight I’m taking matters in my own hands. I’m cooking calves liver for dinner. Ounce for ounce, it’s the best source of absorbable iron on the planet, and is perfect for my condition. I happen to love it, but my wife hates it, and has bought into the articles she reads about it being the animal’s waste basket, and she thinks I’m just asking for trouble.
Hey, old buddy, give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d like to chat with you.
And yeah, y’all have really nailed it with the formula for this site and I think I have too much fun reading the comments, more fun than I ever had on Facebook!
I used to make tomato soup for my mom when she was low after an op, grate liver into the hot soup. It brought her haemoglobin right up again.
All of God’s best for you, Ironman. Keep writing, keep laughing, you’ll get better.
Thanks for the words of encouragement, Marien, they are appreciated.
P..S. I forgot to mention how much I enjoyed your story.
See, I already have the invisible version of the same can. Alas, I have no provenance unless you count my uncle’s neighbor’s third cousin (once removed) who gave me a signed handwritten note that explains how he found it in Andy Warhol’s trash a few days after the painting was released. And, of course, a photo of the can, a copy of which I have posted below.
Maybe we should put this together as an art ‘package’? Whatcha think? We can call it ‘Bird Art: A Study of Two Cans’.
Marien Oommen (1199)
The coconut palms swayed over the white roof of the pretty Mariagher home. The coconuts looked menacingly ready to fall. They were ripe for plucking which was never an issue, because every forty days, someone would arrive from Thanal, the shelter home, for collection, where they’d be ground into exotic curry and chutney to feed the 40 odd mentally challenged destitute women who cohabited happily there.
The home was always so full of fun and laughter. Papa named it the home of Mary, which was Mama’s middle name. The high walls, the luxuriant trees, the stark white gate became a landmark for taxi drivers, the dhobi or the postman.
50 years ago…around this time.
Kurian, the only son, was getting ready to go to the Exam Centre to take the very final exam of his entire academic existence. Theory was over and only vis-à-vis remained. He had no desire to attend the viva voce being poorly prepared. His mind drew a blank, and there was nothing he could recall of theory or mechanics.
His father had passed on to glory land a week earlier.
The year, 1971.
Yet, Kurian was thrilled that by the end of the day it would all be over. Freeedomm! Four years of rigorous learning the mechanics of engineering would be over and done by this weekend.
He wasn’t a top academic like some of his class, but still found favor on his side which he attributed entirely to his praying mom. Something from beyond ordinary understanding was how things worked out for him. Always.
The sad month of May.
A massive heart attack whisked Papa off at 57, while being monitored by an ECG machine and an attending doctor.
The whole family was plunged into indescribable grief.
Sudden and so unexpected. Just when they’d come into some money. Just when they thought it was going to be fantastic forever- to take taxis without grudging, to go to a movie or restaurant.
So naturally the onus fell on the only son of the home to take up reins and get it back on its feet.
Aunt Nissy said, “Go, take the exam. It’ll be easy.”
Mama coaxed him with a scrumptious brekkie and piping hot South Indian coffee. “Go, son, the Lord will be with you and give you the right words to speak.”
Kuru crept slowly as the snail, to the bus stand to take the bus to college. His exam was exactly at noon.
The minute his name was called, he felt his stomach juices crashing like Niagara. Coffee, idli, sambar were all dancing a merry tango inside. He had never been as nervous all his life as today.
“Take your seat,” Mr Subarmoni said, firm yet kind.
“Your exam starts now.”
Another examiner set the timer, next to a tray of oranges. They smelt overpowering with nothing remotely mechanical about them.
Checking on his distractive quotient?
“Mr. Kurian, take a look behind me. In the far end of the room you can see a piece of machinery. Walk towards it, observe it and come back to answer my questions.
Kuru walked slowly to the far end. He had a look at the engine. Then quickly retraced his steps.
“What engine is that?” the professor asked.
“A combustion engine,” Kuru replied.
“What does this engine drive?”
“Let me… have another look?” Kuru muttered apologetically.
“Drives a steam engine… Sir.” Kuru, mentally added bonus marks for his politeness.
“Which year was it manufactured?”
Kuru goes for another jaunt. Now with a confident swagger, he returns, “Manufactured in 1967, Sir.”
“What’s the horsepower?”
The professor maintained his patient countenance.
“Sorry Sir, I didn’t have a look.”
“Go right back and observe again.”
Kuru returns and tells his professor with a sparkle in his eyes, “It’s a 4 HP engine.”
“Great!” replied the professor. “Can you describe its operation?”
Another walk to the end of the hall, back again with an answer.
The professor narrowed his eyes, over the top of his old spectacles.
“Kurian, the pass mark is 35. I’m giving you 35, to enable you to pass this test.”
Then professorily, placing his glasses down, he added, “I heard your father passed away recently. So I understand your situation. It’s alright.”
Tears welled up in the 20 year old lad’s eyes.
Was it the memory of his father?
Was it his opportune moment that dad had gone to the beyond?
Was it his lack of preparation?
Was victory deserved?
He felt a mixed sense of guilt and elation. Joyful peace, mingled with a disturbing sense of uncertainty, engulfed him that humid summer afternoon.
When he could summon up his voice, Kuru spoke with a choked voice, “Thank you, Sir. You’re very kind.” He packed his papers to leave the hallowed desk.
“Wait a minute,” the professor said very softly. “Before you leave, I want you to sit down and hear my story. Here, have this orange while I tell.”
Orange: The 70s Stress Buster.
Once there was a good king called Akbar who had a wonderful minister called Birbal. Hearing a loud commotion from the village square, King Akbar asked his courtiers to find out the cause.
They came back with various explanations.
“Because there’s no food, they cry out.”
“Why is there no food?” Akbar asked.
They scurried to ask.
“Because there’s no water.”
“Why isn’t there any water?”
Again, a courtier kinda sprint to question the villagers.
Back they returned with the answer: “Because it didn’t rain.”
“Why didn’t it rain this year?” Another communal jog, their arms akimbo.
“Because it rained last year, O king!”
“Why didn’t they store the water?” The King begins to show signs of wear and tear.
Another courtly sprint as courtiers do.
“Because they didn’t have catchment areas.”
“Why didn’t they have them?”
Sixth time running.
“Because nobody dug them.”
Then the King summoned Birbal and asked the same question.
He walks to the village centre and returning, he explains:
“O King, may it be made known to you that the villagers are crying aloud because they have no food. The reason being the monsoons failed them this year and they were foolish not to build catchment areas during the last plentiful monsoon.”
The King couldn’t help smiling. Here was a worthy man.
“If it pleases you, your Highness, let us start building deep wells right away to store water when it does rain in this beautiful country where you are King above all.”
The king was so pleased with Birbal that he gave him a diamond signet ring.”
The professor ended his story and smiled. “That was wisdom from the Mughals, around 1570s. Go and be a Birbal henceforth.”
Kuru thought as he walked away from the examination hall. Saved by Birbal, saved by his good dad now in heaven.
His mama was waiting to hear the news. “How was it? Did exceedingly well, my son?” Her eyes sparked up with great expectation. She expected nothing less from her boy.
Kuru looked sheepish, “They gave me a pass mark. 35.”
“That’s it? Why??
Kuru, round-eyed, shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know.”
“Why would they do that?!!!”
Impressive use of Latin!
I am a simple Georgia boy who hasn’t left the country since I was 5 (I lived in Japan for 3 years), but the folklore, cuisine, architecture, and little references here and there really gave this an exciting and exotic atmosphere…. it felt warm and I wanted to eat and drink everything that you mentioned… except for maybe the orange (it seemed boring compared to the others). I also used the orange as a stress reliever, but I didn’t realize that they really are good for that when I did it!
I understood the mixed emotions, not because of any experience with Death that I have had, but because my emotions are usually tangled up with others like his….. elation mixed with guilt (why do I deserve this or you definitely don’t deserve this) and that kind of thing.
I know next to nothing about India (or any place near it to be honest), but you did a good job of making me want to learn more – I googled each word, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
So weird that I JUST made a reference to Rudyard Kipling… but I only read the Jungle Book(s) and a short story by him as a teen, and then I learned about all the offensive “burden” stuff later and it sort of lost the allure, even ruining the Temple of Doom for me in the process (Gunga Din was turned into a movie with British heroes ransacking a temple filled with cultists, and then they ripped it off to make the second Indiana Jones movie, adding a ton of excessively grotesque stuff in the process that never happened in the real world, but I guess it made it scarier? I had nightmares of being sacrificed after that movie, but I saw it more times than I could count).
So you can see how my concept of Indian culture and history is completely corrupted, since it was primarily influenced, as a child, by Disney movies, action films, literature with a definite bias, and what little actual knowledge the education system gave me lol!
I wish there were stories like this in my literature book growing up!
And I am going to feel like an even bigger jackass if you tell me that this isn’t set in India at all, but that shows you how ignorant I am lol!
Good job and don’t hold back, if this is the kind of writing you are hiding inside!
I really enjoy your writing and the comments here. I needed to read it twice before replying.
So, no you’re not a dufus. It is India, set in the state at the very tip called Kerala, where my ancestors come from.
Take a trip that side when covid’s done and out. It’s very different from the rest of the country.
Thanks to you, I googled Gunga Din. Wouldn’t waste my time on it though. Yes, crazy stuff does happen in the interiors of the country, mostly in the north. But conversely the country does boast of great standard of education, captivating history, and general awareness of things in spite of its huge population.
Thanks for your positive comments. They are treasured,
Well done with this story. I really enjoyed it especially the insight it gives into the culture as described by your characters. It really comes to life and I agree with Roy in that this is one of your best stories that I have read.
I’m more satisfied when there’s a degree of quirk attached.
But the story did happen just as stated to my ———— . ( invisible is the new thing). It’s all true.
I just had to wind it around the prompt. 🙂
Thanks very much.
by Roy York
“I don’t know … why would they do that?” Nelson Brownfield looked up from his iPhone. “What are you watching, anyway?”
“The Art Scene. It’s a show about an auction that specializes in modern art,” said his wife, Edna.
“What did they do?”
“They just accepted a bid for a sculpture for almost $20,000.”
“So, it was an invisible sculpture.”
“What do you mean, invisible?”
“Invisible, as in you can’t see it. It really doesn’t exist.”
“I kid you not. The artist’s name is Salvatore Garau. He’s from Italy and he named the piece ‘Il Sono’ which means ‘I Am’ in Italian. He even has rules for the buyer who bought it. They must display it in a 5’ by 5’ space free of all other obstruction.”
“Seriously?” said Nelson. “A guy buys a piece of art and the artist tells him what he has to do with it. This is some kind of joke.” Nelson laughed. “If I bought it, I’d tell him what he can do with his rules. He can stick them up his …”
Edna interrupted, “Now don’t go getting all vulgar. I guess if you know the rules going in and are willing to pay that kind of money for a piece of art, you’d follow the rules.”
“I think this is a joke.”
“Oh, no. This is his third piece of invisible art. He has two others, One in Milan, Italy, and another in front of the New York Stock Exchange, called ‘Aphrodite Cries’. Only that one is in a circle that’s taped off.”
“Invisible, like all the others? ”
“That’s the silliest goddamn thing I’ve ever heard. Next thing you know some artist will be putting up a piece of black velvet, calling it ‘Night’ and selling it for thousands.”
“It’s already been done, dear. An American artist sold a painting of a completely white canvas years ago for eighteen million dollars. I can’t remember his name, but they talked about it earlier on this show.”
Nelson had started to get up from his chair and sat back down again, stunned by the news his wife had just told him. “Damn, maybe I’m underestimating the stupidity of mankind. I’ve got to think about this.”
* * * * *
Nelson buttered his toast and set it on the side of his plate. He picked up his coffee and after a sip, said, “You remember that conversation we had the other day about the invisible sculpture?”
“Why, of course, dear. It seemed to have really gotten to you.”
“It did. I’ve been thinking about it and have decided to do something about it.”
Edna looked up holding her fork full of scrambled eggs. “My goodness, what do you plan to do? Steal it?”
Nelson laughed. “Well, they wouldn’t know if it was missing, would they? No, no, nothing that sinister. I’m thinking how I can cash in on this. To strike while the iron is hot, so to speak, before someone else beats me to it.”
“And what is your wonderful idea, dear?” she said, before taking a bite of her eggs.
“I’m going to write an invisible novel, self publish it, and charge $50 a book. The difference is, anyone can own one, and proudly display it on their coffee table. It’s a can’t miss idea.”
Edna swallowed her eggs and carefully wiped her face with her napkin. “Eat your eggs, dear. They’re getting cold.”
“I’m serious. You don’t think I’ll do it, do you?”
“Actually, no, I’m afraid you will do it. Do you have any idea how much this is going to cost?”
“I’ve done a little research, and can self publish with an on-demand printing company for as little as three dollars per book, if I publish enough copies.”
“And, how many copies is that?”
“My God, Honey, that’s thirty thousand dollars.”
“I know that. But, at fifty dollars per copy, we stand to make five hundred thousand dollars. As in a cool, half million dollars.”
“Surely, you’re not really planning on doing this?”
“I am. I’ve had that IRA from that accounting firm I worked for before we got married, and it’s all mine. It has at least thirty thousand in it, and I won’t have to touch any of our ‘getting old and retirement’ money. I’m not sure you even remembered I had that.”
“You’ve thought this through, haven’t you?”
“Yes, I have. I think it will work. I can even see a sequel or perhaps a series of ‘invisible novels’. People can fill in their own stories as they read the blank pages. The more I think about this, the more I like it.”
* * * * *
“Well, it’s been almost three weeks, and the first of the books are rolling off the press. They’ll be shipping them in a few days. I’ve called the book, “Nothing. Nothing at all.” Pretty catchy, don’t you think?”
Edna continued stirring the pot of lentils she was cooking on the stove and turned her head toward her husband. “Taste this and see if it needs more salt.”
“Didn’t you hear me? The books will be here soon.”
“Yes, dear, I heard you. I just don’t think this is going to go like you think.There’s always something that happens. Always.”
“You don’t understand what I’m doing here. No one does. Well, I’ll have the last laugh. I also went the extra mile and with the same printing company, put out the electronic version of the novel yesterday. I wanted it to be a surprise.”
“Oh, it’s a surprise, all right.”
Nelson’s cell phone rang. “This is Nelson.”
“Mr. Brownfield, my name is Charles Mangini and I represent my client, Miss Donna Edwards. It seems she saw your book on the internet last night, read it and called me first thing this morning.”
“Tell me, did she like it? I’m pretty proud of it. But, I’m afraid I’m not interested in partnering up with anyone, or being involved with anyone else on this.”
“Then, you admit, you did this all on your own? You need to know at this point that you are being recorded.”
“Of course. That’s why my name is on the cover. Recorded? Just exactly what is this all about, anyway?”
“It seems, Mr. Brownfield, you’ve broken a few laws in publishing your book, and my client wanted me to contact you to work out some sort of settlement.”
“Settlement? What the hell are you talking about?”
“It seems, Mr. Brownfield, your book is an exact copy of Miss Edward’s book, ‘There’s Nothing There’. Simply put, you sir, are guilty of copyright infringement and plagiarism.”
I really did think that you were making most of this up at first, but maybe with a grain of truth at the center of it all.
Then I googled it and I had a similar reaction to Mr. Brownfield.
Well done with the comedic reactions (and lack of reactions, which are sometimes even better).
Did you hear about the banana that an artist duct taped to a wall and sold for $10,000.00?
The worst part was that a visitor to the museum ripped the banana off the wall and got in trouble for defacing art… even though they had to keep replacing the banana every day because it was rotting!
Yes, I read about the banana while doing research. I’m not one of those who suffer art ‘pretentiousness’ easily. Picasso paints a circle, adds a few colored lines and dots, gives it a name like ‘the bullfight’ and people swoon and try to out bid each other to the tune of millions. A better name would have been’bullshit’.
I liked Picasso’s early work, but thought at the end he was exploiting the art world. Don’t even get me started on those buffoons who try to explain what the artist was ‘trying’ to say. Just like Garau, as long as some idiot has the cash, he’ll continue to produce invisible art. Don’t blame him. I would, too.
I’m lost in admiration at the nothingness of things from which something pops up.
Pure wit! Showing up pretentious folks who say whooo and aaaah, with their invisible monocles at nose tip, and pinky up.
It’s an honor to be part of this team of invisible faces who write great stuff.
So good to see that you were able to get a story in. Sounds like the old iron infusion has, or is, working.
As for the story, it’s a cracker. It’s funny and amusing and, perhaps sadly, it’s is so true. There’s a lot of that kind of art work about (King’s New Clothes) and in drama terms it’s what we call “wanky bollocks.” I learned that expression when I was part of a Shakespearian drama company. One of the actors and a very good one at that, used to worry about his “motivation,” you know, what did The Bard have in mind when he wrote the lines? Another actor, also a very good one, used to say, “just learn the lines and get on with it…….everything else is WB!” Used to create some interesting tensions within the company.
Love your story, especially that killer ending. I almost wanted to say, “serves them right,” but I didn’t.
Hope you have seen my message back to you and I look forward to further dialogue.
Meanwhile, thanks for the kind words. I truly loved writing this story, or, should I say enjoyed writing down the dialogue my characters said while I was listening in. I truly believe the pretentiousness in art is irreparable. There are those who are so impressed with their own self, they cannot conceive they just might be wrong. But, then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so who’s really to say? The guy who paid $18,300 for an invisible sculpture may have already recouped his money, or perhaps. he was just laundering a bit of some ill gotten gains, and this was one way to do it.
What’s to prevent me from taping off a 5’x5′ square area in my house and put a sign on the wall saying “Il Solo”. Who’s going to prove it is – or isn’t – there?
Going on a bit of holiday coming up, but I’m sure I’ll be able to keep up the dialogue bit with you when I get settled in and catch you up a bit more. Funny, you never mentioned it that I remember, but somehow, I knew you were a headmaster. It just fits.
Edna was the name of two neighbors we had as I grew up. John and Edna lived behind us and were great friends of my parents. They moved when I was a little kid, but I remember she was really nice to me. She had these neat gold rimmed glasses and was very pretty. As my dad said, a slip of a woman. They moved to Oregon and we heard about three months later that John was killed in a trucking accident when his partner fell asleep at the wheel and drove over a cliff. Lost track of them after that.
Then we moved to Missouri where our new neighbors were named John and Edna. Yeah, go figure. Anyway, she was also this ‘small slip of a woman’, and John was about 6’4”. They would get in these big fights andJohn would beat the crap out of Edna and she would run over to our house. She would wait until John sobered up then go back home. One day I came home from school and they were gone. We heard later that Edna cleaned out the house while John was on a fishing trip and disappeared. There’s a story in this I think, now that I look at it, The problem is, it’s a story that is repeated in this country everyday. And this was all back in 1957. People don’t change much, I guess.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the story.
“I don’t know… why would they do that?”
“How do I know? It’s your story!”
“It is, you’re right. But I don’t know.”
“It’s a good story, though.”
“It is, isn’t it?”
“Yep. But I’ve got a better one.”
“Well, actually, it’s my grandfather’s.”
“The one that lived in Manchester?”
“Go on then.”
“Okay. So. My grandad used to live in this block of flats.”
“No, he was maybe in his 30s, before he was married.”
“I meant the block of flats.”
“Ah. Don’t know. Not important.”
“He was a bit of a busybody, my grandad.”
“What, spying on the neighbours, that kind of thing?”
“Yep. And he wasn’t ashamed of it, either. When he told me this story, he admitted he’d always rush to the door whenever he heard anyone going down the corridor, and he’d look through the … thingy … what’s that called?”
“What, that little hole with glass so you can see who’s at the door?”
“That’s called … a thingy.”
“Okay. So, he’d look out and see who was coming and going, and if it was anyone he’d never seen before, he’d jot it down in a special notebook he kept – day, time, number of people, description.”
“I get the idea.”
“Right. So, one evening he heard this commotion outside and he went to the thingy and saw this couple, dragging these great big boxes along the corridor.”
“Coming or going?”
“Coming. And he’d never seen them before. He pressed his ear to the door and followed the sound of the boxes scraping, then it stopped. He figured it was just outside the next-door flat.”
“Who lived there?”
“No one. Grandad imagined it was new tenants.”
“So, he went to bed. Then in the middle of the night he was woken up by–“
“The neighbours banging on the door?”
“No. By this strange sound coming through the wall.”
“Where the newcomers were?”
“What kind of sound?”
“Well, grandad couldn’t describe it, so he tried to show me.”
“That’s right. I’ll try to show you. It was a kind of … let me remember … ‘wee-shoosh-a-pak-a-taka-FRANGG’. Repeated over and over.”
“That IS strange. What was it?”
“My grandad had never heard anything like it, so he didn’t have a clue.”
“What did he do?”
“It only lasted a couple of minutes, then stopped. So he didn’t do anything.”
“I’d have gone round there.”
“Well, he didn’t. He just went back to sleep.”
“And that was the end of it?”
“Of course not. The next evening, about the same time, he heard the couple in the corridor again. He rushed to the door, peered out through the … thingy, and there they were with two more boxes, just as big as the evening before.”
“Dragging them along?”
“I want to know what was in those boxes.”
“So did my grandad. But he was a bit embarrassed to ask – them being new to the block and all.”
“I suppose so.”
“So, what do you think happened during the night?”
“You’ve got it. ‘Wee-shoosh-a-pak-a-taka-FRANGG’. It woke him up again and he thought: ‘I’m not having this.’ So he went out into the corridor and tiptoed along to the next flat.”
“Did he knock?”
“Not straight away, because of what he saw under the door…”
“What did he see?! Don’t keep me in suspenders.”
“An orange glow, he said, kind of flickering, in time to the sound: ‘wee-shoosh-a-pak-a-taka-FRANGG’.”
“Was he frightened?”
“My grandad? Nah. He’d been in the war. Nothing scared him. But he was intrigued. So, he decided to knock.”
“And what did they say.”
“But you said–”
“I said he decided to knock, but he didn’t get to do it because the sound stopped and so did the orange glow.”
“He could still have knocked.”
“Could have done, but he didn’t. He returned to his flat and went to bed. He couldn’t get back to sleep though, he said.”
“I don’t blame him.”
“I know what happened next, though.”
“Yeah, but I’ll let you tell it. You tell a good story.”
“Go on, then.”
“The third evening, a noise in the corridor, grandad at the thingy, the couple with their boxes.”
“I knew it!”
“And then, in the middle of the ni–”
“The sound! ‘Wee-shoosh-a-pak-a-taka-FRANGG’.”
“You do that very well!”
“And you’re right. The sound again. This time my grandad made up his mind to find out what it was all about.”
“He went out?”
“Into the corridor, yes.”
“And went next door?”
“And there was an orange glow under the door?”
“Yep, and the sound.”
“All right. Don’t show off.”
“But this time he knocked.”
“Yep. And the couple came to the door.”
“Yep. And they were standing there, and my grandad told me the whole of the flat was bathed in the orange glow. But this couple … their hair was–”
“What?! No! Don’t be daft! Their hair was … turquoise!”
“Yeah, you know – greenish-blue.”
“I know what turquoise is! But you’re saying they had turquoise hair?”
“Well, I’m not saying it – my grandad did.”
“Blimey! And what happened next.”
“Well, my grandad introduced himself – and all the while the sound was coming from inside the flat.”
“Yep, that sound. And then he asked them, straight out: ‘What is that noise, and that orange glow?’”
“Yes. And the woman said to him: ‘We will tell you, but you must promise never to tell a living soul.’”
“And he never did.”
You did great, Phil, as usual, sipping your aperol spritz, I betcha.
Kept me waiting and waiting.. till my pakataka fell off.
Talk about creating a story out of nothing. That’s what you call real Frang talent found only in Frangland.
Back in the days I was a working man, I sat across the desk of a fellow worker who regaled me with a story of his days with the CIA and why he left the business. It was how he had finally been trapped in a small bathroom with no way out except for a small window that was screened. He felt he could push the window open enough and the screen being no problem escape from his would be captors.
It seems as he was almost out of the window, one of his assailants reached up and grabbed his leg and started pulling on it, then, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Just like I’m pulling on yours.”
We had a good laugh but I never quite forgave myself for being sucked in like that, vowing it will never happen again. And then, after all these years, I got sucked in again. I don’t know who to forgive. You, I guess, because, well, you got me.
Nice job. Even though I know it was based on an old joke.
Great stuff, Phil. It may be from an old joke ( although not one I had heard myself) but the writing is pure Phil.
The dialogue is cracking. You know, I have a friend who constantly interrupts with questions or asides when I used to tell stories in company. Your dialogue made me laugh because it is so much like my friend and I.
Sadly, can’t seem to get my typing fingers into gear to try and compete with you this time around. There’s still time though but then there is a certain football match about to start at Wembley.
Ok people – time is up!
You know the rules. You have 24 hours!
– you must vote if you submitted a story
– you can only vote once
– you can’t vote for your self.
Well done, my friend. Your virtual victory was well deserved. It was the best story I haven’t seen for a long time. I loved your use of spaces, especially the long one from the start right through to the finish and your use of adjectives and adverbs was better than any I have never seen.
Your lack of words too was amazing.
It will be hard to beat you next time round whilst you are on this red hot streak of creativity.
Both are hilarious!
Cheers. (Whatever that means.)
Ken (the crazy one)
I think I might have offended you, Kenneth The C. It was all supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. Of course you’re not crazy.*
(*Well maybe just a bit, but in the nicest possible way.)
Well, I ain’t never been no English teacher anywhere, that’s for sure, so, not sure what ‘le merde de taureau’ means… I just know that merde is usually some variation of ‘shit’. (My father speaks French fluently.) Be that as it may, I will resist all attempts by you, or anyone else to ‘anoint’ any part of me with a large ursine creature. (It may have been a typo, but with you, one never knows for sure.)
You are a good writer, and if you are crazy, then so am I.
Well, that was supposed to be reassuring…
Sorry for the delay folks, had a bit of a family emergency yesterday. Since my dad passed a few months ago I’ve been taking care of my grandmother who has advanced stages of Alzheimer’s at the ripe old age of 93.
Yesterday was definitely not a good day with her. I’ll be posting the winners very shortly.
And I fixed not being able to comment on the new prompt. For some reason comments were off.
No clue why.
Technology is stupid sometimes 😂
Alrighty folks sorry for the delay!
Without further ado here are your winners:
1st Place: Artistic License by Roy York
2nd Place: Quitting by John Mansfield
3rd Place: A Moment in Time by Marien Oommen
4th Place: The Neighbors From…Somewhere by Phil Town
This prompts favorite character was Nelson from Roy’s “Artistic License”
And the story with the best dialogue is “A Moment in Time” by Marien Oommen
Congrats to all!!!!
Nearly a 100 in the last count.
On a bit of a holiday at the Pacific Ocean. Congrats to all. Slim pickings this time. Hope there are more stories next time. Now then, on to secrets.
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