What’s Cookin’?

“Ilene loves pasta.”


“Yes, Lloyd, pasta, and it’s real sweet if you cook at home for her. First meal I had with Ernest, he cooked up his chili lasagna.”


Ernest joined Marge at Lloyd’s truck. “That’s right, Lloyd. It’s how I got her to stay. Made her pasta.”

“Pasta. Epic. Thanks.”

Marge and Ernest returned to the garage. “I bet Nard’s taking bets.”

Lloyd unpacked his groceries, proud of himself for thinking of garlic bread and for getting not just one kind of pasta but two. He wondered which Ilene would prefer, Chef Boyardee ravioli or spaghettiOs.



September 13, 2018, Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes pasta. It can be spagetti, macaroni and cheese, or any variety. It can be a meal or a work of art. Go where the prompt leads.

Yep, it’s a 99 word continuation of the Ernest and Marge series. See them all here.


It was late when Marge pulled the garage doors down and made her way back to the singlewide. Ernest was still awake.

“Marge. Who won?”

“Who do you think?”

“You, of course.”

“Ah, Ernest, that’s why I love you, you always- ”

Marge, standing at the sink, paused in washing the nacho platter, her sentence unfinished. Ernest pulled the lever on his recliner, came to a sitting position with an abrupt creak and a bang. On the TV Mike Wolff from American Pickers waxed eloquent about a rusty old motorcycle gas tank. From the bedroom the window AC unit could be heard rattling and wheezing as it battled the humidity. Having suddenly developed a tickle in his throat, Ernest coughed lightly.

“Well, goddamn Nard won the pot tonight, and he was being a peckerhead too…”

Ernest stood with Marge at the sink and she again fell silent. He reached around her and turned the faucet off. Marge looked at the faucet, at the cheese ringed nacho platter, at Ernest. A lot had passed between Ernest and Marge over the past few months; a lot hadn’t yet been spoken. Ernest’s throat still tickled.

“I love you, you know Marge.”

“I know. Me too.”

This wasn’t the first time they’d gone to bed with the dishes left undone, but tonight it felt different.


This is the latest in the ongoing story of Ernest and Marge, a not so young couple who are finding their way.

In the Cards

working-template-for-ff-challenges591.pngHere is a second take for the Carrot Ranch September 6, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about an epic workplace. It can be real or imagined. Go where the prompt leads. Seems Marge did not want to be left out as she feels pretty strongly about her place of employment. 




In the Cards

The guys had circled their beer coolers for poker night in Ernest’s garage, where it was less humid than the trailer.

“Marge, I can’t believe you quit being shop foreman to work in this two-bit two bay garage. Left the largest dealership around- state of the art equipment, only working on newer vehicles-”

“Yeah”, chimed Lloyd. “Epic.”

“The work here’s actually more interesting, our customers bring us all sorts of mechanical mysteries to be solved. It’s more personal. And I got tired of babysitting.”

“Oooh, personal! Marge and Ernest up in a tree…”

“Like I said…”

“Epic”, Lloyd repeated.

*************                                      six sentence story.jpg

Of course as soon as Lloyd showed up to play it sure seemed like maybe he and Ilene Higginbottom needed to meet… So the second part is six sentences for Denise’s Six Sentence Story blog hop. The prompt word is “supplement”.


The guys looked up from their game, admiring the mint El Camino that came to an abrupt and dusty stop near the open garage, continuing to stare as Ilene Higginbottom sprang out. Lloyd was instantly on his feet and at the El Camino, insisting on lifting Ilene’s Igloo cooler out of the back for her, even though she protested, pointing out that it was just a little Playmate Pal.

“Yes, it sure is a delicate cooler, a true sign of a lady, which you surely are with your beautiful hair of epic proportions and might I just say that having you play poker with us would be a tremendous supplement to our game.”

“Supplement to our game, good lord, Lloyd, what’s going on, I’ve never heard you string together more than two words before, let alone use three syllable words.”

Marge informed Lloyd and the others that Ilene would not be supplementing their game, that poker night was a guy thing, that Ilene was only coming by to keep Ernest company.

And Ilene, swinging her cooler, did walk around the garage to the trailer, but with a long backward glance at Lloyd who seemed to be tongue-tied once again.


I just added another one. See what happens next in Unprompted.

Epic Bragging Rights

  working-template-for-ff-challenges591.pngOnce again I address two prompts with one flash.six sentence story.jpg

At Carrot Ranch the September 6, 2018 99 word challenge is to write about an epic workplace, real or imagined. GirlieOnTheEdge would have us write a Six Sentence Story prompted by the word “difference”. Here’s the mashed flash.


One woman told about her daughter the pilot- she mentioned three children that were pilots and one that worked for NASA.

A man bragged about his son the writer- she enumerated her journalists, published authors, and artists.

She shared her pride for her children that served in the military, fire, rescue, and police forces, beamed about those that had become nurses and doctors, spoke warmly of the children that stayed close to home and were good citizens.

Finally someone cried foul.

“You can’t possibly have so many children!”

“As a teacher I’ve made a difference for hundreds of children.”


Friday Fictioneers; Reflections

This 100 word story is for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioneers photo prompt, photo courtesy of   © Nathan Sowers 


The old mirror was wrong for the newly renovated bathroom. Placed by the curb, it was sure to be picked up and appreciated by someone.

Did she imagine that? She looked at the mirror again; yes it reflected an old shack. She turned around to see only the well-landscaped gardens of her restored mansion.

A car stopped and the mirror reflected only the familiar gardens again. The old man thanked her for the fine mirror, asked her if she was descended from the original plantation owner. Said his ancestors used to live in a shack there where dogwood now bloomed.

Lil’ Ugly

The dust is already visible on the western horizon.  2018-crffr-icon.pngThose aren’t sleigh bells, that’s the
jingling of spurs; it’s Cowboy Christmas, that’s
right, the Carrot Ranch Rodeo is coming back in October. The slack rounds have already begun with Charli’s TUFF challenge, which continues through September. Check out Carrot Ranch for fun and free writing competitions.

The August 30, 2018, prompt is to, “in 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a bottleneck. You can be literal or use the term to describe congestion. Go where the prompt leads.” I was led to a bull riding event at an arena where the riders are less supportive than those at the Ranch.


Lil’ Ugly

When he drew a bull called Lil’ Ugly the other cowboys laughed.

Bow legged, barrel-chested, with a bottle neck and a jug head, he’d always endured a great deal of ribbing. They angered him but could never get him to throw a punch. He disappointed his tormentors by just walking away. So in addition to picking on his looks they rudely questioned his manhood.

As he approached the chute the others wondered which lil’ ugly was going to be on top.

For a full eight seconds they stopped wondering, marveling at what he did with his bottled up rage.


At the Edge


They said the world was flat. They were wrong. Then they said it was limitless. She suspected they were wrong about that too. She wore the limitations of her world like a chain. Still she managed to steal away, to walk alone and explore her own edges. She instinctively sought higher ground. From here she could look back and see all the village. She preferred to turn her back on that view and instead look out to the fog shrouded sea, searching, waiting, wondering. Would the news be of return or of release? Cool damp fog stroked her cheeks.


It’s been a while since I have played with words in response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday photowritephoto.jpg prompts. I struggle more with photo prompts than word prompts and often the photos are simply too foreign for me. This photo did speak to me and that’s what it said, in 99 words.


An Up & Down Update

Untitled 22Over a week ago I admitted to being a writer, provided as evidence the reveal of a shiny new book cover that is to contain a collection of short fiction. The update is that I continued to struggle with formatting issues, in my ineptitude too ridiculous to discuss. Now I am somewhat less inept. I also found more editing and revising to do, the net result being further delay to completion of the publication of this collection. So still I wait.

I am not sure exactly what it is I wait for. A book, available to any and all…

I can tell you how the waiting goes, what it is like. The cliché simile might be a seesaw or a yo-yo, ups and downs. I vacillate between pride and paranoia, delight and dread. It is exciting to know that soon I will have a book out in the world; it is also extremely frightening. Maybe it isn’t good enough; maybe the stories should have remained as my private little time takers, a hobby tucked away in my computer. Bad reviews? They will no doubt be written and will no doubt be warranted; they will confirm my own doubts.

If I judge this book by its cover, I am more confident. I enlisted Tim Barber of dissectdesigns.com and was very impressed with the process and the result. When I remember that many of the stories debuted at ShiftnShake and received encouraging comments I dare to hope that a wider audience might enjoy them. If I remember that I wrote these raw and for myself, and that the rest doesn’t really matter, I relax a bit. If I look at it as an exercise and learning experience then I have nothing to lose. I have yet to articulate what it is I hope to gain. (Sorry, Charli, I didn’t do all my homework.)

Maybe I hope to gain some credibility as a writer, beginning with myself. I have self-published two other books and I also have a bad habit of downplaying them; just silly poems; just chickens; just for fun; just self-published. This book feels different, and not just because it is prose instead of poetry. I can’t so easily laugh this one off, will not be able to hide behind humor. This book will want to be defended, not dismissed.

What have I done?

Still, let’s get rid of those old playthings, that seesaw and that yo-yo, replace that simile. Yes, there are ups and downs, but it’s more like that terrain called rollers, repeated ups and downs that I enjoy encountering on my bicycle. Some riders are cautious going downhill then complain at every uphill. But if every time you crest one hill you tuck and take advantage of your downhill momentum you are propelled well into the next uphill, minimizing its impact on your progress. Not to be dismissive of the ups and downs, but rollers are kind of fun. And any day is a good day for a ride.

On your left!

Latching On

It is Thursday somewhere within reach of the w.w.w. and so Denise has released the link-up for Six Sentence StoriesThe word of the week is ‘latch’. Ilene and Marge continue their conversation from last week’s Footloose.


“Not for anything, Ilene, but don’t you have your own magic mailbox, you know, the settlement from the mill?”

“OMG, Marge, I do and I just realized if I were a guy I’d be latching onto me! Good times, easy money, but you know what, I end up getting sick of those guys and mad that they don’t change. Well I am going to latch onto me, and I’m going to change, start working again, but on my terms.”

“Did I miss anything while getting your beers?”

“Oh Ernest, we need to toast- Ilene has found her special someone.”


Ilene Higginbottom pulled a folding chair from the bed of the El Camino and joined Marge and Ernest where they sat in their camp chairs outside the shop.

“That’s a pretty fancy camp chair, Ilene, dual cup-holders, and look at you, it reclines too!”

“Yeah, I like to put my foot up. This’s the last thing I bought with my ex-boyfriend’s money before letting him go; only thing about him appealed to me was his magic mailbox.”

Ernest squeezed Marge’s hand before going for more beer, told her he’d start dinner.

“Marge,” said Ilene, “What you’ve got is real magic.”


 working-template-for-ff-challenges55.pngWhen the going gets tough and inspiration fails, Marge, Ernest and Ilene come through. This week they are helping me with two prompts in one flash; the Carrot Ranch August 23, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes magic. It can be a supernatural force, a moment or idea, or use it as a verb. Go where the prompt leads; and the Six Sentence Stories prompt “mailbox”, from Denise at Girlie On the Edge.