Category Archives: @elderberryjam

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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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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Sister, Sister and the Mister

Paul was small. Not very tall. He had a date. She was late. So he fixed his hair & climbed in his chair.

His blue sweater had never looked better, but his shirt was showing all the dirt.

Aurora was running late, something she hates. They planned to meet, on the street; the street with curves to eat hors d’oeuvres.

Paul cried & cried, “I can’t believe she lied!” But she stood him up before, & he vowed “No more!” So how could he blame the dame?

The dame, the dame she had a name, a name that ironically was the same

As a city in Illinois. One that Paul remembers with joy. He met Aurora. in Aurora. And that was just after getting dumped by Laura.

Laura oh Laura she was a fan of flora, Aurora now she was a fan of a certain fedora.

His sleeping beauty, she was a cutie, but her penchant for sleeping left poor old Paul seething.

The memories piled on, like love songs that go on too long. He thought to himself, “I need help.” So, he got it from Yelp.

He had a romantic dinner date planned based on Yelper HotDamned. But Aurora’s oversleeping made the reservations not worth keeping.

Paul called Aurora’s phone, wondering if she was home. With no answer, Paul groaned “I know it’s on vibrate.” He was clearly irate.

Paul had a history of anger management issues. Leave it to Aurora’s wireless carrier to light his short fuse.

He thought her inconsiderate. It was enough to leave him in a fit. There was no one around to confide how sad was he was inside.

The smile on his face was because of sheer grace. He was with Verizon. If she didn’t switch carriers, a rift was on the horizon.

Paul drove over to Aurora’s house & knocked on the door. Once, twice & then three more. “Get up Aurora! We’re going to the store!”

Aurora rolled out of bed, wiped her eyes, scratched her head. “Who was there?” she wondered, oblivious to the date she blundered.

Paul appeared at the door, her jaw dropped to the floor. “Oops, I overslept. That’s another date I haven’t kept.”

His shirt blue, his eyes flashing red. He should’ve dated her sister Peoria instead. Caught himself, put that thought on the shelf.

Peoria, now that’s a vixen. But he couldn’t let Aurora know what his mind had been fixin’. If she knew, he and Aurora were through.

“You look beautiful,” lied Paul. “Let’s go. We’ll be late.” “Just like my period,” quipped Aurora, as Paul pinched his own taint.

Aurora reacted with shock and awe. “You disgust me Paul. I’m going to the mall. Have fun staying here, playing with your balls.”

“You’re not going anywhere,” Paul fumed. “Sit your ass down. You better behave or I’ll call Craggles the Clown.”

But Aurora wasn’t interested in any more of Paul’s lovin’. It was probably because she had another man’s bun in the oven.

Whatever, thought Paul. He knew better than to take a date to the mall. He would not miss her. Would it be weird with her sister?

Aurora sat & thought, of Jonah, the man she met while on a yacht. A swarthy man of the sea, whose baby she carried surreptitiously.

In certain comparison Paul might pale to some guy who once lived in a whale. Might Aurora’s infidelity earn her a burial at sea?

In this instant Paul couldn’t resist. He took a peak at Aurora’s sis’s digits on the Rolodex. He memorized it. dialed it. Holysh*t.

Aurora has nothing she’s working toward, just playing. Paul was willing to throw her overboard. Just saying.

Peoria picked up more than the call if you know what I mean. She got Paul, after all, not some swarthy marine.

While Peoria and Paul got busy, Aurora was all in a tizzy. Her hormones were all outta whack. She thought she might want Paul back.

It was not meant to be. Paul & Peoria were making whoopee. They were making quite a racket, like UConn after winning the bracket.

Aurora said “I don’t need Paul! He’s a blue sweater boy after all!” She called Peoria to let her know she was over that freak show.

This time Peoria didn’t answer. She knew where neither her phone nor her pants were.

Yet Paul knew her ringtone. A funk song he’d last heard alone. Made him frisky at the time. Twisty was more like it this time.

Paul pushed Peoria away. “How could I do this to Aurora?” he cried in dismay. He ran to the door, leaving Peoria on the floor.

Peoria got up, found her pants, then threw on a tank. She chased after Paul, screaming, “Aurora’s the family skank!”

“If she’s the family skank, where do you rank?” Peoria fired back, “You didn’t seem to give a yack when you were fondling my rack.”

Paul turned around, then sheepishly looked down. “Aurora can have Jonah. It’s obviously only you that gives me a bonah.”

Peoria was confused by Paul’s sudden Boston drawl. But it was only for a bit, because she realized she loved that little nugget.

They kept moving closer, and then they embraced. Her arms around his back, his around her waist. “Marry me,” Paul said confidently.

“Yes!” screamed Peoria in delight. She finally found someone who was her height. You see, Paul wasn’t the only one who was small.

Paul pulled out a ring. Peoria said, “Oh my! Such bling!”

The couple was wed, went on a honeymoon through Club Med. The trip couldn’t be finer. They got discounts for looking like minors.

Peoria and Paul lived happily ever after, their lives filled with laughter. Everything was good. All good in the ‘hood.

‘Cept when Paul thought about his new sister-inlaw. Her not existing was hard to pretend. It was Aurora, his ex-girlfriend.

THE END

We did it! We wrote a story that rhymed! And it even kind of made sense! I bet you thought that last sentence was gonna rhyme with the one before it. Sorry – I’m all rhymed out. Anyway, this might be the funniest Once Upon 140 story yet. I don’t know if it’s the rhyming, the classic one-liners or the dirtiness of Paul and his love triangle with Aurora and Peoria. By the way, if those aren’t two stripper names, then I don’t know what is.

Thanks to @nella22, @kikiandkyle, @swanieson, @ArzuBusiness, @elderberryjam, @hwtibbs, @hiaubs, @jsetlak and @foiledcupcakes for helping me pull off an admittedly difficult story. I appreciate the feedback up front, and I’m grateful to all of you for humoring me and playing along.

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