Category Archives: @Chrisa_Hickey

Poop Goes the Pigeon

“Gather ’round, my good friends,” he said. One by one, they flocked to the fire.

Word quickly spread, the city was tearing down all the statues, and there was going to be organized outrage. #OccupyMarble began.

Organization was hard with this group, most of which were prone to distraction by stray trash swirling nearby the fire.

Luckily, a leader had emerged. Werble was young and plump with a Master’s in Public Speaking. He knew how to unify the masses.

“Quool! Quool!” Clearing his throat, Werble got everyone’s attention. “Friends, many a feather is ruffled today by the…”

“…developments that going on down south,” he began. The followers wobbled in agreement. “But let us not let that stop us!”

Towards the back of the huddled mass was a drum-pigeon. Banging horribly off-beat in 2-3 step. It threw off Werble’s cadence.

A murder of black crowes began circling overhead, casting wicked shadows on the flock below.

The leader of the crows, Chris, looked at the mass below and began thinking aloud, “they are going to be Hard to Handle”

Chris watched as Werble’s out-of-step eyes were drawn to the sign: “World’s Largest Outdoor Car Show in town today.”

And there it sat, there in the parking lot…everyone’s favorite car. The top target of targets…

… the 1961 Ferrari 250GT California. Less than 100 were made. It was the town’s love, it is the town’s passion. It was…

…the stupid human’s fault he didn’t park in a garage. “Let’s make a statement, boys!” shouted Werble. Protesters took to sky…

…circling. One big, giant blog of gray feathers. “When I give the signal, you know what to do!” yelled Werble.

All of the sudden a wild pack of Honey Badgers arrived. They looked hungry.

Werble paid no attention and forged ahead, signaling with his claw, mangled from a barbed wire incident, three times. The flock…

…descended from the sky emitting an eerie shriek. That noise was deafening to the stupid humans below. Suddenly and without warning

A gale force wind picked up and blew the flock off course. But this formidable breeze was no coincidence.

A huge crow shaped spacecraft emerged from the overcast sky. In the pilot’s seat was

Meryl Streep, the self-proclaimed leader of the International Bovine Transmology Debate Team.

At her side, Cee Lo Green, the self proclaimed Prince of….

…St. Luke’s Presbyterian Medical Center, raised his fist. “Arm the torpedoes!” he shouted, pointing at…

The Boston Billionaires Retreat was being held at the D-Luxe Inn. A veritable hodge podge of the richest peeps in the land.

Meryl, channeling her character from the recent hit, Labyrinth 2: Back to da Maze, raised her crystal necklace to the sun

She and the Occupy group had hated the BBR Club ever since they’d bankrolled the Land Before Time franchise.

The crystal’s power would certainly settle the score. It had the power to…

incite the black-toed dirtybirds to recite the most diabolical of chants.

“If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me…

…for I must be traveling on now,” chanted the flock. The BBR Club stood no chance against Freebird and retreated to the Inn.

Which is exactly what Streep, Green and Werble wanted. The flock attacked, unleashing enough droppings to turn the blue sky white.

The 1961 Ferrari 250GT California sat there helpless to the onslaught.

Splat! Squish! Bam! The car had no chance. Werble’s eyes got bigger as he swooped in for the kill shot, landing on the hood.

He took a moment to adjust his bowtie. Flashed a smile at Meryl, then let loose.

That poor, poor hood.

THE END

 

Funny story this week. Werble and the pigeons staging a protest. And with the help of Meryl Streep and Cee Lo Green, they were able to show those rich, stuck up Boston Billionaires a thing or two. If only our government could learn a thing or two from a bunch of pooping pigeons. But I guess there’s still time.

Thanks to all the writers on this story – @RobotStephe, Chrisa_Hickey, @MojoEnvy, @TonyPawela, @AZHockeyNut, @MusicAdamT, @Guert, @paulmtracy, @courtcan and @hwtibbs. You guys were great, even despite Twitter continuing to mess with tweets in the timeline.

As an aside, I think this is probably my last story. I’ve been doing this for about a year now, and it feels about time to wrap it up, take what we’ve collectively written and do something with it. When I started, I had no idea what this would become. I was hoping to get a few short stories here and there. But because of all of you, it exceeded my expectations. So thank you. And don’t worry – when I’ve decided what to do with these stories we’ve all written together, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Thanks.

-Josh

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The Two-headed Monster

 

“I’m hungry,” said Wally. “Too bad,” said Pauley. This two-headed monster sure loved to bicker.

Pauley & Wally were laying on their master’s property, knowing that soon enough they’d receive the call to action.

After months of training, it was time. But with their constant disagreement, no one was sure they’d be able to execute the plan.

It was hard for them to execute anything as Pauley could only look left, and Wally could only look right.

But the one thing they both could do–and very well, I might add–is hatch a scheme. And hatch they would.

On the north side of town, the feed store manager, Dolly, was busy with year end accounting. She didn’t notice the sirens until…

…Collie ran inside and uttered the phrase that struck fear in Dolly’s heart: Timmy fell in the well.

And now it was go time. Wally jumped up first, but Pauley’s heavy head pulled Wally back down. They came crashing to the ground.

Meanwhile, Timmy was splashing around in the well. Dolly was pacing. “When are Pauley and Wally gonna get here?”

Collie wasn’t bright, but he sensed Pauley & Wally would never get there on their own. Collie had to take matters into his hands

Or rather, his paws.

He trotted over to Wally and Pauley’s to find them bickering. “It’s time to go!” yelled Wally. “No it’s not!” screamed Pauley.

Collie had heard enough. He grabbed Wally & Pauley by their scruffy twin necks and drug them out the door.

Collie dragged Wally and Pauley across the muddy field, up a cobblestone hill and through a sizable patch of tall grass to the well

“Well?” Collie demanded.

They still couldn’t agree. Pauley wanted to help. Wally to sleep. And the longer they took, the longer Timmy was down in the well.

Collie knew if the pair couldn’t come to an accord, things wouldn’t end well at all. But Collie had one last trick up his sleeve.

Dolly. Her ample size and bleach-blonde fur scared the living daylights out of Wally & Pauley. They would not cross her.

“Dolly,” Collie said, “help me get these pups straightened out.” Dolly drew a breath into her ample chest and began to…

sing. “Hey Wally, hey Pau-ley. You neeeeed to help us out. Hey Wally, hey Pauley, right now. Right now right now right now.”

That got their attention. They were huge fans of “Singin’ in the Rain” and Gene Kelly. Now, they were ready to save little Timmy.

Wally and Pauley grabbed spelunking gear and started down the well. There was this keen determination in all four of their eyes.

Then the usual argument began. “Why do I always have to go 1st?” cried Pauley. “YOU? It’s ME who always goes 1st!” Wally shouted.

Dolly couldn’t stand it anymore, so she just pushed them over into the well. They had no choice but to save little Timmy now.

Especially since Timmy had been submerged under the pair after their fall.

The strange anatomy that was Pauley & Wally helped liberate Timmy. Thus, proving the old adage—two heads are better than one.

Timmy was able to climb out to safety, stepping on the pairs’ heads to do so. And now, it was Pauley and Wally who were stuck.

Amazingly, Wally & Pauley worked together like their life depended on it. Which it did. They followed Dolly’s pitchiness to safety.

And thus, when it came down to it, Wally and Pauley came through. Everyone lived happily ever after. Despite the bickering.

THE END

 

Sorry for the delay in getting this story up. I know all of you were dying to read it. So now you have your chance. This was a weird one – lots of name rhyming, and it didn’t have that many twists and turns. It was kind of matter of fact. Someone fell down a well, then he got saved. Oh, and a little Dolly Parton mixed in.

 

Thanks to @Chrisa_Hickey for supplying the photo. I believe they’re her dogs. And thanks to @nella22 @chrisa_hickey @ShesAllWrite @MojoEnvy and @MusicAdamT for writing with me.

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Bieber Fever

He came and went as he pleased, jumping in and out of our lives. But who was this masked man?

We were all starting to feel nervous, because he’d pop up in the strangest moments. He seemed to be able to read our minds.

He was always around during birthdays and July 4th. Other events were unpredictable, yet it was always considered good luck.

His dress was unremarkable. Though he had appeared at so many celebrations, no one could ever remember what he wore.

This man, he went by the name…

… Reaper. Justin Reaper. He was the prettiest picture of death the world would know in modern times.

He was no man at all, but a manifestation of all four horsemen of the apocalypse: Social Media, Pop Music, Teen Crushes.

But the irony was with Justin Reaper, he hated death, to kill, to extinguish life. But that’s his job and it was killing him.

… and Teen Parents Living Vicariously Through Their Children. His presence meant the end times were upon us. And then the snow…

The snow led him to contemplate the lives he’d ruined, each like a single flake falling to the ground and melting into oblivion.

It was a time of reflection, of looking inward, and Justin Reaper hated what he saw. “I hate what I see,” he said to his friend…

…Jayden Blue Ivy Cent, the muse of teeny-bopper pop music.

“So change,” said Cent. “I can never change,” retorted Reaper. “You’re always saying ‘Never say never,'” said Cent. He had a point.

“Why do you say that, by the way?” asked Cent. “It’s the most oxymoronic phrase ever.”

Reaper shrugged. “Someone told me to.” With that mindset, no way he’d change. Jayden Blue Ivy Cent needed to stage an intervention.

Cent wracked his brain for an intervention specialist. He flipped on MTV and found… @DrDrew.

And he needed to gather all of Reaper’s friends. Which was no small task considering his mere presence meant imminent death.

Maybe it would be wiser to pick the friends already passed on. Cent called Tupac, Biggie and, for another point of view, Andy Gibb.

The intrepid trio suggested calling upon 140-year-old Dick Clark to help them on their quest – find the greatest song about death.

And then the first faint notes of Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper broke the intrepid silence.

Reaper sensing what was going on, gestured crudely, yelling “haven’t I given you all more than enough damn cowbell?!”

“Sometimes a guy just needs a hug, a happy song and a nice cheese platter to share with his friends.”

Music hath charms to calm the savage beast. Reaper’s was infused with the peal of cowbell. A small, fatalistic smile lit his face.

And with great glee the Reaper shrieked, “No more cowbell!” It was the day the cowbell died.

And there was much rejoicing. But there was still the matter of Reaper’s job satisfaction–or lack thereof.

“You know there’s a gig bagging groceries open at the Piggly Wiggly?” Andy Gibb offered.

Cent stifled a giggle at the name. Piggly Wiggly. But Reaper’s eyebrows raised. “Tell me more, Andy,” he said.

Andy gazed past Justin Reaper, past Jayden Blue Ivy Cent, past Biggie & Tupac, even past Dick Clark. “The Pig,” he whispered,” is…

…ON TWITTER! Reaper paused, envisioning a nest full of rabid followers, favoriting and retweeting his (or The Pig’s) every word.

“Screw bagging groceries,” Reaper declared. “I can reign down death on shoppers everywhere via social media!” His grin widened.

Somewhere in Silicon Alley, a self-proclaimed social media guru scrolled through his Twitter feed…

He read the notification out loud, “Piggly Wiggly followed you”…

“I think I’m gonna like Twitter,” Reaper hissed, slyly drumming his fingers on his desk.

Justin Reaper handed his scythe to Tupac. “No need for this anymore. All I need is a smartphone and unlimited data.”

“Like I care. I’m already dead,” Tupac answered, dropping the scythe. But Jayden Blue Ivy Cent shuddered at what he’d enabled.

Just when all appeared lost, Andy Gibb piped in, “It’s cool, man! @ATT no longer offers unlimited data! Shadow dancing…yeah…”

Startled, Justin Bieber woke up sweating. His mom was bedside. “You’re okay, Justin,” she said. “You just have a fever.”

THE END

 

Interesting story. Not sure how I feel about contributing to Bieber Fever, so I guess the fact that he was actually responsible for killing people in this story makes it a little more tolerable. We should have had him kill himself. And his music. Then we’d all be happier. Well, except for the group Teen Parents Living Vicariously Through Their Children. They’re a force to be reckoned with. Okay, so this story went all over the place, but I was completely fine with it. I had already come up with how everything would end this afternoon, so I was just letting it go. Until it stalled. Then, BAM – Bieber fever. Get it?

Thanks to @kschaffs for supplying the photo. It definitely got people writing. And also, glad to have you involved. Hope next time you write too.

Thanks to all the writers – @nella22, who’s good for supplying the second line to a story about 89.7% of the time, @Robotstephe, whose sense of humor fits well with mine, @ShesAllWrite and @Chrisa_Hickey, who were having a personal back and forth toward the end, gabesphone_com, who was a first-time contributor and added a hilarious line right in the middle of @jsetlak’s patented triple-tweet that had me stuck on how to make it all make sense, @jsetlak, who triple-tweeted, @MusicAdamT and @MojoEnvy, who helped me kick Twitter and get it to work when their tweets weren’t showing up, and my old co-workers @TonyPawela and @elderberryjam, who humored me and wrote because I asked them to help out. Fun.

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Thriller, Thriller Night

This is the story of Wendy.

It was hard on Wendy, being a single, undead gal in the big city.

And her job at the Pumpkin Peeling Plant wasn’t fulfilling.

She was sick of it. So Wendy got dolled up, doing her hair and make-up, then set out to find a new job.

As the train rattled towards Vicksburg, she grasped her purpose in life. “I must

bring an end to the unethical farming and consumption of humans. It’s terrible for the environment.”

Wendy had recently become a member of ZETH – Zombies for the Ethical Treatment of Humans. ZETH was committed to…

…passing Prop-Hu23 in Congress, requiring farms to raise free range humans, thus abolishing the cruel conditions of the day.

Wendy got off the train at Vicksburg and immediately went door to door, spreading the word, getting signatures.

… and the occasional shotgun blasts from the homes of humans who had been hiding out, waiting until the inevitable …

6 hours, 8 signatures and 3 Human Gorditas later, she realized she needed to do something that would have a bigger impact.

Luckily, Wendy was also an accomplished singer. So she went to Vicksburg Plaza, where white collar Zombies took their dinner breaks.

Waiting for her cue, she peeked at a menu. Arm Tartar. Brain a la Mode, garnished with toenail. Intestines & Chips. She shuddered.

She cleared her throat and sang “Free The People Before We Eat The People” at the top of her lungs just outside Hüm restaurant.

The audience called for an encore & more brains, wanting her to sing yet again. This time she’d sing about the new law.

She’d prepared a doo-wop for this performance. “Anyone know how to harmonize?” she asked. Everyone just stared at her, zombie-like.

“I doo–” but as soon as Jacob said that, his deteriorating mouth fell off but…

…he kept singing anyways. He couldn’t enunciate. It was awkward. Fed up, Wendy leveled a shotgun at the crowd. “Now listen up!”

Suddenly, a squeaky voice from the back called out, “I do!” The sun blinded her she could not see his face.

So she pulled the trigger. Buckshot severed Danny DeVito’s right arm, but that wouldn’t stop him from harmonizing.

He had trouble holding his notes, though, because of his constant wincing. And that just made Wendy even more irate.

So she instead broke into an interpretive dance. It was magical.

She moved her arms back and forth, up and down, sideways. It was no surprise that the other zombies followed suit. It was Thriller.

As the Zombies did the Thriller dance, Danny DeVito and the rest of the humans saw this as their opportunity to escape captivity.

Danny and the others made a run for it, but the zombies didn’t budge. They were, well, in a Zombie-like trance.

The group of humans reached a field. DeVito looked over his shoulder, seeing Wendy one last time. “I always…

“…wanted to see her dance,” he said. “It was on my bucket list.” He kept running, surprisingly limber for a short, round old guy.

Like a fullback on the Packers he barreled through a field of zombie secondary dropped like bowling pins on a Saturday night.

DeVito and the rest of the humans kept running and running until they reached Mexico. They crossed the border, free at last.

THE END

So it’s been a while since I wrote a story, and I forgot how fun they are. I mean, we had zombies, the Thriller dance, shotguns and Danny DeVito. Too bad Rhea Pearlman didn’t make a cameo. But good for DeVito to escape and finally be able to live a normal life, albeit in Mexico. But hey – it beats living on an organic human farm. Right?

Thanks to everyone who jumped back in and wrote with me. I really appreciate it and hope you had a good time. @Chrisa_Hickey, @officerpupp, @hwtibbs, @Pawela04, @MusicAdamT and @melmo3 – you all are great. And a special shout-out to @AZHockeyNut, who wrote with us for the first time. Hope you join us again. Oh, and for those wondering, I took the photo myself on Halloween on my way home from work. He/She scared the crap out of me.

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John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

He was banished to the corner. Again. Seems to be the story of his life.

But he refused to wear pants, and they couldn’t force him, even with…

…bacon on the brain. Thoughts not wavering and with a skillet in tow…

…he stuck his finger up his nose and lamented his sad state of affairs.

Since being banished John Jacob had been trying to figure out

just where his life was headed.

At the same time, upon attempting to find bacon and pants…he heard a sound. Or a bang.

Or even possibly, a clang. It had a distinct ring, but not like a bell had rang. It was definitely not a ding.

The source revealed itself as the chef-shaped kitchen timer, which had fallen onto the floor as its time expired.

John Jacob was relieved. He thought it was his German half-brother, Jingleheimer Schmidt, coming back to finish what he started.

You see, Jingleheimer was a big confectioner. And John Jacob preferred savory. So he shuddered whenever his brother baked.

It’s not that he was bad – no, wait. It was. He put Aleppo Pepper in everything. Including the Chocolate-Dipped Spice Twists

that were ready to be taken out of the oven. The timer had been ringing for 22 minutes. But Jingleheimer was still on his run.

“Let the baking BURN!” said John.

And it did. John cackled, then coughed, in the corner, watching the smoke billow out of the oven. But where was Jingleheimer?

And why, pray tell, did he not put on pants before entering the kitchen this morning? The Inpsectors™ were coming by!

He wasn’t the baker in the family, and the last time he took something out of the oven, it was a disaster. His scars proved it…

John reinserted his finger in his nose, his go-to posture for deep thinking.

John probed his sinus cavity for ideas, trudging through lost notions and manic whims before striking a subterranean concept.

“What if Jingleheimer’s hurt?” John thought. He pulled his pants up and made his way through the smoke to go find his brother.

He found him passed out on the floor overcome by the aroma of burnt buns still clutching plans for Jingle’s Bacon Bun Food Truck.

John grabbed Saran Wrap, put it over Jingleheimer’s mouth, poked a hole, and began CPR. (You never know where a Schmidt has been)

While Schmidt was a terrible baker, he was a masterful flirt. It seemed no woman could resist him.

…and into the black Lincoln Town Car he had been using for his burgeoning limo service.

En route to the hospital, Schmidt stirred from the back seat, a low chortle reverberating in his smoke-filled lungs…

“Who’s this freak?” asked the rich lady with the long black veil that John had forgotten was his fare in the back seat.

“And why’d we stop in that driveway?” she continued. “And now where are we going?” John rolled his eyes, then raised the partition.

“Terribly sorry, ma’am, but we’ll have to make one more stop before taking you to the opera. I’m sure we won’t be…”

Saved by the partition. Jingleheimer would have to deal with the lady’s nagging. John turned the radio up. His favorite jam was on

…the dashboard – strawberry, what was left of his lunch. And now it was nearly dawn. “Man, I’m hungry. Wish I had a…

…piece of toast. Or one of Jingleheimer’s Chocolate Dipped Spice Twists.” As if on cue, there was a knock on the partition.

It was Schmidt. He surreptitiously pulled something from his pocket and flung it at john while the lady was on the phone.

John ducked instinctively, and when he did, he yanked the wheel left, crashing into the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile in the next lane.

The Weinermobile immediately burst into flames. “One dog, well done,” muttered John. He could hear Schmidt & the lady yelling…

…in excitement over the prospect of free hot dogs. John Jacob quickly realized his good fortune as well, and he started yelling.

Everyone was yelling happily. John Jacob, Jingleheimer Schmidt and the old lady went in for a group hug. Then for hot dogs.

THE END

 

“John, Jacob, Jingleheimer, Schmidt.” I used to love that song growing up. So I was psyched at the possibilities for where a story about these two brothers could go. And despite their differences, when it came down to it, John Jacob had his brother’s best interests in mind. And they ended up with hot dogs! So lucky!

Lots of new contributors on this one. Thanks to @swcouture for the photo. And to new writers @rookiephenom, @MusicAdamT, @swcouture and @martinbihl. And of course, thank you to regular contributors @FeliciaCago, @Chrisa_Hickey, @swanieson, @Robotstephe, @nella22, @Pawela04 and @hwtibbs. That was a fun story.

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Somewhere Over the Rainbow

“The pot of gold must be on top of that red brick building,” she thought. And the hunt was on.

“But how can I get there before Maggie,” she whined, “when she’s a giant and I’m so small?”

Not to be deterred, she grabbed her Ziploc® of loose change, and headed out the door. Cab would be the best way to get there.

“A cab, a cab, who called a cab?” Up pulled Mike the psychic cab driver.

“I did,” Margie said. “Take me to -” “I know where – and we’re racing against Maggie!” Exclaimed Mike as he sped off.

Maggie though had decided public transportation was the way to go and was stuck behind a stroller pushing mother.

The streets were full of vendors, stray dogs and, a camel. All of this was slowing the cab down. Margie was losing time.

Maggie was having problems of her own on the magenta line. Babies were everywhere!

Margie jumped from the cab and lept onto the camel in one swift movement.

However, at a point later in the story, Margie will realize that she left her Ziploc® bag in the cab. This does not bode well…

Since in addition to nickels and dimes the bag contained a gps tracker she had planted on Maggie.

While Margie was camel-leaping, Maggie was having troubles of her own. $4.46 for a medium latte? This city is getting ridiculous.

Margie drove ever-forward in the camel, nestled lovingly between the two humps. Inching closer to the red building.

Meanwhile, the pot of gold was shrinking because

of the hole in the pot, which Lloyd the Leprechaun bought second hand at a garage sale.

“You get what you pay for,” Larry muttered to himself. Not realizing…

…that he referred to himself as Larry instead of Lloyd, it became apparent to others that Lloyd might have a split personality.

Larry-Lloyd spoke those words to himself, but Maggie thought he was speaking to her. Finally, a bright spot in her day.

Meanwhile the camel, who’s name was Manfred, started running toward an oasis filled with rice milk.

Meanwhile, across town…

The real story was unfolding: Leprechauns in Lakeview. Not just there for drinks at Berlin, but apparently hiding gold on rooftops.

Neighborhood gossip placed at least one leprechaun working in the back at Cheesie’s Pub & Grub – specializing in potatoes.

Of course, the inevitable drunk Irish jokes are bound to come out when they hide gold so close to 1000 Liquors.

One leprechaun noticed Margie and her camel at the rice-milk oasis. “How much for the camel?” he asked.

“Not for sale,” said Margie. “No, I mean the one behind your ear,” he replied. “I could use a cigarette.” Margie loved her Camels.

Maggie trudged forward in her Converse® All-Stars. She never played basketball, but loved the green plaid design.

She got to the rooftop but the pot of gold was gone. Margie was already off in Mexico enjoying her riches. And cigarettes.

THE END

 

Anytime Leprechauns, booze, cigarettes and gold are involved, it’s impossible not to have a good time. This week’s story was all about greed, and Margie managed to outfox her sister Maggie. Poor Maggie. Maybe she could go get a drink with Lloyd-Larry at Berlin. Or they could just go get a handle of some Irish whiskey at 1000 Liquors and wallow in their sorrows.

The way these stories unfold always crack me up – stuff like when Lloyd the Leprechaun became Larry the Leprechaun and the use of the ®. I’m grateful for everyone who writes these stories with me. Collaborating on this one were @Robotstephe, @Chrisa_Hickey, @swanieson, @paulmtracy, @FeliciaCago, @Guert, @jsetlak and @officerpupp. Thanks all.

 

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God Almighty

It descended upon the city, slowly swirling in, high above even the tallest buildings. But what was it?

Marcel looked up and noticed that these clouds were different then the ones he’d been studying. These clouds…weren’t clouds…

It was smoke. Taking another drag on a gigantic cigar, Zeus furrowed his brow at the city.

And then he blew.

But nothing came out but a small gust of air.

Having smoked cigars for many years Zeus’ lungs weren’t all they were in his younger years.

Zeus re-dragged and re-blew with success. The tallest towers disappeared and Marcel knew that he was to blame because

he dared Zeus the night before to explain the weight of smoke. Zeus employed a method learned from Sir Walter Raleigh long ago…

Sir Walter Raleigh – whose exaggerations were legendary – once told Queen Elizabeth I that he could determine the weight of smoke.

Weigh cigar. Smoke cigar, ashing onto scale. Weigh ashes. Difference between weight of cigar and ashes = weight of smoke.

Why a mortal like Marcel was daring Zeus to do anything was a mystery. Marcel forgot that Zeus had a sick sense of humor.

Had Marcel remembered the story of Leda and the Swan, he’d know not to give Zeus any excuse to interact with mortals directly.

But it was too late. The sky was now “thundering,” but Marcel knew better. It was Zeus, with his deep, bellowing, smoker’s laugh.

Zeus had called his bluff, clearly proving his cosmic superiority. Marcel, undeterred, shouted up to the clouds. “I’m not…

“…deterred!!!”

Zeus was clearly willing to do anything, but Marcel was a man of his word. He paced back and forth, thinking of what to do next.

Eventually he decided to call the fire department. “I need the biggest ladder you’ve got,” he said.

Not the type that took kindly to loaning out equipment, the Chief politely told him to eff off. But Marcel, undeterred as usual,…

Pulled out the yellow pages and looked up

“Ladderrific! For ladders to Zeus.” He dialed the number and heard a recording on the other end say: “You…

doofus. The only way to reach Zeus is via the Unending Escalator, located in…

the 7th stall in the 4th floor ladies washroom of the Marshall Field building. Thank you for your inquiry.” Marcel was elated.

But the elation quickly died down, replaced with skepticism. “God, that recorded voice sounded familiar,” he said aloud.

that swan. “There were so many things I didn’t know about her,” Marcel said before making his way to the Unending Escalator.

A mythology professor from the University of Chicago,

his children, all eight of them, all boys, except one, one girl, one little girl who was the key to this big plan

stood on the sidewalk, watching. “Hey you,” Marcel shouted to the U of Chicago professor. “Can you and your daughter come with me?”

“Either we all come or none of us do,” said the professor. Marcel had no choice. “To the Unending Escalator!” he yelled.

Off they marched to Marshall Field’s, Marcel leading the way. Briefly, a group of tourists followed, thinking it was a guided walk.

In time these tourists fell back, captured by the alleged allure of the American Girl store. At State St., the group realized…

they needed a suitable tribute for Zeus. “A virgin? Gold?” asked the professor. “No,” said Marcel. “Zeus has that. We need…”

They had been walking the wrong way for 20 minutes. Marcel thought, “Is the unending escalator even worth it?”

But he trudged on. “We need…,” he stammered. “We need…we need…What exactly do we need again?”

“The list is clear!” screamed the professor. “We need a Ginger, 7 daisies, and a Hellenologophobic. Zeus loves irony.”

The little girl held on to a plush Alf doll, which Marcel grabbed. “This orange mess of ginger hair works. Surely Zeus has no Alf.”

They then passed a Sbarro, spotting Daisies Fuentes, Duke, Irani, De La Hoya, Foote, Duck and Ms. Daisy having their weekly lunch.

“Our seven daisies!” screamed Marcel as he stopped the group in their tracks. “Someone get them!”

The Daisies jumped up and tried to run for the door. In the commotion, they forgot the exit was a pull door. 7 Daisies, check.

“Ay dios mio,” yelled Fuentes, “my triple cheese slice fell on the floor!” Duke, meanwhile was hollering for her cousins Luke & Bo.

The last thing they needed was a Hellenologophobic. “Be on the lookout for a Hellenologophobic, everyone,” asked Marcel.

“What IS that?” asked the girl. “It’s someone who’s afraid of logos with Hellen in it,” said Marcel. “Duh.”

Marcel thought, “distractions.” All of the sudden the sky changed & it was a massive haboob.

He was mistaken. “Actually, it’s someone afraid of Greek terms,” the professor chimed in. “So like a Roman?” asked his daughter.

A roman or things like aeropostle or anthropology.

As they got to Marshall Field’s, a prison bus drove by. “Look!” screamed the girl, pointed frantically. “It’s Roman Polanski!”

“That’ll do,” said Marcel. “Stop that bus!!” Ms. Daisy, trailing a little behind the rest of the group, jumped in front of the bus.

The haboob was gaining strength & Marcel was the only one who showed concerned.

Thankfully the bus stopped as there is nothing worse than a smushed Daisy! Out stepped the elusive Roman

as the professor guarded his kids. “Stay away!” But Marcel needed a Hellenologophobic, aka a Roman, so Polanski fit the bill.

“Come with us Mr Polanski and all will be well,” said Marcel.

The haboob kept building as Marcel tried to get the ginger, the 7 Daisies & Roman the Hellenologophobic to the Unending Escalator.

Oddly enough the escalator had moved to just inside the door so no one was able to escape its clutches.

First up was Roman, then Alf, a few Daisy’s the professor and the kids.

Then the rest of the Daisies, and bringing up the rear was Marcel.

Ms. Daisy was confused. “Where are we going sir?” she asked Marcel. But Marcel didn’t answer. He kept shoving her up the escalator.

When they reached the top waiting for them was

Zeus. “I’ve been waiting for you,” he said. He exhaled deeply, parting the haboob. “These are for you,” said Marcel, sheepishly.

It was as Robert Plant imagined. A Stairway to Heaven. But to what end? A bunch of flowers in a dust storm hardly seemed worth it.

Zeus looked around. “Ginger, check. 7 Daisies, check. And Roman Polanski??” he asked as he put the Stairway to Heaven record on.

“Damn right,” said Polanski in between Plant’s chorus. Marcel tried to shut him up so he could explain Polanski’s relevance.

“He’s our Hellenologophobic,” explained Marcel. “You know, because he’s ‘a Roman’?” He used air quotes for emphasis.

Suddenly they all started singing along to the song.

“…And she’s buying a stairway to heaven,” Zeus, Marcel, the professor, his 8 kids, Alf, the 7 Daisies and Roman Polanski crooned.

And off into the mist they all went.

THE END

 

Ha! That was an amazing story. It was so funny. One of the better ones we’ve written, and we’ve written some pretty good ones. I’m really happy for Marcel – he made Zeus happy. And let’s face it, if you’re given the option of making Zeus happy or making Zeus upset, you probably want to go with making him happy. So good for him. And good for the 7 Daisies. I’m kind of jealous of them getting to go to Sbarro’s for weekly lunch. But the person I’m definitely NOT jealous of? Roman Polanski. He served a purpose.

 

Thanks to myself for supplying the photo. Just kidding. Kind of. And thanks to all of the writers. You guys really brought it. @nella22, who almost always is one of the first ones to jump in and always makes me laugh. @officerpupp, who’s a newb but acted nothing like one. @FeliciaCago, who tried as hard as she could to end the story after 4 lines, but we wouldn’t let her. @swanieson, who stuck with me all the way to the end to wrap things up. @jsetlak, owner of the triple-tweet, who this time came through with the quintuple tweet. @hwtibbs, whose obscure references has me googling stuff all the time. @Chrisa_Hickey, who’s great at cutting right to things. @_Benny_K, who’s getting more involved each week, which is awesome. @jimmydoestea, who can tweet all pronouns and I’ll still laugh. @vnarvasa, who scolded me for not giving her a heads up that I was writing a story. And last but not least, @rickmurray, who snuck a line in right at the end that led us to a different story ending.

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Star Crossed

“Why you gotta be frontin’?” she yelled as her friends and ponies tried to hold her back.

This was starting to irritate Luna, who had been living w/ this pressure for the past 5 years. Running into Star, her stomach turned

beneath her purple dress. But she couldn’t let Star know that. Instead, she kept yelling, puffing out her chest, acting tough.

“Take that nasty ass blonde weave outta my face. You ain’t foolin’ no one, biatch,” she continued.

Luna lunged at Star, grabbing her hair. Pony, the pink pony, tried to separate them. “My hair!” screamed Star. “Give it back!”

Luna waved the weave defiantly as Star watched in horror, hairless. No one knew why Luna was livid, just that she was.

“Who did you sleep with to get to model the ball gown?” Luna whined. She was stuck in a jumper that was more appropriate to Skipper.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” sneered Star. “Yes I would,” responded Luna candidly. “That’s why I asked.” Star was caught off guard.

“You always think you’re so much smarter than everyone, Luna,” said Star. “But if you’re so smart, how come I’m in the ball gown?”

Mother knocked on the door. “Star, honey, please open up. Maybe you should put the dolls down and come to dinner with us.”

“My precious… my precious unicorn ponies,” Star mumbled incoherently. Then, louder, “Coming, mother. Just a second.”

Star’s mother worried about her. Star didn’t leave the house much, and she was always trying to shave Luna, their cute Pomeranian.

In fact, ever since she’d fallen asleep while watching a Jem marathon, Star hadn’t been the same. Ears raw from the many rounds…

of ear pulling, she’d taken to walking around the house in bejeweled stirrup pants. Her homework was signed Jerrica Benton. It…

reminded Mother of her Aunt Jeanne, upstate in a sanitarium. Poor Jeanne – half Carol Burnett, half Ethel Merman. Mother wasn’t…

about to let another daughter end up like Jeanne, not again, not again…

Not after she already lost Astor, her oldest. Most days, you could find her staring at doors, trying to open them with her eyes.

“Kids!” Mother yelled. “Time to go to Olive Garden!” Mother and Star went outside, but Astor stood still, staring at the doorknob.

Astor petted Luna. “It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.” Mother gave up and promised bread sticks.

Star came back inside to get Astor and dragged her away from Luna. But when they got outside, Mother was nowhere to be found.

They searched for her inside and out, noticing her car was still in the driveway. Where could Mother have “flown” to this time?

Luna heard Star mumbling to herself, “mommy in the can… mommy… the garbage.” Luna’s eyes widened in horror. She runs towards

their garbage can, behind the car. Tears are welling up, in her eyes as she reaches to open the lid. She gasps, shocked by what she

just realized – Luna, the Pomeranian, not only understands what humans say, but can move around like one too. Star’s jaw drops.

Hiding inside of the garbage can, was her mother, Luna always feared this day would come. Her aunt Jeanne had the same

…fate. Star is stunned. Like a robot she starts tweeting feverishly instead of calling 911. All of the sudden…

she gets a DM from her father, who had been in prison for the past 10 years and was now…ON TWITTER?!

Luna can’t help noticing the perplexed look, on Star’s face. What’s wrong with her; and why hasn’t she called for help? Then

without any warning their mother jumps out of the garbage can, tears all of her clothes off, running down the street screaming…

…”I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!!” to which Luna (now human form) and Star looked at each other and shrugged. Meanwhile, Father was

contemplating, as he braids his lover’s hair. Should I tweet her? Such a delicate child; but she needs to know, I’m in love with…

in love w Ricky Martin… He bangs, he bangs! Here we go! Closet drummer, too. He starts to tweet her &…

then gets distracted by THE HONEY BADGER! Like the Honey Badger he said, “I don’t care. I don’t give a sh*t!”

“Whoa watch out, says that bird (from a bird’s eye view). Star still hasn’t heard from her Dad, but she starts to hear drums…

not just any kind of drums but a super clean drum line. Snares, Tenors, Bass. The whole shebang. Well it is that time of year…

Luna looks at Star & says, “Is today a holiday?” Rounding the corner, on their street, is a fully dressed marching band, led by…

Mother, in marching gear. “What happened to the bread sticks from Olive Garden you promised?” asked Star. Astor was dumbfounded.

“In a minute,” Mother yelled in between the first and second verse of Poker Face. Star and Astor sang along, drawn in by the beat.

Star didn’t notice mom leading the band w/breadsticks, in hand. After the final verse, she threw the bread sticks at Star saying…

What a day… we need to get those bread sticks from the Olive Garden and get ready for Shark Week. Tired, they hugged &…

peeled away from the marching band. They jumped in the car, headed to Olive Garden, & ate unlimited salad and bread sticks.

THE END

 

Whoa. Just whoa. I don’t even know what happened in this story. It was really hard to follow, and normally I’m pretty good at keeping the storyline on track. What started out as a fight turned into a kid’s imagination, which then turned into a streaking Mom, a human-like Pomeranian, Ricky Martin and unlimited salad and bread sticks at Olive Garden. I could barely keep up. All I know is Astor and Star are two lucky girls for finally being able to chow on those delicious, garlicky logs of heaven. I’m jealous.

Thanks to @kikiandkyle for the photo, which started this wild tale. And thanks to all those who wrote. The vets – @nella22, @Chrisa_Hickey, @jimmydoestea and @hwtibbs – you guys always make me laugh. And we had a bunch of newbs – @_Benny_K, @javilabbe, @vnarvasa, @honey_badger_, @Guert – which is awesome. You guys carried the end of the story. Hope you all contribute again next time.

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Wrestling with Love

This is the tale of two men and a magical, mystical fedora. It all began on an otherwise quiet evening.

Though they claimed they were meditating in actuality they were having a staring contest that started because

an hour before, fedora-sporting Frank said to Tim, “Hey! I bet if I stared at your chair long enough, I could make it disappear!”

“You’re on,” said Tim. And it was on. Fedora-sporting Frank fixated his eyes on Tim’s chair when, poof! Both chairs disappeared.

“Great,” said Frank. “Now where am I supposed to park my ass?” He grumbled as he slid slowly towards the cold, hard wooden floor.

Tim couldn’t believe what he saw. He looked under his legs then back at Frank. “What just happened Frank?”

“I don’t know, dude.” Frank had yet to realize that the fedora he was wearing, found at the pool hall last week, wasn’t normal.

Last week had been a tough one on Frank, being that he had just…

…lost the rest of his furniture in a poker game with former Governor and convicted felon Rod Blagojovech.

Frank gambled away his money, his dignity & his shoes. And as he left, he tripped over the fedora. “Damn hat,” he said, kicking it.

Shoeless and destitute, Frank bemoaned the loss of his chairs. His follicles tingled, the hat tightened on his brow. Then, a knock

on the door. “Open up!” screamed the voice on the other side of the door. Tim, always somewhat of a wuss, shook his head no.

The voice became more agitated. “OPEN UP!” Tim was crying. Frank kept still. And then, magically, the fedora sprung into action.

Chyna, 90s WWE diva wrestling superstar, nearly broke down the door before the Fedora magically turned the knob to let her in.

“50 push-ups, Now!” Chyna ordered. Shoeless Frank and Tim were too scared to argue. The Fedora kept count for the two men: 1, 2…

Tim struggled on 3. Chyna swiped her fingers on his back and smelled them. “Who’s got flowers?” she asked. “Cuz I smell a PANSY!”

Frank was shocked. Not at Chyna being there. Definitely not that Tim could only do 3 push ups. But that a fedora was counting.

“Am I the only one who thinks this is weird?” asked Frank between pushups 42 & 43. Chyna flexed her biceps, pondering the question.

Chyna dropped and powered through 50 pushups of her own. Frank shook, wishing the fedora were collecting the sweat on his brow.

Chyna got back up, then did a few side bends. She looked at Frank. “So Sally,” she mocked. “What’s up with this magical fedora?”

Frank was out of breath, so Tim weakly responded, “Ms. Chyna, we think the Fedora is magical and wanted our fates to align.”

Chyna punched Tim and screeched “Speak when spoken to!” Eyeing the fedora, a delicious idea began to form. She realized she could

use this to her benefit. She had been eyeing that hottie at

wrestling camp for quite some time. “Gimme that fedora!” Chyna raged. Frank felt spit in his eyelashes. He meekly handed it to her.

“Let’s go!” she grunted. Chyna marched out, fedora in hand, Tim and Frank following. Tim mouthed, “Is she a guy?” to Frank.

Frank shrugged, wincing at the burning sensation in his shoulders from the pushups. “So who’s the wrestling camp hottie?” he asked.

“Asher the Smasher!” barked Chyna. The fedora flew ahead to hail a cab. “Where is he?” asked Tim, as Chyna devoured a protein bar.

As soon as the bar was complete Chyna starting talking and sounded nothing like herself but instead had developed a man’s voice.

“You ARE a man,” yelped Tim. “I knew it!” Chyna turned around and backhanded him. “Tell your girlfriend to watch it,” he/she said.

They got outside, but the fedora was gone. “I lost my money, my shoes, my dignity, my chairs, and now my fedora?” Frank lamented.

“Buck up, Sally,” growled Chyna. “Your fedora went to go find Asher the Basher.” Frank and Tim were too scared to say anything.

Then he realized that Chyna was gone too. Maybe the fedora’s magic included granting wishes. Frank looked around for Tim and

saw him quivering behind a bush. “She’s gone,” said Frank. “It’s ok.” Tim stepped out, trying to cover up a wet spot on his leg.

The door swung open. There stood the wrestling camp hottie Asher the Basher. He opened his mouth

and a yellow canary wearing a tiny waist coat flew out & landed on a the shoulder of a startled Tim. It hopped over to

Frank. Tim let out a yelp. “So…Asher the Basher, is it?” asked Frank. The canary chirped away, and with each one, Tim cringed.

“Me Asher,” grunted the wrestler. “Chyna?” He then proceeded to smash his fist through the drywall. Tim just about had a meltdown.

“My fedora made her disappear,” said Frank. Asher, while not smart, didn’t believe what he heard. “I’m not that dumb,” he said.

Just then, there was a window tap. It was the fedora. It tapped on the glass 3 times, and on the 3rd, the canary turned into Chyna.

“My hottie!” grunted Chyna. “My Chyna!” grunted Asher the Basher. Tim sobbed. Frank grabbed the fedora, wedging it on Tim’s head.

Just like that, the fedora transformed Tim. “Come here you two!” he yelled. Celebrating, he put Chyna & Asher in headlocks.

THE END

So this story took a turn, and it’s all due to Chyna. What a physical specimen. She stole the show. And she got Asher the Basher!! I’m so happy for Chyna. But really, I think I’m happiest for Tim. He finally grew a pair (or was given one), and it’s all because of the magical fedora! So lucky! I almost want to change the intro line to say, “This is the tale of two men, a magical, mystical fedora and a 90s WWE female wrestler.”

This photo was one I found on my phone, so I thank myself for providing the picture. But thanks to all the writers – @swanieson @courtcan @arzubusiness @Chrisa_Hickey @nella22 @jimmydoestea @steeb2er @FeliciaCago @EBArchDesign – for helping write today’s story. Special shout-out to new writer @EBArchDesign, who jumped in towards the end with a few funny lines. Hope you had fun and that you join us again.

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Doin’ Time

“Man, those look so good,” he thought. Anything would. He hadn’t eaten in days.

4 days exactly, since arriving in prison. Chaz didn’t mind being called Mr. Fluffles, but the pebbles they offered him to eat

were not of the fruity kind like he was expecting but instead were of the garden variety and laced with some sort of foul tasting

butter. Chaz loved butter. But butter didnt go with pebbles. Butter went with toast. He’d do anything for buttered toast. Anything.

Up to and including pouncing on an unsuspecting Dougie the bread delivery man who lives next door.

Chaz still couldn’t believe that mousy lawyer of his couldn’t beat the rap. Guess he should have stuck with the rat,

Feral, they said! Really? “How could I have possibly kept my mane this pristine if I was wild?! Unless they knew about

the membership he had to the Cat Beauty Club for Convicts.

CBCC included daily milk baths and all the mackerel he could eat. Great for the coat! And weekly hairball extraction.

Chaz paid dues for the membership in cigarettes. It’s what you do in prison. He had a guy on the outside who’d smuggle them in.

Though when you pay with candy cigarettes it takes a lot more of them.

Hence the poofy mane. Looks good & helps hide the stash of cigs. It’s a vicious cycle, really. One that Chaz was looking to break.

He’d tried 12 step programs to overcome his candy cigarette hiding addiction. If only there had been warnings on the packages.

So here he sits. Jonesin’ for that high only street candy can give. Those big yellow lollipops out the window calling his name.

If only he never hid candy cigarettes in his fur. If only he didn’t join the CBCC. If only he never robbed that bank. If only.

After a while they turned from lollipops to resemble the heads of this siblings, whom he hadn’t seen since…

Since who can remember, with the candy jones clouding his feline brain. He was so hungry now, he could eat one of his siblings.

“Cats with the poofy mane are always up to something, but never taken seriously.” He thought to himself. I need to break out.

Suddenly Chaz had an idea that might shorten his sentence. Design packaging for those evil candy cigs w/pictures of decayed teeth.

He could also alter his identity with a haircut. “Hey Rico,” he yelled to the resident inmate barber. “You still got a 4:30 open?”

“Not if you want another permanent wave,” Rico yelled back.

“I need to look like someone else,” he thought. “No, no,” he replied to Rico “I’m thinking a mullet will do the trick.”

“Business in front, paaarrrty in the back,” cooed Rico. “Of course he digs that,” said a voice from solitary. “He’s a hairdresser.”

Behind the bars the face of Chaz’s favorite hellraiser Jack Murphy appeared, grinning in his familiar half-crazy way.

Jack Murphy though was the one that got Chaz into this whole conundrum in the first place.

If only he hadn’t raised his prices for mullets and got Chaz hooked on the imported milk bath.

“Hey Rico,” yelled Murphy. “You think I could borrow those scissors when you’re done?” Just then, Officer Friendly came by.

Friendly’s name was a misnomer, as he was anything but. It was rumored he’d killed a man during a cell search. Chaz was very…

…tall for a beagle. Don’t let those cute little ears fool you. He was no Snoopy. As he walked by, Chaz whispered….

“The cat flies at midnight.” Friendly smacked his billy club on the wall. “Shut it, you cat, or Beagle, or whatever you are.”

Friendly had trouble identifying criminal animals, aka crinimals. He was always confusing himself, a Beagle, with Chaz, the cat.

It’s why Friendly left the camaraderie of the police force for the isolation of the criminal system. The ridicule bruised his ego.

Chaz looked anxiously at the clock, pacing back and forth. “It’s 4:20, Rico” he yelled. “We’re still on for my 4:30, right?”

“Yes,yes, the mullet,” Rico answered. “But why do you need my scissors?”

“I don’t,” said Chaz, now with a mullet. “He does.” He pointed to Jack Murphy in solitary. “Ahhh,” said Rico. “That makes sense.”

But it didn’t make sense to Jack. He’d been told by Friendly to get them away from Rico. He just couldn’t figure out the reason.

He suspected it was because of the increasing number of inmates with mullets. In their uniforms, it was hard to tell them apart.

That explains how Dax escaped during the annual football game. He went long down the sideline & kept going, unnoticed into freedom.

And with this year’s game tomorrow, Chaz had similar plans. But he needed help. Someone on the inside to unlock the gates.

Lucky for Chaz he had a sympathtic fellow inmate that had been working on an escape plan and was willing to spring Chaz for the sum

of 22 candy cigarettes. But Chaz still needed help on the inside. If he could just talk to that quiet new guard Dempsey.

Dempsey had a thing for kitties (he always used that “p” word) and Chaz was sure his knowing Dempsey’s secret would sway him.

Dempsey’s quiet and unassuming demeanor was a facade to cover

the fact that he spent time in the joint when he was younger. He had sympathy for the inmates & was dying for one to approach him.

Chaz approached during lunch, putting up a front to seem tougher than he was. “Psst. Word is you got a soft spot for cats like me.”

He tried really hard not to laugh at his “cats” pun. He bit his lip & furrowed his brow, waiting to see how Dempsey would respond.

Dempsey growled back “scat cat” but slipped him a piece of paper.

It read: Doors open fur game at 11:30. Doors open fur u at 12:40. Chaz winked, then yelled,”I ain’t no scaredy cat.” Again, a front.

He was shaking in his non-existent boots and dropped the paper as he walked away.

Moments later, Warden Raton, making his daily rounds, happened upon the slip of paper.

Thankfully the warden was slightly dyslexic and read it as game is at 3:11 and the doors open fur you at 4:21.

The clock was approaching 12:30 and Chaz made his way to the outer lock.

He spotted Dempsey walking away from the doors, and he knew it was only minutes until his freedom. The clock struck 12:27.

Hearing the hum of the locking mechanism beginning to open, Chaz tightened his spine; ready to spring.

12:30. As Dempsey promised, the doors opened. Chaz sprang out to freedom, just as the inmates scored a touchdown on a flea flicker.

Chaz was running free, past the yellow flowers. The guards paid him no attention. They were in a dogfight on the football field.

And Dempsey was right behind…remember, he had a thing for kitties!

And so Chaz was able to safely run free to meet up with his long lost family.

And the two ran off until they became dots. Chaz after his family. Dempsey, the horndog, after Chaz.

THE END

Whew! That was a long one. (That’s what she said.) I’m really happy for Chaz. He deserved freedom. He deserved to break free from his candy cigarette hiding addiction. He deserved a new ‘do from Rico the prison hairdresser. Not so sure he deserved Dempsey, but hey, what can you do?

Thanks so much to you all for contributing to this story. Thanks @lilmissjen for the amazing photo, which I believe you snapped in a window in New York City. We had a new writer today – @Sean_Heffernan. Thanks for joining, and I hope you enjoyed. And thanks to all the veteran writers – @LundieP, @swanieson, @paulmtracy, @elderberryjam, @jsetlak, @ParkRidgeDDS, @courtcan, @adelamiz, @Sean_Heffernan, @Chrisa_Hickey and @hwtibbs. This one had deep character development, so an extra thanks to @swanieson and @paulmtracy for hanging in at the end and helping me finish.

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