Flash! Friday # 20

Flash! Friday Round 20 is now closed; fat lady’s sung, that’s all she wrote, it ain’t over til it’s over–and it’s over! Look for results Saturday afternoon. In the meantime, please feel free to read & comment on the entries. Thanks, everybody!

Welcome to #FlashFridayFic Round 20, dearest ones. And a very happy birthday to Dudley Moore, Tim Curry, Kate Hudson–oh, and let’s not forget Eliot Ness. It’s a day of hilarity with a dash of Prohibition, see? Thought it might be fun to see how many of you can tickle our funny bones this round. Ask any comedian, and you’ll be told comedy’s the hardest sort of writing to do, after all! (Though if the Comedic Muse doesn’t speak, no worries. Write whatever your Muse says, within the guidelines. Speaking of which, here are the contest rules.)  Round 20 judgework is provided by darling SVW member Patricia McCommas.

And now (knock knock, who’s there?) it’s contest time!

Word limit: 200-300 word story based on the photo prompt.

* How: Post your story here in the comments. Include your word count (200-300 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one.

* Deadline: 11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday’s on New York time)

Winners: will post tomorrow (Saturday)

Prize: A hilariously magnificent e-trophy e-dragon e-badge, your own laugh factory winner’s page here at FF, a giggleriffic 60-second interview feature next Wednesday, and YOUR NAME IN SIDE-SPLITTING GUFFAWS HEARD ROUND THE WORLD (so to speak). NOTE: Winning and non-winning stories alike remain eligible for selection for Monday’s Flash Points. 

* Follow @FlashFridayFic on Twitter for up-to-date news/announcements/tips on defending yourselves from dragon sarcasm.  And now for your prompt:

Nobody (1921)

Nobody (film, 1921), starring Kenneth Harlan & Jewel Carmen
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97 thoughts on “Flash! Friday # 20

  1. @StephenWilds
    Paradoxical – 300 words

    “Don’t you see,” Don yelled, pointing angrily at the newspaper.

    Amy wasn’t listening. The news of Charles’ death had struck her hard. Now, stuck somewhere in the middle of awakened thought and death, the young woman was devastated, hands still trembling.

    “Are you listening,” Don asked again, this time closer. “We have to get out of here. They’ll come for us now, don’t you understand?” He threw the paper to the side and took a knee beside her, trying to peer into Amy’s eyes. “I won’t stay here. I won’t be gunned down in an alleyway like him, Amy. I won’t die for a cause that no one even knows exists yet.”

    She clutched the folds of the white dress that she had bought yesterday. She had worn them now, in hopes that Charles would see her in it and smile. That was never meant to happen. They were fools to have thought the three of them could change anything. Everything happens for a reason, every domino already in place and fallen, all at once.

    Donald’s eyes flashes with anger and fear. His hands shook her shoulders.

    “You stupid woman, he never loved you. He used us. Charles couldn’t stop anything. Hitler is the leader of the Socialist Party now.” He shook her again, harder when she didn’t respond. “Don’t you understand, nothing we’ve done has taken. Tryle warned us not to muck in the time stream, and instead we listened to Charles, and his dream.”

    “It was all for nothing,” Amy finally commented.

    “Come back with me. I’ll make sure they don’t hold us responsible.” Donald pleaded.

    Amy reached into the small purse she had in her lap, drawing the pistol Charles had once jokingly called dainty. She turned it in her palm, studying it.

    “I have another plan.”

    • This was a good story. Held my interest to the end. My only critique is the tense change in “Donald’s eyes flashes…” The rest of the story is written in past tense. “Flashes” reads like present tense. Overall I thought it was well done and creative.

  2. “Katherine” – 297 words

    He offered to dress the store mannequins, within days of landing the job. Our manager shrugged and gave him the task. What harm could come of it? He was a little overzealous, we all agreed, but he did the job well, almost with a loving touch.

    In the basement, I leaned against a pallet of boxes and watched him work. “What does your wife think of this?” I taunted, trying to get a reaction. “You undress plastic women all day.”

    He shrugged, didn’t smile, as he shimmied the shorts up the mannequin’s legs. “Katherine doesn’t mind,” he mumbled.

    When he spoke, it was always of Katherine. A meek and quiet soul, he described her, who preferred staying at home as he read the newspaper to her. Not a social woman, his Katherine. But she loved the news. At the end of his shift, he’d take the daily paper from the break room and ask, “Do you mind if I take this to Katherine?”

    When the manager fell ill, he offered to close the store. What harm could come of it? He had worked there a year and was honest and as zealous as ever. He now had his own key.

    “Are you going to stay here all night?” I jabbed as I gathered my jacket.

    He shrugged, took his daily paper, and mumbled, “I have to get back to Katherine.”

    And when I found the stash of newspapers in the storage room, the manager just shrugged. He was a good employee. Clocked in early, never missed a day of work. What harm could come of it? Just clean it up.

    I moved that old, dusty mannequin out of the way and picked up the newspapers. A shadow darkened the doorway, holding the daily paper.

    “Don’t touch Katherine.”

  3. @JFLiebling
    The Department Store Tiger Theft
    297 words

    “Don’t just sit there looking shocked”. He jabbed at the newspaper again. “There! Woman Leaves Apartment Store with Tiger Mascot. A tiger! What on Earth were you doing with a tiger?”
    She lifted her hand and then let it fall again. “I was so sure it was Snowy, darling. So sure. They pulled on the lead just the same way, and I had so many bags.”
    He held up his hand at tutted angrily. “It goes on. ‘The woman, who remained ignorant of the rumpus she was causing proceeded onto the mainline tram, where the conductor told her in his politest tones that she could not bring the beast on board. ‘And would you believe,’ Mr. Thomas Coleman explains, ‘That she had the nerve to tell me it was her seeing-eye dog. Well naturally, I refused to let her on the bus’ at which point she ‘stormed off in a huff, yanking the cat along the sidewalk’. The cat, who went on to terrorise two poodles and countless innocent bystanders was recovered from the unnamed woman’s apartment later that day.”

    Her husband returned to his seat and began furiously stuffing his pipe.
    “Darling,” she began, cautiously. “Have you by any chance, umm, seen Snowy? Do they say anything about that in the paper?”
    The man puckered his lips and sucked in repeatedly. “I don’t know where your stupid dog is.”
    She folded her hands on her lap again, looking down.
    “If it’s any consolation that beast ate two of my new shoes. They’re completely ruined. And then it trapped me in the kitchen.”
    “I don’t give a damn.”
    “Oh” she replied. “I really did have a lot of packages to carry.”
    They sat in silence.
    “And you won’t believe the bargain I got on the tapioca curtains.”

  4. Quiddany

    “Philip! Oh Philip! Look! Look at this!” Martha cried, running into the parlour, clutching at the hem of her dress.

    “Well what is it dear?” replied Philip, taking his pipe from his mouth and laying his newspaper across his lap to look up at her.

    “Look!” she cried, lifting up her dress to reveal her pubic area.

    Philip blinked twice, frowned, put his pipe back in the left side of his mouth and puffed on it.

    “Well?” Martha asked.

    Philip put his paper to one side and leaned forward, peering at her groin.

    “Well, it’s ah, it’s different isn’t it? You been trying something new?”

    “No, just the quiddany preparation that Dr Van Weirden prescribed for me!”

    “Hmm, quiddany you say?” he replied, sitting back into the couch, “ I was reading about that stuff in the newspaper just now.”

    “So? Why has it turned this colour?”

    “It’s right here, see? ” said Philip, showing her the newspaper and pointing at the relevant article, “Dr Van Weirden must be a quack. Says here that quiddany is made from the juice of a quince, a type of fruit high in pectin, which is rich in galacturonic acid.”

    She stared off into the distance for a moment, her eyes wide and unblinking, before slowly turning her head to Philip.

    “Fruit juice? Acid? Then that means…”

    “Yes Martha, you’ve been bleaching your quim.”

    ***
    230 words
    @theimaginator20

  5. It’s Behind You!

    “You’ll never guess what I’ve found my Dear, featured in the society pages of the London Gazette. Right here, you see ‘The Honorable and Mrs Aloisius Sebastain-Flyte, blah blah, fresh from his notable successes in the city …notable successes eh? blah blah, …recently embarked upon the adventure of a lifetime, blah blah, …wonder of the age …technology’s greatest achievement… Cynthia? Why are you just sitting like some slack jawed shop girl at a picture show? Come on Old Girl. I said you might be a little queasy, can happen to anyone. Not got your sea legs. I know! How about a teensy glass of fizz eh? Just the thing if you’re not feeling quite the ticket.”
    “B b b…”
    “What? Oh! I see! It’s a game is it? By Jove, I’ve got it – I spy! How splendid. You shouldn’t really give any clues in the classical form of the game that Nanny taught us but, I’m game. Where’s that fizz…?. I know! Bottle. Is it Bottle?”
    “Bl bl bl…”
    “Fine. Fine. Can’t expect to get it first time I suppose. Now let me see… Blanket?
    “Blo blo blo…”
    “Are you sure you’re not changing as we go along you little minx?… Blouse!
    “Bloo bloo bloo…”
    “Oh really, there are a limited number of articles in any cabin, even one as spacious as this one… Bloom! That’s the blighter isn’t it? Bet you thought that I’d dismiss them as flowers. ‘F’ you see…? Bloom! “
    “N.. N.. No Bloo.. bloo.. bloo..”
    Yes, yes, we’ve had that already. Why are you sitting there gibbering like an imbecile, staring out of the porthole… I say It’s not something outside the room is it? That would be jolly poor form… close to cheating in fact. Well? Spit it out.”
    “B B Bloody Big Iceberg!”

    300 words
    @nickjohns999

      • Okay. Here it is, then.:

        Title: Samara
        Author: J.M. Mendur

        Howard had never shouted at his cousin until that day. “What have you done?”

        “What I had to do,” Helena said.

        “But your fortune,” he said, his face beginning to turn red. “This must have taken every dime you had. What will you live on?”

        “Had I not funded Captain Thurston and the Samara’s expedition to stop a terrible evil, I would not have lived at all. Of what use is money to the dead?”

        Howard straightened. With an effort, he relaxed his hands. “Grandfather left you his fortune in trust, to pass to the rest of the family since you had no children of your own. Not to waste it all.” He began to pace.

        “Waste?” Helena asked. “All of the signs are there. The stars are in alignment. The lunatics in the asylums are screaming in their dreams. The artists are creating obscene, repulsive works. Someone had to act. Someone who knew what was coming.”

        Howard stopped pacing. “What was coming?”

        Helena closed her eyes and recited the accursed lines. Those lines had burned themselves into her memory before she destroyed the ancient book in her grandfather’s study. “In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”

        “This … Cthulhu,” Howard said, mangling the name. “Huge? Head like a deformed octopus? Wings?”

        Helena opened her eyes. “How did you know?”

        Howard leaned over her chair, pointing his finger at the newspaper. “Because the Samara didn’t help to stop him. They found him and they’re bringing him back here, to San Francisco. The captain thanked you for your assistance in freeing their god. There’s a picture in the paper.”

        Helena glanced at the loathsome image in her cousin’s hands, just once. She never spoke another word but, for the rest of her short life, her mind screamed.

        ~~~
        Words: 298, not counting title and author lines
        @JMwandering

    • Interesting story with an unexpected ending. That has to suck to spend all your money thinking one thing to find out you helped to unleash the very thing you were trying to stop. Nicely done.

  6. Action!

    “Honey, will you look at this? Isn’t it strange?” the man said, bending over the edge of the seat, showing the front cover of a paper to the woman sitting there. She, however, didn’t respond. “Honey? Sophie!”

    “What? Oh, I’m sorry. I was just looking… Dave? Yeah, you, behind Camera Two… Your shirt’s untucked.”

    Said man behind Camera Two glanced down.“Oh, whoops. Thanks, Soph.”

    “You’re welcome,” the woman said with a nod, smiling pleasantly.

    “Alright, can we please try this again?” a different man, one who was sitting in a canvas fold-out chair, asked as he waved his hand in the air. “Sophie, please pay attention this time. Alright, ready… Take two, and action!”

    “Honey, will you look at this? Isn’t it strange?” the first man said again, leaning over with the paper in his hand.

    “Oh… Um… Oh, dear,” the woman in the chair stuttered.

    Moaning, the Director mashed his palm into his forehead. “What now, Sophie?”

    “I do believe I’ve forgotten my lines. I’m sorry! Can we try again, please?”

    Sighs echoed around the room.

    “Yes, let’s try it again. And your lines are, ‘Oh, my goodness! I’ve never seen anything like that before!’”

    “Yes, yes. Thank you. I’m ready now.”

    “Okay, good. Take three… Action!”

    ==============

    “Honey, would you look at this? Isn’t it strange?”

    “Oh, my goodn… nh… nnnn… Ahhh… ACHOO!”

    Groans reverberated through the studio. “Not again!” someone moaned.

    The director just sighed. “Alright, lets try this again. Take thirty four. Action!”

    263 words not including the title or the page break.

  7. Daisy,Daisy…Daisy ?

    “Daisy is this you?”
    “No, I don’t think so,Dear.”
    “What! This photograph of YOU, right here! That’s not you?”
    “Well, it might be me.”
    “Well it might be you on Pages 1,2, 6 and 8!”
    “Really?”
    “Yes, today Daisy you are the news! Don’t look so pleased with yourself. It’s nothing to be proud of. I’ll be a laughing stock at the office. Public menace they are calling you. They are offering a reward for anyone who can identify you.Whatever possessed you?These are some of the most prominent public figures, and you are hardly difficult to identify.”
    “Don’t be so melodramatic, Darling.”
    “Melodramatic! It’s the 1920s! Everyone’s melodramatic!”
    She took the paper from him sedately and looked at the headline. She licked the tip of her finger and teased the newspaper open to the second page.
    “How can you be so calm, Daisy! It’s a wonder you weren’t arrested on the spot. Did you do this all in one day?”
    “Of course not, Harold. It takes planning, no matter how spontaneous it appears.”
    “I give up. I really do.”
    “This one here’s spiffing, isn’t it, Darling!”
    “That’s Charlie Chaplin, for goodness sake! And that one’s Eliot Ness!”
    “I know, Darling. I am thinking of calling it photo bombing. Isn’t it fun!”

    214 words

  8. Long Before Kong

    Trevor fumed, trying to find words to express the emotions overwhelming his normally placid demeanor. I mean, it was one thing to have your fiancée involved in the unseemly world of stage entertainment. But for her to be prominently featured on the front page of every newspaper in the city was…scandalous!

    How she sat with such a vacant stare while she was the subject of such media frenzy was inconceivable to him? He still wasn’t clear on the details of how she’d come to be in such a situation to begin with. She’d told him she would be performing in a repertory revue in the Poconos and yet there she was being hauled up the side of the Empire State Building by some sort of giant…raccoon.

    As it turned out she was dancing in some tawdry burlesque house when the inexplicably-overgrown vermin had been drawn to the sparkle of her indecent costume. Why she’d been singled out would never be clear but she, most certainly, had cast herself into undesirable prominence. How could she not be…horrified…outraged?

    Cecily’s senses scarcely registered Trevor’s tirade. As loudly as he might remonstrate, as excitedly as his finger might jab, she simply could not bring herself to care. There were matters of greater import. There were concerns that transcended whatever outrage this small, petty man might be evincing.

    Of far, far greater concern to her was how best to capitalize on the unexpected windfall of exposure and publicity? Was Flo Ziegfeld in town to have seen the news? More importantly, was the man who’d contacted her by telephone truly involved in the motion picture business? And was he truly interested in…her? So many more important concerns than Trevor swirled in the mind of a woman determined to make the most of the bounty of chance.

    300 words @klingorengi

  9. The Joy Ride

    “Did you see this headline?” Raymond demanded. “I’d like to know what you were thinking.”

    “Who says I was thinking?” she said as she stared wide-eyed into the distance. “I wanted to live it up for once and have a good time.”

    “Well, you certainly did that. And dragged our family name through the mud, too, Arielle!”

    “Oh, it was just a good bit of fun, Ray,” she teased with a giggle. “No one got hurt.”

    “No one got hurt!” He slapped the paper against his hand. “You stole a cab, took it on a joy ride, and sent it into the river!”

    Arielle patted him on the cheek. “But no one was injured. And it’s not like we can’t afford the price of the cab. It was great fun, brother dear.”

    “You’re lucky you aren’t up on charges! It’s only our family name that’s protecting you!” he yelled as she sashayed from the room.

    “Well aren’t I lucky that I have such a fine family name?” she called over her shoulder.

    “I’m not through with you!” he hollered.

    “Oh, but my dear Raymond, I am through with you. I’ll not sit here and be berated for something that was all in good fun,” she said, putting her hands on her hips. “I’m sure you did things just as bad when you were my age.”

    “Well, I… I never,” he sputtered.

    “And maybe you should. Then you wouldn’t be so upset,” was her parting shot.

    Word Count: 245

  10. The Ring

    “Sir Matthew is nowhere to be found.” Belvedere informed her.
    Countess Sophie sat dazed on the chair oblivious to the rolling ocean waves in the dark night behind her. Her bare fingers rested on the chair arm.
    “Never mind Matthew, he will turn up inebriated with some hussy.” She dismissed the remark. “Find the ring, it’s worth the millions!” she cried. “You know that ring is the pride of the Westons. You better find it before Count discovers it is missing.”
    “Pride of the Westons., Bullocks!” Belvedere muttered under his breath.
    “Lady McClain would be so pleased that I lost that ring,” Countess grumbled. “She has always begrudged me for it. For that and for my dynasty! She doesn’t come from the noble blood as I do. Her fortunes are acquired through her marriage.”
    “As if Noble blood doesn’t need to pay their debts.” Belvedere mumbled under his gritted teeth and left the room.
    ***
    “I have turned the cabin upside down. The caption made the crew scour every cabin, every nook and cranny of the ship. The ring has simply vanished into the thin air.” A weary and exasperated Belvedere wiped the sweat off his brow and walked on to the deck for fresh air. The supply ship had just dropped off the stack of newspapers. He picked one up absent mindedly. What’s this? He rubbed his eyes to make sure that he was seeing Matthew’s picture on the front page. He scanned the headline and a smug smile came over his tired face. He ran to the countess and held the front page under Countess’s nose. The headline read,
    “The nephew of Count Weston is caught selling the faux diamond ring.” The glass diamond sparkled in Matthew’s hand and on to the Weston name.

    @needanidplease
    296 words

    • I like how you opened the story. I love how you portrayed the smugness of Sophia. Nicely done. I’m a little confused by the ending “and on to the Weston name.” Doesn’t the ring already belong to the Westons?

  11. The Yacht

    The rounded windows of the sitting room reminded Angelica of that one fateful night so many years ago now that had changed everything. More years had passed than she cared to admit, more birthdays and Thanksgiving dinners had gone by than she could recall. Those rounded windows and the floor to ceiling drapes brought back every small detail of that night she longed to live again over and over.

    She remembered the cool of the air as it moved through her hair. She could almost smell the Chicken Kiev, steamed broccoli and freshly mixed Manhattan cocktail as if it were being set down before her. “Oh,” she thought to herself, “to be on that boat once more. To be young. To know whimsy. To have no fear of folly or fret.”

    She sighed heavily as the memory of a boy returned to her. A boy with a smile so warm and inviting, the world melted away as one gazed at his grin. A boy that mothers warned their daughters about and fathers just stared at, giving that stone cold threatening look that only a father of daughters could provide.

    She thought of that boy with the pretty smile and stared out the window, imagining rocking on the waves of the water and being held by the boy she knew so long ago.

    “Angelica, look” a tall man said entering the room. “I finally finished the cross word puzzle” he chuckled to himself and left her by alone once more.

    She sighed once more and muttered, “I should have pushed him over board when I had the chance.”

    @ShawnCowling
    267 words

    • I would love to see this expanded on. Your story draws me in, but I’m left wanting more background detail. Great ending, but I’m not sure which male she wished she would have pushed overboard. Lots of potential with this one. I have read this at least 5 times

  12. Don’t Fight the Muse

    Ronald was furious. “Look at this crap that gets published. You’re supposed to be my muse! I know I’m capable of writing something better than this hack! What do you think you’re doing just sitting there staring blankly while I’m struggling to write. Start doing your job!”

    Even after this impassioned plea, Ronald could not get a response out of Helen. She continued to act as if she could not even hear him. In the past she used to offer advice, suggest ideas for stories, or give him quotes that were supposed to inspire his creativity. Ronald rarely used her ideas and often blamed her for leading his writing astray, but at least in the past she had acted like his writing mattered to her. Now she treated him like an invisible spirit whenever he sought her help. Her behavior was completely unacceptable!

    “Are you going to answer me? Look at this tripe! I am definitely a more accomplished writer than this fool. Why is C.J. Whittaker getting published when I’m not? Are you deliberately sabotaging me?” Ronald continued to rant until his throat was sore, but Helen never even blinked. After an hour of yelling, he stormed out of the house and spent the rest of the evening at a nearby tavern.

    Helen sat silently for several minutes after he’d gone, then she calmly went into the library and sat down at the typewriter. She had a new idea for a story, and she knew her editor was anxiously waiting for another piece from C.J. Whittaker. As she began typing, she wondered vaguely if it had really been necessary to choose a pseudonym so different from her own name. After all, Ronald apparently wasn’t smart enough to realize when he was reading a description of himself.

    @violetgrendel
    Word Count: 297 words

  13. Picture, if you will, a man with perfect hair.

    No.

    Perfect hair.

    Exactly. Bent over at the waist, holding a newspaper.

    Not The Sun. Something better.

    Okay, fine. The Sun. In it is an ad for a new kind of home appliance. “Designed to make child’s play of women’s work!”

    She doesn’t seem interested.

    What do you mean, “Who?” The woman he’s talking to. Men don’t bend over at the waist and hold newspapers when they’re alone, for crying out loud. Anyway.

    She’s not interested. Or she’s lobotomized. Difficult to tell, really. Her hair is not perfect.

    She’s being shoved off her chair by a pillow. And she’s wearing a bunch of grapes around her neck.

    “Don’t you see?” He’s saying. “You have to listen to me. My hair is perfect. And so is the crease in my pants. There are no straighter lines in nature.

    “This device will make you happy. You want to be happy, like me, don’t you?”

    She doesn’t seem interested. Because she’s not. She’s sad. Her hair is not perfect, the grapes are wet and cold, the pillow is pushy, and she hates women’s work. And child’s play.

    He will fall over soon, standing in this position. Or at least throw out his back. “Why won’t you look at me? Or at least The Sun?”

    Because. She cannot speak. Or she can, but she doesn’t care.

    It doesn’t matter anyway, for she sees the wall quiver and pulse. Perfection is revealed to her, and it has nothing to do with perfect hair, pillows, creases, or pushy pillows.

    And scene.

    264 words
    @drmagoo

    • This was interesting and original. A little hard to follow at times, but It held my interest…..three times.

  14. Oops

    “It wasn’t messy, just a few drinkies Bertie.”
    “A few drinkies! In a speakeasy! In the prohibition!” Bertie’s vain throbbed on the side of his head as he paced up and down in frustration.
    “Darling, there wouldn’t be speakeasies if it wasn’t for prohibition. Honestly, Bertie. Have you been sniffing the cooking sherry again?”
    “No I have not! Now look here Elsie. As the man of the house and your husband, I forbid you to enter these premises again.”
    “Oh Bertie. Stop being such a stick in the mud. Now calm yourself before you keel over and I become a woman of means and buy a speakeasy.”
    “Now” Bertie began, having taken a deep breath, trying to remain calm. “Father thinks you need something to occupy yourself. I’ve invited the sobriety ladies for morning coffee. I think you can learn from them. Drinking is ruining the City and I don’t have to remind you that our lively hood rests in the City. That goes bust, we go with it.” Elsie sat, pondering his words. Not liking them but understanding her position and finally agreed with a silent nod.
    The butler walked in with the guests and the morning newspapers.
    “Bertie, there’s something you need to know darling.”
    “Mmm” replied Bertie, flicking through the paper. “What the blazes!” The vain in his head was popping.
    “Ah, you found it. Sorry.”
    “Sorry!” he spluttered. “I don’t expect to see my wife in a state of undress in the papers!” A gasp emitted from the ladies and one needed smelling salts as Bertie threw the paper to the floor, exposing Elsie’s milky white breasts. She picked it up with interest.
    “I think this might catch on Bertie; brings a whole new meaning to keeping abreast with the news.”

    296 (excluding title)
    @Lizzie_Loodles

  15. Chevalier de Seinparis

    “I say, Clarice, have you seen this.” Charlie pointed excitedly at the banner headline of the newspaper, and then just to show what a literate boy he was, he read it – I have to confess that I was in no state to do anything, let alone read. My heart was all a flutter.
    “CHEVALIER DE SEINPARIS ARRESTED,” he translated from Le Figaro. “Adidas Casanova, known also as Chevalier de Seinparis aka Speedy Giacomo, has been arrested in broad daylight on the Champs Élysées whilst enjoying with the Duchess of Yorkshire – they don’t get this county business do they – afternoon tea. He has been charged with outrageous lewdity sans sens conduct impropere avec la mademoiselles à la mode.” Charlie tutted and paused in his translation as he scanned the rest of the story. “How diplomatic,” he continued, “the Duchess appears not to be mentioned again.
    “Well I’m sure they’ll send the beastly fellow down, regardless of his silver tongue and spiffing style. Man’s an absolute menace. Gives us chaps a bad name, what! Should be sent down for life and hung by his particulars! Can’t think how many poor girls he has beguiled with his debonair wit, defrocked and – oh – untimely plucked!
    “Throw away the keys. That’s what I say.” And then the poor fool looked at me for the first time that afternoon. “But my dear Clarice, why do you look so glum? He’s done, he’s gone, he’s finished.”
    I mumbled my reply perhaps without coherence.
    “What’s that you say?”
    I repeated myself.
    “But my sweet Darl’, how can that be?” he almost laughed. “He’s only just been caught!”
    I whispered breathily, “Just before you came, he was here.”
    “Go go, amigo,” I sighed and smiled.

    @CliveNewnham – 291 words

    • This was really good. It took me a couple of readings to get it, but once I did…..loved it. Well done. I love the inclusion of French in your writing.

  16. No idea if this is funny or not but hey not done this for a while & my tale seemed appropriate to my mood & the picture worked too.

    Sunday

    Every Sunday was the same, Hugo and Betsy so engrossed in their own worlds, that they barley acknowledged each others presence. She would spend her time working out the plot of her latest novel, he would spend his time with the Times crossword.

    This would be Betsy’s third novel and she was at a tricky part, the hero and heroine had been separated at the end of the last one, a real tear jerk moment, and she was working out how they could be reunited. She never worked with pen or paper, no one had ever read her work. One day she promised herself, one day she would write it all down, when she had time of course.

    The silence was deafening broken only when Hugo jumped up and started waving the paper under Betsy’s nose. “Look, He said, “4 down, 15 letters ‘Put off today what you can do tomorrow’, starts with a P. Mean anything to you?”

    Betsy dragged herself back from her imaginary world and looked at the paper. Frowning she said “Procrastination. Why would that mean anything to me?”

    Hugo sighed, “Oh never mind”. It was true what they said, writers never saw what everyone else did. She would never write her book, never have the time.

  17. Untold Trauma

    “See! What did I tell you?” Andrew announced, shoving a newspaper in front of Eliane.

    She gasped, hand flying to caress the red jewels adorning her neck. “It can’t be! How could they?? I shan’t believe it!”

    “It’s right there – look at the headline! They’ve destroyed all of it – everything that was left!” He wasn’t trying to be cruel, but this delusion wasn’t healthy. He had to break through her jeweled bubble and force her to acknowledge the truth.

    Eliane spun away, rounding the mahogany dining table laden with all manner of breakfast dishes. She stalked into the sitting room, shoulders resolutely cemented in place, though he could see her lungs struggled for air. Dealing with this wouldn’t be easy for her. Andrew steeled his own resolve and followed.

    “Get away from me with that thing!” Eliane screeched.

    “It’s front-page news of a reputable paper,” Andrew told her calmly, folding the paper. “And this isn’t the only one reporting it.”

    “That doesn’t make it true!”

    “But it is true – they’ve completely destroyed all of it!”

    “Why?” She wailed, crumbling into a richly upholstered chair. “Why would anyone ever do something so awful? It has to be some nefarious plot!” Her tiny hands balled into fists, pommeling her lap instead of the distant enemy.

    “It will be alright, Eliane. It will.” He braced his hand on her shoulder, which now seemed unimaginably fragile. “But you have to acknowledge that this is happening. You can’t go on pretending nothing is wrong – living life as always. This is sooner than we expected, but that doesn’t change the facts.”

    Eliane gazed up at him with rounded, tear-filled eyes. “But, how could all the garnets be gone?”

    —-

    282 words; @AriaGlazki

    • This made me chuckle. I love how you used some of the details from the photo. I think you did a great job incorporating the feel of the pic. I went back and looked at the picture to see if I could see your story there….and sure enough….picture perfect.

  18. “Um, Marge? Marjorie?”

    “I am gazing into the middle distance. Are you not transfixed?”

    “Well, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. You see, it says here…”

    “Dumbfounded by my astonishing and effortless blending of childlike innocence and smoldering feminine magnetism?”

    “Yes, yes, dumbfoundedly smoldering and childlike. But…”

    “Overcome by the sheer magnitude of unspoken raw emotion tinged with a mere whisper of regret?”

    “Marge, in the script. It says, well, we’re not whispering regret just yet, dear. You’re supposed to cross, pour a drink, return and then smolder.”

    “I need no props. I can smolder on my own.”

    “But first you cross…”

    “Daniel, be a dear and move out of my light. I must shine like a thousand suns at this moment.”

    “Marge the camera isn’t even rolling.”

    “My process, Daniel, my process! You do not understand process. You do not understand anything. You are like, your head is like a hard-boiled egg. Now leave me to my craft.”

    “Marjorie, we cannot make a film if you don’t actually do anything.”

    “Do anything? DO anything? I am here, I and this hideous throw pillow, and whatever this monstrosity is around my neck, performing my craft. You, are planted there like a beached walrus blocking my light. Now tell me, which of us is doing something of consequence at this moment?”

    “Fine, Marge. I and my egg-like walrus head will now return to my director’s chair, with my useless script which we are not following, and wait for you to achieve your optimal raw magnetic regretfulness, or whatever the hell it is you are doing. Just let me know when to roll camera.”

    “Thank you dear. Now send someone to go and polish up my Oscar.”

    288 words
    @betsystreeter

  19. Poor Eugene

    “Excuse me miss, maybe you can help me.”

    “Hello. I’m looking for the general manager’s office.”

    “Do you know where it is? I’m late for an interview.”

    “Hmm. Well, I was hoping to make a good impression. I really need this job. It will prove to my father that I’m not a worthless waste of space.”

    “If you don’t mind me saying so, you have very beautiful eyes.”

    “I’m sorry if you think I’m being too forward. My mother always taught me to say what I think, and that one can never go wrong with a sincere compliment.”

    “She also always tells me to find a nice girl and settle down. She is getting pretty impatient waiting for grandchildren.”

    “Father does not like most of the ladies I meet. Father’s very old fashioned. He always says the girls I go out with talk too much, and out of turn. Mother sure does drive him crazy, because she does the very same thing. Father would like you for sure, though. You are very quiet.”

    “I don’t suppose you would accompany me to dinner some night? Maybe see a show? There’s a new show that started two nights ago that is apparently quite the riot.”

    “No? Perhaps I am being too forward. My sincerest apologies.”

    “Oh dear me, I haven’t even introduced myself! I am Carson. Eugene Reginald Carson the Third.”

    “Hopefully the soon to be Second Assistant Inventory Manager Eugene Reginald Carson the Third, if I can ever find my way to the general manager’s office. Do you know where it is? I am very late.”

    “Hello?”

    “Oh drat. I’ve been chatting up a mannequin this whole time. Father would be so disappointed.”

    281 words, not including title
    @cperry

  20. THE HEARTBREAK OF LADY VERA’S SHATTERED DREAMS IN THE DRAWING ROOM OF WENTWORTH HALL JUST A FEW MINUTES AFTER TEA, POSSIBLY AS MANY AS TEN.
    by @Fraser McFraze
    276 words (NOT including title)

    Algernon’s newspaper brandished between them, the two lovers swept together into a horrified embrace. Vera was weeping, hot tears of shame, or anguish—perhaps, at an outside chance, exceedingly weak Darjeeling. But probably shame.

    “But how did this happen to us?” Algernon gasped, an admirable display of respiratory versatility.

    “Impulse, darling, and nothing else, I swear it!”

    “But I do not understand! You did this?”

    “Oh,” Vera sobbed, “oh! Oh, how could you possibly hope to understand? There I was, and everything was just—just there as well. It was all too much for me! And then when that horrid, horrid man asked me if I was interested in—in—it was simply irresistible. I could hardly say a word to stop him, and before I knew it he was gone.”

    “But Vera!” Algernon was profoundly distraught. One of the strands of his hair had come—actually, no, never mind that. Just a reflection.

    “Algernon, you must believe me,” she insisted, cooling her brow with the back of her hand. “I would never have wished to hurt you!”

    “But you did,” Algernon spun away, brandishing the broadsheet, just as before. “In fact, you have finished me. My whole family, our very honour!” The word rang in the air for a moment, like a brass bell made of honour instead of brass.

    “My darling, my Algernon,” Vera whispered. “Surely, my dearest, it cannot possibly be so…”

    “But it is an advertisement, Vera! And for a ‘garage sale’!!”

    To this she had no answer. A heavy silence settled upon the room, broken only by the hushed sound of agitated velvet settling once again, to the dark, dark floor.

    • First, I LOVED the title. Very fun. Also, I enjoyed the melodrama – it was very well executed. Plus, you get bonus points for Darjeeling (my favorite!). I am somewhat confused still. I would love to know if she visited a garage sale and purchased items or decided to have one of her own or both? I believe any would work in this circumstance, but I’m unclear as to which it is. I think with that clarified, it would be completely awesome! 🙂

      • Hm. I see what you mean. My intent was — she placed a classified ad to have a garage sale. Oh the horror.

        Would “But you have placed an advertisement in a public newspaper, Vera”…

        have made that clearer?

  21. Title – Crazy Boobs
    Every door leading up the couple’s dimly lit bedroom was slammed. The changes of brightness played the role of lightning on his flame-red hair and anger distorted face. His spouse took no notice as she laughed at a man she called Johnny Carson – despite it not being Carson on the screen.
    I’m sure the news anchor would’ve taken the compliment with grace.
    “Nicole, are you insane!?” This was the first exclamation out of the clearly distressed husband’s mouth.
    “I prefer free-spirited,” said his golden-haired wife. She laughed at “Johnny’s” latest joke, and she told her husband that she could learn from him.
    He threw down the pictures in his hand and they scattered over the mattress which has not seen many adventures . It showed a woman skipping around the city in a purple see-through nightgown and a gas mask, throwing around chaos as quickly as she dispelled her modesty. Nicole’s breasts shook in that same gown as she laughed at the television screen.
    “The police are looking for you. Why would you do such a thing?”
    “To get what you couldn’t give me. You’re not supposed to leave a lady waiting… And I’m a lady… at least today.”
    The red-haired man left his wife to laugh at the 11 o’clock news and proceeded to call the police. After they arrived and carried her away, all he had left was a lesson: The more a woman has up top, the less she has up top.
    243 words (I think) – @JSHyena

    • I’ve read this several times. Part of it makes me laugh and part of it makes me stop in defense of women lol. There is so much going on underneath. Intriguing.

  22. CULTURE

    “See, your picture’s here in this North Carolina newspaper. So I know you were there – not with your mother last weekend.”

    Oh, God! Why didn’t I turn down that drive?”

    Franklin County, Virginia, new home to Nancy and Bill, proved profitable. Bill hung his shingle as the new JD in the county, and Nancy met the neighbors. Immediately, Bill took on the usual cases involving property disputes, wills, and the occasional illegal still. Apparent collusion between local police and the Good Ol’ Boys created legal complexity.

    Nancy’s gregarious nature took her deep into Franklin’s cane territory. She soaked up country culture while the county men sopped up possibilities, much to Bill’s dismay. As he forbade her more excursions, she clandestinely explored the county. Then Arne broached Nancy’s reverie at Ferrum’s General Store. “I hear you drive around these parts a lot.”

    “I just love to talk to the folks. I met a lady who makes rag rugs! While she’s canning!” Nancy gesticulates her enthusiasm.

    Arne interrupts, “Why don’t you sell their stuff in North Carolina? You drive my truck this weekend to make a delivery.” Desiring what Nancy considered a better life for her county friends, she vigorously agreed to Arne’s idea.

    “I’m off to my mother’s, Bill!” Nancy bounded to the car and drove off the Arne’s farm to make the vehicle switch. She headed south, her innocent, pretty countenance, a ruse on two fronts.

    At the border, Arne’s truck became the subject of an intense search by North Carolina police and federal agents. Despite Nancy’s protestations, these gendarmes ruffled up rugs and jars of pickles to reveal white lightening —— to which Nancy claimed ignorance.

    The North Carolina newspaper headline the next morning read, NO LIGHTENING STRIKE FOR LADY TEAMSTER! Plus an overexposed portrait of Nancy’s chagrin.

    300 wd ct – excluding title

  23. Theater of the Absurd

    “Just look at the paper, will ya?”
    “No, no, I can’t bear to look. You’ve read it. Tell me. No, don’t. No, tell me, but go easy on me.”
    “Geez, Louise, just read it for yourself.”
    “It’s too much. My nerves, you know. My nerves won’t be able to handle it.”
    “Your nerves? For Pete’s sake, it’s just…”
    “No! Don’t say it! You mustn’t say it!”
    “Talk about drama. You’re being absurd.”
    “Absurd? Absurd? My nerves are shot, shot, I tell you. Shattered. There’s nothing absurd about that.”
    “I don’t know. If it looks like a duck, it must be…”
    “What are you talking about? What does a duck have to do with this? Honestly, and you call me absurd. We’ll just have to move. That’s the only solution.”
    “We’re not moving.”
    “We have to. There’s no way either of us can show our faces in this town, not after this.”
    “Now, we progressed from the absurd to the ridiculous. We are not moving. If you’d just look at the paper, you’d see…”
    “La, la, la, la, la. I’m not listening. Boxes. We’ll need boxes to start packing.”
    “No, we are not packing because we’re not moving.”
    “Oh, give it a few days. You’ll see, and you’ll be the one wanting to move. It’s the only way, I tell ya.”
    “I’m not going anywhere, and neither are you. You’re unbelievable. Talk about overreacting.”
    “OVERREACTING! OVERREACTING! HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT?”
    “Geez, calm down, will ya? If you’d just read the newspaper, you’d calm down.”
    “And cut!”
    “Cut? Whadda you mean, cut? That scene was perfect.”
    “No, I’m still not feeling it. Pick it back up at ‘Talk about drama.’ And, action! Um, I said, action!”
    “Just look at the script, will ya?”
    “Geez, just read your lines, okay?”

    299 words (sans title)
    @unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)

  24. “Look at this, my dear. Look at this wonderful news,” Francis told Myrra, pointing to the newspaper. “They are going to build a railroad that goes through the mountain.”

    “Ooooh,” she said, biting her lower lip.

    “Do you understand what that means?”

    “Mmmm.”

    “It means that trains will pass right by our coal mine.”

    “Ahhh.”

    “We can now load coal onto the trains as soon as we bring it out of the mine.”

    “Awwww yeah.”

    “We won’t have to transport it all the way to the train depot in the next town over.”

    Myrra gripped the arms of her chair and arched her head back. “Yessss.”

    “We will save all kinds of money on transportation costs and we’ll ship coal faster.”

    “Oh yes, get it!”

    “We’re going to make so much money! I will buy you a whole set of new furs, diamonds, silks, whatever you want, baby!”

    Myrra licked her lips. “Oh so tasty!”

    “Myrra, are you even listening? What are you – “

    Francis took a look at the moving picture projecting on the wall. The shirtless muscular man danced around the screen, flexing his bulging muscles. He kissed his bicep and winked and the picture ended.

    “What were you saying?” Myrra asked, wiping sweat from her forehead. “What’s this about a train?”

    “Oh, nothing. Nothing exciting.”

    218 words – @hlpauff

    • This is funny. It gets even funnier the second and third time realizing what she meant by “Ahhh” and “Awwww yeah”

  25. What Mother Doesn’t Know…

    Edwin: What do ya think, sis?

    Agnus: Hold on, Eddie. I gotta get my cheaters first.

    Edwin: Surely ya sight ain’t that bad, Ag?

    Agnus: Worse, Eddie. Have to look on you, don’t I?

    Edwin: Bernice Loretta! Ya kiss Mother with that mouth?

    Agnus: Goodness, no, Eddie. You think she’d let me? She’d bump me off first! (Agnus puts on her glasses) What, a chorus girl, Edwin? I know you respect the profession, but…

    Edwin: Chorus girl! Of course not, Bernie! The insurance job!

    Agnus: Oh, thank Jesus. Ya’d neva make it. Then we’d have to deal with Mother’s “disappointment”.

    Edwin: Like hell I would! I could be one of those flappers.

    Agnus: Horsefeathers, Edwin.

    Edwin: You’re on, Aggie.

    Agnus: Deal. Try my rehearsal at seven. We’ll see how them chicken legs hold up.
    Agnus gets up out of the chair, heated. Her brother follows.

    Edwin: Ah, c’mon, Aggie. I know ya are goin’ feminist and all but..

    Agnus: If ya ever insult Susie’s Shebas again, Edwin…I’ll…I’ll punch ya square in the kisser.

    Edwin: I’d like to see ya try, Aggie May. Besides, I can’t imagine Mrs. Anthony would find anything impressive about the name of your little gathering. Sounds somewhat sexist to me.

    Agnus: That’s the point, Edwin. We’re making a statement! Soon we’ll be voting. Watch.

    Edwin: Like hell they will! Women voting! Not in this century!

    Agnus: It’s going to happen, Eddie. It’ll be better than sliced bread. Better than bubble gum. Better than bootleg whiskey!

    Edwin: Sliced bread was invented three days ago, Aggie! And you love the Giggle Juice I’m mixin’ in the basement.

    Mother: What are you talking about, kids?

    Edwin and Agnus: M-mother! I thought you’d still be… (Edwin and Agnus panic, caught)

    Mother: Out? Nope. Now…how about a shot of that Hooch?

    Follow me @nXgWVteacher
    300 Words (not including title)

  26. “Miranda! Have you seen this?” Gerald thrust the newspaper before her jabbing at the article for emphasis.

    “What makes you think I’ve seen it? I don’t read the paper, Gerald.” Miranda turned her nose up and glanced away.

    “Fine. Stupid question. But have you heard…”

    Miranda stared at the patterned wallpaper across the room, counting the tiny flowers that grew in precise patterns. One, two, three… She didn’t like to listen to bad news. Her mother always told her that ignorance was bliss and she intended to prove it.

    Fourteen, fifteen… It wasn’t a very scientific study. She hadn’t quite worked out how to judge whether she was happier not knowing something without finding out what she didn’t know, which would ruin the entire experiment.

    Thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three… She had successfully avoided all manner of news for over a month, but it took focus and careful planning. Sewing circle, book club, even the opera needed to be avoided!

    Forty-five, forty-six, forty-seven…

    TWACK!

    “What was that for?” Miranda massaged her head while she glared at Gerald.

    “Did you hear a word I said?” He brandished the newspaper threateningly.

    “I’m sure I heard it, Gerald. I just wasn’t listening.” She crossed her arms over her chest.

    “So. You think this is bliss?” He gestured at her with the paper. “I can prove you wrong right now.”

    Miranda quirked an eyebrow, “Oh?”

    “Yeah. THIS news?” He tore the paper to bits. “This news makes me SO happy… SO thrilled…” He laughed, “I wanted to share it with you. But you know what?” He tossed it like confetti. “If you want to know what it is, you’ll have to read it yourself.” He turned and stalked out of the room.

    “Now that’s just cheating.” Miranda bit her lip, then knelt to find joy instead.

    300 words
    @lissajean7

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