Saddle Up Saloon; Story Time!

Good Night Moon at the Saddle Up Saloon? Yep! Come meet Jennie Fitzkee from A Teacher’s Reflections.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

“A preschool teacher walks into a saloon—”

“Oh, I think I know this one Pal. Eats shoots and leaves?”

“What? No, Kid! Look, here comesJennie Fitzkee, a preschool teacher. Howdy Jennie!”

“Hello Pal, hello Kid.”

“Preschool? School prior to school? What age are your students?”

“My students are three and four years old Kid.”

“How’d ya git inta the pre-school teacher gig?”

“Back in the day, most women had three career choices— teacher, secretary, or nurse. I always enjoyed babysitting and playing with my younger sisters, so teaching was a natural choice for me. I have been teaching for thirty-seven years!”

“Must be ya love what ya do, Jennie.”

“I sure do, Pal. I have always taught preschool, no other grade. Lucky me! The best thing about being a preschool teacher is making a real difference. And that happens in small and unexpected moments. The little things are…

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Horizon; SixSentenceStory

It’s Wednesday, Denise‘s day to open the linkup for another Six Sentence Story gathering. This week’s word is “horizon”. These six sentences are being used to continue two 99 word stories of a young man who lives and works on his father’s ranch.

At the Table

“You know, Tom,” his dad said, catching him in a yawn across the dinner table, “You sure have been pushing yourself the last couple weeks.”

Tom looked at the hired hand, a young man called Prince, as he told his dad that he worked so hard because he wanted to wear himself out, wanted to be too tired to think or feel at the end of the day. Then he faced his father. “And if I do give in to what I’m thinking and feeling, least you’ll know I can work, that I ain’t soft.”

Liza drawled, “There’s trouble on the horizon,” her eyes darting around the table looking to see it, but her father and brother were both looking down, both suddenly busy with the food on their plates.

“My father hasn’t spoken to me in over five years,” Prince said.

Tom’s father paused, coughed, looked at Tom when he said, “That’s too bad, Prince; he should want to know that his son puts in a day’s work would make any man proud.”

Saddle Up Saloon; Karaoke Mixed Playlist

Catch up with Kid and Pal. They’re playing your song.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

“What’re ya doin’ Kid?”

“Hey, Pal. Jist tryin’ ta teach my new hog some old tricks. Sit Curly, sit.”

“On the one hand, Kid, I’m glad yer admittin’ thet yer puglet’s a piglet. On the uther hand, I still ain’t so sure this is sech a good idea, yer goin’ ahead an’ keepin’ it as a pet. Whyn’t I go with ya ta Slim Chance’s ranch, git a refund, return this piglet.”

“No way, Pal, I ain’t returnin’ Curly, ain’t gonna have my little piggy put back on the market.”

“Well, I still feel like Slim took advan’age a ya. Mebbe we oughtta report him ta the ‘thorities fer false advertisin’.”

“No way am I squealin’ on Slim ‘bout pigs ta the cops.”

“Well what are ya gonna do, Kid?”

“Look, Pal, mebbe I was lookin’ fer pups in all the wrong places, but I ended up with this here…

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CRLC Challenge; Stilettos

The Cat and the Fiddle

The new hire was twirling his lariat even as he stepped down from his pickup. Tom forgot his sulking and watched, enchanted. The loop drifted soft and slow like a summer cloud over Tom’s grinning dad, began to settle over his sister, who was swoony at the prospect. Then the loop shifted direction and as steadily as the smile leaving Liza’s face, ensnared Tom.

“Hey diddle diddle. Lassoed a cowboy.” As he freed Tom they held each other’s gaze.

“Dad reckons I might learn from you.”

“Reckon so.”

Liza sulked more than a little. Tom was over the moon.

That was the 99-word piece inspired by the 2020 Rodeo Tuff Contest at Carrot Ranch. As a final piece the romantic tale was supposed to include an eerily out of place prop, but I did not bring that element in. This week the December 17, 2020, prompt at Carrot Ranch is: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features stilettos. Who will wear them and why? Go where the prompt leads!

And the Dish Ran Away With the Spoon

Poised proud on the dashboard, they shone through the windshield.

“Shouldn’t you return those shoes to whoever left them in your truck?” Liza was chastising but also hopeful to get the sparkly gold stilettos as a consolation prize. Tom’s dad, still oblivious, also chastised the young man.

“It’s a might unseemly, keeping trophies out in plain view like that.”

“Yessir,” and he gathered the stilettos in one hand, pulled his scruffy duffle bag from the front seat with the other. “But they’re no trophy. They’re mine.”

Tom studied his own dusty work boots, as if for the first time.

Change; SixSentenceStory

The Pickup

“Jeezus, Ernest, are we sure about this?”

“Well, we’ve been taking Vinny to school, and to the diner, and fishing; we get involved with him and his mother at holidays; we’ve met with Social Services and been approved to be foster parents— yeah, we’re sure. Aren’t we?”

“Yes, of course we are, Ernest, because Vinny needs us; it’s just I never dreamed that with all the interventions and scrutiny, his mother wouldn’t get her shit together for that boy.”

“Guess she couldn’t manage that, Marge, so we’re up, and yeah, I’m scared. A live-in teenager— huge change for us.”


“When Ilene was barking orders for both of us to come get Vinny, did she happen to mention how the three of us were going to fit into your truck, Ernest?”

“We’ll fit, won’t we Vinny, like three peas in a pod. Let me just lift the console up and we’ll give peas a chance.”

Marge and Ernest couldn’t see Vinny’s slight smile in the dim dashboard glow of the truck cab and were startled from their own musings when he said he had a peas full feeling now that they had come for him.

“My mother is not capable of changing, you know,” he continued, “but this time I didn’t do anything, didn’t leave, didn’t defend myself, just stood there and let her whale on me with whatever came to hand, and this time they couldn’t help her make excuses. No pain, no gain,” he sighed, and awkwardly but firmly Marge took his hand in hers as Ernest drove them home.

While our Six Sentence Story host, Denise, claims the rule is six sentences exactly, I have two sets of six here. The first is also 99 words exactly and uses the now expired December 10 challenge prompt from Carrot Ranch, “never dreamed”. I wrote two 99 word scenes that precede these but never posted them, though I did leave them in the comments at the Ranch. The second of those is also six sentences and includes “change“. Six Sentence readers will recognize Vinny as a student that Ilene Higginbottom looks out for at the school she works at as administrative assistant.

CRLC Challenge; Never Dreamed

You know what’s going on here. You see the image from the latest Carrot Ranch 99-word challenge, presented by Charli Mills. You know that you can expect something from me here in response to the prompt, sometimes calling up recurring characters, sometimes discovering new ones, sometimes entering one 99-word response, sometimes more, but always going where the prompt leads. But did you know that in addition to what I put here on my home page I always come up with a Ranch Yarn’ for the readers at Carrot Ranch? Did you know that Kid and Pal have been fictional ranch hands for some time now? In addition to being weekly regulars at Carrot Ranch, their yarns are on their own pages here at ShiftnShake. Since March of this year Kid and Pal can also be found every week at their very own fictional watering hole, The Saddle Up Saloon. There they provide entertainment and interviews. Did you know they’d be happy to have you drop in and even take the stage?

This week, in response to Charli’s announcement that she is expecting a puppy, Kid has decided to get a puppy too.December 10, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something a character never dreamed would happen. The situation can be fortuitous, funny, or disappointing. Go where the prompt leads!In three:


“Kid, where’n heck ya been?”

“Saw a advertisement fer young dogs, fer sale at the Slim Chance Ranch. Slim seemed real tickled, me wantin’ a dog. Hopin’ you’ll be happy fer me too Pal.”

“Hmmf. Uh, Kid yer pup’s got kinda a flattened face.”

“It’s its breedin’, Pal. This here’s a puglet.”

“Uh-huh. Kid yer puglet ain’t got much fur. It’s kinda pink.”

“She ain’t fully growed. Like baby rabbits or mice.”

“Uh-huh. Kid, why’s yer puppy wearin’ booties?”

“Slim did that ta pertect her paws, said they ain’t fully developed. Yet. Never dreamed I’d have my own puppy!”


“Kid, it behooves me ta tell ya somethin’ ‘bout yer puppy.”

“What kin ya say ‘cept how dang cute she is? Look’t her waggin’ her tail. Might call her Curly. What d’ya think a that?”

“Oh, it’s a fine name fer yer puglet, Kid, but—”

“Look’t how she likes ta be scratched behind her ears.”

“’Bout them ears, Kid…”

“Hey, it’s Shorty.”

“Hey Kid, hey Pal. Oh, Kid! Yer gonna raise yer own? Musta gone down ta Slim’s.”

“Yep, got a puglet of my own. Gonna train it ta hunt.”

“Really? Never dreamed there’s truffles on the Ranch.”



“Truffle huntin’ might work out, Kid, but I figgered you’d be raisin’ this piglet up fer bacon. Not surprised ya went ta Slim’s when he advertised young hogs fer sale.”


“I’m more of a hoss person, but I’d say ya got yerself a real fine piglet, Kid.”


“Jist keep her outta the carrot patch. I ain’t fergittin’ yer trouble with goats, Kid, but reckon we kin accommodate yer bacon project.”


“Takes a lot Kid, ta raise yer own, ta look yer food in the eye.”

“Never dreamt I’d give up bacon. Come Curly. Good girl.”

Menu Deux; SixSentenceStory

Today’s Special by D. Avery

She and the older woman continued to sit together on the bench well after they’d distributed all the birdseed.

“Some people say to let the birds forage on their own, say not to feed the birds, makes them too dependent, but I say it’s okay because I do know these birds; we’re connected.”

“I think it’s possible you’re also connected to a squirrel or two.”

Laughing, the older woman pushed herself up from the bench; she rose too, and asked if she might want to join her somewhere for lunch.

“Oh, I know just the place, a little diner not too far from here, don’t even ask to see the menu, just order the special. It’s not always what you thought you wanted but then it’s always just what you need.”

Here is a continuation of my first “menu” story, prompted by Six Sentence Story host Denise at  GirlieOntheEdge.

Menu; SixSentenceStory

She sat on the end of the bench, phone in hand, absentmindedly scanning and searching— for what? Looking up she noticed that everyone walking by had their heads bent; texting, reading, nodding and talking out loud as they passed by unseeing.

What did app even stand for, appetite? With the sudden realization that the endless menu bar offered nothing for her hunger she pocketed her phone and stood, scattering birds, birds that, like the older woman feeding them at the other end of the bench, she hadn’t even seen until then.

“That’s okay,” the woman consoled her as she sat down again, “They’ll come right back, just give them some of this.” Taking the proffered birdseed from the older woman, their smiles conveyed far more than any beams between distant satellites and cell towers.

The word from Denise this week, to be used in exactly six sentences, is “menu”. I also give a conciliatory nod to last week’s word, “beam”. Go to GirlieOntheEdge to leave your Six Sentence Story. It’s a lot of fun with no adverse side effects. Except one might lead to another. I just posted a sequel to this Six.

CRLC Challenge; family traditions

The December 3, 2020, prompt from Carrot Ranch: “In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes family traditions. It can be related to any holiday or situation. How does the tradition impact the story or change the character? Go where the prompt leads!

Hunting Spot

Nothing, not women, jobs, not even a move, had ever interfered with their tradition. No matter what, he and his brother took the first week of deer season and spent it at camp, just the two of them. He was determined to see the whole week through this year too.

Now he paused instinctively. The large buck he’d been tracking stepped into view. He raised his rifle, took aim. Then he lowered the rifle, leaned it against a tree.

“It wasn’t really about the hunting was it?” he said aloud. The buck bounded away. He scattered his brother’s ashes.