Challenge 75 – Grudge #7

The Iron Writer Challenge 75

Grudge Match #7

The Authors:

E, Chris Garrison and Mamie Pound


Neal Sayatovich and Tony Jaeger

The Elements:

Diary Queen

Setting is a Dairy Queen

A Halberdier

Must be written entirely in dialogue

One and only one of the characters must be aware of the audience

Note: at this is a grudge match, the writers name’s will not be attached to the stories until after the challenge has been voted on.

Please vote!

The Poll is at the bottom. 

Knight at the Drive-Thru

“Welcome to Dairy Queen, would you like to try our 99 cent Jelly Belly Extreme Blizzard today?”

“Show yourself, knave! Do not try to fool me with japes and false weather predictions! Mine senses deceive me, but I shall hold fast!”

“Uh, ma’am, you need to be in a car to be in the drive-through window-”

“Silence! I shall not take commands from demons!”

“Fine… you can order something, but please put down the axe.”

“Tis not an axe, it is mine halberd, a finely smithed weapon, and I order thee to begone, bodiless apparition!”

“I’m sorry, ma’am but we’re all out of begone. I thought the renaissance fair was next month. Could I interest you in a double cheeseburger?”

“What manner of weapon is this double cheeseburger? Is it a German partisan or spetum?”

“No, ma’am it’s 100% USDA ground beef. Unless you count heart disease, it’s not a weapon at all.”

“Ah! A mere single purpose weapon, like a lance, not as useful as mine polearm.”

“Ma’am, there are other customers waiting. How about some onion rings?”

“Fie on your dirty implication! I know your riddle, and it disgusts me. No onion shall bring tears to this shield maiden’s eyes!”

“Okay then. Come on, lady, how about a large orange drink?”

“Orange drink! Such rare and precious tropical fruit will not sway me. Feel the bite of mine blade! Ha h-”

“Ma’am? Ma’am? Something’s wrong with the speaker. Ahhh! Help! That crazy woman destroyed the drive-through kiosk and she’s coming inside! Someone call 9-1-1!”

“Now we face each other, knave! Your appearance is innocent, if pox-ridden, but your clownish attire reveals you as a creature of the inferno! Tis ‘brazier’ writ upon thy plaid bonnet! Sweetmeats do not cover the charnel scent of this hellish place. Take me to thy liege!”

“You mean my manager?”

“The monarch of Dairy on your keep’s emblem! Such a small demesnes for royalty, she must have but a toehold in the world of men. I have arrived with no time to lose!”

“Ugh, ma’am, I’m not paid enough to take threats. Please put the axe- Ow! Okay, the halberd, please put it down or I’ll have to press charges when the cops get here!”

“Pressing is the point, I have your full attention, have I not? Answer mine cold iron if you will not answer me; how may I return to fair Lorraine from this… Queendom of Dairy?”

“I’m sure I don’t know, ma’am! You’re hurting me, please stop!”

“What is this? Unearthly blue and red lights? Curse thee for this new illusion!”

“Last chance. I’d put down the halberd if I were you. Ma’am.”

“Oh woe! I am undone! Unseen arrows piece mine heart! Are these then, the double cheeseburger?”

“She’s dead! Thanks for saving me, officer!”

“You all right, kid?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“You don’t see that every day. Wicked-looking axe there.”

“It’s a halberd, not an axe.”

“Halberdier, eh? Probably escaped from another Iron Writer story.”

“Wait. What?”


Jesse’s Girl

There’s a five-thousand dollar reward for information leading to the arrest of me and Ernie. But by the time you read this, we’ll be on a stolen motorcycle somewhere between Laredo and the Yucatan. And oh yeah, we’ll be the ones carrying the halberdier, (just for effect).

“Why the Dairy Queen?”

“Why not?”

“Is this about that girl, Angela?”


“Doesn’t she work here?”


“You still like her?”


“Doesn’t she date that guy, what’s his name…Jesse?”

“I don’t know.”

“Isn’t he the manager here?”

“Could be.”

“Is that the guy we are tying up?”

“Look man, stick to the plan. Don’t over think it.”

“I feel like there’s a chicken bone in my heart.”

“Jimmy, what the hell are you talking about?”

“That poor guy wants to marry Angela and you’re putting him in the cooler, to maybe… die.”

“Nobody’s dying.”

“You can’t say that for sure. I’m out.”

“Dave, you take one step toward that door and all of Lubbock will know you pulled that fire alarm to get outta takin’ that Final Exam.”

“Is that what this is now, a blackmail operation? Because I had more respect for you, Ernie, than for you to be somebody who holds something over their best friend’s head to get a date with a girl at Dairy Queen. Besides, you know that was a Senior Class prank.”

“This is a prank.”

“How is this a prank?”

“It’s funny.”

“I should a known better than to listen to you. Just like last time…”

“That was different.”

“Oh yeah?”

“I had no idea the State Troopers waited in that alleyway.”

“So it’s okay that we are both felons now because you were stupid?”

“Hand me that stack of cups.”


“For the chloroform.”

“Are you kidding me?”

“Hand me one.”

“I promised your mama that I’d never again participate in any activity that would lead both of us down the path to destruction.”

“You promised her that four years ago.”


“You broke that promise about a thousand times.”

“Yeah, but I got a bad feeling. Locking up the Dairy Queen Manager in the cooler, maybe killing’ him with suffocation…or cold…to impress Angela Starnesbury…”

“You bring the duct tape?”

“What do you thinks gonna happen, she’s gonna hear that her man was overpowered and helpless because of you and she’ll just drive right over to your house and jump you?”

“You know her best friend, Brenda Coleman, just broke up with Bobby.”


“I hear she’s into weaponry and metal and all.”

“For real?”

“Yeah… And motorcycles.”

“My brother has a motorcycle.”

“I know.”

“Maybe he might let me use it, if I pay him or something.”


“I could wear those leather chaps, and that bandana…carry the halberdier right here…”

“Okay now, when he gets to the dumpster, you jump him and I will hold the chloroform over his mouth.”

“Why do I always have to jump the person? What if he has a gun?”

Dairy Queen Managers don’t carry firearms. Besides, we have the halberdier.

“You think it would look cooler with, or without the Raybans?”


Grude Seventy Somthing

“I still can’t believe you showed up in that.”

“What do you mean Joey?”

“What do you think I mean, nimrod. What would possibly make me ask you this question?”

“My halberd?”

“Wow, there is a learning curve with you after all.”

“You don’t need to be mean Nate.”

“Really? I shouldn’t yell at you for being stupid enough to bring a poleaxe into a bloody Dairy Queen?”

“I just wanted to try out my new halberdier cosplay outfit. That convention is next month and I want to be ready.”

“That is what your bedroom mirror is for bonehead.”

“You can stop with the insults now, I do have feelings after all.”

“Apparently you don’t have a brain to go with them, did you see the poor cashier? I think the poor girl almost had a heart attack.”

“Come on, how many people rob a store with a medieval weapon?”

“Watch some television Joey, I have seen people try to rob stores with a blow torch or their pet snake.”


“You’re pretty dense aren’t you?”

“Seriously man, lay off.”

“I can’t, not when you are wearing tight leather like that. Any skimpier and I’d be calling you Borat right now.”

“It’s supposed to be fur armor and it’s not that bad.”

“Pretty close.”

“You know maybe if you had some fun once in a…”

“While? Did you suddenly forget the language all of a sudden?”

“Joey, do you see what I see outside the window?”

“A green civic and a homeless person who dresses better than you do?”

“I’m serious man, I’m getting creeped out.”

“Just because dad said civics are the devil doesn’t mean they are literary the devil.”

“It’s not the car man, I see people. Like, hundreds of people just staring at us.”

“Have you been drinking again?”

“NO! Seriously, does anyone see the silent people outside my window? Anybody?”

“Joey, sit down and eat your blizzard before it melts.”

“I can’t, not with their eyes staring at me like I’m some… story character.”

“Seriously dude, I thought you never touched drugs in years?”

“I haven’t, this isn’t a acid trip. I see people outside, how much clearer can I be?”

“Joey, I’m worried about you. Oh boy, this isn’t good.”


“Shut up Joey, we’re sorry if we disturbed people officer.”

“Good, excuse me officer… Fernandez, do you see the people behind the window staring at us?”

“Dear God… why Joey?”

“Son, I’m placing you under arrest for disturbing the peace and we will get you looked at by some great doctors.”

“Help me Nate!”

“Sorry buddy, best I can do is save up bail money.”

The Blizzard That Changed Everything

Hey man, i’z in the Vatican. U wanna meet up? =^.^=

Absolutely. When are you free to meet?

NE tyme. =^.^=

I just was relieved from duty, and could use a meal. Would you care to meet me at the DQ in 45 minutes?

Kewl. =^.^=

“I didn’t think they had these in Italy,” I said. “I’ll have a Blizzard with Butterfinger in it, please.” “They don’t, but you’re not in Italy,” Vincent said. “Right. Independent nation. Thanks. Jesus, everything is expensive here.” “Heresy is more expensive; watch your mouth.” “You’re not that Catholic. Lighten up, Vinny.” “Vincent,” Vinny said. “Huh, I thought that when you moved here you’d have to change it to something more Italian sounding, like Vincenzo. Oh, don’t look at me like that. You used to be fun.” “I’m still fun, it’s just,” Vincenzo hesitated. “People stereotype you Americans as being so pompous and kind of bastardey -” “I’m not sure that’s a word,” I said. “And I can see why.” “You can’t say ‘you Americans,’ you’ve been here only five years. You have a facebook page, for Chrissake.” “I said watch your mouth!” “Whoa, calm down. People are staring, and I don’t think it’s just that outfit you’ve got on. Besides, even the Pope has a Facebook page. Don’t look at me like that, it was a joke. Look, I’m sorry. Please calm down, people are watching.” “This is the Vatican, someone is always watching.” “Yeah…” “What, now you’re all serious?” “What?” I asked. “Nah, man. It’s just-” “Who do you keep looking at?” “There’s… people.” “This is a public place.” “Not those people,” I whispered. “Other people. Out of the corner of my eye. Listen to me, stop texting for a second and listen. I think someone’s spying on me. Or you. I don’t know.” “Who? Can you point them out? I can get some of my buddies from the Guard to-” “You’re not listening to me! Ever since I texted you, it’s like… It’s like my skin has been crawling. I can feel eyes on me. Sometimes I can catch glimpses of people. Like right there, can you see her? The cute one, looking like she’s reading a book, man. No! Don’t look, just kind of, yeah, in your periphery. And that guy over there, yeah? You can… would you please stop texting, this is serious!” “Are you okay? You look like you need a vacation.” “I’m ON vacation, what – What? Hey! Get your hands off of me! Vinny, don’t just sit there, help me!” Vincent didn’t answer.

(MESSAGE1/3) I am truly sorry. I have never seen you like that. I became Worried for your safety, and that of those around you. I hope that my friends in the (MESSAGE 2/3) Guard can take you to a Place where you get help ridding yourself of those who are ‘Watching you.’ I hope someday you can find it in yourself to forgive me. (MESSAGE 3/3) May God have mercy on you, my friend.

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Challenge 76 – Grudge Match #8

The Iron Writer Challenge 76

Grudge Match #8

The Authors:

Steven Bergeron and Laura Roberts


Danielle Zwissler and Miranda Hawley

The Elements:

Pink Armadillo

A Pink Fairy Armadillo

A Mason Jar

Mount St. Helen

A Wii U

Stories will be posted

August 7, 2014

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Weekend Quickie #46

One Image!

One Prompt!

One Emotion!

200 Words


5 years later


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Weekend Quickie #45

One Image!

One Prompt!

One Emotion!

200 Words


A Chance Encounter



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Challenge 74

The Iron Writer Challenge 74

The Authors:

Kaylee Hamelink

Tony Jaeger

Suzann Smith

The Elements:


A car battery

A horse

An Umbrella

Told from the point of view of a defense attorney invoking the Stupidity Defense

Stupid Is As Stupid DoesSuzann Smith

Suzann Smith

“Picture it, Your Honor. My client riding down Main Street, bareback on his giant Appaloosa, a horn powered by a car battery hanging below the poor creature’s neck and umbrella protecting the rider from the afternoon sun.”

I tossed back another belt of whiskey, slamming the glass on the bar top and catching a glimpse of our reflection in the mirror. The shock of red hair on my companion stood waving in contrast to my white locks.

“And you didn’t win?” the red haired old man grinned, incredulously.

“Shut up, George. And what defense would you have used?”

“I don’t know, Donald. But I cannot imagine that telling the judge ‘Clearly, Your Honor, my client is just plain stupid’ would ever help your case.”

“Well, there it is, George. I’ve lived long enough to know that sometimes the only explanation for a human’s actions are that they are just plain stupid.”

We drank in silence a little longer. I contemplated more years of arguments before judges than I could remember. How many times had I argued a case, looking for legal loop holes, defense pleas and “extenuating circumstances”? And it all boiled down to this. People are just plain stupid.

“Let’s do it!” I finally announced, drawing the attention of many onlookers in the bar.


“Let’s find the dumbest case and build an iron clad ‘Stupidity Defense’!”

“You are truly off your rocker, my old friend. Perhaps it is time for you to retire.”

That night as I sat in my lonely apartment, I began scouring the newspaper. For the next three weeks I looked at story after story, booking after booking.

Finally, over my steaming bowl of oatmeal, I found it. This was the case of a life time. This was the case that would have me remembered in lecture halls around the country. This case would bring to a close a career three decades long.

The morning of the trial finally arrived. I masterfully wove a tale of bad choices, failure to learn from consequences and the inability to make clear, rational decisions as was evidenced by my client’s legal history.

“Insanity can lead a person to do things that he would not do while of clear and ‘sane’ mind. It is my contention that stupidity, not insanity, made my client decide to rob the gun store in broad daylight. As you can see, my client has demonstrated that he does not learn from consequences, or he would not have robbed the bank that sent him to prison after his return from his time in the state penitentiary for robbing the local grocery store. There is no other defense than that my client is incapable of learning from natural consequences and is too stupid to be expected to learn from his actions. He is, in fact, stupid enough to agree to let me tell the whole world how stupid he is in hopes that it might impact his sentencing for this clearly stupid crime. Defense rests.”

As we sat once again at our favorite bar downing whiskey and dreams, George repeated, “And you didn’t win?”

Slip of the PleaKaylee Hamelink

Kaylee Hamelink

The prosecutor rambled on about some meaningless evidence. It wasn’t going to matter anyway. My client is insanely stupid. The jury thinks so too, you can tell by the looks on their faces.

I should be paying attention but it’s such an easy case that I can’t help but think about the things I have to do when I leave. My car battery is quickly dying, so I need to get a new one. Today would be a good day to do that.

“District attorney Sands, what’s your plea?”

“Stupidity,” I blurted before thinking. Great, now I’ve spoken my thoughts. Well, my client was riding a stolen horse, while naked. Oh and it was the middle of December. I think stupid is the word for it.

“Attorney, this is not a joking matter.” the judge warns.

“Your Honor, I mean no disrespect. My client had nothing but an umbrella on in the middle of December. He is either very hot blooded or insanely stupid.” I pause hoping the judge will accept my newly found plea.

Seeing as he is considering it I continue. “I would like the jury to look at the fact of my clients’ wardrobe. He was obviously not in his right mind when he stole that horse.”

The trial continued with me paying full attention. I did not need any more slips. The case lasted a total of 10 minutes. Apparently, my little slip turned out to be a pretty good thing.

The Defense RestsTony Jaeger

Tony Jaegar

“The prosecution rests.”

“Thank you, Counselor.” The judge, black-on-black, with streaks of grey in his short, tightly-curled hair turned to my lawyer. “The Defense may begin its argumentation.”

“Members of the jury, my objective today is to prove that not only is my client not guilty, he is not mentally capable of conducting a heist on such a scale as the one in question.”

I sat and bore the abuse.

“The Defense will call two of his alleged co-conspirators, his GED Preparatory Course instructor, his parents, two ex-girlfriends . . .”

I cringed. I’d known the lawyer had prepared a defense, but I didn’t think he’d bring the people most qualified to drag my good name through the mud.

“. . . and his best friend.” Aw, shit.

A grubby fist appeared in my peripheral vision. I pounded Karl’s fist with my own. He was probably still in his work clothes, looking like he’d bathed in motor oil. “You’ve got a good lawyer; we’ve all got your back, so just sit tight and enjoy the ride.”

I wasn’t worried.

I was terrified. I faced incarceration for the rest of my thirties, and even into my fifties. I wouldn’t “enjoy the ride;” chances were, not only would I go to prison at the end, I’d have my entire mediocre life made public before I did.

“The ride” started with my father telling the courtroom packed with observers and the media that he never thought I’d amount to anything and told stories to back up that belief. Fortunately, my mother could only look nervous before breaking down in tears.

I didn’t expect the story about when I was caught in a janitor’s closet hooked up to a car battery to come up, but . . . I guess that was my lawyer’s plan. The laughter hurt worse than knowing what “Phantom Testicle” feels like.

It got worse. Much worse.

Finally, Karl was called to the stand, leaving a trail of grease wherever his fingers touched. I would have laughed, but well, prison.

“Do you know my client?”

“Better than anyone else.”

“What do you think of him?”

“He’s a dumbass. I mean, I once watched him shatter his pelvis trying to mount a horse by jumping on it from a second-story window. For an entire year he carried around open umbrellas indoors, just to see what would happen.”

“What happened?”

Karl gestured around the courtroom.

“Do you believe this man could orchestrate a heist to steal $30 million worth of gold from a military-guarded stockpile?”

“I doubt he could orchestrate stealing a tube of chapstick.” He wasn’t even remotely apologetic about what he’d said.

“No further questions. Defense rests.”

After Karl’s testimony came a recess. Three hours alone in a room with shitty coffee and my thoughts. Three hours of deliberation. And then, huzzah! “The members of the jury just can’t find this man guilty.” They’d been laughing; the jury’s smiles lingered.

I walked out of the courtroom with equal parts relief, freedom, and money, flanked by the people closest to me in the world. All of them recently made very rich, thanks to their favorite dumbass.

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Weekend Quickie #44

One Image!

One Prompt!

One Emotion!

200 Words!


This photo is of Shakespeare and Company in Paris.

An Artist

Love at first sight


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Challenge 73 – 2014 Summer Solstice Open Finals

The Iron Writer Summer Solstice Open Finals

Challenge 73

The Champion is invited to the 2015 Annual Championship!

The Elements:

old key

A Lost Key

A Travel Brochure

A Thermostat

A Dessert Topping

The Authors:

Tiffany Brown

D. L. Mackenzie

Lisa Reynolds

Mathew W. Weaver

Please vote! And Comment!

(writers crave feedback)

The poll is below.



The MissionD L Mackenzie

D. L. Mackenzie

“The key, Captain Baldwin. Where is it?” Dr. Vause’s flinty gaze swept the visiting room briefly and then returned to his patient.

Baldwin frowned, his eyes closed, beads of sweat tracing the lines of his weathered face. “I don’t… see it. It’s vanished.”

Vause sighed deeply and managed a thin smile. “Relax, Captain. The key is there. It’s lost in your subconscious, but we’ll find it.”

Baldwin nodded softly and responded in a low robotic tone. “We’ll find it.”

“Good. Now, let’s start over,” said Vause. “You’re outside Nerkh, in Wardak Province. You’ve entered the compound and disarmed the security system. You’re inside the facility, advancing toward the rear. Now, what happens?”

Baldwin slouched in his straight-backed chair, his eyelids fluttering. “I follow the north corridor into the explosives lab. The target is assembling what appears to be a suicide vest. I neutralize the target and remove an old-fashioned key from around his neck. I see… maps… and a computer on a wooden crate. I upload the files, format the hard drive, pick up the maps, and radio my team.”

“And the key?”

“I… don’t know. Must have lost it.”

“But you just—” Vause surveyed the visiting room again and began to speak in a hoarse whisper through clenched teeth. “Listen carefully, Baldwin. I want you to return to when we first met, months ago. You’re back home, but you’re dissatisfied with the VA and you’ve come to me for your therapy.”

Baldwin remained motionless. “Yes. I’m at your office.”

“You’re a trained killer, Captain Baldwin. It’s not in your nature to kill an innocent, but you’ll ‘neutralize’ a terrorist on command. So I devised a scenario—a mission—and I implanted it in your psyche through post-hypnotic suggestion. Understand?”


“Good. Now, it’s three days ago. You’re in Charlottesville, not Afghanistan. You enter a private home, not an enemy compound. You punch buttons on a thermostat, not a security panel. You seize old travel brochures, not confidential maps. Now, your ‘terrorist bomber’ is a very attractive—and very stupid—woman named Cynthia. She’s going to leak… top-secret documents. She wants to blow up… my life. Do you understand?”

“Thermostat. Travel brochures. Cynthia.”

“Good. Do you see her?”

“Yes, in her kitchen. She isn’t making a bomb. She’s making desserts. She has caramel syrup and a can of Reddi-Wip and—”

“Good. Now, you take something from her…”

“A flash drive. Copies of files. Evidence of your billing irregularities and your… other irregularities. Things your wife wouldn’t—”

“Yes, yes, now what do you do with it?”

“Cynthia and I give it to the police.”

Vause’s head snapped back. “What? Cynthia? And you?”

A triumphant smirk spread across Baldwin’s face. His eyes popped open. “Told you I couldn’t be hypnotized.” He opened his shirt to reveal a microphone and chuckled as two uniformed police officers strode into the visiting room, followed by a detective and an attractive woman wearing civilian clothes and an exultant sneer.

“Dr. Vause, thanks for coming by,” said the detective, “but it’s pretty clear that Captain Baldwin is fit for trial. Unfortunately for you, he’ll be our star witness.”

Thank You, UmbrellaLisa Reynolds

Lisa Reynolds

When I woke up that morning I had no idea that my life would be changed forever, by something as simple as an umbrella.

It was 2 in the afternoon and already the sky was darkening. The wind was picking up and forcing me to try to juggle an oversized umbrella and an overpriced coffee with extra whipped cream. The wind continued to howl and I found myself wondering if I had remembered to switch the thermostat to heat before I left.

Thinking I had a better chance of making it home before the storm hit, I made the fast decision to cut through the park. So with my head down and my umbrella up, I did an awkward run/walk towards home. Around me children squealed in both horror and delight with each clap of thunder and every streak of lightening.

Suddenly the clouds opened up and spewed forth tiny droplets of ice cold water. The crowds scattered, screaming as if it were acid falling from the skies. Within seconds the park was empty, or so I thought. I stood there for a moment, arms outstretched, soaking in the tears from heaven.

That is when I saw him.

The most handsome man I had ever laid eyes on. I noticed he was walking around in the rain with no umbrella. Looking for something. At his feet were dozens of pieces of paper. He scrambled to pick them all up and put them back into his briefcase. I looked up and grinned at my oversized umbrella…oversized for one but perfect for two. I rushed to his side.

I held the umbrella as he searched for a key he had lost just moments before the storm hit. No way it could have gone that far, but we searched for over an hour. Finally we gave up. He offered to take me out for dinner to repay me for my kindness and of course I said ok. Fifteen dinners and a handful of movies later, he got down on one knee and made me cry tears of joy.

On our 50th wedding anniversary, he got up and told me a story. A story about me.

*One day, he was walking through the park. A storm was quickly approaching and he was hoping to make it home before it got too bad. As he was rushing by the crowds, a giant umbrella caught his eye. The woman holding it was the most beautiful women he had ever seen. He watched as the sky cracked open and the water poured down. He watched as the crowds ran, screaming to their cars. He watched her stand with her arms wide open, and her face towards the sky. In that moment he knew what he had to do. He quickly threw his keys into the lake and dumped his briefcase on the ground. He prayed she would notice….and she did. The rest is sweet history.*

I have long since lost that umbrella. Somewhere in the midst of our lives we let it go.

When Inn DoubtMathew Wordweaver

Mathew W. Weaver


There is a tale I’d like to tell,

About a sweet hotel off the road,

Where all seems good and bodes quite well,

And niceness frankly flowed.


But if you plan on staying a day,

That’s when the troubles begin,

So ‘ware, weary traveler, and keep away

From the Smithson Bradley Inn.



Why you ask, I’ll tell you,

And make light not of my woes,

For, darn right, all I say is true,

And NONE of it anything I chose.


The letter was deceptively cheerful,

My brother’s scrawl composed,

“You never visit, so I booked you a bed

Look, the key is enclosed!”


His calls were quite annoying,

and more so my wife’s hullabaloo,

Thus I packed for the drive to Wyoming,

to get this sordid affair over and through.


After two days in the driver’s seat,

With my feet sore and back bruising,

I’ll not lie, when on the Inn’s concrete,

Relief was all I was feeling.



At my door troubles began somewhat,

When damn thing stood fast shut,

It was all for naught, my key I forgot,

Lying somewhere between here and Connecticut.


The folks at the reception, now offensive and cold,

Couldn’t care less what I had to say,

“Fork cash over for a new room,” I was told,

‘coz there was apparently no other way to stay.


My wallet now a good deal lighter,

And a throbbing vein in my forehead,

Feeling like I just pulled an all-nighter,

I tumbled with thanks into bed.


For but a moment there did I manage to rest,

And then the squeals began to chime,

For it seemed that I wasn’t the only guest,

In mouse ridden Room 25 at the time.



Next morning was not any better,

For breakfast was a nightmare come true,

With rubber like toast, and brick hard butter,

And the items on the menu too few.


The whipped cream was far from chilled,

The mousse underneath all runny,

And the tiny steak that I ordered grilled,

Was squishy, soft and smelled funny.


“The ‘fridge don’t work, thermostat broke,”

Was all the waiter could say,

“And here, look, I got you a Coke,

Since we’re fresh outa tea today.”



“I’m sorry,” said my brother when we finally met,

“The place seemed good, you quite sure?”

I glared, he protested, visibly upset,

“But that’s not what it said in the brochure!


So one more night I was forced to spend,

In that demonic room of dread,

All through the night, from end to end,

I patrolled up and down on my bed.


Early next morning, at check-out,

When the words, “Come back again!” fell on my ear,

I stormed outside, trying my best not to shout,

Willing the place to disappear.


The lot was quite empty in the morning haze,

My car gone, all I could do was just stand,

Till a squeak and a pinch attracted my gaze,

Looked down to see the mouse on my hand.


Now you know I mean what I say,

And you shuddered at my tales of chagrin,

So ‘ware, weary traveler, and know to keep away,

From the Smithson Bradley Inn.


The RemnantsTiffany Michelle Brown

Tiffany Brown

The body was starting to smell—sickly sweet like bruised plums abandoned in the trashcan for too long. Jocelyn imagined the internal sugars rebelling, turning to acid, attacking the flesh. She brought her cup of tea to her nose, inhaled steam and chrysanthemums, felt the comfort settle into her bones. She knew the solace would evaporate quickly. She needed to decide.

Jocelyn bent forward and surveyed the glossy brochures fanned out on the coffee table. India. Australia. Lebanon. Germany. Luxembourg.

“Where would you like to go?” the travel agent had asked.

Jocelyn took off her sunglasses and hat, returned the agent’s gaze, and said, “Far away.”

The agent’s accommodating smile dissipated like instant coffee granules in hot water.

“And I want options.”

Jocelyn had received a handful of brochures generally produced for couples researching honeymoon destinations or kids fresh out of high school ready to backpack the continents before heading to college. For Jocelyn, this wasn’t about adventure; it was about survival.

The old two-story house shifted and settled, startling Jocelyn. Tea sloshed over the rim of her mug. She sighed and pattered to the kitchen for a towel.

While dabbing her top, the house shifted again—louder this time. Jocelyn dropped the towel and grabbed a knife from the butcher block. Her heart hammered in her chest and her muscles tensed. The house was still.

Jocelyn exhaled and dropped the knife. “Calm the hell down,” she whispered. “He’s gone.”

She’d made sure of it. Every remnant of Dalton—his guitar, his aftershave, his tattered jeans, everything he’d touched, his body—was stuffed into Jocelyn’s walk-in closet. She’d locked the door from the outside, dropped the key down the sink, and burned sage.

Jocelyn looked up, studied the popcorn ceiling, and waited for the moment she’d be able to see through it—see him slumped against her favorite cocktail dress, the stunned look on his face—her life and his unraveled, unwound, undone. The moment never came.

Jocelyn brought her hands to her face and winced. The cigarette burns had started to scab over and the bruises had turned an unsettling olive color. Dalton had been high. Jocelyn had been too sober to take it. She’d done what was necessary; she was convinced of that. Now, she needed to get away.

Heading back to the couch, Jocelyn heard the air conditioning unit click on. Cold air snaked through the room.

Did I adjust the thermostat? Jocelyn knew the answer before the thought was fully formed.

She sat on the couch, her skin tingling, her body heavy. She shut her eyes. “You’re fine,” she breathed.

Jocelyn reopened her eyes and reached for the brochure about Australia. The dull glint of metal stopped her cold. Jocelyn’s throat tightened as she snatched up the metal with shaky fingers. The key was oily and a strand of her hair was wrapped around its jagged teeth.

Frigid wisps of air first caressed Jocelyn’s jawline and then dripped like warm caramel down her breastbone. The pressure of ghostly fingertips intensified as they grew closer to her heart.

It was in the moment that Jocelyn realized she wasn’t going anywhere.

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Challenge 72

The Iron Writer Challenge 72

The M. D. Pitman Challenge

The Authors:

Violet Patterson

Mathew W. Weaver

Danielle Zwissler

Mamie Pound

The Elements, chosen by M. D. Pitman:


A sign “fail”

Repeated unsuccessful attempts at starting a campfire/fireplace fire

A favorite childhood memory that actually is a lie

A funeral of a stranger

Please remember to vote.

The poll is below.


Inferno IdaViolet Patterson

Violet Patterson

“This sucks.”

“Violet!” Mom whips her head around to glare at me. “I didn’t raise you to talk like that!”

“But it does suck. Sometimes there are no other words to describe the extent of the suckage.” I emphasize the offending word.

Dad remains woefully silent in the driver’s seat. I brace myself as Mom’s maw opens to unleash her wrath.

“Anybody hungry?” Dad points out Mom’s window causing Mom to clamp her mouth shut and follow his gesture. My brother snickers but I hold back my giggle until Mom playfully punches Dad’s arm and mock scolds him.Trace

Mom’s smiling again so I know I’m off the hook, my lapse in good manners forgotten. Dad can run interference with the best of them. I meet his gaze in the rear view mirror and he winks at me before turning up the radio. He and Mom begin singing along with Elton John, something about a seamstress for a band. Mom is tone deaf so I reach for my Walkman, slump further in my seat and open The Bell Jar. Cliché, I know. But this entire trip is torture so it seems appropriate. I don’t give a flying fart in space about Dad’s Aunt Ida who has been a shut-in since before I was born. I know absolutely nothing about her aside from the infamous camping story that Gran tells every Christmas when she’s imbibed too much eggnog. It’s a rite of passage in our family to regurgitate the details of the infamous camping trip that earned Aunt Ida her nickname. It’s better when Gran tells it, I assure you, but I’ll give it a go anyhow.

So, Gran is only a year older than Aunt Ida meaning they had the same friends. The year that Gran graduated they all went camping together to celebrate. Apparently, everybody was drinking except for Aunt Ida who, as Gran tells it, was a “square.” It started to get cold and nobody was coherent enough to make a fire so it fell to Aunt Ida who had no idea how to make one. She tried lighting the logs directly, which obviously didn’t work. Their friends began yelling advice at her but Gran says Ida ignored them and kept futilely working at the pile of wood and leaves. Then Ida snapped and started grabbing drinks and tossing them onto the firewood screaming a string of obscenities. Gran’s description of what happened next is summed up in two words “blazing inferno.” Aunt Ida’s eyebrows were scorched and Gran swears she smelled like charred hair for days afterward. That’s how Ida earned the nickname “Inferno Ida.” So that’s it, that’s all I know about the woman we are driving fourteen hours to have interred in the family plot. I wonder if her tombstone will read “Inferno Ida.” That would be rad.

“Violet? Vi? Honey, wake up.”


“You were talking in your sleep, honey.”

“Hmmm.” I rub at my eyes. “Mom?”

“Honey, who is Aunt Ida?”

 On Hindsight…Mathew Wordweaver

Mathew W. Weaver

If I’d known when I woke up this morning that the day would end with me standing in the rain at 2am, I wouldn’t have bothered to get up.

And it wasn’t even the rain that was the worst of it. No, the day started out awful even before it had arrived.

A week ago, Aunt Lucy insisted I go to my Great Uncle Ian’s funeral. I had only met the man twice, and I knew none of my kin around him. But she blackmailed me with the poker incident, and so I had to take the two day drive. I brought Veronica along, too, just in case Aunt Lucy didn’t hold up her end of the bargain.

The drive started out well enough; Veronica and I joking and laughing along the way, taking turns driving, and then there was that fun moment when passing the sign that read “Warning! Boners ahead!”

Seriously. Neither of us knew what that was supposed to mean.

This morning, we left the motel and got to the funeral. An hour into the service, they finally dropped in the dead guy’s name.

And it wasn’t Great Uncle Ian.

It isn’t easy to leave in the middle of a funeral reception when you’re right in the middle of it. Veronica’s dagger looks and the fairly outraged glares of everyone else would probably keep coming back to haunt me for the next few months.

I had no idea it was the wrong funeral; I hardly knew anyone at the real one, anyway. But we had no idea where we were, and in all likelihood, Great Uncle Ian’s service was over.

With the sun setting and rain clouds threatening, we pulled back into motel. The fact that electricity hadn’t arrived yet there yet had been romantic a night ago; now it was just more fuel to Veronica’s rage. It was near pitch black in the room, so I got on my knees and started to get the fire going.

The matches refused to light.

“Damn it!” I cursed, “Could this day get any worse?”

I struck one for the fifth time, and finally, the logs caught. I stood up and turned as she came in, candles in her hands. Her eyes widened.

“What?” I demanded… and then sudden heat on my fingers made me yell out and drop the matchbox.

The box was burning; and now, so was the thick carpet.

I screamed. She screamed. And the fire spread.

And so here I am, soaked to the bone, and with no place to sleep.

The motel was still burning down, and the paramedics and firemen were milling about, all half asleep and in a daze. Veronica had locked herself in the car, shortly after screaming bloody murder at me and refusing to let me in.

The motel owner was pressing charges. His voice still rang in my ears, right next to Veronica’s.

You remember that childhood dream you have, the one where you know without doubt that when you’re an adult, nothing would ever go wrong?

My phone rang. I took it out, and squinted at the caller ID.

It was Aunt Lucy.

Old Black WaterMamie Pound

Mamie Pound

“There are no guarantees,” he said, inhaling. The orange hot rock raced for his lips.

He cut his eyes at her.

“Yeah,” she agreed.

She hadn’t seen him since he caught the Greyhound out of New Orleans, August 24, 2005, the night before Hurricane Katrina ravaged the parishes.

The lake used to be a park where they’d played their whole lives. A sign riddled with bullet holes, was still there, just above the water line, “Roadway floods with Heavy Rain.”

“Must have been one helluva storm,” he said, exhaling, eyes fixed on the black waters lapping the rusted metal.

A kaleidoscope turned in her mind; howling wind, make-shift life rafts, swimming dogs, floating people.

She searched the night sky, found the Big Dipper. Her arms hugged her knees. She held her breath, like always, when she thought about hard things, things that stuck in her throat.

“Remember the Indian burial grounds?” he asked, grinning, stomping his cigarette and sticking his hands in his pockets. “…the rattlesnake in the grass,” he laughed.

“Cotton Mouth,” she corrected.

“Yeah,” he said, “the Cotton Mouth, sign of the Indian curse.” He was smiling now, looking at her profile.

She smiled but she didn’t meet his eyes.

“You know that was bull, right?” he said. “Wasn’t no damned Indian buried up there, it’s some kind of natural steppe, like a hill, squared off. They only told us that to keep us on this side of Lake Pontchartrain.”

“Your mama had quite an imagination,” she said.

“The only luxury she could afford, I suppose,” he said.

“So, all this time, you’ve never met your dad?” she asked.

“Nah,” he said.

“Never seem to bother you while we were growing up,” she said.

With a handful of small sticks and his crumpled cigarette pack, he filled the fire pit. He lit the driest leaf and a tiny line of flame raced along its edge before disappearing.

“When I left here, I took the bus to San Diego, to his apartment. Some woman answered the door in a bath robe, said he was in the shower. I left,” he said. “She had a French accent like my first grade teacher. I never told Mama,” he said.

“Now he’s laid out dead in Mama’s parlor, like he never left. She always said he’d be back one day,” he said, smirking.

He lit another cigarette and the cellophane. It melted and hissed in the fire pit.

“They called Mama three days ago, said her address was in his wallet. Some cleaning woman found him in his bed. Wedding ring and watch, gone,” he said.

Fire finally danced and spit.

The moon hid behind a single silver cloud.

“I never meant to stay away so long,” he said.

Her eyes found the barely visible tree line across the lake.

“You don’t owe me an explanation,” she said. “I knew you’d be back, one day.”

He found a smooth, flat stone and skipped it across the water.

In the parlor, the old man lay beneath a window, his mouth fixed into a peaceful expression that he never would have worn in life.

His son knew no difference.

Body Heat BackfireDanielle Lee Zwissler

Danielle Lee Zwissler

I’ll admit it, I’m a dog. Blame evolution if you must. I saw the young blonde leaning against the entrance to the funeral parlor across the street. She was tall, dressed impeccably and sexy. I stood up, walked out my door and alerted my secretary that I had to take the rest of the afternoon off.

I immediately found her. We were like magnets. I moved; she moved. We soon were right in front of each other.


“Hi,” she replied. “How did you know Tom?”

“Oh, we’ve known each other since childhood,” the lie easily falling off my tongue.  Her eyes lit up.

“He was my cousin.”

“I know.” I smiled and walked us toward the seats.

The service started with memories of Tom.

“I will never forget the night Tom changed the sign at work,” one guy laughed. “He changed the words from black angus burger to black anus! It was the funniest damn thing. Tom was always making people laugh.”

Everyone around alternated from laughing to crying—friend after friend, regaling us with tales. I found myself wishing I’d known Tom.

“You should go up there. You’ve known Tom a long time,” the blonde said, encouraging me to get up. “Please, I know my aunt would love it, and I would, too.”

I nodded, stood and made my way to the front. “I’ll never forget the time when Tom and I were at Camp Wanakee. We,” I said, laughing and gesturing with my hands, “were trying to build a fire when we forgot the matches. I tried to assure Tom that I could do this; I could build fire with my own hands. We laughed most of the night, talking each other up. The fire never happened, but it was so cold!” I looked into the audience and there were smiles on many of their faces. I continued. “Tom started rubbing these sticks together,” I laughed, “and, needless to say, we about froze that night. I thought of the only thing that would save us…body heat was all we had left. That’s the kind of thing friends do for each other, keep them safe; keep them alive and in our hearts.” I smiled softly and then looked back at Tom’s casket. When I turned back, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. “I’ll miss you, Tom.”

When I stepped down, Tom’s mom embraced me and smiled.

I sat down in my seat, and the blonde grabbed my hand and squeezed. “Thank you.”

I felt pretty great about myself. The blonde was hooked.

“I just wanted to thank you,” Tom’s mom said to me. “Tom went to his grave being ashamed of himself. He was afraid that his family and friends wouldn’t understand. But now that I see how much you loved my son, I don’t mind sharing his secret with the world. Tom was gay. I had no idea his lover would say such wonderful things about him tonight. I feel like we’ve known each other all our lives.”

My eyes widened and the blond next to me put her hand over her mouth.

Son of a…

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Weekend Quickie #43

One Image!

One Prompt!

One Emotion!

cliff jumping


The Summer after your Junior Year in High School


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Weekend Quickie #42

One Image!

One Prompt!

One Emotion!



A Feeling of Independence


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